Understanding through Discussion


Welcome! You are not logged in. [ Login ]
EvC Forum active members: 113 (8749 total)
Current session began: 
Page Loaded: 05-26-2017 3:01 PM
114 online now:
Chatting now:  Chat room empty
Newest Member: Roshankumar1234
Post Volume:
Total: 809,069 Year: 13,675/21,208 Month: 3,157/3,605 Week: 499/933 Day: 37/51 Hour: 0/0

Announcements: Reporting debate problems OR discussing moderation actions/inactions


Thread  Details

Email This Thread
Newer Topic | Older Topic
  
1
234567Next
Author Topic:   The philosophy behind The Twelve Steps
Phat
Member
Posts: 9313
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
Member Rating: 2.3


Message 1 of 104 (399687)
05-07-2007 12:24 PM


I wanted to start a topic which discusses the philosophical validity of the well known 12 steps used in both secular and faith based recovery programs.

Specifically, I want to discuss each step and whether the assertion of each step is an appropriate psychological frame of reference.

Anyone who participates in this thread please limit your comments to the philosophy behind each of the twelve steps in relation to recovery from a given addictive process.

I will be commenting from a Christian perspective since I am in Celebrate Recovery but I want this topic to remain focussed on the philosophy behind the twelve basic steps originated from Alcoholics Anonymous.

The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous

1.) We admitted we were powerless over alcohol--that our lives had become unmanageable.

2.) Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

3.) Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

4.) Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5.) Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

6.) Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7.) Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

8.) Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

9.) Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10.) Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

11.) 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.

12.) Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Faith/Belief, please


Replies to this message:
 Message 3 by crashfrog, posted 05-07-2007 1:59 PM Phat has responded
 Message 6 by Nuggin, posted 05-07-2007 3:06 PM Phat has not yet responded
 Message 9 by Larni, posted 05-07-2007 3:31 PM Phat has responded
 Message 20 by New Cat's Eye, posted 05-08-2007 12:31 PM Phat has not yet responded
 Message 26 by Equinox, posted 05-08-2007 2:43 PM Phat has not yet responded
 Message 32 by Archer Opteryx, posted 05-10-2007 7:25 AM Phat has not yet responded
 Message 41 by kongstad, posted 05-11-2007 9:18 AM Phat has responded

  
AdminSchraf
Inactive Member


Message 2 of 104 (399693)
05-07-2007 12:45 PM


Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.
  
crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 3 of 104 (399704)
05-07-2007 1:59 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Phat
05-07-2007 12:24 PM


I wanted to start a topic which discusses the philosophical validity of the well known 12 steps used in both secular and faith based recovery programs.

Well, just to let you know - these steps aren't used in secular recovery programs. How could they be? How could a secular program ask you to give your life over to God?

I can't speak to their "philosophical validity", whatever you expected that to mean, but I can tell you that it's fairly well-known that these 12-step programs have little practical validity. The estimated success rate of the AA 12-step program is no greater than the number of people who conquer their own addictions all on their own.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Phat, posted 05-07-2007 12:24 PM Phat has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 4 by Phat, posted 05-07-2007 2:04 PM crashfrog has responded
 Message 7 by berberry, posted 05-07-2007 3:15 PM crashfrog has not yet responded

  
Phat
Member
Posts: 9313
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
Member Rating: 2.3


Message 4 of 104 (399706)
05-07-2007 2:04 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by crashfrog
05-07-2007 1:59 PM


crashfrog writes:

The estimated success rate of the AA 12-step program is no greater than the number of people who conquer their own addictions all on their own.

Is that a documented fact or is it your opinion?

What do you feel to be the root cause of an addiction?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 3 by crashfrog, posted 05-07-2007 1:59 PM crashfrog has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 5 by crashfrog, posted 05-07-2007 2:35 PM Phat has responded
 Message 8 by dwise1, posted 05-07-2007 3:16 PM Phat has responded

  
crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 5 of 104 (399709)
05-07-2007 2:35 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by Phat
05-07-2007 2:04 PM


Is that a documented fact or is it your opinion?

