Letters, We Get Mail, XIV

[Wed, January 7, 2004, Mike P. wrote:]

I first of all would like to thank you for the great service of working to expose such cults and fanatics so as to protect the unsupecting and offer them a framework from which they could further understand how they are being used — they as in all of us.

Hi Mike, thanks for the compliment. And thanks for a provocative letter.

I must ask you about your including old Bagwan in there among your group of fanatical leaders such as those wild Begging Buddhists, the unfortunate Jones group, Wackos in Waco ect.

Bagwan's main teaching is to trust your feelings. Furthermore, he says all people are godly, just of yet not realizing it. He never claimed, or even so much as insinuated, to my understanding, that he was god, and all must come through him to get there. It is clear you have never read any of his writings. Also, there was never any demand of money from people, though labor was offered for free for the building of their thing over in Pune. But what commune has not happened that way? There are untold points within your concept in which he does not belong. About the food poisoning I know not what happened there, or what was told to do by whom ect.. and it is a point of wonder for me. Again, I am no follower, more a collecter of useful info, from whoever and whereever filtered through my own intellegence.

I've heard from several reliable sources that Bhagwan's main teaching was "Buy me another Rolls Royce and let me watch you fuck your girlfriend." (Apparently, he was better at watching than doing.)

You say that I haven't read any of Bhagwan's writings. Actually, I have, and I remain totally unimpressed. Any phoney guru can yammer the usual "spiritual" platitudes and put on airs of being a great teacher. There have been so many, and after a while, they all start sounding the same. It's such a familiar pattern. Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh was just one more.

Since you are ignorant of the germ warfare attack on the good people of The Dalles, Oregon, to keep them from voting in an election, I would suggest that you read some books about Bhagwan. Everything I said about Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh is well-known, documented fact, and even common knowledge. If the American authorities had known, back in the eighties, when Bhagwan fled from the USA to avoid prosecution, what they know now, Bhagwan would have never been allowed to leave the country. He would have spent the rest of his life in prison. But he got away, and other people did the time for his crimes.

Even the number two person in the organization, the woman Ma Anand Sheela, went on 60 Minutes and told how the whole con worked and how she and Rajneesh worked together to cheat the idealistic young (rich, stupid) Americans. (That was after she got busted and convicted.) Rajneesh answered her charges by calling her "a bitch". That's in the 60 Minutes program — I saw it.

Read "The Ultimate Game: The Rise and Fall of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh" by Kate Strelley (a Rajneeshee herself) for a lot of the details. It's a very interesting read if you like stories of corrupt phoney gurus. To quote just a few paragraphs: This is in 1985, in Oregon, when Bhagwan decided to blame everything on Sheela:

On September 16 Bhagwan appeared at press interviews where he accused Sheela and her cohorts — what he called her "gang" — of attempting to poison Michael Sullivan, the Jefferson County District Attorney, and William Hulse, Wasco County Commissioner; of drugging the street people who participated in the abortive Share-a-Home fiasco; of spreading salmonella poison in The Dalles; of poisoning The Dalles's water supply; of wiretapping; of arson at the Wasco County planning office; of stealing up to $55 million from Rajneesh organizations; of plotting to bomb the Wasco County Courthouse; of attempted murder of his personal physician, dentist, and caretaker. Later, he even accused Sheela of trying to murder him.
      Shortly after that Hasya called me on Bhagwan's behalf, and I went up there to try to help sort out the documents left in the office. On that visit I realized that Bhagwan was totally corrupt. He had set the whole thing up.
...I said, "That's it." I knew the game — their game — was still very much afoot. Through it all everybody was blaming Sheela, but I saw that it was Bhagwan at the center of things. If I ever had any doubts, I no longer did. He must have been the person who had contrived it all. The person who had been giving directions from the start.
On October 6, 1985, Bhagwan was served a summons to appear before a federal grand jury — but he managed to obtain a thirty-day delay. Toward the end of the month he fled the Ranch by plane. He was arrested in Charlotte, North Carolina, en route to Bermuda.
In Portland he pleaded guilty to two federal immigration charges, and paid $400,000 in fines and court costs. He was expelled from the country in November, after promising not to return for five years.
The Ultimate Game: The Rise and Fall of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, by Kate Strelley, pages 374, 376 and 377.

Bhagwan got off easy. Other people took the rap for his crimes:

  • Ma Anand Sheela, 36, also known as Sheela Silverman, was sentenced to prison for charges that included attempted murder, assault, arson, and wiretapping. She served 4 1/2 years.
  • Ma Anand Puja, 38, also known as Dianne Onang, received a sentence for attempted murder.
  • Ma Shanti Bhadra, 40, also known as Catherine Elsea, received a sentence for attempted murder.

The authoress has lots more to say, like how she was talked into getting an abortion and sterilization while she was at Bhagwan's ashram at Poona, India. Just like Synanon, they didn't want any bothersome children around. But they used such a cheap quack doctor that he botched the operation and perforated her intestine, and she nearly died of peritonitis.

Then the ashram staff carefully analyzed all of the Americans, and picked out those who were temperamentally suited to be mules, to carry suitcases of drugs into the USA, to support the drug smuggling operation that financed Bhagwan's ashram. Then, the kicker is that while the mules were paid a couple of thousand dollars for carrying the load, they were encouraged to donate that money to Bhagwan in order to get a darshan with him.

Do some homework before you waste a day of your life on Bhagwan.

[Also see this previous letter about Rajneesh.]

Funny enough, you seemed to exclude the most important cult leaders in your paper such as the current Bush administration which fits to a T everything you stated in your context! TO A T!

Actually, I've been writing about George Bush so much that I've been worried that this web site would just turn into a political diatribe. (I try to keep the politics down because the main focus of this web site is A.A., alcoholism, recovery cults, and the like, not politics.) But for some criticisms of Bush, look here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here.

While you are at it, also read The Wrong Way Home: Uncovering the Patterns of Cult Behavior in American Society, by Arthur J. Deikman, M.D., which is on my Top 10 list of cult books. I quote it at least half a dozen times, including here, and here, and here, and here, and here. He exposes cultish behavior in the White House very well.

So whats up dude or dudette? Are you looking to help people out, or just make Bagwan look bad because he has been a source of transformation and inspiration to millions of people. He is the only one in there who is WAY out of place if you have learned about his life.

Put him in there, fine, but be not a coward, include the others, include George Bush Jr, his admin, the whole deal! The church, high school, it is all cult based! Your structure applies to 80% of the social structures intentionally, or unintentionally set up.

I would love to hear any comments.

Peace and Hairgrease - michael

Okay, you've got my comments. Read some books. Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh was a monster.

As far as this line goes, "The church, high school, it is all cult based!", I strongly disagree. That is one of the standard rationalizations — Minimization and Denial — that lots of cults, including A.A., use to try to claim that they aren't really cults, or that it doesn't matter. If everything is a cult, then the word "cult" becomes meaningless.

Read the Cult Test, the whole thing. You will get 100 characteristics that define a cult. It isn't just a matter of how authoritarian and regimented some organization is.

Have a good day.

== Orange

[Wed, January 7, 2004, Rick C. wrote:]

Hi... former member of AA and still "deprogramming" from that twisted experience. I thought I was going crazy and still feel guilty and neurotic at times when not "perfect". I did drink again and although I must admit that I have to watch my alcohol intake and have an "addictive" personality, over the years I do not drink as much due to age and common sense. Frankly, I like getting "out of control" once in a while and it sure beats a life relegated to interminable meetings with a bunch of narcissistic fools that really believe that they "found the answer"!! Thanks again, your material confirmed for me many of the things I had always thought and doubted due to the brainwashing tactics... When I did question the "Program", people did not want to even educate themselves about the "truth" regarding Bill and Bob, nor did they want to explore the cult similarities... almost as if they just want to remain unconscious!! Just Crazy and although I feel much better, unfortunately I live in Los Angeles where the sober community is large and I run into countless AAers who give me that condescending and pathetic look and are occasionally intrusive and aggressive when asking me about my life... It is definitely the Scarlet Letters AA that seem to follow me months after I left. Yikes!!

Rick C.

Hi Rick,

Thanks for the letter. Glad to hear you are feeling better. Welcome to the daylight.

When you say, "...almost as if they just want to remain unconscious!!", that is exactly it. They don't want to know the truth; it would blow their game of spiritual make-believe.

Arthur J. Deikman wrote:

Wanting to believe is perhaps the most powerful dynamic initiating and sustaining cult-like behavior.
The Wrong Way Home: Uncovering the Patterns of Cult Behavior in American Society, Arthur J. Deikman, M.D., page 137.

And that's it in a nutshell. They just want to believe, in spite of all of the evidence to the contrary.

Have a good day anyway.

== Orange

[15 December 2003]

The more I read of Bill Wilson's biographical story on your site, the more I shudder at AA. What you describe in this man's life is quite chilling, not to mention bizarre.


Yeh, really. He was such an intense nut case that sometimes he's downright interesting. But at other times, the "chilling" word is really appropriate, like the way he treated his business partner Henry Parkhurst, and the way he took sexual advantage of the sick women who came to A.A. seeking help with alcoholism.

Have a good day.

— Orange

[14 Dec 2003, 2nd letter from Paul]

I was in AA for 16 years and would love to give my history and view of AA over that time to a dedicated anti-AA website. Is this possible on yours?


Not only yes, but hell yes. That sounds fascinating. I like to hear from old-timers, because I'm not one. I can't say that I had certain experiences in there for years, because I walked out after months. So old-timers with lots of years give another viewpoint.

— Orange

[19 Dec 2003]

Dear Agent O,

I have enjoyed reading your stuff for the past year or so and was in fact "miffed" by the disappearance of the aadeprogramming website.

