Letters, We Get Mail, CXXXVII

Date: Thu, August 6, 2009 7:02 pm     (answered 13 August 2009)
From: "Andy M."
Subject: Spiritual excercises of "St" Ignatius Loyola:

Some of the more fanatical adherents of 12 steppism are fond of saying that the 12 steps are closely modelled on the Spiritual Excercises of "Saint" (!) Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits:


Best wishes and watchout for the lizards.

Hi Andy,

Thanks for the link. I'll have to check that out.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Saint and martyr rule from the tomb.
**        ==  Thomas Sterns Eliot (1888—1965), Murder in the Cathedral, I

Date: Fri, August 7, 2009 3:03 pm     (answered 13 August 2009)
From: "Brooke K."
Subject: Kaiser Permanente

Hi Orange,

In response to John McC. and Kaiser Permanente.

First, allow me to say I live in the North County area of San Diego. I departed AA angrily after 15 years, and did so with the help of both an addiction specialist and therapist. I might have less anger toward AA if it had been an honest organization, but it is unable to, "self-regulate."

I did start a Women for Sobriety meeting in my area, and attended many meetings at Kaiser Permanente, San Diego and San Marcos. During this time I met several female therapists who stated to me that Kaiser does not endorse AA.

I wonder what the true connection is between Kaiser and 12 step programs. Is this part of their marketing, attempting to reach as many possible patients as possible, or, is there a link between rehab treatment and the insurance companies?

I also wonder if Kaiser NoCal and Kaiser SoCal take a different approach.



Hi Beth,

Thanks for the letter. Those are good questions. I don't know the answers, but that bears checking out.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     If you suffer, thank God! —
**       it is a sure sign you are still alive
**          ==  Elbert Hubbard

13 August 2009:

I just heard that Les Paul died today at the age of 94. He was a real genius who invented many things, including the solid-body electric guitar and self-accompanied multi-track recording. Rock and roll wouldn't be the same without him.


Date: Sat, August 8, 2009 1:58 pm     (answered 13 August 2009)
From: "AARON F."
Subject: Is AA a cult? — SoberRecovery : Alcoholism Drug Addiction Help and Information



Check out this interesting page by 12 steppers trying to rationalize and saying that cults are not necessarily bad things.

Hi again, Aaron,

Thanks for the tip. Yes, that certainly is interesting. That web site sure does go to great lengths to promote 12-Step everything (in violation of the Eleventh Tradition).

And the tap-dance is unreal. The minimization and denial... And rationalization and excuse-making... Denial ain't just a river in Egypt.

And some of the lines are absolutely priceless. I couldn't make this stuff up:

  • "AA is not a cult. It is a place where you get your brainwashed."

  • "Attractive (and less than attractive) women get hit on EVERYWHERE and I don't know why it would be a big mystery to also have it happen at an AA meeting... why men are supposed to be not men just because they are in AA I don't understand."
    Well maybe because it's supposed to be a CLEAN AND SAFE HEALING group, not a meat market... Doctors who screw their patients get their license to practice medicine revoked, and they even get put in prison for it. Why should A.A. be privileged to commit such crimes?

  • "I often proudly stated that I had successfully been brainwashed of my, "old alcoholic stinkin' thinkin"; and that aa was my new church, my (Wilsonian) cult, and my (coffee) bar..."

  • "AA is not a cult. It does have a cult like following."

  • 'There are no statistics in AA. We don't keep files or recidivism rates, I couldn't tell you if there is a 5% relapse rate or a 50% relapse rate as offered in the forward to the second addition of the Alcoholics Anonymous "textbook."'
    Well then, how can you say that "It Works"? How can you incant at every meeting, "RARELY HAVE we seen a person fail, who has thoroughly followed our path" when you don't even have a clue about what the real numbers are?

  • "Maybe it is a cult or a crutch but it taught me how to be honest, ..."

  • "I will make sure I live the AA program and not my own agenda."

  • "By definition I guess AA could be called a cult or religion but that is not what we stand for."

  • "some of you are just plain angry."
    Well gee, that answers everything, doesn't it? All criticism of A.A. is invalid because the critics are angry.

  • "You say cult, like its a bad thing (LOL). Sometimes, people need other people to help them in their experience."

  • 'I do not believe that AA is a cult, nor do I believe that it doesn't work for some people. ... I was actually told by a member of AA that because he did not work the steps properly that "he wanted to put a gun in his mouth at 25 yrs sober."'

