Leif Öjesjö on turnings in alcoholism

The Swedish psychiatrist Leif Öjesjö – which I have come to know through and at Delta Gym and whose main works I have in some instances read – is one of the research pioneers within the frames of the internationally well known Lundby project (Lund University). I will write about some aspects of his research contributions in a number of posts, starting with a extensive quote from the preamble of one of his research articles.

Turning points or epihanies have been defined as moments and experiences that leave marks on people’s live, in the present context a point at which the decision to give up an addiction is taken or consilidated. They are often moments of crisis. Some are ritualised, some are routinised. Others still are emergent and unstructured, and the person enters them with little if any prior understanding of what is going to happen. According to the literature, this turning point is usually accompanied by some experience or event which serves to stimulate or trigger the decision. These triggers can be either positive – e.g. securing a job, receiving an inheritance, winning in the lottery, starting a new relationship, or the birth of a child – or negative – e.g. a sudden deterioration in health, being faced with the prospect of going to prison, or the death of a partner or close friend (Denzin 1987; McIntosh & KcKeganey 2000; Miller & C’deBaca 2001). Koski-Jännes (1998) has reported data from a Finnish sample of media-recruited subjects who had been able to resolve their dependence on alcohol, drugs, binge eating and other excessive behaviors. The turning points seemed to involve a heightened awareness and a cognitive-emotional shift in which the individual’s regular pattern of seeing, interpreting and approaching things was suddenly changed. Recovery implied the idea of turning points in a positive direction, from suffering to improvement, and was often followed by a change of self and identity.

[1] Öjesjö, Leif. (2004), ‘Turnings in alcoholism: A themtic analysis of life histories from the Lundy alcohol subset’, in Rosenqvist, P. et al (eds.), Addiction and life course, pp. 267-274.

Den svenske psykiatern Leif Öjesjö, numer aktiv vid Karolinska institutet – och som jag har blivit bekant med genom att vi båda tränar på Delta gym – är en av pionjärerna inom det så kallade Lundbyprojektet (Lunds universitet), som pågick 1947-1997 och delvis är aktivt än i dag.

Några beståndsdelar av denna omfattande psykiatriska, epidemiologiska och longitudinella studie redogörs översiktligt för i ett antal inlägg, som inleds med ett citat från den intresseväckande inledningen av en dennes uppföljande forskningsartiklar (se ovan). Jag kommer även att citera några artiklar på svenska lite längre fram.