PP 26-28 There is a Solution (THe Free Man)

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
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Karl R
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PP 26-28 There is a Solution (THe Free Man)

Post by Karl R » Wed Sep 17, 2008 8:22 am

Good Morning,

I've posted today's reading below.

A bit of housekeeping----I will start to include in the subject line of each day's thread a 1-3 word summary of the topic with which each day's reading concerns itself. Let me know if these 1-3 word summaries of topic are not accurate or needed. thanks-Karl

Yesterday we saw that there is no middle of the road solution to the problem of drink. It is not enough to just not drink-we must have a spiritual experience and work the steps to solve the root of our drink problem. In today's selection we see a concrete example of this.

This is a common story. An intelligent man seeks professional help to quit drinking. For reasons which baffle him he continues over and over to relapse despite the help of the best physicians and counselors that money can buy. The Doctor tells him he is hopeless. In the face of this hopelessness the man is graced with recovery and becomes a "free man"/free of his alcohol problem and free to go anywhere and do anything without alcohol causing chaos in his life.

For today's virtual donut--what happened to make this American businessman a "free man" once again?

cheers all,
Karl

A certain American business man had ability, good sense, and high character. For years he had floundered from one sanitarium to another. He had consulted the best known American psychiatrists. Then he had gone to Europe, placing himself in the care of a celebrated physician (the psychiatrist, Dr. Jung) who prescribed for him. Though experience had made him skeptical, he finished his treatment with unusual confidence. His physical and mental condition were unusually good. Above all, he believed he had acquired such a profound knowledge of the inner workings of his mind and its hidden springs that relapse was unthinkable. Nevertheless, he was drunk in a short time. More baffling still, he could give himself no satisfactory explanation for his fall.
So he returned to this doctor, whom he admired, and asked him point-blank why he could not recover. He wished above all things to regain self-control. He seemed quite rational and well-balanced with respect to other problems. Yet he had no control whatever over alcohol. Why was this?
He begged the doctor to tell him the whole truth, and he got it. In the doctor's judgment he was utterly hopeless; he could never regain his position in society and he would have to place himself under lock and key or hire a bodyguard if he expected to live long. That was a great physician's opinion.
But this man still lives, and is a free man. He does not need a bodyguard nor is he confined. He can go anywhere on this earth where other free men may go without disaster, provided he remains willing to maintain a certain simple attitude.
Some of our alcoholic readers may think they can do without spiritual help. Let us tell you the rest of the conversation our friend had with his doctor.
The doctor said: "You have the mind of a chronic alcoholic. I have never seen one single case recover, where that state of mind existed to the extent that it does in you." Our friend felt as though the gates of hell had closed on him with a clang.
He said to the doctor, "Is there no exception?"
"Yes," replied the doctor, "there is. Exceptions to cases such as yours have been occurring since early times. Here and there, once in a while, alcoholics have had what are called vital spiritual experiences. To me these occurrences are phenomena. They appear to be in the nature of huge emotional displacements and rearrangements. Ideas, emotions, and attitudes which were once the guiding forces of the lives of these men are suddenly cast to one side, and a completely new set of conceptions and motives begin to dominate them. In fact, I have been trying to produce some such emotional rearrangement within you. With many individuals the methods which I employed are successful, but I have never been successful with an alcoholic of your description."
Upon hearing this, our friend was somewhat relieved, for he reflected that, after all, he was a good church member. This hope, however, was destroyed by the doctor's telling him that while his religious convictions were very good, in his case they did not spell the necessary vital spiritual experience.
Here was the terrible dilemma in which our friend found himself when he had the extraordinary experience, which as we have already told you, made him a free man.
Last edited by Karl R on Sat Sep 12, 2009 10:17 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by jak » Wed Sep 17, 2008 5:42 pm

...what happened to make this American businessman a "free man" once again?
Two things happened...

Here was the 1. terrible dilemma in which our friend found himself when he had the 2. extraordinary experience,

The first thing happened because the doctor told him the truth, which included the fact that the doctor couldn't help.

The second thing happened because he wanted, asked for and sought after spiritual help.

I like my doughnuts like in the song that Rod Stuart sang.

"Every picture tells a story doughnut!"
"Every picture tells a story doughnut!"
"Every picture tells a story doughnut!"
jak

I thought I was confused...but now I'm not sure.

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Post by Karl R » Wed Sep 17, 2008 5:57 pm

I like my doughnuts like in the song that Rod Stuart sang.

"Every picture tells a story doughnut!"
"Every picture tells a story doughnut!"
"Every picture tells a story doughnut!"[/quote]

Here's your donut!

