Letters, We Get Mail, CLII

Date: Sat, November 28, 2009 7:44 pm     (answered 8 December 2009)
From: Gary G.
Subject: visitor

Mr. Orange, (sounds like Reservoir Dogs)

I've read your site a few times and just found a link from a recovery site!

It's good to be critical of AA. But I can see where you either exaggerate or completely take out-of context certain complaints and problems, or even invent them.

For example, almost no one says, "listen to the voices in your head and do exactly what they say". Even the AA Big Book says the opposite. It says your intuition will grow and become more sound and sane, when the effects of overwhelming self-centeredness are reduced or eliminated, but it cautions to be very careful applying sudden new inspirations to your life. They might be absurd inspirations invented by your own twisted mind.

Hello Gary,

Actually, what Bill Wilson wrote in the Big Book was that you are not qualified to hear the Voice of God, so you should listen to your sponsor and other group elders, and they will tell you what God says. Theoretically, you are still supposed to do what the voice in your head ("God") says when you do a Step 11, but since you are allegedly so "inexperienced in making conscious contact with God", you should listen to other people instead. That is a standard cultish bait-and-switch trick. First it's "Listen to God", and then it's "Listen to the cult leaders."

It is also cultish arrogance — Bill Wilson declared that newcomers had never had any experience with God before they came to his cult religion. As if all other religions in the world are invalid and ineffective.

As far as the "intuition growing", that sounds like so much wishful thinking. People's intuition doesn't improve from practicing an old cult religion.

Yet on the other hand, many people (outside AA) find themselves empowered to act on intuition alongside hard facts and pure logic. Many of these people are successful, including in business, if they are not too bizarre.

What you are calling intuition is often just educated guess-work — making the right choice based on partial data and sketchy information. (Of course, you don't hear about the other people who went broke because their "intuition" made the wrong choice. They aren't bragging about their intuition.)

Similar issues with sexual abuse. Alternative Views covered a very credible story/book of major corporations in Texas paying for a group of runaway teenage boys to serve the perverted sexual needs and power-tripping of their major corporate managers, leaders, and patrons. Does this mean all business is bad?

I guess you are trying to rationalize away and gloss over the Midtown Group and Pacific Group. The problem there is that the A.A. headquarters will not do anything to stop the abuse or fix the situation. So yes, that reflects on the whole organization.

I can see the point of "making amends" in a modified way to a childhood abuser, sexual or violent. Perhaps the person has changed. My former girlfriend, who is NOT an AA member, now gets along fine with her grown and mature father. They have lunch regularly. But when she was young, he was a horror, mean, violent and cheated on her mother. As a matter of fact, our breakup was largely due to the fact that while she forgave her "today" dad she was still stinging from her childhood abuse, and guess whose personality reminded her of her childhood dad. Me. I was "too cocky", which she both liked and feared.

This is one more classic example of how the normal human ego has great difficulty in putting the past in the past and moving on. People everywhere carry a lot of baggage of their past — understandably — and it's often crippling.

The point of "making amends" is "healing relationships" and letting go of long-standing bitter hatreds and hurt. Some of this involves apologizing for one's own shortcomings and abuses. It is presumed that the average alcoholic was very abusive in a variety of ways, as is usually the case. At the time AA was developed, the discussion of childhood sexual abuse was taboo, moreso than discussing alcoholism, but it happened regularly. Incest not a new phenomenon.

Yet now the discussion about incest and childhood abuse is more in the open, so AA must find ways to face that as a reality. The original Big Book was not written with that specificity. The "more will be revealed to us" section must apply to that. It suggests that AA is not a set of hard-and-fast rules, but that common sense, intuition, and wisdom must be applied, as new approaches are invented to match current conditions.

The AA model, at it's essence, involves in large part the ability to let go of "Self", especially the crippling parts of one's identity, and allowing a new healthier "Self" to emerge. At the same time, the crippling over-attention to Self (natural, if "Self" is experiencing some forms of psychic pain that one typically treats with a mental anesthetic such as booze) gets reduced to a more manageable size.

A Taoist saying around this matter involves a "pebble in one's shoe" or other minor ache that tends to bother the individual more than the deaths of millions.

That is quite a rap about "making amends", but there is zero evidence that going around saying "I'm sorry" to everybody fixes anything, or improves the world.

Spending so much time in the past is not necessarily healthy either.

