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How Twelve Step Programs bring Freedom from Addiction and Peace of Mind
by Gabriel Segal
Gabriel Segal is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at King’s College, London. He has published extensively in philosophy and the cognitive sciences. He is author of Twelve Steps to Psychological Good Health and Serenity and co-editor, with Nick Heather, of Addiction & Choice, Rethinking the Relationship.
Twelve Step programs are very successful at relieving addicts of problematic impulses to use.
I offer an explanation of how they work. I propose that the impulses are caused by turbulent emotions, and that the steps provide a comprehensive emotion- management regime. The root of emotional turbulence is a kind of egotism. This egotism leads directly and indirectly to e.g. anger, fear, overexcitement, frustration, low self-esteem, guilt and feelings of disconnection. By working the steps and developing better relations with a higher power of their choice, the subject comes to accept help, to accept external and internal reality, to value and connect with others and so to maintain emotional balance. I will show how this explanation fits with the conception of addiction originated by Alcoholics Anonymous in 1939 and with current research in neuroscience.
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lmage: Bookend by Kevin Dooley - Flickr