Letters, We Get Mail, CXIX

Date: Fri, September 19, 2008 3:41 am     (answered 5 May 2009)
From: steve b.
Subject: Thanks


Your website is refreshing and very honest.

I've been working the Programme now via a number of fellowships for 5 years. CA, NA, OA, AA and SAA.

My life has changed massivly as I have both an understanding of me, the way in which this disease operates and I have found a Faith in God via the Catholic Church.

Recently I have started to see AA for what it is and your smack on with many of your assessments.

I have seen sponsor/sponsee relationships become abusive, I have seen the cult-like power demonstrated by figures such as "Clancy". Which actually endanger lives. The unhealthy relationship and dependance on meetings eg grown adults sharing basic problems like children etc etc etc.

I'd love to discuss the Clancy position in more detail. I went to a UK convention last year (the first and last time) to hear this lunatic claim that the world's doctors are wrong and he is right concerning Bi Polar disorder.

Keep up the good work

God Bless

Steve B.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Hello Steve,

Thanks for all of the compliments. I'm glad to hear that you have found some happiness.

I don't know a great deal about Clancy. I hear that he runs a huge group on the west coast of the USA called "The Pacific Group". I hear that they are very authoritarian and cultish, and growing by invading and taking over neighboring groups. I also hear that Clancy was the sponsor of the sponsor of "Mike Q.", who is infamous as the lecherous criminal who established the Midtown Group, whose main goal is to supply underage girls to old male sponsors. And apparently, from what I've heard and read, Clancy "supports" the Midtown Group and has no words of condemnation for their sexually exploitative behavior.

But I'd like to learn more about Clancy I. (Imusland, I think it is) and his Pacific Group.

Some time ago, somebody, a correspondent perhaps, said that he expected A.A. to break up into a bunch of smaller cults. We seem to be seeing some of that.

  1. There are the Big-Book-beaters, whose main emphasis is fundamentalist religion.

  2. And there are the "Back to the Basics" fanatics who insist that A.A. was great and had a 75% success rate way back in the "Good Old Days".

  3. There are even some "back to the basics" freaks who are so extreme that they advocate returning to the Oxford Group practices.

  4. And then there are the fascists, who basically want to turn A.A. into a Brown-Shirt movement.

  5. And there are the sexual predators like Mike Q. who just use A.A. for sex, money, and power. Rumor has it that Clancy I. falls into that category too.

  6. And then there are several more splinter sub-cults that are built around the personality of somebody who presents himself as a new teacher or guru with a bunch of answers, or all of the answers. A correspondent listed several in this letter.

  7. And then, just to make life interesting, there is a web site that monitors "cultish sub-sects of A.A.", and criticizes subsects that deviate from its own orthodoxy. The web site's description of how sub-cults operate is informative.

So, yeh, I'd like to learn more about all of them.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    "People unfit for freedom — who cannot do much with it
**    — are hungry for power. The desire for freedom is an
**    attribute of a 'have' type of self. It says: leave me
**    alone and I shall grow, learn, and realize my capacities.
**    The desire for power is basically an attribute of a 'have
**    not' type of self."
**         ==  Eric Hoffer

UPDATE: There is now a whole file of stories about Clancy Imusland and his cult:
Stories about Clancy Imusland's Pacific Group. And the Atlantic Group, Foxhall Group, Badger Group, and Nursery...

Date: Fri, September 19, 2008 5:08 am     (answered 5 May 2009)
From: john_r.
Subject: Cult lunacy — part of what we are ?

Hello, Orange,

I was just re-reading your notes on Amway. This strikes me as one of the wackiest cult organisations going. What has "stepping out in faith now, not in understanding" got to do with selling soap ? Or with selling anything, with the possible exception of bibles ? And yet, is this sort of nonsense so unusual, even outside the obvious candidates for culthood ? Just look at "strategic management". Sounds scientific and rational as an idea but, in practice, huge numbers of large business and public sector organisations the world over have adopted "strategic management" as a sort of house religion, persuading or requiring their officers and employees to subscribe to some sectarian variant of this secular creed, and to follow the practices laid down by whichever academic or plutocratic prophet of the faith who happens to be fashionable in the particular time or place. And all this with little obvious evidence that the practices concerned are effective in improving the functioning of these organisations either as businesses or communities. Does adopting "strategic management" practices help one, for example, to sell more soap ? No one actually knows.

Small businesses, of course, tend not to be so afflicted. They have better things to do with their time.

I don't know. I sometimes despair of our kind. The urge to subside into unthinking, unmindful herd mentalities just seems to be part of us. I am almost tempted to sympathise with the Mexican bandit leader in "The Magnificent Seven". What was it he said about the oppressed peasants ? I think it was, "If God did not want them shorn, He would not have made them sheep".

Well, perhaps I am too pessimistic. A nice day to both of us,


Hi John,

Thanks for the letter. I know what you mean. There are times that I entertain the same thoughts, and wonder if there is any hope for the human race.

