Letters, We Get Mail, C

Date: Mon, January 12, 2009 4:41 pm     (answered 25 Feb.)
From: Lidia D.
Subject: what a fine site

Hi, Orange,

being a Hungarian my English is quite okay (a lot better than your Hungarian might be) though not perfect, sorry.

Hi, Lidia,
Yes, your English is much, much better than my Hungarian. :-)

It's soooo good to have found your website! I'll try and won't repeat all that's been written before by all the ex-AAs like myself, but it's relieving to see how many of us are and also how similar our experiences are. I think we must be sane, after all.

In short: I've been sober for 10 years and AA-free for more than 7 years.

One blessed day 10 years ago I decided not to drink any longer as I was fed up with being drunk most of the time and it's only after that that I went to my first meeting. But being in a rather miserable condition both mentally and physically, I sort of needed (or thought I needed) AA as some walking stick or crutches or whatever. And even looking back I do not feel ashamed for having been duped — it seems that this was just a phase in my life and I'm happy I was able to leave it behind.

After more or less a year or so in AA I began to feel sort of awkward but than I thought I was being just ungrateful... or pretending to be too clever... or looking down on other people... or just "an insane alcoholic". It took me more than two years to admit that I SIMPLY DON'T WANT TO GO THERE. I SIMPLY DON'T FEEL WELL THERE. I didn't kinda dare to think of AA as a cult, I did not think of anything at all, as far as I remember, I did not want to hurt anybody, I simply had that instinctive feeling of RUNNING AWAY AND STAYING AWAY.

Much of what I've read here in the letters I have experienced too, but I also remember that rather weird process of having to ask somebody to be my sponsor. I could not think of any of the members as my sponsor but then the pressure was so hard... I chose somebody. Fortunately she was not too pushy and we did not speak too often. It was a lot worse with those who asked me to be their spsonsor. And as "we never say no in AA" (another crystal clear attribute of a sect member), I became the "sponsor" or rather victim of a host of energy vampires and weirdos and loonies.

I made it to AA and I made it out of AA, and my life is managable, and not drinking alcohol is absolutely natural and easy for me — and it is great to read your writings and also all those letters.

Thank you for your work and I only hope that this site will reach all those who would like it to reach them.

Have a good day,


Thank you for the letter. I'm glad to hear that your life is better now. And congratulations on your years of sobriety. Life really is more fun when you don't wake up hung-over all of the time, isn't it?

So have a good day, and a good life.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  As I see it, every day you do one of two things:
**  build health or produce disease in yourself.
**       ==   Adelle Davis

Date: Thu, January 8, 2009 8:29 am     (answered 25 Feb.)
From: "Jamie Kelley"
Subject: Your AA, My AA

Dear Mr. Orange,

I've spent a couple of days now poring through your Web site, digesting various essays and criticisms of Alcoholics Anonymous.

I want to give you and your readers a message from this current "practicing" member of AA: Right-the-fuck on!

I appreciate and admire anyone who has the courage to pursue truth, and obviously your passions have been well-focused on what you perceive as the injustices, hypocrisy and outright dangers of AA. And I say all this as a person who attends AA daily.

After being more or less a good, hearty drunk schlub for 11 years, I entered an AA-centered rehab center last October, and I've been attending AA ever since, quite voluntarily.

Since I am an atheist, I had — er, HAVE — grave misgivings about such a "spiritual" program. I was initially comforted by people who said that my "higher power" is one of my own choosing, and so I chose "the universe," as I am intrigued by quantum theory and the ideas of Stephen Hawking and modern cosmologists. However, it soon became clear that this was looked down upon. I wasn't "with the program." One AAer told me I had to read the chapter "We Agnostics" every day for 60 days, and then I would "get it."

That struck me as hilarious, insulting and painfully disingenuous. In other words, he said I was too stupid and unenlightened and had never developed my own thinking on the matter, and that only by a daily routine of mindless repetition would I then develop a belief in God. I secretly thought to myself, well, if that were the case, then taking a shit would have become my religion a long time ago.

Many of your other myriad criticisms seem spot-on to me as well, though I've only been attending AA for three months. I have no doubt that in time more will become evident.

I thought long and hard about AA in my life in light of your Web site, and for now, I'm going to continue going.

One of AA's favorite slogans, as you know, is "keep it simple." In some respects — probably not in the sense they mean — that is good advice.

There are three reasons that I will continue attending AA, at least for the immediate future:

1. I think I need to hear drunk stories right now, to know that my problems are not unique, and that people can and have gotten past their worst periods of life. There is more than a modicum of camaraderie in my AA meetings. Individuals in the group are genuinely supportive as well.

2. If the American dollar continues to plummet, those AA chips might make for a good black market currency.

3. The tits on the chick in the back row.

Thanks for your Web site. Don't be afraid of the truth, brother. And best fortunes in your sobriety.

Jamie Kelly (fuck that anonymity shit)

Hi Jamie,

Thanks for the letter, and I'm glad to hear that you are doing well. Have a good life — and a good day too.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  A.A. is not a "self-help group", it's an
**  "elf-help group". You are supposed to pray
**  and beg for an invisible "Higher Power",
**  like a leprechaun, or Cinderella's Fairy
**  Godmother, to solve all of your problems
**  for you and grant all of your wishes.

May 22, 2008: In the park, Day 5.

5 Canada Goose goslings

[The story of the goslings continues here.]

Date: Wed, January 14, 2009 8:29 pm     (answered 25 Feb.)
From: "Jason S."
Subject: aa issues ...

Hi. My name is Jason and I am currently sober for ten months now. I went through a residential drug/alcohol rehab last January. When I returned home I was in an outpatient program from that rehab and I did the whole 90/90 deal, got a sponsor, started being of service as a secretary at a morning meeting, went to AA & NA and I was okay with all of it for awhile.

