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Stanton Peele: Reason in Addiction

September 18, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

I am very bad at promoting this blog. This is because I have always been prone to a patchy kind of laziness which I have gamely tried to defend my whole life as impatience with “process”. “I don’t do details” is a very flattering way to characterize indolence, and I tend to flatter myself generously and often.

So, while I work quite hard at producing content for the blog — primarily as a vanity project, if I were honest — I invest nary a scintilla’s effort into getting people to read it. WordPress automatically links with Facebook and Twitter and occasionally it falls into the hands of much more popular and well-read blogs, and traffic happens almost entirely despite my best non-efforts. In the same way, during my campaigning days, I was prone to writing and producing pamphlets and media releases but then letting them sit in piles in the garage or gathering dust on the printer unless and until a “process person” aimed a boot at my lazy arse.

Occasionally, something prompts me to get off said same lackadaisical bottom of my own accord. These interludes can be quite decisive and productive, but they are rare and invariably fleeting; I am talking minutes, not hours or days.

I was grazed by such an impulse this morning, when I sent a link to yesterday’s post to Dr. Stanton Peele. Yesterday, I wrote the first in what I plan to be a series of posts to reflect on my first four years of sobriety, the anniversary for which is on October 2nd. Whether the series develops beyond the initial post depends on the extent to which I am able to navigate around the very personality flaw I have spent most of this post attempting to describe. (It’s like the old joke: “I am never able to finish anyth….”).

But send to Dr Peele I did.

Stanton Peele is a trailblazing psychologist and AA heretic who has spent four decades dissecting the conventional wisdom about the causes and treatment of addiction. Peele rejects the disease concept — he argues that the research demonstrates that addiction is a life problem that is more often than not overcome, not a medical condition that deserves radical intervention and constant vigilance. Further, he believes 12-step programs, such as AA, can be actively harmful to some addicts. Here is a money quote:

What about joining support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous? Here, too, research reveals the opposite of what we have been led to believe. A.A is a valuable community resource for those who find support in a certain type of religiously oriented group ritual. But the best we can say about A.A is that it works for those for whom it works. Meanwhile, there are plenty for whom it doesn’t work. There is no scientific evidence that A.A. works better than other approaches when randomly selected alcoholics are assigned to A.A. or other treatments. In fact, the evidence is that the people who are now often compelled to attend A.A—after being arrested for drunk driving or being sent by a company Employee Assistance Program—do worse than those who are left on their own.[9] Source: http://peele.net/lib/truth_1.html

Religiously oriented group ritual? Ouch, double ouch.

Dr Peele was kind enough to respond to my email, and extremely promptly. He thought my post a “good read” although — full disclosure — “too long”. He also took the trouble to single out a couple of my AA-directed zingers for special mention. Since I have long admired his writing and research, which I find both persuasive and close to the bone, I am most grateful for his email.

This post, too, is too long. Its only purpose is to direct you to Dr Peele’s work if the topic of addiction interests you. His is is a truly compelling voice of reason in a field weighed down by bullshit marinated in snake oil.

His excellent website can be found at www.peele.net .

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