  • "A higher power does not mean GOD to all of us. It means A higher power."
    Just ignore the fact that starting with Step 3, the Steps say "God", not "higher power".

  • "My experience is that people who are alcoholics and attend AA mtgs. and leave, being critical of AA as they leave, just want to drink again."

  • "It is true however, that most alcoholics who quit AA will drink again unless they remember where they came from."
    Ah, is that it? You just have to remember where you came from? That is a very simple program of recovery. No 12 Steps, no surrender to Higher Power, no meetings... Just remember where you came from. Sounds good to me. :-)

And then there is this very perceptive description of Clancy I.'s "Pacific Group" over on the West Coast. Clancy Imusland was the grand-sponsor of Mike Quinones, who created the "Midtown Group" in Washington DC, and both groups are notorious for sexual exploitation:

In any case, I returned to LA to live with my family in Brentwood, just down the street from the central meeting location of Clancy Imusland's Pacific Group. Naturally, I went there, because of its proximity, I had never heard about it. I was pretty lonely at the time, being a sober teenager isn't easy, and was grateful for the swarms of people surrounding me, circling meetings in the list book for me and giving me guidance.

I quickly got absorbed into the group's meeting routine, sponsorship techniques (as a sponsee), sexist practices, elitist attitude, weekends at Clancy's house, parties, dances, dinners on and on. It was my first introduction into the structured cult lifestyle. While much looser than many hard core cults, I have come to understand that the cultic phenomena is a well defined but broad spectrum of group behaviors rather than a single point a group arrives at in its practices. In my estimation AA in general falls on the lower end of that spectrum, but is definitely a major player as one of the largest thriving cultic groups that generally flies under the radar in terms of being identified as such. I would place the Pacific Group of AA in a more advanced category of behavioral control and thought reform.
While it doesn't require that one believes in a specific God, it does demand that one believes in a God, while simultaneously stating that it doesn't, by applying a kind of double-speak rhetoric, in the "as we understood Him" addendum. Double speak is one of AA's most frequently applied mind control techniques and I believe (at this time based more on experience than research) that it is the primary tool by which it retains members. For instance while it states that "the only requirement for AA membership is the desire to stop drinking", my experience has been that refusal to do the steps, get a sponsor, read the big book, and/or regularly attend meetings (usually depending on the community at least 3 times a week) clearly elicits vocal disapproval and often results in social ostracism. While the member is not banned outright he or she is shunned in various ways. The necessity, vital importance of doing all of these things, in order to physically survive alcoholism/addiction, is constantly asserted during sharing at all kinds of different meetings.
Usually a cult member will tell you that they're happier and safer than they've ever been in their lives, that the group is a force for good and helps thousands of people, regardless of what group they belong to. Rarely do current members of an active cult express misgivings about their organization, only some of the people in it who are bad apples that misrepresent the group as a whole. This kind of expression of total satisfaction can be a dead giveaway that the system is successfully utilizing thought reform techniques.

I recommend Robert J Lifton's "Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism" to anyone interested in learning about mind and behavioral control.
AA's Role in Addiction Treatment Needs Re-evaluation — Mar 10th 2008

[Readers: there is more. I recommend that you find it and read the whole post. Just use your browser's built-in search function (type slash '/', and then a keyword like "Re-evaluation", and then control-G to find again until you get the right one.)]

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Force, violence, pressure, or compulsion with a view
**     to conformity, are both uncivilized and undemocratic.
**         ==  Mohandas Gandhi

Date: Mon, August 10, 2009 2:43 pm     (answered 14 August 2009)
From: "AARON F."
Subject: Spirituality — Caron Drug


yet another drug rehab center that bases itself upon the failed 12-step "treatment" method.

Hi again, Aaron,

Ah yes, another one. Thanks for the link.

And have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    What is the new loyalty? It is above all, conformity. It is the
**    uncritical acceptance of America as it is...  It rejects inquiry
**    into the race question or socialized medicine, or public housing
**    ... regards as heinous any challenge to what is called the
**    system of private enterprise, identifying that system with
**    Americanism. It abandons evolution, repudiates the once popular
**    concept of progress, and regards America as a finished product,
**    perfect and complete.
**       ==  Henry Steele Commager (the famous historian)
**    The same criticism seems true of Alcoholics Anonymous, too.

