Letters, We Get Mail, CXIV

Date: Fri, March 20, 2009 4:55 am     (answered 20 April 2009)
From: "Dana R"

I love your truth and your writings. I am an ex AA and all these wonderful supposedly friends I had are gone. I received much criticism from them and its such BS, I can definitely witness their cult-like shunning of me. I am very interested in writing and exposing AA from Christian point of view. AA is not Christian. I have emails from Dick B. He refuses to look at the facts. He is deceived too and full of lies. I can send you the emails if you like?

Thank you so much

Hello Dana,

You can of course send me emails. I had come to the same conclusion myself about the heresy of A.A. and the Oxford Groups. The truth is, A.A. and the Oxford Groups have the same theology, because A.A. started as just some splinter groups broken off of the Oxford Groups — off of the New York and Akron Oxford Groups, to be precise. And both the Oxford Groups and A.A. have grossly heretical and unChristian doctrines and theology — even anti-Christian attitudes. You have probably already seen my file on The Heresy of the 12 Steps. Perhaps you can think of a few issues that I overlooked.

I like Dick B's scholarship and respect for the truth. Alas, I think he has far too high of an opinion of the Oxford Groups. He thinks they were bringing a message from God and doing good things. I have the opposite opinion of Frank Buchman and the Oxford Groups.

I look at the whole mess and I can envision a Hollywood horror movie where both Frank Buchman and Bill Wilson get a visit from the Devil — he just pops up out of the ground and asks with a wicked grin, "How would you like to start a new religion, and you get to be the leader of it?"

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*** "Early AA got its ideas of self-examination,
*** acknowledgement of character defects, restitution for
*** harm done, and working with others straight from the
*** Oxford Groups and directly from Sam Shoemaker, their
*** former leader in America, and nowhere else."
*** == Bill Wilson, Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of
*** Age, page 39.

Date: Tue, March 24, 2009 1:44 am     (answered 20 April 2009)
From: "David L."
Subject: Article about heretical A.A.

Your article about A.A. being heretical was quite good, and I wanted to ask you if you are Catholic? The same self refuting and contradictory 'theology' that is present in A.A. is also present in all Protestant 'denominations' and only the Catholic Faith is true (not the false Vatican II sect run by antipope Benedict XVI). There is no salvation outside the Catholic Church and I urge you to learn the faith and convert, for salvation.



+ If you seek the truth, and desire it regardless of the sacrifices you must make for it, you will find it. +

Hello David,

No, I'm not Catholic. However, I do see some common threads of criticism of Buchmanism coming from a variety of churches. A wide variety of priests and ministers found Buchmanism to be heretical. I got some good criticism of Buchmanism from Bishop Noa of Marquette, here.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done
** it unto one of the least of these my brethren,
** ye have done it unto me. (Matthew 25:40)

Date: Mon, March 23, 2009 10:43 pm     (answered 20 April 2009)
From: jordan l
Subject: You are a sick sick man.

you probably tiied AA and couldn't get honest and therefore not sober either so you now have to save your poor alcoholic face ...so sad you poor poor puny little man all alone in your sick resentful head.

Hello Jordan,

If you are an example of sobriety, then you can keep it.
And if your behavior is A.A. spirituality, then you can keep that too.

FYI, I have 8 years of sobriety now, so my method is working great. I also have 8 years off of all drugs, including tobacco.

Since you don't even know whether I tried A.A., you should read the introduction.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** Fanaticism consists of redoubling your effort when
** you have forgotten your aim.
**    == George Santayana

Date: Mon, March 23, 2009 2:24 pm     (answered 20 April 2009)
From: "Sarah T"
Subject: Re: Your website has liberated my mind

Hello Orange,

I am elated that there is someone out there not afraid to tell the truth about the radically illogical and harmful doctrine and practice that is alcoholics anonymous. (and all other 12 step groups for that matter and the recovery movement as a whole.) I am also overjoyed that you do so with facts, extensive research, tact, and beautiful articulation. I commend you for your efforts.

I officially quit AA about two weeks ago and during the nine months that I attended I always felt that something was a little bit off. The superstition, lies, craziness, and insignificant ritual run rampant in the rooms.. When I first started attending I was willing to bypass all of that just to get the feeling that I belonged and to create good sober friendships. I was quite lonely at the time I joined. The love bombing definitely appealed to my ego. I googled AA cult and your site was the first one listed. I was quite intrigued and read a plethora of the information on your web site. Even before I discovered your web site I had already thought about a lot of the things you mention, especially my great disagreement with the disease model.

