Alcoholics Anonymous as a Cult
Scorecard, Answers 1 to 10

So how does A.A. score as a cult? On a scale of zero to ten, where zero means that it isn't like a cult at all, and ten means that A.A. is really like a cult, I score A.A. like this: (Feel free to grab a piece of paper, and make up your own scores. It isn't like I own a monopoly on the truth, or anything...)

(To go back and forth between the questions and the answers for Alcoholics Anonymous, click on the numbers of the questions and answers.)

1. The Guru is always right.
The Guru, his organization, and his teachings are all considered above criticism and beyond reproach.

A.A. scores a 10 on this one.

William Griffith Wilson
November 26 1895 - January 24 1971
Born: East Dorset, Vermont
One just does not criticize the Founders, Bill Wilson and Doctor Bob, or their wonderful program. Bill Wilson's "Big Book" — really titled "Alcoholics Anonymous" — is cited as the ultimate answer for everything, a new Bible for contemporary alcoholics. If Bill said something, then it is automatically true. In the eyes of the A.A. faithful, Bill Wilson never made a mistake after he started A.A., and never gave bad advice to any A.A. member. Bill Wilson was a paragon of sanity, clarity, wisdom, and honesty.

Many of the true believers in Alcoholics Anonymous actually believe that Bill Wilson's writings were inspired by God, just like the Bible. They say that Wilson wrote the Twelve Steps while receiving guidance from God. The faithful reverently pore over books like The Big Book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, and As Bill Sees It as if they were holy scriptures, rather than the ravings of a lunatic. Bill's writings in the Big Book — "the first 164 pages" — are considered to be so sacred that they cannot ever be updated, fixed, or changed. The 4th edition of the Big Book was just released, and the first 164 pages are still unchanged. Not a single lie or error was corrected.

The faithful stubbornly ignore the fact that the Big Book and Bill Wilson's other writings demonstrate all too clearly that he was suffering from Delusions of Grandeur, specifically "Delusional (Paranoid) Disorder, Grandiose Type, mental disorder number 297.10" as described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association, on pages 200 to 203 in the third edition (DSM-III-R), and on pages 297 to 301 in the fourth edition (DSM-IV).

Bill Wilson was also a textbook case of "Narcissistic Personality Disorder, mental disorder number 301.81" — again, as described in the DSM-IV, on pages 658-661.

The faithful also pointedly ignore the overwhelming evidence that Bill Wilson was

The faithful even ignore the fact that Bill Wilson took sexual advantage of sick women who came to A.A. seeking help to avoid death from alcohol. While women were still shaky, cloudy-headed, and confused from alcohol poisoning and alcohol withdrawal, Bill Wilson was scheming to get into their pants. That is an especially heartless kind of exploitation of vulnerable people.

Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith
August 8 1879 - November 16 1950
Born: Johnsbury, Vermont
Likewise, the true believers ignore the evidence that Dr. Robert Smith, the other co-founder of A.A., had serious mental problems of his own. The faithful proclaim was Dr. Bob was a wise saint, in spite of the facts that:

  • Doctor Bob seems to have been a power-tripping neurotic dogmatic religious fanatic who got his kicks by having people surrender to God on their knees before him. He was so narrow-minded that he wrote in the Big Book that he feels sorry for you if you won't accept the religious proclamations of the Bill and Bob team:

    If you think you are an atheist, an agnostic, a skeptic, or have any other form of intellectual pride which keeps you from accepting what is in this book, I feel sorry for you.
    The Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith, Doctor Bob's Story, Page 181.

  • Doctor Bob was such an insane autocratic tyrant that he forced a 31-year-old alcoholic womanizer on his 17-year-old step-daughter Sue Smith in order to break up her high-school romance with her teenage boyfriend Ray Windows, whom Doctor Bob didn't like. The older alcoholic was "A.A. Number Four" — the constantly-relapsing, philandering, Ernie Galbraith — the author of the Big Book first edition story "The Seven-Month Slip". The 'seven-month slip' was not a small slip after seven months of sobriety; it was a full-blown seven-month-long hard-drinking relapse after a year of sobriety.

    You would think that Doctor Bob should have learned something about Ernie from reading his autobiographical story in the Big Book, but no, Doctor Bob didn't learn anything. Then, after Ernie took Susan for himself, Doctor Bob complained bitterly that Ernie Galbraith had "double-crossed him" by seducing Sue Smith.2

  • Dr. Bob was so damaged by alcohol that he was apparently incapable of supporting himself and his family while ostensibly still practicing medicine. Dr. Bob had to be supported by an A.A. handout for the rest of his life.
    What kind of a doctor is so incapable of earning his own keep that he has to be supported by charity?
See Item 38, Disturbed Guru, for more information on these two sterling examples of sanity and wisdom.

2. You are always wrong.
The individual members of the cult are told that they are inherently small, weak, stupid, ignorant, and sinful, and are in no way qualified to judge the Guru or his church.

A.A. scores a 10 on this one too.

According to Bill Wilson and A.A., you are just a brain-damaged alcoholic, "powerless over alcohol", your thinking is "alcoholic", and you aren't qualified to judge A.A. or the teachings of Bill Wilson. If you disagree with any of the insanity of A.A., it just proves that you are diseased and in denial. Sober former drinkers who criticize A.A. are dismissed as "dry drunks."

'When I expressed my feelings of resentment towards AA to a "friend" (who had introduced me to the program), he told me that "criticizing AA is a loser behavior".'

Applicable slogans include:

  • "The program is perfect; it's just people who are imperfect."
  • "Don't criticize the program."
  • "The program never fails; people just fail the program."
  • "You have a thinking problem, not a drinking problem."
  • "Your best thinking got you here."
  • "You need a checkup from the neck up."
  • "Stop Your Stinkin' Thinkin'."
  • "Stuff Your Feelings."
  • "Feelings Aren't Facts."
  • "Principles Before Personalities."
  • "A person with one eye on yesterday and one eye on tomorrow is living cockeyed."
  • "Be Part Of The Solution, Not The Problem."
  • "N.U.T.S. — Not Using the Steps."
  • "Have A Good Day Unless You've Made Other Plans."
  • "Let Go Of Old Ideas."3
  • "P.L.O.M. = Poor Little Old Me."
  • "You're only as sick as your secrets."
  • "We're All Here Because We're Not All There."
  • "Some people are so successful in recovery, they turn out to be almost as good as they thought they were while drinking."
  • "Take the cotton out of your ears and stick it in your mouth."
  • "Sit Down, Shut Up, and Learn Something."
  • "Alcoholics can't afford to have resentments."
  • "Opinions are like ass-holes — everybody's got one, and most of them stink."
  • "He suffers from terminal uniqueness."
  • "Get humble."
  • "There is a God and you are not Him."

Members are shamed and made to feel small, weak, stupid and sinful by constantly making lists of all of their faults, wrongs, moral shortcomings, and defects of character, and confessing them both privately and publicly. Members are taught to beat up on themselves: the slogan is "You can't save your ass and your face at the same time." And if they don't do a good enough job of it, their sponsors will fill in the gaps in the "ego deflation," which is really destruction of the new member's self-confidence, self-esteem, self-respect, and ability to think and act independently.

And members are definitely taught to distrust their own minds and their own feelings:

"Stop your stinkin' thinking'."
"Your best thinking got you here."
"You have a thinking problem, not a drinking problem."
"Stuff Your Feelings."
"Feelings Aren't Facts."
— Popular A.A. slogans

"... no alcoholic ... can claim 'soundness of mind' for himself."
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William Wilson, page 33.

  • They will be told that their mind is useless, damaged by alcohol, and is a great liability. They will be told that alcohol is cunning, baffling, and powerful, and that their minds are being controlled by their addiction to alcohol, and that their addiction wants to kill them.
  • They will be told that their old bad habits don't want to let go of them, so any deviation from the program is proof that they are diseased.
  • Any disagreement with the standard dogma, or any attempt to think and act independently, is interpreted as alcoholism dominating the member's mind, and defeating his attempts at sobriety.

On top of all of that, Bill Wilson had a vicious hatred of alcoholics. That may seem unlikely, since he supposedly dedicated his life to unselfishly helping alcoholics and saving their lives, but it is true. Bill Wilson actually denigrated alcoholics and put them down at every opportunity. Bill dedicated the second half of his life to being a cult leader and making alcoholics into his slaves who supported him in comfort for the rest of his life, so that he never had to work again. Bill Wilson actually hated himself, and had a vicious contempt for his own faults and character flaws, so he projected his own failings onto everyone around him. He created a very negative stereotype of "The Alcoholic", and projected all of his faults onto that mythical character, and then he said, "Look at how disgusting he is. We are all like that."

Bill Wilson declared that:

All of which leaves us with one big question, "If alcoholics are all so bad, how could the leading alcoholic, Bill Wilson, be so 'spiritual'?"

And note how the hatred "trickled down" through the following decades:
  • Bill Wilson's hatred of alcoholics in Alcoholics Anonymous
  • inspired Chuck Dederich's hatred and abuse of drug addicts in Synanon
  • which led to Art Barker's hatred and abuse of child drug users in The Seed
  • which led to Dr. Miller Newton's and Melvin and Betty Sembler's hatred and abuse of child drug or alcohol users in Straight, Inc.,
  • which led to the abuse and hatred of child drug or alcohol users in all of the dozens of cloned "tough love" copies of Synanon, The Seed, and Straight, Inc..
Ronald Reagan's "trickle down" theory didn't work with rich people's money, but it sure does work well with insane hatred and the torture of the weak and the sick.

