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Clinical Social Work Blog
By: Patricia D. McClendon, MSSW candidate
Date: October 12, 1992
Charlotte Davis Kasl's article in Ms. (November/December 1990, p. 30-31) entitled "The Twelve-Step Controversy" speaks to the adaptation of the 12 step program format to other addictions, compulsions, codependency, and incest survivors programs. Feminists aren't real happy with this male modeled program.
Consistent with Colin Ross' Chronic Trauma Disorder (dis-ease) - increasingly worse psychological symptoms are related to the increasing chronicity and severity of the trauma. Chemical dependency, depression, etc. are initially adaptive behaviors to handle the trauma and are symptoms of the problem - the trauma, but not the true problem.
You can't cure the symptom without resolving the trauma and without preventing retraumatization.
What are these traumas? To quote Kasl slightly out of context - these traumas are a result of "cultural oppression, which includes poverty, battering, sexism, and homophobia." Other sources of trauma are oppression through racism, classism, ageism, etc., trauma inflicted by the patriarchy.
If you are able to effectively alleviate the symptom without resolving and /or preventing retraumatization, the "patient" will invariably exhibit another symptom. The solution is to resolve the trauma and to prevent retraumatization. This undoubtedly will be a hard pill to swallow for the predominately male medical/psychiatric professions. I, for one, am willing to hand them the glasses of water required to swallow the bitter but necessary pill.
Kasl suggests that the 12-steps be rewritten for women (and other oppressed people) to be steps of self-empowerment. This should include rejecting the blame for the problem but also the recognition that the symptom (drinking, depression, etc.) lessens our power and can make us more prone to future retraumatization.
16 steps for Discovery and Empowerment - 16 Steps For Discovery and Empowerment. excerpted from "Many Roads One Journey" by Charlotte Davis Kasl, MA, PhD 1-14-2011
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Last updated on January 14, 2011.
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