That is until, I really started getting some time around that whole scene. There were little things that just didn't quite jive with me, but I rolled along because after all ... "my way didn't work in the past" ... "time to try somebody else's way for a change." Sure. What the hell? I mean what do I have to lose? Except maybe my sanity.

That's right. When I was drinking and using I did some crazy things without a doubt, but it is at this point in my life that I feel closer to insanity than I ever have. I don't think I am insane, but I go nuts trying to make sense of some of the AA horse shit that gets shoveled down my throat.

Anyway, I am just wondering if you respond to folks like myself who are having issues with AA/NA. I found your essays and although I feel that you go a little overboard with some of your material, it was so refreshing to learn that there was someone else out there that has gone through what I feel I am going through at the moment. You hit on so many of the exact issues that I am troubled with. I just wondered if you might be up for talking with me sometime or writing ... whatever. I really need someone in my position to talk with. I cant talk to AA people because they tell me ... "you're in your head!" ... to which I reply ..."No shit. It's my head. I'm already in it. It's only me in my head." or they tell me that I am not turning my life over to God, or that I am hiding something ... my first sponsor told me that once. I tell him that I've kinda been down lately and I just can't figure out why ... just one of those days you know? And he says ..."you're not turning your life over to God. This program requires rigorous honesty. You're lying and not being truly honest."

What the hell does that even mean? I haven't had to work for this whole year, which is what I intended to do when I got out of rehab. I had the money and I used it and I am glad that I did. So here it is, I have a little money in my pocket, I have my house, a car, my family and this guy tells me that I HAVE to get a job and he puts me on a schedule in which to find one. I pretty much decide that I don't really need to work right now so why should I if I don't have to and I don't want to? My family is fed, the bills are paid and I am working on getting my life back together. That sounded good to me, but he tells me ..."you hide behind your money and that attitude is going to get you drunk again. You live this pretend and frankly, silly lifestyle when you should be out there working and earning a paycheck instead of holding your family hostage while you spend your savings. You're not being honest with me about your money." He was pissed off at me because I wouldn't let him see my financial records. I'm sorry man, but, there isn't a bone in my body that tells me "YES JASON. LET THIS TOTAL STRANGER WHO WAS A COCAINE ADDICT AND ALCOHOLIC LIKE YOU SEE ALL OF YOUR ASSETS, STOCKS, PROPERTY, AND CASH ACCOUNTS." That's where my "willingness" began to wane.

Anyway, hey, I am starting to ramble. If you would like to talk or write to me or even hook me up with some folks who would ... I would surely be grateful for your help.

Jason S.

Hi Jason,

I'd be happy to communicate with you. Talking, or writing, or whatever. (Sorry to take so long to answer your letter — I'm way backlogged.)

So have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** Self-appointed do-gooders arrogantly imagine that they
** have some God-given right to tell others what they should
** or shouldn't think, and how they should or shouldn't live.

Date: Thu, March 5, 2009 9:14 pm     (answered 27 March)
From: "Jason S."
Subject: Re: aa issues ...

No worries on the response time. I appreciate you getting back to me. It's just really hard finding people who are burned out on the program, but still trying to stay clean. AA has so many things about it that don't jive with me. Thanks for getting back to me. I apologize for the brevity of this email, but I'm typing with one hand right now because I went and broke my wrist a couple weeks back. I really appreciate you getting back to me.

Hi again, Jason,

Sorry to hear about your wrist.

There are a bunch of people who are burned out on the A.A. program, but still staying clean and sober. Here's my list of the usual suspects:

There are a few more non-cult sobriety-oriented groups on Yahoo, but I don't know their names off the top of my head. There are probably more on MSN too. You can start off with those leads, and ask around and find more. And if you do find some good new ones, please send me the links so I can add them to my lists.


Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   "A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon
**   devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive
**   of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider
**   god-fearing and pious. On the other hand, they do
**   less easily move against him, believing that he has
**   the gods on his side." — Aristotle

Date: Fri, January 16, 2009 11:51 am     (answered 25 Feb.)
From: "anonymous"
Subject: Thank you, Thank you! Enlightened ex-AA here to say Thank you!

Hello Orange,

I just want to thank you for your website. It's a breath of fresh air for those of us more thoughtful, independent types who have tried AA for years (7 for me) and have found it cultish, archaic, and downright creepy, yet also found it difficult to abandon the well ingrained brainwashing we received from 'the program". It's nice to know I'm not alone in struggling with this, and it's really good to confirm my suspicions and gut instincts that screamed at me, telling me AA is a dysfunctional, human spirit killing, thought killing cult.

I'm embarrassed to tell you I have a degree in one of the physical sciences, worked in R&D for a major company, have published patents, yet I still allowed myself to be sucked into a cult where independent, scientific thinking is a big no-no. Hell, I love to analyze and think, and after years in AA I was starting to lose this ability, well, maybe not lose it, but the AA dogma was conflicting bigtime with my ability to trust and believe in myself, and I was going more crazy and becoming incredibly depressed, and of course blaming it all on myself, after all, it's never the fault of "the infallible program". I started to become like the computer Hal from the movie 2001, A Space Odyssey. Remember why he went crazy? Because he was getting conflicting messages, the astronauts were telling him things about the mission he knew weren't true, they just didn't compute with his circuits. Likewise with myself, the more nonsense I heard in meetings and the big book, much of which contradicts its own self, the more my instincts cried out this is wrong! I finally did some real research into AA, and while it took awhile, I'm finally AA free and not guilty about it! I'm just upset with myself that it took this long.

