Letters, We Get Mail, CCXXII

Date: Mon, February 7, 2011 6:01 pm     (answered 9 February 2011)
From: tim H.
Subject: thanks

thanks for being there. aa almost killed me. Reason and Logic are GOOD, not bad. Today i am using my brain.

Hello Tim,

Thanks for the letter, and I'm glad to hear that you are doing well. Welcome to freedom.

So have a good day and a good life now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Anyone who has begun to think
**     places some portion of the world in jeopardy.
**        == John Dewey

Date: Tue, February 8, 2011 8:22 am     (answered 9 February 2011)
From: "Taylor W."
Subject: Hi Orange


I just wanted to say that I'm still working through your letters (I try to pace myself, as I don't know what I'll do when I must wait for the newest installment) and there is something extremely comforting about having seen your picture several times now. I'm unable to explain why that is. I never consciously thought of you as some disembodied logic-monster or anything. But, when I see your picture, I just wanna give you a great big hug for being you and for having the courage (and the dedication) to continue on with your extensive and priceless website. And I'm not a particularly "touchy" person, so I find that urge to be strange. I must admit, if I saw you playing guitar with your goslings by the river, I would be confused as all hell when you didn't want to smoke a joint.

Goslings and me in the park
Goslings and me at the North Park Blocks.

I've been doing my small part to get the truth out there. I'm lucky enough to know some people in positions (either professionally, privately, or both) who are the sort people might turn to (or be pointed towards) if they had a problem with drugs or alcohol. Also lucky, is that the one thing as well established as my reputation as a hard partying, was my reputation as a straight shooter, and I never did manage to sully that. So, what would normally be an uphill battle against a juggernaught of a propaganda machine, ends up being much easier than expected, as I'm given the benefit of the doubt. All but one of these people has been shocked and horrified when I laid out the simple facts before them. Whether or not they followed up and went to your website, I wouldn't know. The one person who wasn't surprised is a woman I know who understands human nature very intimately. She said "I always wondered what the deal was with AA, I kind of figured it was for people with nothing good in their lives". I think that's actually fairly accurate, and what I think is terribly sad, is that I suspect most of the membership did have good things in their lives when they started attending, and threw them away for the sake of their much sought after sobriety.

Your website continues to spur me on new courses of thought that I find incredibly interesting. It started with wanting to know every detail about how screwy AA is, and now I'm wondering about other issues as well, like recovery or treatment centers or support groups as a whole. Initially, while I accepted your assessment of AA, I felt you were grasping at straws with what I saw as a weird conspiracy theory about treatment centers. I had always thought of them as an entirely separate entity from 12 step groups, although I knew people in "treatment" were expected to attend those meetings, I thought it was supplementary to an actual, fact based, medical treatment in the facility. I almost wish I were still friends with the people I used to party with, so I could ask them about their experiences at rehab. I have a very distinct memory that illustrates (in my opinion) both the ineffectiveness of treatment facilities, and addictive thought process. The same day an old friend of mine got out of a month long inpatient program, the first thing she did after she got home was come pick me up so we could go score some blow. It seemed logical to me, she was addicted to heroin, cocaine should be OK, right? And obviously it made sense to her too, although I can't say what her reasoning was.

I had a question for you, have you always avoided using profanity, or do you avoid using it on your website so that people have one less reason to dismiss you without looking at the evidence you provide?

Again, thank you for all that you've done and continue to do, I believe that you're doing the world a great service. This may sound corny, but I hope in five years we're both still above ground and sober. Hey, that sounds almost like fellowship and I don't even know you! We've GOT to get this message out to the alcoholic who still suffers.

— Taylor

Hello again, Taylor,

Thanks for the letter and the compliments and the good wishes.

Starting at the top, where you said,

"I must admit, if I saw you playing guitar with your goslings by the river, I would be confused as all hell when you didn't want to smoke a joint."

That has actually happened, several times. Kids offered me some hits on their joint, and I just explained that I smoked cigarettes for 33 years, and now I'm saving my remaining lung cells for marriage. I also tell them that tobacco is a killer. "Smoke pot if you wish, but stay away from that tobacco." The last kid I told that to said, "Yeh, I already figured that one out."

Thanks for your work to get the word out.


"I suspect most of the membership did have good things in their lives when they started attending, and threw them away for the sake of their much sought after sobriety."

