Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease

Big Book Reviews

Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease

Vol. 42(3), September 1940

ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS: How more than one hundred men have recovered from alcoholism. (New York: Works Publishing Company, Church St. Annex P.C., $3.50.)

As a youth we attended many "experience" meetings more as an onlooker than as a participant. We never could work ourselves up into a lather and burst forth in soapy bubbly phrases about our intimate states of feeling. That was our own business rather than something to brag about to the neighbours. Neither then nor now do we lean to the autobiographical, save occasionally by allusion to point a moral or adorn a tale, as the ancient adage put it.

This big book, i.e. big in words, is a rambling sort of camp meeting confession of experiences, told in the form of biographies of various alcoholics who had been to a certain institution and have provisionally recovered, chiefly under the influence of the "big brothers get together spirit." Of the inner meaning of alcoholism there is hardly a word. It is all on the surface material.

Inasmuch as the alcoholic, speaking generally, lives a wish-fulfilling infantile regression to the omnipotent delusional state, perhaps he is best handled for the time being at least by regressive mass psychological methods, in which, as is realized, religious fervors belong, hence the religious trend of the book . Billy Sunday and similar orators had their successes but we think the methods of Forel and of Bleuler infinitely superior.


Christian Herald American Association of Nervous and Mental Disease

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