Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Shame and self-compassion in members of Alcoholics Anonymous
by Newcombe, Scott Ryan, Psy.D., The Wright Institute, 2015, 144; 10107161
Abstract (Summary)

Persons suffering from addiction have been found to have higher shame and lower self-compassion than non-addicted persons yet lower shame and greater self-compassion are associated with improved treatment outcomes (O'Connor, Berry, Inaba, Weiss, & Morrison, 1994; Wiechelt & Sales, 2001; Brooks, Kay-Lambkin, Bowman & Childs, 2012). This study examined the relationship between various aspects of the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) program and levels of shame and self-compassion. The sample consisted of 148 active AA members; 32% had been members for over ten years whereas 16% had under a year of sobriety. The results found significant negative correlations between level of engagement in AA as measured by the AA Involvement Scale, length of time attending AA meetings, time clean and sober and shame as measured by the Internalized Shame Scale. The study also found significant positive correlations between level of engagement in AA, length of time attending AA meetings, time clean and sober and self-compassion as measured by the Self Compassion Scale. Out of a range of AA activities that included prayer and meditation, working with a sponsor and meeting attendance, the activities most predictive of lower shame and higher self-compassion were active social activities such as meeting with AA members outside of meetings, meeting with sponsees, and being a speaker at meetings. The study also found that participants who completed the fifth step (sharing their amends with their sponsor) had significantly lower levels of shame and higher levels of self-compassion compared to those who hadn't done a fifth step. Likewise, participants who completed the ninth step (making their amends) had significantly lower levels of shame and higher levels of self-compassion than those who had not completed this step. In a step-wise regression that regressed level of engagement in AA, time attending AA meeting, time clean and sober, and completion of the fifth and ninth steps onto shame and self-compassion, only time clean and sober was significant in predicting lower shame and higher self-compassion; this accounted for 21% and 20% of the variance in outcome, respectively. These findings suggest that AA members who actively engage in the program experience continued benefits with more sobriety, lower shame and higher self-compassion. Recommendations for further research are discussed.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Wood, Patricia
School: The Wright Institute
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 77/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Psychology, Clinical psychology
Keywords: 12 Steps, AA, Addiction, Alcoholics Anonymous, Self-Compassion, Shame
Publication Number: 10107161
ISBN: 9781339705637
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