Again I want to commend you on your site. Many anti-AA sites out there tell of the horrors of AA, but then proceed to bash AA and God and religion as if they're all in the same category, it's more emotional venom than sound reasons why AA is dangerous. Your scientific approach is much more credible. Your research into the history of AA, especially the Oxford groups, Bill W's madness before and after sobriety, AA's actual efficacy (5%-wow) and the psychology behind the steps is enlightening to say the least, and I'm glad someone has the guts to put it out there.

Two final thoughts. First, I'm not a rabid atheist. I believe in God, and one of the greatest things I've read on the difference between AA's God and my God was from Ken Ragge's "More Revealed", which basically says God gave me my life and my will as a gift. Why would I turn over my personality, thoughts and identity to AA's God, i.e. "the program", this would be disgracing what God gave me. Secondly, I love reading the mail you get from AA folk. Isn't it ironic how so much of it is filled with bitter, hateful attacks on you, from supposedly such spiritual people? Haven't these people read pg. 66 of the big book?

"If we were to live we had to be free of anger. The grouch and the brainstorm were not for us. They may be the dubious luxury of normal men, but for alcoholics these things are poison".

I guess these guys aren't working the program and are heading for a relapse, they better get back to suppressing their emotions!

Take care Orange, I'm glad you're out there.


P.S. Please do not use my email address or name due to my job.

Date: Fri, January 16, 2009 12:25 pm
From: "anonymous"
Subject: Difference between your therapist and sponsor

Hello again orange, I just sent you a lengthy e-mail, and I just thought of one other thing I wanted to send to you. I read this about a year ago, and it's sickening. Here's the link:

No wonder so many people with real emotional or psychological problems, or those just completely beat up by booze and who have already lost most of their self esteem, self worth, and identity are damaged even more by AA. This sums up AA's authoritative, barbaric attitude, and they think this is healthy stuff. This says to me "your shit, now do what we say, who the hell do you think you are, looking out for yourself or trying to better yourself, we know what's best for you, not you!" I had bad flashbacks reading this again, this is exactly how AA is.

Please keep me anonymous, thanks!

12 Ways to Tell the Difference Between Your Sponsor and Your Therapist:

1. Your sponsor isn't all that interested in the "reasons" you drank.

2. Your therapist thinks your root problem is your lack of self-esteem and your negative self-image. Your sponsor thinks your problem is yourself.

3. Your therapist wants to pamper your inner child. Your sponsor thinks it should be spanked.

4. Your sponsor thinks your inventory should be about you, not your parents.

5. Speaking of your parents, your sponsor tells you not to confront them, but to make amends to them.

6. The only time your sponsor uses the word "closure" is before the word "mouth."

7. Your sponsor thinks "boundaries" are things you need to take down, not build up.

8. Your therapist wants you to love yourself first; your sponsor wants you to love others first.

9. Your therapist prescribes care-taking medication. Your sponsor prescribes prayer making and meditation.

10. Your sponsor thinks "anger management skills" are numbered 1 through 12.

11. Now that you haven't had a drink in 6 months, your therapist thinks you should make a list of all your goals and objectives for the next 5 years, starting with finishing up that college degree. Your sponsor thinks you should start today by cleaning coffee pots and help to carry a heavy box of literature to the jail.

12. Your sponsor will not lose his/her license if he/she talks about God.

Hello, anonymous,

Thanks for the letters, and thanks for the compliments. I'm glad to hear that you are feeling saner.

The document that you just sent is quite the gem, isn't it? I also found it on the web site of the Northern Illinois Area Service Newsletter, and I used it as an example of the insanity of A.A. and its dogmatic attitudes. The sneering condescension towards anybody who doesn't devote their lives to A.A. and become a true believer in the 12-Step religion is really something else. And the blatant interference in medical treatment in item 9, the A.A. "no-medications" doctrine, is criminal malpractice and practicing medicine without a license.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "Every identity has its fundamentalists — the gatekeepers of what is and
**  isn't permissible for those who share that identity.  Since we all have
**  access to multiple identities — race, religion, nationality, ethnicity,
**  class — these fundamentalists usually have their work cut out trying to
**  keep everybody in line.  As the guardians of authenticity, their job is
**  to deny complexity and impose uniformity."
**   == Gary Younge, "To Fight These Reactionaries We Must Tackle the Crisis
**  That They Feed Off", in The Guardian/UK, August 21, 2006
**  http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0821-22.htm
**  http://www.guardian.co.uk/print/0,,329557728-103677,00.html

The following three letters from Jaune came together in short order before I answered the first one, so they are not a back-and-forth conversation.

Date: Mon, January 12, 2009 3:46 pm     (answered 25 Feb.)
From: "jaune s."
Subject: A.A

I have read all of your information and from what i can tell you, you have done your research on A.A. And while some of it may be true, it sounds like most of it is opinion. YOUR OPINION. And while you have the right to your opinion I have the right to mine so here it is,

Hello, Jaune,

Thanks for the letters.

I have little regard for opinions, because everybody's got one, and at least half of them are misinformed and wrong, and at odds with the facts. I collect facts, like the results of carefully-controlled medical studies, because those are about the only things that you can trust.

First of all A.A. may not be for everyone but your numbers are ridiculious. For the people it has and will work for, including me, it is the only way that has worked.

You are assuming a cause-and-effect relationship where none exists. You are also engaging in a word game "it works for those for whom it worked." That is a meaningless statement. You could just as easily have declared, "It didn't work for all of the people for whom it didn't work."

Since you regard my numbers as ridiculous, let's see your numbers. What kind of cherry-picked clients start your treatment, and what is the success rate?

And please list the success rate with ALL clients, not just the "graduates".

In addition, what kind of follow-ups do you do? What is the long-term sobriety rate of your clients, like for 5 or 10 years, that results from your treatment? Or do you do any such follow-ups?

