Hermes' Web Illustrates the Roots
Click here to review the psychological concepts upon which
Hermes' Web is based. The concepts, in relation to
addiction, are discussed below.
The Two Levels
Addicts disconnect their
lives into two separate
worlds — the ego and the
core — which are kept
separate by the barrier.
Because an addict is not in
touch with the core, the
core grows more and more
hungry and must be fed via
the addiction. Each of the
two worlds, then, has its
own value system in place. The ego is interested in
preserving itself, in all its ignorance and bliss, while the
core's only motive is to get its needs met, whatever it takes.
Because morality is typically trained into the ego, the core
does not and will not abide by the ego's value system.
Lack of Mirroring, the Hidden World, and the Holocaust Self
Positive and negative mirroring have an extraordinary effect on a person's feelings of self-love or self-
hate — a plus or minus sign in the core. Those people who have not had adequate positive
mirroring or who have had an overabundance of negative mirroring are left with a fundamental self-
loathing. Addicts medicate themselves with alcohol, drugs, sex, and gambling to temporarily touch
their cores and feel alive, to momentarily turn to a negative into a positive. This intense need for
mirroring fuels the core's hunger, and it grows more and more desperate, constructing a hidden
world in which to feed.
This self-loathing is true also for those with a Holocaust Self, only the feelings are exponential. An
addict with a Holocaust Self may live out of the core most of the time, not concerned at all with
holding up appearances on the ego level or of morality or values. He or she may simply give up the
barrier and live only for the fix. In that situation, the addict is completely ruled by the addiction, by the
intense hunger in the core.
Nuclear Family Waste
Children who grow up with alcoholic and drug-addicted parents are continuously exposed to the
"radiation" emitting from the parents' contaminated cores. When drunk or high, a person touches the
core — the good and the bad — for a few minutes or hours and it feels good. But those who do not
have a good connection, or bridge, between the ego and core levels will let loose all the anger,
resentment, and negative emotions the ego refuses to deal with. The wives, husbands, partners,
family members, and other adults around the addict have their own defense systems installed on
their own barriers to ward off this attack. But children do not. All that negativity gets dumped right into
their cores and later, it gets buried underneath the barrier they construct, along with all the negative
mirroring, shame, and guilt feelings of growing up in this type of environment.
When the ego refuses to acknowledge the needs deep in the core, it sets itself up for the flip. The
flip is what happens each time an addict uses. Eventually, all the things the addict shoves down
below the barrier take on a life of their own, rebel, stage a revolution, and "flip up." The normal
identity flips under and what was under flips up. All the anger, repressed sexuality, revenge,
mirroring needs, and nuclear family waste are the energies that propel the revolution. Crime and
addiction often go hand-in-hand because of this revolution. The sense of right and wrong, which
typically exists in the ego, feels like it's in another room. The parts that flip up do exactly what they
want without "interference" from morality.
The nature of the flip also explains why so many addicts are unsuccessful at getting clean and
sober based on will power. Will power is the ego's futile attempt at fighting off the core or keeping it
in the basement. Eventually, the core will win. The unmet needs and the insatiable hunger to feel
alive are just too powerful.
Once the revolution is through — the chemicals wear off or the sex act or game is over — the
personality returns to its normal state. The ego is usually horrified, but if no one has seen, it
pretends the flip never happened. One of the "markers" of drug and alcohol addiction is using
alone. Here, the person is actually preparing for the revolution, making sure no one is the wiser.
After the flip, the ego pounds even more nails in the basement door to make sure the monster
doesn't get out again. But sooner or later, if nothing is done to deal with the reality of the core, the
core will come to life again and do more damage. Sometimes, the core won't need to be fed for
months, which is why addicts think they're cured. But that hunger will return again and again until
the core is dealt with.
