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Author Topic:   The philosophy behind The Twelve Steps
anastasia
Member (Idle past 3451 days)
Posts: 1857
From: Bucks County, PA
Joined: 11-05-2006


Message 31 of 108 (400053)
05-09-2007 11:01 PM
Reply to: Message 30 by nator
05-09-2007 8:28 PM


Re: Maybe this is why
nator writes:

Maybe the reason people like the "I am powerless over my addiction" thing is because it ultimately translates to "I am not really responsible if I fuck up."

Actually, even if the clauses concerning God were deleted from AA, I am with you in saying that the 'powerlessness' thing does more harm than good.

In my experience it is the excuse behind much of that binging Crash mentioned. Add to this the newer research...valid as it may be...concerning biological predisposition to addiction, and the word 'powerless' starts to sound all too real.

Many addicts want to use the excuse of genetics when they relapse. Yet, they remain in programs that are not dealing with physical problems. Even the word 'relapse' has come to sound like a normal step in the progression of recovery.

You can't have it both ways. If you want to be 'powerless' I think you'd better have a good solid case of illness that is incurable. If the illness is such that it can be stopped via placebos, God, counseling, groups, inclusive, then I would say it is not something one is powerless over at all.


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Archer Opteryx
Member (Idle past 1096 days)
Posts: 1811
From: East Asia
Joined: 08-16-2006


(1)
Message 32 of 108 (400081)
05-10-2007 7:25 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Phat
05-07-2007 12:24 PM


Eight Steps
Looks to me like this is what really happens.


The Eight Concrete Steps

1. Admitted we had a problem.

2. Decided to seek support from others.

3. Determined to solve the problem.

4. Made a ruthless self-inventory.

5. Announced our readiness to change. (was 6)

6. Made a list of all persons we had harmed. (was 8)

7. Made amends wherever possible. (was 9)

8. Continued self-assessment process and made immediate corrections wherever change was needed. (was 10)

The rest is just 'helplessness' talk. As already pointed out, it's contradictory to base a reform movement on the premise that reform is impossible. Why do this?

Likely this is just the theology of AA's founders built into the system. But the practical effect is interesting. The helplessness talk has the effect of hiding the reformer's initiative from the reformer.

What good does that do?

Well, if one motive driving alcoholism is a feeling of helplessness, the camouflage allows one to start tackling the problem in earnest--before one is persuaded of one's ability to do it.

It gives Dumbo his magic feather. In time, Dumbo will recognize the feather for what it is. But by then he will already be airborne.

For the less buoyant: the talk keeps one ascribing success and failure to outside forces. Dependency on alcohol is replaced by dependency on the group. Group approval and disapproval become powerful forces for behaviour modification even when personal resolve fails.

Elephants unable to fly can still be herded into the cargo hold of a C-130 and hoisted skyward. But this requires herders, and pilots. It's a group project.

_____

Edited by Archer Opterix, : html.

Edited by Archer Opterix, : brev


Archer

All species are transitional.


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nator
Member (Idle past 2140 days)
Posts: 12961
Joined: 12-09-2001


Message 33 of 108 (400088)
05-10-2007 8:37 AM
Reply to: Message 32 by Archer Opteryx
05-10-2007 7:25 AM


Re: Eight Steps
quote:
In time, Dumbo will recognize the feather for what it is.

The problem is, though, that AA doesn't seem to be designed to encourage or even allow people to realize what the feather really is.

So they are doomed to fall if they lose the feather.

Edited by nator, : No reason given.


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JustinC
Member (Idle past 2342 days)
Posts: 624
From: Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Joined: 07-21-2003


Message 34 of 108 (400141)
05-10-2007 5:00 PM
Reply to: Message 30 by nator
05-09-2007 8:28 PM


Re: Maybe this is why
quote:
Maybe the reason people like the "I am powerless over my addiction" thing is because it ultimately translates to "I am not really responsible if I fuck up."


In all fairness those two statements aren't equivalent at all. People admit they chose to start an addictive habit or drug, but it comes to a point where they are really powerless and need help.
[EDIT] Powerless is such a vague term that I think it needs to be qualified a bit. Addiction is the result of neurophysiology and cognitive patterns, as well as environmental triggers that induce 'cravings'. In this sense, when one admits they are powerless they should really say they are powerless over their addiction in the context of their present situation, i.e., if they maintain their lifestyle they are powerless their behavior.