If you don't do follow-ups, then you don't really know whether your treatment works over the long haul.

And above all, the only really valid test of treatment is a randomized longitudinal controlled study. Has your clinic ever performed such a test of your treatment program?

As a counselor, i have not seen one person remain sober after treatment without the twelve steps. That is not one person in the 6 years i have been doing this job.

Again, your observations are biased and limited. Do you actually have any lists of people who got themselves sober without the 12 Steps? I didn't think so. You only see your own clients.

Did you actually do any follow-ups to see whether the people who didn't use the 12 Steps got sober later? Did you see whether the people who did it with the 12 Steps stayed sober? And what was your over-all success rate? How many were treated, and how many got a year of sobriety? Five years? Ten years?

It is also my opinion that the people who diss A.A like you and so many others have, actually have a problem themselves and they are not willing to do the work or what it takes to get and remain sober.

Wrong again. I have 8 years of sobriety now. And getting and staying sober is actually quite simple: Just don't drink any more alcohol. Sobriety does not require joining a cult religion.

Also, the people who tend to diss A.A. and Treatment alike have issues with denial and it is easier to down or demean something that will attempt to pull them out of denial or tell the truth, Remember, this is 10 years of sobriety, 3 degrees, and six years as a counselor talking.

Again, you are generalizing. "Denial" about what? And don't you declare that the drinking people are "in denial", and the ones who are not drinking are "not in denial". Thus, "denial" is just a euphemism for drinking or refusing to practice the 12-Step religion.

Look something up that should have been in your research, the Diagnostic Statististical Manuel and The Addiciton Studies of American Medicine defines addiction/ alcoholism as a symptom of a deeper issue rather it be unresolved resentment and issues, personality / cognitive behavior disorders and that alcoholism/ addiction is a way of avoiding issues or feelings. Alcoholism/ Addiction is a powerful thing it causes alot of hurt for the person and their family.

Actually, you should look it up in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). There is no such disease as "alcoholism". The DSM-IV lists "alcohol dependence" and "alcohol abuse", but no "alcoholism". And they certainly don't list a "spiritual disease which only a spiritual experience will conquer", like Bill Wilson said. And they don't list anything that requires treatment with the 12 Steps of Frank Buchman's religion.

Here is the page of the DSM-IV that lists the alcohol-related mental disorders:

DSM-IV page 195

There is no "alcoholism" listed. The American Psychiatric Association refuses to even use that word.

It is also very simple yet so complicated; people will go out of their way to avoid their feelings, resentments, and problems to such an extent as to demaan others and their solutions if it appears to hard or real for them including spending all this time researching something to find any little thing that would justify as to why not to do something that may be the solution.

While some people may deny their feelings, that in no way means that they should join a cult religion. That just makes matters worse. And that is what A.A. does to people — makes them worse.

Date: Mon, January 12, 2009 4:20 pm     (answered 25 Feb.)
From: "jaune s."
Subject: a little more information and food for thought

I do agree that there have been and are some people in A.A who act a little cultish or what i call the A.A. Muffins, the fact is that they have been sober for an extended period of time and that there way of thinking has worked for them, and thats great. Just because i dissagree with some of the people and society in general, does not prevent me for doing what is right for me, the fact is that my program is mine, i get help from the people in A.A. who speak to me, internally and for those who are distasteful and push A.A.; they do not determine the outcome of my sobriety. Sponsorship is a wonderful thing but it has to be from two people who are alike and agree with each and even speak to each other on a internal level. There are those whose narcisstic ways demean and ruin the meaning of A.A. and push people away when they are vulnerable; i have seen that. One has to remember, if a person who really wants help needs to be willing to try anything and everything to remain sober.

That is a standard cult demand: "You must be willing to try anything." Baloney. That is mental suicide. That is drinking the koolaid.

As a counselor, and like many other counselors that i know, if people are unwilling to try everything including A.A then statistics prove that they will not, unfortunately, remain sober.

Prove it. That is an outrageous statement, so prove it. I want to see some good, valid, medical studies that show that people who won't practice the A.A. cult religion don't get sober. In your first letter, you started off criticizing me for expressing opionions, and now you are expressing a grossly untrue biased opinion. So let's see a medical study.

The facts are that A.A. has been tested in medical tests, and the results were:

  1. Dr. Brandsma found that A.A. increased the rate of binge drinking, and
  2. Dr. Ditman found that A.A. increased the rate of rearrests for public drunkenness, and
  3. Dr. Walsh found that "free A.A." made later hospitalization more expensive, and
  4. Doctors Orford and Edwards found that having a doctor talk to the patient for just one hour was just as effective as a whole year of A.A.-based treatment.
  5. Dr. George E. Vaillant, the A.A. Trustee, found that A.A. treatment was completely ineffective, and raised the death rate in alcoholics. No other way of treating alcoholics produced such a high death rate as did Alcoholics Anonymous.

And one also has to remember that not all people in A.A represent the feelings and sentements of all the people in A.A. And while their are people who would benefit from A.A are turned off by some idiots in A.A. it does not mean that they should give up. After all, if A.A was not the solution for some people it would not have stayed and grown stronger since 1935.

Wrong again. A.A. is a solution just like how Scientology and the Moonies are a solution. Just ask Tom Cruise whether Scientology restored him to sanity. Scientology has grown even faster than A.A., so Scientology must be really good, by your logic, right? Even better than Alcoholics Anonymous.

Oh, and Scientology claims to have a wonderful drug and alcohol treatment program called Narconon, which is based on the teachings of the Scientology founder Lafayette Ronald Hubbard (who was even more insane than Bill Wilson). But hey! Scientology has grown very fast since 1956, and it has branch offices in every city, and it has lots of celebrity members. So it must be good, just like Alcoholics Anonymous, right?

