XI-XII Preface (A Textbook for Our Society)

The book Alcoholics Anonymous, aka The Big Book, is the basic text for the AA program of sobriety. "Alcoholics Anonymous" Copyright 2012 AAWS, Inc. All Rights, Reserved. Short excerpts used by permission of AAWS

XI-XII Preface (A Textbook for Our Society)

Postby Karl R » Sat Aug 16, 2008 7:21 am

All,

There is a wealth of BB experience here at the e-AA discussion board as well as a huge amount of personal experience, strength and hope. I wish to embark on a study of the BB from the very first page right through to the end, 1 page at a time (or as natural breaks allow). In 200 days or so we should be able to get through the whole book one time. Reading and studying from start to finish is the method my sponsor and I have been taking. The BB and steps were put together in a certain order for a reason. Oftentimes when we study the BB we study one isolated paragraph or even one specific word. I ask that you share your BB knowlege, knowledge of AA history, and your personal experience, strength, and hope as regards each day's page. I know that this would benefit me as well as other newcomers who may not have access to a big book study meeting or group. I will start each day's thread by posting that day's 1 or so page text along with my limited experience, strength, and hope about the text. If other's feel moved to contribute-so be it.

Objections?

Otherwise, let's get started. I've copied the preface below. Several things strike me in this preface. It describes the BB as the 'basic text for our society'. I have indeed found it to be put together as a textbook for the solution to our common peril-the drink problem. The fact that The doctor's opinion has been kept intact is amazing. It shows that for a 1930's doctor he may have been on to something. The concept of allergy to drink was probably very unique for the 1930's

What of the twelve traditions-they are read at each f2f meeting I go to but are talked about little? Anyone want to enlighten us on that?

The preface indicates at the end that all changes in the text since the first edition were made to represent the current membership more accurately.
Anyone care to comment on how the current membership is different then the membership in 1940 for instance?

This preface ends with the thought that we should look for places where we find ourself in the text and that those places may cause us to think 'yes, I believe this program can work for me too."

In peace,
Karl

"Preface;

THIS IS the fourth edition of the book “Alcoholics Anonymous.” The first edition appeared in April 1939, and in the following sixteen years, more than 300,000 copies went into circulation. The second edition, published in 1955, reached a total of more than 1,150,500 copies. The third edition, which came off press in 1976, achieved a circulation of approximately 19,550,000 in all formats.

Because this book has become the basic text for our Society and has helped such large numbers of alcoholic men and women to recovery, there exists strong sentiment against any radical changes being made in it. Therefore, the first portion of this volume, describing the A.A. recovery program, has been left largely untouched in the course of revisions made for the second, third, and fourth editions. The section called “The Doctor’s Opinion” has been kept intact, just as it was originally written in 1939 by the late Dr. William D. Silkworth, our Society’s great medical benefactor.

The second edition added the appendices, the Twelve Traditions, and the directions for getting in touch with A.A. But the chief change was in the section of personal stories, which was expanded to reflect the Fellowship’s growth. “Bill’s Story,” “Doctor Bob’s Nightmare,” and one other personal history from the first edition were retained intact; three were edited and one of these was retitled; new versions of two stories were written, with new titles; thirty completely new stories were added; and the story section was divided into three parts, under the same headings that are used now.

In the third edition, Part I (“Pioneers of A.A.”) was left unchanged. Nine of the stories in Part II (“They Stopped in Time”) were carried over from the second edition; eight new stories were added. In Part III (“They Lost Nearly All”), eight stories were retained; five new ones were added.

This fourth edition includes the Twelve Concepts for World Service and revises the three sections of personal stories as follows. One new story has been added to Part I, and two that originally appeared in Part III have been repositioned there; six stories have been deleted. Six of the stories in Part II have been carried over, eleven new ones have been added, and eleven taken out. Part III now includes twelve new stories; eight were removed (in addition to the two that were transferred to Part I).

All changes made over the years in the Big Book (A.A. members’ fond nickname for this volume) have had the same purpose: to represent the current membership of Alcoholics Anonymous more accurately, and thereby to reach more alcoholics. If you have a drinking problem, we hope that you may pause in reading one of the forty-two personal stories and think: “Yes, that happened to me”; or, more important, “Yes, I’ve felt like that”; or, most important, “Yes, I believe this program can work for me too.”
Last edited by Karl R on Thu Feb 19, 2009 5:15 am, edited 9 times in total.
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Postby dwelling » Sat Aug 16, 2008 8:13 am

Hi Karl,
I will try to join you in this study. I can never get enough Big Book.

Can we first determine what the "thread conscience" concerning sharing will be like here?