From: "HEAL"
Subject: Cult-like Rehab Programs for Teens Missing a Link
Date: Sat, August 8, 2009 2:17 pm     (answered 14 August 2009)

Dear "Orange",

I am the national coordinator of HEAL and a survivor of an abusive "therapeutic boarding school" cult in UT called Provo Canyon School. HEAL currently links to your site on our website at
(your site is linked in the third column with the link reading "Children's Gulags—US". We have linked to you for some time and really like what you have done to expose these programs and rehabilitation cults.

Please consider adding a link to
(to supplement your Children's Gulags page(s)). We have compiled a lot of information, research, news articles, lawsuits, survivor/victim statements, and more on our site. I believe people that find your site first will be aided by finding ours as well.

Please contact me if you have any questions.

Thank you for your time.

Angela Smith
HEAL Coordinator

Hello Angela,

Thanks for the letter.

You know, I don't do link exchanges. That is, I won't link to somebody else's web site just because they will link to me. I only link to things that I like, or relevant things that the readers should be able to find, like the A.A. headquarters web site.

But I will give you a plug. I like what I see. Thanks for doing some good work.

And have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  Someday, maybe there will exist a well-informed,
**  well-considered, and yet fervent public conviction
**  that the most deadly of all possible sins is the
**  mutilation of a child's spirit.
**     ==  Erik Erikson

Date: Sat, August 8, 2009 2:21 pm     (answered 14 August 2009)
From: "Tony C."
Subject: AA Finances

Like your work. I'm putting a book together. I have only 10k words for AA, and it doesn't look good. I'm trying to find out to what extent AA is a 'wealthy' organisation today, and how that may express itself. For example I'm in the UK. There are no AA clubhouses, which sound like expensive real estate.

I also postulate that the Oxford Grip was a magnet for better-off alcoholics, looking for a cure, and than Wilson was ejected not for over evangelising an already evangelical group, but effectively being schismatic in targeting the alcoholics within the group. He does seem to have become very well-connected!

All the best,

Here's to rational recovery!


Hello Tony,

Thanks for the letter and good luck on your book.

I believe that you are right on with the idea that "Wilson was ejected ... [for] effectively being schismatic in targeting the alcoholics within the group."

Yes, exactly. In fact, the way that Bill Wilson was booted out of the Oxford Group was: He and his wife Lois went to church one Sunday morning — Rev. Sam Shoemaker's "Calvary House" Episcopal Church in New York City that served as Frank Buchman's USA headquarters — and found that they were the subject of a very critical sermon. One of Shoemaker's assistant preachers denounced Wilson's building of a subcult of alcoholics within the Oxford Group cult — "the divergent work of this secret group". (Rev. Sam Shoemaker was conveniently out of town that Sunday, and let his assistant do the dirty work.)

What Bill Wilson was doing was setting himself up as the leader of the alcoholics — in competition with the cult leader Frank Buchman — trying to usurp the throne from the King. That is a big no-no in cults — the ultimate sin, in fact — "Thou shalt have no other Gods before Me."

One biographer described it this way:

One evening Bill discovered that alcoholics from the mission had been forbidden to come to Clinton Street, and at the large O.G. [Oxford Group] gatherings it was bandied about that, after all, the Wilsons were not "really maximum," a phrase that was foreign to Bill and Lois, but nonetheless upsetting. Finally, what was referred to as the divergent work of this secret group became the subject of a Sunday-morning sermon at Calvary. Yet, in a curious way, instead of distressing Bill and his associates, this criticism stiffened their resolve.
Bill W., Robert Thomsen, page 256.

"Clinton Street" was Bill and Lois' house, where Bill was holding Oxford Group meetings for alcoholics. The "mission" was Calvary House, Sam Shoemaker's church. The phrase "not maximum" was a slur that meant that someone was not totally committed to following the dictates of the cult leader, Frank Buchman (although the official explanation was, of course, that someone was not totally committed to doing "the Will of God"). The Oxford Group came to see Bill Wilson as doing his own thing, and not "God's Will", so he was increasingly unwelcome at Oxford Group meetings.

Why is it that cults always seem to be run by two-bit petty dictators who can't stand one bit of competition?

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

P.S.: It may have been just a typo: "the Oxford Grip", but that really sounds like a good name for the cult. It might be a very astute Freudian slip.

Oh yes, and the question about finances:

The A.A. corporations — "Alcoholics Anonymous Services, Inc.", and the "General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous" — are not fantastically wealthy, only about $6 million cash in the bank, but they aren't impoverished either. And they lie and commit perjury to get more money.