Yes, that is what cults do to people. Members often have to lower their standards in order to fit in. One of the first lessons that they learn is that they have to lie and just parrot the cult's dogma, even if they know it isn't quite true. And one of the first pieces of dogma is how bad the members are, or were, before they got "saved" by the glorious cult. Then people have to devote their lives to a cult, and ignore the outside world, and drop their former associations and activities. Some of the cults that I described in the Cult Test actually taught their people to lie, steal, con, deceive, short-change, even pimp and prostitute to get more money for the cult. And those people originally would never have dreamed of doing such things. They were looking for Jesus or God or enlightenment or something like that. But the cult changed them.

About the link between A.A. and treatment centers, I learned about that one early in the game, by actually going to a treatment center. There, I learned that the "treatment" was just going to some "group encounter" sessions (sitting around and talking about drinking and doping), and then being told, "Go to three meetings per week, or preferably, one every day." It was of course assumed that the "meetings" would be A.A. or N.A. That's all that was on the list of meetings that they handed out. Shoving people into Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous was the "treatment".

And all of the "counselors" were members of 12-Step groups too. (People who are "in recovery" work cheaper than real health-care professionals.)

About the profanity, it's just a matter of style. Oh, I use a few words now and then, but mostly, I find that someone's speech actually carries more weight if he can say what he means without profanity. Someone whose every fourth word is a four-letter word gives the impression that his thinking isn't very deep, and his vocabulary is limited.

And if I can keep my cool while some critic is raving obscenities, it just makes him look like a nutcase.


"I hope in five years we're both still above ground and sober."

Oh yes, that sounds like a plan to me. Actually, personally, I plan to live to be at least 150. (Come on, you life extension researchers. Hurry up and get it together. :-)

So have a good day and a good life now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     God is not a cosmic bell-boy.
**       ==  Harry Emerson Fosdick

Date: Tue, February 8, 2011 11:25 am     (answered 9 February 2011)
From: "kevin c."
Subject: Buddhist Iron Fist

Dear Orange,

Thanks for your attitude in these letters. You are for the most part respectful and direct in opposition and show a very open mind. I know that is hard when you have XA cult members writing to you in very offensive and unkind ways, eg i know you think your gawds little messenger-when in fact it is the XA cult which teaches them THEY are all gawds lil msngrs. I have yet to see an instance where you have been unkind-though simply trying to educate the masses on what XA Cult is REALLY about and the facts which show exactly how XA is organized and founds and is in PRACTICE seems cruel. I like it to having the lights turned on after a long sleep...it may hurt a bit at first but truly in my opinion you have helped more people than XA has EVER. Maybe you can give me your thoughts on why so much hate mail?

Hello Kevin,

Thanks for the letter and the compliments. Why so much hate mail? I think it just comes with the territory. Cult members are desperately clinging to a fantasy, hoping that the cult will save them and give their lives meaning. It really upsets them when someone challenges their favorite fantasies.

Now I wish to thank you for the Free Tibet link and especially discounting the writer who claimed HS the Dalai Lama rules with an "iron fist." If anyone has ever heard the Dalai Lama speak, surely you have to see how very kind and loving and happy his message is, not at all totalitarian. I have been studying and attempting to practice Buddhism for about 5 years now and have heard of nothing like what the person claimed about the former Tibetan government. Everything i've read it would have me to believe Tibet was a beautiful place and all the people were very happy... they seemed to have a high literacy rate and the monasteries were all full. I understand too the Chinese have moved into the area trying to populate and displace. A problem they encountered is pregnant Chinese mothers... they are losing their babies because of the lack of oxygen in high altitudes. They have to bring them down to lower altitudes during birth. Something which His Holiness said which shows how tolerant loving and kind buddism and he is, "if science shows something in Buddhism is wrong, then Buddhism must change."

Yes. I doubt if the fellow who sent that in even guessed that he was repeating propaganda that was almost certainly created in Beijing by a Communist fiction writer. Rule with an iron fist? As I said before, the Dalai Lama never ruled Tibet for one single day. He was just a boy, and a regent ruled in his place. Then a Chinese general ruled Tibet with an iron fist. Isn't it interesting how the propagandists reverse reality? The Chinese generals rule harshly, with an iron fist, so they say that the Dalai Lama ruled with an iron fist.

Why do you think XA fosters so much anger, especially to opposite viewpoints and simple facts and scientific solutions? Is because XA is a cult like most fundamentalist religions? Because we all know XA is not going to disappear, though we can hope, it cannot be the XA's cultist fearing loss of prestige.


Again, I think that cult members are secretly really afraid that I'm right, and that the cult is lying to them. There goes their whole life. They have wasted years on a hoax. Now what are they going to do? How will they live without the cult? Oh no, that can't be true.