I also wonder if the voters don't actually deserve their corrupt lying politicians — after all, they keep electing those bozos. How could they be so stupid? (Although, I must say that this last election was a breath of fresh air.)

And then I remember that the real struggle in this life is to give people better than they deserve. That is, people like Christ and Buddha didn't just give the foolish people what they deserved, they tried to give the people something more and better than that.

But of course they — or the Buddhists at least — also had very philosophical resigned attitudes like the Bodhisatva thing that says, "The suffering of the people is without measure. I vow to end all of their suffering. The number of sentient beings is limitless. I vow to liberate all of them." Obviously, that's going to take a while.

And then I'm reminded of the Sufi story that went something like this:

A wandering dervish came upon a village where the people were running and screaming in fear. The dervish asked them what was the matter. They answered, "There is a monster in the fields."

The dervish went to the field to see the monster, and found a large watermelon. He pulled out his knife, and cut himself a big slice of it, and sat down in the field and ate it.

When the people saw the red juice rolling down his cheeks, they reacted with horror. "Oh look, he's also a monster!" And they killed him.

Later, another dervish came upon the same village, and saw the same scene of fear and panic. Again, they told him about the monster in the field. When the dervish discovered the watermelon in the field, he pulled out his knife and stabbed the watermelon. Then he announced to the villagers, "I have killed the monster for you. You are safe now. I will dwell among you and protect you from such monsters, and also teach you about monsters and other things."

And in that way he gradually enlightened the villagers.

(At which point, my cynical mind says, "Fat chance.")

Have a good day.

== 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: Sun, September 21, 2008 8:00 am     (answered 7 May 2009)
From: "P."
Subject: Question about numbers

Dear Agent Orange:

In the section of the Orange Papers: https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-effectiveness.html#Vaillant_deaths — there is one table that shows relevant numbers for those who received no treatment, and the success/failure rates therein.

My question is: have there been further studies of no treatment? I can only guess that the AA argument against presenting "no treatment" numbers is that where do the no treatment numbers come from? Are they an adequate representation of a cross-segment of the portion of society that drinks problematically and recovers independently? I guess the "big" question is how do those numbers get further verified?

I ask, because I am extremely interested in discussing these matters in further detail, because I am considering the risk of Employee Assistance Programs that are prevalent throughout the United States — and EAP volunteers and workers recommending 12-step programs to people, either knowingly or ignorantly placing people at risk by referring them to what is, in essence, a religious cult.

Your feedback and thoughts are appreciated.

Thanks P. (if you publicly post this, please don't use my name)

Hi, P.,

Thanks for the letter and a good question. Some parts of your question are very difficult to answer, like how cross-sections are selected. Such studies are always problematic because alcoholics who quit on their own are often silent — they don't care to advertise the fact that they once had a drinking problem, and they often really don't like to label themselves as "alcoholics".

However, we know some things:

  1. Dr. Vaillant synthesized his control group from a sample of untreated alcoholics, but he seems to have done it in a fair and unbiased manner, which makes it a valid technique.

  2. In three other tests, the doctors really had randomly-selected control groups in true "randomized longitudinal controlled studies". That means that you get a group of alcoholics from somewhere — traffic courts or hospital treatment programs, or something, and randomly divide the alcoholics into two equivalent groups.
    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, and
    3. Dr. Walsh found that "free A.A." made later hospitalization more expensive.

  3. And then there was the test in London by Drs. Orford and Edwards, who found that having a doctor talk to the patient for just one hour was just as effective as a whole year of expensive A.A.-based treatment that used the full facilities of the hospital. In that test, there was no group that got "absolutely no treatment", but having a doctor talk to the patient and his wife for just one hour out of a year, telling him to quit drinking or he would die, is about as minimal as you can get and still be doing something.

  4. The Harvard Mental Health Letter did not say what studies they were citing to come to the conclusion that the vast majority of alcoholics who successfully quit drinking for a year or more do it on their own, alone, without treatment or a support group.

  5. And even more directly to the point, Dr. Zimberg's discussion of the normal rate of spontaneous remission in alcoholics cited many other studies of spontaneous remission.

  6. Also see R. G. Smart's calculation of the normal rate of spontaneous remission in alcoholics.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    If you get bubonic plague, do you go to a club composed of
**    other victims of bubonic plague, or do you go to a doctor?

May 4, 2009, Monday: Day 4:
This was another day of bad weather. We were stuck indoors most of the day.

The first thing we did was go over to my friend Doug's place to use his Internet connection and telephone (thanks again, Qwest) to investigate what is required to get an "exotic pet permit", or a "therapy pet permit", to eliminate the danger of Animal Control confiscating and killing Carmen (which they could do).

In the park on Saturday, a passer-by warned me that Animal Control could do that. They could show up at any time and confiscate Carmen. He told me the story of a girl in town who found a baby crow that had fallen out of its nest. She took it home and took care of it and raised it, and it was doing great. She was even teaching it to talk. But then Animal Control guys came and took it away from her. Later, she learned that if she had called the crow a "therapy pet", and gotten a therapy pet permit for it, that she could have kept it.

