Exploring the Spiritual Experience in the 12 Step Program of Alcoholics Anonymous. Spiritus Contra Mundum

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This book offers a practical and pragmatic synthesis of ideas related to recovery from alcoholism with the central focus upon spiritual experience. Beginning with an excursion through the book, Alcoholics Anonymous, Dr. Sandoz sheds light upon the pathway through which successful AA members have trodden for over 60 years. The background history, the development of the 12 Step Program and the daily maintenance practices are all key elements which lead to the spiritual experience. Throughout the remainder of the book the singular focus of a spiritual experience is woven from a series of parallel threads – threads which are taken from the various sources including psychology (in the ideas of Carl Jung and William James), development in the theory of Erik Erikson regarding ego strength and maturity), mythology (in the characters portrayed from ancient to modern myths), counseling (in the use of metaphors), brain physiology (in understanding the functioning of the various anatomical structures), research (in recognizing the multifaceted aspects of recovery) and diverse concepts from Eastern Mysticism. Taken together, this book offers an extensive and comprehensive array which provides clarity to the process of addiction and recovery.


“With his book,….Sandoz has done an excellent job of synthesizing ideas from a wide variety of disciplines into an in-depth analysis of the principles of the program of recovery established by Alcoholics Anonymous. The thoughtful use of analogy throughout the book provides considerable insight into how and why the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous work. A most valuable aspect of the book is the clarity it brings to the metaphysical nature of the spiritual experience upon which full recovery so heavily depends. This book will greatly enhance the competence of counselors and sponsors who attempt to bring the seemingly hopeless alcoholic out of the depths of despair.” – Robert K. Bothwell, Ph.D, Professor of Psychology, University of Louisiana at Lafayette

“Without selling out to either the science or metaphysical, Sandoz manages to keep them in conversation and dialogue throughout the entire book. He does this by maintaining in juxtaposition to his discussion about the brain chemistry of A.O.D. addiction, the efficacy of spiritual experience as vital for recovery…..Overall it seems to me that Sandoz manages to gleam from already explored territory some overlooked gems. I was particularly appreciative of his discussion of the contribution of Carl Jung’s dictum “Spiritus Contra Spiritum” to AA and the twelve steps.” – Richard H. Wallace, Th.D., Editor, Journal of Ministry in Addiction and Recovery

Table of Contents

Table of Contents:
Preface, Foreword, Acknowledgements
1. A Brief History of Alcoholics Anonymous
2. A Look at the Book
3. The Spiritual Experience in AA
4. The Book Revisted
5. A Final Look at the Big Book
6. Alcoholic Family Patterns, Development and Spirituality
7. Alcoholism Parallels in Mythic Patterns
8. Bottling Up the Emotions & the Effects of the 12 Step Program
9. Understanding the Brain
10. Understanding the Brain on Alcohol
11. Neuro-Spirituality: Uniting the Brain with the Spiritual Experience in Alcoholics Anonymous

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