CFP: Religion, Spirituality and Addiction Recovery

Points is happy to promote this Call for Papers for a special issue of the journal Implicit Religion, focused on “Religion, Spirituality and Addiction Recovery.” 

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Guest Editors: Dr Wendy Dossett & Liam Metcalf-White

This special issue of Implicit Religion engages critically and theoretically with the language of religion and spirituality as articulated within different presentations of addiction, and across a range of communities of addiction recovery.

Spirituality is commonly identified as a factor within a holistic approach to healthcare. The term is a placeholder for individualised orientation around existential questions and ultimate values. It is routinely reified as one dimension of human experience, amongst others, with a bearing on health and wellbeing outcomes. Rarely, (outside some specific religious contexts such as Christian Science), is spirituality explicitly presented as a totalising frame for understanding disease, or as comprising a treatment or cure. The fields of addiction and addiction recovery offer a distinctive counter-instance; in which the language of spirituality is often (though significantly, not always) positioned as both normative and fundamental.

This special issue explores how this language intersects with the notion of disease, and with ideas of agency, responsibility and free-will. It considers the place of narrative, community, social identity, and creativity in conceptions of recovery spirituality.   Articles may offer case studies in any recovery modality

  • Mutual Aid (12 Step/SMART/other);
  • Faith-based;
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy;
  • Mindfulness;
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy;
  • Motivational Interviewing;
  • Medication-Assisted Recovery;
  • Warrior Down;
  • Asset-Based Community Development;
  • Peer-Mentoring; etc

or with wider, culturally mediated and politicised notions of recovery, such as those found explicitly in the recovery advocacy movement, and implicitly within popular culture. Contributions may use lenses of gender, sexuality, class, culture, and stigma, among other critical and interdisciplinary approaches and perspectives, to illuminate liberative or oppressive aspects of recovery spirituality discourse.

Proposals are sought from for 6-8K word articles, shorter review/opinion pieces, as well as offers to respond to pieces submitted by others. Academics and researchers might consider collaborating with professional colleagues, recovery advocates, or people in recovery.  Please send a 300-500 word abstract/proposal to l.metcalfwhite@chester.ac.uk by 1st April 2018.  Submission deadline is November 1st 2018.

Reply to Jackie B., “Stretching the Boundaries of History”

Editor’s Note: In this, his last response to our roundtable on his work, Glenn C. responds to Jackie B. and her thoughts on how performance can extend the nature– and enhance the effects– of AA History.

“Glenn has insisted from the moment we first met in San Antonio that I am a historian. In the foreword to my second play, a history of the Twelve Traditions called Our Experience Has Taught Us, Glenn described me as a historian of ‘the new generation.’ [Nevertheless] for many years during our correspondence, I would counter that I was just a storyteller.”– Jackie B.

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Herodotus, ca. 484-425 BCE

Modern western history writing was begun by a classical Greek historian named Herodotus (c. 484–c. 425 B.C.) who coined the word “history” when he wrote his great work on the battle of Thermopylae, and the first Marathon runner, and the other famous events of the Persian wars. The Greek word he used to describe what he had written was the term historia. This originally meant inquiry or research; it came from the Greek word histôr, which meant a wise person, a person of knowledge, a good judge who understood moral right and wrong. So a historia was a research work which told exactly what had happened, with an implicit internal value system which made wise judgments as to who the praiseworthy people were, and who had fallen short. [1]

The English word “history” came from that Greek word, but so did the word “story,” which was originally just a shorter form of the word history. In modern English, a history is a collection of stories put together in a continuous narrative, with logical causal connections tying everything together.  Now I would like to make an observation here — one that is a bit over-generalized, I am sure, but nevertheless one with an underlying truth to it.