Also see these Cult Test items for more of the You Are Always Wrong routine:

3. No Exit.
A.A. scores a 10 again.

They say, "You can't leave, because if you do, you will relapse and die drunk." They say that the world is a dangerous place and you can't make it on your own. Then they recite a list of friends who didn't do the Twelve Steps, and who went out and died. A.A. also tells people that they will turn into bitterly unhappy "dry drunks" if they leave A.A. and manage to stay abstinent.

The slogan is, "Don't leave five minutes before the miracle."
And, "A.A. is like the Mafia: If you leave it, you die."

A.A. also guilt-trips people into not leaving A.A. by declaring that "Now you must keep coming back and teach the newcomers, and freely give what was freely given to you. It would be selfish for you to leave and not give back to others."

The Big Book says, referring to this "spiritual quit-drinking program":

We have indulged in spiritual intoxication. Like a gaunt prospector, belt drawn in over the last ounce of food, our pick has struck gold. Joy at our release from a lifetime of frustration knew no bounds. Father feels he has struck something better than gold. For a time he may try to hug the new treasure to himself. He may not see at once that he has barely scratched a limitless lode which will pay dividends only if he mines it for the rest of his life and insists on giving away the entire product.
A.A. Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, Chapter 9, The Family Afterward, pages 128-129.

"Giving away the entire product" is a euphemism for recruiting and training new members for A.A., "freely giving that which was freely given to us". So that paragraph really means that you can't ever leave the group, and must spend the rest of your life "working a strong program" and recruiting new members.

(And the line about, "For a time he may try to hug the new treasure to himself" is ridiculous. Bill Wilson did not have that problem at all. He became a raving proselytizing missionary immediately after his own religious conversion, starting home churches within days of his belladonna-induced "vision of God", and driving the other alcoholics nuts and scaring them and driving them away with all of his preaching and trying to convert everybody else to his newfound religious beliefs. "He may try to hug the new treasure to himself." No, that was not Bill's problem.)

The Northern Illinois Area A.A. Intergroup actually feels entitled to tell recovering alcoholics not to go back to college and finish their degrees — to just stay with the A.A. group, and stay ignorant and unemployable, and to spend their spare time recruiting for A.A. at the local jail. No exit. You shouldn't ever leave A.A., not even to go to college.

Lastly, note that A.A. "treatment" of the so-called "disease" of alcoholism is the antithesis of good medical treatment. No attempt is made to actually cure the patient of the disease. Rather than healing people and returning them to normal life in the mainstream of society, like real doctors do, A.A. has the goal of keeping people coming back to A.A. meetings for the rest of their lives. You never recover, so you have to Keep Coming Back to more A.A. meetings. The goal of 12-Step-based "treatment" is not to heal people and end the treatment; it is to addict the patient to the treatment, to make him psychologically dependent upon A.A., so that he will spend the rest of his life in a 12-Step group like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.

Bill Wilson wrote:

We are not cured of alcoholism. What we have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. Every day is a day when we must carry the vision of God's will into all of our daily activities.
The Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, page 85.

The philosophy of self-sufficiency is not paying off. Plainly enough, it is a bone-crushing juggernaut whose final achievement is ruin.
      Therefore, we who are alcoholics can consider ourselves fortunate indeed.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, pages 36-37.

Therefore dependence, as A.A. practices it, is really a means of gaining true independence of the spirit.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, page 36.

Physical and mental slavery equals "spiritual freedom"???
That's another False Equality propaganda trick.

See the Cult Test item "They Make You Dependent On The Group" for more information on dependency.

4. No Graduates.
A.A. scores another 10.

True believers love to brag about this — it's even made into a bunch of standard slogans:

  • Nobody ever graduates.
  • There are no graduates.
  • Nobody ever graduates from this program.
  • A.A. is an education without graduation.
  • You are in it for life.
  • You will never finish your recovery.
  • You will never stop going to meetings.
  • You will never stop doing the Twelve Steps.

The Big Book says:

A.A. is not a plan for recovery that can be finished and done with. It is a way of life, and the challenge contained in its principles is great enough to keep any human being striving for as long as he lives. We do not, cannot, out-grow this plan.
A.A. Big Book, 3rd Edition, Sylvia K., The Keys Of The Kingdom, page 311.

In conclusion, I can only say that whatever growth or understanding has come to me, I have no wish to graduate. Very rarely do I miss the meetings of my neighborhood A.A. group, and my average has never been less than two meetings a week.
... our one desire is to stay in A.A. ...
A.A. Big Book, 3rd Edition, Jim Burwell, The Vicious Cycle, pages 249-250.

The literature of Al-Anon reinforces this "no graduates" teaching:

Another friend had attended Al-Anon a couple of years, and ended up chairman of the group for six months. As she went home the night new officers were chosen, she thought to herself, "I've attended Al-Anon for three years. I've learned all it teaches and I think I've graduated. I'll go next week to turn over the chairmanship and then I'll be free Wednesday nights."
      But something happened that next Wednesday at her job and her first thought was, "This is where Al-Anon can keep me straight — I need it more than ever." That was a dozen years ago and she is still attending an Al-Anon group!
Al-Anon's favorite forum editorials, page 141.

We are never told what crisis on the job prompted the woman not to leave Al-Anon; it was just some vague "something happened." Note the attitude of "You are mentally incompetent. You can't handle the stresses and pressures of real life by yourself, but your 'support group' — a group of similarly-crippled mental incompetents who aren't capable of running their own lives either — will somehow 'keep you straight'."

Hence, you will never graduate, because "something" will always happen, so you will end up giving the group every Wednesday evening for the rest of your life.

No graduates. You can't ever leave the cult.

5. Cult-speak.
A.A. gets a 10 here.

A.A. has plenty of cultish terminology, lots of loaded language and bombastically redefined words, and a whole bunch of mind-bending slogans and thought-stopping clichés.

In his writings, William Wilson displayed a really bad case of the Alice in Wonderland "Words mean whatever I want them to mean" syndrome:

  • This is a good redefinition: in Alcoholics Anonymous terminology, the word "sobriety" doesn't mean "no alcohol" or "not drinking" or "an unintoxicated state"; it has this bombastic redefinition:
    "A special state of Grace gained by working the Steps and maintaining absolute abstinence. It is characterized by feelings of Serenity and Gratitude. It is a state of living according to God's will, not one's own. It is sanity."
    (Even the word "sanity" here is redefined; it is Frank Buchman's "surrendered-to-God-control", or surrendered-to-Frank-control, state of living.)
    Then A.A. members speak about "the quality of someone's sobriety" as if evaluating levels or degrees of spirituality.

  • Another redefinition: "recovery" does not mean rebuilding your health, mind, body, and life while not drinking; it means going to A.A. meetings, doing The Twelve Steps, and abstaining from alcohol. According to A.A. dogma, someone can't be recovering from alcoholism if he isn't going to A.A. meetings and doing The Twelve Steps; he's "only abstaining", or "only dry", or "only a dry drunk".

    (And, strangely enough, someone, like William G. Wilson, could be actively killing himself with tobacco, and dying of emphysema, and still somehow be "in recovery" and living a spiritual life in compliance with God's will. I guess God really wanted Bill to die of lung problems early, and not be of service for any more years.)

    Note that those two redefinitions — sobriety and recovery — allow A.A.-dominated drug and alcohol treatment facilities, which are financed with public tax dollars, to advertise jobs as being reserved for people who are "in recovery, with at least 6 months of sobriety", and then only hire other members of the Twelve-Step religion. It sounds like a nice hire-the-handicapped policy, but it is really religious discrimination, which violates many different laws, but they seem to be getting away with it anyway.

  • A "dry drunk" is someone who has quit drinking alcohol, but who won't do Bill Wilson's Twelve Steps. Such an unfortunate fellow will supposedly display all of the objectionable characteristics and behavior of an obnoxious drunkard, even though he hasn't drunk any alcohol. In addition, dry drunks are supposed to be angry and resentful and bitterly unhappy, because they aren't getting big doses of "Serenity and Gratitude" from doing the Twelve Steps.

  • "Going out" means leaving Alcoholics Anonymous and resuming drinking. (Those two actions are considered synonyms: They say that if you quit A.A., you will of course resume drinking and almost certainly die drunk in a gutter.)

  • Another redefinition: Bill Wilson wrote that an attitude of proper humility must include "a desire to seek and do God's will."1 So all of the innocent-sounding appeals for "humility" are not requests for people to avoid egotism — they are really veiled demands for people to practice Step Eleven and spend every day of the rest of their lives "Seeking and Doing the Will of God" (as "God's will" is defined by their sponsors and the group's other elders, of course).

  • "Sanity is living according to God's Will, rather than one's own."
    Notice what that does to Step Two:
    Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
    It becomes:
    "We came to believe that God could make us obey God's wishes."

    That is an example of the "constant redefinition game", where words have one definition for the newcomers, and a very different definition for the old-timers who are "in the know." (There are different levels of truth.)

    • To a beginner, the "insanity" term in Step Two means that someone was insanely drinking far too much alcohol, and killing himself.
    • To the old-timer, the "insanity" was living a life not spent "Seeking and Doing the Will of God."
    • Likewise, even the "Power greater than ourselves" and "God as we understood Him" will get redefined to "The God of Bill Wilson's understanding."

    So, finally, Step Two will also come to mean that we should practice Step Eleven and spend our time "Seeking and Doing the Will of God" (as defined by our sponsors, of course).

