We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
AA Daily Reflections online. You do not need to be an alcoholic to benefit from them because we all have grievous flaws and faults and, if we aspire to be more worthy people, we can use anything that helps.
The notion of the 12 steps came from the evangelical Oxford Group movement of the 1930s, whose first "step" was "We admitted that we were powerless over sin." (The author of the linked piece seems to view AA as a dangerous cult.)
To be spiritually reborn, the Oxford Group advocated four practices:
1. The sharing of our sins and temptations with another Christian life given to God. 2. Surrender our life past, present and future, into God's keeping and direction. 3. Restitution to all whom we have wronged directly or indirectly. 4. Listening for God's guidance, and carrying it out.
Good stuff. Reborn is good. Otherwise, it's just all about me - and I ain't all that great.
Here Bill Wilson discusses the construction of the 12 Steps. I am no expert on AA (and am happy to be corrected on any misunderstandings), but my impression is that Bill Wilson did believe that only God could rescue him - and many others - from their personality flaws (in Wilson's case, possibly some sociopathic and narcissistic tendencies) and addictions (in Wilson's case, alcohol).
Doctors do not have the power to cure addictions, and no Psychiatrist would claim it (if they are, indeed, "curable"). It seems to me that only things like AA have the power to combat them - and to help people grow to higher levels of sanity, maturity, and realism - possibly higher levels than those who never had deal with these things. As my pastor says, only God can do it, but that could be said of all healing.
Feel free to tell us about any AA experiences you might have had.
The whole premise of AA is to accept that you are powerless over an addictive substance and to work within that reality to improve one's condition.
AA makes no promises other than to trust in a Higher Authority and to follow some basic common sense rules and guidelines you can improve your immediate condition.
There's a saying in AA - if you were a jerk while drinking, you will probably still be a jerk, but you will be a sober jerk.
Speaking personally, AA gave me some valuable insights into my own devils and gave me a solid foundation to conquer my own addiction to demon rum. After 32 years I'd say AA's approach to the problem was very successful.
I will say this - AA isn't for everyone. And I haven't attended a formal meeting in over 25 years because I came to understand that accepting my own failing was as important as following a set of guidelines. Once I was sober enough to understand that, it became a point of personal responsibility not to return to blaming others and creating those crisis situations that absolved me of blame in addition to giving me an excuse for drinking.
One last thought - AA is not a "cult" although it does have some aspects of one. Having said that, ardent followers of Atkins No-Carb diets share the same characteristics as other cults too.
i don't know how it works, but i do know it works if you work it :)
lots of theories on bill's other problems....sexual compulsive, depressive, narcissist, yeah, yeah. (a key part of aa's success as an organization was the influence of dr bob's emphasis of humility on bill--kept him in check and lay the foundation on the importance of anonymity at a public level).
i would recommend susan cheever's "my name is bill" for a good biography on bill and the creation of aa. so many things threatened its early survival--- its continued success is evidence enough of god for me.
After some experience with a 12-step group, I feel that the claimed cult aspects are exaggerated. What I found most important was that I got lot of information about why I was in trouble. That contrasted sharply with my experience with therapists, who seemed to me to withhold information in order to control me.
The 12-step groups in general offer tactics for getting through the day. That, along with support from people (strangers) who do not scold or condemn, is useful.
It is interesting to me that AA and other 12-step groups draw heavy fire from some very bitter critics. Not sure what to make of that. I know that AA members often get upset with folks in Adult Children of Alcoholics, too -- probably AA people don't want to be scolded for messing up their kids, which is understandable. Narcotics Anonymous does a good job, AFAIK, but the problems of addiction are rugged. Many fall by the wayside, and sex addicts -- assuming there are such people -- have it tough, too. All these programs have high failure rates, I believe.
For me, the "higher power" is a group dynamic that permits the member to come out of denial without going into shock. It worked for me. And it continues to work, years later. Denial is the great deceiver.
One of AA's founder' was a Catholic priest; and the 12 steps reflect the catholic (note small "c") relationship with God. Acknowledge God, acknowledge sin, acknowledge that we need a Savior (help from without), seek redemption, seek redemption, seek redemption; for self and others.
As an Al-anon, ACA person I have found that groups in different areas can have very different energies. I have always enjoyed AA meetings more than any of the others. I always tell someone who says they don't like the program to try a different chapter, different time, different sub-group and to keep talking to people because they will eventually find someone who they are compatible with and will who will help them deal with their addiction issues.
If some people see it as a cult (I disagree with that assessment) it is only because the recovering addict leans so heavily on the program that they structure their life around it- which is kind of the idea- until they can find other structure in their life that is not about their addiction.
May point those who are really Yankees in the right direction on this topic to consider that the two men considered AA's founders were both village Vermonters. Sturdy individualism and country skepticism (not pessimism) were bred in. Both could claim many of the physical, mental, and spiritual precursors common to the modern malaise, but the precipitating cause of their alcoholism, as they state many times, was alcohol. I like to think it was at least partly their native Yankee individualism and skepticism which enabled their break with the Oxford movement, as well as much of the conventional wisdom about alcoholism and recovery. These, to me, are keys to the success of AA in sniffing out BS while maintaining the requisite spiritual condition in the modern world. Thanks for asking.