Theory Behind the Format

Processing Groups

Seasons of Our Joy” is a processing group similar to AA, NA, Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, Family-Anon, Al-Ateen, Nar-Ateen, and a host of other groups. It's a format that has been in use since the 1930's. Why it works is anybody's guess; but it works, which is why the format persists. The “listening without responding” format may be new to some people, but it's quite effective.

Meditation

Meditation may be new to many people. The benefits of meditation are not immediately obvious, especially to people in western society where the idea of “doing nothing” is often seen as “a waste of time” because it detracts from productive work (hence our closing quote).

For some recent scientific evidence that meditation is healthy for the brain, see the book with the unusual title:

Despite the book's title, the 2nd half of the book is all about the healthy benefits of meditation.

A free book on how to meditate:

The meeting leader can greatly improve the overall mood of the meeting by meditating for 5 – 10 minutes before the meeting begins. (This idea comes from Dr. Andrew Newberg in his book cited above.) Emotions are contagious; a calm relaxed meeting leader will produce a calm relaxed enjoyable meeting. An anxious uptight leader will create a meeting with a bit more tension in it.

However, if you are anxious and uptight, don't stress and think, “I've got to calm down!” as that won't help. Instead, accept that it's OK to be anxious. Acknowledge that you are anxious, and let the rest of the group make it OK by accepting you as you are. The entire message of the meeting is it's OK to be not OK; it's OK to have problems; it's OK to be who you are, as you are right now, whatever that currently is. If you can get that message across by example, then you've succeeded.

Meditation is a great tool which most people are not familiar with. Those familiar with it understand how it can be greatly beneficial. It's healthy for the brain to relax once in awhile. Meditation is also anger management (possibly the only form of anger management that actually works.)

Yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong, are all “meditative motion” exercises. Classes in these could be incorporated into a recovery program.

Overcoming Addiction

Seasons of Our Joy introduces new metaphors for understanding how the brain works and how to overcome addiction.

Metaphors

Metaphors are extremely important because they are what we use to think and reason with. For more on metaphors and how they are used in reasoning see:

The metaphor of “Brain is a muscle” gives us a new way to think about teaching people new behaviors. It also makes predictions:

We can check if predictions made by using these metaphors match empirical evidence. This will determine if reasoning using these metaphors is useful or not.

Activating a Thought Strengthens that Thought

Also known as “Neurons which fire together wire together.” This key piece of knowledge comes from research in the field of Cognitive Science. See any book by Prof. George Lakoff, Cognitive Scientist and Researcher at U.C. Berkley. Also see the book cited above by Dr. Andrew Newberg.

Recovery Programs

Recovery programs can offer numerous different types of meetings. People will naturally gravitate toward the meetings they prefer. Success comes when people do things together. Just going to a meeting helps schedule a person’s day, gives them a goal to achieve, and gets them out of the house. The meeting should be one which they look forward to.

Meetings fall into two groups: Therapy, and Socializing. Possible therapy meetings include:

Possible socializing meetings could include:

Philosophy

Old Outdated 18th Century Enlightenment Philosophy:

Concepts Implicitly Used in this Outdated Reasoning:

Problems with this outdated philosophy:

New Philosophy

Abstract Concepts do not exist Abstractly

“It is hard to underestimate how far the idea that concepts are physically embodied, using the sensory motor system of the brain, is from disembodied Enlightenment reason—from the usual view of concepts as disembodied abstractions, entirely separate from the sensory motor system.”

     — George Lakoff (professor of Cognitive Science at UC Berkley) The Political Mind: Why You Can't Understand 21st-Century American Politics with an 18th-Century Brain, (2008) pg 252.

The last chapter, which contains no politics, is an overview of the New 21st-Century Enlightenment we are entering. This chapter really is superb, destined to be a classic that changes our philosophical understanding of the world. And since philosophy determines government, politics is a natural field to use for examples. This book, which introduces the new 21st-Century Enlightenment, is like Isaac Newton's Principia – it's full of new knowledge, not about what we think, but how we think—how we go about understanding and reasoning about abstract concepts. It's truly an excellent book. If I tried to summarize the book I'd end up quoting the entire book.

