5. ‘Spiritus Contra Spiritum’: Spirituality, Belief and Discipline in Alcoholics Anonymous
Spirituality and Wellbeing - Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Religious Experience and Health - Bettina E. Schmidt
Wendy Dossett [+]
University of Chester
The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) suggest that the solution to alcohol addiction may be found in ‘a power greater than the self’. Carl Jung, who engaged in a correspondence with one of AA’s founders, asserted that medicine, even analytical psychology, could be of limited use to a sufferer. He agreed with AA that the problem was of a spiritual nature and a solution was to be found in a spiritual awakening. This chapter explores the ways in which members of Alcoholics Anonymous identify their recovery as ‘spiritual’. It demonstrates that much contemporary AA engagement deviates considerably from its Christian theistic roots and sits more comfortably within the holistic milieu. However, the practice of ‘spiritual discipline’ central to the Twelve Step programme captures an easily overlooked feature of AA, and one which also sets it apart from self-soothing and happiness-seeking features of contemporary well-being spirituality.