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Christine Quinn and the Healing Power of Honesty


Bill Wilson, the co-founder of Alcoholics, attended Oxford Group meetings and appears to have based the fellowship he helped create on the sane principle. AA now numbers over 2 million members worldwide and exists as a virtual subculture within our larger culture, complete with its own traditions, rituals, and shared values. The kind of disclosure advocated by the Oxford Group movement also lies at the core of AA’s “twelve steps.” Indeed, the “promise” of AA is that following its steps with the courage of honesty will lead a person to spiritual renewal. And the most powerful tradition within AA is the story-telling that goes on in its meetings. Members volunteer to “share” their stories, recounting their descent into alcoholism or addiction, followed by their ascent into recovery. By tradition no one questions or casts judgment on the member who chooses to disclose his or her story.

Ms. Quinn s

I do not know whether Ms. Quinn is aware of the Oxford Group movement or has ever availed herself of AA or followed its steps; however, one thing that is clear is that she has discovered for herself the healing power of sharing. Here are a couple of things she told her interviewer:

  • She said she had come to believe “that until you stop hiding things, you’re hiding things. And hiding things is not healthy.”
  • When she made the decision to enter a rehab program, “It was the first significant time in my life that I asked for help, and I think up until that point in my life I associated asking for help with defeat.”
  • While in rehab she discovered an emphasis on talking about feelings (sharing) that was radically different from the world she had come from. “I was fairly monosyllabic for a while. I mean, this kind of conversation is not my greatest strength generally. Eventually, though, it put me on a path to letting go of my shame.”

Summing up her experience: “Asking for help, going to the rehab, helped me put the pieces back together.”

It remains to be seen whether Ms. Quinn will be judged, in her race for Mayor, because of her disclosures. As another Bill (Clinton) once said, we seem to live in a time dominated by the “politics of personal destruction,” in which exposing our vulnerabilities can be dangerous. But Christine Quinn has defied that, and there seems little doubt that she has discovered for herself the healing power of sharing. Perhaps we should thank her for that.

@ 2013 by Joseph Nowinski, Ph.D., co-author of Almost Alcoholic: Is My (or My Loved One’s) Drinking a Problem?