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Topics include and overview and history of A. Additional Product Features Dewey Edition. Show More Show Less. Pre-owned Pre-owned. No ratings or reviews yet. That is our AA experience everywhere. We stress the spiritual simply because thousands of us have found we can't do without it. At this point I should like to state the Twelve Steps of the Alcoholics Anonymous Program of Recovery so that you physicians may accurately compare your methods with ours.
We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
About the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) 12-Step Recovery Program
Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. Having had a spiritual experience as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs. Boiled down, these steps mean, simply 1 admission of alcoholism; 2 personality analysis and catharsis; 3 adjustment of personal relations; 4 dependence upon some higher power; and 5 working with other alcoholics.
Most strongly we point out that adherence to these principles is not a condition of AA membership. Any alcoholic who admits he has a problem is an A. Based upon our experience, the whole program is a suggestion only. The alcoholic, objecting at first to the spiritual factor, is urged to keep an open mind, meanwhile treating his own AA group as a "power greater than himself.
Not only does his alcoholic obsession disappear, but he finds himself progressively free of fear, resentment, and inferiority. These changes seem to have come about automatically. Hence he concludes that "A power greater than himself" must have indeed have been at work.
Having come to this point, he begins to form his own concept of God. He then develops confidence in that concept, which grows as he gets proof in everyday life that his new faith actually works, really produces results. They mean a certain quality of personality change which, in their belief, could not have occurred without the help and presence of the creative spirit of the universe.
With the average AA, many months, may lapse before he is aware of faith in the spiritual sense. Yet I know scarcely an AA member of more than a year's standing who still thinks his transformation wholly a psychologic phenomenon based entirely upon his own normal resources. Almost everyone of our members will tell you that, while he may not go along with a clergyman's concept of God, he has developed one of his own on which he can positively depend, one which works for him.
But to us it looks very much like conversion, the very thing most alcoholics have sworn they never would have. In fact I am beginning to believe that we shall have to call it just that, for I know our good friend, Dr. Harry Tiebout, is sitting in this room. And if the spirit of that great psychologist, William James, could be consulted, he'd doubtless refer us to his famous book, varieties of Religious Experience, in which personality change through the "educational variety of spiritual experience, or conversion is so ably explored.
Whatever this mysterious process is, it certainly seems to work, and with us who are on the way to the asylum or the undertaker anything that works looks very, very good indeed. And I'm very happy to say that many other distinguished members of your profession have pronounced our Twelve Steps good medicine. Most ardently we hope that every physician here today will find himself able to share this happy agreement. In the early years of AA, it seemed to us alcoholics that we wandered in a sort of no-man's-land, which appeared to divide science and religion.
But all that has changed since AA has now become a common meeting ground for both concepts. Yes, Alcoholics Anonymous is a cooperative venture. All cases requiring physical treatment are referred to you physicians. We frequently work with the psychiatrist and often find that he can do and say things to a patient, which we cannot. He, in turn, avails himself of the fact that as ex-alcoholics we can sometimes walk in where he fears to tread. Throughout the country we are in daily touch with hospitals and sanitariums, both public and private. The enthusiastic support given us by so many of your noted institutions is something for which we are deeply grateful.
The opportunity to work with alcoholics means everything; to most of us it means life itself. Without the chance to forget our own troubles by helping others out of theirs, we would certainly perish. That is the heart of AA - it is our lifeblood. We have torn still other pages from the Book of Medicine, putting them to practical use.
12 Step Programs for Addiction Recovery - Addiction Center
It is from you gentlemen we learn that alcoholism is a complex malady; that abnormal drinking is but a symptom of personal maladjustment to life; that, as a class, we, alcoholics are apt to be sensitive, emotionally immature, grandiose in our demands upon ourselves and others; that we have usually "gone broke" on some dream ideal of perfection; that, failing to realize the dream, we sensitive folk escape cold reality by taking to the bottle; that this habit of escape finally turns into an obsession, or, as you gentlemen put it, a compulsion to drink so subtly powerful that no disaster, however great, even near death or insanity, can, in most cases, seem to break it; that we are the victims of the age-old alcoholic dilemma; our obsession guarantees that we shall go on drinking, but our increasing physical sensitivity guarantees that we shall go insane or die if we do.
When these facts, coming from the mouths of you gentlemen of science, are poured by an AA member into the person of another alcoholic they strike deep - the effect is shattering. That inflated ego, those elaborate rationalizations by which our neurotic friend has been trying to erect self—sufficiency on a foundation of inferiority, begin to ooze out of him. Sometimes his deflation is like the collapse of a toy balloon at the approach of a hot poker. It is our universal experience that unless we can start deflation, as so self-realization, we get nowhere at all. The more utterly we can smash the delusion that the alcoholic can get over alcoholism "on his own," or that someday he may be able to drink like a gentleman, the more successful we are bound to be.
Of course you will understand that this is all done by indirection. We never pronounce sentences, nor do we tell any alcoholic what he must do. Relating the seriousness of our own cases, we leave him to draw his own conclusions. But once he has accepted the fact that he is an alcoholic and the further fact that he is powerless to recover unaided, the battle is half won. If the jaws of it do not grip him tightly enough at first, more drinking will almost invariably turn up the screw to the point where he will cry "Enough! This reduces him to a state of complete dependence on whatever or whoever can stop his drinking.
He is in exactly the same mental fix as the cancer patient who becomes dependent, abjectly dependent, if you will, on what you men of science can do for cancer. Better still, he becomes "sweetly reasonable," truly open-minded, as only the dying can.