[Note: It's back. www.aadeprogramming.com]
UPDATE: It moved again. Now it's now mirrored here: http://www.morerevealed.com/aadep/

I spent a few years myself attending A.A. meetings but my skepticism wouldn't allow me to buy into the whole package. I have heard most of the crap that one can here in the meetings and the difficult part has been separating the truth from the false. I say this fully realizing that as a suicidal, heart broken man I came to A.A. searching for some sanity. It is not so easy to find there as I discovered. Anyway, you have heard all of this before so I will save you the details. However, I must point out that you really fuck up in many areas of your lambasting of the 12 steps. You do it the same way a large percentage of those trying to "carry the message" fuck it up. Wilson prefaced the 12 steps with a simple sentence, "if you want what we have and are willing to go to any lengths to get it, THEN you are ready to take certain steps". So there is a choice and a decision to be made by each individual. (I guess that is complex sentence but........)

Hi. You are describing one of the core problems with Bill Wilson's writing style. He used all of those qualifiers, like, "If you want what we have, and are willing to go to any length to get it...", those "who really tried", those "who thoroughly followed our path." Bill Wilson was a past master of using qualifiers. There was almost always an escape hatch for Bill Wilson to slip out through when his statements were proven false: "But he didn't really want it enough... He wasn't willing to go to *any length* to get it...", "Oh, but he didn't really try!" or "he didn't thoroughly follow our path!"

I was mostly concerned with your misunderstanding of the first two steps quite frankly. Either one admits that he/she is powerless over alcohol or he does not. If you cannot quit on your own and you have honestly wanted to, then you may be considered powerless. That your life has become unmanageable is the result of not being able to stop drinking and the consequences thereof. Blah blah blah. Forget the strange mental blank spots, it is human nature to forget pain and humiliation.

Yes, it is human nature to forget the pain and humiliation, but please don't forget the strange mental blank spots. Bill Wilson was very emphatic and specific about them, and insisted that they were his proof that we are powerless over alcohol.

As soon as I regained my ability to think, I went carefully over that evening in Washington.   ...   I now remembered what my alcoholic friends had told me, how they had prophesied that if I had an alcoholic mind, the time and place would come — I would drink again. They had said that though I did raise a defense, it would one day give way before some trivial reason for having a drink. Well, just that did happen and more, for what I had learned of alcoholism did not occur to me at all. I knew from that moment that I had an alcoholic mind. I saw that will power and self-knowledge would not help in those strange mental blank spots. I had never been able to understand people who said that a problem had them hopelessly defeated. I knew then. It was a crushing blow.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 3, More About Alcoholism, pages 41-42.

Second step definition of insanity is kind of important here. Wilson writes "whatever the real definition of insanity is doesn't matter" (close) "lack of proportion and the ability to think clearly" is then given as the definition for his purposes. So first he defines insanity, then........... So one either concludes that he cannot stop on his own or he does not. Then he chooses to believe something can straighten him out. God I guess. After this a decision to follow through with the rest of the story. I could not personally reconcile step one or two.

No joke. Neither can I.

So I began doing the rest and ended up like Wilson believing I was God's right hand man and could save the world. This seemed to me to be more crazy than the homocidal/suicidal man I had become just a year earlier. So I put the book back on the shelf and finally heard someone say "when I decided to stop drinking" and I just laughed to myself......"Oh you mean one can do that?" That is what I had thought previously. And I am now sober 5 years without so much as a prayer.

In addition, I lost my brother to alchohol at the age of forty two. His famous last words were "I stopped doing the heroin, and I don't even smoke crack anymore, but I just can't figure out this fucking booze." I suspect he had become powerless but could not admit it. I apparently stopped in time.

Different drugs hit different people in different ways. I also have a friend who said, "Heck, kicking smack wasn't that bad. I just laid in bed and shook and sweated for three days, and then it was over. But I can't stop these things," and he nodded towards the cigarette in his hand. And he had a beer in the other hand.

Likewise, I just walked away from heroin, cocaine, and speed, without even any big quitting effort. I haven't touched heroin in 30 years now. But I fought to quit cigarettes for 33 years and that battle was like World War III. And I just recently won it, just 3 years ago. Quitting alcohol was hard too, but not nearly that hard.

Still, I don't believe in the powerless idea. I do believe that people's thinking can become very cloudy and messed up (alcohol does cause brain damage), and it becomes extremely difficult to quit, but that isn't powerlessness. Also, while people do not consciously chose to kill themselves with cigarettes or alcohol, they do go into denial where they insist that it isn't really killing them, "It isn't really all that bad..." And then when it becomes undeniably obvious that it is, they just resign themselves to their fate because they figure that they won't succeed in quitting.

Believing that you are powerless over alcohol makes it easier to kill yourself on the stuff. You can rationalize that you don't have any choice in the matter, so might as well just stay stoned and high and kill the pain until the bitter end comes...

You may find barefootsworld.com informative about what the big book really says. The guy is a bit fanatical but he has helped me to understand that many people in the meetings just don't understand the material. So anyway, thanks for your hard work, I have found you the only other person who thought it necessary to find out who this Herbert Spencer mother fucker was. lol. I have enjoyed pointing out in meetings that he was most likely an atheist and in fact brought about the phrase "........... oh I forget......... well look it up......

Peace to you...... Jerome S.

Thanks for the letter, Jerome.

You know, I have a problem with that whole "understand the material" thing. Something that is so badly written that it requires an endless series of interpreters to explain it to you has problems. There are so many dozens of books that purport to explain the 12 steps to you that it is absurd. Bill Wilson's writing style was so vague, euphemistic and grandiose that sometimes his ravings didn't really mean much at all.

By way of contrast, do you need a translator for this?

Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. ...
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. ...
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Matthew 5:3-9

See? Clear, easy, no translator required. You don't need somebody leaning over your shoulder saying, "Yeh, I know he wrote that, but what he really meant was blah-blah-blah..."

Have a good day.

— Orange

[20 Dec 2003]

Clinical depression is a bitch. A few simple questions... I need a different perspective in order to validate my objectivity.

Do you think that if Bill Wilson were around today, that he would be treated succesfully for clinical depression?

Who knows? If his disorder was really a Narcissistic Personality Disorder, of which depression is just one of many signs, then the psychological damage from his childhood was probably permanent.

What do you think the ultimate goal of AA really is?

That depends on who you are talking about. There isn't any one A.A..

The leaders at AAWS are obviously into making money. They will even commit perjury and put innocent A.A. members in prison to make more money.

The true believers at the street level just want to believe that Bill, the 12 steps, and A.A. are all wonderful, and that the A.A. program really works.

Then there are other people who really do want to quit drinking and stay quit, and they've been fooled by the true believers into thinking that A.A. and its 12-Step program will do that for them.

Then there are the wierdos, the sexual predators.

Then there are the people who are on a big ego trip, enjoying being the resident old-timer, telling everybody else how to live.

And then there are some people who are just lonely and looking for a social circle...

It goes on and on... There are many different kinds of people, and many different goals.

Having mentioned that Bill and AA didn't push the God thing to newcomers so as not to scare them away with principles of religion... what do you think their real reason behind that?

Come on, you know why. And I've said why. He wanted them to join his cult and support him in comfort for the rest of his life. He found out the hard way, at 182 Clinton Street, that his fanatical preaching scared the new prospects away. So he changed his style and hid the intense religiosity from the newcomers. He even taught how to do that deceptive recruiting in chapter 7 of the Big Book.

Are you really led to believe that all documented history is accurate?

Of course not. We have to always inspect it carefully. Bill Wilson's and AAWS's histories are notoriously inaccurate. So are Peter Howard's and Garth Lean's books about the Oxford Group Movement.

What does your obsession with proving AA a cult really serve?

Neat veiled ad hominem, but I'm not going for it. ("You're just obsessed with proving A.A. a cult, so we can disregard everything that you say.") I'm not obsessed with A.A. or proving it anything. In fact, I've been doing so many other things that here it is late January and I'm just getting caught up on my email from November and December.

Now what purpose does my work serve? How about just telling the truth for the fun of it, and maybe helping a few people.

Most societies try to help each other in some way. The methods are definitely different and questionable in many instances. There would be many more people dying of alcoholism today if it weren't for the likes of those who shared how it worked for them.

Interesting statement. Please prove it. Do you have *any* evidence to back up that statement? Even Prof. George E. Vaillant, Class A Trustee of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, found with his own 8-year-long test that A.A. didn't work at all, and it had an appalling death rate.

I agree that through time, certain messages become misconstrued by the followers and those who judge them. I would hope that being a responsible member of AA, that I don't blow its message out of proportion, push my view on others like so many evangelicals do, and simply pass on to others what worked for me to help me overcome a life-threatening problem.

Misconstrued? You are trying to imply that A.A. was good in the beginning — that Bill Wilson wrote something more than lies and cult religion nonsense. The evidence is that he didn't.
(That is a neat application of the propaganda trick called "Assume Facts Not In Evidence")

This AA cult not only saved my life... it helped me enjoy life again.

I wish you all the best.

James R.

Hi James,

While you may enjoy associating with A.A., you saved your own life. You are the one who quit drinking; nobody did it for you. Only you hold your hand every Saturday night and keep you from drinking. You could cheat if you wanted to, but you don't.

If A.A. is saving so many lives, like the A.A. true believers say, why did Dr. George Vaillant find that A.A. had a much higher death rate than any other mode of treatment?

As far as happiness and enjoyment of life from A.A. goes, most people don't feel that way. Why don't you read the rest of the letters that arrived recently, especially this one.

Oh well, thanks for the opinion, and have a good day anyway.

— Orange

[24 Dec 2003]

really appreciate all of the hard work you have done. I have been clean and sober for almost ten years now and I agree with everything you have said on this website. I think many AA members feel the same way but remain in the cult and lie about their beleifs because they don't want to be alone. It seems like there is almost no other well established way for former drug addicts and alcoholics to befriend each other than the program. I live in Southern California (the Mecca of fanatical religious cults) and AA here is more of a cult than it is anywhere except for maybe NYC. If you were in Los Angeles (which I can tell you are not) you would be in danger of being stalked and harassed by members of AA if you revealed your identity.