The AA organization doesn't release "success rate" numbers on its own, but Penn and Teller's Bullshit made it clear that the best numbers they could find for the effectiveness of the organization were statistically identical to the number of people who sober up on their own. From Wikipedia:

quote:
However overall success rates were still less than spectacular, indicating the efficacy of modern treatments. Newsweek reported that "A year after completing a rehab program, about a third of alcoholics are sober, an additional 40 percent are substantially improved but still drink heavily on occasion, and a quarter have completely relapsed."[39]

So, 65% of the people in the program go back to drinking. Moreover:

quote:
There are many studies available that describe negative results from attending AA. Ditman et al. (1967) found a correlation between participation in AA and an increase in the alcoholics' rate of multiple arrests for public drunkenness.[51] Brandsma et al. (1979) found a correlation between AA and an increased rate of binge drinking. After several months of participating in AA, the alcoholics in AA were doing five times as much binge drinking as a control group that got no treatment at all, and nine times as much binge drinking as another group that got Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. Brandsma argues that teaching people that they are alcoholics who are powerless over alcohol becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy[52]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcoholics_Anonymous

What do you feel to be the root cause of an addiction?

Addiction is a complex phenomenon with both biochemical and behavioral causes, but one thing that I think we can be adamantly certain about is that addiction is not caused when people feel insufficiently powerless over their own lives and behavior, which is why I think the whole focus on surrender to a higher power is ridiculous.

Some people say that others have an "addictive personality", but I think it's less a function of personality and much more a function of biochemistry, possibly heritable genetic factors. (We know that the children of alcoholics are more likely to be alcoholics themselves, of course that could simply be due to social factors from growing up in the household of an alcoholic.)


This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by Phat, posted 05-07-2007 2:04 PM Phat has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 10 by Phat, posted 05-07-2007 4:37 PM crashfrog has responded

  
Nuggin
Member (Idle past 1723 days)
Posts: 2962
From: Los Angeles, CA USA
Joined: 08-09-2005


Message 6 of 104 (399717)
05-07-2007 3:06 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Phat
05-07-2007 12:24 PM


Sinking the ship while it's in the dock
1.) We admitted we were powerless over alcohol--that our lives had become unmanageable.

I don't understand the reasoning behind starting a program of self correction which begins with the admission that you are unable to achieve self correction.

By starting from the view point of - I am broken and only someone else can fix me, you've already given up the entire game.

A lot of the steps go one to put the power outside of the individuals hands.

If we are "asking" for God to fix this problem and the problem doesn't get fixed, it's God's fault that we are still alcoholics.

Pretty weak sauce if you ask me


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Phat, posted 05-07-2007 12:24 PM Phat has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 16 by mick, posted 05-08-2007 3:34 AM Nuggin has responded

    
berberry 
Suspended Member (Idle past 97 days)
Posts: 1853
From: vicksburg, mississippi
Joined: 11-29-2003


Message 7 of 104 (399720)
05-07-2007 3:15 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by crashfrog
05-07-2007 1:59 PM


crashfrog writes:

quote:
The estimated success rate of the AA 12-step program is no greater than the number of people who conquer their own addictions all on their own.

I've read the same thing and believe it. However, I believe there is a certain type of person who responds better to something that involves God. Call it God-as-placebo, which is exactly the way it looks to me, but for some people I think the 12-step approach is probaby the best.


W.W.E.D.?
This message is a reply to:
 Message 3 by crashfrog, posted 05-07-2007 1:59 PM crashfrog has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 12 by JustinC, posted 05-07-2007 5:38 PM berberry has not yet responded

    
dwise1
Member
Posts: 2744
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 4.1


Message 8 of 104 (399721)
05-07-2007 3:16 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by Phat
05-07-2007 2:04 PM


I'm not sure what crashfrog's sources are, but I did hear the same thing recently on Penn & Teller's "Bullshit!" show. Yes, on the surface such a source would not seem reliable, but they did give the straight skinny on the shenanigans of Boy Scouts of America, Inc (though the treatment could have been more complete). It's not a scholarly treatment, but they do cite source documents as they display the document to the TV audience.

Other than that, I'm just not up on the literature because I've not looked into it. I did go through the DivorceCare program, which borrows from the 12-step program. The presentations kept emphasizing that we have no hope of recovering except through Jesus. As an atheist, all a 12-step program would do would be to constantly drum in my head that there's no hope for me, that I could never recover. There is nothing positive nor constructive in that approach.

