AA History as Opposed to AA Myth

The first in our series of testimonials to the work of AA Historian Glenn C. comes from Art. S., who came into AA in the mid-1980s. A voracious reader of AA literature from his earliest days in the fellowship, he became an AA historian in 2001, when he took up the position of Archivist for his home group in North Texas.  In this role, his background in the tech industry and skill with data analysis were formative. Working in dialogue with Glenn C. as he began Hindsfoot Press and founded the AA History Lovers listserv, Art has made major empirical contributions to the national history of AA as represented on the Internet, helping to quash myths and rumors about the fellowship’s origins and growth. His magisterial “Narrative Timeline of AA History” is a sterling example of the ways in which digital publication has brought powerful tools for analysis and publication to people outside of the academy.– Trysh Travis

My testimonial to Glenn is primarily devoted to digital material he authored and the use of the web for the propagation of AA history as opposed to myth. He is a prolific author and quite skilled in digital archiving.

I was introduced to Glenn through “digital channels” around fifteen years ago. It occurred through the web-based AA history special interest group “AAHistoryBuffs” which later became “AAHistoryLovers.” Nancy Olson, an accomplished historian, and close friend of Glenn, started both special interest groups. Glenn was one of the premier historians who actively participated, along with Ernie Kurtz and William White. Glenn’s solid academic standards, and clarity in writing, provided a wonderful example to emulate.

I corresponded mainly through email with both Nancy and Glenn who inherited responsibility for managing AAHistoryLovers when Nancy became ill and passed away in 2005. Glenn has composed a wonderful history of AAHistoryLovers and a touching memorial to Nancy O. He recently has withdrawn from moderating AAHistoryLovers but over the years has provided a legacy example of academic discipline regarding the material posted and the type of commentary deemed appropriate.

Glenn  also administers a first rate digital repository at Hindsfoot.org. It is a rich collection of historical religious and spiritual writings together with biographical material on many historical names in AA history, such as Richmond Walker, Rev Ralph Pfau and Father Edward Dowling. Many of his published works are noted and explained on the website together with a rich assortment of AA history and memorabilia images and documents.

I enjoyed a wonderful research experience with Glenn collaborating, via email, with him in Indiana and Tom E. in New York. It resulted in an academically disciplined paper addressing AA recovery outcome rates and the myths and errors circulating at the time that AA has only achieved a 5% to 10% success rate. The latest version was released in 2008.

I first personally met Glenn at the 2010 AA International Convention in San Antonio. Subsequently, the opportunity to spend more personal time with him occurred over the course of three “long weekend” AA History Symposium events held at the Mago Retreat Center in Sedona AR in 2015, 2016 and 2017. A friendship flourished that I treasure highly today.

AA History Symposium, Sedona Mago 2016

As a prolific author of books and articles focused on religion, spirituality and AA History writings, Glenn is both diverse in subject matter and quite generous with the distribution of complimentary copies of many of his works in digital form. His latest contemporary works on Father Dowling, the history of black AA members and groups, plus an exposition on how the earliest AA meeting were conducted, provide a rich source of material that can be found nowhere else.

In my judgement Glenn is one of the top AA historians today.




Happy (AA Historical) New Year: Roundtable on the Work of Glenn C.

Glenn C., 2016

With a nod to everyone who’s decided to abstain from alcohol in the new year, Points is kicking off 2018 with a tribute to one of Alcoholics Anonymous’s most talented historians, Glenn C., founder of the Hindsfoot Press (1993) and long-time moderator of the AA History Lovers listserv (fd. 2002). I first “met” Glenn through the listserv while working on my book about the history of 12-step recovery in the early 2000s.  In what was at that time a veritable wild west of self-published print and online AA discourse, it was invaluable to have someone like Glenn as a guide: a professor of History with a PhD from Oxford as well as a Divinity degree, with a long history of publishing about AA (and moderating AA history disputes!). His mentoring was unfailingly graceful and insightful.