  • Then Bill redefined the word "ambition": "True ambition is not what we thought it was. True ambition is the profound desire to live usefully and walk humbly under the grace of God." Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, pages 123, 124-125.

  • "Playing God" means managing your own life, taking care of yourself, and living your life as you choose. (A.A. Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, Chapter 5, How It Works, page 62.)

  • In Bill Wilson's mind, being a slave of God equals "freedom":

    First of all, we had to quit playing God. It didn't work. Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director. He is the Principal; we are His agents. He is the Father, and we are His children. Most good ideas are simple, and this concept was the keystone of the new and triumphant arch through which we passed to freedom.
    A.A. Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, Chapter 5, How It Works, page 62.

  • "Willing to clean house" really means "willing to confess all of your sins, 'defects of character', and 'moral shortcomings' to someone else." (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, page 63.)

  • A "drastic housecleaning which requires discussion with other people" means "a guilt-inducing confession session where you confess all of your sins to some Alcoholics Anonymous members." (A.A. Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, Chapter 7, Working With Others, page 94.)
    Note that the Big Book hints that your sponsor is not supposed to blab your most embarrassing personal secrets all over town after you do your Fifth Step, but they've been known to do it anyway. Some sponsors did it to punish people who dared to leave A.A.. (See: A.A. Horror Stories, Rebecca Fransway, pages 116, 139, and 232.) I've also heard stories of sponsors blackmailing people with what they learned from 5th-Step confessions.

  • "Emotional security" means "getting our own way." (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, page 115.)

  • "Helping others selflessly" means recruiting for Alcoholics Anonymous. (A.A. Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, Chapter 7, Working With Others, page 97.)

  • "Keeping spiritually active" means going recruiting for Alcoholics Anonymous. (A.A. Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, Chapter 11, page 156.)

  • "Helping other alcoholics" means recruiting for Alcoholics Anonymous. (A.A. Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, Chapter 9, page 129.)

  • "Self-sacrifice for others" means recruiting for Alcoholics Anonymous. (A.A. Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, Chapter 1, Bill's Story, pages 14-15.)

  • "Acting the Good Samaritan every day" means recruiting for Alcoholics Anonymous. (A.A. Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, Chapter 7, Working With Others, page 97.)

  • "Unselfish, constructive action" means recruiting for Alcoholics Anonymous. (A.A. Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, Chapter 7, Working With Others, page 93.)

  • "Placing the welfare of others ahead of your own" means recruiting for Alcoholics Anonymous. (A.A. Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, Chapter 7, Working With Others, page 94.)

  • "Carrying the message to other alcoholics" — Step Twelve — means recruiting for Alcoholics Anonymous. (A.A. Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, Chapter 5, page 60.)

  • "The path of spiritual progress" means doing Alcoholics Anonymous activities, including recruiting for Alcoholics Anonymous. (A.A. Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, Chapter 7, Working With Others, page 100.)

  • "Transcendence of ego" means surrendering your will and your mind to the Alcoholics Anonymous cult. (Spirituality: The key to recovery from alcoholism, Warfield, Robert D. and Goldstein, Marc B.)

  • "Desires" and "instincts" mean the same thing, and the words can be used interchangeably. (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, pages 48 and 49.)

  • And now "traditional treatment of alcoholism" is supposed to mean A.A. 12-Step treatment.

  • One of the most pervasive redefinitions is the meaning of the word "spiritual." A.A. dogma says that A.A. is a "spiritual" program, not a religion. (The State and Federal Judges disagree, but A.A. ignores that.)

    Eric Hoffer wrote of cult doctrines:

    There is thus an illiterate air about the most literate true believer. He seems to use words as if he were ignorant of their true meaning. Hence, too, his taste for quibbling, hairsplitting, and scholastic tortuousness.
    The True Believer, Eric Hoffer, pages 79 to 80.

    Well, if you really want to see hairsplitting and scholastic tortuousness, start up a debate with A.A. members about the difference between the words "religious" and "spiritual".

    "Spiritual" seems to mean different things at different times:

    • Sometimes it means doing the Twelve Steps.

    • Sometimes it means going to A.A. meetings.

    • Sometimes it means believing in God, as "we" understand Him, or as A.A. understands Him.

    • Sometimes it means recruiting new members for A.A..

    • Sometimes, it is some kind of technology, or magic: "Quite as important was the discovery that spiritual principles would solve all my problems." (The Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, Chapter 3, More About Alcoholism, page 42.)

    • Sometimes, it is just part of a smug game of one-upmanship: "Religion is for people who are afraid of going to Hell; Spirituality is for people who have been there."
      —Which implies that A.A. people are superior to ordinary religious believers, because A.A. members are more experienced, and they aren't afraid of going to Hell any more.

    • "Spiritual development" means going to A.A. meetings, doing the Twelve Steps, and recruiting for Alcoholics Anonymous.

    • Turning control of your life and your will over to Something Else or Somebody Else, like A.A., is also called "spiritual development". (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William Wilson, page 36.)

    • And sometimes "spiritual growth" or "spiritual development" means becoming a religious maniac and obsessively devoting your whole life to A.A., while neglecting your family and career:

      Assume on the other hand that father has, at the outset, a stirring spiritual experience. Overnight, as it were, he is a different man. He becomes a religious enthusiast. He is unable to focus on anything else. As soon as his sobriety begins to be taken as a matter of course, the family may look at their strange new dad with apprehension, then with irritation. There is talk about spiritual matters morning, noon and night.
      Though the family does not fully agree with dad's spiritual activities, they should let him have his head. Even if he displays a certain amount of neglect and irresponsibility towards the family, it is well to let him go as far as he likes in helping other alcoholics [recruiting for A.A.].   ...   Though some of his manifestations are alarming and disagreeable, we think dad will be on a firmer foundation than the man who is placing business or professional success ahead of spiritual development.
      A.A. Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, Chapter 9, The Family Afterward, pages 129-130.

      Note that there seems to be no difference between being a "religious enthusiast" and being obsessed with "spiritual activities". It's the same guy doing the same things. At times, Bill Wilson actually used the words "religious" and "spiritual" interchangeably. So much for the slogan, "It's spiritual, not religious."

    • And much of the A.A.-booster literature is even worse when it comes to defining "spirituality". See the article Spirituality: The key to recovery from alcoholism for an entertaining example of someone constantly flip-flopping around like a fish out of water, trying to figure out what it is.

  • The word "suggested" has been tortured as well. The Big Book says, in Chapter Five, that the Twelve Steps are "suggested" as a program of recovery. (Page 59.) Bill Wilson wanted the 12 steps to be a requirement, but the other early A.A. members wouldn't buy it. They objected strongly when Bill showed them his first draft of Chapter Five. They knew that Bill's dogmatic religiosity would drive away many of the very alcoholics whom the program was supposed to help. In a loud and long screaming contest, they demanded that Bill label the Twelve Steps as just "a suggested program". But Bill got his revenge later — Really Soon "later" — like on the very first page of the next chapter that he wrote (Chapter 6, page 72,) by declaring that you wouldn't overcome drinking, and would relapse and die drunk, if you didn't do his Twelve Steps.

    If we skip this vital step, we may not overcome drinking.
    The Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, page 72, the first page of Chapter 6.

    And then Bill Wilson ratcheted up the pressure in his next book:

    Unless each A.A. member follows to the best of his ability our suggested Twelve Steps to recovery, he almost certainly signs his own death warrant.
    Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, page 174.

    That is quite a strong "suggestion".

    Likewise, the relevant A.A. slogan is: "It is suggested that you Work The Steps, just like how, if you jump out of an airplane with a parachute, it is "suggested" that you pull the ripcord to save your life."

6. Group-think, Suppression of Dissent, and Enforced Conformity in Thinking
A.A. gets a 10.

It practices group-think to the max, has standard answers for everything, and discourages independent thought or criticism of the program. "If you try to do things your own way, you will make a mistake and relapse, and probably die drunk. Just do things the tried and true way. Avoid independent thinking; just stop thinking for yourself," they say, "because 'Your best thinking got you here.' Your thinking is alcoholic. Your brain is too messed up from alcohol for you to be able to think for yourself."

The true-believer old-timers say that the answer to everything is, "Do the Twelve Steps, get a sponsor, and read The Big Book."
And they also say, " READ THE BOOK, get a SPONSOR, develop a HIGHER POWER UNDERSTANDING, don't DRINK, go to MEETINGS, and call other ALCOHOLICS."

The true believers say that everything you need to know — about everything in life — is contained in the first 164 pages of the Big Book: "The first 164 pages are the meat of the program. The following pages are an added dose of strength, experience and hope."

In addition, William Wilson and Dr. Robert Smith are considered the infallible wise men with the answers to all questions; if they said something, then it is automatically unquestionably true.

The web site asks, "Is the program heard in your meetings the same as the program described in the book?" And it shows a graphic that says "That Ain't in The Book!" A.A. claims that groups are autonomous and free to formulate their own styles and content, but that isn't true at all. Groups that do not parrot the Big Book dogma with the correct degree of conformity get criticized with cries of "That Ain't A.A.!", and they often get delisted.

The Twelve Steps are actually a procedure for undermining your independence, not for encouraging freedom:
  • The first of the Twelve Steps starts the process of destroying one's independent mind: you must admit that you are powerless over alcohol, and that your life is unmanageable. Meaning: YOU cannot manage your own life.

  • In Step Two you come to believe that you are insane, and that only some undefined "Power greater than yourself" can fix you — "restore you to sanity."

  • Then, in Step Three, you must surrender your will and your life to "God" or a "Higher Power" (or the group or your sponsor), and let that "Somebody Else" control your life and tell you what to do, and even what to think.

