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Contents copyright 2019 by Valerie Harms

Leslie Jamison's book on Alcohol & Ink

Re article by Greenberg in New Yorker, April 2nd 2018:

Why didn’t Mr. Greenberg stick to Leslie Jamison’s book on alcoholic writers? She is a recovering alcoholic; he obviously is not. The Big Book is not synonymous with AA. Many attend AA meetings without ever reading the book. And what’s wrong with the program having been defined by two white guys? Are their contributions not to be recognized anymore? AA has helped numerous people stay sober. Why knock it? Why not praise its good qualities? Mr. Greenberg would not make a good therapist for those who have or who those around them think they have a problem with alcohol. Many therapists require clients to stop drinking to clear up their cloudy thinking. Greenberg is an intellectual enabler.
Mr. Greenberg was negligent not to mention more recent great (all deceased) alcoholic writers, such as David Foster Wallace, Raymond Carver, and Denis Johnson. Wallace wrote about how AA taught him about real community and how it made him a more sincere writer. Denis Johnson’s stories about rehab are stellar.
Moreover, in AA the term “god” does not have to stand for a religious being; it can stand for “good orderly direction”, which most people who use drugs or alcohol need. You’d think a psychotherapist like Mr. Greenberg might know that it was psychoanalyst Carl G. Jung who told Bill Wilson that people were seeking spirit in a bottle rather than inside themselves. That insight became a major underpinning of AA.
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