And I hate to say it, but Animal Control usually kills the wildlife that they confiscate. They call it "euthenizing" the animals. It's like how the Nazis euthenized the sick and mentally-retarded people, whom they said had "lives not worth living". Just put them in a gas chamber and turn the handle.

When we investigated the Animal Control bureaucracy, we couldn't figure anything out for sure. Dealing with bureaucracies is usually a hassle, and this was. When I finally talked to a human, rather than one of those menu answering machines, she said, "A Canada Goose gosling? That's wildlife, isn't it? Well, you have to talk to the Legal Aid Officer, who is on vacation now."

Carmen and I did manage to get out to the park for a little browsing and grazing when the cold rain let up for a while.

Canada Goose gosling
Carmen at the park, North Park blocks, grazing.

Back home:

Canada Goose gosling
Carmen at home, stepping into her water dish.

May 5, 2009, Tuesday: Day 5:
This was yet another day of bad weather, and again, we were stuck indoors most of the day. This sure is getting old. But the weatherman says that the weather will be better the day after tomorrow. Thursday through the weekend is supposed to be good — warmer and sunny. I can't wait. Neither can Carmen.

We are still checking on the Animal Control permit.

But, as usual, we managed to get out for a short while when the rain stopped.

Canada Goose gosling
Carmen at the park, North Park blocks, grazing.

And here we are back at home in the evening:

Canada Goose gosling standing in lap
Carmen standing in my lap, wondering what that shiny flashy thing that I'm holding out in my right hand is doing.

Carmen spent a lot of time in my lap. She was very cudly. She would walk up to me and chirp that she wanted to cuddle. (I was sitting cross-legged on a cushion on the floor.) So I would pick her up and put her in my lap, and cover her with my hands. That was just like a mama goose covering her babies with her wings. She would snuggle in and take a nap. At other times, she didn't want to sleep, she just wanted closeness and company.

By the way, notice Carmen's distinct identifying characteristics: that brown patch on the top of her head is darker than on most other goslings her age, and she has a dark brown spot on each cheek. Also notice the neat cut of her brown cap. It has a very sharp edge, and is neatly trimmed to curve around each eye. And her back is a little darker than most goslings her age. And her back isn't solid brown — she has a light streak running across her back and down the edge of each wing, and a light streak across the top of her tail. And she also looks like she is wearing eye shadow — she has a dark streak running back from each eye. Those markings are even more obvious in the photographs above.

[The story of Carmen continues here.]

Date: Sun, September 21, 2008 12:59 pm     (answered 14 May 2009)
From: "kathryn d."
Subject: What is your real name?

Hello Kathryn,

Some mystics have said that my real name is unpronounceable, but that my birth name is Terrance Hodgins.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    Have compassion for all beings, rich and poor alike;
**      each has their suffering.
**    Some suffer too much, others too little.
**      ==  Buddha

Date: Tue, September 23, 2008 5:05 am     (answered 14 May 2009)
From: "Kelly C."
Subject: The Funny Spirituality article


I just read your article about the funny spirituality of Bill Wilson and believe you may have missed the logic sequence in the sentence structures. The commodities he referring to were coffee and cigarettes, not alcohol. And in the context of the time frame the original passages were written, they were commodities, without known health consequences.

Kelly C.

Hello Kelly,

I agree that Wilson was talking about coffee and tobacco. I don't know how you got the impression that I thought he was talking about alcohol. The phrase "these commodities" clearly refers to tobacco and coffee, and I wrote as much:

Notice how the author Bill Wilson grouped coffee and tobacco in the same category, as mere "commodities", so that the wife would appear more intolerant.

The alcoholic in the story (who looks a lot like Bill Wilson) drank alcohol in retaliation when his wife nagged him to quit smoking.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    "Few things are harder to put up with than a good example."
**        —  Mark Twain (1835—1910)

Date: Wed, September 24, 2008 8:33 pm     (answered 15 May 2009)
From: "Shilp S."
Subject: website

Did you really write an entire website to bash treatment centers promoting 12-step fellowships? How about the millions upon millions whose lives were saved as a result of learning about the program in treatment, then actually *working* the program, which by the way, has nothing to do with *religion*as you somehow interpret and refer to several times. I am not trying to be an asshole, but I read a few pages of your "analysis" and I definitely don't have time to waste reading much more, so I just would like to maybe have your goals and objectives summarized or explained. Especially since you dont mention at all in what I've read of yours, any of the positive aspects of A.A., the big book, countless *MEDICAL AND EXPERT JOURNAL/RESEARCH ARTICLES/STUDIES* etc. Please. Fill me in.

Hello Shilp,

Thanks for the letter.

There are no "millions upon millions whose lives were saved as a result of learning about the program in treatment". That is the standard Big Lie of Alcoholics Anonymous. A.A. does not even have two million members in the whole world, never mind millions and millions of people (which would be at least 4 million) whose lives were saved by 12-Step quackery.