Remember that the real money is in "the treatment centers", which act as the recruiting arm of the cult. "12-Step treatment" is a very big business. For years, I've been using the number of $6.8 billion per year, but the New York Times recently gave the number as $20 billion.

We have discussed the finances of the A.A. organization a bunch of times. See these links:

  1. A.A. finances for 2004
  2. Response to above letter from former A.A. EDP manager Lillianna Murphy: the A.A. headquarters is filing false financial reports with the IRS
  3. more discussion of finances
  4. links to A.A. financial reports
  5. Use Guidestar to investigate the General_Service_Board

== Orange

UPDATE: 2011.08.19: There are many more A.A. financial reports available here.

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    He has every attribute of a dog except loyalty.
**       ==  Senator Thomas P. Gore

May 14, 2009, Thursday: Day 14, continued:

Canada Geese family
Carmen and her new family

The proud father is leading his family. I think Carmen is the second gosling. The fifth gosling is dawdling behind the family, off-screen to the right.

It's funny, you know — the mother does all of the work: She makes the eggs, and then sits on them and hatches them out, and then she cares for the babies and cuddles them under her wings and keeps them warm and safe all night long — and then the father proudly shows off his children.
And people aren't much different, either, in that regard.

Canada Geese family

[The story of Carmen continues here.]

From: "cheryl l."
Subject: Thanks!
Date: Sat, August 8, 2009 3:22 pm     (answered 15 Aug 2009)

Dear Agent Orange,

I know I'm not the first ex-true believer to express my gratitude for your web site! Thanks for all the hard work and dedication you put into getting the truth out there.

My history is 30 years long with AA; I was only 24 when I first got sober. I guess I'm a little slow in "seeing the light" but it's been coming for a very long time. In fact, I have read some of the books from your reading list over the years. When I came across your web site, it was like a huge weight had been lifted. Everything I read, (haven't read the whole thing, yet), confirmed and validated all that I knew in my gut was true about AA! I have never felt more free. I've stopped believing all the lies and dogma especially the biggest lie of all; that maybe I was one who was "constitutionally incapable of being honest with myself." I shared that quote with my therapist, who is a psychiatrist, and she said, "I don't even know what that means."

As I said, my experience with AA is so long that I couldn't possibly share it all in this one email. But I will say this: my longest period of sobriety was 9 years with various numbering years since. Collectively, all my sober time adds up to about 20 years or so out of 30. I count that as a success but AA does not. I will never be an "oldtimer" or have "status" in AA's eyes. After every relapse, I would start at step one again and still get drunk. I've done several fourth steps and gone to many, many meetings and still get drunk. This last time when I was facing four and five again and dreading the process, I said to my sponsor that I was done working the steps. For someone like me who has little or no self esteem and excessive guilt, the process of the fourth and fifth steps only enhanced them.

I haven't been to a meeting for about a month and am enjoying "a new freedom and a new happiness" that I have never felt in AA. Hey! One of the promises finally came true. BTW, when I told my sponsor that after my last meeting I had problems with the way it was conducted and the behavior of some of the so called loving and tolerant oldtimers, she gave me the classic statement: "sounds like you have a resentment. Maybe you should read the traditions." Arghhhhhhhhhh!!!!! And I finally know that I will not drink just because I haven't been to a meeting. I now am aware that it was a LIE and not a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I'm trying to keep this short just wanted to convey my thanks for your commitment to getting your message out. I've already contacted WFS and SMART and look forward to going to the meetings here in my area. Instead of what the hate filled emails from AA'ers say in which you may be killing someone with your site, I wanted you to now that you just may have helped save this someone.


Hi Cheryl,

Thanks for a happy letter to brighten up my Saturday morning cup of coffee. And thanks for the compliments. It's Saturday morning, a week after you wrote the letter, and I'm just getting started on a Latté, and your letter was the next on the list to do.

And I see another soul escaping from the birdcage and flying free. Yes, it brightens up the morning cup of coffee.

I don't know if you saw it yet, but for people who successfully quit and then get sucked back into drinking (or smoking, or doping) after a while, or a few years, I recommend the web page on The Lizard-Brain Addiction Monster. I find that when that seductive little voice in my head starts whispering, "Oh, it will be okay. We have things under control now. Just one won't hurt. Just one for old times' sake... We deserve it now. Wouldn't it be fun?" that it is the stupid Lizard Brain yammering his (or her) excuses for getting high. Learning to not get fooled again has been a life-saver for me.

(Incidentally, do women experience a female lizard brain talking to them?)