Their entire psyche and neurophysiology is so abnormal that to call their continual use an act they have power over is really a stretch. The addiction begins to control them, not vice versa. This point may be hard to convey unless you've ever been addictive to a powerful narcotic or stimulant that directly effects your mesolimbic dopamine system (opiates and cocaine for example).

I'm not implying that higher power in the 12 steps is necessary, but admitting that you have lost control over your behavior is really just being honest with yourself. Of course, it could just become a self-fulfilling prophecy or an excuse for future use. In this sense, it may compound the problem and I think this is why you think they are equivalent. I admit this may not be helpful for addict, but admitting you have lost control is just a statement of fact in most cases and not a proscription for future use.

Anywho, I think the crucial element to the AA or NA is that its a community that keeps sobriety in the forefront of one's mind. That's the higher power their all attributing to God.

Edited by JustinC, : No reason given.


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Archer Opteryx
Member (Idle past 1096 days)
Posts: 1811
From: East Asia
Joined: 08-16-2006


Message 35 of 108 (400144)
05-10-2007 5:18 PM
Reply to: Message 33 by nator
05-10-2007 8:37 AM


Re: Eight Steps
nator: The problem is, though, that AA doesn't seem to be designed to encourage or even allow people to realize what the feather really is.

So they are doomed to fall if they lose the feather.

I agree. The biggest problem lies in the limited follow-through.
The founders of AA really believed in the magic feather.


Archer

All species are transitional.


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Jazzns
Member (Idle past 1409 days)
Posts: 2657
From: A Better America
Joined: 07-23-2004


Message 36 of 108 (400145)
05-10-2007 5:40 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by dwise1
05-07-2007 3:16 PM


Step 1: Go Dancing
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.

You are probably better off taking the object of your relationship troubles to your West Coast Swing class. Ballroom dancing is a great pill for relationship ills. You have to be in contact, you have to read each other's body language, and you get exercise which reduces stress.

I would recommend rumba over West Coast though. It is the one vertical dance that I think leads to more of the horizontal kind.


Of course, biblical creationists are committed to belief in God's written Word, the Bible, which forbids bearing false witness; --AIG (lest they forget)
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dwise1
Member
Posts: 2912
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 4.4


Message 37 of 108 (400152)
05-10-2007 7:07 PM
Reply to: Message 36 by Jazzns
05-10-2007 5:40 PM


Re: Step 1: Go Dancing
Not looking for moving any of the action off the floor yet, not for quite a while. Too recently divorced.

I'm the most confident with West Coast, Lindy is more fun and open to innovation (yes, as a matter of fact I do swing both ways: east coast and west coast). I've been learning more rhumba lately. I just did my first 3-month course on samba. In another month I'll be doing an advanced class in American tango. Cha-cha I've always faked with salsa, so I tend more towards club cha-cha instead of ballroom, which I have also studied. I'm starting a 3-month waltz class which will be followed by 3 months of foxtrot. Got hustle classes this month as well. And I need to get back to salsa again.

Who needs 12-step? I've got a couple 2-steps (Nightclub and Country) and a 10-step (a country dance).

It's my social life and very enjoyable. If I were to stay at home, I'd easily go through at least a few shots of tequila, but when I'm out I don't drink -- can't drink and dance; as the leader I'm the designated driver, so to speak. It's good group therapy.

'Course, I'm out every single night of the week either with dance classes or with dancing. It's called "social dancing", but I'm probably well into the "problem dancing" aspect. Just don't come anywhere near me with a cure!

Relevance to this topic? Just getting the person into a positive social environment, a group activity, does wonders in staving off bad habits that can become problems. And the only higher power here is "The One" (ie, the first beat of the measure that starts the phrase in the music).

{PS
Point being, that we are social animals to whom membership in a group, practically any group, is very important. The key to most of these rehabilitation methods is the group, much more important, in my opinion, than any statement of faith regarding one's own helplessness. Of course, if I were expected to be part of a group whose core values (eg, theism) I did not share, then I would not be able to feel a part of that group.

I'm sure some of you feel pity, saying "That poor guy; the only social life he has is dance class." Well, what about those for whom AA is their only social life? I'm sure there are some.

So why don't we get the AA'ers to go out, learn to dance, and start having a more positive social life?