Many times, the flip is seen by others. In this situation, one of the parts of the unconscious — the
ignored realm of the personality below the barrier — "sticks up." For example, a business man is
well-respected by his colleagues. He is highly educated, has years of experience in his field, and
can always be counted on to put forth 110%. At the company Christmas party, he has too much to
drink and ends up getting fired for making lewd sexual advances toward the boss's daughter. Now,
everyone sees that part of him — the repressed sexual need that was buried in his core — and they
associate that behavior with him. Once he sobers up and has to face what he did, his ego turns into
a lawyer. It denies, justifies, blames, and attacks character. It does anything but accept
responsibility. In actuality, he probably doesn't even remember what he did.
When a crime occurs during the flip and the addict is caught, the same is true, only on a much
more serious level. But if he or she gets a good lawyer, everything goes away. If not, the justice
system steps in and punishes the person for his or her actions — actions that were based on real,
fundamental needs that the ego ignored.
What Drugs and Alcohol Do to the Core
The shame and guilt associated with addiction
further compact the core and keep it from
expressing itself. These are some of the very
emotions that move the addict to continue to use
drugs, alcohol, gambling, and sex to bring some
sense of life there. Over time, as the addiction
grows, the core becomes more and more volatile.
During an alcohol or drug fix, the chemicals
compromise the barrier. Feeling alive for a period
of minutes or hours can lead to a "jailbreak" — a
sudden, frantic release of all the layers of
garbage packed into the core. This release
(the flip) can literally last for seconds or minutes,
but can cost the addict 30 years to life.
The core from afar
The core up close
The Hoberman Sphere:
The tool shown above is used in addiction
treatment to illustrate what drugs and alcohol do
to the core. Click here to purchase this tool.
Interventions and Defense Systems
Addicts install a very sophisticated defense system on their barriers. This defense system is made up of various filters that keep the
addict's ego feeling safe and secure, while at the same time preventing honesty, clarity, and the ability to make informed choices.
A common example is a woman who is adamant that she is not an alcoholic. Her husband shows her the bottles beneath the bed, the
holes kicked in the wall, and the bruises on her children, but she stands firm. Her defense system has a series of powerful filters that
keep her from admitting the truth about her disease. To her, it's simply not true.
When her family and friends have had enough, they gather with a mediator to do an intervention. Essentially, this group of people is
there to show the woman what her addiction is doing to those she loves and to herself. They are afraid of her when she flips. They no
longer trust her because of the hidden world. They are tired of hearing her ego's excuses the next day. An intervention forces an addict
to see the things that others see below the barrier, below that sophisticated defense system.
Hermes' Web and 12-Step Programs
During treatment, an addict must begin to take responsibility for managing the core and work to
build a bridge between the two levels so the right hand knows what the left hand is doing. He or
she must get at the heart of the addiction and identify each of the parts of the personality below the
barrier. The addict needs to also recognize the importance of a support network and aftercare, in
that they are necessary in taking on the toxicity of the core, from which the addiction arises in the
first place. To make real, lasting changes in their behavior, the addict must develop emotional
intelligence (EQ). To develop EQ, he or she must have the courage and integrity to move past the
barrier and into the depths of the core to do the work that's necessary. Maintaining EQ means that
the addict can be counted on when his or her back is to the wall and can make the right decisions
— informed decisions — over and over again, throughout life.
Step 1: Admit Powerlessness
The addict admits he or she is powerless over the raging hunger in the core. What the addict buries doesn't die. It plots, seeks
revenge, and demands airtime, no matter how much concrete the ego pours into the basement, below the barrier.
Step 4: Take a Fearless Inventory
The addict must begin to recognize and identify the parts of the unconscious — the arms of Hermes' Web below the barrier — that the
ego refuses to acknowledge. These are the unmet needs that fuel the core's hunger and the triggers that can lead to a relapse.
Step 9: Make Amends
Once the parts of the unconscious are acknowledged, the addict begins to make amends to the people hurt by those parts, except
when doing so would injure them or others.
Step 11: Restore a Connection to a Higher Power
The addict must unbury the core, build a stable bridge between the two levels, and restore a connection to his or her higher power.
Developing EQ is an important part of this step.
Step 12: Carry the Message Forward
After restoring the connection to the higher power and doing the work that's necessary, the addict works to maintain EQ. He or she
carries this message to other addicts and works to practice the principles of recovery in all affairs.