Letters, We Get Mail, CXXIX

Date: Wed, June 3, 2009 11:36 am     (answered 3 July 2009)
From: "william n."
Subject: CARF Accreditation for Treatment Centers

Hi Terrance (aka Orange),

Thanks for responding to my question about my local halfway house, where I explained that they use their residents for manual slave labor for repairs, construction, etc. I am in touch with local officials about the use of non-union laborers, possible code violations, etc. I found out the CEO of the halfway house was a contractor for many years so he has connections all over New Jersey. It wouldn't surprise me a bit if he knew how to skirt local officials and restrictions.

Hello again, Bill,

Thanks for the follow-up. This is interesting.

Recently I received something in the mail soliciting donations to this halfway house, where the preferred method of treatment is to ram the 12-step AA program down its residents' gullets. A brief "fact sheet" was enclosed claiming a "97% success rate among its graduates." That's quite a feat considering AA doesn't work. I wondered how they came up with this number so I asked them. They told me they take surveys, but only of the graduates.

This is how they arrived at their "success" rate for 2007:

  • Total participants: = 1245 (total number of men who have walked thru the door since it opened)
  • Graduates = 409 (33% made it through the program. They cite this number proudly because the program is so "rigorous")
  • Surveys mailed = 155 (very small number sample)
  • No. of surveys returned = 43 (very small return = about 28% sent back the survey.)

There are plenty of problems with this survey, starting with the small number (155) of people sampled. Secondly, as you point out so well, they only count the ones who graduate, and out of those, only the ones who return the survey — and even then they only have a success rate 27%. This means they fail nearly all of the time. It's a joke. Also, if you're a graduate but you're drinking again I think you'd be less inclined to bother returning a survey admitting, "Sorry but I'm drunk as a skunk again."


The results of the survey are meaningless because of the margin of error. I work in the actuarial dept. of an insurance company and I can tell you these results are junk math. Actually, they border on criminal deceptiveness.


I contacted the halfway house and told them I didn't think much of their survey, that the results were questionable. They sent me an e-mail with the following statement:

Our methodology for data collection and reporting of outcomes has been consistently approved by CARF — the Commission on the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities. Freedom House voluntarily participates in this accrediting process, and we recently achieved our fourth consecutive three-year accreditation (their highest award). In addition, the outcomes measurement process is reviewed by the State Division of Addiction services as well as County and United Way funders as part of the monitoring process. Information is submitted to most sources on an annual basis in funding applications and/or site visit reports.

Whenever this halfway house cranks up its publicity machine to beg for more funds, it flaunts the fact that it is CARF accredited. CARF is the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities. It seems becoming CARF accredited was a big deal to this place. So I went ahead and contacted CARF and asked them a few questions. First I asked them about what it meant to be CARF accredited.

It means there are a lot of nuts and bolts building code stuff that rehabs must adhere to, like adequate plumbing, lighting, fire alarms, sprinkler systems, evacuation drills, ventilation, means of egress, etc. This is all well and good and I expected as much.

Next I asked whether the success rate of the rehab was taken into account and if so, what the minimum CARF requirement was. Suddenly the line went quiet. No response. I asked again and the CARF rep. sort of stuttered out a response saying (and dig this) "Well, we let the rehab determine its own definition of success and as long as they achieve it, they're in compliance."

This shocked me. I asked the question a couple of different ways, you know, to make sure I really heard what they were saying. But the reply was the same. When I asked them if they could fax the section in their manual to me that says this they balked and told me I was free to buy the manual (through CARF) online — at the price of $150.00! (And no, the manual is not at the local library either.) By now they were also getting a bit uneasy talking to me. "Who are you?" they demanded.

So I'm left to conclude that CARF accreditation, which I'm sure many treatment centers use as a shining example of their virtue to get us to dip into our pockets for donations and tax dollars, is really worthless when it comes to a therapeutic or treatment guidelines. In effect they have no guidelines, recommendations or expectations when it comes to whether the patients at their accredited rehabs get or stay sober. So I'm thinking there might be some kind of tie-in or collusion between AA, CARF, SAMHASA, NAADAC, and all the rest of the usual suspects.

It's unbelievable. It makes my head hurt.


Hi again, Bill,

Thank you for a very revealing letter. The level of corruption and fraud and deceit in the 12-Step empire is just unbelievable, isn't it? And to think that our Senators and Congressmen (Congresspersons?) give money to that organized crime unit. And judges sentence people to it....

That CARF accreditation reminds me for all the world of the fake accreditation of children's prison camps that happened in Samoa. Two American con artists set up a "tough love" gulag for children in Samoa, which was conveniently far from the American laws against child abuse, and they bragged that they were accredited by the "Samoan Youth Rehabilitation Agency". But it turns out that one of the two American criminals was the person who created a corporation called "Youth Rehabilitation Administration Agency of Western Samoa", which no investigators could actually find, and which had nothing to do with the Samoan government or any other official agency. The two con artists created their own bogus accreditation agency and then certified themselves as being good, and bragged in their literature that they were certified and accredited, and had a high-quality establishment that complied with all of the rules....

