Adult children of alcoholics usually feel that they are different from other people. Adult children of alcoholics are super responsible or super irresponsible.
Adult children of alcoholics are extremely loyal, even in the face of evidence that the loyalty is undeserved. Adult children of alcoholics are impulsive. Number 7: Wilde never formed a truly intimate relationship for any considerable length of time, not even with his wife, Constance. Number 8: There are many examples here. The letters after he was in prison demonstrate his over-reaction to lack of money.
Of her thirteen diagnostic categories, Wilde to one degree or another fits every one, except perhaps for Number 5: "Adult Children of Alcoholics have difficulty having fun" xxvi. The letters after he was in prison demonstrate his over-reaction to lack of money. In another postmortem letter to Adela Schuster , Ross writes of Wilde: "Like his brother he was inclined to take too much alcohol at times, but never regularly, and he never bore outward signs of it. Dear Boy, Come and see me next week. Anyway, these are the books which made me smile, made me laugh, made me sigh, and brought a tear to my eye in Stanhope, and the whole picture is full of grace, though there is, perhaps, too great a luxuriance of colour, and it would have been a relief had the girl been dressed in pure white. This is what Buffalo Bill is going to bring to London; and we have no doubt that London will fully appreciate his show.
Had he not been so extravagant, he could easily have lived within the means he was provided by his wife see Ellmann and Auden Number 9: Wilde lived for social position and suffered enormously when he lost it. Number "I am far more of an individualist than I ever was," he writes in De Profundis Complete Letters ; all references to De Profundis are to this edition ; "I am one of those made for exceptions" To finish the list, Number Wilde is well-known for his extravagance and hyper-generosity irresponsible traits , yet he was "super responsible" in his work as a lecturer in America and Great Britain, in his work as an editor of Woman's World , and, for the most part, in his work as an author.
Number Wilde's loyalty "loyal to the bitter extreme," as he writes in De Profundis to Bosie, who clearly did not deserve it, brought him ruin. All of this helps explain the complexity of Wilde's self-destructiveness. He came from a "dysfunctional" family to use an overused adjective : his father's drinking and sexual irregularities are enough to support this three illegitimate children before marriage, alleged rape after marriage and a libel trial over the accusation , and the problems of the children of such a family are similar to those of an ACA.
They include an over-concern with appearances, hiding inner truth, "fear of intimacy," and "fear of abandonment" Hetherington Though I am focusing on Wilde's addictions which naturally include his addictive personality, stemming in part from his upbringing , I do not claim my approach is the complete explanation: that no doubt will never be known. Alcoholics by definition are self-destructive, and an adult child of alcoholics or an alcoholic if you exclude Wilde's mother is laden with an extra layer, as it were, of self-destructive traits.
Very few people, even members of Alcoholics Anonymous, know the role C. Jung played in its founding. An overview of Jung's role will shed light on Wilde's addictions, for what Jung said about alcohol applies equally to any addiction, even those never dreamed of when Jung was alive. A friend, Edwin T. Jung told Roland H. Bill Wilson wrote to Jung in January , some thirty years after the event, to thank him for starting the "chain of events" that led to the founding of AA In his reply, dated 30 January , Jung writes that thirty years before he had to be very cautious about anything he said regarding spiritual matters because he "was misunderstood in every possible way" Jung, Selected Letters Given Wilson's "decent and honest letter," which shows his understanding of alcoholism, Jung feels he can be more open with him.
Roland H. The helpful formula therefore is: spiritus contra spiritum" Selected Letters Wilde's well-documented flirtation with Catholicism, his quixotic exaltations of Christ in "The Soul of Man under Socialism" and in De Profundis, and his supposed deathbed conversion to Catholicism,--all these and more are manifestations of the deep spiritual need in Wilde he was trying to fill with alcohol and other drugs opium, hashish, and cigarettes and his romance addiction.
Unfortunately, Wilde was to learn that he could not live up to Christ's message, as Wilde saw it: "try to shape your life that external things will not harm you" Stripped of "external things" and having reached what recovering alcoholics and addicts call a "bottom" in prison, Wilde writes again about Christ in his long epistle to Bosie, his homme fatale. Wilde recalls what he had written about Christ in "The Soul of Man": "that he who would lead a Christ-like life must be entirely and absolutely himself" Complete Letters He then proceeds to describe an unorthodox Christ of his own making: "the supreme Individualist.
