GRCP 634 - SPIRITUALITY OF THE 12-STEPS
Wednesdays 6:00 - 8:45 PM
St. Joseph's Hall, Room 242
Faculty: Jeffrey A. Schaler, Ph.D.
Telephone: (215) 402-0268
Office hours: (by appointment)
According to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) historian Ernest Kurtz, spirituality in AA is transmitted and "grown into" through "release," "gratitude," "humility," and "tolerance." These are considered the characteristics of spirituality in AA, according to Kurtz. "The term not-God is the theme around which AA developed (Kurtz)."
In this graduate course, we will explore spirituality as a key aspect in 12- step programs in light of those four characteristics. In a general sense, spirituality refers to belief in a metaphysical entity that can influence personal experience. In AA, the belief in "not-God" is the heart of spirituality, particularly for the individual in relation to alcohol: "First of all, we had to quit playing God" (Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 62). Students in this course will develop a deeper understanding of what the term "not-God" means, how it constitutes the core of spirituality in AA, and what it means in relation to beliefs about alcoholism for 12-step programs.
AA ideas about alcoholism continue to influence and clash with scientific research. While many people believe that AA is the most effective form of treatment for alcoholism, and are attracted to it because of its spirituality, others eschew and denounce AA for the same reasons. We will learn about why an increasing number of people around the country dislike and criticize the spirituality of AA.
Finally, using historical, psychological and sociological research methods, we will examine spirituality in the 12-steps in relation to major religious and existential traditions. Students will be introduced to contemporary issues confronting spiritual practice in AA. These include the application of 12-step principles in professional treatment programs, the effectiveness of those programs, and First Amendment rights issues. Lecture and discussion format.
Kurtz, E. (1979). Not-God. Center City: Minneapolis, Minn.: Hazelden Foundation.
Required readings: (Note: These are on reserve in the library. You will
need to make copies of each article at the library.)
Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. (1985). Alcoholics Anonymous.
Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. (Just the 12-Steps and the Twelve Traditions.)
Alexander, F. amp; Rollins, M. (1984). Alcoholics Anonymous: The unseen cult. California Sociologist, Winter, 33-48.
Antze, P. (1987). Symbolic action in Alcoholics Anonymous. In M. Douglas (ed.) Constructive drinking: Perspectives on drink from anthropology, pp. 149-181. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Bateson, G. (1971). The cybernetics of "self": A theory of alcoholism. Psychiatry, 34(1), 1-18.
"Elpenor." (1986). A drunkard's progress: AA and the sobering strength of myth. Harper's Magazine, October, 42-48.
Greil, A.L. amp; Rudy, D.R. (1983). Conversion to the world view of Alcoholics Anonymous: A refinement of conversion theory. Qualitative Sociology, 6 (1), 5-28.
Leach, B. amp; Norris, J.L. (1977). Factors in the development of Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.). In Benjamin Kissin and Henri Begleiter (eds.), Treatment and Rehabilitation of the Chronic Alcoholic, pp. 443-507. New York: Plenum Press.
Schaler, J.A. (1996) Spiritual thinking in Addiction-Treatment Providers: The Spiritual Belief Scale (SBS). Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, 14 (3), 7- 33.
Course Requirements and Grades First paper amp; presentation 20% Mid-term examination 25% Final paper 50% Class participation 5% Total = 100%
Review paper and presentation: Write a three-page paper reviewing one of the articles on reserve in the library. The paper should be typed and double- spaced. Do not quote more than two lines in the article. Describe the general idea(s) presented; how the author(s) presents these ideas and/or opinion; and your response to the ideas and the methodology of the article. You will then present your review in class.
Mid-term examination: This will be an essay exam based on the readings in class.
Final paper: Write a 10 to 15-page paper on any topic related to the ideas we focused on in class. You must discuss the topic of your paper with Dr. Schaler before you begin to write it. Your paper should be typed and double- spaced. You should use American Psychological Association (APA) format. Your paper should have an introduction including a statement of the problem or issue addressed, a review of the literature, a discussion and a conclusion. Cite 5 to 10 references outside of the ones assigned in class.
* Clear and accurate writing will be taken into account in assigning grades, as well as participation in class discussions. One grade reduction for over three class absences. Students are responsible for anything covered in class during their absence. Readings must be completed by the session to which they are assigned. Additional readings may be assigned during the course. Grades: A-=90, B+=89, B-=80, C+=79, C-=70
Class Schedule Date Topic Reading September 3 Introduction: Lecture The History of Beliefs The 12-steps and About Alcoholism; What Twelve Traditions AA Is -- And What It Isn't; of AA; Schaler What is "spirituality"?; article What does "not-God" mean? Characteristics of spirituality in AA September 10 The History Kurtz: The and Development of AA Beginnings through Evolving topics First Growth; The problem of alcoholism Leach amp; Norris: 441-470 September 17 History and Kurtz: Development of AA Independent Evolving topics Existence through Alcoholism research Prelude to and controversies Maturity; Finish Leach amp; Norris September 24 History of AA Kurtz: Attaining Film Maturity through Evolving topics Responsibilities of Maturity; October 1 History and Fullness of Time Developmental Factors through end of Kurtz October 8 Article review and Antze article presentation AA as Protestantism October 15 Article review and Bateson article and presentation What is the "self"? October 22 No class, Fall break October 29 Article review and presentation Greil article The meaning of conversion November 5 Article review and presentation Alexander article Is AA a cult? November 12 Article review and presentation Handout Does AA "work"? November 19 Mid-term examination November 26 No class, Thanksgiving holiday December 3 Freedom of and Freedom from Schaler lecture spirituality and religion in Handout AA; Contemporary legal issues December 10 Project MATCH and 12-step Schaler lecture Programs: What you always knew Handout about spirituality, AA, and alcoholism (but professional treatment programs and the federal government won't tell you) Final paper due
© Copyright Jeffrey A. Schaler, 1997-2002 unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.