It was actually so low-quality that when a concerned parent videotaped interviews with prisoner children who described physical and sexual abuse in the boot camp and showed the tapes to U.S. embassy officials, the embassy staff rescued the children.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    Whisky is a good thing in its place. There is nothing like it for
**    preserving a man when he is dead.  If you want to keep a dead man,
**    put him in whisky; if you want to kill a live man put whisky in him.
**      ==  Guthrie.

[The next letter in the chain is here.]

Date: Thu, June 4, 2009 6:00 am     (answered 3 July 2009)
From: "Oren W."
Subject: Your article

I just stumbled on your article, "It's Spiritual, not Religious". I found it well written, certainly well reasearched and most interesting. All I can say as far as your feelings on AA is — Then just don't go.

Thank you,
Oren W.

Hi Oren,

Thanks for the compliments.

I do not go to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Unfortunately, lots of other people do not have that choice. Judges routinely sentence people to the meetings of A.A., even thought that is illegal and unconstitutional. And then many more people are deceived by so-called "treatment programs" whose only real program is sending people to A.A. meetings and telling them to get a sponsor (for only $13,000 for the "treatment".)

The last two triennial surveys that the A.A. headquarters performed showed that about two-thirds of all of the A.A. members were originally coerced into the organization.

Now I ask you, honestly, what kind of a church is it that has to force people to attend its services?

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    I would give nothing for that man's religion, whose 
**     very dog and cat are not the better for it.
**       ==  Rowland Hill

Date: Fri, June 5, 2009 8:09 am     (answered 4 July 2009)
From: "JAMES W."
Subject: Thanks for your page...........

Just took a glance, doing some serious work on myself and was googling resources.......Your page looked great,
James "Shoes" W.
Seattle, WA

Hi James,

Thanks for the compliment. And you have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    All of the armies on earth do not destroy so many of the
**    human race, nor alienate so much property, as drunkenness.
**      == Bacon

Date: Fri, June 5, 2009 10:39 am     (answered 4 July 2009)
From: "C"
Subject: Your Website is Great!

I disagree...

Ask anyone with cancer who entered into a period of "remission" if they would have passed that time up if they had known it was going to come back.

Hello C,

I don't understand your logic or see what you are trying to say there. Sick people are usually happy to be getting better, even if it is only for a while.

Your article/website/nonsense is a waste of time. You based your entire opinion on AA's success in curing alcoholism and making people stop drinking. Clearly you know nothing of addiction or alcoholism and are not an addict or alcoholic.

That is not true. It is very important whether Alcoholics Anonymous actually makes alcoholics quit drinking, like it claims to do. But it is also important whether the under-age girls who come to A.A. or N.A. seeking help are raped and sexually exploited, like is happening in many A.A. groups now. It is also important whether A.A. breaks up marriages. It is important whether A.A. makes people into obsessed cult members who spend all of their time at the A.A. clubhouse. Heck, you should read the whole "horror stories" list.

And yes, I do know about alcoholism and addictions. Been there, done that.

If you knew just one thing or did any research whatsoever, you would understand that AA's 12 steps are not about not drinking and not using drugs, they are about changing the way one thinks and lives. They are about helping people who have self-destructive thoughts think constructively about their life.

Speaking of the first two lines, I certainly do know that, and have said so many times. Alcoholics Anonymous is not about quitting drinking. Alcoholics Anonymous is actually a cult religion that masquerades as a cure for alcoholism. As Bill Wilson said,

To some people we need not, and probably should not emphasize the spiritual feature on our first approach. We might prejudice them. At the moment we are trying to put our lives in order. But this is not an end in itself. Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God...
The Big Book, 3rd and 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, Chapter 6, Into Action, pages 76-77.

The third sentence in your last paragraph, "They are about helping people who have self-destructive thoughts think constructively about their life", is just so much unrealistic fluff. Alcoholics Anonymous is not good psychotherapy.

Alcohol is a by-product of the destructive mind. Whether replapse occurs after 30 days, 3 years or 30 years is insignificant. Any amount of time spent sober and restored to sanity is worth it. Only God can help the Alcoholic and Addict. AA claims no responsibility for rescuing the drunks, but rather that divine help is mandatory to remain sober.

That is pure cult dogma. Only one single sentence there is true.