And there are other discussions of what works to keep us sober here and here and here.

Have a good day, and a good life.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     If an animal does something, we call it instinct;
**     if we do the same thing, for the same reason, we call it intelligence.
**       ==  Will Cuppy

Date: Sat, August 8, 2009 10:10 pm     (answered 15 August 2009)
From: "anonymous"
Subject: whose truth

Hey Orange

just wanted to let you know that I been in and out of aa for 20 years. I was sober before AA and that was due to meditation I didn't even smoke a ciggarette back then.

After coming back to you articles I was suppose to be at a meeting reading my secretary report and I had family business. My sponsor was irate with me and told me something has been wrong. I told her yes there was and I had questions. She proceeded to tell me that I was self will run riot not grateful etc. I hung up on her gave her my key to the hall and she in turned and shared with everyone she could that I must have already picked up a drink. Then proceeded to write me a three page letter which she wanted to read to a woman who threw me out of her house because she thought I was headed for a drink.

You know what I find so funny. If I never thought of drinking they sure kept putting shit like this in my mind. I do believe in Jesus Christ and the biggest article that helped me was the one [by] H.A. Ironside. AA interferes with my faith and I've known this for awhile. Also just so you know one of my family members was hurt sexually and AA's answer after asking for support was when's the last time you did something for your group two weeks after finding out about this horrific part of my life.

I'm done. Thank You.


Hello anonymous,

Thanks for the thanks. Sorry to hear about your suffering, but I'm glad to hear that you are out of the looney bin. I think things will get better now.

So have a good day and a good life.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     It isn't that they can't see the solution.
**     It is that they can't see the problem.
**         ==   G. K. Chesterton

Date: Sun, August 9, 2009 2:19 am     (an
From: "Andrew H.
Subject: Bill Wilson


My name is Andrew. I am a sober member of Alcoholics Anonymous with 6 years of sobriety. I read most of your article on Bill and his over driven sexual promiscuity. We know about Bill and his life. Some of us have struggled with that as well. It is plainly obvious that we are a few cards short of a full hand on a lot of days and in no way is that implying that what some of us have done and in certain instances may still do excusable. However the actions of one member can in no way reflect Alcoholics Anonymous as a whole. Most AA members are decent, and useful citizens today. The action of AA as a whole really can be the only final judgement of the program's success or lack thereof. I understand your anger at this man. Also a word on Bill's so called healings (called not only by you)-

Forgive me, I hit the send button too soon. Maybe I'll take that as a hint to shut up now. Just want to say that putting up this sort of material in a blog/article is KILLING PEOPLE, who may have had an opportunity for a longer, happier, more decent sober life. That is our concern.

Hello Andrew,

Thank you for the letter. Starting at the top, yes, I know that there are a lot of good people to be found in A.A., but that does not make A.A. a good organization.

This is false logic: "However the actions of one member can in no way reflect Alcoholics Anonymous as a whole."
Oh yes they can. When a cult leader and sexual predator like Mike Q. turns A.A. into a sexual exploitation society, that really does change what A.A. actually is for the people in that area. And when similar creeps and criminals do it all over the country — in Phoenix, and California, and Miami and Tampa, and Minneapolis, and Bainbridge Island, Washington, then that changes what A.A. really is. And when the A.A. leaders in the Interchurch Building in New York City refuse to do anything to fix the problem, then that also changes what A.A. is.

I agree with this statement of yours:
"The action of AA as a whole really can be the only final judgement of the program's success or lack thereof."
Unfortunately, when A.A. was put to the test by qualified doctors, what "the action of A.A." did was produce a zero-percent improvement in sobriety of alcoholics, while A.A. also:

  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.

So that is the "final judgement" of A.A. as a cure, or "not-a-cure-but-a-one-day-solution", for alcoholism.

Your accusation claiming that telling the truth about Alcoholics Anonymous was killing people, and depriving alcoholics of the "opportunity for a longer, happier, more decent sober life", is actually backwards. (Besides being a very common often-parrotted cultish put-down.) Telling people about the better ways of dealing with alcoholism does not kill them.

What about all of the people who were hurt by the manipulative, exploitative monsters whom they met in A.A. meeting rooms, and who were driven away from recovery, or driven to suicide by the guilt-induction routines in the 12 Steps?

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    In matters of principle, stand like a rock;
**    in matters of taste, swim with the current.
**        ==   Thomas Jefferson (1743—1826)

Date: Sun, August 9, 2009 11:22 am     (answered 15 August 2009)
From: "Eric L."
Subject: Intervention

Good day, Orange. I hope this message finds you well.

