The Act of Surrender in the Therapeutic Process with Special Reference to Alcoholism

This paper was published in 1949. 1

In this paper, Tiebout is going to look at surrender from a psychiatric point of view. He wants to understand what we in AA see as a spiritual transformation in psychological terms. He especially wants to understand what causes an individual to resist the act of surrender. He identifies “defiant individualism” and “grandiosity” as two personality traits in alcoholics that stand in the way of progress. He says they flow from the “persisting infantile ego.” Tiebout offers a definition of surrender ” … as a moment when the unconscious forces of defiance and grandiosity actually cease to function effectively.” To surrender, an alcoholic must accept reality at both a conscious and unconscious level. Tiebout introduces the idea of compliance which he defines as what happens when the alcoholic accepts reality consciously but not unconsciously. (Hint: it doesn’t work out well.)

The rest of the paper consists of Tiebout’s attempts to relate his insight about surrender to practical aspects of psychotherapy.


TIEBOUT H. The act of surrender in the therapeutic process with special reference to alcoholism. Q J Stud Alcohol. 1949;10(1):48-58. [PubMed]