Dr Tiebout... A Little History

From that ten-cent phone call and a cup of coffee to AA's General Service Office. What's your take on service?

Dr Tiebout... A Little History

Postby Tommy-S » Thu Jan 29, 2015 3:15 am

For those who don't know, AA's GSO (New York) puts out a FREE digital subscription, quarterly newsletter on AA Archiving called "MARKINGS", which usually includes an article on AA history.

The last one, Winter 2014, contains an article on Dr. Harry Tiebout who treated Marty M, and became "the first psychiatrist to endorse A.A. and refer his patients to the Fellowship".

This link at GSO should take you there, for those interested:

http://ddslinks.aaws.org/default.aspx?p ... ter14&l=en

Tommy
Together, we don't have to cave in or wimp out to that Fatal First One, no matter what today!
User avatar
Tommy-S
Forums Old Timer
 
Posts: 2296
Joined: Thu Jan 26, 2012 3:11 pm
Location: Norfolk, VA

Re: Dr Tiebout... A Little History

Postby leejosepho » Wed Oct 07, 2015 3:58 am

Dr. Tiebout was first exposed to Alcoholics Anonymous in early 1939 when he received a prepublication copy (first draft) of the book for review. Reading it, he discovered it offered a thoroughly accurate portrait of the character problems in an alcoholic patient under his care...he lent the manuscript to the patient and it ultimately helped her achieve sobriety, thereby convincing Dr. Tiebout of its merit.

Published in 1944 in The American Journal of Psychiatry, Dr. Tiebout's own “Therapeutic Mechanism of Alcoholics Anonymous” article served as an introduction to the A.A. program of recovery and explained A.A. to the scientific and medical communities. It demonstrated the importance of ego reduction to the alcoholic, making it clear that a [spiritual] awakening contributed to the recovery of the early A.A. members. The concept of “surrender” (to the need for help from a greater power) is repeatedly emphasized by Dr. Tiebout in this and other articles, meaning the individual must become totally willing to accept their own powerlessness and the need for help from a greater power. Tiebout is careful to emphasize that the alcoholic must surrender fully, rather than simply comply with the wishes of a therapist. He believed there could be no compromise with the ego, which could always reassert itself and lead to drinking once again.

(partially paraphrased)

Tiebout talked extensively about "ego deflation in depth", and I have never heard anyone since dig any deeper. I will try to transcribe part of one of his talks I have on tape and post an example here.
=======================
"We A.A.s do not *stay* away from drinking [one day at a
time] -- we *grow* away from drinking [one day at a time]."
("Lois Remembers", page 168, quoting Bill, emphasis added)
=======================
User avatar
leejosepho
Forums Old Timer
 
Posts: 1951
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 4:55 am
Location: 200 miles south of Little Rock

Re: Dr Tiebout... A Little History

Postby leejosepho » Mon Oct 12, 2015 3:59 am

Still looking for my Tiebout tape, but I did find this:

Dr. Harry Tiebout, The 12 Steps as Ego Deflating Devices

What does Surrender Mean?

For reasons still obscure, the program and the fellowship of A.A. could cause a surrender which in turn would lead to a period of no drinking. It became ever more apparent that in everyone's psyche there existed an unconquerable ego which bitterly opposed any thought of defeat. Until that ego was somehow reduced or rendered ineffective, no likelihood of surrender could be anticipated.

A.A., still very much in its infancy, was celebrating a third or fourth anniversary of one of the groups. The speaker immediately preceding me told in detail of the efforts of his local group — which consisted of two men — to get him to dry up and become its third member. After several months of vain efforts on their part and repeated nose dives on his, the speaker went on to say: "Finally, I got cut down to size and have been sober ever since," a matter of some two or three years. When my turn came to speak, I used his phrase "cut down to size" as a text around which to weave my remarks. Before long, out of the corner of my eye, I became conscious of a disconcerting stare. It was coming from the previous speaker.

It was perfectly clear: He was utterly amazed that he had said anything which made sense to a psychiatrist. The incident showed that two people, one approaching the matter clinically and the other relying on his own intuitive report of what had happened to him, both came up with exactly the same observation: the need for ego reduction. It is common knowledge that a return of the full-fledged ego can happen at any time. Years of sobriety are no insurance against its resurgence. No A.A.s, regardless of their veteran status, can ever relax their guard against a reviving ego.

