In a 1961 letter to AA’s co-founder, BillW., the renowned psychoanalyst, Carl Jung, described two main ways in which individuals with severe alcohol addiction might recover. One was through ‘real religious insight’; the other was through ‘the protective wall of human community’ characterized by a ‘personal and honest contact with friends’ (AA, 1963) . Although AA has more earnestly expressed the former as being the principal pathway to recovery in its main texts [33,63] perhaps inadvertently, stemming from its social orientation and structure, it has also tapped into the curative facets of the latter—protective and positive social influence. While other factors are certainly involved to varying degrees, this AA-facilitated combination, in particular, appears to help individuals suffering from alcohol addiction to find and sustain recovery.
[Hat tip: Matt]
2 thoughts on “a protective wall of human community”
Very incisive observation, which begs the question of how the two elements Dr. Jung recommended are linked through a mutual aid fellowship such as AA. In other words, why does AA seem to foster the type of “religious insights” necessary for some alcoholics to get sober better than other fellowships? I have a feeling that the answer to this question has something to do with the process of psychological identification between AA members, which is facilitated through a type of storytelling that transmits information about one’s identity as an alcoholic and his or her transformation through involvement with the group, the experience of “awakening,” and the general improvement in quality of life. These stories are not unlike those told among various Protestant groups, with the exception of the motivation for telling them. In religious movements, they are often told with the intent to bring others into the fold, but in AA they are told in order for the individual to remember who he or she is. It is by means of telling these stories, within the context of a fellowship predicated upon the equality that comes through each member self-identifying as an alcoholic, that the storyteller and storylistener obtain the sort of “religious insights” relevant to the recovery process.
It works 🙂
13 years, 7 months and a few days
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