  • Then, Steps Four through Ten induce guilt by dwelling on your past sins, moral shortcomings, defects of character, the exact nature of your wrongs, and your offenses to others. Such guilt makes it easier to manipulate your mind.

Remember that guilt induction and confession sessions were the two essential elements of the Red Chinese brainwashing program. And Prof. Margaret Thaler Singer listed "Create a sense of powerlessness, covert fear, guilt, and dependency" as one of the six essential conditions for effective mind-control or "brain-washing" programs, and that is just what Steps One through Ten do.

Three of the Twelve Traditions reinforce this group-think attitude:

1) Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends on A.A. unity.
2) For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority — a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants — they do not govern.
12) Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.

Obviously, if you disagree with the standard party line, and express contrary ideas and opinions, or act independently, you are breaking "A.A. unity", and Tradition One says that no one is allowed to do that.

Tradition Two says that God is the ultimate authority, as He expresses Himself in the group conscience. But who decides what God is expressing in the group conscience? Obviously, it is the leaders, the old-timers who are the most-indoctrinated true believers, and who dominate the "sharing" sessions with their well-practiced raps and their standard sermons.

Besides which, who says that God is really expressing anything in the group conscience? What if God doesn't feel like spending all of His time in A.A. meetings? Wasn't it rather presumptuous of Bill Wilson to assume that God does? Maybe the group conscience is really just the collective opinion of a bunch of old fools...
I want to see the proxy. Show me a signed statement from God that says,
"I hereby authorize this group of old-timers to speak for me."
It is just outrageously arrogant of the old-timers to imagine that when they open their mouths, God's opinion comes out.

Similarly, the demand for "principles before personalities" in Tradition Twelve just means that their cult practices take precedence over your personal beliefs, morals, desires, or even your personal welfare. Again, you must conform to the group.

Then, over and over again, you will be told to stop thinking, and just do what everyone else does. You will be told that your mind is useless, damaged by alcohol, and is a great liability. You will be told that your mind is controlled by your addiction, and that your addiction wants to kill you. So just follow the standard program, and do what your sponsor says, and...

"Quit your stinkin' thinkin'."
"Don't drink, don't think, and go to meetings.
"You have a thinking problem, not a drinking problem."
"Your best thinking got you here."
"The three most dangerous words for an alcoholic — 'I've been thinking'"
"Don't go into your mind alone; it's not a safe neighborhood."
"Don't go in your head alone. It's a dangerous neighborhood."
"Just do things the tried and true way."
"Look for the similarities, not the differences."
"People who think they know it all are very irritating to those of us who do."
"You can act yourself into thinking right easier than you can think yourself into acting right."
"I know I'm in trouble when I start thinking I can run my own life."
      — A.A. slogans

"... no alcoholic ... can claim 'soundness of mind' for himself."       Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William Wilson, page 33.

Then some oldtimer will pontificate and tell the story of how he tried to make a chocolate cake by using his aunt's recipe, but he only used the parts of the recipe that he liked, and he left out the rest. The result was a terrible cake. So the moral of the story is that you must follow the 12-Step recipe exactly as it is given to you.

People who dare to criticize any of this sacred Group-Think dogma can be subjected to any of the punishing tactics mentioned in item 10, Personal attacks on critics.

When it comes to "Group-Feel", A.A. has a bad case of that, too. Good members are supposed to just "stuff their feelings", and maintain a flat emotional state that features endless "Serenity and Gratitude." Other emotions are considered bad, and a sign that someone is failing to "work a strong program":

It is a spiritual axiom that every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us. If somebody hurts us and we are sore, we are in the wrong also.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, page 90.

And the injunction against "resentments" is extremely strong:

'Resentment is the "number one" offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else. From it stem all forms of spiritual disease...'
The Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, Chapter 5, How It Works, page 64.

The only exception to this rule is anger: the old-timers are permitted to snap and snarl at newcomers who don't conform to the program, and put them down with caustic remarks that drip with sarcasm and condescension. And they pass that behavior off as "tough love." And of course the oldtimers can attack critics of A.A. with anger, and that does not seem to violate those principles of "spirituality".

7. Irrationality.
A.A. gets a 10 on this one (and deserves about a hundred),
for everything from expecting God to micro-manage their lives, and solve all of their problems, to their claims that God delivers miracles on demand, to Bill Wilson's demands that we all stop thinking, give up "Reason" and human intelligence, and just "have faith."

Robert Thomsen and Ernest Kurtz described in their books how Ebby Thacher and his friend Shep Cornell worked to convert Bill Wilson to Buchmanism:

Ebby and Shep C. were now asking him to give up the one attribute of which he was the most proud, the one quality that set a man above the animals — his inquiring, rational mind. And they wanted him to give this up for an illusion.
      ... what they were asking him to do represented weakness to him. How could a man so demean himself as to surrender the one thing in which he should have faith, his innate, inquiring mind?   ...
      It might be the last arrogant gasp of alcoholic pride but, miserable and terrified as he was, he would not humble himself here. On this point he would go out swinging.
Not-God, Ernest Kurtz, page 18, and
Bill W., Robert Thomsen, pages 213-214.

Bill vowed to fight to the end, but within two weeks, under the influence of delirium tremens, alcohol withdrawal, and hallucinogenic drugs, Bill Wilson had flipped out and given up his rational mind, and "surrendered", and been "changed" into a true-believer Oxford Group cult member who then went on to exhort all other alcoholics to also abandon Reason, logic, and human intelligence, and just "have faith."

By the way, Bill Wilson never had a problem with giving up his "his inquiring, rational mind". Bill's whole story about being an icy intellectual and an atheist who believed in science and evolution until he was converted into a believer by a miraculous spiritual experience was an act, a lie. Bill Wilson was a superstitious flunk-out, not an intellectual. Bill didn't even get "a gentleman's C's" in school. He didn't even graduate. Bill Wilson excelled at baseball in school, not in math, science, philosophy, or theology. And then Bill exhorted his followers to give up their intelligence and their rational, thinking minds, and just believe in what he said.

Bill Wilson stated over and over again that he wanted people to abandon logic, scientific thinking, and reason, and use superstition and faith as the answer to all of their problems:

Instead of regarding ourselves as intelligent agents, spearheads of God's ever advancing Creation, we agnostics and atheists chose to believe that our human intelligence was the last word... Rather vain of us, wasn't it?
The Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, Chapter 4, We Agnostics, page 49.

(Notice how Bill Wilson often used the word "we" the way a preacher does. A preacher will say "We are sinners, may God have mercy on us," when he really means "YOU are sinners. May God have mercy on YOUR miserable worthless asses.")

Reason isn't everything. Neither is reason, as most of us use it, entirely dependable, though it emanate from our best minds.
The Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, Chapter 4, We Agnostics, pages 54-55.

Imagine life without faith! Were nothing left but pure reason, it wouldn't be life.
The Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, Chapter 4, We Agnostics, Page 54.

It wouldn't be life? Really? What would it be? Spock and the other Vulcans might have something to say about this... And what about our hormones and libido — our horniness? The Urge To Merge is the very essence of life, and it doesn't require faith in any religion, Bill's or otherwise...

But we believed in life of course we did. We could not prove life in the sense that you can prove a straight line is the shortest distance between two points, yet, there it was. Could we still say the whole thing was nothing but a mass of electrons, created out of nothing, meaning nothing, whirling on to a destiny of nothingness? Of course we couldn't. The electrons themselves seemed more intelligent than that. At least, so the chemist said.
The Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, Chapter 4, We Agnostics, Page 54.

What nonsense. Of course we can prove life. I see that I am alive. I sit here, and type this, and I have hands that I can see, which hit the keys, and I inhale, I watch myself breathe, and I can see very clearly that I am alive. Likewise, you can see that you are alive. There is no doubt about it.

And who said that the electrons were created out of nothing, meaning nothing? Only Bill Wilson... The atheists sure don't say that, because if the electrons were created out of nothing, then a Supernatural Being had to be around to do the creating.

Bill was trying to imply that since we don't know anything for sure, we should just quit thinking because we can't possibly get it right. That is a bunch of bull. That is the propaganda tricks called "Escape Via Relativism" and Appeal to Antirationalism.

And Bill insisted that we must give up "Reason", because it was getting in the way of faith:

Some of us had already walked far over the Bridge of Reason toward the desired shore of faith. The outlines and the promise of the New Land had brought lustre to tired eyes and fresh courage to flagging spirits. Friendly hands had stretched out in welcome. We were grateful that Reason had brought us so far. But somehow, we couldn't quite step ashore. Perhaps we had been leaning too heavily on Reason that last mile and did not like to lose our support.
The Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, Chapter 4, We Agnostics, page 53.

  • Uh, what "Bridge" to what "New Land"?! La-La-Land, you say? And we can't step ashore until we dump our logical thinking minds into the trash can and embrace blind faith in somebody else's grandiose fantasies?

  • And exactly why am I supposed to bet my life on believing in Bill Wilson's obviously delusional proclamations?

  • Why would I even want to reach Bill Wilson's "desired shore of faith"?

  • Why is flipping out and becoming an insane unthinking true believer in a cult religion — a religious maniac — a religiomaniac — the only answer to the bad habit of drinking too much alcohol?

