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[ExExGayMinistry] "Ex-Gay" and AA analogous??!! (sometimes)

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  • Steve Boese
    It s essentially off-topic for this group, but I need to make my point before I drop it. Although AA has helped many, AA s mainstream status hides the fact
    Message 1 of 2 , Jun 8, 2003
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      It's essentially off-topic for this group, but I need to make my point
      before I drop it.

      Although AA has helped many, AA's mainstream status hides the fact that it
      is anything but a comprehensive solution for substance abuse problems.
      Despite the many who have found it helpful, many more who have needed
      treatment and support have not been helped. Significant numbers of folks
      who have poured heart and soul into 12-stepping but ultimately found
      irrefutable core doctrines to be unscientific have come out of it describing
      abusive, misguided, and occasionally cultish experiences after they started
      questioning the doctrine. (Sound familiar?)

      The disease model (particularly well-meaning but unscientific AA
      documentation which diagnoses low-level struggles with desire and
      self-control as a disease), and the corresponding concept of prescribing
      treatment based on submitting to well-meaning but untrained laypeople, is
      increasingly being called into question by scientifically-focused experts.
      (Again, familiar?)

      People like me (a former alcohol abuser who now drinks responsibly and shuns
      the disease label) are in a place very much analogous to glbt folk 20 and 40
      years ago. Some purported experts in the field would name me as diseased,
      barely in remission, or in denial. Just like my glbt predecessors, my
      response is, "sorry, but I'm just a healthy, balanced guy living an
      ordinary, responsible life." That's what I had to do during my divorce
      trial when opposing attorneys attempted to define my orientation -- and the
      fact that I drink -- as inherently compulsive and putting my kids at risk of
      imminent harm.

      My sense is that the weaknesses of 12-step approaches, given the mainstream
      support AA has achieved, have made 12-step easily adaptable by ex-gay
      ministries to their own purposes. Norm mentioned that ex-gay therapy often
      starts with confessing gay sins and leading clients to "believe they are
      completely spiritually, socially, emotionally defective". Therapists
      following AA or ex-gay tenets might couch it more gently, but that speaks to
      the truth -- and the problems inherent in -- both.

      The analogies get tricky, so it's hard to do cover them in a couple
      paragraphs. It reminds me of intersections between gay/lesbian and
      transgender issues -- g/l and transfolk are often alike in challenging
      gender norms and facing injustice yet different because one is still
      diagnosed as a disorder and faces different justice-related issues. Simple
      justice and compassion for all is often not so simple.

      And, the more challenging side of the analogy, but one I find helpful to
      remember: Some folks do find healing and serenity with the support of AA,
      as some do with the support ex-gay ministries. The point is not that
      they're never helpful, it's that they offer niche solutions which overplay
      their scientific foundations.

      If anyone is interested in discussing more on the alcohol-related stuff,
      feel free to contact me directly.

      And, Alex -- best of luck speaking at connECtion 2003. That sounds
      exciting; I'd love to hear an update afterward.

      Take care...

      --Steve
    • nyguy_1225
      Steve, your point is well taken. I apologize if I gave the impression that AA is the be-all and end-all for those dealing with alcoholism. I know this is not
      Message 2 of 2 , Jun 9, 2003
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        Steve, your point is well taken. I apologize if I gave the
        impression that AA is the be-all and end-all for those dealing with
        alcoholism. I know this is not the case. That said, however, I
        still maintain one of several very fundamental differences between
        AA and "ex-gay" programs lies in the fact that alcoholism is indeed
        by scientific definition a disorder while homosexuality is not,
        based on the two-fold criterion of science and not politics, as
        outlined in post #2880. This is one of many truths the "ex-gay"
        movement would loathe to admit.

        Thanks too for your good wishes re: connECtion 2003. I'll certainly
        be in good company.

        -Alex


        --- In exexgayministry@yahoogroups.com, "Steve Boese" <steve@o...>
        wrote:
        > It's essentially off-topic for this group, but I need to make my
        point
        > before I drop it.
        >
        > Although AA has helped many, AA's mainstream status hides the fact
        that it
        > is anything but a comprehensive solution for substance abuse
        problems.
        > Despite the many who have found it helpful, many more who have
        needed
        > treatment and support have not been helped. Significant numbers
        of folks
        > who have poured heart and soul into 12-stepping but ultimately
        found
        > irrefutable core doctrines to be unscientific have come out of it
        describing
        > abusive, misguided, and occasionally cultish experiences after
        they started
        > questioning the doctrine. (Sound familiar?)
        >
        > The disease model (particularly well-meaning but unscientific AA
        > documentation which diagnoses low-level struggles with desire and
        > self-control as a disease), and the corresponding concept of
        prescribing
        > treatment based on submitting to well-meaning but untrained
        laypeople, is
        > increasingly being called into question by scientifically-focused
        experts.
        > (Again, familiar?)
        >
        > People like me (a former alcohol abuser who now drinks responsibly
        and shuns
        > the disease label) are in a place very much analogous to glbt folk
        20 and 40
        > years ago. Some purported experts in the field would name me as
        diseased,
        > barely in remission, or in denial. Just like my glbt
        predecessors, my
        > response is, "sorry, but I'm just a healthy, balanced guy living an
        > ordinary, responsible life." That's what I had to do during my
        divorce
        > trial when opposing attorneys attempted to define my orientation --
        and the
        > fact that I drink -- as inherently compulsive and putting my kids
        at risk of
        > imminent harm.
        >
        > My sense is that the weaknesses of 12-step approaches, given the
        mainstream
        > support AA has achieved, have made 12-step easily adaptable by ex-
        gay
        > ministries to their own purposes. Norm mentioned that ex-gay
        therapy often
        > starts with confessing gay sins and leading clients to "believe
        they are
        > completely spiritually, socially, emotionally defective".
        Therapists
        > following AA or ex-gay tenets might couch it more gently, but that
        speaks to
        > the truth -- and the problems inherent in -- both.
        >
        > The analogies get tricky, so it's hard to do cover them in a couple
        > paragraphs. It reminds me of intersections between gay/lesbian and
        > transgender issues -- g/l and transfolk are often alike in
        challenging
        > gender norms and facing injustice yet different because one is
        still
        > diagnosed as a disorder and faces different justice-related
        issues. Simple
        > justice and compassion for all is often not so simple.
        >
        > And, the more challenging side of the analogy, but one I find
        helpful to
        > remember: Some folks do find healing and serenity with the
        support of AA,
        > as some do with the support ex-gay ministries. The point is not
        that
        > they're never helpful, it's that they offer niche solutions which
        overplay
        > their scientific foundations.
        >
        > If anyone is interested in discussing more on the alcohol-related
        stuff,
        > feel free to contact me directly.
        >
        > And, Alex -- best of luck speaking at connECtion 2003. That sounds
        > exciting; I'd love to hear an update afterward.
        >
        > Take care...
        >
        > --Steve
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