After the intial confusion about the reality of AA and its religious cultism I felt the happiest I had ever been sober, and not to mention vastly liberated. The first day that it all came clear to me, I felt frightened and a bit like neo from the matrix when morpheus revealed the truth to him. I know the confusion came from the brainwashing that I got from AA which resulted in some cognitive dissonance and my needing to extricate myself from all the false beliefs I learned there.

Every stepper that I have mentioned these truths to all pretty much say the same things. They parrot the slogans (for example one guy told me "My best thinking is what got me here."), claim that AA has saved millions of lives, and that they owe their life to AA for getting sober and for all the gifts that they receive from the program.

One guy suggested to me the common AA slogan of "Take what you like and leave the rest."
I said, "What happens when there is nothing I'd like to take?"

I also can't stand it when steppers make the fictitious claim that you're not a "real alcoholic" if you completely disagree with the 12-step religion and wish to maintain your sobriety in a different way. (Like um how about quitting for good and moving on with your life!)

I have also read several of the letters you receive from the AA true believers and fanatical steppers. Un fucking believable! They are as much a source of entertainment as they are of clear cut examples that AA truly is a religious cult and it goes to show how frightened some people are of just a little bit of truth. (I say a little bit of truth because I have noticed a trend among the AA true believers who write you and refuse to read anymore of your documents after just a little bit of exposure, and yet they continue to debate with you with their astounding ignorance.) Yikes!

Well orange, since I have accessed this new information, I feel like a fire has lit inside my soul. I feel impassioned over this societal issue and I wish there was more I could do. It sickens me that 2/3 of AA's members are coerced into being indoctrinated into this silly cult by the legal system.. I secretaried for a period of time and I signed quite a bit of court papers. I am young and maybe a little idealistic but I want to effect change regarding this whole issue. Could you give any suggestions on how I can get the truth out there and perhaps in someway create a movement that would be propelled towards the direction of making it illegal for courts to send people there?

Also I have these wonderful visions of creating a program that is for alcoholics and drug addicts that is successful like AA (successful in the sense that AA is so widespread, accessible, and international. Obviously not successful in helping people with such problems!) but without the bullshit, dogma, and lies, and a program that allows itself to be studied and is backed by scientific research, and that is always open to revising itself if it proves to be more helpful to the alcoholic or addict. How do you think I can accomplish that or at least kick start it?

Well thank you for reading all of this and kudos to you for your sobriety and your wonderful contribution to humanity!

all the best, Sarah

Hello Sarah,

Thanks for all of the compliments, and congratulations on your escape from the madhouse.

You may be happy to hear that we are not alone. In fact, the new, idealistic, group that you would like to start already exists. Or rather, several good candidates of various flavors exist:

  1. SMART: Self Management And Recovery Training.
    Rational, sane, common-sense recovery techniques. Based on Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy, the brainchild of Dr. Albert Ellis.
    SMART online chat groups, http://smartrecovery.infopop.cc/paraentry.php
    SMART message boards, http://smartrecovery.infopop.cc/eve/ubb.x

  2. WFS (Women For Sobriety) Founded by Jean Kirkpatrick, has both group meetings and online chat groups:
    For local group meetings in your area you can also call 1-800-333-1606.

  3. SOS (Secular Organizations for Sobriety) Founded by James Christopher.
    Also see the book SOS Sobriety, The Proven Alternative to 12-Step Programs by James Christopher.
    To the best of my knowledge, SOS has both physical and virtual online meetings.

  4. LifeRing provides both physical face-to-face meetings, and live, online meetings on the Internet:
    You can get the list of meetings from the Unhooked web site.
    http://www.unhooked.com/chat/Chat.html — the Unhooked chat

Something that is in a class by itself is Rational Recovery, which no longer has group meetings. It is now a book and a technique. See the RR web site and the book Rational Recovery.
Also see my web page The Lizard-Brain Addiction Monster, which will give you many of the same ideas.

And for ex-Stepper discussions, here are some leads:

  1. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/12-step-free — Self-described as: 'This is a large yahoo group of ex-AA and ex-"XA" (meaning any "anonymous" program based on the 12 steps originally created by AA) people. It is very open to debate and free thinking, but it's main point is for those needing to be free of the 12 steps.'

  2. http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/LSRmail/ — a Yahoogroup, "LifeRing Secular Recovery"

  3. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/without_aa/ — Without A.A.