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Post by Karl R » Thu Sep 18, 2008 6:04 am

jak wrote:
...
The first thing happened because the doctor told him the truth, which included the fact that the doctor couldn't help."
This business of truth is a little funny. We talk and think about honesty from ourself. What of truth from other people? To this day-almost 70 days into my sobriety my boss continues to tell me that he didn't know that I had a drinking problem. Telling the truth? or attempting to shelter me from the truth. Neither version of his 'truth' was very helpful to me over the last 10 years. He should have kicked me in the pants years ago. Sometimes truths withheld from us by others would be better passed along to us.

It may not matter. He's not an alcoholic-just a boss. Probably the only one I would have listened to about my drinking was another alcoholic.

in peace,
Karl

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Post by Blue Moon » Thu Sep 18, 2008 6:19 am

The man being described was Roland H. He was never a member of AA, though in some ways he was the real pioneer of spiritual-based recovery from alcoholism.
Ian S
AKA Blue Moon

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Post by jujub » Wed Oct 29, 2008 4:41 am

morning all,

over the last few months i have realized a new depth of utter powerlessness over alcohol and have come to believe that i can not with any human resource stop drinking or stay stopped. that human resource includes me! my dilemma was a stubborn belief that there was no higher power available to the wretch i had become. i was so screwed. why bother? contempt prior to investigation, you know?

i've always had a connection with birds--found them flittering around my view in times of distress. it was as if they were telling me to relax, stop worrying, we've got your back. toward the end of my last drinking episode, these birds started flying into my picture window. the thought crossed my mind that they were trying real hard to get my attention. i was at the time wrestling with the idea of going back to treatment. one day i found one injured and one dead bird near my window. i thought they're nothing but stupid birds, and the idea that they had some meaning in my angst was tossed aside. but my sponsor pointed out that maybe they were willing to do whatever it took to reach me.

i decided to enter treatment again, and the birds stopped flying into the window. not one for over a week. they had been banging into that damn window several times a day prior to that decision. last friday i heard 2 slam into the window and i was very disappointed. again thinking the connection was my imagination. but the next day i realized i had been seriously entertaining the idea of drinking on friday. i didn't drink, and the birds have stopped doing their kamikaze routine once again.

i firmly believe this was the grace of god working in my life to solve my drink problem. those birds were my little messengers. some may scoff, but i believe. i have a faith in a concept of god today. what an incredible gift. i feel more free than i have in a long time. i struggle on a daily basis with early recovery, with life in general. but i haven't drank. yes, that has been my daily miracle.

i'm going back to work today, scared about that. i won't be around the forums much in the next week and i will truly miss you guys. but i'll check in when i can, and i'll be back in full force next week. thank all of you for playing such an intregal part in my sobriety. sorry for the long story, but i really wanted to share it with you.

thanks for listening--
judi, alcoholic

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Post by Karl R » Wed Oct 29, 2008 5:36 am

thanks for the story Judi.

Good luck and a prayer for your work.

Karl

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Post by Karl R » Sat Sep 12, 2009 10:36 am

So get the picture here...

Roland had spent a considerable amount of time and money and treatment getting sober but found relapse to be the order of his life. After each treatment he felt great physically and mentally and absolutely understood his triggers. But...he kept getting drunk.

He went to the doctor and the doctor said....."you're hopeless".

The doctor told him that he had the mind of an alcoholic. His drinking wasn't the problem. The drinking was a symptom of other problems.

The doctor told him recovery was going to take a huge emotional displacement, a rearrangement of his mind, a new set of concepts and motives. A "vital experience". Spiritual recovery.

Roland, after being told he was hopeless, became a free man.

Roland was told he was hopeless by his doctor. On the evening of July 17th 2008 I was informed that I was hopeless by my mother-in-law. I'll always be grateful for the news. That news and the grace of a HP which allowed me to understand it and believe it were the start of a journey toward a "vital experience".

Today's big book questions are... when did you come to believe in the hopelessness of your situation? And... "what does being a free person mean to you?" And....how did you win that freedom?

cheers everyone,
K.

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Post by leejosepho » Sat Sep 12, 2009 11:00 am

Roland, after being told he was hopeless, became a free man.
Sure, but that is not what set him free.

I also was "100% hopeless, apart from divine help" ("A.A., the book, page 43), and I have since been set free of chronic alcoholism by turning to "chronic spirituality", so to speak. One kills and the other brings life, and nobody remains in-between or undecided for long at all.

