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Cravings for Deliverance: How William James, the Father of American Psychology, Inspired Alcoholics Anonymous

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William James’s The Varieties of Religious Experience, first published in 1902, is considered one of the seminal books of the twentieth century and had an important influence on the thinking of Carl Jung and the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. Indeed, The Varieties of Religious Experience is the only text quoted in Alcoholics Anonymous (the “Big Book”). Yet the strong influence of James and his work on the formation of Alcoholics Anonymous is not well known, understood, or recognized.

Cravings for Deliverance is the first book to explore the profound effect that Dr. James and his book had on AA and its founders. In addition to weaving together brief excerpts from James’s book with the writings of Bill Wilson (who wrote most of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous) to show how closely the two men’s work resonated, the book also provides new insight, information, and perspective for those interested in James and his work, and the many people in Twelve-Step programs, including Alanon, who have found Varieties of Religious Experience difficult to navigate.