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Re: 12 step programs » JLx

Posted by mi nación malvada on October 12, 2004, at 23:16:26

In reply to Re: 12 step programs » mi nación malvada, posted by JLx on October 12, 2004, at 20:57:47

> >My faith holds that my life matters nothing at all and that life itself has no inherent meaning whatsoever.
> Do you mean this as an acknowledgement of perceived fact, or is this your chosen philosophy?
> JL
Its more a matter of having looked everywhere and not having found any meaning. The faith comes into play sort of like knowing that I looked for my lost keys everywhere, but not checking again under the sofa cushions because I already looked there and I have faith that they didnt' appear there since I last looked. That is more or less acknowledgement of a perceived fact, with faith that I can never really know all the facts.

> What are the other behaviorial modification approaches and direct interventions that are now successful?
Without digging up the literature, I can offer that the most successful approach is brief motivational interviews. They have been tried in several forms, to effect a variety of behaviors, first with diet and lifestyle for diabetics and heart patients and then latter in the context of alcohol-related pathologies. Google ( the phrase to learn more, but essentially, the interviews explore reasons an individual wants to change (or not) and emphasizes that only the individual can affect change, then explore specific tactics for change. The process works in part because it is a repeated exercise. Few people recover from substance addictions after their first exposure to any treatment regime. That is part of the miracle of AA -- it provides a cost effective means of offering sustained interest in a person's change. Brief interviews work the same way - they don't invest lots of money in hour-long therapy sessions, but rather provide the necessary information in an affordable package that can be delivered as often as is needed to be effective. What hasn't been tried or tested, to my knowledge, is self-help groups such as AA where individuals enjoy specific training (aside from participation in group processes) in how to converse with individuals suffering from self-destructive behavior.

> The last I heard (and I admit it's been a few years since I was an active 12-stepper) the treatment centers were using some variation of the 12-steps if not actual AA meetings themselves. AA was formed because doctors and psychiatrists of the day were spectacularly unsuccessful in treating alcoholism.

Yes, AA and other forms of mutual self-help are a standard part of most long-term substance-related treatment modalities. But the shared element of the programs is not the reliance on a "higher power" but rather, the availability of peer support. That does not necessarily mean faith is not an important part of the process, but the requirement of faith among some self-help groups is not necessarily evidence that faith is the reason groups work. there is no evidence, to my knowledge, that self help groups that appeal to faith are any more effective than self-help groups that rely purely on social and behavioral considerations. We would need to travel beyond the united states, perhaps to the Peoples Republic of China, to find self-help groups that are predominately materialist in their world view. Regardless sustained western efforts to hurt and put down believers in Communist ideology, put-downs that are well documented by civil scholars and journalists world-wide, self-help approaches there under materialist ideals have served to bring that greater half of the world's population from unstable life under the rule of emporers to the thoughtful, compassionate and considerate culture it is today. There, faith has been in materialist ideals and in the human spirit. Any faithful spiritist who has no tolerance for faithful materialism, as is stated at the top of this page, should be driven from the comfort and privilage of a civil state.
> I also note that I think it's extremely hard to measure the efficacy of a self-help, voluntary spiritual program where the goal is not simply to quit drinking. Central to the self-help paradigm is that one must be ready. And how does one measure that a seed was planted? It's fairly common for people to cycle through rehab or AA several times before it "takes", for instance.

It was not easy for researchers to compile and weight evidence for various treatment modalities, either, but by using the best of scientific procedures, and by exhaustively reviewing the available research, at least two major meta-studies have reached more or less consistent results. They did succeed in creating a well-designed comparitive analysis relative to the behavior in question - self-destructive consumption of ethyl alcohol. They did not attempt to measure spiritual growth, nor in these studies, social integration beyond destructive alcohol-related habits.

> AA is not going to be everyone's cup of tea, but I would encourage anyone with a serious addiction or related problem to put it to the experiential test.

I wouldn't steer them away from AA, unless they hung up on the issue of a higher power, or the overuse of nicotene and caffiene among many AA groups. But I would advise anyone with a public health budget to spend to invest my tax dollars in training professionals who come in contact with those suffering from alcohol consumption - probation officers, social workers, physicians, teachers and even cops - in the specific tactics of breif motivational dialogues.

> I would agree with that, but also note that a more healthy surrogate addiction may be just the transition that some people absolutely need.

That is probably why the JH text advised it.

>>It's more than just a passing comfort to be with people who REALLY KNOW your own kind of pain.

That is beyond my area of expertise. I don't know anything about being among people who REALLY KNOW my kind of pain. The older I've gotten the more isolated I have become with my particular suffering.

> >The 12 step programs don't require that we identify this higher power as anything more than our own inner voice - what is important for the operation of the group is collective surrender. Whatever is this "higher power" we embrace, it serves to legitimize the authority of the group, whose primary authority in turn is in the area of pressuring us to behave in a certain way.

> The idea of surrendering to a higher power is to get beyond one's ego. Everything is perception, but in general, I would say that it's probably not listening to one's own inner voice so much as attempting to listen for something other than our voice.

Well, the "inner voice" angle works for several AA members I've met who don't embrace monotheistic faiths, and it has been accepted among AA groups I've encountered in a few states. Neurobiologically, there is some basis to the value of getting beyond the ego to listen to an inner voice. The ego is related to our social context. The "inner voice" can be informed by deeper experiences beyond the realization of our ego - that is where we map the voices of our ancestors, which some faiths hold to be our connection with whatever they describe as deity.

> Look within.
> Be still.
> Free from fear and attachment,
> Know the sweet joy of living in the way.
> --Buddha
> When the five senses and the mind are still, and reason itself rests in silence, then begins the Path supreme. –Katha Upanishad
> "Reason itself rests in silence". I like that.
> I think what many people who study AA from outside fail to appreciate is that it IS a spiritual program. The language of the 12-steps is clumsy and the binding ingredient of addiction (or whatever the purpose of the group) complicates the picture, but at its heart it's teaching a method to transcend the ego-self, to achieve faith.

Likewise, those who experience AA from the inside might not recognize the magic that is worked purely in the physical realm, though that magic might involve supplication to some other realm. To cite a fundamental tenent of formal logic, the correlation of faith with recovery doesn't mean faith was the causal factor. In the end, the question of whether faith is the cause of cures in faith-based modalities is irrelevant to the question of whether there is merit in faith. Faith holds that the object of faith is true, regardless whatever obstacles intervene.

I also suspect some who are familiar with theistic systems of faith might underestimate the spiritual nature of some peoples relationship with a world they beleive is entirely consistent with physical realities, though the intricate nature of those realities might not be well described in our lifetime or anytime in the near future. I am offended, hurt and put down when people associate my atheistic and agnostic tendencies with a lack of faith. If I had no faith, I could never trust other drivers at high speeds on two-lane roads. And I would be saving for retirement rather than trusting the material world to care for me and toss me out when it is done with me.

My faith has allowed me to let go of whatever objects I beleived in, including deities, and allowed me to believe that I am alive, regardless the fact my life is meaningless, and when I die, that event will be equally meaningless.




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