The function of surrender in A.A. is now clear. It produces that stopping by causing the individual to say, "I quit. I give up on my headstrong ways. I've learned my lesson." Very often for the first time in that individual's adult career, he has encountered the necessary discipline that halts him in his headlong pace. Actually, he is lucky to have within him the capacity to surrender. It is that which differentiates him from the wild animals. And this happens because we can surrender and truly feel, "Thy will, not mine, be done."

Unfortunately, that ego will return unless the individual learns to accept a disciplined way of life, which means the tendency toward ego comeback is permanently checked.

This is not news to A.A. members. They have learned that a single surrender is not enough. Under the wise leadership of the A.A. "founding fathers" the need for continued endeavor to maintain that miracle has been steadily stressed. The Twelve Steps urge repeated inventories, not just one, and the Twelfth Step is in itself a routine reminder that one must work at preserving sobriety. Moreover, it is referred to as Twelfth Step work — which is exactly what it is. By that time, however, the miracle is for the other person.

-Dr. Harry M. Tiebout, M.D.
=======================
"We A.A.s do not *stay* away from drinking [one day at a
time] -- we *grow* away from drinking [one day at a time]."
("Lois Remembers", page 168, quoting Bill, emphasis added)
=======================
User avatar
leejosepho
Forums Old Timer
 
Posts: 1951
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 4:55 am
Location: 200 miles south of Little Rock

Re: Dr Tiebout... A Little History

Postby leejosepho » Mon Oct 12, 2015 8:48 am

I found the tape, and here is the major portion of his talk:

Dr. Harry Tiebout speaking in Long Beach, California, 1960:

Let me give you some feel I have for the inner attitudes I have in mind about the nature of this ego which is the villain in the drama of the alcoholic. To start with, let me illustrate my ideas with a story that goes back a number of years.

One day one of my patients said, “You know, I just heard ‘X’ say something that has been bothering me like the dickens. I wonder how you feel about it. He then added that he, my patient, was at a meeting with ‘X’ in which they were discussing the program, and that ‘X’ had said he would only speak if he were the third speaker. Continuing, my patient said, “That sounds suspiciously like ego to me. What do you think?”

I agreed, but we both found that hard to believe because ‘X’ was the spark plug and leading light of his group, and as solid an A.A. citizen as one could imagine. Yet within a year of his claiming this special spot, this man was drinking. And in two years he was dead of complications brought on by his continued use of alcohol. Obviously this man suffered from a case of big-shotism.

As most of you fully realize, egos in A.A. are dime-a-dozen. (laughter and much applause) Many of them are out in the open. They constitute the plough boys who often get things done, but just as often are the cause of many headaches because of their very forcefulness. They are not noted for their patience.

Of equal importance, and certainly of far greater frequency, are the individuals whose ego is hidden even from themselves. The following incident makes its point quite simply, I think. It concerns a patient who had been protesting vigorously that she couldn’t have a big, fat ego because she loathed all persons who showed any evidence of that kind of thinking and feeling – she had no use for anyone who thought herself or himself superior, putting on airs as though he were among the blessed.

After she had finished proving she was not ego-ridden, I asked her a couple of questions. The first was, “Which way do you look when you loathe someone?” After some wiggling she said, “I look down.” I then asked her, “Where does that put you?”, and the answer was an explosive “Up!” There was a long pause and then the patient began to talk:

“My goodness, you can feel up about not being up. That’s an awful spot. Where does this thing end? How can you be sure about anything you feel? You treat yourself like this all the time. Gracious, you’re not as smart as you think you are.” Then a pause, adding (with a diminishing tone), “Are you?”, and she looked at me questioningly with a note of humbleness in her voice.

It was apparent that the wind had been knocked out of her sails, and that she had dropped way down from being up. She was having a first-hand contact with humility. For her, the word ego had taken on a new dimension. Hers had not been aggressive pushing ahead, but an inner state of mind with it in full-flower despite her conscious denial of its presence. It was marked by attitudes which, on the surface, seemed blameless if not downright place-worthy. Just like the snob who abhors snobs, she found herself hooked with her capacity to look down her nose and loathe. Her ego had sneaked in in a totally-unexpected fashion. [But now she] was beginning to take an inventory that might be more than a list of words. She was beginning to actually feel some truths about herself.