  • Alcohol is a flammable hydrocarbon solvent that produces intoxication if consumed in quantity, not a "by-product of the destructive mind."
  • It matters a whole lot whether someone relapses in 30 days or 30 years. The quality of life will be totally different. So will the condition of his liver and brain.
  • It is true that time spent sober is worth it.
  • It is not true that "Only God can help the Alcoholic and Addict." They can help themselves, and they do. (By the way, why is Alcoholics Anonymous called a "self-help movement" when it says that you can't help yourself?)
  • A.A. constantly engages in self-promotion and claims that it has saved millions of lives, so your statement that "AA claims no responsibility for rescuing the drunks" is obviously false.
  • About, "...divine help is mandatory to remain sober." Again, wrong. Lots of people help themselves. Even atheists quit drinking.
    And who says that A.A. has a hotline to God and can order miracles on demand? Jesus never said that. There is nothing in the Bible about that. "Miracles on demand" is downright heretical. But Frank Buchman said that "Only God can change human nature", and Buchman said that his Oxford Group cult had a hotline to God with "spiritual live wires", and "the age of miracles had returned", and Bill Wilson just copied all of it.

Again chew on this: Ask anyone with cancer who entered into a period of "remission" if they would have denied themselves that time if they had known it was just going to come back.

Again, that is a nonsense point. Of course Farrah Fawcett was happy to have some time in remission from cancer before she died. But that is not evidence that A.A. does anything good.

And you are pointedly ignoring and trying to rationalize away the obvious fact that if Alcoholics Anonymous actually worked, then it wouldn't be necessary to keep on talking about how wonderful it was that some alcoholics had a few months or years of sobriety before they relapsed and died drunk.

And again, you are contradicting yourself. Just above, you declared that
"AA's 12 steps are not about not drinking and not using drugs",
"AA claims no responsibility for rescuing the drunks",
but now you are trying to imply that A.A. is somehow due the credit for alcoholics having short periods of sobriety before they return to drinking and die.

Yours truly,
a grateful recovering (never to fully recover) alcoholic.

(P.S. I know you, I see you every day, and I know you are just another asshole who posted that website just to see how many drunks and degenerates you could piss off and get to respond.)

And sorry to tell you, but you're fucking ugly! I may be an alcoholic, but I can put the booze down with the help of GOD and AA. You'll be ugly your whole damn life. There's no 12 step program for that motherfucker!!! LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And you have a good day too, C.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    The sight of a drunkard is a better sermon against that vice
**    than the best that was ever preached on that subject.
**       == Saville

Date: Sun, June 7, 2009 4:06 am     (answered 4 July 2009)
From: "Richard C."
Subject: Christian right homeschoolers

I was struck reading your information about cults when it hit me how many of the traits you identify for cults also apply to far right Christian homeschoolers. My research leads me to believe that this group represents the greatest threat to our democracy. In the first place, they are sequestering their children, which is a very bad sign. History teaches us that when children are isolated, especially for religious reasons, it always goes badly for the children. And by badly I mean sexual abuse and battering or being thrown out. The YSL group in Texas is a prime example.

Rich C.


Hello Richard,

Thanks for the letter. I totally agree. One of the more disconcerting things that I noticed while putting together the cult test was how pervasive cultish behavior is in our society. There is just lots and lots of it around. And it passes for "mainstream religions" in a lot of cases. And even worse, as just "normal behavior".

Dr. Arthur J. Deikman, M.D., said the same thing in his book, The Wrong Way Home: Uncovering the Patterns of Cult Behavior in American Society. Dr. Deikman was on a Congressional panel that studied cults after Jim Jones' People's Temple blew up in mass murder/suicide, and they killed Congressman Leo J. Ryan. What bothered Dr. Deikman the most wasn't the behavior of raving lunatics like Jim Jones, but rather the behavior of previous Presidential administrations, government agencies, the military, corporations, churches, and many other mainstream institutions that exhibited the same cultish behaviors, although to a less dangerous degree.

Dr. Deikman reduced the cultish behavior to just four items, but they are powerful ones:

  • Demands for compliance with the group,
  • Dependence on a leader,
  • Devaluing the outsider, and
  • Avoiding dissent.

That sure does sound familiar.

And I totally agree about how sequestering hurts the children. I am reminded of this story: About 17 years ago, when we were having an all-night jam session on the front porch, a rather nervous and insecure young fellow rode up on a bicycle and asked to join in. We let him, and I loaned him my guitar. He played the guitar very well. Gradually, he told us that he had just escaped from a fanatical religious compound where he had been raised. He had learned to play the guitar by sneaking little listening sessions on a transistor radio, and copying what he had heard. I was blown away. Talk about doing it the hard way and overcoming obstacles. It's hard to really imagine what that kid went through. I don't pretend to know everything, but I sure as heck know that isn't the right way to raise children.

Have a good day. And here it is, the 4th of July, so here's to Freedom — both freedom of religion, and freedom from religion, depending on what some people are doing to others.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    It may be difficult to determine where religious
**    beliefs end and mental illness begins.
**        ==  Elaine Cassel

Date: Mon, June 8, 2009 4:38 pm
From: "Dave M."
Subject: thanks

You nailed it. Went to a big book meeting and they said I was the problem, spiritual malady, self centered. Etc.

