Friday, Jul. 02, 2010

The 12 Steps

What would the world of self-help be without 12-step recovery programs? Before there were Gamblers Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Sex Addicts Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous — each with 12 steps — there was AA and its highly spiritual enumerated blueprint. Co-founder Wilson's membership in the Oxford Group and his fondness for William James' The Varieties of Religious Experience are evident in the 12 steps, in which God has much more of a presence than alcohol. In the first step, members acknowledge they are "powerless over alcohol." The final step, instructing recovered alcoholics to "carry this message" to others, is unabashedly evangelical. Wilson cited Dr. William D. Silkworth, who spoke of alcohol as a physical problem, as inspiration.