Who Does AA Help, Harm, or Kill?

Twenty-five years ago, when I was a graduate student at St. Mary’s University in Minnesota, I did the research that showed it was possible to use Dr. Jane Loevinger’s Sentence Completion Test to answer that question.

The SCT is basically a measure of emotional and psychological maturity and the various levels and their traits are shown in the following chart. If you study it a bit you can probably determine where you, or anyone you know well, fits.

My own research, and the work Mary Ellen and I have done together, have shown that AA works well for Conformists (E-4) and the Self-Protective (E-3) predators who victimize them.

It harms the individuals who have matured beyond those levels by demanding that they lower themselves back down to what is essentially middle-school levels and stay there for the rest of their lives. That is really what “in recovery” means.

It kills highly developed individuals because it demands that they destroy those parts of themselves they value the most – creativity, individuality, intimacy, tolerance, understanding and, indeed, their very sense of self.

Most of our clients, and readers, live in the upper ranges, E-6, 7, 8, and 9. Therefore AA is anathema to you . And the next logical question is, how did you get this way?

See the next article for the answer to that question.?

Dr. Jane Loevinger’s Milestones of Ego Development

Stage/Code Impulse Control –
Character Development
Interpersonal Style Conscious Preoccupations Cognitive Style
E-9 Integrated
(ages 80+)
Reconciling Inner Conflicts;
Renouncing Unattainable
Cherishing Individuality Identity Cherishing
E-8 Autonomous
(ages 70-80+)
Coping with Inner Conflicts Interdependent Self-Fulfillment Tolerance for Ambiguity
E-7 Individualistic
(ages 60-70+)
Tolerance Mutual Individuality Distinction Between Process and Outcome
E-6 Conscientious
(ages 22-60)
Self-Evaluated Standards Intense, Responsible Motives, Traits, Achievement Conceptual Complexity
E-5 Self-Aware
(ages 18-60)
Allowable Exceptions Helpful Feelings, Problems, Adjustment Multiplicity
E-4 Conformist
(ages 12-22)
External Rules Cooperative, Loyal Appearances, Behavior Concept Simplicity, Cliches
E-3 Self-Protective
(ages 4-12)
Fear of Being Caught Manipulative, Wary “Trouble,” Control Aggression
E-2 Impulsive
(age 2-4)
Fear of Retaliation Egocentric, Dependent Bodily Feelings Stereotyping, Concept Confusion

(“Successful” AA adherents are usually found at E-3 and E-4; “Normal” U.S. adults are E-5)

So How Did I Get So “Old” So Young?

The process of maturing, or not, depends largely on four conditions:
  1. You need to be smart – not a genius, just smart enough to develop complex coping skills and world views;
  2. You need to be sensitive – insensitive people have no motivation to grow up;
  3. Growing up you have to have things happen to you – not necessarily traumatic ones – that you have to cope with on your own. If you are always being rescued, or protected, you will, again, have no motivation to mature, quite the opposite;
  4. Finally, your initial reactions to crisis needs to be fear, not anger. Anger based people convert all uncomfortable emotions into anger and act that out as aggression which becomes their only coping skill (and they stay down at E-3 as predators like AA founder Bill W.).
That said, you now may be ready to understand more about yourself and those around you. At the end of the 5 -Day portion of our program, you’ll know a lot more and how to use it.