The Trusting Heart


Michael Aanavi writes about his experience as a person in recovery and a clinician, his exploration, process and journey to inner growth and wholeness.     




Carl Jung spoke of pistis, the trusting heart. He said that this fundamental capacity for trust is the precursor to faith, and that without this essential quality, faith in something greater—faith in one’s own process, faith in the wholeness of the psyche—is impossible. For the author of this book, pistis involves the ability to trust one’s own subjectivity, one’s felt sense, regardless of whether it jives with what is externally acceptable or valid, regardless of the outcome.

In The Trusting Heart, Dr. Aanavi writes about his experience over the past twenty-plus years, both as a person in recovery and as a clinician. The book is about his exploration, his process, and journey to inner growth and wholeness. It is about telling the stories of one’s experience, committing to the integrity of one’s felt truth and to following one’s energetic thread wherever it might lead.

“Aanavi’s story takes us into the belly of the beast in an exploration of the soul’s wounding and stands eye-to-eye with the demons in an honest attempt to make a different relationship with these entities. Aanavi hones in on the entity of heroin, which is the one spirit visitor that has given him the gift of insight during this lifetime.”–From the foreword by Dr. Eduardo Duran

The Trusting Heart is part family drama, part recovery odyssey, part character sketch, and part addiction text. Most of all, it encourages the reader to seek inside, to be mindful not only of one’s own perceptions and sensibilities, but also of the events and experiences that have been handed down from prior generations. Aanavi describes in beautiful prose the everlasting energy of trauma, how it passes from generation to generation, and the ways in which this intergenerational injury arises in self-destructive acts and tendencies. He encourages the reader to trust that which so many of us have grown to distrust—namely, ourselves, our bodies, our hearts—and in the process, to reconnect directly with the accumulated effects of trauma, even when this requires facing one’s ghosts. Aanavi’s tale—his personal suffering, his disconnection from himself through heroin, and his own ultimate identification with his ancestral wounds—has much to offer those of us who suffer in addiction, grief and loss, emotional turmoil, and personal trauma, and who seek to reconnect with the meaning within. Indeed, it is a guidebook for those who bear the burdens of those who came before, which, in a very real sense, is each of us.”—Dr. Steve Balt, MD, MS, editor-in-chief of The Carlat Psychiatry Report

“There are a plethora of first-person accounts describing substance addiction but The Trusting Heart is one-of-a-kind because Michael Aanavi takes his reader on an unforgettable journey into his own psyche as well as his ethnic and familial milieu. This book has a range that is both broad and deep, both philosophical and intimate, encompassing ancestral trauma, Jewish cuisine, teenage drug dealing, somatic experiencing, and mindfulness meditation. It is a coming of age story that brilliantly evokes how the author succumbed to the opiate embrace but eventually awakened to recovery.”—Stanley Krippner, PhD, professor of psychology at Saybrook Institute, co-author of Personal Mythology and Haunted by Combat

The Trusting Heart is a courageous and uncompromising book that brings together the author’s story of recovery from addiction and intergenerational trauma and his clinical expertise as a psychotherapist and acupuncturist. Integrating the wisdom of Taoism, archetypal psychology and his own embodied experiences, Aanavi reframes the recovery process from a life-long letting go of destructive habits to a radical opportunity for spiritual transformation. This is a must read for anyone working personally or professionally with addiction who is ready to go beyond the limitations of current therapeutic models and is not afraid to face addiction’s underlying longing: the reclaiming of authentic nature and a vital, meaningful encounter with the Self.”—Lorie Eve Dechar, MAc, author of Five Spirits: Alchemical Acupuncture for Psychological and Spiritual Healing

Dr. Michael Aanavi is a clinical psychologist, licensed acupuncturist, and recovering heroin addict. After completing treatment at Phoenix House, he earned a PhD in clinical/multicultural and community psychology, as well as an MS in traditional Chinese medicine. He has worked in addiction treatment, psychiatric, and medical settings and is a former faculty member at UCSF School of Medicine. Dr. Aanavi is in private practice in the San Francisco Bay Area. When not working, Dr. Aanavi enjoys open spaces, cooking for family and friends, and taking time to be neither productive nor goal-oriented.

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