  4. http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/EFTCoaa/ — Escaping From The Cult of AA (EFTCoaa)

  5. http://groups.msn.com/X-STEPPERS/welcome.msnw — This is an ex-stepper group on MSN.
    UPDATE: This has changed. The new URL is:

  6. http://groups.google.com/group/alt.recovery.from-12-steps/ — the newsgroup alt.recovery.from-12-steps (This one is problematic in that most postings are garbage, and the 12-Step true believers troll and attack.)

  7. You can also get some more links from the start of the links page.

About what to do, like writing to your Senators and Congressperson, I just wrote up a list of those to-do things here, so check it out.

Oh, by they way, it is already illegal to sentence people to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, because A.A. is a religion. Many high-ranking judges have so ruled. But other minor judges in traffic courts or drug courts ignore the rulings and violate the law and send drunks to A.A. anyway, and also send drug addicts to Narcotics Anonymous. What we need isn't better laws; it is judges who will obey the laws.

And have a good day and a good life.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "Although easily mistaken for candy, holly is quite poisonous."
**     "Although easily mistaken for real moral religions,
**          cults are quite poisonous."

Date: Sun, March 22, 2009 3:23 pm     (answered 21 April 2009)
From: beth w.

Dude! I don't know who you are but do you have any idea how many countless hours I have "wasted" analyzing, desiphering, being outraged by, and I mean OUTRAGED by the irrationality etc., etc., seriously. It does not bother a lot of people and I have been sober 18 years — I do incorporate the steps in my life but not as a soul capturing device and I have seen many positive aspects to AA but I totally get it — seriously.

We should talk because we must have similar minds because I am considering doing my M. A. right now on some of this shit just so I can let it go but to devote a web site and all of the papers!!! Its awesome. I haven't read anything yet... I get too pissed off!!!! Seriously. It triggers rage in me but I have come to realize that's ME — other people just don't care but I do — and its so awesome to see someone else as intellectually enraged!!!!! Email me back sometime!


Hi Beth,

Thanks for the letter and the compliments. And congratulations on your sobriety.

Sure, we can talk. In fact, I think we are doing it right now.

Since you value both your sobriety and your mind, you might enjoy meeting with other more rational people. I just put a list of the rational groups in the previous letter, here.

Since 12-Steppism has become an irritant to you, you might also feel more tranquil if you spent some time with other groups that don't make you so mad. I know I did.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *

**    "You can always tell when someone isn't telling the truth,
**    because he doesn't speak clearly. Euphemism is a cover for either
**    ignorance or dishonesty. In other words, if you can't state it in
**    a clear simple declarative sentence, then either you don't know
**    what you are talking about, or you are trying to prevent me from
**    understanding what you are talking about, and both bug me."
**        ==  Tucker Carlson, in an advertisement for his TV program
**       "Unfiltered" on Public Television, August 6 to 27, 2004.

May 27, 2008: Still up on the roof, Day 10.

Here, the goslings are poking around at the base of a planter box, digging out moss. They like moss.

Canada Goose goslings scrounging for moss

[The story of the goslings continues here.]

Date: Mon, March 23, 2009 12:40 pm     (answered 21 April 2009)
From: jack j. in the U.K.
Subject: re: whats not good about AA...

Hello my name is Jack and I am an alcoholic...

I am appalled by this. you just don't get it do you? are you an alcoholic or one in recovery? Because if you are or were you would understand. religious dogma? I am a agnostic and I do not actually have any fundamental religion to speak of but I was not turned away because I refused to pray or recant the devil just to stop drinking and needed help from people who know best... other alcoholics. nor was i turned off by this overt religion you talk of. all books that AA use word the concept of god thus. "God as you understand him" additionally in most cases you will find people talk of a higher power, I have felt that higher power in the friendship and love of my fellowship brothers and sisters. However you are entitled to your view however misinformed it is.

I know the only thing that stops me drinking is knowing that I have a friend on the other end of a phone who is there when my resolve falters.

I am sure that you could quote any number of studies that either prove or disprove AA efficacy, all I can say is that I know I would not be here today if it were not for the friends I have and the knowledge that a moral framework (however outdated it may be) provided me with the structure and direction to beat a very real demon for me and that was booze.

I was sat in my room one night with a bottle of vodka in one hand and a gun in the other. the only thing that stopped me pulling the trigger was the non judgmental voice on the end of the phone who said he could help. he did and I am here today because of it.

You don't understand alcoholics, we have little or no self belief, all that AA promotes is a way of getting that self respect back.

