by Anne Wayman
Review by Fred Ashmore on Mar 6th 2003
I struggled, really I did, to read all
this book. I dont know why, because
the subject is one I should find interesting.
I decided to quit a 12 Step fellowship a couple of years ago (a good
move), and Anne Waymans book addresses a middle way of recovering personal
power without quitting 12 Step Fellowship.
Whats it about? Anne Wayman challenges two basic ideas that
are very prevalent in 12 Step groups, that of powerlessness and that of life
long recovery. Lets be clear, I whole-heartedly
agree with her on both fronts. She
explains, drawing on personal experience and analysis of the main 12 Step
sources, why she takes this stance.
People do have the power to change themselves; and they do graduate and
get on with life without needing to be monitored and attend meetings for ever
and ever. Well said! This theme is explored through the various
stages of the 12 Step program, with Wayman setting our her ideas on the value
(or not) of many widespread practices such as repeated 4th and 5th
Steps, anonymity, and becoming group oriented rather than life oriented.
But I didnt like the book much. I found it excessively focussed on ideas
originating in 12 Step literature. To
read it, you would say that Anne Wayman has never considered examining other
approaches to self-realisation and recovery, and her list of references
supports this view. There is a world of
non-12 Step writing ideas, analysis, research and facts about addictive
behaviour that is just ignored. The
assaults on 12 Step myths build on unsupported statements (just like most of
the myths) rather than proper sources.
I also disliked the general style of the
writing which has a wearisome resemblance to AA literature with its 12 Step
jargon, folksiness and attempted analysis with neither rigour or
scholarship. I recall reading Chas Bufes
infinitely more effective Alcoholics
Anonymous: Cult or Cure? That book was a treat, even if I found it profoundly unsettling at
the time a scholarly, careful, thoughtful demolition job with every step of
the argument set out and supported by references. Anne Waymans book is not a treat.
Whos it for? I would say, the target
audience is 12 Step people who want a different take on what the Program
offers. Youd have to be pretty deep in
already to understand it.
Would I buy this book if Id seen it on a
bookstall? Not if I dipped into it
first, and if I did buy it in a fit of absent-mindedness, it would go to the yard
sale pretty darn quick.
© 2002 Fred
Fred Ashmore is a member of the
public with a strong interest in drugs, drink and addiction and how people
recover from them. He is active as a meeting host for the SMART Recovery® program, which offers
help for people who seek to modify harmful and addictive behavior.