Alcoholics Anonymous has no better a success rate than groups of alcoholics who get no treatment or A.A. meetings or A.A. indoctrination — no help at all works just as well as A.A., and sometimes much better. A.A. actually has some very bad effects on alcoholics.

All that "twelve-step-based" treatment centers do is sell the Alcoholics Anonymous quackery and cult religion for a high price.

I gave A.A. every benefit of the doubt in the file "What's Good About A.A.?". But, as one reader pointed out, he could get everything on that list someplace else, without the cult religion and misinformation about alcoholism.

As far as the "expert medical studies" that show that A.A. works, THERE AREN'T ANY. Alcoholics Anonyous has flunked every valid medical test to which it was ever subjected. Every one. Every single one. A.A. didn't help the alcoholics at all. When A.A. was put to the test by qualified doctors, A.A. just:

  1. raised the rate of binge drinking, and
  2. raised the rate of rearrests, and
  3. increased the costs of hospitalization later, and
  4. raised the death rate in alcoholics.
  5. And a whole year of A.A.-based treatment was no more effective than a doctor talking to alcoholics and their wives for just one hour, telling them to quit drinking or they would die.

Now if you think there are some "expert medical studies" that show that A.A. works and makes the alcoholics quit drinking, then I'd like to see them. I have had a challenge out there for seven years now, asking the A.A. true believers to send me any valid medical tests of A.A. that show that A.A. helps the alcoholics and improves their sobriety. I have received nothing but a reference to the faked "studies" of the Moos and Humphreys team. (Look here and here.) Not one valid test in 7 years. NOTHING. No valid evidence to back up the bragging. During those years, the A.A. true believers have called me every name in the book, but they have never bothered to offer actual evidence of success. They just offer excuses for failure like, "Well those people who didn't get sober didn't thoroughly follow our path. They didn't really try."

Valid controlled studies are carefully structured to prevent errors. Look here for a description of how you do such a test.

And you claim that A.A. "has nothing to do with *religion*".
Of course it does. Six of the Twelve Steps talk about God. A.A. is just the repackaged Oxford Group cult religion. You have to be massively in denial to incant the 12 Steps and talk about how God is going to save you from alcohol, and then claim that it isn't a religion.

Finally, my goal is to tell the truth, and get the truth out there, to counteract the A.A. propaganda mill that keeps broadcasting its standard stream of lies and misinformation about alcoholism.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  People who will not work for what is right
**  Are little better than those who are doing wrong.

Date: Sat, September 27, 2008 7:01 pm     (answered 15 May 2009)
From: "Danny N."
Subject: Warmest regards

Dear A. Orange:

I really enjoyed your website and it's subject. I found your site by searching the topic "propaganda." WOW! I would not have ever wanted to miss out on this!

I love critical thinking exercises and philosophical debate, although I am not educated. I am a member of A.A. and have been, off and on, for some 15 years. I experienced witch-burning first-hand during my first two years (1992-94) in AA during which time I was disparately searching for a cure to my alcoholism. I concluded that I was better off on my own than in the company of zealots. I managed to stay sober for 12 years before 'falling off the wagon.' I am currently re-involved with A.A. hoping to find a lasting, better way.

A.A. has a statement that says "insanity is doing the same things and expecting different outcomes," or something like that. And yet here I am back in the fold expecting a different outcome. Already I have experienced the crushing blow from many a heavy handed member of A.A. (AA Nazi's, I call them).. I had to resolve that my sobriety was paramount and that I would not give into their destructive behaviors (witch-burning), nor would I be turned away or ran off. I attempted to seek out those practicing love, patience, tolerance, and acceptance; They were hard to find and few.

Your writings have helped me to realize that my observations were in fact quite astute. These people were dangerous to healthy thinkers.

I have a problem, sought counseling and therapy, and attended meetings in my efforts to control or abstain from drinking (drinking to the point of stupidity). Suddenly, one evening as I was being kicked by an officer of the law, my desire to drink was lifted from me, and as a result I have not drank in nearly 5+ months. I am not sure of your religious leanings but I believe that I was added, or saved, or touched by the hand of God — because of the profound nature of how it so suddenly left me.

I absolutely love the info I gleaned on the history of A.A. and Bill Wilson.. Again I say WOW! Looking at AA in my new found knowledge/insight I can see only a mad cult. How true it is, but at what point do I walk away and let others fall to their destructive-deceitful 'program of recovery.' Hell, some have no idea what they're involved in and are ignorantly perpetuating it. I do believe that AA has some benefits. I have found a fellowship of people who are suffering as I am and who seek salvation (if you'll permit such an extreme) from drinking.