Another fable along these lines (I believe) is the Princess and the Pea. The Princess suffered because a tiny pea (of psychic pain) kept her up at night, and no matter how many fluffy mattresses she applied to the problem, she remained troubled. It was not until the pea was removed that she was able to sleep comfortably — to forget.

? And the point is? Do you actually imagine that practicing Buchmanism removes psychic pain?

The way AA Steps looks into the past, it's a matter of clearly remembering and examination for the ultimate goal of "forgetting". Of course, one never truly forgets the past, unless they mentally suppress it (which often leads to schizophrenic or other disorders), or if they suffer from some sort of amnesia, but the sharp emotional pain of the past gets "forgotten" in the sense that Chinese philosophy explains.

Recalling everything that someone ever did wrong is not "forgetting the past", it is recalling the past. For some people, that routine is so depressing that they commit suicide.

You might thank me here. I doubt very many AA members understand that the reason for delving deeply into one's past is to ultimately forget it, but in a healthy and thorough way.

Introspection is good, but A.A. just dwells on the negative. It's another bait-and-switch trick.

  • The routine is supposed to be "a searching and fearless moral inventory" in Step 4,
  • but then in Step 5, it's all about "the exact nature of our wrongs." (What happened to the inventory of our good qualities?)
  • Then, in Step 6, those wrongs get changed into your "defects of character."
  • And in Step 7, they are "our shortcomings."

That is just another cultish guilt-induction routine, not good psychotherapy at all.

I doubt you will take this much into consideration. Your website seems to depict you as deeply committed to tarring AA, not just deservedly for it's goofier manifestations and misinterpretations, but for even wrongs that YOU have invented. I hope you would consider mitigating some of your criticisms or being open to discussing them rationally, seeing BOTH the bad (and weird) in AA and the good and sound aspects which are sometimes called spiritual in nature, at least non-dogmatic.

I have considered what you have written. I am very interested in discussing the 12-Step religion rationally. Unfortunately, rational thinking is very rare in religious cults. And trying to claim intangible "spiritual" benefits from the cult's crazy routines is just what Scientology does, too.

The existence of dogmatic people inside the AA culture does not mean that AA itself is intended to be a dogmatic religion. However, I agree with you that a lot of it could be updated and modified to reflect more modern understandings. In meeting that adopt a more modern culture, this is already happening. Some of it perhaps bad, as the "modern buzzword" psychotherapy gets invoked, stuff from perhaps Oprah or Dr. Phil. On the other hand, some mitigation of the older religious dogma is in order.

I really don't care if A.A. is "intended to be a dogmatic religion." I care that A.A. hurts more people than it helps, and won't tell the truth about it.

Updating A.A.? What not start with actually telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about alcoholism, addiction, recovery, the history of A.A., and all of the rest of it? Why is it still necessary to start every A.A. meeting by reading Bill Wilson's lies from pages 58 through 60 of the Big Book?

The same struggle is taking place in politics, between the "old time religion" exemplified by Bush Believers vs. a more modern secular viewpoint (with some of it's own shortcomings, the "religion" of modern-ish liberalism).

That is quite an attempt at rationalizing the situation. But the situation is not conservative old fundamentalists versus the liberal new thinkers. The situation is that not one word of the Sacred First 164 Pages has been updated or corrected in the third or fourth editions, nor will they ever will be.

We still have the problem that the whole 12-Step program is a lie. It is not a way to overcome addictions; it is a way to indoctrinate and convert new cult members. The 12 Steps are just Dr. Frank Buchman's practices, repackaged.

Gary G.

"A Criminal is a person with predatory instincts without sufficient capital to form a corporation."
— Clarence Darrow

"I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."
— Albert Einstein

"The Middle East is one of the greatest material prizes in world history. "
— U.S. State Dept 1945

"Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices."
— Voltaire

"We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false."
— William Casey, CIA Director (from first staff meeting in 1981)

"I never would have agreed to the formulation of the Central Intelligence Agency back in '47, if I had known it would become the American Gestapo. "
— Harry S Truman (1961)

"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed, and thus clamorous to be led to safety, by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."
— Henry L. Mencken (1880-1956)

"War doesn't make boys men, it makes men dead."
— Ken Gillespie

All propaganda must be so popular and on such an intellectual level, that even the most stupid of those toward whom it is directed will understand it... Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell, and also the other way around, to consider the most wretched sort of life as paradise.
— Adolf Hitler

