The world of AA experienced and observed from the inside
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Lomer Pilote has been an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous for twenty-nine years. He has attended countless meetings and has witnessed thousands of individuals transform their lives by deciding to abstain entirely from alcohol. From 1992 to 1999, the author completed a doctoral program in religious sciences at the University of Québec at Montréal (UQAM) where he defended a dissertation exploring the AA movement. In his dissertation, he investigated the reasons for the AA movement’s astonishing efficacy in treating individuals with alcohol dependencies compared to the efficacy of programs designed by various religions and medical organizations. In this book, the author shares his own experience and addresses questions raised about the movement’s relevance and methodology. For seventy-five years, the author states, Alcoholics Anonymous members have proven that abstinence, solidarity, and consistent meeting attendance are the hallmarks of success. Lomer Pilote is currently retired from two careers: he was first as a surgeon, then a lawyer. He continues to attend AA meetings, both for his own benefit and to support new members. He credits the movement for the transformation that allowed him to live well into his eighties, and has dedicated his life to supporting its cause.



Publié par
Date de parution 04 juin 2014
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9791029000447
Langue Français


The world of AA experienced and observed from the inside

Lomer Pilote
The world of AA experienced and observed from the inside

Les Éditions
123, boulevard de Grenelle 75015 Paris
© Les Éditions, 2014
ISBN : 979-10-290-0044-7
A few days ago, I purchased a copy of Le Monde des AA (The World of AA) by Amnon Jacob Suissa. The first lines of the introduction on page VII provided a glimpse at the overall theme of this pamphlet :
Hello. My name is François. I am a gambler, depressed, hyperactive, vulgar, an overeater, obese, in debt, and I am an alcoholic." This formulaic introduction of group members, widely replicated in other anonymous support groups, instantly illustrates both how individuals with dependencies must identify as being diseased, and the path these individuals must follow. Typically, once the label has been applied, an anonymous member must go on to construct for themselves a new identity as a diseased person that they often adopt for life. In North America, permanently identifying as person with a disease, far from being a question of semantics, has a tremendous influence on how dependencies are viewed and which intervention and treatment methods are preferred. To the extent that AA directly validates and increases social acceptance of this identification, the AA movement is a key figure behind the validation of the diseased condition, and increasingly prominent process of "diseasification."
This qualification of AA members as "diseased" has allowed the author to arbitrarily, and without any other evidence, produce the following conclusion on page XI of the same introduction:
In addition, the movement is based on a concept of human beings and values that runs counter to many commonly-held principles, which allows for rehabilitation and social insertion and mandates the use of the chronic illness label. These norms and values include powerlessness and the necessity of accepting, as the requisite First Step, that you are and always will be powerless before the substance or the object of your dependency, abstinence at any price as a condition for participation in the movement and for treatment, the loss of control, belief in a higher power, namely God, the principle of anonymity, etc. From this perspective, and through the practice of the 12 Steps, we believe, confining the individual to a specific trajectory as a chronically ill person, we are employing a discourse based on psychosocial practices that promote the development and re-appropriation of the power to act and the transfer of this power to individuals and their social networks (Lemay, 2007).
I completely disagree with the vast majority of the claims and concepts presented in this book. This description struck me as completely at odds with my 25 years of experience and observations of the movement in the province of Québec. This is why I decided to write a counterpoint to Mr. Suissa’s critique. Mr. Suissa invites debate in the book, saying that he would like to submit scientific alternative in the "desire to acknowledge various responses and to enrich critical thinking and analysis to promote social and philosophical debate."
To this effect, I will begin by describing the personal experiences and credentials informing my opinions. This autobiography will allow my readers to determine their value themselves. Additionally, I will examine Mr. Suissa’s critique through the lens of my experience and understanding, revealing the half-truths and occasionally flagrant falsehoods of his argument. Then, I will share my own personal constructs, informed and influenced by my more than 25 year journey with AA, and the benefits I’ve derived from these constructs in all areas of my life. Finally, as a means of conclusion, I will try to identify what I perceive to be AA’s contribution to modern society and the need for alternatives, given the decline of certain Major Religions as a consequence of the hyper-dogmatism of others, that would avoid value judgments based on unsubstantiated prejudice.
Chapter 1