I just wanted to say that I hope you find all the happiness you have coming to you in sobriety. I think more independant sober alcoholics should speak out the way you have. Happy Holidays!

Stuart M.

Hi Stuart,

Thanks for all of the compliments, and you have a Merry Christmas too.

— Orange

[26 Dec 2003]

Are you for real?

Did you know that AA is based on LOVE and SERVICE?


Hi, Tuija,

Haven't you ever noticed that none of these words even appear in the 12 steps?

  • love
  • service
  • sobriety
  • temperance
  • health
  • recovery
  • quit drinking

The Steps are all about powerlessness and surrender to somebody else and guilt and confessing and recruiting... and even the occult practice of channeling spirits, contacting a "Higher Power" who is sometimes called "God" and sometimes not.

I don't consider it a loving service to recruit somebody into a cult religion.

Now I know that Dr. Bob spoke at the First International A.A. Convention in 1950, saying that it was all about love and service, and "keep it simple." It's easy to say such things, but it is quite another thing to have an organization that really does it. Look at another letter that just came in for an appalling 12-Step horror story that shows what steppism has turned into. The real A.A. and N.A. are what is actually really happening, right here in the real world, not the espoused spiritual ideals that are supposed to be happening.

And if you really want a big dose of Bill Wilson's poisonous "love", try reading his second book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.

Have a good day anyway.

— Orange

[Sat, February 7, 2004, 2nd letter from Tuija:]

Hello orange person, All I know is, if it weren't for AA, I'd be dead.


p.s everyone finds what they look for, good and bad, eventually

Hi Tuija,

When people say that they would be dead if it weren't for A.A., what they usually really mean is that they would be dead if they had not stopped drinking. Those two things are not the same thing at all.

Most people quit drinking without A.A..
Most people who go to A.A. don't quit drinking.

Now it's okay that you enjoy A.A. meetings, but that does not prove that A.A. saved your life, or made you quit drinking. Most likely, you quit drinking and saved your own life.

To say that "everyone finds what they look for, good and bad, eventually" sounds like one of those pseudo-philosophical or pseudo-spiritual thought-stopping slogans that cults like to yammer. That's totally untrue, complete nonsense.

  • Were the murdered children in Bosnia, Croatia, Rwanda, and the Sudan looking for it? Did they eventually find what they were looking for?
  • What about the starved-to-death children in India, Bengla-Desh, Ethiopia, Biafra, etc.? They didn't have much luck in finding food.
  • Now SOME rare lucky souls really do reach their goal in life, but from what I've seen of this world, it looks like most people just muddle through life without quite getting to their goals — if they even have a clearly-envisioned big goal in life.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

[26 Dec 2003]

I just spent a little time reading through your website dedicated to AA as a cult. As someone who has spent the last twelve years enjoying a sober life, and all that comes with it, I felt compelled to write you. I personally have to disagree with your take on this program, the co-founders, the members, and basically any and everything on your website....you are certainly entitled to your opinion, as I am also. I am afraid you are doing a great injustice to society by maintaining your website. It is obvious you have gone to great lengths to create the site, and it is a shame the efforts were not geared more toward a positive direction.


Hi, Ayastigi,

You know, that is getting to be such a worn-out cliché, "You are doing a great disservice to those seeking sobriety" (by telling the truth).
I've heard that plenty of times.
Now you are even expanding it to everybody: I am allegedly "doing a great injustice to society" by telling the truth.

I am geared towards a positive direction — living clean and sober myself, and then helping other people to not waste their lives in cults, steering them towards other things that are more honest and more helpful in overcoming addictions.

Oh, and while you are disagreeing with me about everything, do you have any actual facts to back up your opinions? Do you have records, documents, and files from A.A. that you would like to send to me?

Have a good day anyway.

— Orange

[30 Dec 2003]

When I joined in AA in 1987, I was told that AA was the most effective agency in changing drunken alcoholics into sober alcoholics, and that there were statistics to support this claim. In 16 years of membership of AA I have never seen any AA literature that published this claim, or any independent or formal statistical evidence to support this claim. I did read in one of AA's publications that AA "showed prodigious results."

Why is it that these unfounded claims by AA go unchallenged in the wider field of psychology or alcoholic treatment? How has AA got away with making these claims as nothing more than hearsay or rumor among AA members?

Can you explain how any of this has happened since AA's inception in the 1930?

Paul S.

Hi Paul,

That is a great question. I think it's a combination of successful propaganda techniques and punishing tactics used by the A.A. organization, and apathy or resignation on the part of A.A. opponents.

The A.A. propaganda mill routinely cranks out public relations fluff that supports A.A. and raves about how well it works. See:

A.A. can also be very harsh in punishing those who criticize it or challenge its dogma or its claims of success. Multiple front groups and hidden A.A. spokespersons will launch coordinated attack campaigns against critics, declaring that they are incompetent, or lying, or grossly misinformed, or bad scientists, or only in it for the money, which can cause them no end of trouble:

  • Mark and Linda Sobell had to move to Canada to continue their practice of teaching controlled drinking after declaring that it was possible to cure some alcoholics by getting them to moderate, rather than totally abstain from drinking (thus contradicting A.A. dogma). The steppers even hoodwinked the TV program 60 Minutes into denouncing the Sobells for the death of one of their patients, while the parallel A.A. group had 4 deaths that 60 Minutes didn't hear about.
  • Dr. Jeffrey Schaler lost his teaching position at Chestnut Hill College after publishing his book "Addiction is a Choice" and advancing his "controversial" ideas about recovery from addictions.
  • When, in 1976, the Rand Corporation released a report on alcoholism that said that half of the alcoholics who recover do it by tapering off into controlled drinking, rather than by total abstinence, the A.A. empire went berserk and launched quite an attack campaign. Even Ann Landers blasted the report, saying in her column that Rand was "irresponsible" for "releasing such destructive materials." Again, the message is that you cannot, and should not, tell the truth, especially not to alcoholics.
  • Even back in 1964, Dr. Arthur H. Cain wrote in The Saturday Evening Post,
    A.A has retarded scientific research into one of America's most serious health problems.... In 1957 Doctors Melvin L. Selzer and William Holloway of the University of Michigan came up with the then startling report that 13 confirmed alcoholics had become social drinkers. Because of the pressure of an influential A.A. member, the state agency that provided the funds for the study virtually ordered the two scientists to omit what it called these "embarrassing" findings.
  • Dr. Cain also wrote:
    AAs hold key positions in city, state, and private agencies dealing with alcoholism. Many executive directors of local committees and information centers are members of AA. This means that public education on alcoholism is almost entirely in the hands of AAs. Furthermore, nearly all information about research, treatment, and community action is disseminated by public-relations directors who adhere to the A.A. party line. Thus, almost everything we read on alcoholism in newspapers and magazines is A.A. propaganda.
  • Charles Bufe lists more attacks that were launched on him and others in the second edition of his book, "A.A.: Cult or Cure?"
  • And there are many more stories of things like hospitals being told that they will get no more referrals from 12-Step-based treatment programs, outpatient treatment centers, or groups if they allow the teaching of non-12-Step methods (like Rational Recovery) in the hospital, which would cost the hospital's inpatient treatment center a lot. The hospital caved. So in many places, 12-Step recovery is the only thing that is taught.
  • Also see the cult test item "Threats of bodily harm or death to someone who criticizes the cult" for more.

It reminds me of Scientology, which routinely tries to destroy its critics by all possible means, legal and illegal.

Many journals and organizations feel that it just isn't worth the bother to challenge the evil empire. "After all, it might be doing some good. Plenty of people seem to believe in it. Besides, criticizing A.A. stirs up a hornet's nest of troubles."

There are even A.A. members in Congress, like Rep. Jim Ramstad (R-MN), who are using their positions to actively promote the A.A. organization. Rep. Ramstad is pushing the "HEART" bill. That's "Help Expand Access to Recovery and Treatment", House Bill H.R.2256. It's co-sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) as Senate Bill S.1138. Now we have the federal government paying the 12-Step cult to promote the 12-Step cult. Nobody is funding studies to show that A.A. is a failure, or even to test whether A.A. is really effective medical treatment. Those true-believer Congressmen and Senators want to just hand out the money, no matter whether A.A. really works, because they like it.

I would add an amendment to that bill requiring that the FDA test A.A. and 12-Step-based treatment, just like how it tests all other medicines and treatments, and prove that it really works, before Medicare or the health insurance companies are required to pay for any such treatment. That alone would stop the 12-Step "recovery industry" dead in its tracks, because A.A./N.A. steppism does not work. (So there is no reason to force anybody to pay for 12-Step treatment programs.)

There are few treatment centers that wish to criticize the 12-Step routine. They are making money selling it. A study of the nation's treatment centers found that over 90% of the outpatient, and 96% of the inpatient treatment centers used 12-Step-based programs. They aren't about to tell anybody that it's all voodoo medicine.

That brings up the subject of money. The treatment centers that charge $15,000 for a 28-day stay, like Hazelden and the Betty Ford Clinic, where people just get intense 12-Step indoctrination for a month, are not about to tell the world that steppism is quack medicine. They constantly rave about how well it works (which of course it doesn't). There is plenty of money to be made by selling the 12 steps; there isn't any profit in saying that it doesn't work.

That, in turn, leads to the front groups that exist to sell the 12-Step program to both end consumers and professionals:

  • NCADD, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (Founded by the stepper Marty Mann)
  • ASAM, the American Society of Addiction Medicine (aimed at doctors) (Founded by the true believer Dr. Ruth Fox)
  • NAADAC, the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (obviously, for counselors, more than 90% of whom teach the 12 steps, and who are unqualified to teach anything else)
They constantly crank out more public relations garbage that says that A.A. and 12-Step programs work great.

But there have been good, valid, medical and scientific reports that A.A. does not work at all. See the work of Doctors Brandsma, Walsh, Ditma, and Vaillant.