I urge you to attend an open meeting (many are held to allow non alcoholics to attend) and look a recovering alcoholic in the eye and see if they are lying when they say they were saved by the fellowship.

I personally would trust my sponsor (30 years sober) over any doctor anytime, even though he openly admits the only thing that stops him drinking is with the help and the strength of others and his ability to give something back by helping others in turn.

I applaud and support you right to free speech and am only offering my own opinion, unlike your web page I choose to do my work quietly and without sensationalism. we support ourselves and never ask for money from anyone. the reason the government involves recovering alcoholics in its drug and alcohol rehabilitation schemes is because we do understand how addictive minds work and we do know how to give someone a choice, that's it just a choice.

Very respectfully yours


Hello Jack,

Thanks for the letter and the viewpoint.

Well, you start with the standard A.A. attack: "You aren't a real alcoholic — you just don't get it — you don't understand, and you don't know anything — you aren't really in recovery — or you would agree with Bill Wilson's superstitions."

Wrong. I am an alcoholic, and I have 8 years of sobriety now. Also 8 years off of all drugs, including tobacco, and it sure does feel better. So I very much understand alcoholism. I just disagree with Bill Wilson' version of Dr. Frank Buchman's cult religion.

Then you declare that you are an agnostic who is welcomed in the A.A. religious program. That must be fun — sort of like being the token Negro at a KKK rally.

When you say,
"I have felt that higher power in the friendship and love of my fellowship brothers and sisters", you are elevating mere emotions to the level of a "god" or a supernatural force. But that isn't spirituality or a "higher power". It's just feelings. Isn't there an A.A. slogan that says, "Feelings aren't facts"?

William James, remember him? Bill Wilson wrote in the Big Book that he got the core of the Alcoholics Anonymous philosophy from William James (page 28) and Carl Jung (page 26), remember? Well, William James wrote:

If merely "feeling good" could decide, drunkenness would be the supremely valid human experience.
William James (1842—1910), U.S. psychologist, philosopher, in "The Varieties Of Religious Experience", lecture 1, "Religion and Neurology" (1902)

So don't put so much stock in those warm and fuzzy feelings of "friendship and love".

The sad thing is, that so-called "friendship and love" will vanish in a flat minute if you announce that you are quitting A.A. Try it some time if you don't believe me. Just announce that you are quitting A.A. and going your own way now, and see how your "friends" treat you after that. I have received many letters lamenting the fact that the "unconditional love" is actually very conditional, and all of those "true friends" will dump you in a minute if you stop parroting the cult dogma.

You are speaking in euphemisms when you say things like "A.A. gave you structure and direction".
What structure? What direction? What does that actually mean? That's just a couple of buzz-words. How did that "structure and direction" prevent you from drinking or committing suicide?

You were not going to commit suicide. A.A. didn't save you from suicide. Quit being such a drama queen. People who are going to commit suicide put the gun in their mouth and pull the trigger. And that's that. End of story.

You, on the other hand, picked up a telephone and started calling around, trying to find somebody to tell you not to do it. As soon as somebody said something encouraging, you put the gun down. That wasn't a suicide attempt.

You could just as easily have called a wide variety of help lines or hotlines, and gotten a wide variety of advice, and you still would have put the gun down and given it a try.

You were in a desperate and highly-suggestible unfrozen state, as Dr. Edgar H. Schein called it, and you would have bought into whatever was shoved at you that gave you hope. It just happened to be A.A. that got you. Under other circumstances, you could have ended up in the Moonies or Scientology or some other cult, and you would be swearing that they saved your life.

You badly stereotype alcoholics when you say,
You don't understand alcoholics, we have little or no self belief, all that AA promotes is a way of getting that self respect back.
I very much understand alcoholics, because I'm one of them, and lots of my friends and acquaintances are too.

I, for one, have lots of self-belief, and I can keep myself sober without joining a cult religion.

What you don't seem to see is that alcoholics are not all alike. They are all different. You cannot make such sweeping statements about alcoholics and declare that they are all a certain way. (Well, you can do it, but the statements won't be true.) But that's what A.A. does as it puts alcoholics down. Read the file on The 'Us Stupid Drunks' Conspiracy for much more about that. A.A. has no respect for alcoholics.

Oh, and the A.A. put-down routine does just the opposite of what you declared. A.A. isn't about getting your self-respect back — A.A. is about you learning that you are weak and defective and selfish and dishonest and full of "moral shortcomings" and "defects of character", and unable to make it on your own. A.A. teaches that alcoholics are a disgusting lot.

