Daniel J. Anderson was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1921. He graduated from the College of St. Thomas in 1950, obtained a masters degree in clinical psychology from Loyola University in Illinois in 1956 and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Ottawa ten years later. He began working at Willmar State Hospital (now the Willmar Regional Treatment Center) near St. Cloud, Minnesota, in 1951 as an Intern in psychology. His status was upgraded to Clinical Psychologist after he had earned his graduate degrees. Dr. Anderson began his association with Hazelden as a consultant and lecturer in 1957 while still affiliated with Willmar. In 1961, he joined the Hazelden staff as Executive Vice President and Director. He became President and Director in 1971 and served as President Emeritus from 1986 to 1996. He died in 2003.
Dr. Anderson belonged to the American Psychological Association, the Minnesota Psychological Association, Alcohol and Drug Problems Association of North American, Minnesota Chemical Dependency Association. He was a licensed consulting psychologist and a Minnesota Certified Chemical Dependency Practitioner. He was a popular lecturer both nationally and internationally on such topics as Alcoholics Anonymous, the history of alcohol treatment in the 20th century, the development of self-help groups, chronic illness, and communities of coping and caring. His two best known publications are "The Psychopathology of Denial" and "Behavioral Management of Chronic Illness".
When Dr. Anderson started his career at Willmar Hospital in the early 1950's, alcoholics were still called "inebriates" and were housed in locked wards with the mentally ill. In Minnesota, Willmar was the end destination for all alcoholics who wound up in hospital settings. As members of Alcoholics Anonymous began to make visits to Willmar, the 12 step program they promoted began to change the way alcoholics were treated there. Under the direction of Dr. Nelson J. Bradley, Dr. Jean J. Rossi and Dr. Anderson, the Minnesota Model began to develop. When these three innovators moved on to other venues, they took their new practices with them. Dr. Bradley and Dr. Rossi went on the Lutheran General Hospital system in Illinois, and Dr. Anderson moved on to Hazelden.
Hazelden was founded in 1949 as a private, non-profit, residential, rehabilitation facility for patients with chemical dependency and related addictive behaviors. In this setting where the emphasis was less on the medical aspects of treatment, Anderson was encouraged by the owners to expand on the ideas which germinated at Willmar. He was instrumental in developing the Minnesota Model, the paradigm for treatment not only of alcoholism but all forms of chemical dependency and addictive behavior like gambling. The four basics of the Model are that addiction is a primary, chronic illness distinct from mental illness, that a multidisciplinary team is needed to treat the disease, that a systematic approach to treatment is necessary and that an aftercare program is not an afterthought but an integral part of the treatment. The program is based on AA's twelve steps and is abstinence oriented. Anderson was a proponent of sharing the Hazelden experience. As a result, he and other staff members did training sessions, gave lectures, and attended conferences. The institution itself became a training ground for therapists in the field of addiction treatment as well as a publishing house, producing literature in the field of alcohol and addiction.