Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Jonas has a good blog entry in response to Marc's comment about the 12 steps. Interesting and thoughtful deconstruction of obsessive-compulsive disorders and curing and managing addiction. The only place where I would disagree is that I actually do exhibit a variety of symptoms of addiction and that's why I've chosen to stop drinking.

Update: Jonas comments on the 12 steps. I have never been to an AA meeting, although I've ordered the book and intend to try going, but the comments from Jonas are... sobering. Any thoughts from people who swear by the 12 steps?


Go Joi! You're already lots better. But its a long long road.


Joi, let me say this, I'm a big believer in the 12 step program. I have seen, first hand, what it does for the hopeless alcoholic. This is a journey my friend. Congratulations on seeing the problem. Many people don't until they've lost everything. I support you. Feel free to contact me anytime if you have questions about the 12 step program. You may be able to walk away from the drink and never look back, but if you can't, there are alternatives. Take care!

I went to 12 step meetings years ago for a while. I don't know if I can go back, because I "know how the magician does the trick".

The trick is invoke the innate "God Center" to help in overriding addictive behavior. (The God Center is that part of the mind that culture fills with religious content. It has enormous power, including the ability to motivate the memetic host to commit suicide).

Still, most of what 12 steppers suggest you do makes plenty of sense. Cleaning up your personal messes from the past is good therapy and helps disarm some of the negative emotions that fuel addiction. Its also helpful to socialize with other recovering people, and 12 step stuff is free and does not leave any traces.

I do find most 12-steppers to be a bit rigid and behind the times. Addiction treatment has made enormous progress in the past 20 years.

The US Government has a large bureaucracy that will gladly send you manuals on treatment methods at no charge. I don't know if they will ship to Japan though!

I used to go to Alateen. It was a good place to go for a mixed up kid who felt like an outsider. I remember feeling hugely relieved after every meeting. My parents have also gone through 12 step programs more extensively than I, and when they're doing it right, they're really right with the world.

It can be kind of a crutch sometimes, and it's only useful if you approach it honestly. But it's a good tool, worth using for recognising negative behaviour in yourself.

As for the criticisms of the twelves steps you linked to... I could probaby go on too long agreeing and disagreeing. But I will respond as simply as I can-- one may have many semantic quibbles with the twelve steps. But my understanding of the essential purpose is this: those with addictive natures often seek to feel "in control" by pursuing their addictive natures. That sense of control is false. Acknowledging lack of control over the vagaries of life is key to getting on with your life and moving beyond addictive behavior. (So you don't ultimately have a say whether or not a hurricane hits your house or you lose your job -- those events are in some higher power's hands.) I've never met anyone working a 12 step program well who thinks that by following the steps a mystical deity will magically remove their problems.

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