I was browsing through your letters and saw that you'd asked about Intervention, the A&E television show. Episodes are available on their website. I saw my first few episodes last week in an idle moment, and did not find the show to be entertaining or educational in the least, but I do enjoy real-life drama, so I was riveted to the "what will happen after the intervention" (the results). Unfortunately, what was true was that most if not all of the people had some sort of relapse, which happens (I believe) when we're forced into doing something that we're not completely ready to do.


I had also written previously regarding cigarettes
. Well, I'm pleased to report that I'm "a-fixing to get ready" to quit. Again. I'll go re-read the "addition monster" piece to get my mind ready for this attempt, and will also go to the American Cancer Society for more tools.

As always, thank you for your service to the community. Although I'm entrenched in Alcoholics Anonymous for the "Unity, Service and Recovery", I fully applaud your reasoning and if you save even one life besides your own for someone who would otherwise die as a result of AA programming, you've done a great thing. Your writings won't keep me from AA, but they will help me keep an open mind to the folks like you and Bufe who see AA for what it is, a cultish, passive-aggressive organization where the groups with charismatic leaders run the followers' lives. I see the practical value in helping others, and so far, the 12 Steps have worked for me, where religion (Christianity) did not. I tried to "cut down" and control my drinking at many junctures unsuccessfully, so complete abstinence with the help of the fellowship of AA was the solution that worked for me. Your mileage may vary. (I've always been a very staunch advocate of "AA is not for everyone — If you have another solution that works for you, by all means, use it")

I feel some sympathy for those AA'ers who cannot keep an open mind toward your writings and insist on debating with you on the virtues of the Program. (The book Alcoholics Anonymous has these quotes, "And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone-even alcohol", and "Be quick to see where religious people are right" (that could easily be expanded to be other people))

Anyway, enough rambling — have a great life, and thanks again.


Hello again Eric,

Thanks for the input, and thanks for the thanks, and I hope you are doing well. Especially, hang in there and kick the nicotine addiction. It's really worth it. Never mind vague way-in-the-future threats like lung cancer — the improvement in the quality of day-to-day life now is fantastic. Instead of laying around the house sick and tired all of the time, I'm always going out and about, which is how I end up spending so much time down at the river with the geese, as well as doing a lot of other things that I never used to do. Now, I have so much energy that I just can't stand to be cooped up indoors all day long. I can't just sit still or lay around all day long, or it feels like I haven't lived the day. I have to get out and go do things. That is like a day and night contrast from my previous existence. (I won't even call it my previous "life".) For me, just the improvement in quality of life makes it so worth it that I would never consider going back to smoking now. Why return to Hell once you have escaped?

Good fortune. I won't say "Good luck", because it isn't luck.

And have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Cigarettes dull the faculties, stunt and retard the physical
**     development, unsettle the mind, and rob the persistent user
**     of will power and the ability to concentrate.
**         ==   Dick Merriwell

Date: Mon, August 10, 2009 8:23 am     (answered 18 August 2009)
From: Rune K. R.
Subject: Obsession

Hi there,

I must say I find your pages very amusing if somewhat also tragic to read. I have never seen anyone so obssessed with a topic as you are with A. A. Your whole world seems to be focused on it. And still you claim that A. A. is not doing anything good for anyone: hey, it keeps you busy, am I right or am I right? You are in fact "sober" possibly because of your constant written aversions, prejudices, "facts" (truths are always funny when millions of people should represent so few) and strange belief in non-thinking people on this planet. You are a pathetic display of megalomania yourself and to believe your page is to consider you being some almighty god in the oldfashioned way you seem to think everyone believes in. But I thank you for making me laugh and see how fucked up one single man can be. Next time you critisize something I recommend you try it first, because experience is what you gain from action, while theory about not doing something is called delusions. You are delusional. I hope for you that you somehow find out that it is one journey for one man only someday. Take care.


Hi Rune,

Thanks for the letter. Well, I'm not obsessed with "proving A.A. wrong." In fact, at times, I've tired of the debate and walked away from the web site for as long as a year at a time. As a matter of fact, in the two days before I got your letter, I went down to the river and fed the geese, and enjoyed walking along the waterfront. And went to the library and checked on books. And went shopping for bargains at Goodwill and Dollar Tree. And also went grocery shopping. And then I came home and unloaded my stuff, and then picked up my laptop computer and went to a free wifi node and downloaded my email, and heard that I was "obsessed with A.A.". Oh well, so it goes.