It is also my opinion that fear is a powerful feeling and to some, sobriety is a scary thing.

There is nothing scary about sobriety. That's just another mindless A.A. slogan. It's wonderful to wake up healthy, without a hang-over. Sobriety is not scary.

Now there is a thought that scares alcoholics — it's the thought that they will never have any more fun for the rest of their lives. But that isn't fear of sobriety. That is fear of losing all of the joy in life. But that is just a mistaken thought. Sobriety is not the end of fun. For me, it was the start of lots more fun.

Fear can either help you if it is harnested right or it can hurt you if it is used as a shield or isolater. Fear can determine what a person does and what they do not do and sometimes fear is also used as a defense or excuse not to see the solution in all things. It is easier to be fearful and discontent rather than grateful, content, and proactive.

That is all just psycho-babble. That has nothing to do with why people should join a cult religion like Alcoholics Anonymous.

Please understand that i am not disagreeing with you because you do bring some valid arguements. But their are two sides to every arguement and an arguement does not sound valid and convincing without both sides being heard.. Its called a Rogerian Arguement..

Now that is the propagaganda trick called "Escape Via Relativism". As in, "It's just your opinion versus my opinion, and one opinion is just as good as another. There are two sides to every argument." Wrong. FACTS are what matters, not opinions.

Date: Sat, January 17, 2009 9:53 am     (answered 25 Feb.)
From: "jaune s."

I find it mighty interesting that you have not rebutted my email. Here is some information that you may want to consider if you truly want to demean A.A

Geez Louise, have some patience please. I am overloaded with email. Some people have been waiting two years for me to get to their email.

What Does Positive Mean, Anyway?

Lazarus raises an important question? What is positive? For example, in the realm of affect is positive an emotion that feels good or one that is functional? Or is positive an emotion that the person values and believes is appropriate? The questions about what is positive raise many interesting issues. For example, to what degree are the pleasant emotions also those that are most functional, and are the emotions the person values the most functional for him or her? Clearly, there are probably many instances in which the varying definitions of positive emotions point to different emotions as being positive in particular contexts. In our work on norms for emotions, for example, we find that individuals differ in terms of which emotions they value?and it is not always pleasant emotions. For instance, we find that certain cultural groups such as the Chinese do not value pride, which is highly valued by Americans (e.g., see Eid & Diener, 2001) and is experienced as pleasant by them. We also find that people differ in whether a fun and enjoyable day is considered to be most satisfying. Asian Americans, for example, are less likely than European Americans to say that an enjoyable day was satisfying — they more highly value days with high achievement, whereas European-American students tend to find fun days to be more satisfying. Thus, we see differences in whether individuals are satisfied with affective experiences that are enjoyable versus with other values that might be esteemed more than pleasant emotions. Different definitions of positive in this instance lead to different satisfaction judgments. Rather than being cause for despair that we, as researchers, can never definitively define positive to everyone's satisfaction, I see different approaches to defining positive and their relation to each other as very interesting avenues for intellectual exploration. Perhaps we will even discover principles that unite the various types of positive. Positive psychologists must explore the basis of what is positive. We (Diener & Suh, 1997) borrowed from the philosopher Brock (1993) to suggest that there are three bases by which people judge what is good or valuable:

1. People's choices are one indicant of what is good, and this is used in economics. If people consistently choose something, they must think it is good.

2. We also use people's judgments and experiences of pleasantness as an indicant of what is good, such as feelings of subjective well-being. If people feel satisfied with an outcome and pleased with achieving it, they must believe it is positive.

3. Finally,we use value systems based on norms, religious beliefs, and so forth to judge what is positive. For instance, we believe that torture is bad and curing most illness is good, based on our values. Our values tell us that some things are right or wrong, regardless of the other two definitions of what is good. For example, we believe that slavery was wrong, regardless of whether the slaves might have been happy and regardless of whether some individuals might have chosen to continue to be slaves.

Each of the three approaches to defining the good or positive points us toward some of the things that are positive; at times the three will agree and at times they will not. Economists use people's choices in the market economy as a judgment of what is good; there are clear shortcomings to this approach. Psychologists are apt to use subjective well-being as a major criterion of the good life, but there are clear limitations to this approach, too, if it is used to the exclusion of other definitions.

For example, perhaps Hitler or Ghengis Khan were happy, but this would not lead us to conclude that their lives were good. The third approach, based on values, suggests that some emotions are good because we value them, or because we value the outcomes they cause. For example, they might help us achieve our goals. Once again, however, there are limitations to the value approach. For example, individuals may disagree about values and there are cross-cultural differences in people?s values, as well. Furthermore, we tend to distrust most value statements when they continually seem to contradict people's choices, and we are skeptical of value systems that lead to long-term unhappiness for most people. Thus, "positive emotions" might be positive or negative, depending on the particular criteria used, and on the situation. Positive does not have to be a simple, monadic concept to be a useful heuristic one. The positive in positive psychology merely points to broad areas in need of study; once working in an area, however, the basis of positive functioning has to be carefully analyzed.

Rather than making positive psychology impossible, the three different approaches to defining positive make psychologists' task more intriguing. In addition, the alternative to searching for what is positive is to re- When the Negative Becomes Positive and the Reverse: Comments on Lazarus's Critique of Positive Psychology

When the Negative Becomes Positive and the Reverse: Comments on Lazarus's Critique of Positive Psychology

Copyright © 2005 by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Well, that's sort of interesting, but it really just degenerates into a discussion of semantics and values, and maybe ethics.

I'll just make a few basic statements in response:

  1. GOOD treatment for alcoholism or drug addiction reduces the use of those chemicals by the clients, preferably permanently.

  2. BAD treatment for alcoholism or drug addiction either fails to reduce usage, or actually increases the use of those chemicals.