The problem is that while a few doctors publish valid studies in obscure medical journals, thousands of true believers keep up the chant "A.A. works great." A.A. may not work great for curing alcoholism, but it sure does work great at publicity.

Bill Wilson was very clever about publicity. He campaigned to promote A.A. for many years. He deliberately set out to seduce and convert the famous magazine writer Jack Alexander, who became an ardent admirer of A.A. and Bill Wilson. Jack Alexander's Saturday Evening Post article on A.A. really sold A.A. to the country.

And then there is the religious angle. By starting off yammering about religion and Christianity in the 1930s, Bill Wilson and gang were able to avoid a lot of criticism, and pick up a lot of good will as an organization that got the drunkards to pray. ("It would be impolite and perhaps religious bigotry to criticize a church that is doing such good work... After all, they have their beliefs and we have ours...")

And while Bill Wilson routinely lied about his success rate (look here), he made it very difficult to compute the success rate. You can't track thousands of anonymous alcoholics for very long, so outside observers who suspected that A.A. didn't work very well couldn't prove it.

And of course A.A. routinely lies with qualifiers when reporting its success rate. Bill Wilson only counted "those who thoroughly followed our path" and "those who really tried" and "those who kept coming back". Technically, it is true that A.A. has a great success rate among those who quit drinking and never drink again and keep coming back to meetings forever. (Just like A.A. has a terrible failure rate among those who drink all of the time.)

Thanks again for a good question, and have a good day.

— Orange

P.S.: The claim that A.A. "showed prodigious results" comes out of Bill Wilson's second book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions:

"Then I woke up. I had to admit that A.A. showed results, prodigious results. I saw that my attitude regarding these had been anything but scientific. It wasn't A.A. that had the closed mind, it was me."
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, Page 27.

[2 Jan 2004]

I heard the following jokes and wondered if you had any.

How many AA folks does it take to change a light bulb?
None. They're all waiting for the Higher Power to do it.

How many AA folks does it take to operate an elevator.
None. They're all in the stair well discussing the first step.


Yep. Try these: My jokes.

Also see this jewel from others:
Do You Think Too Much?


— Orange

[6 Jan 2004, Jeff wrote:]

The recovery rate in Akron and Cleveland in the early days was rather high, between 75% and 93%. How do they know? They watched each other, Dick Head, AA or the Alcoholic's Bregade of the Oxford Group was something that you had to be sponsored into, somebody had to vouch for you, that you were a real alcoholic and that you were ready to try their method of recovery.

Hi, Jeff.

Alas, you are indulging in wishful thinking. A.A. had a very high failure rate, sponsorship or no sponsorship. Bill Wilson himself wrote:

At first nearly every alcoholic we approached began to slip, if indeed he sobered up at all. Others would stay dry six months or maybe a year and then take a skid. This was always a genuine catastrophe.
Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age, William G. Wilson, (1957), page 97.

Lois Wilson's private secretary, Francis Hartigan, reported:

We have to wonder why both the Wilsons and the Smiths did not simply give up.   ...   During Bill's stay in Akron, he and Bob calculated their success rate to be about 5 percent, and among the few who seemed to catch on, not all of them were able to maintain consistent sobriety.
Bill W. A Biography of Alcoholics Anonymous Cofounder Bill Wilson, Francis Hartigan, pages 91-92.

So Bill Wilson and Doctor Bob calculated that they were getting a mere five percent or less success rate in Akron, but that didn't stop Bill Wilson from bragging in the Big Book that his wonderful new program was getting a fifty percent success rate.

And at the memorial service for Doctor Bob, Bill reminisced about the early days of him and Doctor Bob:

You have no conception these days of how much failure we had. You had to cull over hundreds of these drunks to get a handful to take the bait.
Bill Wilson, at the memorial service for Dr. Bob, Nov. 15, 1952; file available here.

When Bill Wilson wrote in the Big Book that A.A. had a great success rate, with more than half of the alcoholics recovering, he was just lying to get money, and to sell the A.A. program and the book.

Look here for more.

When Bill Wilson started writing the opening chapters of the Big Book, in late 1938, there were only 40 sober members of A.A. in the whole world, and there were only about 70 A.A. members when Bill finished in the spring of 1939. But then they didn't stay sober. Francis Hartigan also reported that fully 50% of the original Big Book authors relapsed and returned to drinking.

When Bill talked about "The First 100", that was a gross exaggeration — an outright lie, in fact — that became criminal felony fraud when he wrote it in the stock prospectus for "The One Hundred Men Corporation", which was formed to finance writing and printing the Big Book. That was giving prospective investors false information about the potential worth of the corporation and its new "treatment method". There weren't any 100 sober A.A. members — only 40, and many of them relapsed and died drunk, like Jackie and Paddie and Ebby and Henry Parkhurst and Florence Rankin.

In his history of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill Wilson wrote:

It was on a November day in that year [1937] when Dr. Bob and I sat in his living room, counting the noses of our recoveries. There had been failures galore, but now we could see some startling successes too. A hard core of very grim, last-gasp cases had by then been sober a couple of years, an unheard-of development. There were twenty or more such people. All told we figured that upwards of forty alcoholics were staying bone dry.
      As we carefully rechecked this score, it suddenly burst upon us that a new light was shining into the dark world of the alcoholic. Despite the fact that Ebby had slipped, a benign chain reaction, one alcoholic carrying the good news to the next, had started outward from Doctor Bob and me. Conceivably it could one day circle the whole world. What a tremendous thing that realization was! At last we were sure. There would be no more flying totally blind. We actually wept for joy, and Bob and Anne and I bowed our heads in silent thanks.
Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age, William G. Wilson, page 76.

So, after two years of intense full-time recruiting work, including deceptive recruiting, coercive recruiting, and cherry-picking only those alcoholics who were ready to quit drinking, Bill and Bob counted 40 ex-drinkers in their club. On the basis of that, Bill Wilson concluded that he had discovered a new cure for alcoholism.

Remember that the score was 20 with a couple of years sober, and 20 more who had just recently quit. So that would mean that two years later, there were 40 with two or more years sober, if they all stayed sober — which they apparently didn't, because Bill just said that they "would stay dry six months or maybe a year and then take a skid."

Then, in the original Big Book manuscript in 1939, Bill's "first 100" who numbered 40 became "thousands":

We, of ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, know thousands of men and women who were once just as hopeless as Bill. Nearly all have recovered. They have solved the drink problem.
The A.A. Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, William G. Wilson, page 17.

CORRECTION: In the manuscript for the first edition of the Big Book, Bill wrote "more than one hundred men and women" recovered. In the second edition, Bill changed that to "thousands".

When there were still only between 40 and 70 sober A.A. members in New York, Akron, and Cleveland altogether, with sober times that ranged from 4 years down to a few days, Bill Wilson bragged in the Big Book that there were hundreds who had been saved. It would be 14 years before he let the truth slip out.

Now if you have any evidence to the contrary, I'd love to see it. Perhaps you can get into the locked and sealed Alcoholics Anonymous archives and look at the original documents and records that A.A. hides from the world? Please send me computer image scans of whatever you get your hands on.

Oh, by the way, cherry picking, which is what you are describing in your letter, is a form of cheating. Carefully hand-picking who will go into a program makes it a special invitation-only club, not treatment for alcoholism. (The strategy is simple: "Only let the winners join the club.") If A.A. is really any kind of a cure or treatment program or self-help group for alcoholics, then you have to count all of the alcoholics, both those whom A.A. seems to have helped, and those whom A.A. did not help, when computing the success rate of the program. All of the alcoholics need help, and they all count, not just the ones who are ready to join A.A. and believe in Wilsonism.

Have a good day anyway.

— Orange

[14 Jan 2004]


I'd read the entirety of your article but lack time and patience and anyway prefer to ramble on and on about myself . . . symptomatic of being a dry drunk. I'm a middle-aged, very bright, college-educated person (none of which makes me a better person) who has struggled a long time with low self-esteem, chronic anger/depression, too many job changes, poor performance on the job, relationship problems and so forth. Sound familiar?

I, too, have been disdainful of 12-Step programs, being an intellectual snob and thinking myself in control of my life. I sure didn't want to sit around with a bunch of lame-brained women who didn't have the spine to kick the bum out (child, husband, whatever) because they "love him or her" (serious codependency) and/or are financially dependent. (Though being financially dependent on a drunk is not very realistic, unless he's truly in recovery and has an education. Women need to learn to take care of themselves, so they care for the children they bring into the world, in my opinion.)

I now realize that my dry drunkness is in fact Bipolar Disorder I, and this and similar mental illnesses underlie all addictive behaviors and attitudes. Our family's is genetic, and I finally understand why my dad drank, spent money foolishly, changed jobs way too often (due to drinking or his feelings or inferiority or both), and terrorized us. And why my mother didn't have the nerve to leave him and get a job herself. Much of it is generational . . . we know so much more now than people did then.

So, knowing this, am I in therapy and on meds? Interesting you should ask. I'm only quasi-employed (having been fired from my last full-time job due to . . . guess what? not drinking but fear of making a mistake; mental paralysis). No job means no health insurance (which doesn't pay well for therapy, but there are always the meds). I understand some pharmaceutical firms have free drug programs but it's so darned complicated . . . one needs a Rx ($$$), communicating with the company in question, you know actually doing something.

Anyway, I've gone on enough about me . . . hope it's provided you some insight as I'm sure my problems are not uncommon. Do please share your thoughts anytime you like.


Hi, Wendy,

Thanks for the letter.

You began by accusing yourself of being a dry drunk. I have to comment that there really isn't any such thing. It's just another imaginary bogey man that A.A. uses to scare the newcomers. As you figured out, your problem was not "dry drunk", but something more like "Bipolar Disorder I".