When I asked what to do about the cravings, they said pray!!

Great response, so when God does not answer I get mad and drink??

Talk about hocus pocus, bring out the smoking mirrors and magic ball.

My problem is drinking, when I don't drink my problems are less.

I am responsible for my actions, if I shoot someone I go to jail. Simple.

Thanks for your info!


Hi Dave,

Thanks for the letter, and thanks for the thanks. Yes, you've got it. Have a good day and a good life.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   What other "disease" do we treat with confession of sins
**   and "surrender" and "Let Go and Let God"?

Date: Wed, June 10, 2009 9:27 pm     (answered 5 July 2009)
From: "Dmitry V."
Subject: Hi Mr. Orange

Dearest Mr. Orange:

You are the biggest HERO in my life. There is not more I can say as all the good and correct things have been said about you. But I like to read your letters to see how you respond to the insults and put-downs. I have been a member of NA (some AA) for over 4 years and have read most of your papers in last few weeks. But my brainwashing has been so strong. All the insults and defamation of my character in plain open meetings. I am still recovering from all of it.

I read your letters to see how mean 12 steppers can be. There is no arguing with them, it is a really difficult concept to understand and believe.

I am glad I read about Dr. Frank Buchman in the beginning so I immediately saw the resemblances between his "spiritual principles" (meetings) and the NA meetings and the similar, or should I say identical practices.

But I do not know where to go from here. I got so used to meetings and being around other opiate addicts like me. I believe the medical community described opiate addiction as a chronic illness, but only opiate which requires chronic management such as medicine which I am on and have almost been gossiped to death for it.

You are a very intelligent man and I see have put many hard hours (years actually) into publishing your work. I do not know what else to say or ask you. From your work I now "really" understand how the steps work. That there is no higher power other than god (lower case g, as I do not want to insult my God), that basic text claims we are addicts because we have a character defect of self-centeredness coupled with our allergy to drugs, and please correct me if I am wrong.

I do not know where to go from here. I still want to go to meetings as I got so used to it and never developed any relationships outside of the fellowship (not any real one's there either). So thank you again Sir.

I so wish our health secretary or congress would fund some kind of public support groups which are monitored, similar like NA but no steps and no BS, just a place for us addicts to meet up a few times a week with a background check on everyone.

I would like to ask you this Mr. Orange. I paraphrase you " You will not find healthy, wealthy, wise people at those meetings". Please tell me Mr. orange your impression of NA. What kind of people populate that place in your experience. I mean I know some decent people but for most part I would not want most of them as my friends, just the few attractive wealthy women who I see together at a few of my meetings. Both a smart, wealthy, attractive, and Jewish like me.

It seems to me that the best talkers are con-men, liars, criminals, just bad people who I should not be around, even the non-criminal people seem kind of whacked out and possessed by the program.

Ok, thank you again and so hope to hear from you.

Hi Dmitry,

Thanks for the letter and all of the compliments.

You mentioned a couple of times "where to go from here", and your desire for better meetings. I really have to recommend SMART for starters, and probably any of the other non-cult meetings would be good too. Here's the list:

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

I know that you will find SMART meetings to be a breath of fresh air after 12-Step meetings. I did. I haven't attended meetings of any of the others, but I hear good things about them. (And the WFS is only for women.) I think that all of them have forums on their web sites, and you can find out about local meetings.

Now none of them are government-inspected or government-regulated, but they seem to be doing an okay job of cleaning house and taking care of themselves. The one huge difference between them and A.A. is that they DO NOT declare that "every meeting is independent, and we have no control over it", like A.A. does. That means that bad meetings can get terminated by the national headquarters.

Now the quality of the meetings varies, but that's okay. As I mentioned a long time ago, different meetings can have different styles or feelings. Read this, and basically, don't just go to one meeting group and assume that they are all the same. There are lots of different flavors of ice cream. Same with meetings.

The last one, Rational Recovery, is no longer a meeting group, it is a technique. You can read the book "Rational Recovery", and get the idea, or just read my page on The Lizard-Brain Addiction Monster.

The line about, "It seems to me that the best talkers are con-men, liars, criminals,..." rings so true. One of the problems with 12-Step meetings is how the old-timers get to be so practiced and polished and skilled in delivering the raps and confusing the newcomers with bad arguments and logical fallacies. And put-downs and claims of "spirituality". And the old-timers themselves get "addicted", or habituated, to 12-Step meetings because there is nowhere else that they can pass themselves off as reputable, respectable, moral, wise and successful experts on something. So you have old con artists or addicts with years of experience at slick persuasion techniques working on the newcomers just as soon as they come in the door.

