8. To Thine Own Self be True: Alcoholics Anonymous, Recovery and Care of the Self
Spirituality and Wellbeing - Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Religious Experience and Health - Bettina E. Schmidt
Lymarie Rodriguez [+]
University of Wales Trinity Saint David
In this paper, a discussion is built upon findings from a qualitative study that investigated how young men worked through the process of recovery from substance use disorder whilst participating in 12-step fellowships in the UK (e.g. Alcoholics Anonymous). Alcoholic Anonymous’ spiritual discourse on recovery gives prominence to the development of a set of spiritual practices that trains participants in their capacities of self-care and self-regulation (i.e. writing, praying). Drawing on Foucault (2005), spiritual exercises were in antiquity a form of pedagogy, designed to teach people of a philosophical life that had both a moral and existential value. Spiritual practices were ways in which to enact self-transformation - an exercise of self upon the self by which one attempts to develop and transform, in order to attain a certain mode of being. The participants’ narratives presented authenticity and care of the self as a salient aspect of their recovery. Care and authenticity had become, in Antonovsky's (1987) words, ‘a generalized way of seeing the world’.