Nearly twenty years later, I had the honor of presenting with him at the Sedona Mago AA History Symposium in the spring of 2017. Nearly every speaker at Sedona noted their personal debt to Glenn as well as to the intellectual community of the History Lovers listserv and to the invaluable resources made available by Hindsfoot. The moment seemed right to make that sense of gratitude public. Over the next few Thursdays, Points will present commentaries on Glenn’s work and influence from AA Historians Art S., Richard Dubiel, Bill White, and Jackie B. Glenn will then comment on their comments, and after that, who knows what will happen.

Travel as Research: A Historian’s Recent Trip to Huautla de Jiménez, Mexico

Editor’s Note: Today’s post was contributed by David Korostyshevsky, a PhD candidate in the University of Minnesota’s History of Science, Technology, and Medicine program. His research focuses on post-Enlightment discourses of intoxication and addiction in the Atlantic world. Contact him at koros003@umn.edu.


Oaxaca City (all photos courtesy of the author)

As historians, we are used to traveling to attend academic conferences, visit libraries, and study in archives. But sometimes, we ought to travel just to see the places about which we are writing. I learned firsthand about how fruitful the unexpected results of such a trip can be earlier this year, when I traveled to Mexico City, Oaxaca City, and Huautla de Jiménez. Such travel yields sources and context otherwise inaccessible to the historian.

In 1957, Robert Gordon Wasson, a vice-president at JP Morgan, published an article in Life Magazine in which he described his discovery of and experience with hallucinogenic mushrooms in Mexico. He found these mushrooms in Huautla de Jiménez, a small village in the northern mountains of Oaxaca inhabited by indigenous Mazatec people. After several trips in the early 1950s, he was finally invited to participate in a ceremony led by a curandera María Sabina. His Mexican mushroom trip made a profound impression on him. Publishing extraordinary descriptions of it in Life, Wasson became an unwitting, and later, reluctant, stimulus for a nascent psychedelic counterculture in the twentieth century.Read More »

Points 2017: Teaching Drugs, Donald Trump’s “Oxy Electorate,” Opiate Addiction in Assam, and More!

This year was an exciting one for Points. We have enjoyed increasing traffic every year since we started in 2011, and 2017 was no exception with more unique visitors than any year prior! Below are some highlights from the past twelve months.

We began the year by sharing a series of perspectives on public drug discourse through the lens of historians, titled “What Historians Wish People Knew About Drugs.” Posts were written by contributors based largely on their remarks during a roundtable of the same name at the January American Historical Association meeting in Denver. Follow each link to read the four-part series by Miriam Kingsberg Kadia, Isaac Campos, William Rorabaugh, and Scott Taylor.
Read More »

Happy Holidays from Points!

We at Points hope you enjoyed the 2017 holiday season and wish you a happy 2018 to come. Later this week, we’ll highlight some of our most-viewed posts of the last twelve months. Thank you for your support of the blog; we’ll see you next year!

CFP: “Bodies That Eat, Bodies That Drink: Biocultural Approaches to Nutrition, Incorporation, and Commensality”

Call for Papers

Conference theme: “Bodies That Eat, Bodies That Drink: Biocultural Approaches to Nutrition, Incorporation, and Commensality”

Date: January 20, 2018
Location: Spain

Subject Fields: Anthropology, Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Literature, Public Health, Women’s & Gender History / Studies

The theme of 11th International Symposium of CORPUS will be “Bodies that eat, bodies that drink. Biocultural approaches to nutrition, incorporation and commensality”.

