Many misunderstand the main purposes of anonymity in 12-step programs — it isn’t just about protecting a member’s reputation. While medical treatment of alcoholism and addiction is much more accepted than when AA started in 1935, it still carries a stigma in some circles.
As a practical matter, anonymity also protects the 12-step program itself. It has become a PR cliche to have a failing celeb hit the rehab circuit — there’s even a Celebrity Rehab series — which is great for making people aware such programs exist. However, such publicity isn’t exactly great evidence for the effectiveness of the 12-steps.
The deeper purpose of anonymity is seen when we look at the quote: the “principle of anonymity” is something of “spiritual significance.” 12-step programs are quite explicit that the reprieve they offer is contingent on the maintenance of one’s spiritual condition… and self-seeking is hardly a marker of good spiritual condition.
Consciously and notoriously breaking anonymity elevates the member over the fellowship or the program. It is just like a manager claiming credit for something he/she wasn’t truly responsible for. Also, ego elevation isn’t exactly what most alcoholics or addicts need. Ultimately, anonymity protects the alcoholic or addict from the “tyranny of self.”