I intend to stay involved with AA in hopes of cultivating (there's that word again- 'cult') a close fellowship of friends whom are suffering and seeking an answer to the same problem. I hope to foster healthy relationships that hold me to specific points of accountability (not to drink). I do feel weak-willed at times and have had success in battling my desire to drink on occasion — (for no less a reason than boredom, or the desire to try a new flavor of alcoholic beverage so enticingly marketed by brewers) — by calling on the people I am in close relationships with through AA. I concede the point that it is my desire to drink that causes my affliction and the resulting debacle (red and blue lights swirling around, and police officers yelling statements such as: freeze!; Or, get down!! Hands behind your back!; Quit resisting!, etc...).

As to whether all the principles of AA are attestable as a program of recovery that works, or not, is left to the individual; provided they are informed, intelligent, and resourceful. Truly, I only desire to not be a drunken fool (or to be beaten up any more — especially by those who promise to help me); and accountability through fellowship works for me.

I plan to continue my reading of your website and will refer people to it.

Thanks for the enlightenment.

Danny S.
Sober in California 4/24/2008

Hi Danny,

Thanks for the letter. I'm glad to hear that you are doing well.

You have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   The finest structure can house the worst evil.

Date: Sun, September 28, 2008 2:06 am     (answered 15 May 2009)
From: "Vince V."
Subject: hello

I stumbled upon your website recently and I wanted to thank you. I have been a member of A.A, CMA (crystal meth anonymous) for 24 years on and off, mostly on unfortunately. My story is so long and painful in regards to this program that it is actually a books worth of information. I will tell you that I have not only been a victim of the more mainstream 12 step cults but also from its off shoots such as incest survivors anonymous and ritual abuse survivors anonymous. I was involved with a thing called false memory syndrome. It got so bad in the creation of iatrogenic memories that I was told I had MPD and I literally was split into 60 people! As a result I went from having a lucrative career as a hairdresser in Union Square San Francisco to being on disability and ending up homeless many times.

I am going to do my best to tell you my story because honestly I have never seen the thoughts I have thought and feelings I have felt in regards to AA in print before. I have even more observations than what are printed, actually just different ones. In the back of my mind I always kind of knew that AA is indeed destructive and it seems to me that the optimum goal is a life of mediocrity based in fear, surviving on base instincts. And then by reacting from those instincts one is told that that is what is wrong with you. Having to survive in the program with those instincts one never gets out of it and one is always batting off judgments. It is the equivalent to fundamentalist Christian's never ending search for sinners.

Recently it has occurred to me finally that my life has been wrapped around and entrenched in this program to the entire exclusion of having developed a life. I am finally making headway at doing just that. I read your book at night rather than going to a meeting. I figure, why not supplement that time with material that will help deprogram me. I know a little about being deprogrammed having survived 8 years of false memory therapy enduring many hospitalizations in dissociative disorder clinics with an illness I did not have. I was told my family was evil and part of a satanic cult as well as if I were to contact them I may not live if I were to meet them again. Whenever I would protest and say that I thought these "memories" were a lie I was told I was in denial and I had to work harder on my healing.

I mention this because I never truly made the connection that it is the same exact thing in AA. Instead of abuse its addiction and instead of memories being created it is the never ending rhetoric being fed. When one wants to leave one is told that you will use if you leave and if you do you will probably die. Talk about coercion! Like I said my FMS story is long and I mention it also because the two are not mutually exclusive. I never would have gone thru that hell if it weren't for AA. The therapist that did the therapy was recommended to me thru AA and he was also in Alanon. My whole story is in the false memory syndrome foundation archived newsletter from last winter.

I am majoring in psychology in college. I am actually fascinated by the syndrome of cults and the process that occurs. Those who join cults are usually people that are highly suggestible (like I was at 22 yrs old) I have seen it a billion times where people come in for something simple and what ends up happening is far from simple.

As I write this I feel a lot of guilt and sadness. I have spent so many years involved in this quackery and it is always strange when one's eyes are really open. I hope this email reaches the right person. I could write forever and still not be done. I cannot express in words how great it is to feel even slightly free. Nothing of course is all bad but with my experience in the program the bad is so huge that any good is buried. Thanks so much.



Hello Vince,

Thank you for the letter. Sorry to take so long to answer; I'm way backlogged on answering email. I'm glad to hear that you finally escaped from the madhouse.

As I read your letter, I found myself remembering a fascinating book — Selling Serenity: Life Among the Recovery Stars by Andrew Meacham. He also talks about the quackery of "recovering memories" in that book, as well as how the rest of the 12-Step hoax is packaged and sold.

Have a good day, and a good life.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  One Stepper declared, "My stability came out of trying to
**  give, not out of demanding that I receive." Serving humanity
**  is all fine and well, but what if you are humbly, lovingly,
**  spiritually giving out cups of cyanide koolaid?
**  No matter how generous and loving and unselfish you are
**  while you hand it out, it's still cyanide koolaid.

Date: Sun, September 28, 2008 4:14 pm     (answered 15 May 2009)
From: "William McC."
Subject: Resending an earlier email...

Orange, I sent this email a few weeks ago, and have not received a response yet. Thought maybe there had been some sort of email error, and so I am resending now. I know, of course, that you get a lot of email and so it is hard to expect an immediate response. But, like I said, I was thinking there may have been some technical error, so I am resending...