(But of course somebody who goes to seven A.A. meetings a week isn't obsessed with A.A., right?)

If I am reading your letter correctly, you seem to be saying that A.A. is at least keeping alcoholics busy and giving them something to do. Just "keeping somebody busy" does not justify the existence of Alcoholics Anonymous — not when we consider the harm that it also does. A.A. makes people sicker and raises the death rate in alcoholics. That is a lot more than just keeping them busy.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Man is ready to die for an idea, provided that idea is not
**     quite clear to him.
**         ==  Paul Elridge

Date: Mon, August 10, 2009 3:44 pm     (answered 18 August 2009)
From: barbara g.
Subject: How Dare You

How dare you have a website like this and provide all this research so that someone like me would leave an AA meeting one day and think "Am I mad or is this a cult?"

So I prayed (Yes, a Christian) and came across your site. Thank God!

Unfortunately, as grateful as I am for having my suspicions confirmed, I now am having a hard time leaving behind some of the most wonderful women I have ever met.

Yes, they are ostrocizing me but the worst part is, I fear for them. I appreciate your links to how to reach them and pray I can. Most of them are involved in "A Course in Miracles" which is a dangerous cult. I pray they stumble across your website one day. May God continue to bless you! (please don't print my email — just in case...ha ha).

Hello Barbara,

Thanks for the letter and the compliments, and I hope you are feeling well.

Right away, I'd go and check out some SMART and WFS meetings, just to see if you can find some other women friends to replace what you are losing. And you could also check out Lifering and SOS on the Internet. In fact, I think that all of them have online meetings now. Loneliness is one of the biggest problems when someone quits 12-Step groups (or any cult, for that matter). And some of the people that you had to leave behind were wonderful and pleasant company. So I think it will help you a lot to find new friends who share your desire to not die by ethanol.

So here are the links:

Good luck, and have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Faith has need of the whole truth.
**         ==  Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Date: Tue, August 11, 2009 1:33 am     (answered 18 August 2009)
From: "Remission"
Subject: Thanks for what you have done, and a few questions

Hay there Orange im another fan of the work you have done on this site, you really have dissected the AA programme beautifully. I'd like to add my thoughts and experiences to your letters page. I've read them all and eagerly await the new ones. I like the comparison with Gandalf and think it suits you, not just because you look like him, but because Gandalf is wise.

I enjoy the global aspect of your letters and can report that here in New Zealand we experience the same problems as the rest of the world, I got the brainwashing in treatment about 25 years ago at the tender age of twenty, I was under the impression that our treatment centre was a "world leader" in treatment methods, na it was standard AA brainwashing administered at the hands of mostly AA member medical people. I relate to your story about the child molstering group leader, I had a Heroin importing group leader who won himself 10 years jail shortly after I finished the course.

9 unhappy years in AA and that was it for me, back on the piss for the next 14 years, I became extremely chronic... I was miserable. I thought I had turned my back on AA and its fake world, yet when I think about it I used to feel the noose of my drinking tightening around my neck but would always think"no way I'm going back to that place, I'd rather party myself to death". I was raging against the brainwashing without realizing it... I never used to think about the option of just stopping, I was still brainwashed and was a classic example of someone who believed that the options where AA or drink. But it happened for me just the way you describe, I woke up from a blackout and decided that's it, it just wasn't worth it and stopped. I went back to the meetings, within a month I knew I wouldn't be going anymore. It was very scary to notice how quickly I started talking cult again, I remembered it all and just went into automatic. That was 15 months ago and I've been sober since then, loving it in fact. I needed to find something to do with my evenings, so I got a computer, which I had no idea how to operate, and started to learn, one of the first things I did when I worked out how to goggle was to search AA cult? Bingo! Orange papers and goodbye to my evenings for the next three months. On day three it all just fell out of my head, the brainwashing I mean. I've heard you describe it as the light coming on and that was it totally. That was a freaky, and releaving feeling. Man its unbelievable to relize the extent of the harm this system of treating alcoholics has caused.

I cracked up when I found out that old Bill had Datura; I share that experince with him. I didn't see god tho. . but i did see a giant roman chariot coming down the road at me!!

some questions for you, if you have time. .

Do you think the 12 step cult is a meme?... id like to hear your thoughts onit. My limited understanding of memes leads me to believe it is, and if a meme is a unit of thought that can transmit itself like a virus, is the 12 step movement a meme pandemic?, spreading itself around the world and into various mutations such as NA, alanon ect? (scary!!)