The phrase "fear of making a mistake; mental paralysis" really stands out to me. I suffered from the same thing most of my life. It came from being an abused child. If you do anything wrong, or make any mistake, you get hit. In the end, you are afraid to do anything for fear of making a mistake and getting hit again. It becomes paralyzing. What a terrible way to treat children.

Thank God that is all in the past now.

Have a good day.

— Orange

[17 Jan 2004]

It seems many oldtimers (40+ years... one 62 years sober in Michigan) knew about Bill's womanizing. Why then haven't I heard more "around the tables" of his talking the talk and obviously not walking the walk... what's the scoop?

Hi LK,

I can only make an educated guess, and the guess is that we seem to be up against a combination of wishful thinking and a conspiracy of silence. Many of the true believers will tell you that telling the truth about the down side of A.A. or Bill Wilson's conduct will cause weaker members to relapse and die drunk. "You will be doing a great disservice to those who are seeking sobriety." At the very least they consider it unseemly to tell the truth about A.A. and Bill Wilson. "It will confuse the newcomers".

Committed A.A. members really want the program to be perfect, and are unwilling to openly criticize it, or to "share" anything in meetings that would reveal its flaws. One of the unwritten rules is, "You must not criticize the program." We routinely see Pollyannas gushing about how Bill Wilson was such a genius to have created twelve such perfect steps that can solve all of the problems of the world, but it is against the "group conscience" to talk about Bill Wilson's gross misbehavior in the sexual or financial realms, or his habitual lying, narcissism, and delusions of grandeur, or the real A.A. failure rate, or anything like that. And they just really don't want to hear that Bill Wilson was a creep who deserved to be put in prison for everything from embezzling and stock fraud to being a sexual predator. (Victimizing sick women who are trying to recover from alcoholism is really heartless, but that's what Bill Wilson did.)

In the final analysis, it seems to be just the on-going practice of the Big Lie — just forever keep repeating the tale that A.A. is perfect, and Bill Wilson was perfect, and "RARELY HAVE we seen a person fail, who has thoroughly followed our path"... (even if you are an oldtimer who knows different).

Thanks for a good question, and have a good day.

— Orange

[23 January 2004]

      When I first went thru your site, I couldn't believe what I was reading about AA, NA, and most 12 step programs.

      I 1st went to an AA meeting while behind bars. It was the 2nd time down for me for drug possession. I listen to the people who came in, sharing their experience, strength and hope, and thought what the hell, I'll give this a try when I get out.

      Before I went in, I had my own business, which strived for many years. I had the best clients in town. I got in a car wreck, after staying clean for 15 yrs, and got strung out on the medication. One thing led to another, and I got busted. The reason I share this is, I knew people out there in the criminal world who never treated me as bad, or untrustworthy as those in AA and NA.

      When I got out, I attended meetings regularly, slowly putting my life back together. With no help from anyone in the programs. Just hard work. Well I met a girl in the program, we started dating, having a rather good time, till my sponsor, 11 yrs in the program, invited her over to his house, while I was working and seduced her, with this 'spiritual enlightenment', saying things like I was still sick, and I shouldn't be in a relationship. That a relationship would make me get strung out again. Well she fell for it and they slept together. My 1st clue that something wasn't quit right. LOL So much for trust.

      I still hung in there and kept going to meetings. My god son was having problems, so his parents asked me to introduce him to the NA, AA program. He was 15 yrs old, very good looking kid. Well he came in, and all the women hit on him. All the ones over 21. I kept screaming, that seducing him was child rape, but people, all of them, did nothing. They let the women just use him, til he almost killed himself. The whole time these old timers kept telling me I was powerless, and couldn't help him. He needed to do this on his own. I knew in my heart, that this was the biggest bunch of crap. However, dumb old me, believing that I was sick, and needed these people to control my life cause they had some sober time, went along with what they said. What a fool.

      I do believe that there was something to being spiritual in helping us on our journies, so I walked out my front door and went looking, I ended up with the Tsalagi studying, along with the Wampanoags, the Lokota, my travels took me all over. A lot of them had drinking problems when they were young, and had over come them. So what better teachers than the ones who understood. I ran across a beautiful women in the rooms, who wanted to travel, I was headed to the Black hills for a gathering and she came along. Well we got to know each other pretty well and got married, This was 4 yrs ago. We now have a 2 1/2 yr old boy. Very beautiful, and we live at a sacred mountain.

      When we got here, she started going back to AA meetings. Hooking up with like minded people she said. I got a job at the local hospital, and have been there ever since. Well, I was working the night shift, and my wife was going to a lot of meetings. That's when I started to get very concerned about her behavior. The people in the rooms started telling her things like, you were sick when you met him. He used you. He is sick and controlling, you need to go to CODA, all this crap. Our relationship started to suffer greatly. I couldn't believe this, I was up for Employee of the Year. She was making a 4.0 and made the presidents list in college, and yet these people were telling her how sick we were. I came home one night, and she had taken my son, and moved in with one of these spiritual women. Said she needed to find herself. Well I didn't handle it too well. I went into the AA meetings and let them have it. I told them if they didn't stay away from my wife and son, that I would shoot every sick MF in the rooms. See all the men had already started asking her out. 2 days she was gone and they were already preying on her.

      Here we were, my career was doing real well, my wife was doing great in school, yet they still told her how sick we were. How they brain washed her into thinking everything we were doing was bad. Not once did these spiritual healers take into consideration my son. His well being. After 5 days my wife and son came back home totally scared to death. Lost. I was so glad to have them back, I love them very much. She shared with me, how, over a period of time she was slowly being led into this cult thing. How dangerous and dark it really was. Today we have moved to higher ground, she graduates next spring, and is going for her masters. I just received a good promotion and my son dances all the time.

      The reason I share this is, it can be very very dangerous for those seeking a better life, to be fooled by charlatans. AA and NA seem to feed off of peoples hope and faith. All those years when I was dealing with the criminals, never ever was I hurt so bad, like I was in a recovery 12 step program. There is a lot more to this story, this is just a letter that says, thanx and I agree, people need to be told the truth about what exactly is going on in AA and NA.


Wow. Thanks for an extremely powerful letter. I feel overwhelmed. Glad to hear that you are doing better, now that you have escaped from the mad-house.

And definitely have a good day.

— Orange

[Mon, 26 Jan 2004, Kyle wrote:]

I admit I did not read your entire website, but I disagreed with most of what I read. I was glad to see someone challenging the highly praised and worshiped AA institution. I agree that it doesn't work for most people. I used to go to meetings and didn't really get much out of it. I was an addict/and alcoholic for about 20 years and now I've been sober for 13 years.

I do believe in the steps, but not your interpretation of them and maybe not AA's interpretation either. I believe that you have to be really ready to give up your will to GOD and ready to take direction from some kind of structure, such as the bible. I believe addicts need some kind of support of friends. ALL people need this for when the hard times come and they will come. I never found much support with people in AA. Maybe it's because most of us are social misfits with problems dealing with relationships. Anyway I quit going about 10 years ago and I still sober.

What do think of my opinions?


Hi Kyle,

Thanks for the letter.

It seems that we agree about most things, like the miserable failure rate of 12-Step programs — which makes everything else just an afterthought. The details of the program are irrelevant if the program doesn't work — which it doesn't.

But I disagree about the human need to surrender to a bigger power. All too often, that leads to pure fascism, no matter whether it is done by the Jesuits or the Nazis.

And then we have the whole problem of just who gets to decide what God says... (or what the Bible says...).

But you know, you aren't really doing the 12 Steps — not the 12 steps that Bill Wilson wrote. He wrote that you get your guidance in Step 11 by meditating and praying until you hear the voice of God telling you what to do. In other words, conduct a séance and "channel" God.

You, on the other hand, are turning to the Bible. Those are two very different things. (Especially since the Bible says that people who conduct séances and talk to the spirits should be put to death.)

You should read the file "The Heresy of the Twelve Steps" for much more on the conflicts between A.A. theology and the Bible.

Have a good day.

== Orange

[Tue, February 3, 2004, Ed wrote:]


I am wondering if you have any evidence on twelve step members who have worked all twelve steps and their relapse rate. I see the study on membership but to hypothesize that these "alcoholics" were treated in AA compared to the non-treated may be comparing non-treated alcoholics to non-treated alcoholics. Just because someone shows up to a "program" does not mean they follow the program. To assume this seems naive. It is also possible that the alcoholic entered into AA was at a more progressive stage of the illness. Obviously if it was a scientific study it can be refuted. Have you compared treatment for other illnesses to see relapse rate? To my understanding diabetes has a high rate of relapse similar to addiction.

- Ed

Hi Ed,

Thanks for some fascinating questions. Unfortunately, the answer to most of them seems to be, "No answer."

That is, I don't know of anybody, not even the A.A. headquarters, who has ever done a study of only those A.A. members who have done all 12 Steps. That would be a very interesting study, and I'd like to see the results, but I don't know if it will ever be done. The last I heard, the GSO is not even doing the Triennial Surveys anymore, presumably because the results were so embarrassing.

[CORRECTION: They are still doing the surveys, but they have stopped asking the embarassing questions like "What is the A.A. drop-out rate?".
Still, the last Triennial Survey revealed that 60% of the current membership was forced, pressured, shoved, or coerced into A.A. by the health care or criminal justice systems, thus showing that A.A. is a program of promotion, not attraction, which clearly violates the so-called Eleventh Tradition.
(It seems like the A.A. headquarters just can't ask those A.A. members very many questions without revealing some truth or other that they really didn't want the public to know.)]

UPDATE: 2012.12.07: They have stopped asking even those embarrassing questions in the triennial surveys. The last "survey" was nothing more than giving a questionaire to several thousand selected people. Thus, it was not a survey of the A.A. membership at all.