"The technotronic era involves the gradual appearance of a more controlled society. Such a society would be DOMINATED by an elite, unrestrained by traditional values (of Liberty). Soon it will be possible to assert almost continuous surveillance over every citizen and maintain up-to-date complete files containing even the most personal information about the citizen. These files will be subject to instantaneous retrieval by the authorities."
— Zbigniew Brzezinski

Kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, PRETENDING generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object.
— Abraham Lincoln

"We can't be so fixated on our desire to preserve the rights of ordinary Americans."
— President Bill Clinton, U.S.A. Today, 11 March 1993

"Military Men are just DUMB STUPID ANIMALS to be Used as Pawns in Foreign Policy."
— Henry Kissinger

"All we need is the right major crisis and the nations will accept the New World Order."
— David Rockefeller

"The process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event — like a new Pearl Harbor" (2000)
— Project for a New American Century (Bush cabinet)

"I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket."
— Major General Smedley Butler, Two-time recipient of the Medal of Honor and Commandant USMC

"Of all the enemies to public liberty, WAR is the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed DEBTS and TAXES ... known instruments for bringing the MANY under the DOMINATION of the FEW. . . NO nation could preserve its FREEDOM in the midst of CONTINUAL WARFARE."
— James Madison, Political Observations, 1795

You have a good day and a Merry Christmas, Gary.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**      Classic remorse, as all the moralists are agreed, is a most
**      undesirable sentiment. If you have behaved badly, repent, make
**      what amends you can and address yourself to the task of behaving
**      better next time. On no account brood over your wrongdoing.
**         ==  Aldous Huxley

Date: Sat, November 28, 2009 6:22 pm     (answered 9 December 2009)
From: "Jeff L."
Subject: Funny Spirituality of W. G. Wilson

Dear orange:

I've read through the above mentioned document; I'm not quite sure the purpose of its work; rereading it, I've come to the conclusion that smoking, and therefore, narcissisim are not conducive — indicative of recovery.


I, unfortunately, smoked for a number of years of sobriety; thankfully, I no longer smoke. Yes, narcissisim, was, and can be, a persistent character defect in my life; certainly gounded in self-centeredness; though, the last 24 years of continued recovery have provided me with the ability of a nightly inventory to reveal such defects.

Finally, I must write, that I work in the health care field; I have daily patient contact as I treat that which is presented, usually (95% self-imposed) illnesses such as diabetes, depression and overconsumption of... Well, really, choose! With the latter considered, the best cure for alcoholsim that I've ever found, other than death, is Alcoholics Anonymous. This leads my to my iniatial and final question: Have you published anything illuminating the benefits of AA? If not, I would wonder, why not?

I recall coming to in the rain forest after a plane crash; after a few days passed, I was able to move around, determing the Cardinal directions, and make way out so that I could perhaps return with help. As I approached a river, I saw a young man, carrying a box. One of the natives that I had come across in the jungle ran past me and struck the young man. The box fell and broke open, breaking all of its contents.

The tribal elder had seen the plane go down a few day before he had sent the boy with the box toward the crash site. The box contained a few antibiotics and other medicinal supplies which upon falling into the mud when the young man was stuck became useless to those that greatly required them.

May you always be fulfilled and at peace,

Jeffrey A. L.

PS September 28th, 1985 is my date of sobriety. I am married and share with my wife and I have two step-children as well as three adopted young girls — all sisters. I treat homeless people daily in English and Spansih as I am fully bilingual. I am indeed living as Francis and God would want me to live as a direct result of Bill and Bob, corking the bottle.

Hello Jeffrey,

Thank you for the letter.

Your story about missionaries in the Amazon is totally irrelevant. You are assuming that A.A. is somehow like medicines that work properly. Alcoholics Anonymous is no such thing. A.A. is just quack medicine, just Dr. Frank Buchman's old cult religion.

A.A. harms more alcoholics than it helps. When A.A. was tested, it produced very bad results, like raising the rate of binge drinking, and raising the rate of rearrests for drunkenness, and raising the death rate of alcoholics.

Now, if you believe that A.A. actually works, please answer this simple question that no A.A. old-timer has ever answered honestly:

What is the REAL A.A. success rate?

Out of each 1000 newcomers to A.A., how many will pick up a one-year sobriety medallion a year later?
And how many will get their 2-year, and 5-year, and 10-year coins?
How about 11 years and 21 years?