Thanks again, Orange...



I wanted to write you in order to share my story, ask a couple questions, and — most importantly — to thank you for all of your hard work and dedication.

I spent several years (15 or so, to be exact) as an addicted drug user and drinker. I maintained basic functionality throughout, but I was always aware of the fact that my life was missing something, and what little I did have was always perilously close to absent. I had ongoing problems with depression, and had a lot of trouble maintaining a healthy relationship. Around 8 or 9 years ago, I met a wonderful woman and immediately fell ass over teacups in love with her. I was in a relationship at the time, and so was she, but we became friends and remained friends for years. Fast forward to 3 years ago, and both she and I are single and spending a little more time together, as friends. As such things often go, we found ourselves falling in love with each other (actually, I had been there for years, but she began to see me as more than a friend). Things moved rather quickly, but in a very satisfactory direction. We became a couple, and after 5 months or so moved in together, quite happily. At the time, we were both using drugs and drinking, I assume in an effort to escape our respective issues (for me, the aforementioned depression, and I can not speak for her reasons...). Things were very good for us for sometime, but after a while we fell into a routine not dissimilar to that of many couples.

One day about 9 months ago, she (rather abruptly, but I could have seen it coming had I not been so damn high:) broke it off with me, and told me I needed to move out and move on. I took it as well as I could manage, and viewed it is a sign that my habits had gotten out of hand, and I needed to clean things up for myself. I moved out, and started rebuilding my own life, sober and much more aware and happy. She took my decision for sobriety as a good sign, and a good idea, and she embarked on the same path, with one major difference... she joined NA. I had been to a few meetings in my life, both AA and NA, and I knew that I had some vague misgivings about that approach, so I had decided to approach sobriety on my own terms, using my own power. I told her that if she felt NA was the right path for her, to pursue it. At the time, I did not know much about NA, and I was personally uninterested due to the religious (not spiritual) aspects of it, and the pattern I had seen in others of over dependence on the program. Still, I wanted to be supportive, so I told her to do her thing, whatever that may be. We remained in contact, and were mutually supportive of each other. I came to realize that a lot of the problems we had sprung from a failure to be open and honest, and we talked about that.

After some time, we began to move back toward a relationship together, and had decided that a real issue we needed to address — together — was our recovery and honesty with each other. Things were really looking up, and we both had a renewed feeling of happiness together. That lasted for a few months, and then I began to notice that she was pulling away from me and inching closer to her NA group, her sponsor, and her NA friends. I kept quiet about it (I regret that now, both for the outcome and for the feeling that I was being dishonest by not voicing my opinion) in an effort to remain supportive. She got to the point, eventually, where the only thing she would talk about to me was HER day at work, HER meetings, or HER program. She seemingly lost all ability to pay attention to me, or even to take an interest in my world or my personal recovery. She began to use lots of slogans with me in regular conversation (works if you work it, one day at a time, etc..). Finally, after a little spat about something or other one morning, I let her know how I felt she had been acting towards me, and that I felt it was apparent that NA was taking over her life (also a regret I have, because I said it out of anger over something unrelated as opposed to it coming from my desire to be open and honest). She reacted in what I can see now is a fairly predictable way for steppers, by telling me that I did not understand, and that if she was to "follow her chosen path" that it was my responsibility to support her in it. We eventually talked through things, said we loved each other, and went on with our day. Well, later that night, she went to her meeting and talked to her sponsor, and promptly told me she did not love me anymore and that it was over. It absolutely broke my heart then, and it breaks it again to recount it now. I have no idea what happened. I had thought we were happy, and at the very least I felt we had come to a point where our commitment to each other was strong enough that we could talk about things, and work them out. If she was not happy, I can understand that, it happens. But it felt very wrong to me that her decision came right after she got done in her homegroup meeting. After she said she did not love me anymore, I tried to ask her what had happened, where had things gone wrong, all the usual questions a person in that position asks. The most she would say to me was that she had fallen into old habits, and that was that. I left, after about 10 minutes of that conversation (she said she was done, and asked me to leave) and that was it.

Now, I am no stranger to the ending of relationships. I have been on both ends a time or two, so I usually know what to expect, but this one floored me like a 2x4 between the eyes. For one thing, I thought we were happy. For another, I felt like even though we had chosen different methods for sobriety, the fact that we were both seeing it through with so much support from each other was a really big step for us to take together. And, more than anything else, I just could not figure out what happened for the life of me. I had some idea that maybe her group had urged her to leave me since I had questioned NA (admittedly I did that in a pretty tough way, but I still maintained that, if she needed it, to keep going and I would be supportive as always). After a few weeks of no contact between us, I asked her to talk to me and let me know what had gone down, and to allow me to say a few things I had on my mind. We spoke for a few minutes, and then I asked her if my questioning of NA was a factor in her choice to leave me. She told me that, in fact, it was a factor. Well, that was about all I needed to know. I told her I felt that NA was making her selfish, self absorbed and secluded from the world. She told me I was wrong and then she left, angrily, not looking back. I was crushed, and I feel as if I was replaced by a group of strangers in a church basement.

