Talking Oneself Sober available in Hardcover
- Pub. Date:
- Cambria Press
This study also examines AA written texts, including Alcoholics Anonymous (The Big Book) and the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. Without a thorough knowledge of its written texts, one can only have a limited understanding of AA meeting discourse since these written texts are constantly alluded to and are the source of the Twelve Steps, which provide a framework and the guiding principles for AA life stories.
The first part of the book is a general introduction to AA and gives an account of how its discourse emerged. Part two focuses on the personal narratives of AA, its primary genre, and it is noted how these specialize in a particular process of self evaluation, allowing speakers to reconstruct their life stories though a process of co-construction which enables members to make new attributions for both their alcoholism and their recovery. It also examines the form and structure of the AA meeting, where it is noted how the modern AA meeting is a formal, even ritualized event; all members having clear expectations of what is to happen. The study also uses actual material from AA meetings to illustrate that:
AA meeting discourse is perhaps unique in the degree of discursive symmetry it creates between members.
Through sharing, the individual voice of recovery gains ascendancy over the voice of active alcoholism. This is not only as a manifestation of recovery but also constitutive of it as the voice of recovery is internalized, creating for members a new alignment to the world and others.
Through constructing their compulsive drinking as a ‘disease’ of body, mind and spirit, AA members find a new form of coherence in their lives which does not apportion blame either to themselves or the people and circumstances of their lives. However, they remain responsible for being in a fit state mentally and spiritually to resist the physical trigger - the first drink.
In their accounts of everyday life, AA members display their acceptance of ‘people, places and things’ as well as the display of willingness to work the AA programme. Presenting their lives as governed by these two principles is evidence of a new personal alignment, one less driven by self interest and more inclined to take opportunities as they arise rather than force events to their will. This is seen as a spiritual realignment which challenges the previous alcoholic tendency to be at odds with other people and society at large.