(HINT: the answers are here.)

Have a good day and a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     There are some remedies worse than the disease.
**       ==  Publius Syrus [Circa 42 B.C.], Maxim 301

Date: Sat, November 28, 2009 10:39 pm     (answered 9 December 2009)
From: "Sherp"
Subject: Hi Orange

How's it goin'? Boy! Those pro AA emails are getting filled more and more and invective and vitriol all the time. Have you heard about the NESARC study that just came out? I think you'll like it. Check out this Vid from MSNBC on the Dr Nancy show. The guest, Dr. Willenbring, [He's sounds pro AA from his answers] — goes to pretty great lengths to defend them and still refers people to AA.

Here's a direct link:

Sober and drinking?

Nov. 18: A new study challenges the core belief of Alcoholics Anonymous that total abstinence is the only way to control a drinking problem. Dr. Nancy Snyderman reports on the findings that many drinkers can control their habit.


It looks like things might be starting to change.

Keep up the good work.



I sent an email some months back about the Will Beebe case; [Who did a step 8 — apologizing to a woman he sexually assault while in college and the woman eventually reported him to the police.]


I know your busy and can't look into everything that comes into your inbox; but I was just wondering if you came across anything new in reference to this case. The original email is below in case you forgot. I myself, would love to see the transcript of the trial.

Be good.

Hi Sherp,

Thanks for the link. No, haven't found anything new about the "rapist making amends", yet.

Have a good day and a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Waste not fresh tears over old griefs.
**        == Euripides [484—406 B.C.], Alexander, Fragment 44

Date: Mon, November 30, 2009 11:30 am     (answered 9 December 2009)
From: "John McC."
Subject: Fwd: Questions that can't get answers

Hi Orange,

Figured you might want the enclosed "AAWS response" to my inquiry for your site, as answer #2 is VERY interesting. The rest is typical "smarmyness" that I have gotten before when I have ever written AAWS.

Best wishes,

John McC., M-RAS, NCAC-I

P.S. Any progress on a BOOK of your site's content yet?

Begin forwarded message:

From: John McC.
Sent: Saturday, November 28, 2009 1:19 PM
To: Conference
Subject: Questions that can't get answers

I am a DUI Program counselor in CA, and would like to know some of the following:

1.) Why does AAWS NOT have any kind of short DVD that explains what it is/does? I would happily show this to my clients, but it does not seem to exist.

2.) Why does this thing called "sponsorship" exist in AA/12-Step groups, when NOTHING is said about it in either the "Big Book" or the 12-Steps?

3.) Do the 12-Steps mean what is written in them (and say what they mean?). If so, there is no reason to "explain" them, as their verbage is clear. If on the other hand, they do NOT "mean what they say" and "say what they mean", then their existence is useless, yes?

Thanks for your response,

San Gabriel Valley, CA

From: CPC <[email protected]>
Date: November 30, 2009 10:00:00 AM PST
To: "mcc.
Subject: RE: Questions that can't get answers

Dear Mr. McCready,

Your recent e-mail to the General Service Office came to me, as I currently have the privilege of serving on the Cooperation With the Professional Community assignment. My name is Mary, and I am an alcoholic.

We appreciate your interest in Alcoholics Anonymous. You have reached the General Service Office for the A.A. groups in the United States and Canada. This office provides services such as helping new groups get started, providing information about A.A. to the general public and professionals, and publishing and distributing A.A. literature. G.S.O. also houses a readily available accumulation of A.A. history and experience.

I have attempted to provide information regarding your questions as follows:

1.) Thank you for this observation and suggestion. We have a twenty minute DVD called "Hope" that gives an overview of A.A.. If you send me your address, I would be delighted to send you a copy. I am going to forward your email to the A.A.W.S. Publications Committee for their consideration.

2.) While the word sponsor is not used in the first 164 pages of the Big Book a quick review of Steps One through Five in Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions shows the word sponsor used on pages 22, 26, 39, 46 and 61. In the pamphlet "Questions & Answers on Sponsorship it says, "Alcoholics Anonymous began with sponsorship. When Bill W., only a few months sober, was stricken with a powerful urge to drink, this thought came to him: :You need another alcoholic to talk to. You need another alcoholic just as much as he needs you!" ...The word "sponsor" was not used then; the Twelve Steps had not been written; but Bill carried the message to Dr. Bob, who in turn, safeguarded his own sobriety by sponsoring countless other alcoholics. Through sharing, both of our co- founders discovered, their own sober lives could be enriched beyond measure. "This pamphlet located on our web site www.aa.org, explains sponsorship in detail and can read in full at this link:

3.) The General Service Office does not interpret A.A. literature. Each member is free to find the meaning for him or herself. Through reading A.A. literature and sharing with other A.A. members, each alcoholic has the opportunity to come to an understanding of what a particular phrase or sentence means in their own experience.