  3. BAD treatment for alcoholism or drug addiction also increases the death rate, the rate of binge drinking, the rate of rearrests, the divorce rate, the suicide rate, and the babbling of irrational cult religion slogans.

How's that for a value system?

By those standards, Alcoholics Anonymous and 12-Step treatment are BAD.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "Not only had we failed to alter the natural history of alcoholism,
**  but our death rate of three percent a year was appalling."
**  == Dr. George E. Vaillant, currently a member of the A.A. Board of
**  Trustees, describing the treatment of alcoholism with Alcoholics
**  Anonymous, in The Natural History of Alcoholism: Causes, Patterns,
**  and Paths to Recovery, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA,
**  1983, pages 283-286.

Date: Tue, January 13, 2009 9:55 am     (answered 25 Feb.)
From: Pete L.
Subject: A prime example

Dear Agent Orange,

The Bainbridge Island group (WA) is prime example of everything you talk about in your [website]. The sexual exploitation of minors was rife in that group in the form of the pairing of underage girls with older males with time/guru status. People were well aware of this fact and did nothing about it.

What I wish to mention is this doctor who was a mainstay of that group for awhile, for he underscores the extent cult-religion has infiltrated the medical profession.. He once had 'time' in the program and had relapsed and had lost his license. When I knew him he was really doing it — 'working' the steps, going to meetings everyday, and sharing like he really knew his stuff. He finally got his license back because he did all the necessary stepcraft, and proceeded to take some anesthesia and slit his aorta, causing instant death. This, of course, really upset the group as he was such a shining example of someone who 'worked the program.'

Why is someone in the medical profession forced to endure cult-religion to receive his license? I once asked him what he thought about cannabis, for at the time I was smoking herb and going to meetings as that was the only way I could endure the mendacity of AA, and I had yet to find your web site and I still thought I needed 'the program' to get off booze, and he parroted the following party line: 'For me, cannabis and alcohol are one and the same.'

I don't toke today for the simple reason that my job does not permit it, but if the time and place occurred I would partake of the wicked weed, and the question remains of the good doctor: Who is alive today after all that AA about not smoking weed?

This further brings up the topic of Anti-depressants. When I was in detox in Everett I was kicked out with a bad case of D.T.'s because I brought up the topic of prescriptions in group. The counselor was running the meeting, although he called it AA, and I mentioned how Zoloft had a molecular structure almost identical to LSD. Then I made the cardinal sin of reminding him of how Bill Wilson indulged in LSD, a whole chapter of which is written about this in AA's own literature Pass It On. He said 'You're wrong' about Zoloft, and that when he had young boys in his youth group who were depressed he took them out in the woods. I struggled at the edge of me seat not to snipe at him that 'Yea, you look like the kind of guy who likes to take young boys out in the woods', but I did tell him to look it up about Zoloft and prove that I was wrong. He said most assuredly that he would, and when he came back told me I had to leave this detox center, funded by you and me — the tax payer, instead of telling us his findings.

These two-bit faith healers think they know better than doctors, and it is a great danger to our health care. I personally suffered from the illegal dispensing of prescription medical advice in AA, especially in the Bainbridge Group, and endured a great deal of agony in Sundown Treatment center in Yakima because of this attitude. I talk about this in my blog at Yahoo 360 Joe Hill. The only thing I think that would stop them is a class action lawsuit, and I wonder why the ACLU has allowed stepists so much latitude? Stepism has gone way too far in my life and the world in general and I applaud your efforts. It needs to be stopped before it costs any more lives.

Later, Pete L.

Hello Pete,

Thanks for the letter and the story. I hope you are feeling better now.

And yes, we need to stop those quacks. One of the best ways to do it is to cut off their supply of money. And an ACLU class action lawsuit sounds good too. Why hasn't somebody sued treatment centers for fraud?

So have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  If alcoholism is really a disease, then A.A. sponsors are
**  guilty of practicing medicine without a license. They are
**  also guilty of treating a life-threatening illness without
**  having any medical education or training.  They have never
**  gone to medical school, and never done an internship or
**  residency, and yet they presume to be qualified to make
**  life-or-death decisions in the patients' treatment. That
**  is what you call quackery.

Another letter about the Bainbridge Island A.A. group and their sexual exploitation of underage girls is here.

Date: Tue, April 22, 2008 7:27 am     (answered 26 Feb 2009)
From: "wayne m."
Subject: You obviously have no idea?

We all have a right to our opinion, no matter how screwed up it is..... Bottom line a LOT of peoples lives have changed for the better because of AA and Bill Wilson.

Hello Wayne,

Now that's the whole problem, isn't it? How many people's lives have been changed for the better by Alcoholics Anonymous, and how many were changed for the worse?

Sure, you have a right to your opinion. But what is an unrealistic opinion worth?

Pointing to some people in a room who claim to be sober, and declaring that the practices of a goofy old cult religion from the nineteen-thirties made them get sober does not provide reliable evidence of success.

All of the reliable studies and tests have shown that A.A. hurts more people than it helps. Once again:

  1. Dr. Brandsma found that A.A. increased the rate of binge drinking, and
  2. Dr. Ditman found that A.A. increased the rate of rearrests for public drunkenness, and
  3. Dr. Walsh found that "free A.A." made later hospitalization more expensive, and
  4. Doctors Orford and Edwards found that having a doctor talk to the patient for just one hour was just as effective as a whole year of A.A.-based treatment.
  5. Dr. George E. Vaillant, the A.A. Trustee, found that A.A. treatment was completely ineffective, and raised the death rate in alcoholics. No other way of treating alcoholics produced such a high death rate as did Alcoholics Anonymous.

