Codependent Forevermore: The Invention of Self in a Twelve Step Group

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University of Chicago Press, 1999 - Psychology - 210 pages
In the same week that his father died, Alex came home to find his live-in fiancée in bed with another man. Paul is a divorced single parent who was recently forced to go on disability. Liz left an abusive husband and then found herself involved with yet another controlling man. These three, along with many others, have found a kind of salvation in Codependents Anonymous. Is this self-indulgent psychobabble or legitimate therapy? Are Twelve Step groups helpful communities or disguised addictions? And what exactly is codependency, the psychological condition that has apparently swept the United States? Leslie Irvine went inside "CoDA" to find out.

Codependent Forevermore is thus an insider's look at the world of people "in recovery" and the society that produced them. Through extensive interviews with CoDA members, case studies, and the meetings she attended regularly, Irvine develops a galvanizing perspective on contemporary Americans' sense of self. She explores the idea that selfhood is a narrative accomplishment, achieved by people telling stories to themselves and about themselves. She shows how Alex, Paul, Liz, and many others create a sense of self by combining elements of autobiography, culture, and social structure all within the adopted language of psycho-spirituality.

By following the progress and tribulations of CoDA members, Irvine gets to the heart of widespread American conceptions of relationships, selfhood, and community. Amidst the increasingly shrill criticism of the Twelve Step ethos, her reasoned and considered analysis of these groups reveals the sources of both their power and their popularity.

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CODEPENDENT FOREVERMORE: The Invention of Self in a Twelve Step Group

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A scholarly exploration of the 12-step group Codependents Anonymous (CoDA) and how its participants use the group structure and process to invent and reinvent themselves. Sociologist Irvine (Univ. of ... Read full review

Codependent forevermore: the invention of self in a twelve step group

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Through the use of case histories, interviews with Codependents Anonymous (CoDA) members, and information gleaned from meetings she attended, Irvine (sociology, Univ. of Colorado, Boulder) presents ... Read full review


In Search of the Recovery Industry
Uncoupling and Narratives of the Self
The Institution Lite
Codependency as a Narrative
Codependency as a Narrative of Victimization
Informed Consent and Fieldwork

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