PPS
I could just hear the Baptists wailing and gnashing their teeth at that suggestion. I used to participate in dance classes that a Baptist megachurch's singles ministry were having. Part of the organizer's job was to battle with church management to keep those classes going; non-dancing Baptists can have the weirdest misconceptions about dancing.
}

---------------------------------
Dizzy's Desiderata at http://members.aol.com/dwise1/dance/dizzys.html, attributed to Dizzy Gillespie:

1. Dance adroitly amidst the flailing limbs and flashing feet, and remember what joy there is in open floor space.
2. As far as possible, without risk of personal injury, accept all invitations to dance.
3. As far as possible, without entanglement, be on kissing terms with all women.
4. Dance your moves with style and grace; observe other dancers, even the clumsy and arrhythmic; they can serve as negative examples.
5. Avoid dancers who over-Charleston; they are dangerous to life and limb.
6. If you compare yourself with others, you may become frustrated or overconfident, for always there will be greater and lesser dancers than yourself.
7. Enjoy the jump blues as well as the slow drags.
8. Keep interested in the basics, they are the fount of all innovation.
9. Exercise caution in your dance floor romances, for the world is full of fickle lotharios and femme fatales.
10. But let this not blind you to the joys of flirting.
11. Exercise caution in your choice of dance instructors, cause the world is full of Arthur Murray Studios.
12. Strive always to develop your own style.
13. Especially remember that you can't fake skill; great skill is often manifested in a simple and elegant style.
14. Neither be easily discouraged for skill only comes with diligence.
15. Listen to your body, you aren't as young as you think; leave the aerials to the young and the foolhardy.
16. Nurture skill in several dances to provide you options on contra nights at Glen Echo.
17. Nurture skill in several dances so you can go dancing and still avoid your ex.
18. Do not distress yourself over the accuracy of your feelings of inadequacy; you are that bad -- just work on it.
19. Many feelings of inadequacy are generated at Steven Mitchell workshops. Therefore always follow-up a Steven Mitchell workshop with one by Frankie Manning.
20. You are a child of the rhythm no less than the planets and the stars; stay within the pocket.
21. And whether or not the rhythm is in your soul, the music does have a beat. Therefore be on time with the music and your partner, even if you have to count.
22. And whatever your natural talent and intentions, in the noisy confusion of the dance, keep your eye on your partner.
23. With all the hamstring pulls, shin splints and occasional bruises, the dance is still beautiful.
24. Smile.
25. Strive to hear the one.

BTW, the Frankie Manning mentioned in 19 was one of Whitey's Lindy Hoppers. He turns 93 this month. He's still dancing and still teaching.

Edited by dwise1, : No reason given.

Edited by dwise1, : postscripts


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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anastasia
Member (Idle past 3451 days)
Posts: 1857
From: Bucks County, PA
Joined: 11-05-2006


Message 38 of 108 (400187)
05-11-2007 12:11 AM
Reply to: Message 37 by dwise1
05-10-2007 7:07 PM


Re: Step 1: Go Dancing
dwise1 writes:

Relevance to this topic? Just getting the person into a positive social environment, a group activity, does wonders in staving off bad habits that can become problems. And the only higher power here is "The One" (ie, the first beat of the measure that starts the phrase in the music).

That's a good point. My sister has been in a recovery program for some time now, and it often disgusts me how they (addicts and counselors) remain focused in the problem for years while much of the addictive behaviour has to do with the environment the addicts are in when they leave counseling.

Bad homes, poor neighborhoods, friends with addictions, many times no interests or hobbies, leaves people feeling trapped in a cycle that is only alleviated or dealt with in a group. I would love to see counseling take on a more whole-person approach, maybe have some field trips instead of the daily talks about drugs! Let people know there is more to life than the petty circles they are in, and give them confidence in other areas of life that can take hold and help them recover.

My sis is going on four years of 'recovery' from an opiate addiction that lasted about two. Four years of medication, 3 train rides a week in the am, interfering with work schedules, and a counseling session to sit and talk about drugs with other addicts. She is quite obviously addicted to recovery, works with and socializes with other addicts. She has lost, IMO, all sense of being a self-sufficient individual outside of the group.

I have no problem with the idea of relating to a group...but which group do you want to be a part of long-term?


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dwise1
Member
Posts: 2912
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 4.4


Message 39 of 108 (400194)
05-11-2007 3:03 AM
Reply to: Message 38 by anastasia
05-11-2007 12:11 AM


Re: Step 1: Go Dancing
I know it's facile. I know that it comes from pop psychology ("Psycho-Cybernetics", if that's still around -- amazon.com says it is).