Have a good day, and a good life.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** One of the most sublime experiences we can ever have
** is to wake up feeling healthy after we have been sick.
**         Rabbi Harold Kushner

Date: Sat, June 13, 2009 6:44 pm     (answered 6 July 2009)
From: "Dmitry V."
Subject: Re: Re:

Dear Terrance,

You are my hero. I have read almost all of your papers. I am so lucky to have started your read with the pages on Frank Buchman and his Oxford group because right there I saw the similarities and it gave more incentive to read. You are the best. Your pic's of the goslings are precious and makes me feel better than any other meeting I have been at. Animals are wonderful creatures.

On this page: http://orange-papers.info/orange-rroot810.html

I quote you: "

"Tell me, would you buy a used cult religion from a couple of guys who looked like that?" — below the picture of Wilson and Smith.

Like I said I have read much of your work but got to this page today and this quote is enough for me to believe you %100 percent and that you are a good person. I love you very much. They just look so creepy, both of them. Smith looks mean and Wilson looks like a duffus. Perfect together. Bonnie and Clyde in them suits.

Thanks Orange (Terrance). Much respect for you and your work. You have saved my life. Thank you. Bye.

Hi again, Dmitry,

Thanks for all of the compliments. I'm glad that my writings have been able to help you in some way.

I know what you mean by the goslings making you feel better. They do the same thing to me. That's why I like to go down to the beach and hang out with them.

And you have a good day too.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     I love these little people; and it is not a slight thing,
**     when they, who are so fresh from God, love us.
**         ==  Charles Dickens (1812—1870)

Canada Goose goslings
These are three of the five goslings in the new family of 5. These babies were hatched
very late, so they are much younger than all of the other goslings.
This photo was taken 2009.06.23.

[The story of Carmen continues below, here.]

Date: Thu, June 11, 2009 10:33 am     (answered 5 July 2009)
From: "David W."
Subject: Thank you.

And many more will thank you........................


Hi Dave,

Thanks for the thanks, and you have a good day too.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "We AA's have never called alcoholism a disease because, technically
**   speaking it is not a disease entity."
**   ==  Bill Wilson,
**   speaking to the National Catholic Clergy Conference On Alcoholism.
**   April 21, 1960, in New York City

Date: Sun, June 14, 2009 7:48 am     (answered 6 July 2009)
From: "Parrish S. K."
Subject: orange u suck!

u have a resentment omg wtf bbq ura dry drunk no ur still drinking but ur not a real allcoholci!!!11!!!1one!!!eleventyone!!!1! milions saved grave diservice!! !11!!11!1ele vent!11!!!bi11wi!lson!! i'm serene enought to wish u enjoy ur next dui!!11!!!

OK, now that we've got that out of the way... ;-)

Hi again, Parrish,

It's good to hear from you. Thanks for the laugh.

It's good to see that Carmen got adopted, although I'm sure you have mixed feelings. I semi-adopted a stray orange tabby around my house a few years back. He always knew just what time to come around the apartment for dinner and companionship... I'd stay on the front step with him for around an hour or so each night. After a few weeks, I named him Zack. I wanted to take him in but couldn't for various reasons. After about a year, he stopped coming by. I waited out front every night for a few months, then finally gave up... I knew that was going to happen eventually, but I was hoping we'd have more time. I'm sure you miss Carmen, but at least you know that she's OK. I'll never know what happened to Zack. :-(

Yes, it's a real emotional trip. For me, it's a heart-rending lesson in non-attachment. For more than 40 years now, I've been reading about Eastern things like Zen non-attachment. Well, the goslings are a real intense lesson in non-attachment, one of the hardest lessons. A woman named Sam called them "Tribbles", after the irresistably cute little fluff-balls that just charmed everybody in an early Star Trek episode. And that's what they do to me. I want to just cuddle them and love them and keep them. It's so easy to get attached to them. It's almost impossible to not get attached to them. Letting go of them is painful. But I have to do it. Keeping them prisoners isn't love. And then I suffer from "empty nest syndrome" (for real), when I go home without a gosling.

And of course I couldn't miss the obvious point that Carmen was actually using me as "Plan B". She really wanted to get adopted by a goose family, and just used me as a big warm body and friend and protector to go to when everything else failed. It's a humbling experience. I could write a book titled, "Second Fiddle to a Goose".

On the bright side, the last time I saw Carmen, about a week and a half ago, she was still doing just fine and getting big and starting to grow feathers. She is still with her new family, and the parents seem to be taking them upriver and away from the city more and more. I see less and less of her and her family.

And she still pointedly avoids talking to me or getting too close. I think she really is worried that I might grab her and take her home again, and she doesn't want that now. My desire to continue the relationship is another thing that I have to let go of. Of course I'd love it if she would at least come on over and say "hi" and talk to me. But she won't do it.

But then again, another family of geese hatched out a brood of goslings very late, and they are still in the cute yellow fluffball stage, and they are very friendly, and happily chirp and come running when they see me (because they know I'm going to feed them). So I let go of one thing and transfer my attentions to another, and life goes on.