How long can we discuss a certain topic? Will I need to defend my sharing?
Can we respect each persons right to be wrong? Is crosstalk, in the form of pointing out the "right way" to examine our basic text; encouraged, laughed out of use, tolerated or prayed for ? Do "long timers" get to be exempt from the group conscience?

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Postby Karl R » Sat Aug 16, 2008 8:45 am

Dwelling,

I am a newcomer and so know nothing of 'thread conscience' I will leave that to the moderator. It is my intention to post a new thread every day as I indicated covering 1 or so pages of the big book. In this way we should be able to cover all of the first part once around in 200 or so days. As to how long discussion occurs on each day's thread? I have no control over that. Everyone should feel free to nibble away at each day's thread as long as they see fit and other's see fit to 'nibble away' with them.

As to the rest of your comments I would like to apologize if I have offended you in previous posts elsewehere. All of us-and most especially myself need to be mindful that there is no body language in a discussion board. As someone reminded me this morning-things that we say on a discussion board that are taken negatively may not have been taken so if we were in the same room. Also, there are times that it is too easy to say something without thinking in a discussion board.

That being said, let's study the big book together as a group. Let's set egos aside and turn ourself over to our HP's protection for the purpose of finding ourself in the BB, learning that yes, this program can work for me, and passing along what we know and learn to other's like ourself.
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Postby dwelling » Sat Aug 16, 2008 9:37 am

Hi Karl,


Count me in, my friend. You or others have not offended me as I have recovered and have ceased fighting anyone or anything. I sometimes like to bring to the table new ideas to the closed minded. The old ideas that we need to get rid of are sometimes 5 minutes old. If I ever "seem" negative on this board or ego driven or confrontational please know that a smile is on my face, my arms are open for a hug and my heart is filled with love for my fellow alcoholics.

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Former Prefaces

Postby jak » Sat Aug 16, 2008 9:39 am

For comparison and history I post the Preface from the Third edition followed by the Preface from the Second edition. There was no Preface in the First edition.

Preface (3rd Edition 1976)

This is the third edition of the book "Alcoholics Anonymous." The first edition appeared in April 1939, and in the following sixteen years, more than 300,000 copies went into circulation. The second edition, published in 1955, reached a total of more than 1,150,500 copies.
Because this book has become the basic text for our Society and has helped such large numbers of alcoholic men and women to recovery, there exists strong sentiment against any radical changes being made in it. Therefore, the first portion of this volume, describing the A.A. recovery program, has been left largely untouched in the course of revisions made for the second and third editions. The section called "The Doctor’s Opinion" has been kept intact, just as it was originally written in 1939 by the late Dr. William D. Silkworth, our Society’s great medical benefactor.
The second edition added the appendices, the Twelve Traditions, and the directions for getting in touch with A.A. But the chief change was in the section of personal stories, which was expanded to reflect the Fellowship’s growth. "Bill’s Story," "Doctor Bob’s Nightmare," and one other personal history from the first edition were retained intact; three were edited and one of these was retitled; new versions of two stories were written, with new titles; thirty completely new stories were added; and the story section was divided into three parts, under the same headings that are used now.
In this third edition, Part I ("Pioneers of A.A.") was left unchanged. Nine of the stories in Part II ("They Stopped in Time") were carried over from the second edition; eight new stories were added. In Part III ("They Lost Nearly All"), eight stories were retained; five are new.
All changes made over the years in the Big Book (A.A. members’ fond nickname for this volume) have had the same purpose: to represent the current membership of Alcoholics Anonymous more accurately, and thereby to reach more alcoholics. If you have a drinking problem, we hope that you may pause in reading one of the forty-two personal stories and think: "Yes, that happened to me"; or, more important, "Yes, I’ve felt like that"; or, most important, "Yes, I believe this program can work for me too."


PREFACE (2nd Edition 1955)

This is the second edition of the book "Alcoholics Anonymous," which made its first appearance in April, 1939. More than 300,000 copies of the first edition are now in circulation.
Because this book has become the basic text for our Society and has helped such large numbers of alcoholic men and women to recovery, there exists strong sentiment against any radical changes being made in it. Therefore, the first portion of this volume, describing the A.A. recovery program, has been left largely untouched.
But the personal history section has been considerably revised and enlarged in order to present a more accurate representation of our membership as it is today. When the book was first printed, we had scarcely 100 members all told, and every one of them was an almost helpless case of alcoholism. This has changed. A.A. now helps alcoholics in all stages of the disease. It reaches every level of life and into all occupations. Our membership now includes many young people. Women, who were at first very reluctant to approach A.A., have come forward in large numbers. Therefore the range of the story section has been broadened so that every alcoholic reader may find a reflection of him or herself in it.
As a souvenir of our past, the original Foreword has been preserved and is followed by a second one describing Alcoholics Anonymous of 1955.
Following the Forwords, there appears a section called "The Doctor’s Opinion." This also has been kept intact, just as it was originally written in 1939 by the late Dr. William D. Silkworth, our society’s great medical benefactor. Besides Dr. Silkworth’s original statement, there has been added, in the Appendices, a number of the medical and religious endorsements which have come to us in recent years.
On the last pages of this second edition will be found the Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous, the principles upon which our A.A. Groups function, together with directions for getting in touch with A.A.