Actually, a lot of that is to be expected when insane people and unreformed criminals are used as sponsors and mentors and counselors and spiritual advisors and quack doctors. You can easily end up with groups that exist solely to supply under-age girls to the old sponsors, as has happened so many times.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  And the believers spake unto me, and they saeth,
** "If you want what we have, and are willing to go to
** any length to get it, then, here, drink this koolaid."

Date: Mon, January 12, 2009 11:10 am     (answered 26 Feb.)
From: Martin
Subject: I don't get it

Mr. Orange

What are you trying to prove and for what purpose.

Hello Martin,

I'm trying to get the truth out.

Have you or someone you know been hurt by AA ?

Lots of people that I know of have been hurt by Alcoholics Anonymous. Just read the letters that I have received.

I'm 3 years without a drink, enjoy going to meetings and it's my way of life. It's a hell of a lot better than my life when I was a raging alcoholic drunk.

Congratulations on your three years of sobriety. And yes, sobriety is better than killing yourself with alcohol.

I'm college educated, Masters degree, and I get exactly what I need out of the program. I tried for many years to stop drinking but this works for me.

I challenge that. You are assuming a cause-and-effect relationship where none exists. There is zero evidence that the Alcoholics Anonymous "program" causes people to quit drinking.

I recognize that the program is not for everyone, and everyone has their right to express their views. I certainly don't feel like I'm part of a cult in any ways or form. I enjoy the spirituality the program has afforded me and I enjoy the friendships I have made.

Cult members usually don't feel like they are in a cult. They feel like they are in something really special.

(If someone feels like he is in a cult, then he is waking up, and he will soon leave the cult.)

Can you offer me a better way to stay sober and without a drink ?

Sure. Just abstain from both alcohol and cult religion. It's pretty simple. I've been doing it for 8 years now.

What you are bringing up here is another problem with Alcoholics Anonymous. They teach that you must have "a program" or "a way" to quit drinking. That is nonsense. That is a trick to addict people to the cult, and make them think that they need it. The real way to quit drinking alcohol is: You just quit drinking alcohol and then get on with your life.

If you need a group to talk to, there are many available:

  1. SMART,
  2. Rational Recovery,
  3. WFS (Women For Sobriety),
  4. SOS (Secular Organizations for Sobriety), and
  5. LifeRing Secular Recovery (LSR)

There's 3 sides to every coin. You have your side, AA has theirs, and then the third side is that I'm not going to get loaded, and drive around with one hand on my eye to focus on the road. A family with kids loaded in a van doesn't have to worry about me killing them today.

And that is an attempt to use the standard propaganda trick called "Escape Via Relativism". As in, "It's just your opinion versus my opinion, and one opinion is just as good as another. There are two sides to every argument (or '3 sides to every coin')."

That just isn't true. Some opinions or viewpoints are based on a careful examination of all of the facts, and some opinions are based on ignorance, misinformation, prejudice, superstition, or irrational desires like the desire to gain acceptance in a certain group by parrotting dogma and doctrines.

"Every point does not have equal weight. Lies should not get the same weight as truth."
== Daniel Zwerdling, PBS Exposé, 2007.08.28

It's nice that the vanload of kids is safe, but you have not supplied any evidence that practicing an old cult religion from the nineteen-thirties caused you to drink less.

I'd like to hear your thoughts as far as I'm concerned.


Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Your assumption that A.A. made you quit drinking is like this:

"When I was a child, I was never able to ride a bicycle.
I just couldn't do it. I fell down every time I tried.
I was powerless over bicycles.
Then one day, Jimmy loaned me his lucky rabbit's foot, and it worked! I succeeded! I didn't fall down.
That proves it: the lucky rabbit's foot helped me to stay up on the bicycle. Now I can ride bicycles because I have a magic rabbit's foot."

Walt Disney did the same routine with Dumbo and the Magic Flying Feather. The "magic feather" that the crow gave to Dumbo "made" Dumbo able to fly. And when Dumbo lost the feather, he panicked and went into a dive and nearly crashed because he "knew" that he needed that feather and couldn't fly without it.

When people tell me that the Twelve Steps "made" them quit drinking or doping, or "helped" them to quit, I always think about Dumbo's Magic Flying Feather.

What you have not even mentioned, or considered, is the harm that A.A. does to people. Rather than being the salvation of alcoholics, A.A. is actually an organization that hurts more people than it helps. When A.A. was tested, the results revealed a disaster:

  1. Dr. Brandsma found that A.A. increased the rate of binge drinking.
  2. Dr. Ditman found that A.A. increased the rate of rearrests for public drunkenness.
  3. Dr. Walsh found that "free A.A." made later hospitalization more expensive.
  4. Doctors Orford and Edwards found that having a doctor talk to the patient for just one hour was just as effective as a whole year of A.A.-based treatment.
  5. Dr. George E. Vaillant, the A.A. Trustee, found that A.A. treatment was completely ineffective, and raised the death rate in alcoholics. No other way of treating alcoholics produced such a high death rate as did Alcoholics Anonymous.

  • Then there is the problem with people who are told not to take their doctor-prescribed medications by the dogmatic fools in A.A. who imagine that the A.A. program can somehow do faith healing. That contributes to the death rate too.

  • And then there are the people who are driven to suicide, both by the deprivation of psychiatric medications, and by the constant drum-beat of A.A. putdowns "You are sinful and powerless over alcohol. Confess everything. You can't ever recover. You are selfish and dishonest and in denial." Some people decide that they would rather die than put up with A.A. for the rest of their lives.

  • Then there is the problem with A.A. and N.A. destroying marriages. Read this sad story. And then read this one.

  • And then there are the groups that degenerate into little Peyton Places, whose main purpose seems to be to supply under-age girls to the old sponsors. I have received reports of such groups in Washington DC, Arizona, Florida, Minnesota, California, Washington state, and more.