Canada Goose goslings

These goslings are all trying to get under their mother's wing — the same wing. You would think that it would be easier if they would split the load and go half under each wing, but no, they all want to get together under the same wing. This is the new family of 5. These babies were hatched very late, so they are much younger than all of the other goslings.
This picture dates from three weeks ago, on 2009.06.13.

[The story of Carmen continues here.]

I happened to be browsing Wikipedia a while back and found an interesting entry. You know the slogan, of course, about "the program doesn't fail people, people fail the program". Turns out that this particular rhetorical device is known as an "antimetabole".
Thought this might be useful information for you, maybe something you'd like to include on your page about rhetoric and debating tactics.

Yes, I'll have to check that out. That does sound like a good addition to the list of propaganda techniques.

I've always considered antimetaboles to be very trite, even before I knew what the term was. They're supposed to sound profound, but they're just one of the thought-stopping devices you've talked about on your site.

In the movie "Mystery Men", there's one character who trains the others to be superheroes, and he's constantly spouting antimetaboles, which shows just how ridiculous he is. Finally at one point, "The Sphinx" is admonishing one of his trainees about losing his temper.

Sphinx: Yes. You must learn control. For unless you learn to master your rage--
Student (cutting him off): Your rage will become your master? Huh? That's what you were going to say, right? Isn't it?
Sphinx (looks around for a few moments, then): Not... necessarily.

Hope you're doing well... TTYL, P

Yes, I'm doing great, thank you. I'm sore and aching and sun-baked, but that's okay. We just had our annual Waterfront Blues Festival, four days of music, and I carried around a heavy backpack of lenses and batteries and cameras and water and other stuff for four days, and my back is complaining. I don't know how a backpack gets so heavy when you only put five lenses into it... (but it somehow always does :-). But anyway, it's a fun time.

Oh, and you know what's interesting? This is the ninth year in a row that I've done this, and for nine years, I've never had a problem with drinking or relapsing, in spite of the fact that there are thousands of people there drinking beer and wine. And there is a lot of pot-smoking, too. The whole fear-mongering thing about "Avoid people, places, and things..." (or else) is just not true. You don't have to stop living just because you decided not to kill yourself with alcohol or tobacco or drugs. Now maybe someone who is freshly detoxed and still shaky would be better off staying away from drinking scenes, but obviously you don't have to spend the rest of your life avoiding the real world out there, and being afraid of being exposed to temptation.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    Music is the art of the prophets, the only art that can calm
**    the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent
**    and delightful presents God has given us.
**       ==  Luther

Portland Waterfront Blues Festival
Portland Waterfront Blues Festival, 3 July 2009

Date: Sat, June 13, 2009 8:14 pm     (answered 9 July 2009)
From: "Dmitry V."
Subject: why called Anonymous?

Dear Orange,

I was reading your papers and read about how Dr. Bob would concoct fake ailments to get alcoholics into private rooms against hospital policies in order for him and Bill to come there and preach (force) their Buchmanism gospel on them. I was thinking that maybe they (Bill+Bob) called themselves anonymous so the hospital staff would not find out who Dr. Bob really was — an alcoholic — while they did their thing in the patients room. What did the hospital staff think when both of them came to visit the alcoholic (patient)?

Just a thought.

I read what you wrote about the alcoholics who were then, along with Bill and Bob, part of the OG and wanted to 'just remain anonymus'. Mr. Orange, do you know why they called themselves anonymous?

Thank you Sir.

Hello again, Dmitry,

The hospital staff knew that Dr. Bob was an alcoholic. He had such a bad reputation that the joke around Akron was that if you went to the proctologist Dr. Robert H. Smith for an operation on your rear end, that "you were really betting your ass." And there is a story that when Dr. Bob was putting one alcoholic patient in the hospital, and Dr. Bob explained to one of the old nurses that they (he and Bill Wilson) had a new cure for alcoholism, the nurse retorted, "I hope you used it on yourself."

The anonymity seems to have a lot more to do with shame. In spite of the fact that A.A. constantly brags about how they want to reduce the shame of alcoholism, they actually work to increase it. And then A.A. promises the newcomers that their shame will remain confidential and secret.

  1. The alcoholics are first shamed into admitting that they are "alcoholics" (whatever that word actually means). And A.A. claims that it won't embarass the new members by publicly revealing their shameful membership in this secret society for alcoholic losers.

  2. Then the alcoholics have to "admit" that they are powerless over alcohol, and that their lives are "unmanageable" (Step 1).

  3. Then the alcoholics have to confess or admit that they are insane (Step 2).

  4. Then they have to make long list of everything they did wrong in their entire lives (Step 4),

  5. and confess it to another person and God (Step 5). That's a lot of shame.