Consequently, we invite researchers (anthropologists, archaeologists, historians, philosophers, physicians, psychologists, sociologists, etc.) interested in the bodies that eat and drink to participate at this meeting, especially considering one of the following themes:

  • Cultures of the body that eat and drink: way of eating/drinking, positions and forms of involvement of the body during the eating/drinking processes, use of utensils, etc.
  • Sensory experiences and their cultural transcriptions: epistemology of sensory analysis, cultural use, control and lecture of facial expressions of disgust/satisfaction, biocultural dynamics of taste, etc.
  • Cultural, medical and psychological implications of food/drink incorporation: magic eating, placebo/nocebo, superfoods, ideal diets, aphrodisiac/anaphrodisiac foods, etc.
  • Dietetics paradigms and nutritional knowledges: ancient, traditional and biomedical dietetics conceptions, popular reception of academic nutritional knowledge, etc.
  • Cultural responses to the physiological consequences of food/drink incorporation: management of drunkenness and flush syndromes, aesthetic constructions of slim/fat bodies, material culture and representations of excretion, etc.
  • Eating disorders, malnutrition and their social and political readings.
  • Valorisation and demonization of drinks/foods within the framework of health politics:  forms, effectiveness and social consequences.
  • Gender approaches to forms of commensality, rituals of consumption, etc.
  • Representations of the bodies that eat or drink in arts and advertising.

Presentations will be preferably delivered in English. The proposals must include an abstract (400 words) and a current CV. The deadline for receiving presentation proposals is January 20th 2018. Please use the addresses provided below to send your proposal to Frédéric Duhart, Maria José García Soler y Paris Aguilar Piña. All proposals will be evaluated by an international scientific committee.

There will be no registration fee. Transportation, visa, travel insurance costs and accommodation will be the sole responsibility of each participant.


Frédéric Duhart
CORPUS General Coordinator

Maria José García Soler
11th Symposium Coordinator

Paris Aguilar Piña
Scientific Committee Coordinator


Read More »

CFP Deadline Extended: “Dangerous Oral Histories: Risks, Responsibilities, and Rewards”

*The deadline for submission of proposals is now 10 January 2018.*

Oral History Society – 2018 Annual Conference
Theme:  Dangerous Oral Histories:  Risks, Responsibilities and Rewards

28 & 29 June, 2018
Queen’s University, Belfast

This joint conference of the Oral History Society and the Oral History Network of Ireland addresses the ethical and legal implications of oral history research. It presents a timely opportunity to explore the many issues raised by challenging projects, such as:

  • What is an acceptable level of risk for interviewees/interviewers in the oral history process?
  • What are the new responsibilities of the oral historian in a digital age?
  • What are the rewards for initiating ‘dangerous’ oral history projects on ‘difficult’ topics, and when do the risks outweigh them?

From this starting point, the conference organisers wish to solicit papers on all aspects of risk, responsibilities and rewards – and offer the following suggestions, whilst also welcoming other imaginative proposals addressing our theme of dangerous oral histories.

 Conference sub-themes include:Read More »

Points Bibliography: Interpreting Psilocybin and Peyote

Editor’s Note:  These entries are part of an ongoing drug-related dissertation bibliography being compiled by Jonathon Erlen. They were formerly published in the Social History of Alcohol and Drugs journal but are now periodically featured on the Points blog. For more information, contact Dr. Erlen through the link above.

Ego Death Resulting from Psilocybin Experiences: Exploring the Concept Within Mysticism

Author: Bobbett, Michelle

Abstract: The concept of ego-death was explored as a possible subset of mystical experience resulting from psilocybin mushroom ingestion. Participants in an online self-report study were asked to describe their most personally meaningful psilocybin experience, which they also must have deemed mystical or profound for inclusion in the study. Of the 350 total participants, 272 (77.7%) reported having an ego-death experience. This group had significantly higher scores on 27 of 30 items on the Mystical Experiences Questionnaire (MEQ: Maclean, Leoutsakos, Johnson, & Griffiths, 2012) and significantly differed in the form of psilocybin they ingested X 2 (1)= 11.02, p = .004 and dosage of psilocybin X 2 (1)= 13.58, p =.004, compared to those who did not report ego death. An exploratory factor analysis of the MEQ revealed similarities to the factors presented by MacLean (et al., 2012). Lastly, in line with the hypothesis of the study, the ego-death group had significantly higher scores than the non-ego-death group on the Time and Space and Mystical factor loadings. The results of the current study have implications for the practice of clinical psychology in general as well as the specific niche of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapies. The experience of ego-death and its potential for personal change, as revealed in the qualitative analysis, is especially relevant for practitioners of psychotherapy.Read More »