In the next sentence, Bill Wilson then declared that we have been worshipping a false god — "the God of Reason" — so we should be happy to give up that "god" and accept Bill's irrational "god":

Perhaps we had been leaning too heavily on Reason that last mile and did not like to lose our support.
      That was natural, but let us think a little more closely. Without knowing it, had we not been brought to where we stood by a certain kind of faith? For did we not believe in our own reasoning? Did we not have confidence in our ability to think? What was that but a sort of faith? Yes, we had been faithful, abjectly faithful to the God of Reason. So, in one way or another, we discovered that faith had been involved all the time!
      We found, too, that we had been worshippers. ... In one form or another we had been living by faith and little else.
The Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, Page 54.

In his next book, Bill Wilson continued to demand that people stop thinking:

"... all you really need is a truly open mind. Just resign from the debating society and quit bothering yourself with such deep questions as whether it was the hen or the egg that came first. Again I say, all you need is the open mind."
      The sponsor continues, "Take, for example, my own case. I had a scientific schooling. Naturally I respected, venerated, even worshiped science. As a matter of fact, I still do — all except the worship part. Time after time, my instructors held up to me the basic principle of all scientific progress: search and research, again and again, always with the open mind. When I first looked at A.A. my reaction was just like yours. This A.A. business, I thought, is totally unscientific. This I can't swallow. I simply won't consider such nonsense.
      "Then I woke up. I had to admit that A.A. showed results, prodigious results. I saw that my attitude regarding these had been anything but scientific. It wasn't A.A. that had the closed mind, it was me. The minute I stopped arguing, I could begin to see and feel. Right there, Step Two gently and very gradually began to infiltrate my life. I can't say upon what occasion or upon what day I came to believe in a Power greater than myself, but I certainly have that belief now. To acquire it, I had only to stop fighting and practice the rest of A.A.'s program as enthusiastically as I could."
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, pages 26-27.

That story obviously reeks of mental surrender to the cult. Just stop thinking, just stop questioning, and wonderful things will happen, Bill says.

And the "sponsor" supposedly didn't find happiness until he underwent a religious conversion and "came to believe" in the Alcoholics Anonymous deity. So much for the often-repeated A.A. statements that you don't have to believe anything.

And Bill's whole story about being educated in the sciences was a fraud. Bill was never educated in the sciences; he flunked out of school. Bill Wilson just pretended to have been an atheistic scientist who was converted into a true believer by a wonderful spiritual experience.

That's why Bill Wilson's "basic principle of all scientific progress: search and research" is wrong. The basic principle of science is "Observe reality, and learn from what you see." Learn things like,
"Hmmm... You know, Jupiter really does have moons orbiting it, in spite of the fact that the Bible fails to mention the moons of Jupiter. I can see them with this telescope." (That was Galileo, of course.)
"Hmmm... You know, this Twelve-Step program isn't really working. It has a terrible failure rate. You can see that if you look."

The anti-intellectual bias in Alcoholics Anonymous is so strong that an article published in American Medical News magazine by an A.A. booster declared that the Twelve Steps would be wonderful for all doctors, if only they would quit thinking and stop trying to be logical and scientific:

To get the full benefit of AA, Dr. Ken notes, he had to stop analyzing his experiences, as he had been trained to do in medical school: "Once I stopped thinking and got in touch with my feelings, it was an overwhelming transformation.... I found what I had always been looking for — to love myself and be loved by other people."
Physicians in AA tend to believe that the principles of AA, and even AA-style support groups, would be useful to all practicing physicians, not just those who are chemically dependent. But there are plenty of barriers in the wider medical community to accepting such a notion.
But perhaps the biggest barrier to medical acceptance of AA is that this model is essentially spiritual rather than scientific in nature: Belief in "a power higher" than oneself is regarded by most observers as fundamental to the AA approach.
Certainly, however, the spiritual dimension that is so strong in AA is at odds with the scientific, medical tradition. Says Dr. Ken: "We [physicians] tend to be analytical. Spirituality is a gut or heart-felt experience that certainly can't be scientifically studied and falls outside our training."

Dr. Whitfield agrees that AA's effectiveness can't be explained in scientific terms, or tested in controlled studies. That makes it easy for physicians to reject AA, despite abundant anecdotal evidence that the 12 Steps do work, at least for some people.

The scientific tradition in medicine is an understandable reaction against quackery in the early part of this century, Dr. Whitfield says, but this reaction has limited medicine's access to ideas that work. "Most physicians are limited by all-or-none thinking. They say that it's either the spiritual, holistic approach [of AA] or the scientific approach, and not both," he says.

What's needed, he suggests, is an end to this "all-or-none" thinking — an effort to weave the scientific tradition together with traditional medicine into a richer healing strategy.
Says Dr. Earle: "Our scientific training makes us want to know the reason for everything. Once you don't have to know the reason for everything, you're coming home, baby, you're really coming home."
Doctors in A.A.; the profession's skepticism persists, but MDs in Alcoholics Anonymous say the 12-step program could benefit all physicians, C. Thomas Anderson, American Medical News, Jan 12, 1990 v33 n2 p33(2)

Thomas Anderson argued that A.A. is good because it makes him feel good. "Once I stopped thinking and got in touch with my feelings, it was an overwhelming transformation." That is the philosophy of hedonism — "If it feels good, it is good." That is not very different from a bunch of drunks happily declaring that alcohol is good because it makes them feel good, or junkies declaring that heroin is wonderful because it makes them feel wonderful.

(I can just imagine a junky testifying that, "Once I stopped thinking and got in touch with my feelings by shooting heroin, it was an overwhelming transformation. It was such a positive experience that I decided right then and there that I wanted to be a junkie for the rest of my life.")

The eminent philosopher Erich Fromm wrote about hedonism:

      The concepts of Plato, Aristotle, Spinoza, and Spencer have in common the ideas ... that the subjective experience of pleasure is in itself not a sufficient criterion of value;   ...
      Psychoanalysis confirms the view, held by the opponents of hedonistic ethics, that the subjective experience of satisfaction is in itself deceptive and not a valid criterion of value.   ...
      Hedonistic thinking failed to analyze the nature of pleasure sufficiently; it thus made it appear as if that which is easiest in life — to have some kind of pleasure — were at the same time that which is most valuable. But nothing valuable is easy...   Humanistic ethics may very well postulate happiness and joy as its chief virtues, but in doing so it does not demand the easiest but the most difficult task of man, the full development of his productiveness.   ...
      ... If a sick person has to endure a painful treatment, the end-view, his health, does not make the treatment itself pleasureful; nor do the pains of childbirth become pleasureful. In order to achieve a desired end we do many unpleasant things only because our reason tells us that we have to do them.
Man For Himself; An Inquiry into the Psychology of Ethics, Erich Fromm, pages 182, 194 & 195.

If merely "feeling good" could decide, drunkenness would be the supremely valid human experience.
William James (1843-1916), U.S. psychologist, philosopher. The Varieties Of Religious Experience, lecture 1, "Religion and Neurology," (1902).

Note that Bill Wilson claimed that William James was one of the philosophical fathers of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Worse yet, Anderson encourages an anti-intellectual mindlessness — a sort of intellectual suicide — that can only make someone into less of a person. Anderson says that doctors can "really come home" to the cult if they just stop thinking rationally. Well, Jim Jones' People's Temple had a doctor and a nurse at Jonestown who had "really come home, baby" and stopped thinking rationally. They were the ones who mixed up the cyanide Flavor-aid® for everyone to drink. They killed 914 people, including 267 children, and they didn't even think that what they were doing was wrong. That's what can happen when you just stop thinking, and "really come home" to the cult.

Note the deceptive suggestion that physicians should combine "scientific tradition together with traditional medicine" to get improved medicine.
Who says that "traditional medicine" is so wonderful? "Traditional medicine" included leeches, blood-letting, the snake pit, faith healing, and sundry other old quack medicine cures. (But it didn't include Alcoholics Anonymous, which is a relatively new cult.)

The scientific tradition in medicine is not "an understandable reaction against quackery in the early part of this century", as Dr. Whitfield stated. The scientific tradition in medicine started in the eighteenth century and was responsible for most of the advances in medicine in the last 250 years.

Also note that the statement that "The scientific tradition in medicine" ... "has limited medicine's access to ideas that work" is completely untrue, a total lie. The scientific tradition is what gave us penicillin instead of voodoo dolls. Every American quack doctor who runs to Tijuana to set up a clinic that pushes "miraculous cancer cures" or "eternal youth potions" claims that "science is keeping people from getting new ideas that work."
No, science, including rigorous scientific testing of new medicines and treatments, is keeping people from getting quack medicine that does not work.

Also note that "Dr. Whitfield agrees that AA's effectiveness can't be explained in scientific terms, or tested in controlled studies."
What that really means is, "A.A. doesn't work. It isn't effective at all. That's why it fails every real test. The reason that they can't explain how it works is because it doesn't work."

And the so-called "abundant anecdotal evidence that the 12 Steps do work", about which Thomas Anderson wrote, is completely worthless. That is just a few people telling cherry-picked stories. Just because some people are confused about cause and effect relationships, and have been fooled into thinking that the 12 steps did something for them, and then tell stories about those beliefs, does not prove that the 12 Steps actually worked and cured patients. For many centuries, quack doctors, snake oil salesmen, and fake faith healers have been making plenty of money by taking advantage of such confusion — constantly repeating grandiose anecdotal stories of allegedly wonderful successful cures that came from using snake oil and voodoo charms.

Those few people who actually do quit drinking while going to A.A. meetings are mostly just those people who were going to quit anyway — or who have already quit — because they got sick and tired of being sick and tired, and decided to save their own lives. They do the hard work of quitting, and then A.A. takes the credit for their work, and claims that it somehow made them quit.

See the cult test item "Magical, Mystical, Unexplainable Workings" for more on this.