  6. And then the language in the Steps gets progressively worse, too.
    • In Step 4 it's supposed to be just a "searching and fearless moral inventory", which by definition would have to list all of the good stuff and bad stuff. An inventory counts goods in the warehouse and valuable product on the shelves just as much as broken stuff and worthless junk. And doing a financial audit and balancing the books requires counting both assets and liabilities: all of the cash in the bank and accounts receivable and valuable property, and the debts owed.
    • But in Step 5 the alcoholics are supposed to "admit" "the exact nature of our wrongs." So you don't get to list the good stuff, just wrongs. That's more shame.
    • Then in Step 6 those "wrongs" have become "these defects of character". So now the alcoholics are inherently internally flawed and defective, so defective that only God can fix them. You thought you just had a problem with drinking too much alcohol, but now they are telling you that you are a defective person. More shame.
    • Then in Step 7 the wrongs have become "shortcomings", as in "moral shortcomings". That's more shame.

  7. Then, of course, you have to make another list of wrongs, all of the people you ever harmed or pissed off, and go "make amends" to them all, in Steps 8 and 9. That's more guilt and shame.

  8. So the anonymity is supposed to protect the members from outsiders learning about all of those shameful things.

There are two other big reasons for the policy of anonymity:

  1. To protect the A.A. organization from embarrassment when A.A. members relapsed and returned to drinking. Bill Wilson saw how lots of publicity and fame for sobering up alcoholics had worked out for Frank Buchman and his Oxford Group. It was bad. When the O.G. temporarily sobered up Russell Firestone, the prodigal son of the famous tire manufacturer Harvey Firestone in Akron, the O.G. broadcast the news far and wide and claimed that they had a magical new spiritual cure for alcoholism. They milked the story for all it was worth. But then Russell Firestone relapsed spectacularly, in all of the wrong high society places, in drunken scenes a lot like the movie "Arthur". The Oxford Group was embarrassed, and no one had a ready answer for why Jesus Christ, Frank Buchman, prayer, and the Oxford Group had failed to cure Russell Firestone and keep him sober.

    Bill Wilson wanted to avoid the same publicity disasters when his alcoholics relapsed, so Wilson established a policy of anonymity where none of the members publicized their A.A. membership by name, so that outsiders couldn't keep track of who A.A. was or was not successfully keeping sober.

    We are seeing this problem repeat itself now, with famous movie stars and other celebrities cycling through the "rehab treatment centers". It's either Mel Gibson or Lindsay Lohan or Tara Conner or somebody... It keeps the supermarket tabloids selling. And everybody can see what the usual routine is: The movie stars pay exhorbitant amounts, from $15,000 to $40,000 to go to an upscale place like Promises of Malibu or the Betty Ford Clinic, and they get 28 days of indoctrination, and come out yammering slogans about how wonderful it is, and they go on TV and proclaim that they have a new lease on life, and then they are often busted again for DUI or possession within a month or two. Celebrities going to rehab has become a joke. It's making it far too easy for the public to notice how bad the failure rate of "treatment" really is.

  2. The other aspect of anonymity was shown by the story of Rollie Helmsley, who in 1940 was a famous baseball player with a bad drinking problem. He bragged to the newspaper reporters that he had gotten sober through participation in a new organization called "Alcoholics Anonymous", and his story was printed in lots of newspapers. Bill Wilson flipped out when he saw someone else getting more publicity from A.A. than him, so he declared that everybody, especially celebrities, had to remain anonymous and not publicly reveal their A.A. membership:

    "It would be harmful if the Fellowship promoted itself by publicizing, through the media of radio and TV, the sobriety of well-known public personalities who became members of AA. If these personalities happened to have slips, outsiders would think our movement is not strong and they might question the veracity of the miracle of the century."
    Twenty-Four Hours a Day, "Compiled by a member of the Group at Daytona Beach, Florida", Hazelden Foundation; November 30.

    The miracle of the century?

    Then Bill Wilson went on the road and spent the next few years touring the country and promoting Alcoholics Anonymous and breaking his anonymity and getting his story and picture printed in the newspapers, again and again. By 1944 Bill Wilson was the most famous "anonymous" person in the USA.

    Bill's picture was featured in a newspaper article on alcoholism in the August 9, 1942 issue of the Knoxville Journal.
    Chester E. Kirk Collection of the John Hay Library at Brown University

    So basically, Bill Wilson just couldn't stand it if someone else got more publicity than him, so everybody else had to remain anonymous and not get any fame or public recognition. Nobody else could be famous or have their name publicly associated with Alcoholics Anonymous but Bill Wilson (and Dr. Bob, and later, "Mrs." Marty Mann).

    Note that such an anonymity policy also made it basically impossible for someone else to gain enough fame and name recognition and reputation to displace Bill Wilson as the leader of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    What is fame? — The advantage of being known by people of whom
**    you yourself know nothing, and for whom you care as little.
**         ==  Stanislaus

Date: Sat, June 13, 2009 7:35 am     (answered 9 July 2009)
From: "Adam G."
Subject: Thank You for your Writing on the AA cult.