This is the ego which can cause oneself some profound trouble. Elusive, its own, its presence can be denied with utmost sincerity. It takes considerable digging and large doses of honesty before this inner self can be reached. In its quietly-stubborn way, it can ruin our best of intentions. The sad truth is that the ego is always more visible in others than in ourselves. We can delight in puncturing the pomposities of others. We can laugh at the saying of the Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu, who had this gem to offer: “He who feels pricked must first have been a bubble.” (laughter)

We can recognize the wisdom of deflating inflated egos, but all too often the target is someone else. When it is our own, our aim can be notoriously bad. The ego, then, is to be seen as a driving force which seeks to dominate and can feel comfortable only when it is able to maintain a non-underdog position. It may recoil in the obvious display of big-shotism, but down inside where the feelings count, it can be touchy as a sore thumb.

It is not an accident that the members of my specialty are called head-shrinkers. (laughter and applause, then Tiebout remarks, “It’s nice to be on this side of the fence at this point!”, then a little more laughter)

Our next test is to consider the evidence which shows the ego has gone. That evidence can be summed up in one of two words: humbleness or humility. When either is present, the ego has departed. I make no effort to distinguish between these two words, using them as synonyms to identify a state of mind which has certain characteristics.

The problem, basically, is how does one feel when one feels humble? The answer to that question lies in what I call a state of being up and a state of being down. Both of these states are familiar to you all. When one is up on his day, [he is] cheerful, animated. A person in such a state may be “up on his toes”, “in high gear”, or perhaps “Up and at ‘em.” He is all for action, progress, improvement, getting somewhere, and is rendered acutely uneasy whenever his advancing is in any way impeded. Perhaps more than he knows, he seeks to make life a pink cloud. In a deep sense, he lives on hoping. And in the ingredients, [his hoping] keeps telling him that some day his ship will come in and his worries will be over. For him, surrender is a completely shattering experience, impossible to contemplate. [To him that would] mean renouncing the will to live, the force that keeps him going. A person in the up state seldom questions its validity. It seems the epitome of health and well-being.

Down, on the other hand, is the exact opposite. In his state of being down, the individual is not gay (feeling carefree). He lacks energy, drive -- finds life a very bore. Such phrases as “down in the mouth” or “down in the dumps” successfully picture the down frame of mind. It is a state of mind to be avoided...

In keeping with most everyone else, for years I viewed the up state with kindly eyes, and the down one to be the enemy of mankind. Then A.A. entered my life and a whole new series of facts were forced upon me. I heard of a pink cloud, an up state if ever there was one, yet clearly not an entirely-healthy one. And even more confusing, I heard of humbleness and humility, which was certainly part of a down state, yet it was essential to sobriety. And finally to my surprise, I realized that being sober meant being sober-minded with no trace of being up. These were incontrovertible facts which seemed to fly in the face of all logic. Yet facts they were, and some sense had to be made out of them. The question was, how can one lose the up state without plunging into a down which is crippling and surely a miserable form of existence?

The answer to that question lies in a recognition of the fact that the word down does not have to mean down-and-out – it can also mean down-to-earth. This down is a very real one too. The down-to-earth individual has his feet on the ground. He can spot the pink cloud for the up element it has, and can discard this area in substantial quality. The man with his feet on the ground is a solid citizen, going nowhere (content where he is), interested in nothing spectacular, but able to live each twenty-four hours as a contributing member of the human race. Here is a very different down from the depressed, unhappy sort of down which formerly has been envisioned.

Here was a down which stood for substance, relaxed anxiety (anxiety relaxed), a down which could not be deplored. This kind of down meant health and real well-being. Not (something) which lifts the individual slightly off this earth – down could mean being humble, and free from a lot of getting notions about ourselves. It could mean the end of ego and all the unrest associated with that part of our nature. In a very deep and profound sense, down could mean we were able to accept ourselves for what we are. No longer do we have to be up [and] looking down with (?) to conceal loathing. We are down and can look up, maybe even to a deity that never looks down on us.
=======================
"We A.A.s do not *stay* away from drinking [one day at a
time] -- we *grow* away from drinking [one day at a time]."
("Lois Remembers", page 168, quoting Bill, emphasis added)
=======================
User avatar
leejosepho
Forums Old Timer
 
Posts: 1951
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 4:55 am
Location: 200 miles south of Little Rock


Return to Service

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests