Letters, We Get Mail, CCVII

[The previous letter from Carla H. is here.]

Date: Sat, November 13, 2010 2:42 pm     (answered 7 December 2010)
From: "Carla H."
Subject: RE: 12 step Snake Oil


Thanks for responding and mentioning the part about "Carla will try to use Religion (with a capital 'R') to keep her sober" as my ex-sponsor's response. I am really not even that religious — raised Catholic — occasionally go to church but recently have gotten interested in some aspects of Buddhism (I like the positive way you can talk to your self — antitheses of AA) I agree that she missed the point completely as if she wasn't' listening or understanding what I was trying to say — " I do not need AA or anyone else telling me how to stay sober, be happy or run my life". I think the people that get stuck in the AA programs are lonely w/ low self-esteem and need to be around other people to get their approval, listen to their sob stories so they feel better about themselves and continue to be in a constant state of misery — always looking for something to complain about or act superior because they have worked the Steps — oh they are so supreme. Maybe I did not have anyone else to apologize to — I already did it — I just need to work on healing me and forgiving myself. No more steps, please. . . . to each his own.

I am still doing great since I left AA and their little community. Have really enjoyed your website and started reading some of your recommendations for books to read — Not sure if this was one of your suggestions but it is a good one — by "Marianne Gilliam" "How Alcoholics Anonymous Failed Me" My Personal Journey to Sobriety Through Self-Empowerment (the title itself just makes you have high expectations to read it). She talks a lot about how we can heal our addictions — we just have to get to the root — I love the positive idea of empowering yourself to make changes in your life and your outlook of your self — AA would never get close to doing that — no way could an alcoholic ever be cured. I feel sorry for some of the young people in AA — some of them may not even be alcoholic or drug addicts — maybe just a rough childhood or low self-esteem. Hopefully they will find another way or come across your website — let's hope.

Thanks again for your response and a have a good day!

Hi again, Carla,

I'm glad to hear that you are doing well. You've got it — I don't need to tell you anything.

I also like Marianne Gilliam. Her book "How Alcoholics Anonymous Failed Me; My Personal Journey to Sobriety Through Self-Empowerment" is on my "Top 10" reading list, here.

So have a good day and a good life now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     When you live in a world of illusion, you live in a world of
**     perpetual childishness.  You never grow up.
**        ==  Chris Hedges, "Death of the Liberal Class"

May 20, 2009, Wednesday: Day 20, continued:

Canada Goose family with goslings
A small orphan is getting some oatmeal.

This small gosling has found a simple way to avoid being crowded out by its larger step-siblings: just go underneath the bigger ones.

Incidentally, the gosling on top is the little girl of the family. It looks like she is getting to sit on a baby a lot sooner than she expected.

[More gosling photos below, here.]

[The previous letter from Richard on this subject is here.]

Date: Sat, November 13, 2010 2:43 pm     (answered 10 December 2010)
From: "Richard B."
Subject: Fw: 1964 Nation magazine article about AA

> What would $25,000 — what Bill Wilson was paying himself in 1964 —
> amount to in today's money?
> Interesting, too, about the institutionalized racism then at AA, and the
> poisonous atmosphere at headquarters.
> rb

----- Original Message -----
From: "Jason K."
To: "Richard B."
Sent: Thursday, October 14, 2010 11:03 PM
Subject: Re: 1964 Nation magazine article about AA

In 2009, the relative worth of $25,000.00 from 1964 is:

  • $173,000.00 using the Consumer Price Index
  • $140,000.00 using the GDP deflator
  • $194,000.00 using the value of consumer bundle
  • $191,000.00 using the unskilled wage
  • $226,000.00 using the Production Worker Compensation
  • $335,000.00 using the nominal GDP per capita
  • $537,000.00 using the relative share of GDP

Thanks for the article — fascinating. I bet headquarters are similar now in many ways. These are strange birds. Crazy people.

Hi again, Richard,

Thanks for the note. That is a very good point to make. The "mere, small $25,000 per year" that the A.A. apologists said was all that Bill Wilson got from A.A. was not any small amount of pocket change. It was a very healthy living.

Also, the inflation calculator at Westegg (http://www.westegg.com/inflation/) says:

"What cost $25000 in 1964 would cost $171080.36 in 2009."

You know, that is darned good wages for violating a contractual agreement and stealing a copyright.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    Barring that natural expression of villainy which we all have,
**     the man looked honest enough.
**        ==  Mark Twain (Samuel Longhorne Clemens) 1835—1910

Date: Sun, November 14, 2010 3:06 pm     (answered 11 December 2010)
From: "Andy C."
Subject: Dr. Bob's Coffee Urn

Brown University acquired all the papers and artifacts of early Akron Stepism to put into their American Museum. This page has a pic of the "sacred" coffee pot you were writing about.


If The Orange Pages ever goes for a new logo, perhaps you could use this old aluminum coffee pot; you could photoshop it with the identical crack the Liberty Bell has. As you say, "don't know whether to laugh or barf."


Hello again, Researcher,

Thanks for the link. Ah yes, the Holy Grail of Alcoholics Anonymous.

The funny thing is, Dr. Arthur H. Cain was criticizing A.A. for making Dr. Bob's coffee pot into a holy relic way back in 1963:

A.A. as a group must recognize its real function: to serve as a bridge from the hospital or the jail to the church — or to a sustaining personal belief that life is worthwhile. It must not pose as a spiritual movement that provides everything the alcoholic needs to fulfill his destiny. It must not teach its young (as it does in Alateen, its Sunday School for the children of alcoholics) such catechisms as: "We will always be grateful to Alateen for giving us a way of life and a wonderful healthy program to live by and enjoy." It must realize that "the actual coffee pot Anne used to make the first A.A. coffee" (shown in "Alcoholics Anonymous Come of Age," Harper 1957, a commentary on the A.A. bible, Alcoholics Anonymous, Works Publishing Company, 1946) is not the Holy Grail. The cake and coffee served after meetings are just refreshments, not the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
Arthur H. Cain, Alcoholics Anonymous: Cult or Cure?, Harper's Magazine, February 1963

Well, it's been 47 more years and they seem to still be doing it.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     [Man's] soul longs for beauty, for the absolute, the transcendental.
**      When he attains it, he has no use for it; it oppresses him.
**        ==  Maurice Valency, introduction to Jean Giraudoux: Four Plays (1958).

Date: Mon, November 15, 2010 1:01 pm     (answered 11 December 2010)
From: "brian m."

Dear A.Orange

Thanks for your reply to my letter several months ago. I ranted about my sentencing to AA and Drug court. Well I'm almost finished with the drug court part of the sentencing of 1 year. I will graduate with full honor and blessings from probation and my counselor as I have done everything I was supposed too do and did it with sincerity as I found it to be quite helpful (drug court classes). I had a very good counselor who really has true compassion, understanding and empathy coupled with her intelligence as a well educated and seasoned counselor. Altough I found many things disturbing throughout the course of my recovery. The most disturbing aspects of all this was the absorption of the stories other addicts have told and how they perceive and handle their process of recovery. And another thing was my awakening to my denials of many aspects of my behaviors.

Thru the last 5 or 6 years of my life I have been in and out of court ordered AA, Mental health classes, and drug court. All court ordered. Well none of this really did any real persuasion for me to abstain from my indulgence in alcohol. I really did not give a damn if I quit or not. I just quite frankly did not give a damn about trying to stop drinking altough deep down inside I knew it was not right. Being the stubborn thick headed Irish blooded man that I am I figured I could allways do whatever I wanted and the hell with the rest of the world. Well thats all fine and dandy if one has the ways and means to take care of himself and whomever else depended on me But that ain't the way things work in the real world. I've come to find out that the " Rest of the world said the Hell with ME!!" Well that is just Great I say to myself. Nobody gives a shit anymore because I never gave a shit throughout my drunkeness. So here I am all alone and lost everything with nowhere to go except "UP Or Down". I chose UP.

These are trying times for many of us considering the dismal job markets and ever increasing inavasion of our rights and privacy. Doing some research I have found sites that claim 1 out of 53 Americans are either on parole, probation or are incarcerated. How did this country end up in this situation, what is the real motive behind all of this social restructuring?? What will be the end result?? I question these objectives constantly within my mind. I find it all to be very disturbing.

But dispite all of this and all of my misgivings I made up my mind and through my own willpower decided to change my own course in life. So far I'm doing O.K. with sobriety and have no desire to resume any self induced misery through the use of alcohol. I have a certain amount of empathy for people that struggle to give up alcohol and can't seem to do it. But then in some ways I don't . In my way of thinking I believe that all of us have more control over our lives than could be realized. I do not believe some magic dark secret formula or hideous ritual will magically transform us into a sane level thinking productive member of society. For some reason within my encounters I have witnessed a lot of people who believe in this religous mockery(AA). It saddens me as it also angers me for the fact the justice system has condemned me to 2 yrs of this relentless unforgiving ritualistic madness.

Back to willpower, what irks me is the number of so-called members of AA who relapse. The number of so called EX-members who committed sucide or died drinking on a binge. The living members just admit it to the group of their relapse like naughty children and remorsefully accept their punishment of having to start all over again and relinquishing their 2, 5, or whatever year chips. Then I get to witness the rest of the group applaud him or her and say, "Welcome back, just keep coming". Are these people freaking blind, brain dead or just outright stupid? Since attending these court ordered quagmires I have been privy to at least 4 or 5 suicides or deaths because of drinking group members. Now I am not in a big city, it is a smaller county on the map. These incidents I have witnessed are alarming to say the least. With these kind of statistics in a small backwater county like the one I'm in, what does that render of the rest of the country?

I am also taken aback at how readily the rest of the group shuns others if they don't see and conform to their narrow-minded one-way belief system. Watching these people carry around the so-called "big book" the book of wisdom, knowledge and salvation, makes my guts turn. I don't know how much more of these meetings I can stomach before I blow a gasket. But I will use my own self-found WILLPOWER to abstain from unwarranted behavior on my part, it just ain't worth it. Besides trying to seek real truth and expression within a group of people set in the ways of the "big book" is totally fruitless as we all too well know.

Anyways I just thought I'd drop you a line and say Hi and thanks for your work. Life feels better every day sober, I love it and wish and hope I can help others as the ocassions arise. There are people that did not give up on me through all my misfortune and I feel I should also do the same.


Hello Brian,

Thanks for a bright and cheery letter. It really is, you know. It's nice to hear about anyone who is making it. So congratulations on your sobriety, and especially congratulations for getting your head straightened out and seeing which way is up.

One line that you wrote particularly rang a bell for me, where you were talking about other people trying to keep you from drinking, and how you resisted such oppression. I can sympathize with that. Such attempts at control never worked on me either. The moment of truth for me was the realization that other people were totally irrelevant in the equations — that simple bad health was going to kill me if I continued to drink. It had nothing to do with other people or what they wanted or what they demanded. It was all about me either getting healthy or dying. That is what did it for me. I chose to live.

So have a good day, and a good life now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   Egg Nog is also great without any whiskey. Merry Christmas.

[The previous letter from Chris is here.]

Date: Mon, November 15, 2010 6:15 pm     (answered 11 December 2010)
From: "Chris S"
Subject: Re: stumbled on your web site


I am motivated to reply as it's obvious you have little knowledge of the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. You have made some gross and generalized criticisms of AA without really studying it. You probably attended quite a few bad fellowship meetings and might have read the book through once or twice, then made your angered conclusions. Incidentally the first 164 pages of the AA big book are meant to be studied. So I will take one of your replies and rebute it and in doing so will hopefully correctly inform you of the program of Alcohlics Anonymous which unfortunately even many people in the fellowship of Alcholics Anonymous do not have a clear understanding.

Hello again Chris,

Actually, I have studied A.A. a great deal, and attended more than a few 12-Step meetings. Read the introduction and the bibliography.

Also it's clear to me you do not even understand what alcoholism is. Alcoholism by definition is the suffers complete inability to stop drinking on their own willpower. Alcoholics cannot control their drinking. After the first drink alcoholics develop a phenomenon of craving which overwelms them and they keep on drinking to inibriation. Non-alcoholics can have a few and put it down. Heavy drinkers when give a sufficient reason to stop, maybe by their Dr., employer or wife, will stop on there own or moderate. Alcoholics even after dire news from the Dr, employer or wife to quit will keep on drinking. They are powerless. Alcoholism is a mental obsession coupled witha physical allergy.

Unfortunately, I do understand "what alcoholism is". Been there, done that.

You are just parrotting some more A.A. dogma, like that alcoholics cannot control their drinking. The medical evidence and experimental results show that they can and do. And the vast majority of alcoholics who quit drinking for a year or more do it alone, on their own, without a "support group" or "treatment". The Harvard Medical School said that, and they know a lot more about alcoholism than Bill Wilson did.

You could also try reading Herbert Fingarette's book Heavy Drinking: The Myth of Alcoholism as a Disease. He does a good job of disposing of the myth that alcoholics are powerless over alcohol.

Another thing I will point out that you may not understand is that there are two AA's. One is the program of AA and the other is the fellowship. They are two separate things and nowhere in the literature does it say that meetings are required to stay sober.

Nope, I'm not buying that "two A.A.s" argument. It's all A.A.

Here is my rebute of your first reply.

Orange writes:

The answer is: Because A.A. is a fraud and a hoax, and hurts more people than it helps. And promoting quack cures for a deadly disease or fatal illness is a crime.

You have made a gross error to conclude AA offers a cure of alcohlism. AA does not. Alcoholism cannot be cured. There is no medical evidence there is a cure for alcholism. A cure for alcoholism would mean after a cure therapy, whatever it may be, that an alcoholic could drink normally. The medical community (the honest part at least, not the quick buck recovery and fly by night quacks) will be the first to admite they have no successful treatment that allows chronic alcoholics to one day drink like a non-alcoholic. AA only offers a relief and sustained absitence from alcohol. No where in the literate will you find that it claims to cure alcohlism, It simply offers a way to sustain absitance. It does not offer a way to control drinking ( which real alcoholics cannot do) and it does not offer a cure.

So, I'll leave you with this to show you are in error.

Show me anywhere in the first 164 pages of the big book or the entire 12 and 12 where AA says it offers a "cure" for alcohlism. It offers recovery and relief which are not the same thing as being cured.

That is quibbling and word games. No, Bill Wilson did not use the word "cure" in the Big Book. He used the word "solution". Same difference.

My wife and I abandoned ourselves with enthusiasm to the idea of helping other alcoholics to a solution of their problems.
The A.A. "Big Book" Alcoholics Anonymous, William G. Wilson, Chapter 1, p. 15.

The tremendous fact for every one of us is that we have discovered a common solution. We have a way out on which we can absolutely agree, and upon which we can join in brotherly and harmonious action. This is the great news this book carries to those who suffer from alcoholism.
The A.A. "Big Book" Alcoholics Anonymous, William G. Wilson, Chapter 2, p. 17.

There is a solution.
The A.A. "Big Book" Alcoholics Anonymous, William G. Wilson, Chapter 3, pages 17 and 25.

Many doctors and psychiatrists agree with our conclusions. ... For most cases, there is virtually no other solution.
The A.A. "Big Book" Alcoholics Anonymous, William G. Wilson, Chapter 3, p. 43.

...was not a basic solution of these bedevilments more important than whether we should see newsreels of lunar flight? Of course it was.
      When we saw others solve their problems by a simple reliance upon the Spirit of the Universe, we had to stop doubting the power of God. Our ideas did not work. But the God idea did.
The A.A. "Big Book" Alcoholics Anonymous, William G. Wilson, Chapter 4, p. 52.

If your man needs hospitalization, he should have it, but not forcibly unless he is violent. Let the doctor, if he will, tell him he has something in the way of a solution.
      When your man is better, the doctor might suggest a visit from you.
The A.A. "Big Book" Alcoholics Anonymous, William G. Wilson, Chapter 7, p. 91.

Among us are wives, relatives and friends whose problem has been solved, as well as some who have not yet found a happy solution. We want the wives of Alcoholics Anonymous to address the wives of men who drink too much.
The A.A. "Big Book" Alcoholics Anonymous, William G. Wilson, Chapter 8, p. 104.

Bill Wilson was most assuredly claiming to have a "solution" to the problem of alcohol addiction. He did not want to use the word "cure" because that might imply that alcoholics could finish recovering and be like normal people, and live without Alcoholics Anonymous.

Bill Wilson's "solution to alcoholism" was permanent membership in his cult.

I reject your definition of "cure". You are trying to define a cure as making alcoholics able to drink alcohol like normal people. That is a peculiar definition that is disconnected from reality. The truth is that quitting drinking and regaining one's health is a cure for alcohol abuse. It is not necessary for ex-alcoholics to be able to drink moderately. Living sober and healthy is good enough. I know.

It's just like some guy who eats a horrible diet and gets no exercise, and is a total couch potato, living on TV and beer and potato chips and pizza and football games, until he has a heart attack. The doctor saves his life and gets him on a strict diet and exercise regimen, and the guy recovers his health and starts living. Are you going to try to claim that the guy was not "cured" of his cardiac condition because he cannot return to a life of TV and junk food without risking another heart attack?

It's a very peculiar definition of "cure" to claim that the patient is not "cured" because he cannot return to the bad habits that made him sick in the first place. That's about as dumb as insisting that there is no cure for heroin addiction, because a recovered heroin addict cannot go back to shooting heroin moderately, like normal people.

Permanently quitting drinking and developing a positive, balanced, lifestyle is most assuredly a good cure for alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction.

I notice that you totally dodged the point of the A.A. death rate, and relapse rate, and increased rate of binge drinking. You can't disavow all bad A.A. results just by repeating a slogan "A.A. does not claim to have a cure." A.A. is still responsible for the harm done to the patients.

I fear sir that you have made gross and general criticisms from a place of small peripheral knowledge of the program of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Nope. Where do you think that I over-generalized?

If there was ever a cure for alcoholism it would be headline news and one of the greatest medical break throughs of humanity.

There is no "cure" for "the disease of alcoholism" because there is no such "disease" as "alcoholism". Alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction are caused by everything from childhood trauma to mental illnesses like bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. There is no simple, easy, single cause for drug and alcohol misuse, so there is also no easy cure. And membership in a cult religion has certainly not worked as a "cure" or "a solution" to any of those problems.

Date: Mon, November 15, 2010 7:08 pm     (answered 11 December 2010)
From: "Chris S"
Subject: Re: stumbled on your web site

Orance, I decided to re-read your letter sir. Well, my overall conclusion is that you have a problem with God and spirituality. You also probably do not believe that a Higher Power exists. So no amount of back and forth emails will convince you of that unless you become alcoholic and get desperate enough to try the 12 steps for yourself. Reading the big book is one thing, studying it and followying the instructions inside is what will give relief from the disease in the form of abstiance from alcohol.

Again, you don't know what you are talking about. You think you figured out my religion by just reading a few lines of one letter, and now you are pretty sure that I'm an atheist or agnostic, huh? What an easy cop-out.

I will tell you this about my religious beliefs: I do not believe in Santa Claus, and I do not believe in Cinderella's Fairy Godmother, and I don't believe in Aladdin and his Magic Lamp. You cannot get your problems solved by begging a ghost or spirit to do favors for you. (Consider how well that worked for the Jews in Auschwitz.)

Your claim that I must "try the 12 Steps for myself" before I can understand them is typical cult fare. Cults routinely claim that only they understand the Special Knowledge that the cult has to offer, but if you just try their chanting/prayer/yoga/meditation/program for a year, then you will understand. The truth is, if you try their mind-bending cult practices for a year, you will become so brainwashed that you will believe all of their crazy nonsense.

Funny that you think you know better than I what has given me 17+ years of sobriety. You are convinced I did it myself. That it was I who just "decided" to stop drinking. Do you know how many times I tried to stop drinking by saying to myself "never again". at least 20 times over a period of 3 years. Each time making the decision to stop and trying to carry it through failed. When I was finally desperate enough I asked for help in a meeting of AA. And got it in the form of a good sponsor who took me through the steps, it was then that I actually tried AA. I got results and permanent ones so far.

The fact that you had difficulties quitting drinking does not prove or even indicate that a ghost did big favors for you. What you are implying but not saying out loud is that the "A.A. program worked" by God doing things for you.

I had been to treatment centers and oh yes I had more than a few stern one hour talking too's by family, friends and Doctors all telling me I was going to die. That kind of "therapy" is enough for a heavy drinker who is not alcoholic but for a real alcoholic like me it did NO GOOD. So, again I believe you have a misunderstanding of what alcoholism really is. You are mistaking alcoholism for heavy drinking. Are you even alcoholic? I wonder. Probably just a heavy drinker who just needed a good reason to stop. You say you operate this website because you think AA is a crime. How can seeking God for help in something be a crime. AA is no big deal. You are making mountains out of mole hills. AA is not a religion. It does not promise a cure. It just says that if one is willing to do the 12 steps which are very spiritual in nature ( making amends and cleaning house in ones life etc..) that one will be given freedom from alcoholism by a God of ones own understanding. I was aethieast before AA, but there was no where else to turn. I was pennyless as most alcoholics are in the final stages and free AA was there and worked. No sir, I did not quit by my own accord it was throught doing 12 steps that I got a connection with a higher power that did it for me. I was powerless and after doing the steps found a power greater than myself who solved my problem.

The fact that treatment didn't work on you just goes to show that treatment does not work.

Your description of your difficulties quitting show that you expected somebody to do something for you. You expected their "program to work", and make you quit drinking. It doesn't work that way. You finally quit drinking when you decided for real not to put any more alcohol in your mouth.

On your other claims:

  • Yes, A.A. is a religion, and a bad one at that. Read The Heresy of the 12 Steps.

  • A.A. does promise a "solution", a "non-cure cure" that requires permanent cult membership.

  • Your attempt to divide alcoholics into "heavy drinkers" and "real alcoholics" is a false dichotomy. In A.A. dogma, those who quit drinking without devoting their lives to the A.A. cult were merely "heavy drinkers", while those who joined A.A. were "the real alcoholics". That is just a lame attempt to claim that A.A. is essential for some people. Not so.

  • You did quit on your own accord. The 12 Steps didn't do it for you. The 12 Steps are just old pro-Nazi cult religion garbage from the nineteen-thirties.
    Would you care to explain how Frank Buchman's cult religion practices make alcoholics quit drinking alcohol?

  • Your vague "power greater than myself" supposedly did you big favors, huh? What did you pay Him with? Do you imagine that "God" is your butler and works for free? What is the magic trick that gets God to be your servant and wait on you hand and foot and make you quit drinking when He never did before?

  • You were not powerless. You just didn't know how to use your power. And then you learned not to put any more alcohol in your mouth, and started using some of your God-given will power. Congratulations on your years of sobriety. You did it. Nobody did it for you.

  • I notice that you are trying to have it both ways. At the start of your letters, you tried to explain away the horrible A.A. track record — increased death rate, increased binge drinking, increased costs of hospitalization — by declaring (paraphrased), "A.A. does not claim to have a cure for alcoholism. The word 'cure' is not in the Big Book." But now at the end of your letters, you claim that, "free AA was there and worked." Well either A.A. does work, or it doesn't. You can't have it both ways. If A.A. really makes alcoholics quit drinking and get healthy, then that is a cure. You are claiming that A.A. does have a working cure, even while you claim that A.A. does not have a cure. That is illogical, to put it mildly.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Almost any argument against AA is met with "Oh, that's not really AA."
**     Some say The Real A.A. is "the Fellowship", others
**     "the Program", and some possess the ability to
**     switch back and forth depending on the argument.
**     Bullshit, it's all AA.
**          ==  An unknown critic of A.A.

Date: Tue, November 16, 2010 4:13 am     (answered 12 December 2010)
From: "Kent E."
Subject: AA

Hello A Orange,

Have been reading the orange-papers. Very interesting material. When did you do this reasearch and how long did it take? Why did you decide to research this topic? Are you planning a book?

I've been in AA a couple of times. This last time for 6 years. There really seem to be alot of sick people there.

Is there more info from people who were involved in AA during the early years who were critical of the organization?

Nice work

Kent E.

Hello Kent,

Thanks for the compliments. I've been learning about A.A., and writing about it, for almost 10 years now. (And I've also been sober for just a little longer than that, too.) The how and whys of the web site are explained here: Who are you?, and here: How did you get to be where you are?.

I'm still thinking about publishing the web site in book form. And what I think is, "It sounds like a lot of work, and maybe unnecessary."

When you ask about, "people who were involved in AA during the early years who were critical of the organization", that is problematic. If you mean the real early years, like 1939 and 1940, when A.A. was organized and the Big Book was published, well, they are almost all dead of old age. Anybody who was 39 years old in 1939 would be 110 years old now. So surviving old-timers are as rare as hen's teeth. I hear that there are still a few alive, but very few.

However, I don't know of any surviving skeptics. A.A. does not publicize those people. They tend to just disappear and are never mentioned by A.A. again. They become "non-persons" in the Stalinist sense.

If you mean writings or documents from those skeptical old-timers, there are a few. Clarence Snyder comes to mind as one of the first. He was very opposed to Bill Wilson's financial dishonesty. A letter from Clarence Snyder is here. (Incidentally, Clarence Snyder is becoming a non-person too. His story was in the first three editions of the Big Book, but the A.A. headquarters staff removed Clarence's story from the fourth edition. Clarence Snyder will now be forgotten for having criticized Bill Wilson.)

And then there are:

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**      That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history
**     is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.
**         ==  Aldous Huxley, Collected Essays (1959)

From: "David Harris"
Subject: Website Resource Suggestion
Date: Tue, November 16, 2010 8:29 am

Dear friend at Orange Papers,

I was just browsing your site and thought I would pass along a URL that the readers of your website might find particularly informative. My name is David Harris and I am the Communications Director for Mesothelioma Symptoms.

We have an excellent resource for you to take a look at today

The Mesothelioma Symptoms site covers a range of topics from the different forms of mesothelioma, the hard to detect symptoms, and the various methods of treatment.

Mesothelioma is diagnosed to over 3,000 people each year and it is considered one of the most deadliest forms of cancer in the world. Mesothelioma, in most cases, is caused by exposure to asbestos.

I see that your links page — https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-links.html
has a number of health and safety related websites designed to inform your viewers and readers about healthy living. I would be very grateful if you would share our site with your visitors on your links page. Our goal is to receive a single text link to Mesothelioma Symptoms. Please let me know if this information exchange is of interest to you.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Thanks again,

David Kasson
Communications Director

Hi David,

Okay, I'll give you a plug. Recovery is recovery.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

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

Date: Tue, November 16, 2010 11:17 am     (answered 13 December 2010)
From: "Doug"
Subject: Who wrote you article?

I was reading you article:
The Religious Roots of Alcoholics Anonymous and the Twelve Steps
by A. Orange
Chapter 24: The Last Hurrah: Up With People

There are no credits as to who wrote it other than this email link. Who did?

Why are the authors left unnamed and unaccountable?

As such — little, if any, credit is given as it appears to be a leftist propaganda piece citing only opinion and conjecture while lacking verifiable attribution. Thus, crap.

Hello Doug,

I wrote it. I use the pen name "Orange", but have revealed my birth name on the web site many, many times. Once again, my birth name is Terrance Hodgins, and I live in Forest Grove, Oregon, USA.

When you ask who is "accountable" for the web page on Up With People, I get the impression that you want to argue in defense of UWP. This should be interesting. Want to defend Fascist cult religion?

By the way, some people made a movie about Up With People. It's called "Smile 'Till It Hurts", and it will be showing in Portland, Oregon, on December 17, at the Hollywood Theatre, 4122 N.E. Sandy Blvd., Portland Oregon. It's supposed to run for two consecutive weekends. You can check for details at
or on the website:
Also see:

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "... Human problems aren't economic. They're moral and they
**     can't be solved by immoral measures.  They could be solved within
**     a God-controlled democracy, or perhaps I should say a theocracy,
**     and they could be solved through a God-controlled Fascist dictatorship."
**       ==  Dr. Frank Buchman, The New York World Telegram, August 26, 1936

Date: Thu, November 18, 2010 12:11 am     (answered 13 December 2010)
From: "Rich McD."
Subject: Wow

Almost every sentence has a quote taken out of context. It has been my experience when a person is scared by someone or something they feel they must mislead to make there case.at least acknowledge when you finish a sentence from the Big Book with your own words. ATTRACTION RATHER THAN PROMOTION!

Sent from my iPhone

Hello Rich,

Once again, a critic who does not even know what it means to quote out of context tries to dismiss all negative information about Alcoholics Anonymous with a sweeping slur. (Click on that link and learn what quoting out of context means.)

Quoting out of context is a debating or propaganda trick where you extract a few words in a manner that changes the meaning of what you are quoting. Just quoting things isn't "quoting out of context".

I do not quote out of context. I am very careful about that. I often quote entire paragraphs or even entire pages so that the context will be there.

I challenge you to show me any quote where I took something out of the Big Book or other "council-approved literature" and quoted it out of context in a way that changed its meaning.

We have discussed the "out of context" issue before, a long time ago, here. Please read that.

"ATTRACTION RATHER THAN PROMOTION!" is hypocritical bullshit. Alcoholics Anonymous has always been a program of self-promotion. Bill Wilson even rationalized his promotion of A.A. by saying, "Good publicity does not manufacture itself."

And A.A. is not only a program of self-promotion, A.A. is even a program of coercive recruiting. The last two triennial surveys of A.A. have shown that nearly two-thirds of all of the A.A. members were forced, pressured, or coerced into A.A. by judges, parole officers, "therapists" and "counselors", employers, or families and friends. There was little or no "attraction" involved.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "Years ago we found that accurate and effective publicity about A.A.
**     simply does not manufacture itself. Our over-all public relations
**     couldn't be left entirely to chance encounters between reporters
**     and A.A. members..."
**       == William G. Wilson, Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age, pages 35-36.

Date: Thu, November 18, 2010 6:21 am     (answered 13 December 2010)
From: "Mikael B."
Subject: Thanks a lot, from the very bottom of my heart

Dear Agent Orange,

First of all, I want to thank you once again for your dedication, hard work and true insight. Your web site has been a life-saver for me, in the sense that I sort of already knew that there was something fundamentally wrong with the Program, but I was told back then that my resistance to "surrender" was due to my "disease". Unfortunately, I bought that idea, and ended up being so brain-washed that I began pushing my friends and family away; I started having really bizarre nightmares, which my sponsor said was all okay, because that was my disease just fighting to grab a hold in me. Finally, I relapsed. And boy, did I relapse. I almost killed myself, by not eating anything for a month, I only ingested vodka in surrealistic quantities. I got in detox, and that was the single most painful time in my entire life. When I stopped having physical withdrawal symptoms, I become very much suicidal, 'cause my sponsor had told me that I didn't need my doctor prescribed anti-depressants. I was in horrible pain, re-initiated my medical treatment and then went into substance abuse treatment. Fortunately, it wasn't an AA-based treatment center. They used cognitive behavioral therapy, and their approach was based on scientific research, not superstition. I found your site by googling "aa brainwashing", because when I came to my senses, I realized that I was indeed brainwashed, which is really scaring, since I'm a bright guy, and like you, I have always wanted to know everything there is to know. Of course, that is impossible, but I'm just fundamentally curious or philosophical in my way of thinking.

I must admit that I'm still struggling with blind hatred and utter bitterness towards my ex-sponsor, who consistently encouraged me to drink even more, after I relapsed. He would say things like: Go and get a bottle of vodka, do it. And then afterwards explaining to me that I needed to hit rock bottom, in order to surrender. I find that approach sadistic, and I wonder how many people he's in fact killing by encouraging them to kill themselves even faster.

