A Newsweek article about ‘A Struggle inside AA’ the practices of the Midtown Group.
|MARK DOMBECK, PH.D.
ESSAYS AND BLOGS CONCERNING MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL HEALTHIt’s time for a follow-up on my AA is a Cult? Essay of about a year ago. Two reasons for this. First, profiling an AA group in the Washington DC area which has been accused of cult-like and abusive behavior. And of course, as AA is by design an open organization at the ground level, there are not really mechanisms in place to keep predatory sorts of folks from joining and then manipulating the organization. Some words on how to identify and avoid predatory behaviors and characteristics are perhaps in order. Second, because the comments on my original AA article keep on coming, and there are distinct patterns emerging therein which are worth commenting on.The Newsweek article first. The article concerns meetings held at Midtown, which is represented as one of the oldest and largest meetings in the DC area. According to Newsweek, Midtown members pressured a recent attendee, a young woman named “May”, to cut off ties with anyone outside the group, to stop taking doctor-prescribed medications for her bipolar disorder, and to date and become sexually involved with other group members. Apparently, newer group members were also pressured to do chores for more established group members, as though they were pledging for a fraternity. There are other accusations as well, but these listed here capture the tone of the complaints.Some of these behaviors, such as encouraging members to go off prescribed medications, become sexually involved with other members, and do chores for other members seem simply abusive, controlling and arrogant. They are against established AA guidelines as I understand them. Other behaviors such as the group’s efforts to socially isolate members may have started out with good intentions. Some social control can be a good thing when dealing with addictions. Addicts build up habit chains, which are series of linked behaviors that lead them down a path towards becoming intoxicated. For instance, seeing a friend with whom you used to drink can set off a chain of behaviors which culminates in you drinking again. The best way to cope with these sorts of habit chains is to avoid getting them triggered. It makes sense, therefore, for newly recovering alcoholics to avoid the people, places and things associated with their drinking habits which get the habit chains started. It similarly makes sense for an organization designed to promote sobriety to encourage newly sober members to avoid those triggering people, places and things as well. There is a line that can be crossed into abuse here as well. You can certainly attempt to control people too much. However, the bar is higher for calling this sort of social control abusive than for some of the other behaviors Midtown is accused of perpetrating.
Read the rest of this article……http://www.mentalhelp.net/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=12570
Washington Post article-Seeking Recovery-Finding Confusion