If someone does such a study, I'd like to see them measure and evaluate all kinds of things, like:

  • abstinence from drinking alcohol,
  • controlled, moderate, drinking,
  • rate of binge drinking,
  • the resulting mental health of the individuals in question,
  • the degree of involvement or obsession with A.A.,
  • employment and economic prosperity,
  • over-all physical health,
  • hospitalization
  • neurosis
  • psychosis
  • suicides,
  • other deaths,
  • marital status and divorces,
  • crime rate,
  • drunk-driving arrests
  • other arrests,
  • imprisonment,
  • general happiness,
  • and who knows what else.

It would be very interesting to get a profile of people who had done all Twelve of the Steps for years, and compare them to other sober, (non-A.A.) recovered alcoholics, and see what differences the Steps make. Maybe someone will do such a study some time. It must be randomized (as much as possible), of course, in order to be valid.

You are assuming one thing that I would question, when you say, to hypothesize that these "alcoholics" were treated in AA compared to the non-treated may be comparing non-treated alcoholics to non-treated alcoholics."

I understand your point, but "Working the Twelve Steps" and "Recovery in A.A." are not the same thing (or so we are told). The Steps are "only suggested as a program of recovery", so bona-fide A.A. members are free to create their own programs without being accused of not getting "the real A.A. treatment" or of not "working a strong program", or of not being members in good standing. So apparently, people can get "the A.A. treatment" without doing the Twelve Steps.

That does of course, immediately create another problem: If quite a wide range of programs can be called "recovery in A.A.", then what is the real A.A. "treatment program"? It can be anything.

So in the end, about all that you can do is pretty much what has already been done, just send one group of alcoholics to A.A., and give another group no A.A. (no "treatment") and then examine them later to see what happened. It's difficult, or even impossible, to measure just how much they worked a strong program.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

Oh, and about the relapse rate of diabetes, I am puzzled by that question. I know that there are different forms of diabetes, but with some of them, there is no cure, and the patient will be injecting insulin for the rest of his life. Since there is no remission, there can be no relapse.

Are you thinking about things like diabetics going on sugar binges or something?

As far as other diseases go, lots of them do have a relapse rate, like the unfortunate souls whose cancer returns. I don't have a chart of such relapse rates handy. But somehow, I feel that we are mixing apples and oranges here. The return to drinking alcohol is a voluntary, conscious act. Getting cancer is not. And you can't quit dying from cancer just by refraining from eating white sugar or fat or some such thing. But you can quit dying from alcoholism just by abstaining from drinking ethanol.

== Orange

[Wed, February 4, 2004, Jay W. wrote:]


I don't know who you are but I greatly enjoyed reading your treatise on Bill Wilson.

I guess what struck me more than anything is that Bill was totally a flawed human being just as we all are.

I'm also sure as hell glad for the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. Bill was no saint, (and very far from sainthood if the info in your website is to be believed, and I'm sure much of it is true),but the program he started completely changed my life. The simple fact is that I was hopelessly addicted to drugs and alcohol, and by hanging out with other sober drunks, have managed to live very well without for over 7 years. It's truly something I could not accomplish on my own. God knows I tried.

But I really enjoyed what you wrote and commend you on the historical depth as well. I learned loads.

Stay Well—

Jay W.
Bangkok, Thailand

Hi Jay,

Thanks for the compliments. Glad to hear that you are doing well.

I think you are confusing cause and effect. You completely ignored the fact that quitting drinking and staying sober is a learning experience, just like learning to ride a bicycle. You fall down until you get the hang of it. And then it gets easy.

Staying sober is something that you could never "accomplish on your own" — not until you did.

Nobody but you holds your hand in the middle of the night, every night, and keeps you from drinking.

You are doing all of the hard work yourself, and then giving something else the credit for it. See this letter.

Likewise, you said that having a group of sober friends was a big help. Okay, but that has nothing to do with the Twelve Steps or the Big Book or Bill Wilson's crazy ravings about God, now does it?

Have a good day.

== Orange

P.S. We are not all flawed humans like Bill Wilson. We are not that bad. I know a lot of strange people, but I don't know anybody else who is as extreme as Bill Wilson was. He was really a heartless criminal who exploited, rather than helped, the people around him.

[6 February 2004]

Dear Agent Orange,

Over the last two years I have read everything you have written on your site. Permit me to digress and say that I attended my first AA meeting over thirty years ago. I have read and re-read the Big Book countless times but it wasn't until two years ago that I fully understood what Bill Wilson and his cronies were up to.

I am convinced that one could obtain full time employment by just going to meetings and teaching the members of AA how to critically read. That is, if one didn't get lynched in the process. I guess dreams really do die hard.

It is my opinion that AA is on the downslide, fortunately. As good friend of mine once said, "Once the lightbulb goes on it is impossible to put it out." I attend some meetings still but only with the intent of watching the lightbulb go on in some members' heads from time to time.

Anyway, here's one of my favorite quotes from the Big Book of Bullshit. Top of page 55: "What about the people who proved that man couldn't fly." Notice Bill doesn't refer to who these people actually were. Not unusual, considering he rarely cited sources for his lifelong campaign of disinformation. Obviously, if they had "proved that man couldn't fly", we wouldn't have airplanes today. Unbelievable! With the Big Book the devil is definitely in the details.
Something the vast majority of AA members overlook.
Keep up the good work.

Hi, Bob,

Thanks for the praise. And your choice of that paragraph to criticize is most excellent. It's one of my favorite Wilsonisms. The whole paragraph says,

Hence, we saw that reason isn't everything. Neither is reason, as most of us use it, entirely dependable, though it emanate from our best minds. What about people who had proved that man could never fly?
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, pages 54-55.

Actually, nobody had "proved" that man couldn't fly, like Bill said on page 51,

Was it not true that the best mathematical minds had proved that man could never fly? Had not people said God had reserved this privilege to the birds?
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, pages 51.

People had been flying for a long time. During the American Civil War, soldiers used hydrogen-filled balloons to get up to where they could spy on enemy positions. And the first manned hot-air balloon flew way back in the late 1700s, from the center of Paris to the rural countryside, where the terrified farmers thought they were being attacked by a monster, which they soon bravely killed with their pitch-forks.

A few respected university professors had calculated with a bunch of equations that heavier-than-air craft were unworkable, but that was it. The general public was undecided on the matter. Even a simpleton could look at a fat Canada goose and say, "That goose is heavier than air, and it can fly. It even migrates long distances, twice a year."

Nevertheless, Bill Wilson made the sweeping assertion that because some unnamed somebody "had proved that man could never fly", we should all abandon reason and logical thinking, and just "have faith" in Bill's proclamations. Yeh, right. Wilson way over-generalized, jumping from a few people being wrong about airplanes to declaring that everybody was mentally incompetent and unqualified to think for themselves and run their own lives. (So it was also an attempt to use Proof By Anecdote.) And somehow, based on no evidence whatsoever, Bill then concluded that he was qualified to do their thinking for them.

And when it comes to overgeneralizing, Bill Wilson failed to be consistent and practice his own preaching. Hadn't Bill just inadvertently "proved" in the same goofy manner that people like him were unqualified to talk about God and His actions?
"Had not people said God had reserved this privilege to the birds?"
Well, "they" had been completely wrong about God's intentions and plans before, hadn't they?
Nevertheless, Bill Wilson still kept on confidently making more grand sweeping statements about God and His great design and His Will and His wishes, quite sure that Bill couldn't possibly be wrong this time...

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

— Orange

P.S.: If you read stuff on my web site two years ago, then most of what you read has been updated, expanded, and (hopefully) improved.
Now you can start all over again, and read it all again. :-)
Or, just use the list of updates on the menu page to make shorter work of it.

[Sun, February 8, 2004, Jeffrey wrote:]

hi orange!

i entered aa in 1982 until about 3 years ago when i began to pull away because of a yearning i'd had for quite awhile to look outside the 'frigging' aa box! if i've been to 3 meetings in 3 years it would be a lot! i transitioned from aa into a program for 'sexual compulsivity' and have stopped going there as well. therapy has helped me immensely in forging an alliance with myself if you will, to go the road of my choosing if for no other reason than because i want to.

interesting to note that i had a conversation this morning to a woman i'm friends with that i met in aa several years back. i just told her that i haven't been going to aa and why. i always find it interesting the tendency people have, me included at times, to have to counter whatever experience you're having with theirs. i told this woman so that she finally knew. i asked her why she felt the need to have to tell me where she stood with regard to the program... that she wouldn't have even thought to do that had i not brought it up. i asked her why she felt the need to 'defend' her aa. i asked if she were threatened? she didn't get it. i allowed her to say what she had to anyway. having gotten away from the 12-Step paradigm for so long now, when i hear program stuff i can REALLY hear the jargon.

THANK YOU SO MUCH for your comments on the book 'the 12 steps and 12 traditions.' there was barely a time in the program (interesting word huh? may be i should refer to it as the programming), that i didn't feel guilty! i never felt that i was going to get ahead. even though the 'big book' says one must look at one's assets to balance out one's view of themselves, clearly the focus in most meetings was on what was wrong with us. the way i was wired very early in life set me up to seek out systems like aa and people within the program as sponsors that would mirror significant people in my past.

at this time i am happier not going to any 12-Step meetings. do i have 'issues' to deal with...yeah. but how i deal with them...when, where, how and with whom is up to me.

i no longer have a 12 foot drink behind me thats gonna get me if i don't.......... blah, blah, blah.

thank you again for a perspective that i really need to read in order to support where i am now.

i've just begun to explore the material and will be doing so now.



Hi, Jeffrey,

Thanks for the letter. And thanks for all of the thanks.

When you said, "clearly the focus in most meetings was on what was wrong with us", that really rang a bell in me. That's one of the biggest problems I have with the program. Take depressed people and make them even more depressed, until a few commit suicide.

