Tarot, Psychology & DSM – “The Wheel of Fortune”

Most Tarot readers associate “Addictions” with XV The Devil, but as I explored in last month’s weblog, the attachment behind all addictions is much more core to what I believe The Devil image exemplar is showing us…the motivation, the belief behind the addictive tendency or behavior, the old message that keeps us in illusion, instead of light.

If you are new to this series, I recommend that you review the May 2020 weblog post I started on my current perceptions about the connection between Tarot, psychology, and the DSM. This will provide a much fuller description of these concepts.

While pursuing my graduate degree in Counseling Psychology, as elective courses I attended two workshops on addictions, one through my university, and the other with Process Work teachers, Arnold Mindell, Amy Mindell, and Max Schubach. This unique learning established a solid foundation for my approach to working with addictions, and as I applied this to my always growing knowledge of Tarot my ability to see these energies in the cards became more finely tuned, as I will explain.

Key concepts from Process-oriented Psychology:

  • Addictive tendencies are something that most all of us have, be they focused on people, places, and/or things.
    • Example, excessive use of: alcohol, coffee, food, physical activities (running), cell phones, watching TV/news/entertainment, sexual activities, etc.
    • I would add excessive or repeating thoughts to this idea.
  • Addictive tendencies are a means of self-medication to alter one’s mood from what is undesirable to a more desired state.
    • Example: some people drink coffee in order to “wake up.”
    • Right now as I write I’m eating walnuts to keep my brain focused.
  • These addictive tendencies tend to come in pairs.
    • One brings you up while the other slows you down.
    • Example: the coffee drinking wakes one up in the morning while drinking wine or beer slows one down in the evening. Both are altering the mood, yet in opposite directions.

There is so much more to these theories, but for the purpose of identifying the Major Arcana card that best represents this pattern, I use “X The Wheel of Fortune” for it clearly follows the energy of the ups and downs, the “monkey” on your back that sends you down and the hopefulness that helps you crawl back up, only to slip down again. As long as one is identified as being on the outside of the wheel…a victim of life and attracted to outside solutions to mitigate one’s moods, that wheel keeps on turning, running the victim over every now and then.

So, psycho-spiritually, I would say that addictions are the outer behaviors that represent the inner cycle of thought that keeps rotating around an old trauma, hurt, or wrong that one might have attached a belief to about being a victim of that event/situation/history, and is self-medicating through people, places, and/or things to temporarily forget this belief. The belief is the real Devil that keeps one hanging on, while the Wheel is the endless cycle of torment and attachment to one’s identity.

Psychological challenges that carry this cyclical pattern:

  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – a pattern of unwanted thoughts and fears (obsessions) that lead you to do repetitive behaviors (compulsions).
    • Hand washing and other excessive rituals designed to reduce the symptoms of anxiety are classic examples of OCD.
  • Obsession – compulsive preoccupation with a fixed idea or an unwanted feeling or emotion, often accompanied by symptoms of anxiety.
    • Example: obsession with one’s environment being clean, neat, or with other’s acting a certain way.
  • Drug, Alcohol, Substance Abuse – Substance abuse is the medical term used to describe a pattern of using a substance (drug) that causes significant problems or distress.
    • I would expand this definition to include any substance used unconsciously and habitually, such as caffeine, sugar, etc.
  • Sex/Love/Relationship Addiction – generally, these are intimacy disorder that each manifest in unique ways, while having the common tendencies to objectify the other for personal satisfaction.
    • In my February weblog post on “VI The Lovers” card, I illustrate some of the other psychological issues that can lead to addictions to people, etc. Thus, there is an interesting triangle between The Lovers, The Devil, and The Wheel of Fortune.

As you may see, this is a huge topic and so close to many people’s experience of life. If you take the time to look more deeply at your own habitual or patterned tendencies, you may notice which are clearly life-sustaining, as well as those that may be more mood altering.

Here is a link to a Marie Claire magazine article where a woman was addicted to Tarot readingsMy Tarot Card Dependency Controlled My Life

** April 24th at 9:30 am Pacific Time/12:30 pm Eastern Time, Tarot Master, Gina Thies, will guide us through an exploration, “From Light to Dark: 78 Shades of Possiblities” in my Global Meetup Circle. Please follow this link for more information about this rare offering.

Resources:

City Shadows: Psychological Interventions in Psychiatry by Arnold Mindell

Marie Claire magazine article: My Tarot Card Dependency Controlled My Life by Remy Ramirez

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