When Jews get together to talk about spirituality, they tend to be much less interested in philosophical theology than Christians. What they do love to debate and argue about is the Law, the Torah, the difference between good behavior and bad behavior down to the minute details.  Christians on the other hand will literally torture, imprison, and even kill one another over fine points of philosophical theology. Was Jesus Christ homousios (of the same essence) as God the Father? Or only homoiousios with an i (of a similar essence) to the Father? Or merely homoios (similar) to the Father? When we recite the Nicene Creed, do we say that the Holy Spirit “proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified” (as in the Roman Catholic Church), or do we say (with the Eastern Orthodox Church) that the Holy Spirit “proceeds from the Father,” leaving out the words “and the Son”? We had Catholics and Orthodox Christians killing one another other theological issues like that in the Balkans not that many years ago.

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Taking it too seriously.

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Reply to Bill White, “The Color and Character of AA”

Editor’s note: Today Glenn C. responds to Bill White’s discussion of his book about the varieties of AA experience across the color line. Next up: his thoughts on the recovery plays of Jackie B.

slayingWilliam L. White is the author of Slaying the Dragon: The History of Addiction Treatment and Recovery in America (orig. pub. 1998, 2nd ed. 2014), the classic history of treatment and recovery programs, covering the entire course of modern American history since its beginning.  I first met him at the 6th National A.A. Archives Workshop in 2001, where I was on the planning committee, and he was the keynote speaker. After hearing him in person, I was so glad we had chosen him as our main speaker — it was the most fascinating and eye-opening talk on the general history of recovery in America I had ever heard. And Bill himself is a wonderful person. Close to Ernie Kurtz, he played a valuable role as one of the stabilizing figures in the AA History Lovers during the last two or three years of Nancy Olson’s life. And it was Bill who presided over Ernie’s memorial service in April of 2015 at Dawn Farm in Ypsilanti.

His book, Slaying the Dragon, made it clear that a really good and thorough history of A.A. would have to supply material about the context in which the new A.A. movement had developed. Nothing historical comes into existence out of a complete vacuum, and in A.A.’s case, there was a long history in the United States of trying various methods for dealing with both alcoholism and drug addiction. Some of these had a strong influence on early AA principles and methods — and also on struggles and controversies in which AA became involved later on, as we can see from Nancy Olson’s book With a Lot of Help from Our Friends. Parts of Bill White’s book and parts of Nancy Olson’s book could be read quite profitably in conjunction with one another. As Bill White says, we need to look at the history of early black A.A. in the context of the broader social and political movements in which it occurred.

WASHINGTON, D.C. Of the three earliest black A.A. groups, the social and political background of the Washington, D.C. group was the clearest. It was founded by Dr. James C. Scott, Jr., who had earned both an undergraduate degree and an M.D. from Howard University, one of the two top historically black universities. Dr. Scott, in other words, was an educated black man of the professional class who was trained at one of the major twentieth century centers for the black revolution which arose in the United States during the twentieth century. Continue reading

Reply to “Rich Dubiel Meets Glenn C.”

Editor’s Note: Today we feature the second response by Glenn C. to his interlocutors in our roundtable. Stay tuned for more this Thursday!

WashingtonWe would be severely disparaging of scholars in American History and American Studies if all they ever published about the period of the American Revolution were biographies of George Washington. This is not to minimize the importance of the first president, but there were many other people who also made major and necessary contributions. And yet AA history studies has at times tended to focus so much on Bill Wilson and his small circle of close associates, that one has to look far for studies on many other people and topics.

Rich Dubiel’s 2004 book The Road to Fellowship: The Role of the Emmanuel Movement and the Jacoby Club in the Development of Alcoholics Anonymous, was however one of the major works which endeavored to significantly broaden the history of the AA movement. [1] I have tried to contribute to the wider history of AA myself in some of the books I have written and in the materials I have posted on the Hindsfoot Foundation website. So I was thrilled when Ernie Kurz had Rich contact me, and I realized that Rich and I were like-minded souls in so many ways. His book expanded my own horizons enormously. I tremendously enjoyed every minute of getting the book ready for print. And it was a book that was going to have an impact.