Now, I did find a few kernels in that program, but only by winnowing through a mountain of chaff (or, as P&T would say, "B--- s---!" -- well, only Penn would give actual voice). The only way that I was able to get anything out of that program was to ignore all the chaff they kept piling on; ie, I had to keep the program from getting in its own way.

Similarly, a pair of Christian therapists run a relationships seminar that my friends would keep urging me to attend -- however, it conflicted with my West Coast Swing class. The times that I did attend, the psychology was sound (and commonly used even by secular counselors), but their main message was that you had to do these things because that's what God wants you to do or because it would help you lead the kind of life that God wants you to lead or because it would protect you from influences that would keep you from being a Godly enough person. They offered no reason for a non-Christian to follow their advice, instead presenting a message (not intentionally, I'm sure) that their advice has nothing to offer to a non-Christian. Again, I had to winnow through their chaff to get at the kernels, though at least the amount of chaff was not as monumental.

According to P&T, AA refuses to publish any statitistics to support the claims of their success rates. They claim great success, but they refuse to back up those claims in any way. As I recall, P&T showed an internal AA memo which shows that their actual success rate is about 5%. Which they point out it also the success rate of people conquering their addictions on their own.

May I suggest that the proper response is to find published studies that so show the 12-step program to be significantly more successful?

Now, the 12-step program may well work for a theist, but I believe I have shown that it can have the opposite effect for a non-theist and actually be very detrimental to his recovery. Any kind of a program that provides an individual with positive support should be beneficial, but one size does not fit all.

BTW, the root cause(s) of addition can be many and would vary with each individual. Partly biochemical. Partly psychological.

What bearing should that have on the question of whether the 12-step program would be any more effective than individuals conquering their addictions on their own?

Edited by dwise1, : Correcting a typo


This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by Phat, posted 05-07-2007 2:04 PM Phat has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 21 by Phat, posted 05-08-2007 12:44 PM dwise1 has responded
 Message 36 by Jazzns, posted 05-10-2007 5:40 PM dwise1 has responded

    
Larni
Member
Posts: 3941
From: UK
Joined: 09-16-2005


Message 9 of 104 (399722)
05-07-2007 3:31 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Phat
05-07-2007 12:24 PM


Phat writes:

Anyone who participates in this thread please limit your comments to the philosophy behind each of the twelve steps in relation to recovery from a given addictive process.

Does this mean I can't spout my usual cognitive behavioural perspective on an approach that dictates that one is powerless to affect change?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Phat, posted 05-07-2007 12:24 PM Phat has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 11 by Phat, posted 05-07-2007 4:45 PM Larni has not yet responded

    
Phat
Member
Posts: 9313
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
Member Rating: 2.3


Message 10 of 104 (399730)
05-07-2007 4:37 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by crashfrog
05-07-2007 2:35 PM


My Perspective On The Twelve Steps

crashfrog writes:

Well, just to let you know - these steps aren't used in secular recovery programs. How could they be? How could a secular program ask you to give your life over to God?


Note, however, that they say God as we understood Him. It might be quite possible that you understand God as humans define Him to be the Super Ego or perhaps an authority construct.
For you, if humans are their own power a higher power may simply mean a human with more insight than yourself or perhaps a group of humans who support one another. A support group.

I expected that you would blame addictions on biochemistry! I suppose thats a lot more sane than blaming them on the devil!
I have been reading a book by a Christian Psychotherapist (Yes, there is such a thing...its no oxymoron!) Called ADDICTIONS: A Banquet in the Grave. The Authors name is Edward Welch and I will be quoting him from time to time in this topic. Before I do, however...I wanted to briefly share my perspective on the 12 steps and how they relate to humans IMB. It is only my opinion and belief, of course...and is evolving as I gain new insights.

The 12 Steps

1.) We admitted we were powerless over (put addiction here)-that our lives had become unmanageable. addiction n 1 : the quality or state of being addicted 2 : compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; also : persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful ...in other words, alcohol is an addiction to some. Gambling is an addiction to some. Video games are an addiction to some. Pornography is an addiction to some. Food is an addiction to some. My first premise is that each of us know our addictions. The question? Will we face them?

