Oliver Murphy – Psychical Structures and Alcoholics Anonymous

THE LETTER 36 (Spring 2006) pages 87-93


This article gives an outline of a thesis presented for a M.Litt degree. The philosophical framework of the thesis was structured within ; psychoanalytic paradigm. The aim of the study was to explore which structural type will be most satisfied with the A.A. program and thus presumably benefit most from it.

The hypothesis stated that subjects with an obsessional structure will be more satisfied with A.A. than subjects with a perverse structure. The results suggested that this was indeed the case.


The methodology involved using a pool of twenty-five members of A.A. to test the hypothesis.

Interviews were recorded and then transcribed into scripts. In practice this meant recording individual accounts of their life story by self- confessed alcoholics. There was no interruption by the interviewer and the interviewee could speak for as long as he wished and about whatever he wished although he was aware of the nature of the research. (All the interviewees were male).

Working from guidelines supplied by the author, three panels of judges were organized to analyse the scripts. On reading the interviewees’ scripts the judges’ first task was to separate the script authors into two groups; that is, each interviewee was designated as having either a perverse or obsessional psychical structure.

The judges’ second task was to decide levels of satisfaction in A.A. for each group. …


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