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Rowland Hazard, Not in 1931

The first bombshell that Rich’s book dropped was when he proved that the “orthodox” or traditional AA answer to when Rowland Hazard III was psychoanalyzed by Carl Jung — 1931 — could not possibly be correct. He showed from a detailed analysis of correspondence and financial records in the Hazard family papers that there was no time in Rowland Hazard’s busy schedule during 1931 in which he could have spent an extensive period in Switzerland undergoing treatment by Jung. What made this a bombshell was that if Rowland could not have gone to Jung in that year — the date given in all the older AA literature — then did he in fact undergo treatment by Jung at all? Was the whole story only a myth? Continue reading

Reply to Arthur S., “AA History and AA Myth”

Editor’s Note: To round out our Points Roundtable on the contributions of AA historian Glenn C., we turn to the man himself! Over the next week, we’ll post Glenn’s replies to the pieces that Art S., Rich Dubiel, Bill White, and Jackie Bedzinski have published here in the last month. Our series will take us right up to Valentine’s day– at which point, everyone in America is going to need to stop loving Glenn and shift their affection to other, more properly commoditized objects! 

Arthur S. played a truly major role in one of our most important A.A. archival resources, the AA History Lovers web group (the AAHL). [1] At its height, this site had almost 3,000 listed members from all over the earth, including the United States, Canada, the U.K., Ireland, Mexico, Belgium, the Scandinavian countries, Australia, and India, to name just a few of the far flung lands where it had members. But the actual number of people who were affected by the web group was far higher. There were many who read the group’s postings on a regular basis without having signed up on the membership list, since anyone who had a computer and access to the internet could read all the messages.

AAHL logo (2)At least 90% of the people who had authored the best books on AA history were members of the AAHL, as were at least 90% of the top archivists, rare book specialists and other historical researchers in the field. The web group quickly gained a reputation as the most dependable single source of historical information about A.A. If you wanted to find out what the real experts said — the most knowledgeable and competent scholars and researchers in the field — the AA History Lovers would give you the best-documented and most up-to-date information known. And it would also usually be one of the first places to publish information about newly discovered documents and facts, along with notices of the most recent publications on AA history. [2] Continue reading

Points Bibliography: Marijuana, Memory, and Craving

Editor’s Note:  These entries are part of an ongoing drug-related dissertation bibliography being compiled by Jonathon Erlen. They were formerly published in the Social History of Alcohol and Drugs journal but are now periodically featured on the Points blog. For more information, contact Dr. Erlen through the link above.

Cannabis Users’ Experience of Cannabis Craving: A Test of the Cue-Reactivity Model

Author: Loflin, Mallory J. E.

Abstract: Despite craving’s emphasis in treatment programs, little research has been conducted that specifically focuses on cannabis craving. Cannabis use, however, is the second most commonly cited reason for entering treatment for substance abuse and dependency. An understanding of how cannabis users experience craving is necessary. The current study compared heavy/daily cannabis users with infrequent users on measures of craving following presentation of cannabis cues. Hypotheses predicted changes in physiological (heart rate, galvanic skin response) and cognitive (simple reaction time, attentional bias) correlates of craving, and increased self-reported craving following cannabis cue exposure. Results found no significant increase in most indicators of craving. Only galvanic skin response was impacted by presentation of drug cues. Findings are inconsistent with previously published work on cannabis craving, suggesting the need for further research.