As one astute observer said:

The common dogma [of fundamentalists] is fear of modern knowledge, inability to cope with the fast change in a scientific-technological society, and the real breakdown in apparent moral order in recent years.... That is why hate is the major fuel, fear is the cement of the movement, and superstitious ignorance is the best defense against the dangerous new knowledge. ... When you bring up arguments that cast serious doubts on their cherished beliefs you are not simply making a rhetorical point, you are threatening their whole Universe and their immortality. That provokes anger and quite frequently violence. ... Unfortunately you cannot reason with them and you even risk violence in confronting them. Their numbers will decline only when society stabilizes, and adapts to modernity.
== G. Gaia

And your question brings up another point: that of aggrieved differences between cult members and non-members. I wrote this in the cult test a long time ago:

The specialness of the cult is frequently expressed by contrasting the cult with "everyone else out there." Those other people weren't smart enough or good enough to join the cult. A mindset of us versus them is encouraged. There is almost always a distinction, usually aggrieved, between "us" and "them".

Now why that "aggrieved"? Why are cult members so quick to start angrily complaining about how "they done us wrong"? Cult members will tell you that they have been oppressed by the bad guys for hundreds or thousands of years, when they are only 20 or 25 years old, and have only been in the cult for three years. I've heard 3HO members complaining about how India had oppressed the Sikhs for several centuries, and murdered their saint Nanuk, and how unfair and wrong that treatment was. We are talking about American kids who just joined 3HO a few years earlier. Now, the mistreatment of the Sikhs is suddenly the biggest tragedy in their lives.

Alcoholics Anonymous members are eager to tell you about how the outsiders don't understand alcoholism at all, and it's a disease, not a moral stigma, so it was wrong to criticize alcoholics for drinking themselves to death, etc... The ignorant people have been wrong about alcoholics for centuries, mistreating alcoholics, giving them bad treatment, punishing them and being unfair to them... Nobody understands. They just don't know how it is. They will trigger us and get us killed.

I suspect that cults are good at twisting the members' emotions around, and redirecting old griefs and sorrows. Do you have lingering anger from having been an abused child? Were you always the unpopular kid at school? Did your life never seem to work out? Do you get no respect? Does everybody consider you a real loser? Join a cult and blame your unhappiness on Suppressive Persons, or Satan, or the Jews, or the Blacks, or aliens (either kind, Martians or Mexicans), or the other political party, or the government, or the Communists, or Whitey, or a competing church, or whatever. It's all their fault.

In the case of A.A. and N.A., the enemy is everybody who doesn't believe in the 12 Steps.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all
**     possible worlds, and the pessimist fears this is true."
**         ==  James Branch Cabell

Date: Tue, February 8, 2011 9:10 pm     (answered 10 February 2011)
From: "Facebook"
Subject: Kate W. sent you a message on Facebook...

Kate sent you a message.

Subject: Orange Assistance

Hi Orange!

A friend and I have recently broken free of the AA Cult, after approximately 6 years each. We are both wanting to put our tortuous experience to good use, and were wondering if there are any articles you may need some assistance with for your website.


Hello Kate,

Thanks for the message, and congratulations on your new freedom. And thanks for the offer of help. I'm sure there is something that you can do. I'll have to think about that one for a while.

Well, actually, one thing occurs to me right now: The one thing that I cannot write about with authority is what it was like to be a woman in Alcoholics Anonymous. How bad was the sexism? The invitations for 13th-Stepping? What did you see happening to other women? What should young women who are being shoved into A.A. know?

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     It's never too late — in fiction or in life — to revise.
**       ==  Nancy Thayer (b. 1943), American writer

Date: Wed, February 9, 2011 2:00 am     (answered 10 February 2011)
From: "terry dry"

as a recovering alcoholic and drug addict whose life was saved by aa and the 12 steps i would like to say FUCK YOU <respectfully terrydry,,,,,,,,

Hello Terrydry,

Thank you for a wonderful example of 12-Step spirituality.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly,
**     acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I
**     still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand
**     thing.
**       ==  Agathie Christie (1890—1976), British writer

[The previous letter from Renee_C is here.]

Date: Wed, February 9, 2011 9:35 am     (answered 10 February 2011)
From: Renee
Subject: Amanda's Letter

Hi Orange.

I have been having SO much fun reading your letters lately. I just finished Amanda's letter and your responses to her. (All quite brilliant BTW.) I feel for the poor girl, hopefully she will get off of the AA bus to nowhere.

My reason for writing today is this. You presented Amanda with this list....

  1. Bill Wilson never stopped philandering and keeping mistresses and using Alcoholics Anonymous meetings as meat markets, and using the A.A. headquarters as an employment agency for his harem of mistresses. Bill even left 10% of his Book Book royalties to his favorite mistress in his will.
  2. Bill Wilson never stopped raving crazy stuff. He never recanted on his claims of being a medium who spoke to the spirits of the dead.
  3. Bill Wilson never gave back all of the money that he stole.
  4. Bill Wilson never quit smoking, while declaring that "Half measures availed us nothing", and claiming that the "spiritual" 12 Steps worked as a "solution" to addictions.
  5. Bill Wilson never admitted that his copy of Frank Buchman's cult religion did not work to make alcoholics quit drinking alcohol.
  6. Bill Wilson never stopped lying about the A.A. history.

All of these are factual and true..... but one little thing that so many seem to miss about Wilson AND his proctologist sidekick Dr. Bob, is the fact that neither of them worked the 12 steps, at least not in the way the rest of the sheep in AA are supposed to work them. I have yet to read in any AA literature how these men worked the steps and when they worked them. They were both excellent "teachers" on HOW we should work them, but they didn't work them IN ORDER the way AA sponsors direct their sponsees to work them.

I had one sponsor try and point out to me in the first 164 pages of the book where Bill worked all of them ...ahem.... before he wrote them???? ..... I found her explanation a little bit shaky, but kept my mouth shut because I didn't want to drink and die.

This was but one of the many questions I had about the"Program of Recovery" during my long tenure at AA. Every time I queried an old timer (or one of my many sponsors over the years) about something that didn't seem to fit quite right in the world of reason, I was told that:

  • 1. Do not question the program....it is a sign of relapse, you will drink and die.

  • 2. You have one foot out the door. Do you really want to drink and die?...don't question the program.

  • 3. Why does it matter when so many millions have recovered?

  • 4. Of course Wilson and Dr. Bob worked the program, you silly.

  • 5. Don't question whether Bill and Bob made their amends, you will drink and die.

  • 6. You will drink and die!

  • 7. It's all there "It's in the book!"

  • 8. Bill and Bob were not perfect men....are you?

  • 9. Do you think you know more than the millions who have recovered with this...simple program?

  • 10.....and last but not least, and frankly my all time favorite. "Take the cotton out of your ears and stuff it in your mouth".... and If you don't.....YOU WILL DRINK AND DIE!!

Ya gotta love the insanity of it all ! ! !

Have a great day and thanks again for all of your hard work!

Hello Renee,

Thanks for the letter. Yes, it is crazy, isn't it? "Don't drink and don't think." "Just listen and do what we say." Not coincidentally, that is also the Nazi philosophy: "The common man is too stupid to think for himself. He should just follow orders."

I think that the Oxford Group had Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob and Clarence Snyder doing something, but it wasn't the Twelve Steps. Maybe something that they called "the Five C's", or "The Six Practices of the Sane" — the Oxford Group recruiting and indoctrination cult practices that Bill Wilson rewrote into "the 12 Steps". Ebby Thacher had Bill doing his big confession session when he was in Charlie Towns' Hospital in December of 1934. That's while he was tripping his brains out on belladonna. It probably helped Bill to flip out and "see God" (if that really happened — if that story wasn't just another one of Bill's self-aggrandizing fabrications).

Still, I think it's accurate to say that Bill never did the 12 Steps. It seems that, by the time he wrote them down, he felt that he had done them, and didn't need them. Bill Wilson sure as heck didn't go around "making amends" for all of his wrong-doing, and "promptly admitting" when he was wrong. Not a raving narcissist like him. That kind of grovelling is for the little people.

And I seem to recall that Dr. Bob was not all that enthusiastic about the 12 Steps, either, in spite of the talk about how Bob took 4800 alcoholics through the Steps in 8 years. Dr. Bob's idea of "working the Steps" was to take the newcomers through the Steps in a day or two. Dr. Bob seems to have preferred to read the Bible and talk about Christ. He remained much more Oxford Group-oriented than Bill Wilson. (Dr. Bob was also opposed to Bill's "Twelve Traditions".)

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     I always felt that the great high privilege, relief and
**     comfort of friendship was that one had to explain nothing.
**       ==  Katherine Mansfield (1888—1923), New Zealand-born English writer.

[The next letter from Renee_C is here.]

Date: Tue, February 8, 2011 8:10 pm     (answered 10 February 2011)
From: "Id Powers"
Subject: [Recovery 2 Day] Do you see a pattern here, Stress is a "brain"...

Id Powers posted in Recovery 2 Day.

Do you see a pattern here, Stress is a "brain" function. Yes, R2D created a Recovery Stress List, among other tools, find out where your stress comes from, before a lapse or relapse, it is possible to avoid it. You can get well.

A Role for Brain Stress Systems in Addiction

National Center for Biotechnology Information,
U.S. National Library of Medicine
8600 Rockville Pike, Bethesda MD, 20894 USA

Okay, now this looks interesting.

I have to disagree with his first line. His definition of "addiction" is:

"Drug addiction is a chronically relapsing disorder characterized by compulsion to seek and take drugs, and has been linked to dysregulation of brain regions that mediate reward and stress."

That poor addiction is constantly relapsing? That is standard Stepper gibberish. A human may relapse, but a condition doesn't.

And not all ex-addicts chronically relapse. Plenty of them just quit and stay quit forever. Personally, I know three heroin ex-addicts who quit just that way. They did one quitting, one time, and that was it for the rest of their lives. And they didn't do any 12 Steps or join any "support group", either. They just quit and stayed quit, and were happy to be free of that addiction.

And my ex-wife quit smoking, once, and that was it forever. Or at least for the last 35 years now, and I don't think she is going to start smoking again now.

Addiction is a condition where someone's body is physiologically habituated to receiving regular doses of some chemical, and, if the dose is suddenly missing, the addict goes through painful readjustments (called "withdrawal").

The definition of addiction has nothing to do with whether someone might return to his old bad habits after a while.

Further on down, the author repeated the standard Stepper dogma:

Drug addiction is a chronically relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug use and loss of control over drug intake.

The A.A. "loss of control" dogma has been thoroughly disproven. Read Herbert Fingarette's book, Heavy Drinking: The Myth of Alcoholism as a Disease. Herbert Fingarette is a distinguished professor at the University of California, and has been a consultant on alcoholism and addiction to the World Health Organization and a Fellow of the Stanford Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences. Prof. Fingarette found that alcoholics are not "powerless", or suffering from a "loss of control". The truth is, they have lots of control over their drug and alcohol consumption.

Furthermore, if the poor alcoholics and addicts are so powerless and out of control, how is it that they just quit their bad habits one day? And yet they do. It happens all of the time. When the pain and suffering gets to be too much, they quit in droves.

In fact, even the 12-Step-oriented treatment centers demand that their clients, both inpatient and outpatient, just quit their addictions on Day One of the treatment program, before they have gotten any "treatment", or done the 12 Steps. How can the clients possibly do that if they are "powerless", and suffering from a "loss of control", and in desperate need of "treatment"?

Then the author wrote:

Addiction comprises three stages: preoccupation/anticipation, binge/intoxication, and withdrawal/negative affect, in which impulsivity often dominates at the early stages, and compulsivity dominates at terminal stages. As an individual moves from impulsivity to compulsivity, a shift occurs from positive reinforcement driving the motivated behavior to negative reinforcement driving the motivated behavior (Koob, 2004).

That is a rather high-falutin way of saying that first we take drugs because it feels really good, and then we end up taking drugs because it feels really bad when we don't.

Then he talked about how to turn lab rats into dopers, and how to make them "relapse" by putting them through withdrawal and then shooting them up with more dope. They call that "Drug-induced reinstatement". The poor rats.

Then the author talked about "Stress-induced reinstatement", which means that you torment an ex-addict rat until the stress makes him seek a pain-killing hit of dope.

Then the author stated that this was what he was really writing about:

The thesis of this review is that a key element of the addiction process involves a profound interaction with brain stress systems and dysregulation of brain antistress systems to produce the negative emotional state that becomes the powerful motivation for drug seeking associated with compulsive use in the withdrawal/negative affect and preoccupation/anticipation (craving) stages of the addiction cycle. Chronic use of drugs of abuse has long been associated with exaggerated responses to stressors, and these exaggerated responses contribute to addiction (Himmelsbach, 1941). Delineation of key elements of not only hormonal but also brain stress neurocircuits have laid the foundation for new insights into the pathophysiology of addiction.

This is not a "new insight". People have known for centuries that when someone is all stressed out, he is likely to take a drink or drug to feel better. Millions of people reach for a cigarette as soon as they feel stressed or nervous. We also know that when opiate addicts quit their addictions, they are even more sensitive to pain than they were before they started using drugs. That really does make quitting tough.

Then the author gave us an instructional lecture about the brain chemicals involved in stress. That's nice. That would get an 'A' as a high school term paper. Lots of big long words and fancy chemical names.

Then the author said the one really intelligent thing in the whole paper: "Avoid stress while you are recovering from an addiction." Of course we already knew that. One of the few really valid pieces of advice that I got when I was quitting drinking and smoking ten years ago was "Avoid stress, and learn how to deal with stress, and how to minimize stress, so that it doesn't make you flip out and relapse." And several of the sobriety how-to books that I've read said the same thing. So that advice is nothing new.