I find almost everything on your web site spot-on, however, there is a minor detail which sort of bugs me: You claim that NA is "just the same as AA" and their success rate is probably the same as for AA. That seems to me like pure speculation, since you do not back that conjecture up with any kind of documentation. Now, I will not defend NA, but I would just want to point out that, although their steps are pretty much similar to the AA steps, their way of actually doing them differs tremendously from the Big Book approach. Their way of practicing the steps seems mere therapeutic, and not as ego-deflating as the AA way. Now, I know nothing about the effectiveness of NA, so I won't accuse them of anything, I can mildly bear over with cult religion, as long as it works. I know AA doesn't work, and NA probably doesn't either, but I would give NA the benefit of the doubt, since I haven't been able to find a single, valid study to back up my gut-feeling about them.

Thank you once again, and have a good day.

Mikael from Denmark (since English is not my mother tongue, I beg you to excuse my perhaps somewhat clumsy arguments)

Hello Mikael,

Thank you for the letter. And thank you for all of the compliments. I'm glad to hear that your are doing well, and really recovering now.

And your English is really quite good. In fact, it's better than what I get from a lot of Steppers, who supposedly speak English as their native language.

About the success rate of Narcotics Anonymous: You are right, I am speculating and projecting, and assuming things. I have to, because I don't have any properly-done surveys or clinical tests that tested Narcotics Anonymous and formally established the success rate.

I do however, have a bunch of personal experience. When I was going to 12-Step meetings, I went to both A.A. and N.A. a lot. I divided my time between them pretty equally. And I lived with a lot of recovering addicts. And the failure rate was terrible.

After two years of recovery, one of the counselors told me that I was the ONLY person who did not relapse, out of my whole "class" in the treatment program, which was about 200 people. One out of 200. That isn't much of a success rate. (By the way, the "treatment" was based on A.A. and N.A. meetings.)

Have a good day and a good life now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Burn not your house to fright away the mice.
**       ==  Thomas Fuller, M.D., Gnomologia (1732), 1024

[The next letter from Mikael is here.]

Date: Fri, November 19, 2010 6:13 pm     (answered 13 December 2010)
From: "Sean W."
Subject: Wow!

It's been quite some time since I have seriously browsed your website.

After spending a few hours on it today, I had to write this to tell you:

WOW! What a collection of info! Was amazed to find so much documentation!

For many years, my rants on a.r.aa were the only internet documentation of Tom Powers involvement in writing the 12&12. Now it's all been researched and verified by you!

I especially like the section on the Teen Gulags. One place you might want to add to your research is the Family Foundation School, which is a twelve step/4 absolutes based boarding school for troubled teens.

"The founders of The Family Foundation School were heavily influenced by Alcoholics Anonymous and the Oxford Group. Today the 12 Steps of AA and the Four Absolutes of the Oxford Group are taught in our living skills classes and serve as a touch-stone for decision-making at all levels of the organization."

-from their own website at http://www.thefamilyschool.com

www.thefamilyschooltruth.com is a site critical of them.

Has had close ties with Tom Powers' East Ridge group in the past. Many staff had come from Tom's group originally.

Keep up the awesome work!

— Sean "snertking" W.,
creator of the alt.recovery.from-12-steps newsgroup

Hello Sean,

Thanks for the letter and the compliments. And thanks for your dedication to the cause.

That child-abusing "family school" is a nightmare. I hope the so-called "counselors" go to prison for child abuse. The second link, the critical one, is especially good. And heartbreaking.

When I read stories where a girl talks about how the "counselors" constantly put the children down and made them feel bad about themselves, I know that those kids are really getting harmed and crippled for the rest of their lives. That kind of mental abuse does not just go away. The kids come out of it with permanent inferiority complexes. When they need to negotiate for wages with their boss, they won't dare to request what they are really worth, because they think that an inferior person like them is lucky to have a job at all. When it comes to choosing a mate, they will think, "A beautiful person like him/her wouldn't want to pair up with a loser like me, so there is no sense in even trying. I'll settle for a slob that I don't really like, because that's all that somebody like me can get." And then there will be drug and alcohol problems as those kids, grown to adults, try to fix what is broken and feel okay.

A friend of mine had a very radical attitude about child abusers: He said that we should just kill them. For the first offense. When you add up the total damage to society that child abuse causes, it is staggering. Half of the people in prison for violent crimes were abused children. About half of the hard-core alcoholics and drug addicts were abused children. So when you find somebody who is guilty of child abuse, just execute him on the spot.

I have a hard time disagreeing with him.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

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

[The next letter from Sean is here.]

May 20, 2009, Wednesday: Day 20, continued:

Canada Goose family with goslings
The little girl pushes the little orphan out from under her

Apparently, this little gosling didn't like getting goosed.

[The story of Carmen continues here.]

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Last updated 27 May 2014.
The most recent version of this file can be found at https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters207.html