group support. Research by Lieberman, Yalom, and Miles ( 1973) suggests
that encounter groups are beneficial for some and not for others.
Sociologists have long been aware of the socializing function of the group.
In AA and Synanon the drug-dependent person is socialized to remain drugfree only with the support system of the group. It is our contention that
both of these groups offer group support to the individual but that they do
little to help him develop his own self-esteem. Therefore, when individuals
leave the group and no longer have the group to fall back on, they return to
old self-esteem-safeguarding mechanisms, drugs. They remain rehabilitated
as long as they have the group support, but since their self-esteem has not
been increased, they are not cured.
The self-esteem theory, born from individual psychology, can not only
explain but predict maladjustment or adjustment, as well as why given
therapeutic models are or are not successful.
The authors have progressed from a phenomenological perspective, with
research proceeding from the phenomenological reduction, a method that is free
from the assumptions of psychology and in keeping with the requirements of a
presuppositionless investigation. The reduction is preparatory to the goal of a new
constitution. It is after the reduction that the aim of phenomenology -- the
reconstruction of meaning and structures -- becomes apparent. Husserl, the founding
father of phenomenology, conceives of the field as a kind of rational psychology.
The phenomenological attitude requires that we suspend all previous judgment and apperception. Phenomenology is not interested in the conditions of the material world,
conceived of by the scientist as real, but in the subjectively conceived world of
the mind. In its pure form this leads to a science of transcendental consciousness.
Language itself is a subjective expression of objective phenomena. That is, words
that stand for things -- tree, object -- are not the things themselves, but are mental
constructs designed to give meaning to the objective world through symbolism.
Phenomenology is interested in perceptions, emotions, attitudes, judgments, all in
their a priori nature, or in their true essence, where essence is regarded as what is
directly and presently experiential. It is only in the phenomenological reductionist
method that we can truly explain self-esteem, as self-esteem is a subjective construct.
Self-esteem on the material/situational level is only a component of the true essence
of people, their phenomenological selves.
The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) is a pencil-andpaper personality-assessment instrument, using classic measures of pathology,
depression, schizophrenia, and so forth. It is used in research to compare and
differentiate population groups as a way of identifying personality constellations
associated with deviance (be it drug use or cancer), compared with the normal. The
authors contend that the pathology itself is the symptom and not the cause; thus,
depression and psychopathology do not identify alcoholism, but rather, the real
cause is low self-esteem; then heavy tolerance is identified by the MMPI as scale
2 + 4 for alcoholism.