I wanted to personally thank you for your writing on the practices of AA, and for solidifying the theories I too had, I've worked my ass off doing what "they" told me I had to do to stay sober. I did all that nonsense @ the expense of my family and career's well being.

I had issues as a young punk kid. I will not say that AA is the worst thing that could happen to someone, but people change. They've tried to make me feel like a terrible person, and have been talking behind my back, even though I had started a meeting, put together a retreat, done countless other things to improve the quality of the "program". To no avail, I was miserable and so was my family.

Things have changed, and I really appreciate you putting light to the whole thing. I get to THINK AGAIN, and be a man. I was only 23 first going into AA, I'm almost 27 years old now. I have my shit together and a very happy family that I get to be a part of. I never had ANY real responsibility before and I partied my ass off, and got in a bit of trouble. Everything you have written I find to be true in my experience with them. You sure did your homework, and put together a great piece.

Thank You.

Adam G.

Hi Adam,

Thanks for the letter, and thanks for the compliments. I'm glad to hear that things worked out for you — or rather, that you worked things out for you, and you escaped from both addiction and the madhouse.

Have a good day.

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    A sound mind in a sound body; if the former be the glory of
**    the latter, the latter is indispensable to the former.
**        ==  Tryon Edwards

Date: Sun, June 14, 2009 2:36 pm     (answered 9 July 2009)
From: "Rob S."
Subject: Residential treatment...Canada sucks too.

You are obviously very busy so I am just passing along this story for interested readers.

After 15 years of problem drinking I finally decided to seek "treatment". Years ago an addictions doctor had informed me that the "gold standard" was residential treatment. So I paid $7000 and took a month off of work without pay, packed my bags and went. Some people thought it was overkill but I was determined to be rid of this problem once and for all.

What I found when I arrived clearly had not been fully explained on their website. Amongst the several important "omisssions" was that almost all therapy was done in groups, not individually and that it was a highly AA based curriculum, something that is not mentioned anywhere in their literature. I settled in, got to know some people and went about the business of drying out, feeling better and maybe learning a few things.

Apparently this all went too well.

I noticed that positive feedback from the "treatment team" often went to the very dramatic and emotional story-tellers in the group. "The more tears the better" seemed to be the rule. Nurses were available for one on one counselling and it tended to be these same people who needed extra attention outside of the group, perhaps rightly so if their experiences were that horrific. In one particular group staff seemed to "target" several of the most vulnerable people, literally kneeling in front of them with boxes of tissue, coaxing them to "open up".

I however, was a sitting duck. I had no traumatic past to talk about, I had a great childhood, wonderful parents, a good career and nothing to complain about. I just had a bad habit I wanted to kick. One of my buds seemed to be really good at dredging up stories that got the tears going. Walking down the hallway after I received some negative feedback for my lack of heartfelt disclosures (feedback done in the group for maximum humiliation) he whispered "Weren't you ever abused or anything?". On one occasion I actually made an excuse to talk to a nurse as I thought I would be criticized for being too quiet. Trauma, drama and tears were the currency and I had nuthin'. I was feeling good for the first time in years, had some optimism and had met some amazing people.

This is not what they wanted to see. Three weeks in a row I received increasingly negative feedback despite thinking that things were going well. "We want to see you think with your heart, not with your head" (week 1), "We think you're only telling us what we want to hear" (week 2), "We are extremely worried about you...you have a quiet arrogance about you"

Now, here's the part I haven't told yet and it sealed my fate...

I'm a doctor.

This was known to the treatment team before I arrived. I knew full well that I had to leave my professional status at the door and did so although I was as honest to others about what I did for a living as they were to me. I am sure a fly on the wall during treatment conferences could have detected the paranoia in the room about whether I was there to investigate their program, criticize their methods or write a new bestseller about my experience (as a nurse actually accused!) I left unnanounced with the distinct feeling that I had been the "designated failure" in the group from the start. One of my friends in a different group experienced exactly the same thing. I expect this is a standard cult tactic to make the "insiders" feel more... inside. Or maybe just weed out the people who detect that this is all just a bunch of crap.

Today, as a result of my willingness to seek help, and as a direct result of that institution's policies I have been investigated by Children's Aid, and my driver's license is suspended.

The word "patient" means, literally "one who is suffering".

I would give up my license to practice before I would treat anyone in this way.


Hello Rob,

Thank you for the story. I hope that you sue that so-called "treatment center" for what they did to you. (That would make for a very interesting court case, wouldn't it? A doctor sues a quack for malpractice.)

Have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    Deceivers are the most dangerous members of society. —
**    They trifle with the best affections of our nature, and
**    violate the most sacred obligations.
**    ==  George Crabbe (1754—1832)

More Letters

Previous Letters

Search the Orange Papers

Click Fruit for Menu

Last updated 19 December 2012.
The most recent version of this file can be found at https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters129.html