And again, you invoke the A.A. stereotype of "the stupid alcoholic" when you declare that "addictive minds" need the government to force them into programs whose staffers include cult members (for their own good, of course). Maybe ordinary people can live without cult religion, but not those "addictive minds". They need cult members to tell them what to do, because nobody understands like a cult member does.

Question: If you have such a terrible "addictive mind", why should I believe anything that you say?
Won't you just lie to me to continue your addictive behavior (like defending and denying your addiction to a cult)?

By the way, I've been to many A.A. and N.A. meetings. Obviously, you haven't even read the introduction to the web site. Please read the introduction. And then read this.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     An alcoholic is a fellow who is "trying to get his
**    religion out of a bottle... when what he really wants
**    is unity within himself, unity with God...."
**    "There is a definite religious element here."
**     ==  Bill Wilson at the Shrine Auditorium in
**        Los Angeles, in March, 1943

Date: Thu, March 19, 2009 12:08 am     (answered 21 April 2009)
From: nhwineguy
Subject: free will

It is curious that you claim you have stopped drinking simply by exercising free will, and that you encourage others to try to do the same. Since it works for you, it will work for them? Many have tried and have failed. Many have tried to sustain countless other courses of action (or inaction) by exerting their will. And while some succeed and some fail in willing things to be, the vast majority of humans develop habits and traits in their emotions, thoughts and subsequent actions that seem often to render free will irrelevant.

Hello WineGuy,

Thanks for the letter.

First off, I object to the characterization that I "stopped drinking simply by exercising free will". That is A.A. jargon and terminology, not mine.

That is the propaganda trick of Mischaracterize Your Opponent's Statements. I never said that people had to quit drinking by "exercising free will".

I don't recall ever having said that we humans even have free will.
I see little reason to believe that such a thing exists.
I think the jury is still out on that question.
Free will is more of a theological concept than a medical concept.

What does exist is common sense, and people reacting to pain — perhaps using a little logic like,
"If I continue to drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes, then I will continue to suffer pain.
"But if I quit drinking and smoking, then I just might get healthy and feel a whole lot better."

What you call people trying and failing to quit drinking is really people not wanting to quit drinking. Oh they imagine that they do want to quit drinking, they say that they do, and they think that they do, for a few hours or days, or even months, until the desire to drink builds up, and then they decide that what they really want to do is drink, so they do.

That isn't failure. That is successful drinking. They did what they wanted to do.

That's not to say free will doesn't exist, it's just that it's not commonly used to its maximum effect. We use free will primarily to engage our lives in autopilot, just so we don't have to concern ourselves with the demanding effort of constantly exerting that very same free will! If we could control the use of our will so easily, wouldn't the world be a very different place? Wouldn't we avoid getting into trouble from the start, and make only good decisions, and follow logical, proper courses of action? We make plenty of mistakes out of ignorance and apathy and sloth, but if free will were so easily deployed, we would have long since willed ourselves to be less ignorant and less apathetic and less slothful. The fact is, many of us are weak-willed.

If you choose to control your free will, then you must have another higher, more powerful, non-free will to control the free will. Where did that Über-Will come from?
What will decides to control the free will? Do you control that will?
When did you decide to control the will that controls the will that controls the free will?
(And how far will this thing recurse? It looks like it's going to turn into an infinite stack of wills controlling the wills below.)

How can it be free will if it is under the control of something else?

All of that A.A. talk about free will is just so much crazy cult dogma — no connection to reality.

That the recovery program of AA asks you to "surrender" that will does not make it a cult. The program asks you to surrender because it is a progam of surrender! Resistence is at the root of the problem for many of us: resistence to honesty, to accepting help from others, to acknowledging a reality outside of our own ego. Any group of people that believes strongly and tries to make believers out of non-believers could be labeled a cult. Orange kool-aid, anyone?

A.A. is a cult for many reasons. See the cult test. Demands for surrender to the cult are just one of a hundred standard cult characteristics. A.A. exhibits many others too. In fact, A.A. exhibits the vast majority of them.

Again, you dive into the standard Alcoholics Anonymous stereotyping of "the alcoholic". So did the previous letter, here. "Resistance to honesty, to accepting help from others, to acknowledging a reality outside of our ego."

Wow. Those alcoholics are so bad that they should all be shot just to get the garbage out of the shallow end of the gene pool, shouldn't they?

And A.A. says that it wants to remove the stigma of alcoholism. Like hell it does.
What A.A. really teaches is that alcoholics are immoral and weak and stupid and you can't trust one because he will relapse on you.