Since then, I have seen her out and about a few times, and she just makes eye contact and keeps walking. That, too, breaks my heart.

I know that in the eyes of her group, I am not recovered, but in my eyes I beat my monster on my own, and I am better for having done it. I can, happily, report that I have maintained sobriety on my own, and I feel better than ever in a lot of ways.

Thankfully, after she left me for good I turned to google (my personal higher power... haha) for some answers, and I found your site. I began to read the articles, until I read them all. Then, I moved on to the letters. Those letters also broke my heart all over again. The stories people have about their experiences with 12 step religion are just heartrending. I can not believe the damage this program has done. The fact that you are out there doing the work you are is an absolute godsend for those folks who find themselves in the position of needing to question the unquestionable institutions of XA. All I can say is thank you for your work. It is a marvelously well written and well researched chunk of writing, and I applaud you and thank you for it.

So, on to a few questions... My personal experience within the rooms is limited to a couple meetings, and I know yours is limited as well, but in your opinion is there much of a tangible difference between AA and NA? I ask because the majority of the information I have found online deals with AA, and my questions mostly regard NA. I have noticed for myself that most things about AA seem to apply to my ex, so I have a gut feeling that things are essentially the same between the two.

Also, do you have any advice on maybe finding out more about the roots of the NA organization? I really enjoy the writing you have done about Bill Wilson, and I would love to hear more about the founders of NA.

Thats all I got for now, Orange (sorry for the length, but it is all the weight I have about this coming off, as it does every time I recount this story in writing). But please, keep doing what you do, it is very very needed.

Thanks again Orange, keep fighting the good fight!

Love and gratitude,


Hello William,

Thanks for the letter, and thanks for all of the compliments. As you can see, I am way backlogged in answering email.

I'm sorry to hear about your troubles. I hate to say it, but that story sounds very familiar — so familiar that I had to double-check to see if I had already printed it. Yeh, other people have gone through the same thing too.

And yes, that growing selfishness and obsession and total involvement with A.A./N.A. that you described is a classic hallmark of cults — any cult. It's "exhibit A" for why those things really are cults.

And letting the cult decide whether she should break up with you is another dead giveaway — "The cult takes over the individual's decision-making process". Both of those things are in the cult test.

And then there is "Inability to tolerate criticism" — she went non-linear when you criticized her involvement with N.A. That's in the cult test, too.

Like you, I didn't go to a huge number of A.A. or N.A. meetings, but I did go to approximately equal numbers of the two for a few months. They are very similar, and the differences between the two are largely cosmetic. N.A. considers itself more hip, and they cuss more; and you won't hear the hero worship of Bill Wilson and Doctor Bob like you will in A.A., but otherwise, the differences between the two organizations are not worth mentioning. In my web site, I usually use the name "Alcoholics Anonymous", but I am often actually talking about both. I consider them the same thing, even though some members insist that they are totally different, and legally independent. It's all the same stuff, just dressed up in different suits of clothes.

I don't know a lot about the origins of N.A., other than that it's the same old story of some A.A. member decided to adapt the A.A. program to his own ends, allegedly to serve the needs of some non-alcoholics — in this case, narcotics users. That is basically how all of the 200 or so 12-Step organizations came into existence — just "adapt The Program" to supposedly serve some other special needs. (Which of course reveals that the 12 Steps are not about alcoholism at all.)

And the differences between the "programs" are usually so small that they just edit out the words "alcohol" and "alcoholic" in Steps One and Twelve, and insert some other words there, and hey presto! — it's now a cure for something else.

And you know, that's actually how Bill Wilson made the Oxford Group practices into a "cure for alcoholism" — just edit out the words "sin" and "sinner", and insert the words "alcohol" and "alcoholic", and hey presto! — it's a "new organization with a newly-discovered wonderful cure — the greatest medical and spiritual discovery of the century".

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we've been
**    bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the
**    bamboozle. The bamboozle has captured us. Once you give a
**    charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.
**        == Carl Sagan

Date: Tue, September 30, 2008 2:41 pm     (answered 15 May 2009)
From: "John M."
Subject: nice to hear from you Orange

Been looking at your website and hoping for the latest update. Nice to hear about the geese, by the way.

My question for you is very simple: do you think that the therapists/doctors recommend AA because they really think it works, or do you think that they recommend it just to get the "alkies" out of the way.

Hello John,

Oooh, you would ask a question like that. That is very tough, you know. I would have to be psychic and read people's minds to give a complete answer to that question. But I'll guess.

Just as a guess, I think that the answer is both of them, and also despair — as in, "A.A. is all that we have handy, and it's free."

  • Some doctors/therapists are misinformed, and believe the propaganda about how well it works. Some of them are even A.A. members.
  • And for sure, some doctors/therapists just want to get the alcoholics out the door, and don't believe that anything really works.
  • And then some hope that A.A. might do some good, and they imagine that it's better than nothing (which isn't true).