The 2nd edition Preface (1955) looks to me like it may have been authored by Bill W. He may have been brought it before the General Service Conference. The conference had just completed a five year trial period. I don't know if there were yet G.S.O. staff writers. I am just guessing however. I noticed the word "disease" in this Preface. I don't know where else AA literature uses that word. The word "Illness" has been used to describe alcoholism in AA literature.

The 3rd and 4th edition versions have come through the General Service Conference process and the G.S.O. staff writers.

Thanks, jim k
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Postby Karl R » Sat Aug 16, 2008 10:24 am

"When the book was first printed, we had scarcely 100 members all told, and every one of them was an almost helpless case of alcoholism. This has changed. A.A. now helps alcoholics in all stages of the disease. It reaches every level of life and into all occupations. Our membership now includes many young people. Women, who were at first very reluctant to approach A.A., have come forward in large numbers."

Interesting that at first printing the few members (only 100) described themselves as all almost helpless except for the gift of the steps as they practiced them. By 1955 they included in their membership all social classes, both genders, all occupations, and all ages. Alcoholism can, indeed, affect anyone with the 'allergy'.

Jim(or anyone else)-please explain the difference between disease and illness. My sponsor and I have covered that but it might be of interest to others. The word disease only appears in the 4th edition 2 times. The word illness appears in the big book 16 times however. This must be significant.

disease. 12&12 p.150, Tradition Five
Alcoholics Anonymous can be likened to a group of physicians who might find a cure for cancer, and upon whose concerted work would depend the answer for sufferers of this disease.

disease, for we have been not only ... BB p.64, How It Works
From it stem all forms of spiritual disease, for we have been not only mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick.

cheers,
Karl
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Postby Blue Moon » Sun Aug 17, 2008 12:24 pm

Karl R wrote:BB p.64, How It Works
From it stem all forms of spiritual disease, for we have been not only mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick.


Key words: spiritual disease.

The quoted sentence is followed by another sentence, stating that when we recover spiritually (the spiritual malady is overcome), we straighten out mentally and physically.

This reinforces the notion that an alcoholic needing to drink is a symptom, drinking is not a primary cause. Rather like a rash is a symptom of poison ivy - you can treat the rash all you want, but until the cause (the poison ivy) is removed, at best the symptom is only being masked.

This is why jails, detox units and treatment centres tend not to turn out recovered alcoholics. I've lost count of the number of cases I've heard whereby a person left jail or a treatment centre and went straight to the nearest bar or liquor store. Detox units treat the symptom, not the cause.

So, far from "just don't drink and go to meetings" or some other concoction, the alcoholic solution AA originally offered was to take the Steps ASAP. Not rushed through in a half-measures fashion, but not significantly delayed either.
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Postby martin08 » Sun Aug 17, 2008 2:24 pm

I may chime in from time to time. It sounds like an excellent excercise as well as a resource for alcoholics who may have limited access to the fellowship, or who might be wondering if the Big Book really has a spiritual answer regardless of length of time away from a drink.

My 'conscience' will never be an interpretation, a study or an opinion - but only my actual experience. I've found I get no arguments when I speak of what I have done rather than what I think or believe.

It is my experience that the Big Book has a Spiritual Answer. And it is wonderful!
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Postby avaneesh912 » Sun Aug 17, 2008 2:59 pm

Because this book has become the basic text for our Society and has helped such large numbers of alcoholic men and women to recovery, there exists strong sentiment against any radical changes being made in it. Therefore, the first portion of this volume, describing the A.A. recovery program, has been left largely untouched in the course of revisions made for the second, third, and fourth editions.

Two things to consider i am told. Its a Text Book and has to be read/studied/taught in sequence from left to right. Can't jump.

Another the first 164 pages have been left largely untouched. Because it works.
Show him, from your own experience, how the peculiar mental condition surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning of the will power (Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)
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Postby Karl R » Tue Jan 20, 2009 7:15 am

Good morning all.