The paradox of AA is that by making a decision to believe in some power greater than the individual self (not such a far-fetched proposition) one is suddenly faced with the cold, hard truth that one is responsible for his own actions if nothing else. It is a common misconception that "turning your will over" somehow means you relinquish all control to whatever power you choose. No, you are simply giving up your efforts to control those things you have come to believe are beyond your control. These would include things such as the weather, the very slow Sunday-drivers in front of you, and your relationship with alcohol.

That is a beautiful example of cult double-talk and nonsense.
"By surrendering to the cult, I discovered that I was guilty of everything. And then I discovered that I wasn't God and couldn't control the weather."

Now if you feel healthy and sane, and that your relationship with alcohol is something you do have control over, then AA might not be for you. But if your years of hard experience and feelings of despair, helplessness and insanity have led you to believe otherwise, then maybe AA is for you.

That's the propaganda trick called "Either/Or Technique". Give the reader only two extreme choices and pressure him to choose one of them: "Either you have no problems with alcohol, or else you have to join Alcoholics Anonymous."

There is a third possibility: Recognize that alcohol is very bad for me and wrecks my life when I drink it, so I shouldn't drink it, but I don't have to surrender to any cult religion to not drink alcohol. I just don't put alcohol in my mouth and swallow it any more.

Oh, and while we are noticing propaganda tricks, you also used the technique called Sly Suggestions, as in, "...then maybe AA is for you."
Uh, no, cult religion and quack medicine is definitely not for me.

And I do not have a "relationship with alcohol". I also don't have a relationship with cyanide koolaid or household lye, either. They are all just things that I don't drink, because they are toxic poisons.

In no way does AA say you do not have the free will to choose one way or the other — of course you do. To relieve your insanity, AA simply suggests a certain course of action. Some members of AA may strongly suggest a certain course of action. No handcuffs. Only lawyers and judges will demand a certain course of action.

Again, my choice is the one that you didn't list: Abstain from both alcohol and Alcoholics Anonymous.

In giving up our efforts to control all those things beyond our control, we have freed ourselves to acknowledge that, by definition, everything else must be within our control. So quite contrary to throwing free will out the window, we must now admit we have the power to effect many changes in our lives and in the lives of those around us. We realize our daily decisions and actions play a role in shaping and re-shaping our destiny, that it is not shaped soley by outside forces acting upon us.

That's more cultish double-talk. Who cares if you gave up on attempting to control the weather?

Now the second part of the paragraph makes sense. I use the same logic to run my life. And I didn't get that control of my life by surrendering to a cult or "higher power".

One of the things within our power to change is the way we think. Most of our recurring thought patterns are simply habits we've developed, and as habits they can be changed with enough effort. An endless stream of thoughts flows from our interpretations of the external world and our emotional reactions to it. Negative emotions can lead to negative thoughts, and in turn more negative emotions. As we learn to re-structure our reality in the way we perceive the world, we may be fortunate enough to escape the cycle of negative feedback and to find relief from some of the fear, anxiety and isolation we feel. The compulsion to drink may disappear.

Most of that makes sense. It is good to straighten out your thinking and stop self-damaging behavior. Notice that the words "surrender", "higher power", "free will", and "Alcoholics Anonymous" didn't appear anywhere in that paragraph.

But you jump to a conclusion at the end. You assume that people drink alcohol because of negative emotions and negative thoughts, and that the compulsion to drink will suddenly disappear if somebody "re-structures their reality." That sounds like a lot of wishful thinking, based on few or no facts. Do you have any actual medical test results to demonstrate that?

What about the people who drink alcohol because they are in physical pain, not because they have negative thoughts?

What about the people who drink alcohol because they have serious psychiatric problems like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia or NPD?

You see, that's the problem with A.A. explanations and answers: They are simplistic one-size-fits-all answers that don't really work.

A concerned doctor said, "A one-size-fits-all cure is a good way to kill a lot of patients."

In the end, then, it is free will that ultimately but indirectly keeps us from drinking again. That we need to "fool" ourselves and take a circular route to reach our destination, is that such a bad thing? That we can't just say "no booze" and be done with it? That we experience growth and joy and fellowship? Say what you like, but no, it is not such a bad thing. What you yourself are saying is, after all, no different than what AA says: why not try it this way? The difference is that most people who succeed with AA have already tried it your way and failed.

Again, you haven't even shown that "free will" exists. But you keep on yammering about how you have it, sort of, but you don't have it, when it comes to alcohol. Nonsense. That is quintessential cult dogma and double-talk. And it's also some warped thinking, imagining that you have to fool yourself with loopy illogic.