Publication year: 2016

ISBN: 9781339998435

Advisor: Earleywine, Mitch

Committee members: Gordis, Elana; Hormes, Julia

University/institution: State University of New York at Albany

Department: Clinical Psychology

 

The Impact of Marijuana Use on Memory in Patients with HIV/AIDS

Author: Skalski, Linda Marie

Abstract: The most robust neurocognitive effect of marijuana use is memory impairment. Memory deficits are also high among persons living with HIV/AIDS, and marijuana use among this population is disproportionately common. Yet research examining neurocognitive outcomes resulting from co-occurring marijuana and HIV is virtually non-existent. The primary aim of this case-controlled study was to identify patterns of neurocognitive impairment among HIV patients who used marijuana compared to HIV patients who did not use drugs by comparing the groups on domain T-scores. Participants included 32 current marijuana users and 37 non-drug users. A comprehensive battery assessed substance use and neurocognitive functioning. Among the full sample, marijuana users performed significantly worse on verbal memory tasks compared to non-drug users and significantly better on attention/working memory tasks. A secondary aim of this study was to test whether the effect of marijuana use on memory was moderated by HIV disease progression, but these models were not significant. This study also examined whether the effect of marijuana use was differentially affected by marijuana use characteristics, finding that earlier age of initiation was associated with worse memory performance. These findings have important clinical implications, particularly given increased legalization of this drug to manage HIV infection.

ISBN: 9781369025989

Advisor: Meade, Christina S.   Sikkema, Kathleen J.

Committee member: Curry, John F.; Moffitt, Terrie E.; Schramm-Sapyta, Nicole L.

University/institution: Duke University

Department: Psychology and Neuroscience

 

The Influence of Doctoral Psychology Trainees’ Personal Cannabis Use, Perceptions of Cannabis’ Risks, and Attitudes toward Substance Use on Ability to Identify Cannabis Use Disorder

Author: Stratyner, Alexandra G.

Abstract: The incidence of cannabis use disorder is increasing across the United States as a function of increased cannabis use (Hasin et al., 2015); accordingly, it is critical that mental healthcare professionals be able to accurately identify cannabis use disorder. In light of this imperative, the current study explored potential barriers to diagnosing cannabis use disorder among doctoral psychology trainees. Participants (N = 123) were doctoral students in clinical psychology, counseling psychology, and related disciplines. Utilizing a quasi-experimental analogue design, the study examined whether doctoral psychology trainees’ personal cannabis use predicted their perceptions of the risks of cannabis use and attitudes toward substance use. Additionally, the study explored whether doctoral psychology trainees’ personal cannabis use histories, perceptions of cannabis’ risks, and attitudes toward substance use would predict accurate diagnosis of cannabis use disorder. A series of t-tests revealed that trainees’ beliefs about the risks of cannabis use and attitudes toward substance use varied with history and recency of personal cannabis use. Additionally, partial correlation analyses revealed that doctoral psychology trainees’ perceptions of cannabis’ risks were negatively correlated with select attitudes toward substance use. Despite these findings, the study found that none of the attitudes explored significantly predicted diagnostic decisions among trainees. Additionally, contrary to study hypotheses, current cannabis use among doctoral psychology trainees increased the likelihood that trainees would accurately make a diagnosis of cannabis use disorder. Implications for graduate training, clinical practice, and public health are considered and recommendations for future research are provided.

Publication year: 2016

ISBN: 9781339822839

Advisor: Palmer, Laura K.

Committee members: Cole, Brian P.; Farrelly, Margaret Jones; Smith, John

University/institution: Seton Hall University

Department: Professional Psychology and Family Therapy

The Color and Character of AA

Editor’s Note: Today’s tribute to the work of AA Historian Glenn C.  comes from leading recovery historian William L. (“Bill”) White, Emeritus Senior Research Consultant at Chestnut Health Systems. Readers of Points will recognize Bill as the author of the definitive history of recovery in the U.S., Slaying the Dragon, and the more recent Recovery Rising: A Retrospective of Addiction Treatment and Recovery Advocacy (see the Points interviews on them here and here!) among many, many other books and articles. For the past 25 years, his work has focused on mapping the pathways, styles, and stages of long-term addiction recovery, with attention to both recovering people and the industries and groups that serve them. Bill’s collected papers are at www.williamwhitepapers.com.