Outdated Concepts:

Another excellent introduction to this new philosophy comes from an unlikely source: Aircraft Accident Investigations. See the book:

This is more a book on philosophy than it is about aircraft accident investigations, though it uses transportation accident investigations as a framework. The basic result is people don't want disasters to happen, and yet they still happen. The old philosophy was to “find the broken part”, i.e. someone or something to blame, and replace him/her/it. Underlying this old philosophy is the unspoken assumption that the design of the system itself is safe, therefore unwanted outcomes are caused by defective parts.

The new philosophy is the system itself is not safe. It's possible to “drift into failure”, where no one wants a disaster to happen, no one is to blame, yet we still occasionally have an unfavorable outcome, because the system itself is not 100% safe. (After all, the system incorrectly predicted a favorable outcome, so the system must be defective.)

Thus, addicts are not to blame for becoming an addict, as this can be explained as an inevitable outcome of their environment and biological make up; however, they are responsible for their recovery.

Temperament Theory

A brief mention of Temperament Theory is included because most interpersonal misunderstandings are caused by not understanding differences in temperament. The seminal work on the subject is:

A brief synopsis of the four personality types can be found at www.keirsey.com under The Four Temperaments. Also several series of articles are at:

Many people who become addicted to drugs are likely to be SP Artisans (the Lion in the Wizard of Oz. The lion fears he has lost his courage to act. If an SP Artisan loses their courage to act, they lose their self-esteem. Frank L. Baum was a genius to write this story, weaving together the 4 basic personality types.)1

SP Artisans comprise about 35% of the population. These people tend to do poorly in school because traditional schools are designed by SJ Guardians for SJ Guardians. SP Artisans have a different learning style. They need hands on action. They learn by doing. The type of careers that are suitable for SP Artisans are ones which involve action and using tools. Temperament theory explains how these people think, what their strengths are, and what sort of jobs they will enjoy and excel in.

In ancient times the SP Artisans would be the hunters. They would have an innate desire for the action of hunting (and using the tools of hunting), excel at tactics, and be always on the lookout for any opportunity and ready to act quickly when they spot one.

In contrast, the SJ Guardians (about 50% of the population) would be the gatherers, who gather food and are good at logistics and accounting, keeping track of how much they have, ensuring they have not too much and not too little but just the right amount, and being the gatekeeper or guardian who ensures the food is distributed judiciously. In modern days these people tend to become executives, accountants and judges. They are very family oriented, and tend to display photos of their family around their home and at their place of work.

Judges, who tend to be SJ Guardians, probably see a lot of SP Artisans in their courtroom.

The remaining 15% of the population are 10% NF Idealists (Gandhi) who excel at Diplomacy, and 5% NT Rationals (Einstein) who excel at Strategy.

If you want to raise a person's self-esteem, you need to first determine what that person bases their self-esteem on.

Religion

Such a big subject. Is the program religious based? Even in the beginnings of AA members argued about this, some wanting more religion, others wanting less. The result was an awkward hybrid, which pleased no one, offended everyone, but it was a compromise that most could accept so the groups could continue. Since then there have been people who have created more religious versions of the 12-step program: “Celebrate Recovery” is one example. Others wanted religion stripped out completely, and atheist versions of the program were created. Some people say the group meeting is their church and religion.

Happy Face

The happy face at the end of each reading is yet again another subtle device to activate a happy thought in the reader's mind. Magazine articles usually have a square or circle symbol at the end of articles signifying the article's end. A number of symbols were considered, the Unicode character set offers a variety of symbols to chose from, ☺☻☼♠♣♥♦♪ etc. In the end the simple happy face was chosen.


1 I have no evidence that Frank L. Baum was familiar with anything resembling Temperament Theory. The book was originally published in 1900. That was before even Carl Jung published his first book. However, the roots of Temperament Theory date back to 400 BCE.

“Seasons of Our Joy” meeting facilitator notes written by David W. Deley (INTP). Inspired by Matthew E. (SP Artisan)

These notes may be downloaded from: www.daviddeley.com/cogsci/recovery

Rev. August 2014

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