The Twelve Steps themselves, as an alcohol treatment program, are flat-out insane.

  • The Twelve Steps do not even mention quitting drinking, or sobriety, or health, or helping anyone else to quit drinking. They are all about admitting that you are powerless and insane, and surrendering to the will of God and listing and confessing your sins, and then recruiting more cult members.
  • Declaring yourself to be powerless over alcohol, and insane, as you do in Steps One and Two, and then begging God to give you just one day of sobriety, really is insane.
  • In the Twelve Steps, we are not supposed to fix ourselves or heal ourselves — we just beg God to remove all of our "defects of character" and "moral shortcomings" in Step Seven. And if the Lord won't do it for us, then we are in big trouble.
  • We are never given anything like a reasonable logical explanation of how the 12 steps are supposed to actually work to make someone quit drinking. As mentioned in the quote above, you aren't supposed to ask for "the reason for everything". You are supposed to "just have faith." The true believers are not bothered by this. They believe that the steps work in some magical non-logical "spiritual" way to cause one to abstain from drinking alcohol.

Declaring that you are done with self-seeking and selfishness, as the Big Book demands, is crazy: What could be more self-seeking than trying to save your own life? It is impossible to seek sobriety, "Gratitude", and "Serenity" for yourself without being at least a little selfish and self-seeking. Such demands for elimination of self and selfishness are suitable for brainwashing a candidate, in preparation for surrendering to the cult, but not for building up his ability to resist cravings for alcohol — and certainly not appropriate for building him up so he can live the rest of his life as a competent, functioning adult, healthy and free.

It is insane to declare, "I'm insane. But that's okay, because I have come to believe that the ghosts and spirits and demons that hide in the walls are going to fix my brain and restore me to sanity."

If you hear someone talking like that, you have to ask, "Have you been remembering to take your medications?"

But if someone says, "I'm insane. But that's okay, because I have come to believe that my Higher Power is going to fix my brain and restore me to sanity", then you are supposed to accept that as a sane religious belief.

In A.A., there is a popular saying: "It is insane to keep on doing the same old things you've always been doing, and expect to get different results."

Yes, and it is insane to keep on doing the Twelve Steps and expecting them to suddenly start working for you when they never did before. And it is insane to expect the Twelve Steps to work for newcomers when the Steps fail more than 99% of all of the people who try them.

It is insane to go around babbling lines out of the Big Book like: "Quite as important was the discovery that spiritual principles would solve all my problems." (The Big Book, Chapter 3, page 42.) Does that mean that spiritual principles will pay the rent and utilities, and go to work when I don't feel like it? Will spiritual principles keep me from getting old? Cure cancer? Cure male pattern baldness? Replace my teeth? Get rid of cellulite and varicose veins? Dump 30 or 40 pounds of ugly fat? Get me laid? How? Inquiring minds want to know.

It is irrational to imagine that you can cure all of your drug and alcohol problems by hanging out with a bunch of group members who brag that they can't quit drinking or drugging by themselves because they are "powerless over alcohol". (And who often really don't quit — they relapse.) Remember the popular slogan, "Quitting isn't an option for addicts like us"? Well then, the logical, healthy, sane thing to do is go find some people for whom quitting definitely IS an option.

(Hint: try SMART. That is, Self Management And Recovery Training. They use common sense and simple logic to quit and stay quit. For them, quitting definitely IS an option. I also hear good things about SOS, and WFS, and Lifering.)

Above all, A.A. gets a 10 for insisting on curing a medical and psychological problem, the habitual excessive consumption of alcohol, with a "spiritual" cure. The only other well-known groups that insist on curing medical problems with spiritual cures are the Christian Scientists, who won't take their children to a doctor even if their kids are dying ("Let God heal the children, and if they die, then it is God's will"), and some aboriginal witch doctors and medicine men. Please note that, in fairness to them, I say "some" witch doctors and medicine men, because even most of them are happy to mix Western medicine with native herbal cures and then throw in some spiritual stuff, chanting and rattle shaking, for flavoring.

But the twelve-step true believers are not so reasonable: One friend of mine is in dual recovery, meaning that he is recovering from both mental problems, and also drugs and alcohol. Like so many other people, he had tried to fix his mental problems by self-medicating with drugs and alcohol, and it didn't work. His doctor has him taking anti-depressants and mood stabilizers for his mental condition, and he does fine on them. He isn't crazy; he just has a brain chemistry imbalance — he can't stand even the tiniest, slightest little bit of frustration unless he is on Paxil. Then he can keep things on an even keel, and he can cope with life.

Alas, some of the old-timer faithful in his twelve-step recovery group, including his sponsor, are telling him to stop taking the pills that the doctor gives him, and just trust the Twelve Steps to heal him. That borders on criminal irresponsibility.

It is also practicing medicine without a license, because they are countermanding the orders of a real doctor.

It is also practicing medicine without any training — those fools have never gone to medical school. Attending A.A. meetings for a few years does not make someone a competent doctor or psychiatrist.

Fortunately, my friend is following his doctor's orders. (Although he worries me — those nuts are getting to him — he is saying things like, "Still, I wonder if I can make it without medications..." He never did before. He freaked out and relapsed every time.)

And I can't help but wonder, would the Twelve-Step fanatics accept criminal liability if they talked someone into not taking his medications, and then the poor guy flipped out and killed somebody? Or committed suicide?

Alas, I just learned that the question has essentially been answered: In one group, an elder with 35 years of sobriety told a newcomer, a young man, that his sobriety was no good because he was taking medication for high blood pressure. The newcomer, on the advice of the elder, quit his medication, had a stroke, and is now crippled for life. Was the elder held accountable to anyone? No.

That just seems to be another standard cult characteristic: The cult leaders are not held accountable for their actions.

My experiences here seem to be far from unique. This story is equally appalling. A young man with mental problems and a need for medications was arrested for a domestic disturbance, and his A.A. sponsor gave the medical opinion that he should be kept in jail and "detoxed":

      After Achen was booked into the jail, and his sisters had found out where he was, they debated whether to provide bail. But after talking with their brother's Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor, they decided against it. In a deposition, Deming said the sponsor assured her that Achen would be safe where he was, that he would detox and that she wouldn't have to worry about him.
      It took the medical staff six days to verify Achen's prescriptions, and the inmate was finally provided with Risperadol and Zoloft seven days after he arrived. Lee, Achen's outside physician, also authorized the drugs Klonopin, an anti-anxiety and anti-seizure medication, and Wellbutrin for anxiety. In his deposition, he explained that he considered the Risperadol "perhaps [the] most important for [Achen's] mental stability," and he wanted Achen "to take it every night regularly" to be effective but that the patient had been taking it erratically.

Achen got only some of his doctor-prescribed medications on his 7th day in jail, and committed suicide on his 11th day.

The family is suing the jail, the sheriff's department, and the doctor, but not the sponsor. Nobody is holding the sponsor culpable for anything, even though he dispensed quack medical advice that killed the patient.

As Gary Persip points out in Recovery From Addiction Without God?:

I have even heard sponsors advising those they sponsor to refrain from using medications that were prescribed by professionals and, presumably, deemed necessary for the treatment of other medical or psychological problems of the individuals. Occasionally, sponsees will admit that they haven't informed their sponsors of medically prescribed drugs they are taking for fear of a critical response.
Medications of any kind are disparaged, and any diagnosis of disorder other than the Big Book's disease concept of alcoholism meets with strong opposition. The parallel with "faith healing" should be obvious and the same pitfalls are present. To such individuals, there is no such thing as clinical depression.
The many deaths that have been attributed to failure to obtain adequate medical treatment observed among family members of a number of "natural" religious groups comes to mind as a parallel case. How many disasters, including death, has this misguided practice of A.A. members contributed to? On what basis do so many A.A. members assume that they are qualified to advise on matters for which they have no training? The practice, as has been noted, is in sharp contradiction to those Traditions that state that we share only our experiences, strength and hopes with one another, not our opinions.
— from Recovery From Addiction Without God? by Gary Lee Persip.
Available at:

The "many deaths" phrase above is unfortunately turning out to be just too true. I recently talked with yet another ex-member old-timer who quit in anger, and hates A.A., because other old-timer sponsors kept telling mental cases to quit taking their medications, and then those sad cases committed suicide. His parting words to those A.A. members, after another funeral, were:
"Well, before you guys got ahold of him, at least he could say his own name.
But when you were done with him, he couldn't even do that."

Were the old-timers who talked the patient into quitting his medications disciplined or held responsible for their actions? No. Were they forced to quit sponsoring in such a manner? No.

Also see this list of stories of suicides in Alcoholics Anonymous that readers have sent in.

And the true believers just won't accept any responsibility for their actions, or admit that they did anything wrong, or quit doing it. (This is exactly the same thing as Rebecca Fransway has reported in her book, AA Horror Stories.) Of course not. It is in the nature of true believers to never question their own beliefs. They want to hold all of their beliefs with absolute certainty. (See Eric Hoffer's book, The True Believer.) So, "The Twelve Steps are such powerful magic that they can heal all such problems, and people should just quit taking those medications. There is no question about it; there is nothing to discuss. Everybody knows you are better off if you aren't popping pills."

One of the favorite A.A. slogans is "We are the experts on addiction." Obviously, they are not. They are often some of the worst drug and alcohol counselors in the world, counselors who stupidly kill their patients, counselors who are so incompetent that they won't even learn from their own mistakes. A.A. sponsors, unlike real doctors, never do post-mortems to study which treatments worked and which failed.