  • Then there are the people who are reduced to mindlessly babbling thought-stopping slogans and cult religion dogma for the rest of their lives, and who have no life outside of the 12-Step cult.

  • Then there are the people who are driven to relapse by the depressing Alcoholics Anonymous atmosphere.

Add it all up, and you have an organization that hurts more people than it helps.

Actually, how could it be otherwise? How could practicing an old cult religion from the nineteen-twenties and -thirties really cure "alcoholism"?

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "What gets us into trouble is not what we don't know,
**  it's what we know for sure that just ain't so."
**   == Mark Twain

Date: Sat, February 28, 2009 7:47 am     (answered 10 March)
From: "Michael McC."
Subject: Mon, January 12, 2009 11:10 am (answered 26 Feb.) From: Martin

In response to your post:

Date: Mon, January 12, 2009 11:10 am (answered 26 Feb.)
From: Martin
Subject: I don't get it

"Walt Disney did the same routine with Dumbo and the Magic Flying Feather. The "magic feather" that the crow gave to Dumbo "made" Dumbo able to fly. And when Dumbo lost the feather, he panicked and went into a dive and nearly crashed because he "knew" that he needed that feather and couldn't fly without it."

It may have been important to add that Dumbo did end up flying as a result of using his own will power and his belief that he could fly. Adding this may help shed some light on the stepper! Have a great day Orange.

Michael T. McC.

Hi again, Michael,

Good point. I sort of assumed that everyone knew how the story ended, but it's worth mentioning again. When Dumbo finally learned the truth, and overcame his fears, he could fly without the "magic feather". He needed no mental crutches. And he certainly didn't spend the rest of his life going to meetings where he extolled the virtues of Magic Flying Feathers.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "Three great forces rule the world: stupidity, fear and greed."
**    ==  Albert Einstein

Date: Tue, January 20, 2009 8:51 am     (answered 10 March)
From: "Roger H."
Subject: You write a lot about which you do not know!

Your opinions of Alcoholics Anonymous are based on zero experience of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Hello Roger,

That just isn't true. Read the introduction to the web site, here.

Your translation of what you think is occuring, try going to a meeting, several different meetings?

Again, read the introduction. I've been to many meetings of both Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.

It's easy to pick on an outfit that will not defend itself.

Baloney. That's just the standard slogan. People like you defend A.A. all of the time.

AA has helped millions, there is no leader and no rules, gee you seemed to have left that out.

More baloney. A.A. has not "helped" or "saved" millions. A.A. has a sky-high failure rate, and has an appalling death rate. (One of the leaders of A.A. said that — "our death rate ... was appalling".) A.A. hurts more than it helps. Click on those links and read more.

And A.A. has lots of leaders. The Trustees of A.A. meet in The Interchurch Center in New York City and collect $70,000 per year each.

CORRECTION (2011.03.28): It turns out that the trustees are not paid. But other people get lots more. The President and General Manager of A.A. Greg Muth gets $125,000 from both AAWS and the GSB (General Service Board of A.A.), for a total of $250,000 per year. And then his friend Thomas Jasper gets $469,850 for being a "Senior Advisor". And many others get salaries in the range of $70,000 to $100,000 each. Look here.

The Form 990 financial statements that A.A. filed with the U.S. Government say that in 2004, the other leaders got:

Greg Muth General Manager $218,814.
Thomas Jasper Services Director $141,003.
Lillianna Murphy EDP Manager $175,742.
Adrienne Brown General Staff $85,678.
Doug Richardson Staff $85,343.

Look here for lots more information on the salaries of the A.A. leaders.

AA clearly states they do not have a monopoly on recovery, a member is also encouraged to get a god of their own understanding, any kind of god they wish. ANYKIND. Also AA does not recruit members, DO YOU UNDERSTAND, AA DOES NOT SEEK OUT MEMBERS, they are there for those who want help, PERIOD.

More baloney. All you are doing is parrotting slogans that have no connection to reality. The truth is the opposite of everything that you just said.

Bill Wilson wrote a few mild statements that were intended to fool the public, like "we have no monopoly", but then he wrote things like:

Any willing newcomer feels sure A.A. is the only safe harbor for the foundering vessel he has become.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, page 35.

Unless each A.A. member follows to the best of his ability our suggested [Bill Wilson's required] Twelve Steps to recovery, he almost certainly signs his own death warrant. His drunkenness and dissolution are not penalties inflicted by people in authority; they result from his personal disobedience to spiritual principles [Bill Wilson's cult religion practices].
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, page 174.

Look here for much more about "the only way".

A.A. does a lot of agressive, even coercive recruiting, and lies about it. Read about the A.A. recruiting here.

Recovery begins for each person when they admit they have a problem, you must feel really proud knowing you may have gotten in the way of someone seeking help with your critisism of an outfit that will not defend itself.

Wrong again. What I object to is sending sick people to a cult that raises the death rate — that is, Alcoholics Anonymous. A lot of people say that I helped them to recover by warning them about A.A.

A way of living better than the path you are on is a path you could clearly use.

So, would my life be improved if I joined a cult like A.A.? Or should I join Tom Cruise in praising Scientology and its Narconon "recovery program"? Or should I become a Moonie?

Date: Tue, January 20, 2009 10:06 am
From: "Roger H."
Subject: The ABC's of AA


Thanks for the link. I know about Barefootsworld. I've read a lot of it. All that your link proves is that there is a lot of untrue mythology around Alcoholics Anonymous.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "It is hard for us, without being flippant, to even see a scenario
**  within any kind of realm of reason that would see us losing one dollar
**  in any of those transactions."
**    ==  Joseph J. Cassano, a former A.I.G. executive, August 2007

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