The Invention of Self in a Twelve Step Group
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.
Part One: Not Just Another Addiction: The Role of Institutions
1. Codependency, Addiction Treatment, and the Therapeutic Ethos
2. In Search of the Recovery "Industry"
3. Uncoupling and Narratives of the Self
4. The Institution "Lite"
Part Two: Codependency as Narrative Strategy: The Role of Culture
5. Codependency as a Strategy of Transition
6. "Even Better Than the Real Thing": Codependency as a Strategy of Emotion Management
7. Gender Troubles: Codependency as a Narrative of Equality and Respect
8. Codependency as a Narrative of Victimization
Appendix: Informed Consent and Fieldwork in Twelve Step Groups