A Polyvagal Perspective on theTwelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous

Basic Assumption

On this webpage we are making the basic assumption that a person with Alcohol Use Disorder can swing between two major states of the Autonomic Nervous System whileninteracting with the world

Basic Emotional StateAA nomenclaturePolyvagal Theory
Angry, Fearful, Fight, FleEgoSympathetic Nervous System Active (SNS)
Lak of fear, i.e. Accepting, connecting with and helping others, Calm. PeacefulSereneParasympathetic Nervous System Active (PSNS)
FreezeNot Relevant in AADorsal Vagal System Active

Polyvagal PerspectiveInto Actionommnet
OneWe admitted that we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.The EGO (SNS) has realized it is is not being very succesful in making the world be the way it wants it to beTelling some one I can/dont want tdo this anymooeThis is most probably due to its experience of pain when things pon’t happen the way it want
TwoCame to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.The person with AUD realizes that there may be another way of llivign that does’t involve EGO/SNS dominationTelling someone or wrining
ThreeMade a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.The person with AUD decides to transfer the activation of ANS from a dominants SNS to dominant PSNSTakins skod eep breaths and letting inutiion guide me to do wwh’s in fonrr to my faace
FourMade a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
FiveAdmitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
SixWere entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
SevenHumbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
EightMade a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
NineMade direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
TenContinued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
ElevenSought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
TewelveHaving had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.


Alcoholics Anonymous (Big Book)

Dana, D (2022) Anchored, Sounds True, Boulder, CO

Porges, S,

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