From the September 1965 magazine.

When the Big "I" Becomes Nobody

Why stress anonymity in AA? There is a profound psychological reason. Here a distinguished psychiatrist, an old friend of AA, and a Class A (non-alcoholic) Trustee of our General Service Board gives his insight into it.

THE AA program of help is touched with elements of true inspiration and in no place is that inspiration more evident than in the selection of its name, Alcoholics Anonymous. Anonymity is of course of great protective value, especially to the newcomer, but my present target is to focus on the even greater value anonymity has in contributing to the state of humility necessary for the maintenance of sobriety in the recovered alcoholic.

My thesis is that anonymity, thoughtfully preserved, supplies two essential ingredients to that maintenance. The two ingredients, actually two sides of the same coin, are first, the preservation of a reduced ego and second, the continued presence of humility or humbleness. As stated in the Twelfth Tradition of AA, "Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions," reminding each member to place "principles before personalities."

-- Harry M. Tiebout, M.D.

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