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Bill White, Chestnut Health Systems

An early criticism of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was that its program of recovery was drawn primarily from the collective experiences of white men and thus unsuitable for people of color.  Such declarations have since been challenged by surveys within communities of color indicating AA as one of the preferred choices for people seeking help with alcohol problems, recent surveys of AA membership revealing significant (11-15%) representation of non-White ethnic minorities, and studies of treatment linkage to AA indicating that people of color are as likely, or more likely, than Whites to participate in AA following professional treatment. Also of note are the growth of AA meetings within communities of color and the cultural adaptation of AA’s Twelve Step program within these communities (also see Here and Here). What has until recently been lacking is a definitive history of the racial and ethnic diversification of AA, including first-hand accounts of how the first non-White men and women experienced AA and attracted increasing numbers of people of color to AA’s program of alcoholism recovery.

Color AAGlenn C.’s just-published Heroes of Early Black AA marks a major step in filling this void. His well-researched text documents the founding of the first Black groups in AA in 1945 (St. Louis-AA-1 Group, Chicago-Evans Avenue Group, and Washington D.C.-Washington Colored Group later rechristened The Cosmopolitan Group) and details the experiences of early Black AA members drawn from interviews and taped AA talks with five key figures (Bill Williams, Jimmy Miller, Harold Brown, Dr. James C. Scott, Jr., and John Shaifer). Heroes of Early Black AA closes with the story of Joe McQuany, widely known for his role in the Joe and Charlie Tapes (Big Book Study Guide) that are revered by many within the AA fellowship.

Three qualities distinguish Heroes of Early Black AA.  First, it vividly depicts the larger social context within which Black AA groups emerged in the mid-1940s and in which the subsequent racial integration of AA unfolded. Glenn C. skillfully places the racial struggles and the process of racial reconciliation within AA within the larger social context of American society during these same periods. The best and worst of what occurred within AA is contextualized within the best and worst that was occurring in the larger culture. Such context is crucial in understanding both the resistance and the progress in racially integrating AA. Within this contrast, AA is given a mixed grade: “not as good as it ought be, but nevertheless much better than society as a whole.”

Second, the opportunity to hear the voices of these Black men and women who first broke racial barriers within AA is an emotionally moving privilege. Their poignant stories of recovery and the relationships they built across the racial divide within AA are among the great contributions of the book. Particularly striking are the distinct yet shared experiences of people whose backgrounds ranged from physician to tavern patron to con man. Glenn C.’s own understanding of alcoholism and alcoholism recovery within AA permeates this book but does not get in the way of letting his central protagonists tell their own stories.

Third, Heroes of Early Black AA details the process of how local AA meetings went from banning Blacks, limiting their attendance to open meetings, allowing attendance as “observers,” designating certain meetings as “interracial,” to further lowering and then losing such barriers, including the frequent exchange of speakers between predominately White and Black AA groups.  That process of change is described as follows: “It was done by attacking the issues at the fundamental spiritual level, and by insisting that spiritual principles of the program had to take preponderance over personalities, and personal likes and dislikes, and politics, and blind cultural taboos. It also took a handful of people, both black and white, who had astonishing courage, and a willingness to speak lovingly, but boldly and honestly, when basic spiritual principles were at stake” (p. 164). What local AA leaders on both sides of the racial divide proclaimed was that the fear and hostility that divided Black and White AA members had no place in a program like AA.

Most touching were the stories of personal transformation, e.g., an AA members who had once resisted AA meeting attendance by Blacks later attending the funeral of a Black AA member, with tears running down his face as he talked about what the deceased member had meant to his recovery.  I have heard it said that the most segregated place and hour in America is Sunday morning church services; today, the most integrated setting in America may well be the AA meetings held the night before in those same churches.

welcome_to_arkansas_by_fakingmyownsuicideThe story of Joe McQuany and his collaborative relationship with Charles Parmley is a perfect point of closure for the larger story told in Heroes of Early Black AA.  Here were two men, a Black man and a White man, both AA members in the South, who found common ground in their study of the basic text of Alcoholics Anonymous. Joe was the first Black members of AA in Arkansas and entered AA only a few years after the violent resistance to forced school integration in Little Rock. Joe was first allowed to attend AA meetings with the requirements that he not arrive early or stay late to socialize and not drink any of the coffee. As Joe would say, “Little Rock was no place for a black man to be looking for help in 1962.” But Joe survived such early insults to get help within AA, and his subsequent friendship and study with Charlie resulted in years of collaboration in producing the best know study guide to what has affectionately become known as AA’s Big Book.  Glenn C. describes the unique quality that Joe brought to his study of the Big Book.