In A.A. there is only one treatment program — the Twelve Steps — and "of course 'our simple program' never fails if you give yourself to it completely" and "RARELY HAVE we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path", etc., etc..

Recently, I ran into an article by Carolyn See, the step-daughter of Wynn (Corum) See, who was the authoress of the Big Book story "Freedom From Bondage", and another one of Bill Wilson's paramours. Carolyn reported that during her childhood she heard the early A.A. members arguing about whether taking aspirin for a headache constituted a slip from sobriety.

They were nuts.

Another irrational facet of A.A. is belief in the old Buchmanism—Oxford Group Movement's tenet that all of the problems of the world are due to sin. Nothing else is relevant, not poverty, politics, the environment, education or lack thereof, medical issues like physical or mental illness, or social issues like racism, sexism, or child abuse. The cure to everything, they say, is to get people on their knees, confessing their sins and defects of character, and begging God to fix them. Thus A.A. will not do anything to fix the problems of society. A.A. won't do anything about the causes of alcoholism — A.A. just says that the causes of alcoholism are that it's a hereditary "spiritual" disease and that people are sinful, and that the cure is abstinence and prayer, and doing the Twelve Steps, and going to meetings, and surrendering your will and your life to God. Basically, the A.A. members don't do anything except sit on their asses in meetings and talk about drinking, the Twelve Steps, A.A., and God (and then go try to recruit more A.A. members).

A.A. claims that alcoholism is a "spiritual disease, which requires a spiritual cure." Neither the American Medical Association, nor the American Psychiatric Association (in DSM-III-R or DSM-IV), recognize the existence of any such thing as a "spiritual disease." And neither does the Roman Catholic Church. Nor does any Protestant church that I know of, other than the Buchmanism / Oxford Group Movement / Moral Re-Armament gang. But A.A. is convinced that alcoholism is a spiritual disease, often caused by bad genetics, where the disease is passed from father to son. How is a genetic defect a "spiritual disease"? This is crazy.

I would like to study this new field of medicine further, these "spiritual diseases." Unfortunately, Bill Wilson didn't ever bother to define just what a spiritual disease was, or even bother to list them all. But Bill did give us a hint about the etiology of the diseases:

'Resentment is the "number one" offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else. From it stem all forms of spiritual disease...'
The Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, Chapter 5, How It Works, page 64.

I'd really like to know what all of those forms of spiritual disease are, so I can save my life from them, but Bill Wilson never bothered to elaborate. Nowhere else in the Big Book did Bill give us any more details about spiritual diseases, not a word.

In Bill's second book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, on page 49, Bill said that fear is "a soul-sickness in its own right." Maybe a "soul-sickness" is a "spiritual disease," and maybe not. And maybe "dry drunk" is a spiritual disease, and maybe it isn't. Unfortunately, Bill just tossed that very important concept, "spiritual disease" out there, without any definition, or explanation or elaboration at all.

We indirectly get a few more shreds of information about spiritual diseases from the recruiting literature of other 12-step groups. To wit, sometimes spiritual diseases are contagious, like cooties:

  • The wife of an alcoholic can allegedly contract the spiritual disease of "co-dependency" just from being married to the guy. The poor wife must spend the rest of her life in Al-Anon meetings, doing the Twelve Steps, confessing her sins and recruiting others, without hope of recovery, just because her husband drank alcohol.
  • Likewise, the children of the marriage either inherit the gene for alcoholism or get infected with something like co-dependency, so that they too must attend Al-Anon or Alateen or ACOA (Adult Children of Alcoholics) meetings and do the Twelve Steps for the rest of their lives.
  • We don't know how much danger of infection the friends and co-workers of alcoholics are in.

We know little more about spiritual diseases than that they are a very strange breed of disease that can only be treated by meeting in basements, drinking bad coffee, smoking cigarettes, and talking to the wall about how unhappy you are. And yet, I hear the self-appointed gurus telling the newcomers that alcoholism is a spiritual disease that requires a spiritual cure.

Bill's references to spiritual diseases or illnesses reveal that he really couldn't distinguish between emotional problems and spiritual diseases. Resentment, anger, fear, and frustration are emotional problems, not "spiritual diseases." The habitual consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol is certainly an emotional illness — a psychological problem, and it causes physical medical problems. It is much more than just a bad habit when the drinker continues to drink in spite of all of the harm that it is causing him: health problems, job loss, poverty, marital problems, and sometimes even death. It's an emotional problem when he believes that he must drink alcohol in order to be happy. And it becomes a psychiatric disease when enough brain damage accumulates and he gets something like Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome. But when does it become a "spiritual disease"?

Does the alcoholic drink too much because he has the "spiritual disease", or does he have the "spiritual disease" because he drinks too much?
Does he crave alcohol because he is evil, or is he evil because he craves alcohol?
Inquiring minds want to know.

  • Why don't badly addicted, dying, cigarette smokers have the spiritual disease "nicotinism" or "tobaccoism"?
  • Why don't compulsive coffee guzzlers have the spiritual disease "caffeinism" or "Starbuckism"?
  • Why aren't those people labeled "coffeeholics" and "tobaccoholics", and forced to get Twelve-Step treatment?
  • Why don't junkies have the spiritual disease "heroinism"?
  • Why don't speed freaks have "crankism," "speedism," or "amphetaminism"?
  • Why don't coke heads have "cocainism"?
  • And why don't glue sniffers get stuck with the label "glueaholics" — unfortunate people who suffer from the deadly, incurable, progressive spiritual disease of "glueism"?
Why not? Inquiring minds want to know.

Why does Alcoholics Anonymous say that cigarette and tobacco addictions are perfectly okay, and even openly encourage them at meetings,

  • ... in spite of the fact that one of the founders of A.A., Bill Wilson, died from cigarette smoking? (Specifically, Bill W. died of emphysema and pneumonia, desperately, futilely gasping for another breath, after having lived off of an oxygen tank for his last few years.)
  • ... in spite of the fact that today, 61 million Americans are hooked on tobacco, 15 to 20 million are alcoholics, and 5 or 6 million are on illegal drugs? (Note that there is considerable overlap between the three groups). (Addiction Nemesis, Robert R. Selle, 2001.)
  • ... and in spite of the fact that tobacco kills three or four times as many Americans each year as does alcohol? (Tobacco kills 420,000 Americans per year. Alcohol kills 100,000, and fatal auto accidents involving alcohol kill roughly another 13 thousand Americans per year.)
  • ... and in spite of the fact that more alcoholics die from tobacco than from alcohol? — That is, eighty or ninety percent of all alcoholics also smoke, and more than half of the time, the tobacco kills them before the alcohol does.

So why isn't "tobaccoism" a "spiritual disease"? How can such a horribly destructive drug be an integral part of a "spiritual" life? How can dying of emphysema and lung cancer be a program of "recovery"?

Why do the A.A. smokers hang around the 12-step clubhouse, puffing on cigarettes between and after meetings, while bragging about how great their "recovery" is going?

What is so damn wonderful about dying of emphysema and lung cancer sober?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Oh, by the way, there really is a Nicotine Anonymous 12-step group, whose First Step says that they are powerless over nicotine. In their twelfth step, they only call themselves "nicotine users", not "nicotinaholics", or "tobaccoholics." But in their Fifth Tradition, they say that their mission is to "carry the message" to other "nicotine addicts."

This leaves us with a really funny situation at a lot of Twelve-Step clubhouses, where all of the Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous people are compulsively sucking on cigarettes during smoke breaks, and rationalizing it by saying that it isn't as bad as drinking, and it's okay because Bill Wilson and Doctor Bob did it, while in another room other people are grovelling before God, and confessing that they are weak and sinful and powerless over nicotine, and their lives have become unmanageable, and they are such stupid sinful worthless addicted jerks because they smoke cigarettes.

Go figure.

Oh, and as if that weren't enough, there is also a Caffeine Anonymous twelve-step group meeting in the next room...

8. Suspension of disbelief.
A.A. scores a 10.

They tell you to "Keep An Open Mind", which really means, "Be gullible, and believe whatever ridiculous things we tell you. Stop your skeptical thinking — just believe without question."

A.A. founder Bill Wilson wrote:

  ... all you really need is a truly open mind. Just resign from the debating society and quit bothering yourself with such deep questions as whether it was the hen or the egg that came first. Again I say, all you need is the open mind."
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, page 26.

The Big Book specifically says:

I was beginning to see that I would require implicit faith, like a small child, if I was going to get anywhere.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, Page 259.

And while you are as gullible as an innocent child, they will tell you to 'just believe' all kinds of screwy things, like that the Twelve Steps actually work. We are never told quite how they work; they are just supposed to work because Bill Wilson says so.