If you spend all your time talking and thinking about not doing drugs, then all the time you're thinking about doing drugs. Therefore, instead of living a life thinking about drugs, think about something positive to do. Rather than have your life revolve around drugs (even though the emphasis is on not doing it, you're still revolving your life around drug use), redirect your attention to something else to do with your life. Rather than concentrating on what not to do (which is counter-productive), concentrate on what you need to do. It's like Lord Baden-Powell (founder of Scouting in the UK) saying that the Scout Law being better than (without naming it explicitly) the Ten Commandments because the Scout Law tells you what to do instead of what to not do.

Now, I have no training in psychology nor in therapy nor in counselling. But it just seems to make so much sense that you would want to direct an addict to a positive way of life. To give the person a more positive and constructive outlet for the drives and feelings that are driving them towards the addictive behavior.

Yes, I know that my own dancing could be seen as addictive behavior. At the very least, it's escapist (it's much more than just the divorce experience, but I don't want to burden anyone unnecessarily). Once when I described my dance schedule (before I expanded it to almost every single night of the week), a man who had been divorced longer than I commented, "Yeah, that sounds about right, until you drop from exhaustion." Well, I'm trying to pace myself so I can keep this up as long as possible.

Now, maybe the real problem is that most people would not know what passion to follow. For over 25 years, my ex had been brainwashing me that I could not possibly ever learn to dance. Indeed, although I started learning 7 years ago, it's only been in the past couple years that I could even begin to think that I could learn to dance or that I could possibly be considered a good dancer (even though from the very first lesson the women were complimenting me on my strong and smooth lead). Seven years (or fewer) ago if I had been an addict and a counsellor had tried to find something positive for me and had suggested dancing, I would have said what I knew for a "fact", that I could not ever possibly learn it.

And perhaps that's the real barrier. Therapists cannot find those positive lifestyles because the patients have unrealistically low expectations of their own abilities. So they work on the only things that they do know, the problems.

Edited by dwise1, : No reason given.


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nator
Member (Idle past 2140 days)
Posts: 12961
Joined: 12-09-2001


Message 40 of 108 (400212)
05-11-2007 7:51 AM
Reply to: Message 38 by anastasia
05-11-2007 12:11 AM


Re: Step 1: Go Dancing
quote:
I would love to see counseling take on a more whole-person approach, maybe have some field trips instead of the daily talks about drugs! Let people know there is more to life than the petty circles they are in, and give them confidence in other areas of life that can take hold and help them recover.

Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy sounds like the ticket.


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kongstad
Member (Idle past 368 days)
Posts: 175
From: Copenhagen, Denmark
Joined: 02-24-2004


Message 41 of 108 (400226)
05-11-2007 9:18 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Phat
05-07-2007 12:24 PM


Why haven't they been updated?
What I wonder about the 12 steps, and having seen the bullshit episode with P&T, is why haven't the 12 steps ever changed?

It is a big sign of the woo that someone somehow trips over these 12 steps, and now many years after they are still using the same unedited 12 steps.

How do they know they are all necessary? Why not cut out one or two of them? Are they more or less effective if you remove the word god? etc. etc.

What epistemic principle do they rely upon?

/Soren


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Phat
Member
Posts: 9589
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
Member Rating: 1.8


Message 42 of 108 (400228)
05-11-2007 9:55 AM
Reply to: Message 30 by nator
05-09-2007 8:28 PM


Re: Maybe this is why
Anastasia writes:

Actually, even if the clauses concerning God were deleted from AA, I am with you in saying that the 'powerlessness' thing does more harm than good.

From a Christian perspective, the powerless thing as you call it really connects and relates to this scripture:
NIV writes:

Rom 1:28-- Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.

In other words, the person would be powerless in the sense that they had chosen an addiction as an escape from reality, thinking of it not as an idol but as something that they could control. Of course the concept of idolatry sounds rather primitive to our enlightened way of thinking. We can discuss the Christian belief system in regards to this if you want. As Crashfrog puts it, woo. :rolleyes:

Nator writes:

Maybe the reason people like the "I am powerless over my addiction" thing is because it ultimately translates to "I am not really responsible if I fuck up."

  • Keep in mind that I am speaking from a Christian World View in the context of this discussion. While the 12 step model does not address the issue of personal responsibility, which I see as one of its flaws, many Christian counselors do address personal responsibility as a necessary admission in order for the addictions to get resolved.

    Its not all so simple as an Altar Call, however. Any conservative Christian or Roman Catholic in a confession booth for that matter can say Forgive me, Father...I messed up! I went and gambled (or drank) yesterday! I'm truly sorry for having a free will and I now recommit and resubmit myself to Obedience!