Alcoholics Anonymous is a worldwide Fellowship of women and men who have found a solution to their drinking problem. The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking; there are no dues or fees. A.A. is supported solely by voluntary contributions of its members, neither seeking nor accepting outside funding. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.

A.A. is not affiliated with any government, philosophy, religion or outside organization. As a group, we are non-professional, not engaging in education, prevention or research. A.A. has no opinion on any outside issue, and is unrelated to any form of treatment or therapy.

We appreciate this opportunity to provide A.A. information. Please let us know if we can be of further assistance or if you would like to be contacted by an A.A. member who can serve as a resource for you locally.


Mary Swart Cumings
Cooperation With the Professional Community coordinator
G.S.O. Staff

Hi again John,

Thanks for the input. That is interesting. And I love the question about why the Steps have to be interpreted. (And there are so many dozens or hundreds of books that purport to explain what the 12 Steps really mean.)

In item 2, what they forgot to mention is that sponsorship was a standard practice in the Oxford Group, and that the practice continued uninterrupted when Bill Wilson and Dr. Smith took over the alcoholics' branch of the cult and eventually renamed it to Clarence Snyder's name, "Alcoholics Anonymous". Sponsorship was always part of A.A.

And today, A.A. old-timers who can trace their chain of sponsorship back to Bill Wilson or Dr. Robert Smith have great bragging rights.

Have a good day and a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     At this stage of the inventory proceedings, our sponsors
**     come to the rescue.  They can do this, because they are the
**     carriers of A.A.'s tested experience with Step Four.
**     ...
**          The sponsors of those who feel they need no inventory are
**     confronted with quite another problem.
**     Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, page 46.

Date: Mon, November 30, 2009 6:36 pm     (answered 8 December 2009)
From: "bob r."
Subject: hello thanks for all the information

You have really done a lot of work and I thank you for your site.

I have been sober in aa for 30 years and something is wrong. There are too many people going back on the booze. The reason I say that — my job for 33 years was in the liquor store — not only the people that I have seen in and back out, and not one person has told me that their life has improved.

My name is bob, so my friend you know to avoid shit duck.

Hi Bob,

Thanks for the letter, and thanks for the thanks.

You have a good day and a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     We are mad, not only individually, but nationally.
**     We check manslaughter and isolated murders; but
**     what of war and the much vaunted crime of
**     slaughtering whole peoples?
**     ==  Seneca [8 B.C. — A.D. 65], Epistles. 95, 30.

Date: Tue, December 1, 2009 9:10 am     (answered 9 December 2009)
From: "t e m."
Subject: thank you

I learned quite a bit at AA meetings. Now that I am most familiar with their techniques, staying home and reading your propaganda and debating page over and over is a far better option.

Your pages serve all who care to learn. I am sure there are many who shrink at this exposure to their methods. I see myself and many others in the techniques. I know to expose them would cause retaliation and fear.

You are a true Hero to humanity.

Anyone who can read has the ability to level the playing field.

Where can I buy it in print? The internet is vulnerable to censorship, control, and privacy issues.

Hello TEM,

Thanks for all of the compliments. But honestly, I don't really feel like a hero.

Print? The dead tree edition? Alas, I might have to bite the bullet and actually do that, but I'm still thinking about it, and what I think is that it is a lot of work.

What I recommend is that people download the archives and burn their own CDs. The archives are listed on the main menu page, here. You can download either the Windoze set or the Linux set. You don't need both as the files contained in the archives are identical. The two archives formats are just a convenience for users of different operating systems.

Then you can unpack the archives into an empty subdirectory ("folder" in Windoweze). Then burn a CD of the whole thing.

I made all of the links in the pages relative so that the whole web site will work well off of a CD.