Joe McQuany developed a style of spirituality which was built not upon the spirit of fellowship, but upon studying history and telling the stories of courageous historical figures who were cast in the role of pioneers, innovators, and lone wolves who had to make it with minimum help from others—a method especially appropriate for those who were, marginalized, socially excluded, and psychologically isolated within the surrounding culture (p. 392). One of the described high points within Joe’s years of service within AA was recounting of a 1977 trip to Lawton, Oklahoma to facilitate one of their Big Book Study meetings. Joe and an ailing Charlie, Black and White friends and collaborators, picked up Tony V., an AA member of Mexican descent, only to arrive at the meeting to find seating in the first row members from the Anadarko Indian Reservation. It had been a long journey (literally and figuratively) but there was realization at that moment that AA had become a coat of many colors. One can imagine Joe smiling in the knowledge that he had been a link in that chain of progress.

Heroes of Early Black AA joins a growing list of texts (e.g., Women Pioneers in 12 Step Recovery, Women in Alcoholics Anonymous, The History of Gay People in Alcoholics Anonymous, A History of Agnostics in AA)  describing the increased diversity of AA membership and the ever-expanding varieties of AA experience. Glenn C. has made numerous contributions to the study of AA via his published books and articles, oversight of the AA History Lovers online group, creation of the Hindsfoot Foundation, and his mentorship of innumerable people interested in the history of AA. Heroes of Early Black AA is one of his most important and inspiring of these contributions.

AA History as Opposed to AA Myth

The first in our series of testimonials to the work of AA Historian Glenn C. comes from Art. S., who came into AA in the mid-1980s. A voracious reader of AA literature from his earliest days in the fellowship, he became an AA historian in 2001, when he took up the position of Archivist for his home group in North Texas.  In this role, his background in the tech industry and skill with data analysis were formative. Working in dialogue with Glenn C. as he began Hindsfoot Press and founded the AA History Lovers listserv, Art has made major empirical contributions to the national history of AA as represented on the Internet, helping to quash myths and rumors about the fellowship’s origins and growth. His magisterial “Narrative Timeline of AA History” is a sterling example of the ways in which digital publication has brought powerful tools for analysis and publication to people outside of the academy.– Trysh Travis

My testimonial to Glenn is primarily devoted to digital material he authored and the use of the web for the propagation of AA history as opposed to myth. He is a prolific author and quite skilled in digital archiving.

I was introduced to Glenn through “digital channels” around fifteen years ago. It occurred through the web-based AA history special interest group “AAHistoryBuffs” which later became “AAHistoryLovers.” Nancy Olson, an accomplished historian, and close friend of Glenn, started both special interest groups. Glenn was one of the premier historians who actively participated, along with Ernie Kurtz and William White. Glenn’s solid academic standards, and clarity in writing, provided a wonderful example to emulate.

I corresponded mainly through email with both Nancy and Glenn who inherited responsibility for managing AAHistoryLovers when Nancy became ill and passed away in 2005. Glenn has composed a wonderful history of AAHistoryLovers and a touching memorial to Nancy O. He recently has withdrawn from moderating AAHistoryLovers but over the years has provided a legacy example of academic discipline regarding the material posted and the type of commentary deemed appropriate.

Glenn  also administers a first rate digital repository at Hindsfoot.org. It is a rich collection of historical religious and spiritual writings together with biographical material on many historical names in AA history, such as Richmond Walker, Rev Ralph Pfau and Father Edward Dowling. Many of his published works are noted and explained on the website together with a rich assortment of AA history and memorabilia images and documents.