    Its not as simple as that nor need it be such a controlling realization.

    Lets examine the philosophy of the sin model of addictive behavior for a moment.

    First, in the World View of many Christians, sin is the concept of an offense against God.

    Strongs Concordance writes:

    OT:2403

    chatta'ah (khat-taw-aw'); or chatta'th (khat-tawth'); from OT:2398; an offence (sometimes habitual sinfulness), and its penalty, occasion, sacrifice, or expiation; also (concretely) an offender:

    KJV - punishment (of sin), purifying (-fication for sin), sin (-ner, offering).

    Edward Welch has some insight within a Christian perspective.

    Unlike many fundamentalists, he actually went to school and learned many of the secular theories of addictive behavior as well. I will be quoting some ideas from his book, so when you see the quote, attribute it to Welch.

    NIV writes:

    John 8:33-34-- They answered him, "We are Abraham's descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?"
    Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.

    Welch writes:

    (We must) realize that addiction, like all sin, doesn't impose itself on us unless we have been willing to entertain the seeds of it in our imaginations.

    Nator, you may argue of course that the Christian solution simply replaces one addiction with another. (Addiction to religion).

    Welch actually embraces the disease model along with the sin model. as Crash pointed out, some addictions have physical withdrawl and are literally biologically enslaving.

    One thing that we can perhaps agree on is that an addict has to want to change before they can change.


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  • Phat
    Member
    Posts: 9589
    From: Denver,Colorado USA
    Joined: 12-30-2003
    Member Rating: 1.8


    Message 43 of 108 (400242)
    05-11-2007 2:18 PM
    Reply to: Message 41 by kongstad
    05-11-2007 9:18 AM


    The crux of the biscuit
    kongstad writes:

    ...why haven't the 12 steps ever changed?...How do they know they are all necessary? Why not cut out one or two of them? Are they more or less effective if you remove the word god?

    Of course, as a Christian, I would be in favor of one step:

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

    For me, God is a necessary part of the process. For others, the process seems to work better without God.

    IMHO, the only other power greater than an individual...aside from God, is a group.


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     Message 41 by kongstad, posted 05-11-2007 9:18 AM kongstad has not yet responded

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    anastasia
    Member (Idle past 3451 days)
    Posts: 1857
    From: Bucks County, PA
    Joined: 11-05-2006


    Message 44 of 108 (400289)
    05-11-2007 10:11 PM
    Reply to: Message 42 by Phat
    05-11-2007 9:55 AM


    Re: Maybe this is why
    Phat writes:

    From a Christian perspective, the powerless thing as you call it really connects and relates to this scripture:

    Phat, of course I understand the Christian concept of being powerless over human nature without God. But we are talking about feeding an arguable theological tenet to your average drug addict. I am only telling you from personal experience that this is creating a situation where many people ARE NOT becoming suddenly God-fearing, but are sucking up this 'powerless' stuff, especially in conjunction with what they hear about having an 'addictive personality' and they are using it as an excuse to fail.

    The only possible thing I can tell you about any recovery program's efficacy is what I have seen first hand. I don't care about the woo-woo 'what it could do' in some one lucky case where the treatment is a 'match' for the addict. I do not currently know many who have made a complete and clear reversal, or have not picked up an alternate habit. The few people I can say have truly changed, did so in spite of AA.

    I would like to know upon what criteria you or Welch make addictions sinful. I am of the belief that they can be in some cases. But clearly, to me at least, someone needs to decide what they are treating! A biological condition, a sin, a bad habit, or an underlying cause? True there are some things which lead to a dependancy...curing a person of dependancy is just a bandage to the problem if the 'seeds' still persist in the mind. I would say that whether or not medications are prescribed for physical addiction, you can still continue to discuss the preventative counseling aspect.


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    anastasia
    Member (Idle past 3451 days)
    Posts: 1857
    From: Bucks County, PA
    Joined: 11-05-2006


    Message 45 of 108 (400291)
    05-11-2007 10:14 PM
    Reply to: Message 43 by Phat
    05-11-2007 2:18 PM


    Re: The crux of the biscuit
    Phat writes:

    IMHO, the only other power greater than an individual...aside from God, is a group.

    Yep, it is usually a group that gets someone to try something the first time!


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 43 by Phat, posted 05-11-2007 2:18 PM Phat has acknowledged this reply

        
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