Ibogaine Treatment: A Psychedelic Approach to Addiction

aaaibogaineToday’s post was contributed by Aeden Smith-Ahearn, who once was a heroin addict for almost 7 years. After trying many different traditional methods to get off drugs, he decided to take a chance on Ibogaine treatment for his addiction. Now, 5 years later, Aeden is the treatment coordinator for a major Ibogaine clinic and he has helped hundreds of individuals find a new life through Ibogaine treatment.

When a highly recognized US medical doctor—the one prescribing opiates to patients on a daily basis—walks through the door of an Ibogaine clinic in Mexico to get treatment for his prescription pill addiction, the massive nature of America’s opioid dependence becomes clear—it affects everyone.

It’s not just doctors but lawyers, teachers, students, parents, CEOs, and the list goes on. Everyone, no matter what walk of life, is a target for opiate addiction. It is physically binding, psychologically confining, and, in almost every instance, impossible to break on your own.Read More »

Points Bibliography: State and Self-Regulation of Tobacco Use

Editor’s Note:  These entries are part of an ongoing drug-related dissertation bibliography being compiled by Jonathon Erlen. They were formerly published in the Social History of Alcohol and Drugs journal but are now periodically featured on the Points blog. Today’s post features recent research on international government controls on tobacco advertising and on quitting or altering individual use patterns. For more information, contact Dr. Erlen through the link above. 

Sources of Variation in Nicotine Metabolism and Associations with Smoking Abstinence in Adolescents and Adults

Author: Chenoweth, Meghan Jo-Ann

Abstract: Smoking remains a major public health concern; worldwide, approximately one billion people smoke. Despite the fact that many smokers are motivated to quit, only a small minority of those making quit attempts successfully quit each year. Variation in the rate of nicotine metabolic inactivation influences a number of smoking behaviours, including cessation. Thus, we sought to characterize genetic, environmental, and demographic sources of variability in the rate of nicotine metabolism, and resultant influences on smoking behaviours. Variation in the activity of the major nicotine-metabolizing enzyme, cytochrome P450 2A6 (CYP2A6) changes nicotine clearance and is associated with altered smoking behaviours, including cessation, in adults. We demonstrate here that slow (versus normal) nicotine metabolizers are more likely to achieve prolonged abstinence in adolescence, as in adulthood. We further demonstrate that in clinical trials, adult slow (versus normal) nicotine metabolizers are more likely to achieve early abstinence. We also investigated additional sources of genetic variability in the rate of nicotine metabolism and their potential influences on smoking. We demonstrate that genetic variation in an additional nicotine-metabolizing enzyme (i.e., FMO3 ), and a cytochrome P450 co-enzyme (i.e., POR ), does not substantially alter nicotine metabolism, CYP2A6 activity, or tobacco consumption. We further demonstrate that environmental and demographic sources of variability in CYP2A6 activity, such as gender and ethnicity, explain only a small proportion of the total variation in CYP2A6 activity; however, these factors may have unique impacts on smoking behaviours and thus should be further investigated in studies of smoking. Overall, our findings provide additional information regarding the role of variation in nicotine metabolism rate in cessation outcomes in both adolescents and adults. A greater understanding of the factors that influence smoking cessation will help optimize treatment outcomes and reduce the burden of tobacco-related disease.

Publication year: 2016

ISBN: 9781339934112

Advisor: Tyndale, Rachel F.

University/institution: University of Toronto (Canada)

Department: PharmacologyRead More »