Have a good day and a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Successful and fortunate crime is called virtue.
**       ==  Seneca [8 B.C. — A.D. 65], Hercules Furens. I, I, 255

Date: Wed, December 2, 2009 9:28 am     (answered 9 December 2009)
From: "Daniel E Sack"
Subject: New book on MRA

I have been an occasional visitor to your web site and always found it interesting reading. I thought that you and your readers might be interested in my new book on the history of Moral Re-Armament, with a brief discussion of the creation of Alcoholics Anonymous. The book is "Moral Re-Armament: The Reinventions of an American Religious Movement" and is published by Palgrave Macmillan.

I am a historian of American religion and look at MRA within the larger history of evangelicalism in America. My goal is neither to exalt or debunk MRA. I both admire its impact on people and am concerned about some of its motives and methods. I hope that MRA supporters and skeptics like yourself will find value in the book. You can find more information on the book at


Daniel Sack
University of Chicago Divinity School

Hello Daniel,

Thanks for the tip. I'll have to check out your book.

Have a good day and a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "God spoke to the prophets of old. He may speak to you.
**     God speaks to those who listen. God acts through those who obey."
**       ==  Frank Buchman, quoted by Geoffrey Williamson in
**     Inside Buchmanism; an independent inquiry into the Oxford Group Movement and Moral Re-Armament,
**     Philosophical Library, New York, c1954, page 205.

Date: Tue, December 1, 2009 7:38 pm     (answered 9 December 2009)
From: "Zachary W."
Subject: Thank you for an invaluable resource.

I spent four months in a partial hospitalization substance treatment program. It was, of course, a 12 step based program. In addition to the four months of my life consumed by cult indoctrination, I paid a hefty $30,000 to be brainwashed.

I was told that I couldn't trust my own mind. That my head was a bad neighborhood. I have legal issues due to my drug habits and I spent 14 days in jail before admitting myself into treatment. I was totally detoxed, and fed up with that way of life before entering the program. I had made a choice prior to going in. Yet I was told I couldn't trust my own mind and had to rely on a kooky sponsor who I learned had a much nastier drug problem than I ever did. No, thank you.

The whole experience wasn't negative, however. The non-aa therapy sessions with counselors were very helpful. The treatment team was extremely professional and I had the impression they genuinely cared about the patients. Unfortunately, they were firmly entrenched in the 12 step dogma.

I was desperate to change the course of my life. I had reached a very low point, and was willing to try whatever the professionals suggested. I let my guard down, trusting in paid medical help. I did work through some of my psychological issues due to good therapy. I also became extremely neurotic about everything because I was programmed to doubt my every thought and action, due to the 12 step nonsense.

I was inundated with aa jargon, platitudes and slogans during my stay. Other clients relapsed around me. There were some scary types in the treatment facility and daily obligatory aa/na meetings. I felt more safe in jail. I did everything I was told and I really let myself believe in what I was being taught. I shared at meetings and spewed the same nonsense I heard others regurgitating. I became a "friend of Bill."

Yet, underneath, in the back of my consciousness I remained a skeptic. I am a bit of a manipulator myself (something I currently attend private therapy for), so I know when I'm being played. I was the good aa member during my stay, and even two months after leaving treatment. The wheels fell off mostly due to my interaction with my sponsor.

My sponsor seemed to think he was a spiritual advisor who could provide guidance for all areas in my life. The final straw was when I told him I have decided to finally get a divorce after having been separated from my wife for 3 years. He told me I shouldn't make any major decisions or actions in the first year of sobriety. So I should put myself and my wife through another year of limbo just because my sponsor advises it? What really burned me is that he didn't even think of that himself. It was just more AA dogma, passed down to him from his sponsor, etc. My paid professional private therapist encourages me to act according to what I deeply feel is in my heart. My AA sponsor tells me that I can't trust what my heart tells me. But I should meditate/pray and ask for God's will to be revealed. As long as my sponsor approves of what God wills me to do. Now if that isn't Buchmanism, I'll be darned.

Around the same time, my father commented that I had been essentially brainwashed in treatment. That was a wake up for me. I started to see the bigger picture. And then I found your website. I want to thank you for the enormous time and dedication you have put into your work. When I first started reading, I found myself responding much like the AA faithful who write you letters. It took me some time to shed all the standard responses which were so deeply ingrained in my mind. I particularly like the proper use of Herbert Spencer's quote in the heading of your site. The irony wasn't wasted on me, I can tell you.

I can attest to many of your proposals that AA does more harm than good. I was convinced that if I had one drink I wouldn't be able to stop and would have to drink myself to death, due to AA. I agree that AA can promote more intense binge drinking behavior, due to the concept of powerlessness.