2.) Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.support group n : a group of people with common experiences and concerns who provide emotional and moral support for one another

For an atheist, the power greater than themselves may be no more than a group of people. There can be power in numbers!

3.) Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. This is where we disagree, Crashfrog. I suppose that you still have to surrender the idea that you can simply fix yourself, however. If you discern that you have a problem, seeking help is the equivalent of surrender.

4.) Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
I don't see why introspection is ever a bad thing.

5.) Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. If you don't believe that God exists, I would imagine that admitting to another human being would be enough.

6.) Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. or were ready at this point to change.

As for the rest of the steps, we can discuss them later. They are more controversial.

Edited by Phat, : added features!

Edited by Phat, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 5 by crashfrog, posted 05-07-2007 2:35 PM crashfrog has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 13 by crashfrog, posted 05-07-2007 6:24 PM Phat has acknowledged this reply

  
Phat
Member
Posts: 9313
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
Member Rating: 2.3


Message 11 of 104 (399731)
05-07-2007 4:45 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by Larni
05-07-2007 3:31 PM


Cognitive Behavioral Perspective
Larni writes:

Does this mean I can't spout my usual cognitive behavioral perspective on an approach that dictates that one is powerless to affect change?

Welch believes that while we are powerless over the addiction itself..(otherwise it would not be an addiction) we are responsible for choosing the addiction.(on a day to day basis) We may be powerless over the effects of the addiction (biochemical stimulus and psycho-emotional patterns) we are not powerless in our choice of the addiction. Call it the No Man is an Island theory. Of course, some people get addicted to twelve step programs! Go figure!

Edited by Phat, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 9 by Larni, posted 05-07-2007 3:31 PM Larni has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 29 by nator, posted 05-09-2007 8:07 PM Phat has acknowledged this reply

  
JustinC
Member (Idle past 2255 days)
Posts: 624
From: Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Joined: 07-21-2003


Message 12 of 104 (399739)
05-07-2007 5:38 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by berberry
05-07-2007 3:15 PM


quote:
Call it God-as-placebo, which is exactly the way it looks to me, but for some people I think the 12-step approach is probaby the best.


I believe this is probably the case. For alot of people who are having trouble controlling their addictive behavior, it may be best to project their own internal power onto something they call God. They rationalize their new approach by saying to themselves, "I tried myself for several years to quit and couldn't. This time will be different since I petitioning a higher power to help." Just thinking you are getting extra help from a higher power helps.

Of course, a requisite for this to be beneficial is that you actually believe in a higher power.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by berberry, posted 05-07-2007 3:15 PM berberry has not yet responded

    
crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 13 of 104 (399750)
05-07-2007 6:24 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by Phat
05-07-2007 4:37 PM


Re: My Perspective On The Twelve Steps
Note, however, that they say God as we understood Him. It might be quite possible that you understand God as humans define Him to be the Super Ego or perhaps an authority construct.

Look, that's just nonsense. That's the kind of shoddy thinking people display when they think that a "prayer to God" at a school event (for instance) isn't a violation of the first amendment because "just plain God" is "non-denominational."

"God" is the name of the Judeo-Christian deity. There's no such thing as a "secular God", by definition. It's a contradiction in terms.

For you, if humans are their own power a higher power may simply mean a human with more insight than yourself

C'mon! Look at your steps. "We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity." "Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character." Magical acts of restoration and defect-removal require a resume with some pretty specific qualifications, Phat. Like - being a deity.

The 12 steps of AA are not a secular program, and this has been recognized by every court in the land, which has found that it's a violation of free expression of religion for courts to mandate participation in AA-style 12-step programs.

I expected that you would blame addictions on biochemistry!

If addictions have no biochemical basis how do you explain the symptoms of withdrawal? You can die from withdrawal. That's a little more serious than might be expected from simply a lack of personal responsibility.

And it doesn't explain the efficacy of drugs like heroin antagonists and ibogaine that cure addiction. (Of course, most Western governments prevent addiction treatment with ibogaine, because the idea of a drug that cures addiction is anathema to the Drug War philosophy that it's all about people lacking "personal responsibility.")


