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Title: The paradox of self surrender and self empowerment : an interpretative phenomenological investigation of the individual's understanding of the higher power in Alcoholics Anonymous
Author: Medina, Marc
ISNI:       0000 0004 2733 6276
Awarding Body: Middlesex University
Current Institution: Middlesex University
Date of Award: 2013
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The aim of this study is to examine how long term recovery from addiction within the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) paradigm impacts upon the everyday lives of the participants; the choices they make, the difficulties they encounter and their felt sense of personal freedom. The sceptical view of AA is that the price of this recovery is the loss of an independent or strong self that becomes subsumed in the group-think and overtaken by the need to surrender to a Higher Power. For this reason it has traditionally been assumed that psychotherapy and AA are fundamentally antithetic, one promoting the self and the other calling for self surrender. This qualitative research has sought to understand more about the sober self by interviewing six long term sober AA members (average length of sobriety 16 years) using semi structured interviews and analysing the resulting data using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). The results indicated that rather than losing themselves or their sense of agency, these participants have overcome their alcoholic selves and emerged as more responsible, empowered, connected and free selves. This paradox of self surrender and self empowerment is explored further as is the resonance between the spiritu-philosophical basis of AA and the insights that underpin existential psychotherapy. This study can contribute towards a deeper understanding of the nature of long term sobriety and further research is suggested that focuses on attitudes towards AA amongst psychotherapists and psychologists, and the operationalization of the process of handing over and recognising personal limitations. The clinical significance of this research lies in its attempt to increase understanding, specifically amongst existential psychotherapists, regarding the potential congruence of attending AA and engaging in existential psychotherapy and also allowing those in the addiction community to understand more about the parallels that exist between AA and this philosophically grounded branch of psychotherapy.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available