And then you finished with another logical fallacy and propaganda trick:
"...most people who succeed with AA have already tried it your way and failed."

First off, very few people succeed with Alcoholics Anonymous. It's a real death trap. A.A. kills far more people than it saves. And the A.A failure rate is sky-high. Almost nobody makes it in A.A. for 10 years.

And then, you haven't even honestly or accurately looked at "my way", so you don't even know what it is. You just keep yammering about "free will". So "most A.A. success stories" have not already tried it my way before staggering into the A.A. clubhouse.

But that is the standard A.A. propaganda:
"A.A. is the last house on the block."
"I tried all of the other stuff, and nothing worked."
"All I know is, it worked for me."

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** "AA is 'the last house on the block' for a reason:
** it's full of arsonists who've been burning down
** the other houses!"
**  ==  Madame Senga

Date: Sat, March 21, 2009 2:14 am     (answered 22 April 2009)
From: "Chris"
Subject: re The Funny Spirituality of Bill Wilson and A.A.

Hi there

I've just read your article I have no idea when it was published or if you are even still living

However after all that you do miss the point about the movement Bill Wilson and Dr Bob started

It is simple. in that it Works



Hello Chris,

Yes, I am very much alive, and happily sober, too.

You are repeating the biggest lie of A.A. — that it works. No, it doesn't work.
A.A.'s biggest accomplishment is to raise the death rate in alcoholics.
Its next biggest accomplishment is to raise the rate of binge drinking.

If you read nothing else, read these four items:

  1. Alcoholics Anonymous Trustee Dr. Prof. George E. Vaillant trying to prove that A.A. works, and proving instead that A.A. kills. Look here.

  2. Dr. Jeffrey Brandsma tested A.A., and found that it raised the rate of binge drinking in alcoholics. Look here.

  3. How many of those old-timers' sobriety coins does A.A. give out? Look here.

  4. And what was Bill Wilson's and A.A.'s historical success rate? Look here.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "You have no conception these days of how much failure we had.
**  You had to cull over hundreds of these drunks to get a handful
**  to take the bait."
**  Bill Wilson describing early recruiting efforts for Alcoholics Anonymous,
**  at the memorial service for Dr. Bob, Nov. 15, 1952; file available here.

Date: Sat, March 21, 2009 6:59 am     (answered 22 April 2009)
From: "Dianne G."
Subject: your agenda and how you arrived at that agenda-because you certainly have one

I am a long term member of AA. I am interested to know if you spend as much time debunking Christianity and other religions as you spend on AA...these other "spiritual" programs get a free pass and in my opinion hurt many more people than they help and costs us as a country much more than AA does in any measurable way, i.e. tax deductions, no oversight, etc. AA is really without much hierarchy and you can always start another meeting and set your own rules for that meeting...I know you know the phrase...resentment and a coffee pot.

Is AA flawed? Absolutely. Was Bill Wilson a flawed leader and a messenger who had many issues in his history, 13 stepper, etc. Is there much in the Big Book that is flat out made up or history revised....does it reek of Christian allusions in ways that I do not like...it is a product of its time.....and Bill Wilson was a product of his time......but how about checking out the Bible and various .American churches if you want to see some serious bullshit that really hurts people, drives politics and as we know from Bush, Inc...(a drunk who did not have any kind of program)...damned near destroyed the Constitution and has us in two wars, paying for abstinence only teen programs and other crap that is religion based....(that old separation of Church/State thing).....religion really hurts specific groups...women, gays, etc....or the Koran...... I know from my experience that AA does help people get and stay sober and clean....it reduces terrible social costs to us as a society, to children caught in its cross hairs, reduces crime...and saves lives.. It saved mine.....I am an atheist..came in as one...stayed as one and was told I was welcome..I was told that AA is a democracy and that I did not have to subscribe to anyone else's point of view....and that has been my experience.....they did recommend not drinking and not taking pills.......(anti-depressants were in their infancy...so was Big Pharma as we know it today...I take no medication...)

My experience has been that people like you who have a serious hard on for AA are still drinking or taking pills or doing something that they have to justify...

Just a few questions for you A. Orange.

If I have wronged you, please tell me I have and how. I think of myself as a critical thinker and like to hear arguments from other people about their positions...does AA have problems...of course..but what is a reasonable substitute???...if you are a person who has never been addicted to a substance that was killing you then perhaps you can't really understand this deal on a visceral level..pills were killing me..I was a social worker...two degrees...bright girl...and I was dying...AA helped me when I came in in 1984 then and it still helps me today...


