Dan Anderson: A Biography

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Hazelden, 1999 - Self-Help - 171 pages
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For those who know Hazelden and the Minnesota Model, the name of Dan Anderson will be readily familiar. Any celebration of Hazelden's 50th anniversary is also a celebration of Dan Anderson's contributions, his unflagging advocacy, and his tireless work educating the public and professionals alike about the nature and treatment of alcoholism.

This is Anderson's story, from his birth in 1921 (with a "wry" neck that, as he often noted, allowed him to see the world from a different angle) to his retirement from the presidency of Hazelden in 1986. Damian McElrath recounts Anderson's early education in the school of human experience: working as a sixteen-year-old bartender at the Idle Hours Cage in Williams, Minnesota; "bumming" around the country after high school; serving in the southwest Pacific in World War II; and then returning to start a formal education that would take him from the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul to Yale and Rutgers, where he would eventually teach.

Inseparable from Anderson's schooling was the education he got working in the mental wards of Hastings State Hospital, then at Willmar State Hospital, where he met his lifelong colleague Nelson Bradley and started his first experiments in the treatment of alcoholism. With the help of Bradley, and later Pat Butler, and with the insights of Alcoholics Anonymous, Anderson effected a radical change in the way chemical dependency is understood as a disease and treated. This book (which includes two of Anderson's famous essays) chronicles that transformation, bringing to bear all that Anderson has learned during the years of his apprenticeship and while he created in Hazelden a place of knowledge, hope, and recovery unlike any other.

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