Saturday, November 11, 2006

Dr. Stan's book

DISCLAIMER: (I do these a lot- I'd like to think I'm so controversial!)

The following is a perspective of me, myself and I. If you have succeeded in the 12 Step Program, I applaud you, because you've done an incredible job. But don't send any debating comments or hatemail if you disagree with my post. Everyone has a bellybutton, and everyone has an opinion. I'll respect yours if you respect mine. Thanks!

One of the guilty pleasures I had, until it's unfortunate cancellation, was a little show that came on every weekday at 10:00AM that was called Starting Over. Starting Over featured 6 women who came to a L.A. house for a complete life transition. They suffered from a variety of crises- Christina was an ex-stripper and compulsive con artist, Jessica lost her mother during the attacks on 9/11, T.J. was a manic intrusive who just wanted to be loved, and so forth and so on. They come to the house and are paired with 2 life coaches, the awesome Iyanla Vanzant and the sassy and beautiful Rhonda Britten, as well as a resident attending psychologist, Dr. Stan Katz, known to the girls as Dr. Stan. I was searching Amazon for resources the other day, and found that Dr. Stan has a book out about codependency. But, unlike most of the resources I've discovered, Dr. Stan rebukes the 12 Step Program, with claims that it can actually foster dependency in a new form and create victim roles. I ordered it for an alternative perspective. (I found it used for 4 bucks, so not much lost)

Although I consider myself of average spirituality (I believe in God, and I try to go to Mass regularly, and like the idea of a Baby Jesus surrounded by lambs and cute fuzzy baby animals on Christmas), I've never really been able to really get into the 12 Steps. I've been exposed to them professionally as a psychiatric nurse dealing with substance abusers, but in the long run, they never really seemed to work- a lot of our frequent flyers worked the program, and most of them came back again and again. I learned through training that alcoholics were guilty, manipulative, but also powerless and pitiful. A lot of the people I met through work were nice enough, and if they could stop drinking so much, they'd be set. I've been reading a lot about 12 Steps for codependency recently, but have not yet attended a 12 Step Meeting. And I am not sure that if that is something that will help me.

I'm not really sure that I can get into something that paints me as having a lifelong struggle with this need to control. I'd like to think that adjusting my thinking, my habits, and my perspective could be effective in the long run, and that my codependency will fade and eventually evaporate. I think the 12 Steps, if followed liberally, could provide some guidance, but to follow them to the core is a different scenario. I'd have to call myself a recovering codependent for the rest of my life. It's kind of like saying that those people on the Biggest Loser are still fat- even though they've changed their habits, their thinking and their lifestyle, and have been successful at it. I do not think I am this way because my grandparent drank or because my mom spoiled me or because corporations are evil, I think I got to this place because, like almost everything in life, you really don't know how it's going to end up. People change. I consider it a good thing. And now my intuition is telling me it's time to move on- not because I am a victim, but because the schedule, the demands, and the lack of boundaries are not to my liking, and in order to stay I have to behave a certain way (lots of attempting to control others and outcomes of problems) that I do not like to behave- and not because it brings out the worst in me, so much so that I need to ask a Higher Power to remove my flaws. I want to someday say that my life works the way I want it to work, and that I am powerful and wise, and that there are many reasons, including spiritual beliefs, that help me be that person, but, I want to be able to say that I did it my way (like Frank Sinatra, who was not a codependent, but still a helluva cool dude). In the meantime, I'll still look to the 12 Steps for some ideas, but I can't really say if I'll stay with them til the end (Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening, carry the message to other codependents).

It sounds like you're taking the first step towards a better life, and to that end I wish you all the best! *HUGS*
Thank you!!!
I'm not sure 12 steps is for everyone, but I know that when I've seen it work, it was for the people who knew they had hit rock bottom, and who knew if they didn't stop drinking/drugging they would die. It takes a deep internal commitment and a willingness to change your entire life - and for an addict, 12 steps can be a real lifeline.

I'm with you, that a lot of people would do better to just make slow adjustments to their ways of thinking and living. When I had issues with alcohol, I was still at a place where I had enough power to step back and re-evaluate its position in my life. A lot of people are too far gone for that, though. Which is essentially the idea behind 12 steps; this is for people who can't own their personal power, and in order to simply survive and live like a normal person, they have to turn over their power to something bigger than themselves to get through.
Forgive the late response--but writer's block is a curious thing.
It is rather strange in a way to read your post; I have always tended to think of you as the person who is so together in so many ways. In some ways, I actually rather envied both you and Marian for being the brains and personalities that yours truly never has been.
I hope you find what you are looking for; and don't forget that the journey is the most interesting part. :D
Yeah, it's a lifeline but with one hell of a cost. I'm not sure atheists, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and people of other religious backgrounds are totally gung-ho and ready to toss out their belief system and devote the rest of their life to God and Jesus Christ. I mean, it's cool if you are of the Christian faith, but that ain't cool to force your religious beliefs on someone in need of help.

Plus I don't like the fact that they refer to what ever problem the 12 step group is for, weather it's alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex or whatever, and have the victim refer it to as a disease. Come on! Taking drugs, gambling and drinking are personal choices! They weren't forced to do said bad behavior or caught it from a toilet seat. As quoted on the Penn & Teller Bullshit episode on 12 Steps (and I'm paraphrasing here folks):

"Ask a person being eaten up from cancer if they think that alcoholism is a disease. I guarantee you that they'll muster up what ever energy they have left and smack the shit out of you."
I'm pretty sure you don't have to be Christian to do 12 steps. One of the steps is to turn over to a "higher power," but even though it was founded by Christians, my understanding is that any faith can be applied here, and that atheists don't have to become people of faith, either. It's all about believing in something bigger than yourself.

I'm not an expert on any of this, but I think it's obvious enough by now that addictions destroy lives, create havoc, ruin families, kill people. If it takes calling it a disease to make a person do what's necessary to get themselves together and live a healthier life, I have no problem with it.
I agree that it is not Christian, because it doesn't focus on christ as a personal savior but it seems difficult to apply the principles and rules of 12 steps to any faith base the does not celebrate One God i.e. Hindus, Buddhists, Atheists, etc.

Also, many 12 steppers may say that is not a religious journey but a spiritual one. Part of the reason I'm skeptical about that is that one could shirk medical intervention i.e. chemical dependency, detox, anti-depressants, etc. because they feel the only solution is a spiritual one. How many time have you heard of judges and employers forcing problem drinkers to go to A.A. or else!

I thought the whole point of Atheism was the disbelief of a higher power, deities or something greater than you. So, believing in something bigger than yourself would defeat the whole point of Atheism.
I also want to add though I am not knocking 12 steps or A.A. as a form of recovery. If you are willing to make those changes or believe that you can benefit from this kind of program then bravo, good for you! I am not one to tell you to stop. The main point of my argument is that I think it is wrong for others to force these kind of beliefs on someone else in the form of a legitimate, scientific, evidence-base, chemical dependancy cure. Plus non-bias statistics would help.
There are no absolute number of "steps" in order to achieve a better life.
Either you do or you do not. It's that basic.
Note: I did not say "simple." Changing your way of life for the positive is far from "simple."
If a person wishes to incorporate their faith-path in order to make changes in their lives, fine.
People who are sincere when it comes to their beliefs tend to find it a help or a comfort in their search for a better way of life.
I do agree that many (but not all) Christian groups tend to be forceful rather than helpful; It's that whole "We'll help you if you convert" thing that bothers me.
((Happy Heathen here! ;D ))
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