Do you no if the World Health Organization has a definition of alcoholism? Do they see it as a disease? I've searched their site and can't find anything like a definition. Plenty on alcohol dependency tho, are they distancing themselves from the disease model? I certainly can't find their alcoholisim definition. As I said I'm young in the ways of the computer, lol, maybe grey beard can help.

How does cognitive dissonance operate and do you think it is in play within the fellowship?

I've got a million questions but will leave it there at the moment. I've avoided drunkalogging or stepalogging but will write again with more experinces. A final thought... it's us people the sufferers of addictions who have to blaze a trail out of the mire, your letters page is the most valuable resource I personally have found... how about an interactive message board? People on my dating site are getting sick of me ranting about it all... :-)

cheers dude, Remission... NZ

Hello "Remission",

Thanks for the letter and the compliments. To answer your questions:

  1. A.A. as a meme.
    As you suggested, A.A. is a pandemic of memes, not just one. And memes do operate like viruses. After the vampire bites you, you go around trying to bite somebody else and turn them into your kind.

    A.A. memes:

    • Nobody can do it alone.
    • Alcoholism is a "spiritual disease".
    • Alcoholism requires a spiritual cure.
    • Recovering alcoholics require "a program".
    • Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.
    • Recovery from alcoholism requires servitude to a Higher Power.
    • Somebody with many years of sobriety is wiser than somebody else without those years. (Which would make Bill Wilson wiser than Jesus Christ, who was notorious for making wine out of water and drinking it at parties...)
    • Going to meetings aids in the recovery from alcoholism.
    • A.A. is the best way to recover from alcoholism or addiction.
    • You can't trust an alcoholic because he'll relapse on you if he misses a meeting.
    • Immoral behavior is okay because "we are not saints". At least they aren't drinking.
    • Giving to others what was so freely given to us...
    • The Twelve Steps work if people work them right.
    • A former addict or alcoholic is the best counselor for drug and alcohol problems.
    • and I'm sure there are a dozen more...

  2. I don't know about the WHO definition of alcoholism. I'll have to check that out and see what their opinion is.

  3. "How does cognitive dissonance operate and do you think it is in play within the fellowship?"

    Oh yeh. That's a big part of how the mind-bending mechanics operate. First off, look at the Cult Test question and answer for "Use of the Cognitive Dissonance Technique", the question here, and the answer here.

    A.A. uses the Cognitive Dissonance Technique technique all of the time. Confessing personal secrets to a group of strangers at an A.A. meeting creates an illusion of closeness and brotherhood, because cognitive dissonance kicks in. Ordinarily, we only reveal our innermost secrets to our closest, most trusted friends. When we are pressured and pushed into revealing our secrets to a room full of strangers — "You are only as sick as your secrets. Your secrets keep you sick. You can't take the power out of it if you don't talk it out." — it creates an inner conflict. The subconscious mind's answer to the problem is to come to believe that those people really are our closest, dearest friends, so there isn't any problem. Thus the newcomers find themselves feeling really close to some people about whom they really know nothing, and shouldn't necessarily be trusting. (Which occasionally makes the job of predators easy.)

    Similarly, if you disagree with or criticize the beliefs of the other A.A. group members, they frown and disapprove and don't like you. So you have to bite your tongue and maybe even say some luke-warm positive things about "The Program", even if you don't believe it, if you want the group's approval and acceptance. At the same time, you don't want to think of yourself as a lying phony. So the subconscious mind's answer is to "come to believe" that it's all true, and A.A. really is wonderful, and The Program really is perfect. Now there is no conflict and you can feel good about yourself as everybody pats you on the back for "getting The Program".

  4. About the message board: Yes, I've got to do that. I came to that conclusion a while back. I've downloaded about three or four different software packages for setting up forums and message boards, and I just have to study them and test them and decide which one to use, and then get it set up. But it's definitely do-able. One of the big reasons why I chose my current web host was because they run Linux on the servers and allow custom cgi-bin programs to be installed — things like a forum/bulletin board system. So it's coming.

    UPDATE: The forum is up:

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Evidently God can cure cancer and tuberculosis, but cannot
**     grow a new leg...  This is blasphemy, but not mine — the
**     priests and faith healers are guilty of limiting God's powers.
**          ==   Abraham Myerson

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Last updated 15 December 2012.
The most recent version of this file can be found at https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters137.html