I notice that this paper was funded by the U.S. Government (in 2009). If this is the level of "research" into addictions that the government is doing, then I don't expect any help from them.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     One of the oldest human needs is having someone to
**     wonder where you are when you don't come home at night.
**       ==  Margaret Mead (1901—1978), American anthropologist

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

Carmen the Canada Goose gosling
Carmen snuggling with her siblings

[More gosling photos below, here.]

Blog Note: 2011.02.11:

Congratulations to the people of Egypt. Eighteen days of non-violent protests, and they have shoved out a dictator. And congratulations to the Egyptian Army for keeping it from turning into a bloodbath. (Yes, I understand that about 75 people were killed, but that number is dwarfed by what could have happened. The Chinese Army killed 900 at Tianenmen Square.)

And congratulations to President Obama, who played it cool but kept up the pressure behind the scenes.

I really hope this works out, and gives Egypt a real democracy with fair elections, rather than degenerating into another despotic military dictatorship.

Have a good day now.

Date: Thu, February 10, 2011 11:21 am     (answered 12 February 2011)
From: "Jane S."
Subject: thank you!

thanks for all your research and analysis. I have found it very helpful.

Hello Jane,

Thanks for the thanks, and have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Men are taught to apologize for their weaknesses,
**     Women for their strengths.
**       ==  Lois Wyse, b. 1926, American advertising executive

Date: Thu, February 10, 2011 3:03 pm     (answered 14 February 2011)
From: Bob O.
Subject: Time.com article on teen drug rehab

Mister T,

Please read
if you have not already seen it. Titled "Does Teen Drug Rehab Cure Addiction or Create It?" This is in Time magazine health and science.

Thank you for all you do.
Long Island Bob O.

Hello Bob,

Thank you for the link. That is good, really good. First off, the author is Maia Szalavitz. I've been reading her stuff for about 10 years now, ever since I discovered that she exists. She is what I would call "a friend of the sane". She is a vocal critic of 12-Step quackery, even though she soft-pedals the criticism of 12-Step recovery in this article (I would guess that is the price of getting published in TIME magazine).

Maia also wrote a book a few years ago, Help at Any Cost. There, she took up the thread of the web page Children's Gulags: Child Abuse for Fun and Profit and took it much further. She traveled the country and did face-to-face interviews with principle characters in the criminal enterprise called "tough love" "boot camps" and "youth rehabilitation" facilities.

Also see Maia's reporting on Straight.

This TIME magazine article makes some good points, like that putting mere beginners at dope and alcohol in with hard-core old addicts just gives the kids an education in drugs and alcohol. It is exactly the same phenomenon as putting kids in prison, where they will get a 4-year college course in crime from the old pros, and come out as hardened, skilled, criminals. But of course. How could it be otherwise?

There is also the problem of labeling kids "addicts". A teenager who has just been messing around with drugs or alcohol for a while is not an addict. And addict is somebody whose body is so habituated to a chemical that he goes into physical withdrawal without it.

What you think you are tends to be what you will become. Convincing kids that they are addicts can make them into addicts. Convincing them that they are low, vile, selfish sinners without any morality can make them behave like that.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     If you persist in making criminals out of
**     alcoholics and addicts, you will find that
**     you have lots and lots of criminals.
**        ==  Orange

Date: Thu, February 10, 2011 4:21 pm     (answered 15 February 2011)
From: "Bob A."
Subject: interesting comments and remarks

i just read your ravings about AA. i am not sure what you are saying at all. it seems like a lot of anger just put to the pen. i will keep going to meetings to help others when i can. i have not had to go to through any steps i did not want to go through. years ago i just sat at an old man's kitchen table and we would talk, drink coffee, and have other visitors stop by sometimes. we all just talked, it all came out, we learned how to be friends, and how to have a conversation with others. if you were to look up information on personality disorders you will find the symptons match the character defects we talk about all the time. we have a mild form of mental illness that often leads to alcohol abuse. we also for some strange reason suffer from a compulsion to drink like a normal person. we become to fixed on that we will die trying to. no one understands that strange mental obsession. if one ate something that bad for him he would not have a problem avoiding it, even if it was the popular favorite here- home made vegetable soup.

take a walk down by the river. let it slide. that is what we used to say in the old hippy days- let it slide man. or, let it ride man. lots less chaos and drama then. life was easy, fun, and we could trust one another for the most part.

let it slide man. if they are doing their best then what else could they do. if you do not want to be a part of it, then don't.


Hello Boba,

Thanks for the letter. Starting at the top, it does not matter whether I "have a resentment", or whether I am angry. That might affect the tone of my writing style, but it does not change the facts of the matter. My "having a resentment" will not increase or decrease the A.A. failure rate.