Dianne T. G.

Hello Dianne,

Thanks for the letter.

Well, let's start with,
"My experience has been that people like you who have a serious hard on for AA are still drinking or taking pills or doing something that they have to justify..."

That is the usual cultish A.A. attack on anyone who criticizes Alcoholics Anonymous. And it isn't true at all. I have 8 years sober now, and also 8 years off of cigarettes and any other drugs. The only pills that I take are the ones that the doctor prescribes, which are nothing exciting — anti-acid, cholestrol-lowerer, and muscle relaxant to stop tremors (which may be residual damage from alcohol). And vitamins. Lots of vitamins and minerals.

But A.A. just can't stand the thought that somebody who is very clean and sober can criticize A.A., so you always have to launch into that little ad hominem attack. It's as predictable as the rising and setting of the sun.

Then you repeated the standard A.A. attack on competing sects: "...religion really hurts specific groups...". You just have to attack those competing religions, don't you? That behavior is listed as one of the 100 standard cult characteristics.

Now on to the rest of your letter. It's a mess of rationalizations and minimization and denial, something that Bill Wilson said alcoholics are good at.

Bill Wilson was "a flawed leader and a messenger" just like how Lafayette Ronald Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, was "a flawed leader and a messenger". Both were seriously mentally ill men who established abusive cults that were "health and purity movements", things that would supposedly liberate you from your bad habits and elevate you into a wonderful new world of clarity and power. And both of them just sold a load of crap and quackery.

The biggest A.A. lie in your letter is:
"I know from my experience that AA does help people get and stay sober and clean....it reduces terrible social costs to us as a society..."

No, A.A. does not work. A.A. does not reduce drinking or improve the alcoholism situation. A.A. does not increase the amount of sobriety in this world. In fact, A.A.'s biggest accomplishments are:

  1. Raising the death rate in alcoholics. Alcoholics Anonymous Trustee Prof. Dr. George E. Vaillant tried to prove that A.A. works, and instead accidentally proved that A.A. kills. Look here.

  2. Raising the rate of binge drinking in alcoholics. Dr. Jeffrey Brandsma tested A.A., and found that it immensely increased the rate of binge drinking. The A.A. members were doing FIVE TIMES as much binge drinking as the "unhelped" alcoholics, and NINE TIMES as much bingeing as another group of alcoholics who got some Rational Emotive Therapy. Look here.

Just because someone quits drinking within 50 feet of an A.A. clubhouse does not mean that A.A. deserves the credit for that person's sobriety. People quit drinking alcohol for quite a variety of reasons, and the 12 Steps are not one of them.

But when A.A. sponsors tell a newcomer not to take his medications, and that person dies or commits suicide, or suffers a stroke, or some other equally tragic fate, then, yes, A.A. is to blame for that death.

And when the A.A. sponsors tell the teenage girls to sleep with the old sponsors in order to "learn how to have sober sex", then that is also the fault of A.A. And when the A.A. headquarters refuses to put a stop to it, then that is also the fault of A.A.

Since you say that you are an A.A. old-timer, with lots of experience, please answer this simple question that A.A. old-timers have never answered honestly:

What is the REAL A.A. success rate?

Out of each 1000 newcomers to A.A., how many will pick up a one-year sobriety medallion a year later? (Or even several years later?)
And how many will get their 2-year, and 5-year, and 10-year coins?
How about 11 years and 21 years?
What percentage of the A.A. newcomers go on to get those things?

(HINT: the answers are here.

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: Sun, March 29, 2009 5:12 pm     (answered 22 April 2009)
From: "JERRY U."
Subject: Recovery

Hey Orange, I don't dispute anything you have written, I have always believed your recovery is your own business, what helps you may not be the answer for others. A.A. has been my answer and now I am closer to God. I know people can just quit or they find God or they go to treatment, but the sole purpose is to find a relief from the addiction. I believe you will help as many addicts as any other form of treatment there is out there just by opening up the eyes of the stricken, you are being a service, you are being another servant of God, by opening the eyes of the afflicted. By reading your work I was amazed how well it was put together and by reading your work you will empower people to have the strength to see their weakness and be able to overcome their addictions. I applaud you. Thank you Jerry

Hi Jerry,

Thanks for the thanks and the compliments.

And you have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    "We could have saved the Earth but we were too damned cheap."
**        ==  Kurt Vonnegut

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