This message is a reply to:
 Message 10 by Phat, posted 05-07-2007 4:37 PM Phat has acknowledged this reply

Replies to this message:
 Message 14 by dwise1, posted 05-08-2007 2:33 AM crashfrog has not yet responded

  
dwise1
Member
Posts: 2744
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 4.1


Message 14 of 104 (399785)
05-08-2007 2:33 AM
Reply to: Message 13 by crashfrog
05-07-2007 6:24 PM


Re: My Perspective On The Twelve Steps
I have had to play that "God is whatever you believe it is" game with a BSA official. They (Boy Scouts of America, Inc) claim that they do not define what "God" or "Duty to God" means but rather it is up to the individual member's religious tradition to decide that (quite rightly so). And they trot this out every time they go to the public trough for funding, declaring that they are "absolutely nonsectarian". At the same time, they arbitrarily impose their own sectarian religious views by defining God as "a Supreme Being" -- please remember that they officially state that they do not define "God", and yet here we see them insisting on doing it.

BTW, they claim to have a "Supreme Being" rule but nobody can find it; even the BSA professional in question, when order by the court to produce that rule that he had kept insisting existed, he had to admit to the judge that it didn't exist. In the case of Paul Trout, a Unitarian scout who was expelled in the mid-80's for not complying with the "Supreme Being" rule, BSA reversed itself and Chief Scout Exec Ben Love stated officially that that rule was a mistake that they were dropping it. Then just 5 years later they expelled the Randalls and several others under the same non-existent rule.

OK, so our district exec, the professional who was ordered by the court to produce the rule, called me to expell me. I am a Unitarian, BTW. I asked him what the BSA definition of "God" was:
Him: God is whatever you believe it is.
Me: Well then, God could be ______ .
Him: Oh, no. God isn't that.
Me: Well then, what is your definition of "God"?
Him: God is whatever you believe it is.
Me: Well then, God could be ______ .
Him: Oh, no. God isn't that.
Me: Well then, what is your definition of "God"?
Him: God is whatever you believe it is.

etc, etc, etc.

There could be a few isolated exceptions, but it's all too obvious that this talk of "God is whatever you believe it is" is nothing but weasel-talk that tries to sneak religion into secular institutions and to obtain public funding for their religious purposes. Like the archetypal weasel-talk which is "creation science", which tries to claim that fundamentalist Christian dogma is purely scientific.

AA gets public funding, right? Individuals of any and all religions, including atheists, get ordered by a judge to join AA. It's mandatory for them to participate in this religious program, against their will. And AA says, "Oh no, it's not religious. This 'higher power' doesn't have to be God." Yeah, we've seen that game played far too many times before. I've even been forced to play it myself. The reek of hypocrisy is unmistakable.

And in the highly unlikely case that AA is actually sincere in that statement, then it's a pity that they have to suffer because of the abuses of all those other hypocrites.

Edited by dwise1, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 13 by crashfrog, posted 05-07-2007 6:24 PM crashfrog has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 15 by Phat, posted 05-08-2007 2:47 AM dwise1 has responded
 Message 87 by Phat, posted 08-12-2011 12:31 PM dwise1 has not yet responded

    
Phat
Member
Posts: 9313
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
Member Rating: 2.3


Message 15 of 104 (399786)
05-08-2007 2:47 AM
Reply to: Message 14 by dwise1
05-08-2007 2:33 AM


Re: My Perspective On The Twelve Steps
We are drifting slightly off topic.

I will agree with you, however, that AA or any other faith based program should not be court mandated without providing an alternative.

I want to focus more on contrasting the faith based models of addiction and the secular alternatives.

I also want to focus on several strategies that work for both.

  • The idea of and usefulness of a support group.

  • Being able to comprehend when a habit becomes an addiction and whether or not you need help.

  • The best type of counseling available. (Larni may offer insight into this one! :) )

    Edited by Phat, : added features!


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 14 by dwise1, posted 05-08-2007 2:33 AM dwise1 has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 19 by dwise1, posted 05-08-2007 10:29 AM Phat has not yet responded

      
  • 1
    234567Next
    Newer Topic | Older Topic
    Jump to:


    Copyright 2001-2015 by EvC Forum, All Rights Reserved

    ™ Version 4.0 Beta
    Innovative software from Qwixotic © 2017