He describes how, having lost everything he once held dear, including his "own eldest son," he "saw. In prison, away from the "fixes" of his alcoholic and romantic addictions, he had spiritually grown to a point where he might have begun recovery.
He might have found a way to fill the "vacuum of affirmative selfhood" Doylen The evidence of De Profundis, however, and the letters after it, shows that Wilde's new-found wisdom was indeed temporary. That Wilde was homosexual is not irrelevant. Furthermore, as Sheppard B. Kominars states, "One of the greatest obstacles to long-term sobriety for gay men and lesbians is internalized homophobia. The fear of, and hatred of, one's homosexuality is a major cause of relapse in the recovery process of the chemically dependent gay man, lesbian, and bisexual" Kominars also states: "Acknowledging ourselves as we are, and allowing others the same freedom provided the baseline for change" 32, emphasis Kominars's.
Had Wilde been able to follow Christ's example, as Wilde himself conceived it--"so he who would lead a Christ-like life is he who is perfectly and absolutely himself" "The Soul of Man" --he would have had a chance to overcome his addictions. Auden bases his conclusions on Wilde's being "overloved and indulged by his mother" and Bosie's being "hated and rejected by his father" I don't disagree. However, the profound feelings of unworthiness shared by both Wilde and Bosie are also characteristic of addicts Carnes I have neither the time nor the space to analyze the character of Bosie Douglas here.
However, since he figures so prominently in Wilde's romance addiction, a few words are in order. His life-long nickname stems from his mother's calling him "by the West Country diminutive 'Boysie,' meaning simply 'little boy,' which gradually shortened to 'Bosie' [.
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The same may be said for Wilde. Apart from the betting, both shared addictions to "Boys, brandy, and betting," as Wilde famously says of Bosie in a letter to Ross written at the end of June Complete Letters They were both what Jung called pueri aeterni , eternal youths. Like Wilde, Bosie's statements are not to be taken literally. One of Bosie's biggest lies is that he became heterosexual after marriage to a woman and conversion to Catholicism.
Even an otherwise astute queer critic such as Gary Schmidgall writes: "Boys apparently ceased to monopolize Bosie's attention" after his marriage and conversion n. Samuel M. Steward's Chapters from an Autobiography provides ample proof of Bosie's duplicity on the question of his life-long queerness.
Steward was a professor, a prolific writer, and close friend of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. He writes in his memoirs that in his twenties he visited the year-old Bosie in England with the idea of going to bed with him in order to be "linked" with Wilde Even while disclaiming "homosexual leanings and entanglements. Given Steward's description of Bosie, matched by Bosie's biographers', right down to the prominent nose see Hyde, Lord Alfred Douglas , the story is credible. Wilde and Bosie, Oxford, c.
Steward contends that after their sex and while still in bed, Bosie said: "You really needn't have gone to all that trouble, since this [meaning mutual masturbation] is almost all Oscar and I ever did with each other" Even here Bosie would appear to be disingenuous, for H.
In his biography of Bosie, Hyde quotes Bosie's letter more fully; to wit: "he [Wilde] 'sucked' me" Bosie further lied to Steward by claiming he and Wilde got "boys for each other. I could always get the workers he liked, and he could get the intellectual ones I preferred" Bosie's latest biographer dispels this lie about the type of boys Bosie preferred: "The sexual relationship between Wilde and Douglas was short-lived , but it was replaced in both by a taste for rent-boys" Murray Nevertheless, what evidence exists seems to suggest Wilde did indeed prefer oral to anal sex.
During Wilde's second trial, the "rent-boy" Charles Parker testified that Wilde "committed the act of sodomy upon me" Hyde, Trials However, he also testified he had "to do what is vulgarly called 'tossing him off'. This evidence, plus the fact that "by the mid-nineteenth century [sodomy] is identified principally as sex between men," a very vague definition to say the least Cohen 5; see also before , "felonious buggery" was more likely to refer to anal intercourse , suggests that Wilde's favorite sexual practices with young men, at least before his trials, did not include anal sex.
The topic of romance was, of course, a favorite in Wilde's pre-prison work.
Algernon replies: "I thought you had come up for pleasure? I call that business. JACK: How utterly unromantic you are! It is very romantic to be in love. But there is nothing romantic about a definite proposal. Why, one may be accepted. Then the excitement is all over. The very essence of romance is uncertainty.