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Post by LetgoJoe » Sat Sep 12, 2009 9:26 pm

When did you come to believe in the hopelessness of your situation?
I had returned after a 4 day stay from the hospital after having a traffic accident as the driver in a blackout, which resulted in my vehicle being totaled and my hip being dislocated. The worst thought was that I could have killed someone else. Fortunately I was the only one injured and in the accident. I was standing in my living room all banged up and broken down with a beer in my hand propped across my walker and in a freezing thought. I was thinking, I had to do something or I was completely screwed. The insanity of having that drink in my hand straight off that incident hit me in the head with complete surrender. I called my sponsor and I have been sober ever since.
What does being a free person mean to you?
Not being enslaved to alcohol or my guilt.
How did you win that freedom?
I had really reached that state in which I surrendered to this simple program - one that I was convinced that half measures had availed me nothing, the result was going to be nil unless I let go absolutely and I was willing to go to any lengths to get it. I then did the steps with my sponsor and did not drink. The description in the Big Book played out pretty much as described. I was seeing the promises come true in my life when I was at step nine and the biggest thing that happened was the spiritual awakening and in that I was seeing the 10th step promises appear in my life. That was mind blowing. When I am in a true state of humility and letting go and letting God, I am completely free. I see that that free state is becoming more of a constant the more I focus on practicing the principle of AA in all my affairs, which maintains my spiritual condition.

Reprieve contingent on my spiritual condition = freedom
Honesty gets us sober, tolerance keeps us sober. ~Bill W.

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Post by ann2 » Sat Sep 12, 2009 9:34 pm

I was coming home after realizing I needed my wallet in order to ride the subway to work. I had forgotten it going to work in the morning, and tied that omission of preparedness to my intoxicated state. On that walk home, I had a moment of clarity in which I saw that all my plans and hopes for the future would be easily undermined by my alcoholism. And suddenly it dawned on me that this problem was bigger than me, because the problem was in me and would color every attempt I made to fix it.

My freedom means that I can accomplish things I set out to do -- they may not turn out any particular way, but they won't end up in dissolution because I am incapable of following through because the drink is more important.

That freedom was given to me -- freely -- by a loving God through the fellowship and program of AA. It was mine because I wanted it, pursued it actively even though inexpertly. It is a gift and I cherish it.

Ann
"If I don't take twenty walks, Billy Beane send me to Mexico" -- Miguel Tejada

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Re: PP 26-28 There is a Solution (THe Free Man)

Post by avaneesh912 » Sun Jan 23, 2011 1:19 pm

Its amazing how in 1935-39 how the authors of the big book compiled this recovery section of this book with such depth and clarity, having been thru this alcoholic torture and knew they had to provide compelling evidence that for a real-alcoholic only a spiritual solution will work. In this chapter this character had gone from one sanitarium to another and finally ends up with the 3rd most famous psychiatrist (Carl Jung) and yet ends up drunk.

Some of our alcoholic readers may think they can do without spiritual help. Let us tell you the rest of the conversation our friend had with his doctor.
The doctor said: "You have the mind of a chronic alcoholic. I have never seen one single case recover, where that state of mind existed to the extent that it does in you." Our friend felt as though the gates of hell had closed on him with a clang.
He said to the doctor, "Is there no exception?"
"Yes," replied the doctor, "there is. Exceptions to cases such as yours have been occurring since early times. Here and there, once in a while, alcoholics have had what are called vital spiritual experiences. To me these occurrences are phenomena. They appear to be in the nature of huge emotional displacements and rearrangements. Ideas, emotions, and attitudes which were once the guiding forces of the lives of these men are suddenly cast to one side, and a completely new set of conceptions and motives begin to dominate them. In fact, I have been trying to produce some such emotional rearrangement within you. With many individuals the methods which I employed are successful, but I have never been successful with an alcoholic of your description."
Upon hearing this, our friend was somewhat relieved, for he reflected that, after all, he was a good church member. This hope, however, was destroyed by the doctor's telling him that while his religious convictions were very good, in his case they did not spell the necessary vital spiritual experience.
Here was the terrible dilemma in which our friend found himself when he had the extraordinary experience, which as we have already told you, made him a free man.
===================================================================================================================================================================
This man (Roland H) later as part of Oxford Group sobered up and said to have helped Ebby T and Ebby T in turn carried this message to our co-founder Bill W.
Show him the mental twist which leads to the first drink of a spree. We suggest you do this as we have done it in the chapter on alcoholism.(Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)

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Re: PP 26-28 There is a Solution (THe Free Man)

Post by Karl R » Sun Jan 23, 2011 1:48 pm

And this is reinforced by the paragraph right before this one on pages 25 and 26.
If you are as seriously alcoholic as we were, we believe there is no middle-of-the-road solution. We were in a position where life was becoming impossible, and if we had passed into the region from which there is no return through human aid, we had but two alternatives: One was to go on to the bitter end, blotting out the consciousness of our intolerable situation as best we could; and the other, to accept spiritual help. This we did because we honestly wanted to, and were willing to make the effort.
I would proffer the idea that those who have yet to face the "but two alternatives" scenario in their life and have not yet passed the point of human aid may have difficulty understanding this section in the book.