The "open-minded" A.A. member is supposed to believe quite a large number of illogical or highly unlikely things:
  1. That the Twelve Steps actually work to make people quit drinking.
  2. That the strange practices embodied in the 12 Steps are not heretical, and will actually please God (in spite of the obvious conflicts with the religious teachings found in the Bible).
  3. That A.A. members will get miracles on demand from God (in spite of the billions of sick and starving people in this world who are obviously not getting miracles on demand).
  4. That God will "restore people to sanity" for no particular reason, but only after they have joined Alcoholics Anonymous, not before.
  5. God doesn't have anything better to do with His time than attend A.A. meetings and make people quit drinking.
  6. That alcoholism is not actually caused by drinking alcohol — that it is really caused by unconfessed sins and secrets.
  7. That confessing their sins to another A.A. member will make people quit drinking alcohol.
  8. That a lot of grovelling confession sessions will make people "spiritual" and change them into something greater.
  9. That "nobody can do it alone."
  10. That it is okay to deceive newcomers in order to help them.
  11. That God just can't wait to hear people confessing, and that the confessions will please God so much that he will do big favors for A.A. members in return, like making them quit drinking, and "restore them to sanity".
  12. That God will take care of A.A. members, and take care of their wills and their lives for them, and take away all of their difficulties and solve all of their problems, for no particular reason other than that the alcoholics joined Bill Wilson's organization and confessed their sins.
  13. That after A.A. members have "Worked The Steps" for a while, all kinds of wondrous things are just supposed to materialize in the lives of A.A. members — "the Promises" will come true.
  14. That A.A. members will get a "spiritual experience" from doing Bill's 12 steps (rather than from taking hallucinogenic drugs, which is how Bill got his).
  15. That many years of "Working The Steps" makes people healthy, holy, and wise.
  16. That people really should discard their logical thinking minds and "just believe" and just "have faith".
  17. That the A.A. founder Bill Wilson was a wise holy man, rather than a compulsive liar and a raving lunatic.

      To hear the faithful tell it, God performs miracles like removing moral shortcomings from A.A. members, and making them quit drinking, and giving them spiritual experiences, every day, and God doesn't seem to have much else to do with His time besides granting Twelve-Stepper's wishes, and managing their lives, and taking care of their wills for them, and making everything else turn out okay too. And God has to do it, because the A.A. members turned their wills and their lives over to the care of God back in Step Three, and they don't expect to do it for themselves. "Let Go and Let God" is their official motto, and narcissistic passive dependency is their official approach to life. (That means: being as helpless, as "powerless", as a baby, and passively laying on their backsides and just waiting for Big Mommy or Big Daddy to take care of them and solve all of their problems for them.)

Both the Big Book and members sharing in meetings say things like:

I have no other explanation for the many good things that have happened to me since I have been in A.A. — they came to me from a Greater Power.
The Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, page 367.

Isn't it funny that A.A. members get miracles on demand, and have God working for them every day, as their reward for having drunk too much alcohol for too many years, while all of the ordinary people in the world still have to take care of themselves and solve their own problems?

Well, if you can believe all of that, then you get 10 Brownie Points for suspension of disbelief. (Oh, and I also have a wonderful old bridge in Brooklyn that I'll sell you, real cheap.)

That point also begs the question: "What about AIDS and Africa?" There are twenty million people in Africa who are doomed, condemned to a really slow, horrendous death, being slowly eaten alive by opportunistic diseases, without any medicines to treat the AIDS because the drugs are too expensive and those people are just too poor. Their whole country is just too poor. God isn't giving them any miracles on demand, and they sure are praying for some. But some white alcohol drinkers in the USA who hold an A.A. meeting have God waiting on them hand and foot, removing their moral shortcomings and defects of character, and sparing them from a horrible alcoholic death just because the nice white Americans asked for a favor? As Bubba's Momma asked in the movie Forest Gump, "Are you crazy, or just plain stupid?"

Fervent belief on your part does not necessarily
constitute a work order on my part.

9. Denigration of competing sects, cults, religions, groups, or organizations.
A.A. scores a 10.

A.A. viciously denounces Rational Recovery, S.O.S., SMART, Moderation Management, and all other competing non-twelve-step recovery groups, and accuses those groups of killing alcoholics. But, as is typical of cults, A.A. has no great hatred of non-competing groups, no matter whether they are the Republican Party, Scientology, or the KKK. There, A.A. just says that it doesn't want to get involved with "outside issues" or "public controversy."

The Hazelden Foundation propaganda even goes so far as to teach A.A. members that other religions are bad and A.A. is good, and that members should dump their current religion — "set it aside for a while" — if it doesn't give them A.A.-style "spirituality".

A.A. members flip-flop between declaring that they are completely open-minded and without prejudice, and then criticizing mainstream churches for not supplying "the answer" to alcoholism:

And The Hazelden Foundation, which acts as a front group for Alcoholics Anonymous, brazenly advises people to discard competing religions:

        "... Alcoholics Anonymous is a spiritual program, not a religious one. It is important to note the difference."   ...
        "Religion is more structured and external. Spirituality is freer, more personal, broader. Ideally," Jerry added, "religion helps you achieve spirituality, but if it doesn't, then set it aside for a while."
The Way Home, A Collective Memoir of the Hazelden Experience, Hazelden, 1997, page 109.

So if your own religion isn't exactly like Alcoholics Anonymous, then "set it aside" and just do the A.A. practices. "For a while" will end up being forever.

It's quite a show to watch the hard-core A.A. true believers go nonlinear when you mention Rational Recovery or Secular Organizations for Sobriety... And again, A.A. insists that it has the only working answer to alcoholism, and those other groups are killing all of the people who go to them.

For example, my A.A.-faithful alcoholism treatment counselor (the one who turned out to be an Internet child pornographer and pedophile) went non-linear at just the mention of Jack Trimpey's "The Small Book". "What?! Isn't that the one without the Higher Power?!" Then he told us that Rational Recovery's AVRT technique (Addictive Voice Recognition Therapy) is just so complex and difficult that you will die before you figure it out, so don't mess with it.

Not! AVRT is actually just a process of recognizing the thoughts that are the voice of the Addiction Monster, aka the Beast (the base brain, really), as it tempts you to take a drink. It is pathetically easy, once you get the hang of it. It is just like those Walt Disney cartoons with Donald Duck having a little devil on one shoulder, and a little angel on the other, and the little devil is whispering into Donald's ear, "Smoke! Drink! It will be fun!"

Children can understand that cartoon, but my A.A.-indoctrinated counselor says that recognizing that situation as it is happening is much too difficult for you or I (or him) to do, so Rational Recovery is confusing people into drinking themselves to death.

10. Personal attacks on critics.
A.A. scores a 10.

  • The A.A. true believers accuse critics of killing alcoholics by confusing them, and misleading them into drinking, and by discouraging them from going to the only program that could save them from death. The A.A. true believers say that critics are "doing a great disservice to those who are seeking sobriety." (This of course assumes that the A.A. program actually works, which it doesn't.)
  • A.A. accuses critics of only being in it for the money, and of having other ulterior motives.
  • They accuse critics of being bitter, unhappy, angry, or insane.
  • They resort to name-calling, saying that critics are "AA-bashers", who are on "an anti-AA pogrom."
  • The A.A. true believers assume smug patronizing attitudes and make condescending remarks about how the critic doesn't know what he is talking about, because he isn't an alcoholic.
  • Or, A.A. members will accuse a critic of being drunk, or a "practicing alcoholic".
  • But if the critic is a recovered alcoholic, they call him a "dry drunk," and say that he is "in denial" or crazy, or say that he wasn't a member long enough to know, or hasn't done The Steps long enough to "find out what it is all about."
  • The tone of their attacks is usually angry, hateful, sarcastic, and condescending — "Enjoy your next DUI, pusswad!" (Which is how the "dry drunks" are supposed to feel about everything, because they don't do the Twelve Steps. The True Believers are supposed to feel "Serene and Grateful" from doing the Twelve Steps. They don't.)
  • The attitude of the true believers is completely hypocritical. They say that they offer unconditional love and complete acceptance, but their attitude is, "Don't fuck with us, or else!"

Typically, one of the very first critical emails that I received for this web site was, "Thanks for the good laughs, now why don't you get a copy of the big book and study it and find out what AA is really about?" I replied that I owned two copies of the Big Book, and that one of them was heavily highlighted with all of the quotes that I put in my web pages. Then I asked him which quote out of the Big Book or 12X12 (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions) was incorrect. He never answered back...

A.A. members mount smear campaigns against critics, often using their front groups like ASAM (the American Society of Addiction Medicine), NCADD (the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence), and the NAADAC (the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors), and their network of addiction treatment professionals who hide their A.A. membership while attacking the critic.

What A.A. will not do is calmly, politely, logically, debate the facts with critics, and participate in fair, unbiased testing and experimentation to prove whether the program really works. Above all, they seem to fear being put to the test, because they have little to gain and a lot to lose, because all of the valid randomized tests that have been done indicate that A.A. "treatment" is worse than no treatment at all.

It is also funny that A.A. readily accuses critics or competing treatment programs of killing patients, but A.A. will never even consider the possibility that A.A. might kill patients. A.A. is always claiming that they save lives, and they will quickly, at the drop of a hat, trot out a short chorus line of old-timers who all swear that A.A. saved their lives, but A.A. does not even seem to consider it possible for A.A. to kill a patient. That is illogical. If meeting-style treatment or Twelve-Step treatment is so powerful that it can save lives, then it must also be powerful enough to destroy lives, if it is misapplied or misused. But A.A. just arrogantly claims that the 98% or 99% of the newcomers for whom the program doesn't work are all just
"constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves,"
"naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of life which demands rigorous honesty." (The Big Book, page 58.)

to answers 11 to 20.


1) Humility: Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, page 72, says: "That basic ingredient of all humility, a desire to seek and do God's will, was missing." So all of the appeals for humility are really appeals for obedience to God's will, as William Wilson saw it.

2) See: Children Of The Healer: The Story of Dr. Bob's Kids     Bob Smith and Sue Smith Windows, pages 46 and 47.

3) The A.A. slogan is "Let Go Of Old Ideas."
Oh really? What about these old ideas?

  1. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
  2. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be known as the children of God.
  3. Thou shalt not kill.
  4. Thou shalt not lie.
  5. Thou shalt not steal.
  6. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife...
  7. etc....

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Last updated 20 January 2015.
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