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We Couldn't Work if We Were Known

In 1953, More and More 'People With Problems' Banded Together Under The Title: The Anonymous

He stood on the platform and with a bang of the gavel opened the
meeting. "If there are reporters here," he said, "you can write anything
you want. But don't use names. You must respect us on this because some
people are funny; they usen't to mind being seen in the Hotel Metropolis
so drunk they couldn't stand up, but they're a little bit sensitive
about being seen sitting down here cold sober."

So began a recent meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, an association of men
and women who share their experience, hopes and strength with each other
in order to solve a common problem-alcoholism.

Conceived by a drunk as he lay in bed in a drunk's hospital in New York
in 1934, this organization of nameless men and women was the first to
bear the title ANONYMOUS. In the years that followed, and particularly
in 1953, other individuals bearing their own peculiar sorrow have banded
together for comfort and strength. They too are ANONYMOUS.

It was after twenty-five years of stealing, forgery and near-death that
an ex-addict conceived of an organization for those who knew the hell of
drug enslavement. Like the founders of AA, this man found his "way out"
through association with those who knew the nightmare of drug addiction
and who wanted, as much as he, to live normal lives. He first tried
attending AA meetings, hoping they would provide him with the
encouragement and strength to stay off drugs. But AA didn't work. "I
felt lonely," he says, "because all they talked about was alcoholism and
I was a drug addict." He drifted away; It was only after another bout
with the "white death" that he began his own organization. He called it
Narcotics Anonymous, and to it men and women who had experienced the
humiliation and despair of drug enslavement were drawn.

Under the guidance of a leading New York psychologist, another group of
people have been brought together. Their problem: homosexuality. Meeting
in the office of Dr. Albert Ellis, these men discuss their problems in
an effort to understand them, perhaps to overcome them. Their feelings are
best summed up in the words of one of Dr. Ellis' patients: "First my
problem was a sense of guilt and shame. Now it's having to live most of
my life pretending to be what I'm not. We homosexuals live in constant
fear. We are a persecuted minority.

In Their Search for Happiness, They Wish to Remain Nameless.

The Anonymous are peculiar to our time. They are cropping up here and
there across the country-narcotics, alcoholics, homosexuals and less
well known groups: Fatties Anonymous and Neurotics Anonymous-in unending
succession.

Psychiatrists and sociologists explain that these groups have their
origin in minority feelings. An individual feels himself different from
the rest of the world; he conceives of the world as a hostile place,
himself alone without defender or companion. Personal guilt and shame
increase the sense of separation. The organization, on the other hand,
provides a home, a refuge from the "hostile world." Within it, they can
tell of the experiences which have separated them from their friends,
and equally important, find new friends with whom they can be honest.

At the base of each new organization is the recognition of the need of
one human being for another. Preaching does no good, as the founders of
AA learned; it is help mutually offered and accepted between, as was the
case in AA, two desperate and suffering drunks who sought to help
themselves by helping the other, that did the trick, and continues to do
it for vast numbers of drunks and addicts.

In recognition of the still-existing prejudices within society, these
men and women are anonymous.

Source: Carnival, February 1954

 


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