I have been drug free since the day I was put in jail. Around 10 months. I occasionally have a drink with friends. I am very aware of my alcohol intake. I'm more concerned with my tobacco habit at the moment and your site once again is an invaluable resource for that drug too.

I particularly want to counter all the suggestions by other respondents that you are a "dry drunk," or filled with hate, resentments toward AA, or any similar nonsense. I say that anyone who spends so much time researching and writing such a great work for the betterment of mankind must be filled with love for his fellows. What you have created is perhaps the essence of some of those spiritual principles that the fervent AA members brag about so much.

Thank you, Sir.

Hello Zachary,

Wow. Thank you for the compliments. I hope and trust that you are doing well now.

And yes! Quit smoking too. It really makes it all worth while.

You know that funny line that Bill Wilson used? —

We have found much of heaven and we have been rocketed into a fourth dimension of existence of which we had not even dreamed.
The Big Book, 3rd edition, William G. Wilson, chapter 2, There Is A Solution, page 25.

Well quitting smoking on top of quitting the drugs and alcohol, and also starting to eat right, is the closest thing that I know of to that. When you quit ALL of the bad stuff, the recovery is rapid, dramatic, and intense.

It's not only worth it, but downright fun. For a while there, you can actually watch your health improve day by day. You feel like a superman. (Unfortunately, that great feeling does not stay. You return to "normalcy" eventually. But it's good while it lasts. And you never lose all of the glow. I feel ten or twenty times better than I used to, even when I'm not paying any attention to how I feel.)

Have a good day and a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   It is a mean thief, or a successful author, that plunders the dead.
**         ==  Austin O'Malley

May 17, 2009, Sunday: Day 17, continued:

Carmen's Canada Goose Family
Carmen and parents
The father is on the left; the mother is in the center.

[The story of Carmen continues here.]

Date: Thu, December 3, 2009 7:21 pm     (answered 10 December 2009)
From: "perry m."
Subject: aa

AA is great and works for me. I go every day. We are crazy but we are sober and thats what we could not do alone!! interesting article yo

Hi Perry,

You have a good day and a Merry Christmas too.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   "You cannot help people permanently by doing for them
**    what they could and should do for themselves."
**       == Abraham Lincoln

Date: Wed, December 2, 2009 10:11 pm     (answered 10 December 2009)
From: "Roast"
Subject: Simple Rules


In your response to a recent letter from someone having a hard time stopping drinking, you suggested two simple sayings:

  • 1. "Just don't take that first drink, no matter what" and

  • 2. "Play the tape to the end."

I just wanted to say that both of these perspectives were of great help to me. "Just don't take that first drink, no matter what" was helpful early on when I was in the "one day at a time" mode. After a few months, "play the tape to the end" became more relevant. This was basically just thinking about the ramifications of my actions today on my future. With respect to drinking it came down to the question of, "Will drinking today make it more difficult to not take that first drink tomorrow?" The 'play the tape to the end' answer for me was always "yes, it will be harder to not drink tomorrow if I drink today." So I didn't drink and haven't for five years this month.

I also want to express my appreciation of your efforts. So thanks!


Hi Roast,

Thank you for the letter, and congratulations on your years of sobriety. That is wonderful.

So you have a good day and a Merry Christmas too.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Happiness is not being pained in body or troubled in mind.
**        == Thomas Jefferson [1743—1826]

Date: Thu, December 3, 2009 9:43 am     (answered 10 December 2009)
From: "Chancity"
Subject: AA paper


I found your article interesting. When I joined AA I had similar thoughts. My fiancé and I quit at the same time, thus I felt compelled to join the program he joined in support for him, he felt that it was the only way to stop drinking.

I would like to know why and where you wrote the article. I noted the list of references, well done, I might check them. Was this for a college, for fun, were you hurt by AA? Basically what is your angle?

Thank you for your candor, and your article.


Hello Chancity,

To make a long story short, I went through an alcoholism "treatment program" that was funded by the city, state health plan, and Federal government, and was surprised and appalled to discover that cult religion was the standard treatment for alcoholism and drug addiction. Not even good religion, but bone-headed illogical old cult religion.

So I set out to write a paper about why it was wrong to use Alcoholics Anonymous as a cure for drug and alcohol problems. Especially when the taxpayers — like the Oregon Health Plan — are paying for it. I thought the paper would be maybe 30 or 40 pages long, typed double-spaced. Like a term paper. The term paper got a little large as I kept adding to it.