Plays Algernon speaks like a true romance addict. As an addict, Wilde never truly learned to love his inmost self, a necessary task before one can truly love another. The main texts I will use to examine Wilde's romance addiction are his letters, particularly his long letter written in Reading Goal to Lord Alfred Douglas which Robbie Ross called De Profundis , but which Wilde himself called Epistola: In Carcere et Vinculis, implying that he knew one day it might be published, even though it is addressed specifically to Bosie Complete Letters ; for a brief history of the letter, which runs from page to in The Complete Letters, see Complete Letters n.
Leaving aside his notion of Wilde's "transgressive aesthetic," I agree with Jonathan Dollimore that De Profundis "registers. Wilde's courage and his despair during imprisonment. Part of the dynamic in Wilde's relationship with Bosie, as Schmidgall puts it, is that Wilde "sought to retain his youth vicariously, by association" Now, in prison, Wilde, rather like Lord Henry to Dorian Gray, plays the role of the archetypal wise old man, the senex, to Bosie's puer aeternus see Snider ; the puer aeternus is the eternal youth archetype; see also Jung, Symbols , except that Wilde, having suffered more than Lord Henry could ever dream of in his worst nightmares, speaks authoritatively, if not always accurately, with the heavy weight of experience.
Sadly, and ironically, Wilde himself is a puer aeternus too, as we shall see. Wayne Koestenbaum, in a perspicacious reader-response essay, argues that "Wilde posits an essential 'gay identity' [in De Profundis and "The Ballad of Reading Goal"] in order to develop gay writing and gay reading as reverse discourses" If De Profundis teaches gay readers anything, as Koestenbaum contends, it teaches mostly by negative example, given the context of Wilde's complete oeuvre. As I have suggested, the wisdom Wilde gains through suffering evaporates within months of his release from prison.
Literally like an alcoholic relapsing, he moves from senex to puer, albeit never losing the wit and erudition he was famous for. What he lost, in Jungian parlance, was his exalted persona, the mask to use Wilde's word he wore before the world, and this was too much to bear. De Profundis confirms the fact that Wilde was a romance addict. Gosling writes that. For Wilde, however, the phallus, the erect penis see Monick 9 and 16 , is not the inspiration, the primary numinous subject of his homoerotic fantasies.
Rather, the face and the body of the beautiful young man inspire him; these are what he romanticizes.
Instead of Priapus, his ideal is Antinous. For the queer sex addict as described by Gosling, Priapus, "the Roman god whose enormous erection will not go away" Monick is the operative archetype. For the queer romance addict, Antinous, the supremely handsome young lover of the Roman emperor Hadrian, is the shining ideal see Complete Letters To Antinous, in Wilde's personal myth, we need to add Hyacinthus, the gorgeous boy loved by Apollo, and Marsyas, the Phrygian flute player, symbol of the suffering, sacrificed artist, who challenged Apollo and lost and whose punishment was to be skinned alive.
As if anticipating his own fate, in "The Decay of Lying" Wilde praises Marsyas, "not Apollo," as "the singer of life" Intentions ; and, alone in his prison cell, he remembers Marsyas: "I hear in much modern Art the cry of Marsyas. It is bitter in Baudelaire, sweet and plaintive in Lamartine, mystic in Verlaine" Complete Letters Until his prison writings, Wilde is far more Romantic, with a capital R, than a realist. But it is his romance addiction with a small r , I wish to examine. For this I add one more classical archetype, Dionysus, Greek god of wine and frenzy, of uninhibited sensual abandon, to the constellation of archetypal figures which govern Wilde's alcohol and romance addictions.
In her ground-breaking book, Escape from Intimacy, Anne Wilson Schaef classifies romance addiction as one of the "process addictions," which are "much more subtle and tricky than substance addictions" 2 , such as alcoholism and other drug addictions. Furthermore, "most of the books in the field combine and thus confuse" sex, romance, and relationship addictions.
In fact, they are "three separate addictions" 3. It's easy to understand why the three are often combined: they often go together in obvious ways. The sex addict may create romantic situations or illusions to get the sex he wants for convenience, and since I am referring primarily to a gay man, I will use the the masculine pronoun, though of course there are sex, romance, and relationship addicts of all genders and sexualities.