I shall be bumping the threads from the first 164 pages of the big book in order again from the beginning. Feel free to share in this study as we proceed through the first 164 pages of the big book one day at a time.

Karl
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Postby martin08 » Tue Jan 20, 2009 9:13 am

Thank you Karl.

My home group is dedicated to a "Big Book" workshop. This is not a 'study' or a commentary type meeting. The workshop aspect allows for the chairperson, who has done the action, to relate of his/her experience with the Steps. Therefore, all group participation and questions are geared toward actual experience rather than opinions or interpretations.

There is no contention of meaning or dissecting of the original intent of the Authors, only a conveyance of how the implementation of the Steps has changed lives. This format has brought the significance of the message in "Alcoholics Anonymous" into a concrete example of how actually following through with the given directions can create a Spiritual Experience and destroy selfishness.

In the nearly five years that I have attended, there have been no self-pitying topics of dialogue which are typically the order of the day in speaker/discussion meeting formats. Nor is there ever heated debate over interpretations that is typical of Big Book Studies. The meeting, instead, offers to everyone an opportunity to actually find a Sponsor who has done the Steps, puts into practice the principles described as indespensible, and can guide anyone (alcoholic, addict, and family members -alanon- for whom "Alcoholics Anonymous" was written) through the process toward their own Spiritual Experience.

My experience is that following the directions in the Big Book, and conveying the message of hope and change in our workshop, has allowed countless others to recieve and relate to a God of their own understanding. Lives are changed forever and the process continues to give for that which was freely given.

An answer (solution) is found and given in these pages to come. I pray that anyone in need may find direction, do the work, and recieve the miracle of recovery. And then pass it on.....
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Postby avaneesh912 » Thu Sep 03, 2009 4:39 am

Because this book has become the basic text for our Society and has helped such large numbers of alcoholic men and women to recovery, there exists strong sentiment against any radical changes being made in it. Therefore, the first portion of this volume, describing the A.A. recovery program, has been left largely untouched in the course of revisions made for the second, third, and fourth editions. The section called “The Doctor’s Opinion” has been kept intact, just as it was originally written in 1939 by the late Dr. William D. Silkworth, our Society’s great medical benefactor.
=================================================

The book Alcoholics Anonymous aka Big Book for ever will be the basic text for the Fellowship. And Doctors Opinion will be a vital piece of the book for it comes straight from a Doctor who saw in his own eyes the devastation alcohol can cause and was a key person to talk about the phenomenon of craving, the obsession (1st part of step1) and the spiritual malady (2nd half of Step1). And it was the greatest source of information that helped me understand alcoholism. I am not sure if I ever be convinced if it had come from any other source.
Show him, from your own experience, how the peculiar mental condition surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning of the will power (Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)
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Postby samantha » Sat Sep 05, 2009 8:09 am

Avaneesh, I had never equated the first step this way before:

'the obsession (1st part of step1) and the spiritual malady (2nd half of Step1)'

2nd part of step 1, our lives had become unmanageable, = the spiritual malady.

So, we admitted we were powerless over alchohol, that we had the obsession to drink (followed by the craving), and that our lives had become unmanageable, that we had a spiritual malady.

Thank you Avaneesh
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Postby Joe H » Sat Sep 05, 2009 1:18 pm

I love how the founders put the Big Book together.

The Doctor's Opinion (without argument a professional) while very important in that it gives the medical veiw of alcoholism, it is not a part of the first 164 pages. The first 164 pages remains the foundation of our fellowship, one alcoholic sharing with another.
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Postby avaneesh912 » Tue Sep 08, 2009 4:44 pm

2nd part of step 1, our lives had become unmanageable, = the spiritual malady.


That is one of the advantages of being open minded and listening to various speakers in the circuit not just disregard them as just another drunk sharing the story. Of course you run into speakers that just talk about the problem (the un-manageability) and at the end never talk about what it is like now and how they got there....

This was brought up by Chris R in one of the workshops. The moment you bring the topic of un-manageability, people would immediately jump on the amount of liquor they consumed, the number DUIs they had, Jail time, divorces, job loses (all these are external) but people never talk about the internal dis-comfort.... being restless, irritable and discontent.....

Then there is this episode he shares about being in 7/11 in the morning pissed, quick to grab something to overcome the hangover.....but later getting well picking up the first 6 pack, you don't even have to take a sip, you are already well, you have your medication in your hand.....

And that is alcoholism!! Its not about drinking at all.
Show him, from your own experience, how the peculiar mental condition surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning of the will power (Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)
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