My approach to this autobiography will follow the Cartesian method, as defined by psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan in The Seminar, Book XI, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis . Admittedly, an individual’s biography is no comparison for scholarly knowledge. On page 222, Lacan writes:
It has been stressed that Descartes’ biography is marked above all by his wanderings in the world, his encounters and, after all, his secret ambition -Larvatus prodeo. If I point this out, although I am one of those who regard concern for biography as secondary to the meaning of a work, is it because Descartes himself stresses that this biography, his approach, is essential to the communication of his method, of the way he has found to truth [...] It is his own method, in so far as he set out in this direction with the desire to learn to distinguish the true from the false in order to see clearly - in what? in my actions. This example, then, is a particular one, and Descartes goes so far as to add that if what was for me, at a particular moment, my way, does not seem right for others, that is their affair, that they should gather from my experience what they think is worth gathering. This forms part of the introduction by Descartes of his own way to science.
Obviously, I don’t have the pretense to compare myself to Descartes. And in any case, the comparison would have no meaning. This abridged bibliography can only humbly attest that my experiences with AA later in life cannot be taken as scientific evidence, as Mr. Suissa would define the term. Its value is simply that of a testimony that strives to be as genuine as possible. I’ll begin with a synopsis of my life prior to AA. Then, I will describe my experiences as an alcoholic that led me to the Alcoholics Anonymous movement in Montreal. I will alternate between, or combine, two different perspectives to explore a 28-year span of personal experience within the movement. The first perspective is that of an entirely subjective experience, with all of the limitations thereby implied. The second perspective, which I have held for eight years, is that of an observer, maintaining the objectivity required of a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Religious Sciences at the University of Québec in Montreal (UQAM). My degree was conferred after I defended my doctoral thesis, cited by Mr. Suissa, entitled, Explication de l’efficacité des AA par l’utilisation de structures mythico­rituelles ( Explanation of the efficacy of AA through the use of mythico-ritual structures ) (1999).
First, let’s return to my earthly origins, across the wide expanse of time that exists between then and now. I can actually trace them back to "not long after the flood." Sometimes, when I would share at AA meetings, I would make that joke –obviously no one took it seriously – but the exaggeration would make people laugh, and laughter is therapeutic in AA – but the reason I say this is because, not long after my birth, the giants who took care of me would talk about the flood . So, in my head, I concluded that it must have happened fairly recently if they were still talking about it!
Jokes aside, I should reveal that I was born in 1930 and I am now an octogenarian. But, for me, that word – octogenarian – has a very negative connotation. That’s the prejudice of my youth. When you’re still in your twenties, you think of octogenarians as dinosaurs who either don’t realize, or maybe just forgot, that the rest of their species disappeared 65 million years ago! That’s why, instead of identifying myself as an 80-year-old octogenarian, when I have to reveal my age, I prefer to say that I am in my fifth twenty years. It’s true, and it allows me to use the power of autosuggestion and think like a younger person. Mental age is what counts!
And all of this history is unfolding in the Lower St-Lawrence Region of Québec, in the middle of the depression. I was born into a modest family. By today’s standards we would be considered poor, but at that time, practically everyone in my little parish was poor. At the same time, my childhood and early education took place in an ultra-religious and ultra-moralist atmosphere, centered around the parish church and the priest. They could only afford to have nuns teach at our primary school. And they taught the standard classical curriculum for the time. Our education was only possible because of the dedication shown by these priests – who, on the one hand, dedicated themselves to teaching for $200.00 per year, with room and board – and, on the other hand, served as instruments of the Vatican’s Great Traditional Religion in recruiting a number of students into religious vocations. But a few of us escaped without a vocation, or without being called by God as our spiritual advisors would say! I don’t believe that I received such a call until after I received my Bachelor’s Degree in 1950 and decided to pursue a career in medicine.
After spending the next five years at the Faculty of Medicine at Laval University in Québec, from 1950 to 1955, I received my M.D. degree. At the time, I decided to abandon general medicine to pursue my specialization in a Montreal hospital. One year later, and despite having a tenuous grasp of English, I decided to pursue my specialization further in the United States. My second year of specialization was a return to basic sciences in a postgraduate program in Philadelphia, specifically at the Postgraduate School of Medicine of the University of Philadelphia, where I would eventually earn a theoret

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