AA: Who it Helps, Who it Harms, Who it Kills, & Why (Preface)

AA: Who it Helps, Who it Harms, Who it Kills, & Why, by Edward W. Wilson, PhD

Kindle edition available on Amazon

Print edition, 66 pages, available here.

Preface by Tom Horvath, PhD (reprinted here by permission)


AA: Who it Helps, Who it Harms, Who it Kills, & Why

The psychological development of children is well studied. We know what children at different developmental levels can accomplish, and just as importantly, what they cannot accomplish. 

The psychological development of adults has been studied much less, and the emerging knowledge that psychologists have on this subject has not become widely known. It doesn’t take a psychologist to know, for instance, that a situation that might lead to a temper tantrum in a two year old, should not lead to a tantrum in a teenager. However, because adults all look “grown up,” we may not realize how differently adults can respond to the same situation, based on their developmental levels. We may attribute different responses to different values, or political orientations, or levels of intelligence, but in fact we may be observing the same kinds of phenomena we observe in children: Some tasks are simply beyond the psychological ability of some individuals.  

Ed Wilson is the first mental health professional I know of who has systematically applied knowledge about adult developmental levels to the process of resolving addictive problems. His background in developmental work is impressive. He is an excellent guide to the subject. I suspect that as you read his succinct summary of how to think about AA, and about how to resolve addictive problems, you will gain a powerful perspective not only on these issues, but on much of human behavior. 

When I first came across this perspective it astonished me. It may astonish you as well. With it you will have a new basis for understanding the otherwise seemingly inexplicable behavior of many adults around you. Your relationships, and your understanding of conflicts (including political ones), may never be the same. 

The application of knowledge about adult development to behavioral health is still beginning. Ed Wilson is one of the pioneers. I hope that behavioral health begins to move in the direction he is pointing out to us.