What Does the Phrase "Spiritus Contra Spiritum" Mean?


Quick Answer

The meaning behind the Latin phrase "spiritus contra spiritum" is that alcohol counters spiritualism. The word "spiritus" in Latin means both "alcohol" and "religious experience," while "contra" means "against." This phrase was said in a letter written by Carl Jung to one of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) .

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Full Answer

Carl Jung named a spiritual experience as the solution for the alcoholism of one of his patients, Rowland Hazard. Hazard would find this experience in the tenets of the Oxford Groups, and he went on to help other alcoholics. In 1961, Bill Wilson, one of the co-founders of AA, asked Jung about Hazard's recovery. Jung's phrase "spiritus contra spiritum" confirmed for Wilson that AA's use of spiritual development as a treatment for alcoholism was correct.

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