Welcome to DU! The truly grassroots left-of-center political community where regular people, not algorithms, drive the discussions and set the standards. Join the community: Create a free account Support DU (and get rid of ads!): Become a Star Member All Forums Issue Forums Culture Forums Alliance Forums Region Forums Support Forums Help & Search


Rhiannon12866's Journal
Rhiannon12866's Journal
June 29, 2019

Secret of AA: After 75 Years, We Don't Know How It Works


The resolve is striking, though not entirely surprising. AA has been inspiring this sort of ardent devotion for 75 years. It was in June 1935, amid the gloom of the Great Depression, that a failed stockbroker and reformed lush named Bill Wilson founded the organization after meeting God in a hospital room. He codified his method in the 12 steps, the rules at the heart of AA. Entirely lacking in medical training, Wilson created the steps by cribbing ideas from religion and philosophy, then massaging them into a pithy list with a structure inspired by the Bible.

The 200-word instruction set has since become the cornerstone of addiction treatment in this country, where an estimated 23 million people grapple with severe alcohol or drug abuse—more than twice the number of Americans afflicted with cancer. Some 1.2 million people belong to one of AA's 55,000 meeting groups in the US, while countless others embark on the steps at one of the nation's 11,000 professional treatment centers. Anyone who seeks help in curbing a drug or alcohol problem is bound to encounter Wilson's system on the road to recovery.

It's all quite an achievement for a onetime broken-down drunk. And Wilson's success is even more impressive when you consider that AA and its steps have become ubiquitous despite the fact that no one is quite sure how—or, for that matter, how well—they work. The organization is notoriously difficult to study, thanks to its insistence on anonymity and its fluid membership. And AA's method, which requires "surrender" to a vaguely defined "higher power," involves the kind of spiritual revelations that neuroscientists have only begun to explore.

What we do know, however, is that despite all we've learned over the past few decades about psychology, neurology, and human behavior, contemporary medicine has yet to devise anything that works markedly better. "In my 20 years of treating addicts, I've never seen anything else that comes close to the 12 steps," says Drew Pinsky, the addiction-medicine specialist who hosts VH1's Celebrity Rehab. "In my world, if someone says they don't want to do the 12 steps, I know they aren't going to get better."

Wilson may have operated on intuition, but somehow he managed to tap into mechanisms that counter the complex psychological and neurological processes through which addiction wreaks havoc. And while AA's ability to accomplish this remarkable feat is not yet understood, modern research into behavior dynamics and neuroscience is beginning to provide some tantalizing clues.

One thing is certain, though: AA doesn't work for everybody. In fact, it doesn't work for the vast majority of people who try it. And understanding more about who it does help, and why, is likely our best shot at finally developing a system that improves on Wilson's amateur scheme for living without the bottle.

Much more (Long article, but a favorite of mine): https://www.wired.com/2010/06/ff-alcoholics-anonymous/

June 29, 2019

Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO) - 6/28/19

Monologue: Commie Con

Bill reacts to the first round of Democratic primary debates in his Real Time monologue.

Tulsi Gabbard

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) joins Bill to discuss her strategy to beat Donald Trump in the 2020 election.

Future Headlines: Summer 2019

Bill predicts the headlines ahead of Real Time's summer break.

Seth MacFarlane on Dem Debates

Comedian and producer Seth MacFarlane joins Bill to discuss the highs and lows of the Democratic debates.

New Rule: No Planet B

In his editorial New Rule, Bill argues that, if we're going to make a planet hospitable to human life, we should start with Earth.

Overtime: Seth MacFarlane, Joy Reid, Adam Gopnik, Max Brooks

Bill Maher and his guests answer viewer questions after the show.

June 29, 2019

Seth Meyers: Guest Rep. Pramila Jayapal Convinced a College Classmate She Was a Princess

Representative Pramila Jayapal talks about moving to the U.S. alone when she was 16-years-old, her push for Medicare-for-all and supporting her fellow congresswomen of color.

The Tiny Voice in the Back of Donald Trump's Head: The Dream Has Finally Happened

Seth shows off some new technology that can hear the tiny voice in the back of Donald Trump's head.

June 29, 2019

Seth Meyers: Guest Kate McKinnon

Kate McKinnon Perfectly Impersonates Marianne Williamson at the Democratic Debate

Kate McKinnon talks about Elizabeth Warren at the Democratic debate, impersonates Marianne Williamson and tells Seth about her visit to Scotland.

Seth's Favorite Jokes of the Week: The First Democratic Debate, Biden’s Dinner

Seth's favorite jokes from the week of June 24.

June 29, 2019

Seth Meyers - Democratic Presidential Primary Debate, Night Two: A Closer Look

Seth takes a closer look at the second night of the first Democratic presidential debate of the 2020 election.

June 29, 2019

The Daily Show: Rhode Island Teens Fight for Civics Education

Jaboukie Young-White meets with teen activist who are suing the state of Rhode Island for better civics education in schools.

June 29, 2019

The Daily Show: The Plain View Project Exposes Pervasive Police Racism

A new review of police officers’ social media accounts by the Plain View Project reveals that many cops have posted vehemently racist sentiments online.

June 28, 2019

Real Time with Bill Maher guests - Friday, June 28, 2019

Real Time with Bill Maher guests - Friday, June 28, 2019
Real Time with Bill Maher continues its 17th season Friday, June 28 (10:00-11:00 p.m. live ET/tape-delayed PT), with a replay at 12:30 a.m., exclusively on HBO.

Rep. (Hawaii-D) and presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard is the top-of-show interview guest.

Actor Seth MacFarlane is the mid-show interview guest.

The roundtable guests are author Max Brooks, writer Adam Gopnik and political analyst Joy Reid.

June 28, 2019

Stephen Colbert - Guest Gov. Chris Christie: "Joe Biden Has Room To Have A Tough Night"

The former New Jersey Governor thinks Sen. Kamala Harris won night two of the Democratic debate by going on the offense against Joe Biden, but he also says that the former Vice President is unlikely to lose ground after one bad debate.

Gov. Chris Christie On Trump's Biggest Debate Weakness

Former Governor Chris Christie believes Trump's weakness is that he will get baited by opponents in debates by "swinging at every pitch."

Profile Information

Gender: Female
Hometown: NE New York
Home country: USA
Current location: Serious Snow Country :(
Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 200,382

Journal Entries

Latest Discussions»Rhiannon12866's Journal