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Ideological dilemmas of alcoholics anonymous and narcotics anonymous recovery

Duff Gordon, C (2017). Ideological dilemmas of alcoholics anonymous and narcotics anonymous recovery. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


The present study aimed to map out how members of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) construct themselves, in talk, as being in recovery. This study adopted a social constructionist epistemology and a Foucauldian discourse analytic research methodology. A total of nineteen adults in self-reported AA and/or NA recovery were interviewed. Four individual interviews and three discussion groups were held. Analysis found that, on the whole, participants drew on AA/NA discourse in ways that were contradictory, subversive, pragmatic, dilemmatic and aligned with agency. Analysis generated four main themes: difference; possession; powerlessness-agency; and transformation. Participants tended to construct themselves not as objectivised subjects, but as exercising agency to knowingly draw on AA/NA discourse to practice care of the self and ethical selfgovernance. Other recent psychological studies have arrived at similar findings. AA/NA may, then, possess values that are more closely aligned with the humanistic ethic that informs counselling psychology and psychotherapy than is sometimes supposed. This is significant, because some authors have argued that the low rate of practitioner referral into AA/NA is caused by an ideological tension between the humanistic privileging of subjectivity and the perception that AA/NA subjects its members. Given the inexorable expansion of the addiction concept to most forms of human experience, it is likely that practitioners will be increasingly likely to work with addiction presentations in their clinical practice. It is therefore hoped that this study will challenge practitioners to reflect on why they don't work in partnership with 12- step programmes more often. More qualitative research in this important area will help to develop our understandings of subjectivity in AA/NA and other forms of 12-step recovery.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
[img] Text - Accepted Version
This document is not freely accessible until 22 February 2025 due to copyright restrictions.



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