My angst tastes like...
Find your angst's flavor
So we watched Penn & Teller's 12 Stepping episode this weekend. I might be a little Penn & Teller saturated since I've watched nearly the entire season 1 last week, but it's not one of their better episodes. I thought it lacked their usual focus. I wasn't sure whether they were attacking alcoholism as a disease or 12 Step programs in general. (I know, I could have used the title of the show as a guide, but I'm of the "show me, don't tell me" school of thought on these things.) I think what they were railing at was mandated religion in the form of court ordered AA programs and I guess I'm inclined to agree with that, but it look them a long time to bring out that point. A good example to illustrate their point (that they didn't use): after you cause a car accident you are sentenced to manditory traffic school as sometimes happens and the first thing they teach you is that you aren't in control when you get behind the wheel, a higher power is.
My experiences with 12 Step have been slightly better than that. I never felt the feeling of powerlessness P&T described. What they didn't mention was the "Keep coming back. It works if you work it." mentality that underlies the group. I think it's about the community, and the limiting of the "I'm alone in the world with my problems" feeling. Of course, like most group therapy things, effects are diminished the further away from it you are. This adds to the cultlike feeling P&T do describe. And P&T could easily refute my claims by pointing out that I don't go to a 12 step program currently, but then I'm not sure I had the problem I was going for. I went because my mother suggested it. P&T could also easily point out that my mother was at one point not too long ago, going to enough 12 step programs for our entire family. (well, if they were stalking me and mine, that is.)
I would have liked to see them talk to someone like Dr. Twerski who wrote Waking up Just in Time, a guidebook to 12 Stepping using Peanuts cartoons to illustrate the points, as a reference.
Bottom line, I'm not sure it deserved all the excoriation it got.