do medicine and religion differ in their approach to
differ in one respect. When the doctor has shown the
alcoholic the underlying difficulties and has prescribed
a program of readjustment, he says to him, "Now that
you understand what is required for recovery, you should
no longer depend on me. You must depend on yourself.
You go do it."
Clearly, then, the objective of the doctor is to make
the patient self-sufficient and largely, if not wholly,
dependent upon himself.
Religion does not attempt this. It says that faith in
self is not enough, even for a non-alcoholic. The clergyman
says that we shall have to find and depend upon a Higher
Power - God. He advises prayer and frankly recommends
an attitude of unwavering reliance upon Him who presides
over all. By this means we discover strength much beyond
our own resources.
So, the main difference seems to add up to this: Medicine
says, know yourself, be strong and you will be able
to face life. Religion says, know thyself, ask God for
power, and you will become truly free.
In Alcoholics Anonymous the new person may try either
method. He sometimes eliminates "the spiritual angle"
from the Twelve Steps to recovery and wholly relies
upon honesty, tolerance and working with others. But
it is interesting to note that faith always comes to
those who try this simple approach with an open mind
- and in the meantime they stay sober.
If, however, the spiritual content of the Twelve Steps
is actively denied, they can seldom remain dry. That
is our A.A. experience. We stress the spiritual simply
because thousands of us have found we can't do without
it. (N.Y. State 3. Med., Vol. 44, Aug. 15, 1944)