There are more relevant letters the tell the whole story:

Have a good day and a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     The great god Ra whose shrine once covered acres
**     Is filler now for crossword-puzzle makers.
**        == Keith Preston

Date: Thu, December 3, 2009 2:55 pm     (answered 10 December 2009)
Subject: Michael McC. sent you a message on Facebook...
To: Orange Papers

Subject: Can you add this to your letters section on your site?

I asked a lady with terminal cancer if she's ever heard about the disease theory of alcoholism. She said no and asked if I could explain it to her. I began to explain that there are people that believe alcoholism to be a chronic and progressive disease. These same people also believe that the only way to treat it is through a spiritual experience with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous. After I explained all this to her, she immediately and hysterically laughed! I asked, "Ma'am, why are you laughing?" She responded, "That is the funniest thing I have ever heard of in my life!"

After the laughter there was a brief pause and I really started to think about this more than I ever had. I started to think about this woman's situation and how she truly had no control whatsoever over the outcome. I began to think about how she can't just change her actions and make her cancer go away, much like an alcoholic can make his problems go away if he just stopped drinking. I started to think about how companies in this country promote certain feelings as 'diseases' just to make a profit. I started to think about how Alcoholics Anonymous did the same thing with their program, just to increase their membership. I started to think about all the people that claim they are victims, and all the people that truly believe they have no control over their situation and can never do anything about it. I began to think about the obesity problem in the United States, and how it really relates.

After reflecting for a moment about alcoholism and the disease theory, I started to laugh! I laughed harder than I ever had in my life. It was just me and this woman, who is dying from a 'real' disease, laughing our asses off at one of the funniest things we've ever heard of! I'm glad I was able to put a smile on her face.


Hi Mike,

Thank you for the story, and you have a good day and a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**        Courage is grace under pressure.
**           == Ernest Hemingway

Date: Fri, December 4, 2009 10:44 am     (answered 10 December 2009)
From: "Anthony M."
Subject: The Orange Papers

Mr. Orange,

I enjoyed reading your webpage. I was in AA from late 2007 to late 2008, so for roughly a year. I always knew that I felt "strange" being involved with that program. It was difficult to explain. I would find myself often times saying things I didn't truly believe to appease others, and just generally felt weird about going to meetings. Ultimately, I knew that it was not going to be a lifetime commitment for me, but people in the program kept talking about the importance of staying in the program, and how if you leave you are going to drink and your life would be miserable, and how they put AA above their family, and all this crazy stuff. I went to an outpatient rehab and at first, and even they kept pushing AA on me.

So, I went for a year. Sometime in-between, I read your webpage and I was shocked at the level of insight that you had about AA. It seemed like everything you said, everywhere from the way that I was feeling to the stuff that was going on at the meetings, was true. If I'm recalling correctly, I believe you spoke of "cognitive dissonance," and how a person will "know" that AA is not the answer for them, but others consisently tell them that it is, and reinforce the idea, which causes an internal dilemma. That is exactly how I felt. There were other webpages that I read about where people talked about AA being a cult and whatnot, but it wasn't until I came across your webpage that I got real insight, and felt like someone understood the way that I was feeling. I felt so alone when I was involved in AA. I could not talk about my feelings with others because they would dismiss them as invalid, and just keep telling me to talk to my sponsor, work the steps, etc. It got to the point where I was just sick of talking to people.

No longer do I count sobriety days. I don't even remember the day I stopped drinking anymore; all I know was that it was sometime in late 2007. I have been out of AA for two years and life is so much better without it. It really is. A lot of my courage to finally say "enough's enough" and leave that program came from reading your webpage, and I thank you for taking the time. I want to let you know that you helped me by simply posting this webpage. Thanks.



Hello Anthony,

Thank you for the letter, and congratulations on your sobriety. I'm glad to hear that you are doing well. And thanks for the thanks. It's good to hear that people are doing okay, both physically and mentally.

Have a good day and a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     There's a mighty big difference between good, sound reasons
**     and reasons that sound good.
**         ==  Burton Hillis

P.S. For more on cognitive dissonance, also see this explanation

More Letters

Previous Letters

Search the Orange Papers

Click Fruit for Menu

Last updated 14 July 2010.
The most recent version of this file can be found at https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters152.html