I remember meetings where I was picking up coins, and shared my joy at how much better I felt to be recovering, rather than sick and dying, and how life could really be good. I got subtle frowns because, apparently, my sharing wasn't negative enough. No grovelling and self-contempt and moaning about how stupid I am. After one such incident, a chain-smoking old-timer attached himself to me (after I had just shared that I was also off of cigarettes, as well as alcohol, for 6 months) and offered to be my sponsor. He knew, just from listening to me share, that I didn't have a sponsor, and I wasn't working the program right.   :-)

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

[9 February 2004]

Recently I escaped from the AA cult. The information you have provided me has put a spotlight on the bullshit I was believing about myself. When I stopped going to meetings three weeks ago, it was because of an arguement that I had with one of my "friends." She was going through some anger issues. She found out that I had given a VCR she gave me to my landlord. When she had given me the damn thing, she said it was broken. She never asked me if I already had a VCR. Now that she knew I did she was angry at me for having taken the machine. I left and decided never to go to another meeting. For the next few days I started getting phone calls, so I unplugged my phone.

This woman must have been trying to call, or maybe a bunch of them had tried, so they decided to "intervene." In the evening I heard numerous individuals (all women from her support group) knocking on my door and windows. I ran in the bedroom and hid. I felt like the zombies from Night of the Living Dead were coming for me. Later my landlord told me that my ex-pal Sandi had said they were all scared I would commit suicide. They almost Baker-acted me on lies. I even heard that one was going to make up a story about illegal drugs and turn me over to the police. This coming from my support group.

Thank you for existing and keep thinking!
Spoono from Florida

Wow. What a horror story. Lately, I've been trying to work up a good joke involving the image of ghouls out of Night of the Living Dead, but I think you beat me to it, although that wasn't a laughing matter.

Your A.A. friend going non-linear over the VCR reminds me of the study that Michael Lemanski found, which determined that the majority of A.A. members were more or less mentally disturbed. Your crowd sure fits that description.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

— Orange

[10 February 2004]

Dear Orange,

I can't thank you enough for all the time and energy and real research you've done to assemble these essays. It's going to take me three years of sobriety just to read the whole thing.

My involvement with AA lasted just over a year and I am currently 10 months sober. My experience has been mixed, but my overall gut reaction was negative. The philosophy behind "powerlessness" has always left me a cold. The lack of intellectual discourse and all the "thought stopping cliche's" , as you put it, really bugged me too. I could never seem to have a real, meaningful conversation with all these new "intimate" friends without it soon devolving into some circular logic and the same old "keep coming back" line. Let's not even get into how many times I was told I was never going to live a happy life as a sober atheist.

But now I come to find out the whole time I was trying to let someone else do the thinking for me, I was following a design for living which was really a semi-watered-down 2.0 version of a fanatic religious program authored by a Nazi apologist who attended the 1936 Berlin Olympics with Himmler. Funny that. No wonder it always made me feel uneasy.

Please please please write back and tell me you have plans to publish this site as a book. While I appreciate the free version on the internet, you certainly deserve to be paid for your work, I'd like a hard copy to carry around with me to coffee shops and meetings, and my boss will never be okay with me printing the whole thing out at work.

Thanks so much,

Michael J.

Hi Michael,

Thanks for all of the compliments.

And I love the way you managed to summarize Bill Wilson's whole A.A. program with a very condensed one-liner: "a design for living which was really a semi-watered-down 2.0 version of a fanatic religious program authored by a Nazi apologist who attended the 1936 Berlin Olympics with Himmler." I couldn't have said it better myself. (In fact, I didn't. I took a zillion words to say the same thing.)

Alas, at present I still have no plans to publish the web site on paper. I think about it when people ask about it, and I still see three problems: links, updates, and low demand. All of those neat cross-links will be lost in a printed version, and I can't update paper. It's just so final. I am still not done with this thing, and don't know quite when I will feel that it's done, if ever. And then I don't know if there is really enough demand to make it worth it to a publisher.

Maybe a compromise is in order: I've started uploading archive files (that is, WinZip or .tar.gz files) that contain the whole web site. You could burn the uncompressed files into a CD (or have a friend with a CD burner do it), and carry around a notebook computer. (But of course, for those who don't have a notebook computer, that's still a pain.)

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

— Orange

[Sat, February 14, 2004, Banana wrote:]

Dear AO,

I enjoy looking over your shoulder and reading the letters on your site, especially the ad hominen attacks that start with "you dumbass . . ." and then pledge serenity in the program. You have some mighty thick peel there, Orange. Looks real good on you, too.

There is only a hint on your site (and Apple's) of a matter that concerns me - have others experienced *AA Sabotage* within the general population? *AA sabotage* (framed as a warning from a Good Samaritan, but really a character assassination) was the culprit for much of my grief. I suggest it is related to the "Stupid Drunk" stereotype, but extends far beyond the rooms and into the workplace and community. Alcoholism has a reputation, and is itself great fodder for gossip.

*AA sabotage* could get me fired from a job with a single phone call, or investigated with a complaint to the police. I experienced ruined romantic relationships because a gossip would say "he's an alcoholic and . . . well you know." I would protest the innuendo and explain the half-truths, but my denial was rationalized as typical for my disease and associated with some deep form of hidden anger. In any other person my personality would be considered an asset, but with me it was proof of some *potential* behavior. While most of these Good Samaritans had personal and punitive reasons; they exercised more direct impact on my life than any legitimate source. To the extent they noticed this discrepancy they were gratified by it and continued.

My own stupid mischief had gotten me into trouble, and sentenced to AA, which in turn gave me an *acceptable* excuse for explaining my stupid behavior. The short-term gain was getting to say it wasn't my fault, that I had this hypothetical disease. The long-term cost was believing that this disease actually existed and I was incapable of the moral responsibility for not drinking; and I may be incapable of any moral responsibility. What followed was 18 sober years of life in the hell of profound self-doubt. *AA sabotage* added to my doubt in my ability to do things I once did with ease, doubt of my own thought processes, with uncertainty and indecision in the simplest matters. I doubted the simple truths I had always believed in, doubted my own motives and the motives of others. I had conflicted preoccupation with morals and character defects, my place in life, the nature of reality, God, and even matters that I had resolved satisfactorily in the past. I developed this profound self-doubt from attending AA meetings, and in the community from *AA sabotage*. All for an excuse to some long-forgotten episode I had years before.

I am so much better today, cured of AA in an instant with help from you, Apple and others. But if *AA sabotage* exists, I must recognize the community doesn't know any better of me and it is time to move on. Perhaps you can help me organize my thoughts on how real and continuing is *AA sabotage*?

With Regards, the Lone Banana

Hi Banana,

Thanks for an enlightening letter.

You have brought up a good subject for further study. Off the top of my head, I don't know how much people get sobotaged, in general. I'm sure it varies a lot from person to person.

My signature below mentions one specific kind of sabotage, messing with your mind and making you doubt yourself, making you less powerful. But you are bringing up more kinds of sabotage. And you aren't the only one.

Rebecca Fransway put together a book of "AA Horror Stories" that contained other stories that mentioned some of the stuff you mentioned, like some fool who insists on loudly declaring in the supermarket that this woman is a member of his A.A. group... Or the gossipy sponsor who blabbed someone's Fifth Step all over town as revenge for the sponsee quitting the group.

Obviously, you already saw the web page on "Us Stupid Drunks", which is another kind of sabotage, making you feel like a worthless bum.

The subject of A.A. sabotaging people is a good thing to collect more stories and information about. Readers, got any goodies?

Have a good day.

== Orange

*                 Agent Orange                *
*            [email protected]       *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  Being surrounded by a group of people who keep telling
**  you that you are powerless over alcohol, and that your
**  will power is useless, is not getting "support". It is
**  getting sabotaged.
**  With friends like them, you don't need any enemies.

[Mon, February 16, 2004, Sarah wrote:]


Im Sarah and have been going to NA for 6 years, I have had enough now. They are seriously sick and although I appreciate the fact that all that self examination helped me to get to where I am now, I HAVE HAD ENOUGH ALREADY. I am sick of people thinking they have a right to comment on my life, what I do or dont do. I do not believe that I am some disease ridden hopeless case who needs to stay within "THE FELLOWSHIP" or die. I have recently got rid of my sponsor and told my sponsees that I refuse to carry the party line any further so therefore I can't sponsor them. I have printed off your thesis and will read through it, have just skimmed it up to now and it made me laugh. Life is for living, not cowering in fear and guilt. I refuse to be a coward, I refuse the AA/NA doctrine and am feeling "HAPPY, JOYOUS AND FREE" .

It is surely common sense that if you take copius amounts of drugs and alcohol and mix with lunatics that your life will be "unmanageable". I can't believe it took me this long to gain the courage to break free.

Are their others out there? How many escape?

Take care mate


Hi Sarah,

Congratulations. Welcome to freedom and sanity. And you aren't the only one, not at all. In the long run, almost everybody leaves those cults. They have a 95 to 99 percent dropout rate, over the long run. See the A.A. dropout rate, here.

Have a good day.

== Orange

[Thu, February 19, 2004, Tom Hens wrote:]

I've just started reading some of the stuff on your site about the origins of AA. I noticed a small factual error in the article "The Religious Roots of the Twelve Steps", orange-religiousroots.html. You have added information between square brackets to a quote from Tom Driberg's book on Buchmanism:

Queen Wilhelmina [of the Netherlands] 'had already proclaimed MRA as a national policy'; King Leopold [of Denmark] was following her example. (Both of them, in a few months' time, were to be victims of Nazism — the Queen as an exile, the King as a prisoner: the new 'national policy' would perhaps look a bit shop-soiled by then.)

As a Belgian, I'd like to point out that Leopold III was the king of Belgium (or to give him his officially correct title, "King of the Belgians"), not Denmark. Denmark has never had a king called Leopold, AFAIK, their male monarchs for the last several centuries have only used two names, alternating between Christian and Frederic. (I think at the time of WW2 there was a Christian on the throne, but I'd have to look it up to be certain.)