What Is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)?
Under these conditions, accepting the spiritual implications of the AA program presents no difficulty even to the sophisticate. About half of the AA members were once agnostics or atheists. This dispels the notion that we are only effective with the religiously susceptible. You remember now the famous remark, "There are no atheists in the foxholes. Bring them within range of the AA and "blockbusters" will soon land near enough to start radical changes in outlook, attitude, and personality. These are some of the basic factors which perhaps partly account for such success as we have had.
We have all found that God can be relied upon both in Alaska and India, that strength can come out of weakness, that perhaps only those who have tasted the fruits of reliance upon a higher power can fully understand the true meaning of personal liberty, freedom of the human spirit. Surely, you who are here this morning must realize how much we A. For you have supplied us with ammunition which we have used as your lay assistants - gun pointers for your artillery. I have put out for inspection our version of the factors which bring about personality change, our method of analysis, catharsis, and adjustment.
I have tried to show you a little of our great new compelling interest in life - this society where men and women understand each other, where the clamors of self are lost in our great common objective, where we can learn enough of patience, tolerance, honesty, humility, and service to subdue our former masters - insecurity, resentment, and unsatisfied dreams of power. But I must not close without paying tribute to our partner, Religion.
Like Medicine, it is indispensable. At this temple of science I hope none will take it amiss if I give Religion the last word:. Realizing how ineffectual our efforts in the treatment of the chronic alcoholic through the usually accepted psychiatric procedures were was my reason for investigating Alcoholics Anonymous. With one of their members I was privileged to attend a meeting in New York and had the opportunity to discuss their philosophy with Mr. First, I was impressed with the honesty and sincerity of those members I met, and second, with the broad socio-religious background and its psychiatric implications - chiefly man's recognition of self, his abilities as well as his inefficiencies, and that intangible power which all mankind recognizes, whether he acknowledges it or not.
Upon my return home, I asked three chronic alcoholics, all of twenty to twenty—five years duration, to organize a group, after going over the situation with them as I understood it. These three contacted others and held their first meeting in the small apartment of one. Growing, they approached me as to a place for meeting. We eliminated the YMCA, Public Library, church halls, or parish homes for obvious reasons, and at last advised a room in one of our large centrally located hotels. This has worked out nicely and meetings are held each Sunday afternoon and Wednesday evening.
From the original group of three, contacts have been made with over , of whom 60 per cent are active members, having been free from indulgence in alcohol for one to two years. In our city we have had a Council on Alcohol for about three years. The group consists of psychiatrists, social workers, and others, who meet each month for discussion. At two of these meetings members of AA have spoken, and, as a result, two members of AA are now members of this Council.
Members of AA are frequently called upon to address various groups, and it is most interesting to hear of men who have never spoken in public before being willing to get up and talk before any group. In Rochester they have become especially interested in meeting with youth groups. I might say that I have attended but few meetings of the Rochester group and these only at their invitation.
I have felt that AA is a group unto themselves and their best results can be had under their own guidance, as a result of their philosophy. Any therapeutic or philosophic procedure which can prove a recovery rate of 50 to 60 per cent must merit our consideration.
As stated by Tiebout in a paper read at Detroit, Michigan, before the American Psychiatric Association in May , "It is highly imperative for us, as presumably open—minded scientists, to view wisely and long the efforts of others in our field of work. We may be wearing bigger blinders than we know. We have heard a truly moving and eloquent address, moving in its form and in its facts. I have no doubt that a man who has cured himself of the lust for alcohol has a far greater power for curing alcoholism than a doctor who has never been afflicted by the same curse.
No matter how sympathetic and patient the doctor may be in the approach to his patient, the patient is sure either to feel, or to imagine, condescension to himself, or to the notion that he is being hectored by one of the minor prophets. This organization of Alcoholics Anonymous calls on two of the greatest reservoirs of power known to man — religion and that instinct for association with one's fellows which Trotter has called the "herd instinct. The sick man's association with those who, having been sick, have become or are becoming well, is a therapeutic suggestion of cure and an obliteration of his feelings of being, in society, a pariah; and this tapping of deep internal forces is shown by the great growth of this sturdy and beneficent movement.
Furthermore this movement furnishes an objective of high emotional driving power in making every cured drunkard a missionary to the sick. We physicians, I think, have always had difficulty in finding an occupation for our convalescent patients of sufficient emotional driving power to replace the psychic results of the alcohol that has been withdrawn. These men grow filled with a holy zeal, and the very zealousness keeps the missionary steady while the next man is being cured.
I think our profession must take appreciative cognizance of this great therapeutic weapon.
If we do not do so, we shall stand convicted of emotional sterility and of having lost the faith that moves mountains, without which medicine can do little. My first contact with AA began five years ago when a patient with whom I had been working for well over a year came under the influence of AA and within a relatively short time dried up and for at least four years has remained completely dry.
At that time I was puzzled and a little indignant that my best efforts had failed but AA had worked; but I kept sending patients, and now the situation has reversed.
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I get puzzled and a little indignant when AA doesn't work. As a psychiatrist, I have to think about the relationship of my specialty to AA and I have come to the conclusion that our particular function can very often lie in preparing the way for the patient to accept any sort of treatment or outside help. I now conceive the psychiatrist's job to be the task of breaking down the inner resistance so that which is inside will flower, as under the activity of the AA program. In this respect I should like to point out that the same flowering can take place with patients who are not alcoholics, and I should like at this time to record my indebtedness to Mr.