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is a Bridge to Happy Living
© The A.A.
Grapevine, Inc., May 1948
Alcoholics Anonymous program is a bridge from the negative
or egocentric personality of the sick alcoholic to the more
desirable affirmative personality of the sober man, Dr.
Harry M. Tiebout, physician in charge of Blythwood Hospital,
Old Greenwich, Connecticut, believes. "An incident
that happened twenty-five years ago when I was an intern,
explains to me the alcoholic personality," Dr. Tiebout
told an open meeting of the Manhattan Inter-Group recently.
Patients of the "quiet ward" in the hospital where
the doctor was an intern became upset and jittery. The nurses
on the floor told the doctor that the trouble was caused
by a patient who claimed to be able to read mindsand
seemed to be doing so. "This of course was of great
interest to me," said the doctor. "I couldn't
read anybody's mind so it seemed like a good idea if I met
the man who could. I called the patient to my office. I
asked him how he could do this impossible thing."
Matter of Muscles
easy,' the man said. 'All you have to do is watch the muscle
reaction. If a man is thinking "no" his muscles
unconsciously contract and he pulls away. When he is thinking
"yes" he is relaxed.'" "It wasn't until
this summer, twenty-five years later, that the full impact
of that incident hit me," Dr. Tiebout continued. "When
the alcoholic is sick, he is an 'aginner.' His mental attitude
is one of withdrawalhis psychological 'muscles' contract."
The "aginner" cannot enjoy life, Dr. Tiebout continued,
"No, I won't go along, I'll do it myself," is
his attitude. He feels an apartness from others because
of this inner refusal to go along. This person feels unrest,
discomfort, tension, dissatisfaction. He is full of resentments
and hostility. In order to overcome these feelings, he seeks
happiness in excitement and liquor is one outlet. Then he
becomes gregarious, noisy, opinionated, in his fear of becoming
a "Mr. Milquetoast." This person, too, may become
overconscientious - he is selfish and full of guilt. "The
'aginner,' said Dr. Tiebout, "has no acceptance of
life and the world as it is. He hasn't a chance of living
on a twenty-four-hour program. Why doesn't this man give
up? Because he has will powerhe can fight the world,
alone - he thinks." The more desirable, affirmative
personality is quieter and feels fewer compulsions. He shares
in fellowship and feels less guilt. This man is even-tempered
and has learned to take things in his stride. He has an
affirmative enjoyment of life as it is. He no longer demands
that life produce thus-and-so. He's no longer trying to
whip the world single handedly. "The Alcoholics Anonymous
program," Dr. Tiebout continued, "tends to produce
the 'yes' state of mind.
your First Step the alcoholic admits that his life has become
unmanageable. He can't whip the world alone - and admits
it. Then in the Second Step, he reiterates; admitting that
he cannot manage his life himself, he asks for help from
the Power greater than he. He reminds himself of this constantly.
"By attending group meetings he gradually loses the
feeling of aloneness - he is no longer set apart. He has
become an integral part of a group of people, enjoying their
activities with them; he belongs. "By doing Twelfth
Step work, the man or woman begins to 'sell' someone else
and, by so doing, sells himself for what he is. "The
person on the AA program then begins to say 'yes' to the
kind of person he is. He takes a moral inventory and when
he begins to say 'yes' he begins to grow. "Then as
he begins to grow, he says 'yes' to God. Thy will be done.
Through this he gains humbleness and humility," Dr.
New York, New York
© The A.A.
Grapevine, Inc., May 1948
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