It is quite funny that Buchman apparently thought that the monarch of either the Netherlands or Belgium could "proclaim" anything to be "national policy". He clearly suffered from an (even today still not uncommon) total American ignorance of the role of these constitutional monarchs, neither of whom had the power to make any political decisions, or was allowed to make any public statement about political matters (let alone religious matters), except when it was scripted by their prime ministers and in strictly controlled circumstances. The idea that either of them would have publicly endorsed some weird American cult is ludicrous.

Thanks for a very interesting website. (I've only read a small part of it so far.) I've always had a gut suspicion that there was something not quite right about AA, without knowing too many specifics about it, but clearly it's even worse than I thought.

Hi Tom,

Thanks for the correction. My old head must have been tired when I did that. Of course Leopold was Belgian.

I love your remarks about the American misunderstanding of modern European constitutional monarchs. That's right on the money. Apparently, Frank Buchman thought that kings and queens were still like Henry VIII of England, who converted people to his new religion by chopping off their heads.

I included your comments in the web page on the Oxford Group here.

Have a good day.

== Orange

[Thu, February 19, 2004, Anders wrote:]

I am a sober member of AA. I just read your diatribe. I hope you are ok, and sober. Personally, I think you're an ass. And I'm NOT doing an inventory over it.


Hi Anders,

Yes, I am happy to say that I am very much okay and sober.

I wish you would be more specific about just what it is that you don't like about my web site. You think I'm an ass for telling the truth? Why?

If you think I'm in error about some facts, let's hear it. Let's get the truth out on the table.

And have a good day.

== Orange

[Much later, 23 June 2004, still no answer...]

[Sat, February 21, 2004, Ed wrote:]

Who is getting the best recovery rates at this time?

Ed W.

Hi Ed,

Thanks for a great question.

And the answer, which will displease just about all programs, is:

#1: DO IT YOURSELF — 5% success rate.

That is, the normal rate of spontaneous remission (5%), of people just getting sick and tired of being sick and tired, and just quitting, is higher than the real success rate of any treatment program.

As far as programs go, SMART and its brethren Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy kinds of programs seem to have about the best success rate, but even SMART scores much lower than the Do It Yourself program, getting only one or two percent more successes than the usual spontaneous remission rate (for a total of maybe 6 or 7 percent successes). But still, that's a few lives more saved, so that's a good thing.

And A.A. has always scored the worst on valid randomized tests. Sometimes, A.A. scores less than the normal rate of spontaneous remission — it actually keeps people from succeeding.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

[Mon, February 23, 2004, Jeff wrote:]

I have been reading through your site about AA being a cult. I find it interesting, especially the facts about Bills "experience", his womanizing and personality in general.

I was wondering if you were ever involved personally with a 12 step group? I am currently a member of NA and have been for 7 years. I have always been pretty conscious of the control "the program" has over my life. one of my passions for the same 7 years has been studying how the mind works in regards to beliefs and belief systems, hypnotism, mind programming and such. I have been slowly distancing myself from the "program" although I do continue to go to meetings to watch the effects of the mind control and sow some seeds of reason and watch the revolt. I must honestly admit that I bought the whole deal for 2 or 3 years, but my new reading interests kept throwing up red flags about what was going on. I have been considering completely cutting ties with all that stuff but I have made several friends there. Anyhow, I have enjoyed your site and will continue to look through it.


Hi Jeff,

Thanks for the compliments.

Yes, I've been to a zillion meetings (see the introduction), and I still drop in now and then, if only to pick up on coins and keytags as they come due.

And I don't know if you have to cut all ties. If everybody who is sane stops going to meetings, then who will save the newcomers?

Have a good day.

== Orange

[Mon, February 23, 2004, Tom wrote:]

Hi again

I guess AA managed to screw up everything I was taught in church.

The real sad thing is that so many churches are behind AA. I am going to pray to have God help me to leave...

even my crooked landlord is an AA guru.

I always thought I was cult proof...wrong!!!


Hi Tom,

Welcome to the human race. But it sounds like you are on the right track now.

Have a good day.

== Orange

[Wed, February 25, 2004, Rob wrote:]

I have been reading your essays and can see that you have done extensive research. My god your right on track. And you have opened my eyes. I have tried to contact you in the past. Perhaps you do not communicate with anyone. I am not sure?

I would like to have a contact with you via E-mail. I would like help those who are being manipulated by organizations in order to indoctrinate a pseudo-christian philosphy. any feed back would be appreciated

Hi Rob,

I do answer my email, although sometimes slowly.
And perhaps sometimes a spam filter gets you. This letter was stopped by a spam filter, but I got a chance to look at it and decide whether to discard it. Glad I didn't.

Thanks for all of the compliments. I too like to point out to Christian people that A.A. is definitely not Christian in philosophy. But oddly enough, they seem to just ignore that news, and decide that it's okay anyway. I can only guess that they think that getting drunks praying is a good thing, regardless.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

[Wed, February 25, 2004, 2nd letter from Rob:]

I am not a christian. Belive me, I've grown up not having faith in me. And AA has taught me nothing new. I believe in self will and truly know that any god or the one I would have to create by The AA standards can't stop me or guide me to not drink. I have to make that decision every day. I am not powerless. I have been "DRY" as they call it for 1 year and 3 months, and I have to admit it was done on my terms, not god's or the higher power.

I was removed from housing due to the fact of not having a home group and sponsor. And that pissed me off as I have outlasted many who have.

This need by many to desecrate self will offends me and makes wonder if there are agendas around for empowerment over others.

Ive read your post about will and it makes sense. If I were to get a sponsor and listen to him/her, am I not giving my will to a person or AA itself? And thus releasing my self empowerment.

I am a big fan of eric hoffer and love his true believer book. After reading his book I can not look at any organization without being cynical.

I have a request to ask are there any Canadian cases in regards to manditory attendence of AA, and has anyone opposed it? If you could offer links that would be great.

keep up the good work

Hi Rob,

Thanks for all of the compliments.

I don't know the key facts about Canadian A.A. coercion laws. I've heard some rumors to the effect that the same kind of battle has been going on in Canada as in the USA, trying to get A.A. labeled a religion, and trying to end coerced attendance. But I haven't found a collection of specifics. Perhaps one of the Canadian readers knows about the legal issues in Canada?

Sorry to hear about you being removed from housing for not being a good A.A. flunky. The same kind of thing goes on here, but less so, because of the court decisions that A.A. is a religious organization.

And of course you are right that if you surrender your will to your sponsor, or to your A.A. group, that it is not self-empowering. That is just a naked power grab by the cult. Surrender to the Cult is a standard feature of most cults. And here is how A.A. does it.

A while back, I heard one cynic declare, "When they say that you are powerless over alcohol, that just means that somebody else gets the power."

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

[Thu, February 26, 2004, Shane wrote:]

Things It Takes Most Of Us 50 Years To Learn:

1. The badness of a movie is directly proportional to the number of helicopters in it.

2. You will never find anybody who can give you a clear and compelling reason why we observe daylight-saving time.

3. You should never say anything to a woman that even remotely suggests you think she's pregnant unless you can see an actual baby emerging from her at that moment.

4. The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status or ethnic background, is that, deep down inside, we ALL believe that we are above-average drivers.

5. There comes a time when you should stop expecting other people to make a big deal about your birthday. That time is: age 11.

6. There is a very fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness."

7. People who want to share their religious views with you almost never want you to share yours with them.

8. If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be "meetings."

9. The main accomplishment of almost all organized protests is to annoy people who are not in them.

10. If there really is a God who created the entire universe with all of its glories, and he decides to deliver a message to humanity, he will NOT use as his messenger a person on cable TV with a bad hairstyle or in some cases, really bad make-up too.

11. You should not confuse your career with your life.

12. A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter/janitor, is not a nice person.

13. No matter what happens, somebody will find a way to take it too seriously.

14. When trouble arises and things look bad, there is always one individual who perceives a solution and is willing to take command. Very often, that individual is crazy.

15. Your true friends love you, anyway.

16. Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance.

Hi Shane,

Thanks for the list. That's good.

== Orange

[Fri, February 27, 2004, John McC. wrote:]

Agent Orange,

Imagine my surprise when after talking to a friend, another a.a. member about bill w. and his bad behavior, i came across your web site. I have always been a skeptic and the god stuff in the meeting has always put me off. Most of the time i hear other members talk about god, it's Christian in basis and it's just a rehashed concept.

i have been free of alcohol for 19 years. i was not a problem drinker although it caused many problems. i was an alcoholic, being at wits end i went to a treatment center and was introduced to a.a.

I am very fond of a.a. and still go today although i don't agree with a lot of what is being said. i never object because since the success rate is so poor i don't want to be responsible for any one not being able to have success. the ends justify the means. I'm sure i would much rather go to one that is more along the lines of r.r. or s.o.s. but the problem is that there are none around. i think i go just to socialize i like the people and there is the commonality of drinking and drugging.

i haven't been able to figure your angle out yet, but i know that any one who puts as much effort as you into anything as you has a angle. also when ever i hear what a wonderful person someone is so much better than a slob like my self i have always found out after some digging that it ain't so. that not only mens you, bill w. but also Jesus.


John McC.

Hi John,

Thanks for the letter, and I agree with a lot that you are saying.

As far as my 'angle' goes, you already figured out the first part — just trying to get the truth out there. I am above all interested in finding and broadcasting the truth about the whole thing — A.A., addiction and recovery, the recovery industry, the 'recovery culture' or 'recovery community', the whole pizza. I have this rather naïve belief that telling the truth will somehow accomplish something good in the long run. (I may be wrong; politicians seem to prove me wrong every day, but whatever...)

Then I want to end some bad practices like forcing sick people into the 12-Step cult by default, and sentencing people to the 12-Step religion. I listed that agenda in a previous letter, here.

And then there is the knowledge that some people are dying because they are getting fed a load of bull, rather than anything helpful. I told the story of one friend in an earlier letter, here.

Lastly, I suppose I could be just a compulsive perfectionist who keeps working on the web site because it still isn't quite perfect, and there's always something more to do. (What else would you expect from an adult child of another alcoholic? :-) )

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

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