Then you advised, "Let it slide." Let what slide? Foisting an old cult religion on sick people and calling it "spiritual principles"? Lying to those sick people about how well A.A. works as a cure (or not a cure, but a "solution") to alcohol addiction? Lying to sick people about the actual history of Alcoholics Anonymous? How about the raping of underage girls in A.A. groups around the country? Am I supposed to just "let it slide" and pretend that it isn't happening?

The fact that you had some pleasant conversations with a few people who drink too much does not fix Alcoholics Anonymous.

You are right about the fact that many people who go to Alcoholics Anonymous suffer from mental illness. See this Cult Test item:
42. Disturbed Members, Mentally Ill Followers.
A study of Alcoholics Anonymous members found that they ranged from merely neurotic all the way up to psychotic. So are you a psychiatrist? When did you get a medical degree? Are you really qualified to treat mental illness?

Oh well, have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     If alcoholism is really a disease, then A.A. sponsors are
**     guilty of practicing medicine without a license. They are
**     also guilty of treating a life-threatening illness without
**     having any medical education or training.  They have never
**     gone to medical school, and never done an internship or
**     residency, and yet they presume to be qualified to make
**     life-or-death decisions in the patients' treatment. That
**     is what you call quackery.

Date: Fri, February 11, 2011 8:50 am     (answered 15 February 2011)
From: "Adele"
Subject: your take on AA

Dear Agent Orange,

I came upon your writings about AA and was struck by how much time and trouble you've put into them. You have obviously read AA literature and observed the functioning of AA meetings closely, which is what I wish everyone would do before criticizing any philosophy.

I have met many crazy people in AA. Also in churches, the workplace, theatre groups. I don't think AA has any more or less crazy people than the rest of society. There most definitely are angry, negative, and self-hating people in AA. And in the rest of the world!

I too have a problem with anyone anywhere who believes their own hype or acts the guru. I think any intelligent person wanting to recover from alcoholism can recognize that Bill W & Dr Bob can't have been perfect — they were human; also white, Protestant, middle-class American men in a certain time in history, and their attitudes and beliefs reflect that.

However, that doesn't make them evil, nor everything they ever said nonsense. I think you can turn any philosphy into a weapon to attack yourself with, if you're so inclined, just as you can use it to enhance your life and change a negative outlook to a positive one.

I have experienced only positive effects on my life from AA membership of many years. However, I do know, from long-term observation, that not everyone has that experience, and it's certainly not their fault. AA is not for everyone. The program has a heavy Christian slant, Bill W's writings reflect his personal opinions, he was by no means a perfect person, etc. The program puts heavy emphasis on finding a Higher Power. Anyone who finds these aspects too objectionable will not want to be involved with AA. Why should they?

There are indeed some treatment centers that let themselves be perceived as "AA-sanctioned" or sponsored treatment centers. This is deceptive on the part of those places, because AA does not affiliate itself with anything. Anyone who's angered by having AA forced on them by a treatment center should know that this not AA's policy at all. Also, it's absurd that some courts think it's a good idea to "sentence" people to go to AA meetings for a proscribed period. If AA could stop this practice, it certainly would. How could anyone benefit from a philosophy levied on them as a punishment?

This is the USA, and I most vehemently support free speech. You are absolutely legally and morally entitled to your opinion, and I respect that yours is an informed one. I just want to know WHY you put so much time and effort into writing such a large volume of criticism of AA. What is your goal? If your opinion of AA is that it's all evil, dangerous garbage, and a waste of time... why are you wasting your time writing about it at such length? Why aren't you spending your time writing about other things that you think are the opposite, that you believe in and think are beneficial? Rather than just express rage, why not put out something positive? I really think that would help everyone out here a lot more than just fanning the flames of anger at imperfect people, philosphies, and institutions.

Yours most respectfully,

Adele D.

Hello Adele,

Thank you for the letter.

Starting at the top, I do not stereotype A.A. members and declare that they are all bad. In fact, I have an affectionate term for the sane ones who go to meetings to help the newcomers: "The Newcomer Rescue League". The idea is that the sane ones will save newcomers from the bad sponsors. (Unfortunately, it doesn't always work that way, but that's the idea.)

It does not matter whether 12-Step-oriented treatment centers are "officially sanctioned", or endorsed by the A.A. headquarters. I know that the headquarters in New York does not endorse any treatment center, although they come very, very close to it with Hazelden. The fact remains that we still have many thousands of treatment centers all over the country who are selling 12-Step cult religion as a quack cure for alcohol addiction and drug addiction.