Indeed, these may have difficulty wanting to or being willing to make the effort to accept spiritual help.

One of the least followed directions in the chapter "working with others" is the short phrase on page 92.
If you are satisfied that he is a real alcoholic ......
cheers,
Karl

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Re: PP 26-28 There is a Solution (THe Free Man)

Post by leejosepho » Wed Jul 20, 2011 7:09 pm

Karl R wrote:... One of the least followed directions in the chapter "working with others" is the short phrase on page 92.
If you are satisfied that he is a real alcoholic ......
"... begin to dwell on the hopeless feature of the malady. Show him, from your own experience, how the queer mental condition surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning of the will power."

That sure is a far cry from congratulating someone for a day or two of not drinking and then telling him or her to keep coming back, eh?! :wink:

In my own experience, few people today ever get Twelfth-Stepped. However, there is also another difference here: Roland was looking for permanent relief and he was actually asking this kind of question:

"If you are an alcoholic who wants to get over it, you may already be asking - 'What do I have to do?'
"It is the purpose of this book to answer such questions specifically. We shall tell you what we have done."

And of course, neither congratulations nor "Don't drink" nor "Keep coming back" can be found anywhere within "A.A.", the book.
=======================
"We A.A.s do not *stay* away from drinking [one day at a
time] -- we *grow* away from drinking [one day at a time]."
("Lois Remembers", page 168, quoting Bill, emphasis added)
=======================

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Re: PP 26-28 There is a Solution (THe Free Man)

Post by leejosepho » Sat Mar 24, 2012 6:40 am

Karl R wrote:I would proffer the idea that those who have yet to face the "but two alternatives" scenario in their life and have not yet passed the point of human aid may have difficulty understanding this section in the book.
Or, maybe they are just not yet aware of having passed that point and still need to try one-day-at-a-time sobriety in order to discover being beyond human aid.
A certain American business man ... floundered from one [treatment center] to another [for years] ... consulted ... psychiatrists ... was drunk in a short time ... could give himself no satisfactory explanation for his fall.
We see a lot of that inside A.A. today. People come to A.A. (or are sent here) while expecting or assuming "abstinence support" or whatever, and then find themselves still dying one-drunk-at-a-time ... and I am not finding fault with anyone when I say that. Rather, I am suggesting we try to help them understand our alcoholic dilemma and find a real solution.
... he could give himself no satisfactory explanation for his fall ... he had no control whatever over alcohol ... he begged the doctor to tell him the whole truth, and he got it. In the doctor's judgment he was utterly hopeless ... he would have to place himself under lock and key or hire a bodyguard if he expected to live long. That was a great physician's opinion.
And from right there even prior to A.A., that is the kind of hopelessness we still need to drive home right here inside A.A. But instead, many people hear philosophical stuff such as "There is no situation so bad that a drink would not make it worse."

True enough, maybe, but what does that have to do with finding a solution to having no defense against the first drink? Nothing at all. The good doctor had said "utterly hopeless", and he had not continued on by suggesting one-day-at-a-time sobriety after Roland had "asked him point-blank why he could not recover."
Some of our alcoholic readers may think they can do without spiritual help.
"If a mere code of morals or a better philosophy of life were sufficient to overcome alcoholism, many of us would have recovered long ago. But we found that such codes and philosophies did not save us ..." (pages 44-45)

... and again, we see a lot of that throughout A.A. today. Along with all the philosophical stuff we hear in relation to alcohol and/or drinking, we even have (unwitting?) moralizers who seem to believe (or who speculate) people might be doing "God's will" by trying to not drink one-day-at-a-time (even though we have no requirement that anyone stop drinking at all)!
"... Here and there, once in a while, alcoholics have had what are called vital spiritual experiences ... phenomena ...
=======
Phenomenon, n. plu. phenomena. (Webster, 1869)
In a general sense, an appearance ... sometimes denotes a remarkable or unusual appearance.
=======
... in the nature of huge emotional displacements and rearrangements. Ideas, emotions, and attitudes which were once the guiding forces of the lives of these men are suddenly cast to one side, and a completely new set of conceptions and motives begin to dominate them.
"Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely." (page 58)
... while his religious convictions were very good, in his case they did not spell the necessary vital spiritual experience.
Here was the terrible dilemma in which our friend found himself ...
A key component in our 12th-Step work: "The more hopeless he feels, the better. He will be more likely to follow your suggestions." (page 94)
=======================
"We A.A.s do not *stay* away from drinking [one day at a
time] -- we *grow* away from drinking [one day at a time]."
("Lois Remembers", page 168, quoting Bill, emphasis added)
=======================

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