Having written a biography of Bill — that is, Bill Wilson, one of the founders of A.A. — Ms. Cheever is in a position to say what the idea of anonymity was intended to do as few are. First and foremost, anonymity was meant to shield those struggling to become sober from the stigma of being an alcoholic, a stigma far more marked 75 years ago when there was little research on alcoholism as a medical condition over which its sufferers had little control.
These are the most common considerations when weighing the reasons for anonymity. But the second part of the ideal, spelled out in A.A.’s 12th Tradition, makes the case for observing anonymity within A.A. itself — and it’s worth noting that there’s little, if any, dissension on this subject.
Unlike the more practical 11th Tradition, aimed at the outer world, the 12th Tradition takes a crack at our far more problematic inner world. Stating (somewhat obliquely) that “anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities,” it’s about cultivating the often overlooked idea of humility, an excellent means for quieting the now-me-more urges that bedevil addictive people more than their peers.
David Colman: Challenging the Second 'A' in A.A.
The New York Times, May 6, 2011