You stated, "The program has a heavy Christian slant..."
No! It does not. Absolutely not. Alcoholics Anonymous is positively anti-Christian, and grossly heretical. If you talk about Jesus too much at a meeting, someone will invariably interrupt (cross-talk is allowed) and say, "Take it to church! If I wanted to hear that garbage I'd go to church!" We were just discussing that in a previous letter, here.

Also read The Heresy of the Twelve Steps to see how much A.A. is not Christian, or slanted towards Christianity. The A.A. philosophy is very much in conflict with Christian philosophy.

Then you engaged in a little Minimization and Denial:
"Bill W's writings reflect his personal opinions, he was by no means a perfect person, etc."
Actually, Bill W's writing are considered the "holy scriptures" of Alcoholics Anonymous. You begin every A.A. meeting by reading plastic-laminated copies of his lies from pages 58 through 60 of the Big Book. I agree that Bill was not a perfect person. Nor was he a spiritual person, or a holy man. He was a lying criminal who used and exploited the people around him. But he is the man who made Alcoholics Anonymous what it is.

Then you revealed one of the key characteristics of the Alcoholics Anonymous philosophy: The program puts heavy emphasis on finding a Higher Power. Anyone who finds these aspects too objectionable will not want to be involved with AA. Why should they?
That is pure Buchmanism. Why must it be a "Higher Power"? Adolf Hitler was a higher power. So was Frank Buchman. So are Satan, Beelzebub, and Lucifer.

Why can't your Power be an Inner Power? Oh, because Ernest Kurtz yammers about "You are not God", and you cannot use your own inner strength as your Power. "The alcoholics must understand that they themselves are not God!" The A.A. "Higher Power" must be Something outside of yourself, so that you are groveling before Somebody Else. You cannot be self-reliant. A.A. teaches that "Self-Reliance is bad."

Please notice that when courts sentence people to A.A. meetings, they don't bother to ask whether someone wants to join a religion that worships an external "Higher Power".

When you say, "Anyone who finds these aspects too objectionable will not want to be involved with AA. Why should they?", you are revealing that Alcoholics Anonymous really is a religion. "If you don't want to believe what we believe, then don't come to our church."
There are plenty of coerced people, sentenced to A.A. meetings, who would love to take you up on the offer of not going to A.A.

Besides which, what happened to Bill Wilson's line about,

Alcoholics Anonymous does not demand that you believe anything. All of its Twelve Steps are but suggestions.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, page 26.

My goal is to get the truth out there, and let people know what they are getting into if they decide to try the 12-Step routine as a solution to a problem.

Then you asked, "Why aren't you spending your time writing about other things that you think are the opposite, that you believe in and think are beneficial?"
Oh, I do. Look here: How did you get to where you are?

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     You are in the wrong group if you are looking for Jesus.
**      ...  you are one blind fuckwit.
**       ==  Robert, in the Internet newsgroup
**            "alt.recovery.addiction.alcoholism" (August 2003)

Date: Mon, April 25, 2011 1:14 pm
From: "Adele D."
Subject: RE: your take on AA

Dear Agent Orange,

Thanks for writing back. I appreciate your time, and I respect your quest for truth.

All the best,
Adele D.

Date: Fri, February 11, 2011 3:30 am     (answered 15 February 2011)
From: "Id Powers"
Subject: [Recovery 2 Day] Power is sweet; it is a drug, the desire for...

Id Powers posted in Recovery 2 Day.

Power is sweet; it is a drug, the desire for which increases with a habit.
Bertrand Russell

Yes. That is good.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Drunkenness ... is temporary suicide.
**       ==  Bertrand Russell (1872—1970), British philosopher, mathematician.
**           The Conquest of Happiness, ch. 2 (1930).

Date: Fri, February 11, 2011 6:20 pm     (answered 15 February 2011)
From: "Todd Q."
Subject: Tribute to Agent Orange

Hi Terry,

I just posted a tribute to you on my blog. You can find it here...
Hope you like it!

Thanks again for everything you do!


Hello Todd,

Thanks for the compliments. That's an interesting allegory. (I can't praise it too much, as it's praising me.) The line that made me laugh was, "...as your new found friends tended the weeds around you with Miracle-Grow®". So true.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "Most people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do so."
**        ==  Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)

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

Carmen the Canada Goose gosling
Sibling and Carmen
Carmen is the one on the right.

Notice how the brother on the left is such a round little butter-ball at this age that when he snuggles up, his legs don't touch the ground.

[The story of Carmen continues here.]

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Last updated 14 October 2013.
The most recent version of this file can be found at https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters222.html