I enjoyed a wonderful research experience with Glenn collaborating, via email, with him in Indiana and Tom E. in New York. It resulted in an academically disciplined paper addressing AA recovery outcome rates and the myths and errors circulating at the time that AA has only achieved a 5% to 10% success rate. The latest version was released in 2008.

I first personally met Glenn at the 2010 AA International Convention in San Antonio. Subsequently, the opportunity to spend more personal time with him occurred over the course of three “long weekend” AA History Symposium events held at the Mago Retreat Center in Sedona AR in 2015, 2016 and 2017. A friendship flourished that I treasure highly today.

AA History Symposium, Sedona Mago 2016

As a prolific author of books and articles focused on religion, spirituality and AA History writings, Glenn is both diverse in subject matter and quite generous with the distribution of complimentary copies of many of his works in digital form. His latest contemporary works on Father Dowling, the history of black AA members and groups, plus an exposition on how the earliest AA meeting were conducted, provide a rich source of material that can be found nowhere else.

In my judgement Glenn is one of the top AA historians today.

 

 

Happy (AA Historical) New Year: Roundtable on the Work of Glenn C.

Glenn C., 2016

With a nod to everyone who’s decided to abstain from alcohol in the new year, Points is kicking off 2018 with a tribute to one of Alcoholics Anonymous’s most talented historians, Glenn C., founder of the Hindsfoot Press (1993) and long-time moderator of the AA History Lovers listserv (fd. 2002). I first “met” Glenn through the listserv while working on my book about the history of 12-step recovery in the early 2000s.  In what was at that time a veritable wild west of self-published print and online AA discourse, it was invaluable to have someone like Glenn as a guide: a professor of History with a PhD from Oxford as well as a Divinity degree, with a long history of publishing about AA (and moderating AA history disputes!). His mentoring was unfailingly graceful and insightful.

Nearly twenty years later, I had the honor of presenting with him at the Sedona Mago AA History Symposium in the spring of 2017. Nearly every speaker at Sedona noted their personal debt to Glenn as well as to the intellectual community of the History Lovers listserv and to the invaluable resources made available by Hindsfoot. The moment seemed right to make that sense of gratitude public. Over the next few Thursdays, Points will present commentaries on Glenn’s work and influence from AA Historians Art S., Richard Dubiel, Bill White, and Jackie B. Glenn will then comment on their comments, and after that, who knows what will happen.

Travel as Research: A Historian’s Recent Trip to Huautla de Jiménez, Mexico

Editor’s Note: Today’s post was contributed by David Korostyshevsky, a PhD candidate in the University of Minnesota’s History of Science, Technology, and Medicine program. His research focuses on post-Enlightment discourses of intoxication and addiction in the Atlantic world. Contact him at koros003@umn.edu.

 

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Oaxaca City (all photos courtesy of the author)

As historians, we are used to traveling to attend academic conferences, visit libraries, and study in archives. But sometimes, we ought to travel just to see the places about which we are writing. I learned firsthand about how fruitful the unexpected results of such a trip can be earlier this year, when I traveled to Mexico City, Oaxaca City, and Huautla de Jiménez. Such travel yields sources and context otherwise inaccessible to the historian.

In 1957, Robert Gordon Wasson, a vice-president at JP Morgan, published an article in Life Magazine in which he described his discovery of and experience with hallucinogenic mushrooms in Mexico. He found these mushrooms in Huautla de Jiménez, a small village in the northern mountains of Oaxaca inhabited by indigenous Mazatec people. After several trips in the early 1950s, he was finally invited to participate in a ceremony led by a curandera María Sabina. His Mexican mushroom trip made a profound impression on him. Publishing extraordinary descriptions of it in Life, Wasson became an unwitting, and later, reluctant, stimulus for a nascent psychedelic counterculture in the twentieth century. Continue reading