That's my guess.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*    The Sagan rule: "Extraordinary claims require
*    extraordinary evidence." The far-fetched claims
*    of Bill Wilson that Frank Buchman's cult religion
*    could cure alcoholism have not been backed up
*    by even a little ordinary evidence, never mind
*    some extraordinary evidence.

Date: Sun, September 28, 2008 11:49 pm     (answered 16 May 2009)
From: "James D."
Subject: Bill W.

Hi, just what you need, another e-mail from someone happy with AA. Let me start not with the success rate of the whole world, but with the success rate of me. I have a year sober and had 10 yrs. when I decided the program didn't work. Are there happy people in AA with many years of sobriety? Yes. I'm diggin' my one year and all the research you present can't change that.

I'm not mind-controlled, I go to meetings when I want, work the steps as I feel the need, and then there's this test. Is my life better being in AA? Yes, if 20 other people find they don't like AA that's fine with me.

You see, as an individual, not a statistic, it's up to me to navigate through life and I choose AA to be a part of that navigation. Some people are spontaneously healed by God (or themselves, if you prefer), some just stop, some find other programs; I would never fault them for finding their own path, in fact, there are things I could learn from them. Stopping on my own with a ton of knowledge didn't cut it, God saw fit to let me drink and use, there just isn't a variety of programs or disciplines around me, so better AA than nothing.

It saddens me when pompous professionals or "policemen" turn an individual choice into a "must", I stay away from those people but I respect their right to speak their mind.

It is awesome to be clean and sober however ya get there. The success rate is not important to me, I see hundreds of people with years of clean time. The issue is the desire to stay sober and that can't be manufactured as yet.

We live in a culture that reinforces all kinds of excess, through music, through movies, etc. It's like drinking and using drugs are big fun. So an alternate reinforcement is needed sometimes. A few counseling sessions may not cut it. If outta a hundred people 5 or 10 stay clean maybe they really want to and the others don't.

What you call a cult is to me an oasis.

When someone is shooting dope, sayin' "hey, fella just stop" usually doesn't work, but when he gets sick of it, putting him with others who have stopped for a long time just may give him some hope, and the 12 steps are a way to know one's self which is a worthy goal.



Hello Jimmyblues,

Congratulations on your sobriety and new clean lifestyle.

The fact that you are enjoying attending the meetings of a cultish social club does not change the fact that that club is very harmful to other people, and does not work to make people get clean and sober.

The fact that you have seen hundreds of clean and sober people doesn't change the fact that you have also seen thousands of people who weren't clean and sober, and didn't get there.

It is downright selfish — not spiritual — to say that you aren't bothered by the thousands of people for whom A.A. is not helpful, or even harmful.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    Rev. Jim Jones said, "Drink the red koolaid. It
**    has cured millions. RARELY HAVE we seen it fail...
**    But then again, the green koolaid is good too.
**    Take what you want, and leave the rest."

Date: Mon, September 22, 2008 4:23 pm     (answered 16 May 2009)
From: "Edward A."
Subject: Need Help on the wiki plus links to new oxford information MI 5

H from Edward.

Regarding the Effectiveness of Alcoholics Anonymous had problem with this user.

I feel I have been doing a one man battle and to give you an example of what goes unpunished and unbanned take a look at this link:

My complaint is that I have been helping edit but most of the editors on the Wiki page are pro AA and will tolerate the type of editing shown below. An effectiveness of Alcoholics Anonymous page had to be created to side step the type of aggressive editing tolerated. I need support in complaint to the wiki administrators involving this user, and support and help in editing.

Past History:

My complaint. Wikipedia: Gaming the system an examination of the three revert rule being abused by Mr Miles that has resulted in bans on editors to keep them from posting on the wiki pages. Administrator Seicer commented that deletion of material that was negative of AA was completely unacceptable.

Entire sections on the studies section of Alcoholics Anonymous being removed, leaving only those favouring AA, resulting in an edit war and editors banned from posting:

Recent History of Reversal:

This user constantly goes unchallenged and unbanned for his abuses while I get banned. P.S. pleae


Here are links to information on the Oxford group

and Himmler as seen by foreign british intellligence:

Hello Edward,

Thanks for the heads-up. Sorry to be so slow in answering email — I'm way behind, but getting caught up.

I gave up on Wikipedia a long time ago because there are always vultures hovering over the pages about Alcoholics Anonymous, ready to erase any information that they don't like. True information that is unfavorable to A.A. is gone in minutes. That makes Wikipedia useless as a source of information on controversial subjects.

Wikipedia is okay when there is no disagreement. I notice that the pages on Canon camera lenses are full and complete and don't get erased. But any information about A.A. or its sordid history is heavily censored. I think the moral of the story is that we will just have to use other channels of information, like this one.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    Gandalf said, "The demons of the darkness howl in
**    pain when you shine the light of truth on them."

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Last updated 14 October 2013.
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