Letters, We Get Mail, CCLXXXI

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters281.html#Ctmjon1 ]

Date: Tue, January 3, 2012 12:55 pm     (answered 6 January 2013)
From: "Ctmjon"
Subject: The Green Thing

Please send this to those KIDS,,, the one's that THINK they got it tough today!!!

Subject: The Green Thing

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment.

The woman apologized and explained, "We didn't have this green thing back in my earlier days."

The clerk responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations."

She was right — our generation didn't have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. But we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. But she was right. We didn't have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby's diapers because we didn't have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts — wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that young lady is right. We didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she's right. We didn't have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus, and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the green thing back then?

Please forward this on to another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smartass young person.

Remember: Don't make old people mad.

We don't like being old in the first place, so it doesn't take much to piss us off.

Hello Ctmjon,

Thanks for the laugh. That is great. It reminds me of something that Andy Rooney might have written. It sure sounds like him. I miss that resident crabby old curmudgeon of 60 Minutes.

That essay is true, too. I remember when, as a child in the 'fifties, we put the empty, washed, milk bottles out on the porch with the money for the milkman stuck in the neck of one of the bottles. And nobody stole the money, either. Shades of Mayberry.

(Speaking of which, that is one of the things that I like about Forest Grove, where I live now, which really is a lot like Mayberry. A "delivery" by UPS, USPS, or FedEx consists of the driver putting the package on the porch, ringing the doorbell, and driving away. And nobody steals the stuff. You find your packages when you get home. Try that downtown, and the box will be gone in minutes.)

And we had clothes lines in the back yard when I was young. Clothes lines didn't disappear until the rise of suburbia with its tract homes, where they often actually outlawed clothes lines because of "the appearance of the neighborhood". Well, they will get theirs. Suburbia is doomed. Few people are going to be commuting from suburbia to their jobs in the city when gasoline is $10 per gallon.

When the energy supply gets tight, a whole lot of those old ways are going to come back.

In the mean time, have a good day now. (And think about stashing an ax and a bowsaw in the closet.)

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "Old is always 20 years older than you are."

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters281.html#Don_A ]

Date: Wed, January 4, 2012 12:25 pm     (answered 6 November 2012)
From: "Don A."
Subject: I'm Leaving AA

Dear Orange,

I stumbled onto your website while doing a search for the various names of "God" in AA.

I've been a 'member' of AA for almost 14 years now, and while I do know with certainty that my life is better without alcohol, I have over the past four years become very unsettled with the brand of AA I have found in Central Florida (Orlando) since my retirement here.

I will admit I did not read all of your essays, but skimming through your first ten Cult Test items alone I willingly admit that I agree with your findings.

I can't say when I will leave AA, but I do see that as being inevitable. I already know that I can have successful sobriety without AA as I have gone long periods without AA while on military assignments where there was no AA and no other members to associate with, such as my tours at remote overseas locations to include Iraq.

Having said all that, what is leading me away from AA is open mindedness. While AA preaches open mindedness, it's members are extremely closed minded if any hint or suggestion is made that there are alternate solutions. Even when shown the multiple passages that essentially say that AA has no monopoly on recovery or a god.

I am a calm and reasonable person, but when I introduce myself as a 'recovered alcoholic' other members get outright hostile and on October 10, 2011 I was actually assaulted in an AA meeting. I am pressing charges, the anonymous perp is no longer anonymous and I identified him in a lineup. Now just waiting for the District Attorney to take action.

Despite my pending decision to leave AA, I know that, like religions, AA is doing some good. So I'll leave and know that I am a better person because of AND in spite of AA.

If given the opportunity, I may counsel someone to use AA, but with caution. There are SICK people in the rooms of AA. You've heard the analogy: If you hang around a barber shop long enough, you'll get a haircut. Well, if you hang around sick people long enough, you'll get sick too. There are tragically a huge number of meetings in Central Florida that are spiritually sick.

I can only be grateful that for the first ten years I was lucky to experience quality people.

I am also disgusted at the profiteering and commercialization of AA, such as conferences, workshops, conventions, etc. where AA is 'sold' in the form of speaker Cd's, t-shirts, key chains, illegal raffles, etc.

So thank you for your in depth research. I hope that you developed that out of love for fellow man and not out of hatred.


Don A.
Orlando, Florida
Sobriety Date: 17-Mar-1998

Hello Don,

Thank you for the letter, and the story. I'm sorry to hear about your troubles, but not surprised. Still, physically assaulting somebody because of what he shares is extreme. (What happened to, "no cross-talk", and "unconditional love"?)

I know what you mean by saying that you found some good things in A.A. If only it was possible to filter out just the good stuff, and discard the bad stuff. For example, the best thing that I ever got from A.A. was the slogan,

"Just don't take that first drink, no matter what."
I live by that one, and it is good guidance for any difficult or tempting situation. As long as I follow that one simple rule, I don't need any others.

I'm not trying to sell other recovery groups, but you might really like SMART or SOS or Lifering. Those things are full of refugees from A.A. And they may be places where you can sort out the good and bad advice and teachings that you found in A.A.

Here is a printable list:

Have a good day, and a good life now. Oh, and congratulations on your sobriety. It sure beats being sick, doesn't it?


*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Opposing viewpoints are welcome, just as long as they agree with mine.
**     This diet plan really works, just as long as you don't eat too much.
**     RARELY have we seen a person fail, who has thoroughly followed our path.

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters281.html#admin ]

Date: Wed, January 4, 2012 9:33 pm     (answered 8 January 2012)
From: "admin"
Subject: The Funny Spirituality of Bill Wilson and A.A.

You Jews are sick bastards. We Americans loathe and despise you more every day — as we become aware of what you are really up to. Die or go to Israel, that's our advice.

Hello Admin,

Wow. Another Mel Gibson clone. When it rains, it pours. Is A.A. filling up with anti-Semitic nutcases? If so, this is going to be a very entertaining year.

By the way, I hate to disappoint you, but I'm not Jewish. I'm not even pro-Israel. I'm just an ordinary middle-of-the-road American who believes in telling the truth as he sees it. And I find it sad how you claim to be an "American" while spouting bigotry and racial hatred and crazy conspiracy theories that were promoted by the Russian Czar's secret police and the German Nazis. Some American.

Oh well, have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     I believe today that I am acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator.
**     By warding off the Jews I am fighting for the Lord's work.
**       ==  Adolph Hitler, Speech, Reichstag, 1936

[The next letter from Admin is here.]

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters281.html#Corinna ]

Date: Thu, January 5, 2012 4:04 pm     (answered 8 January 2012)
From: "Corinna"
Subject: how to stop harassment

aa harassment and ignorance, not only have these people nearly destroyed my life and that of my family through their brainwashing techniques but I am interested in filing criminal charges against key note individuals...................... thank you for your input


Hello Corinna,

Thank you for the letter. I'm sorry to hear about your suffering. I hope you are feeling better now. I hope you do file criminal charges against the criminals. Obnoxious A.A. members are committing so many crimes, and getting away with so much that it is unreal.

Good luck, and have a a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Cy Cheze brilliantly points out the obvious: corporations
**     might be better called "irresponsibilitions."
**     Their sole purpose in existing is to allow people to be
**     able to commit crimes without being able to be held to
**     account.  "Limited liability" = "limited blame-ability"
**     = "limited responsibility" = "irresponsibility"
**        ==  dark goob (Nov 11, 2011)

[The previous letter from A_L is here.]

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters281.html#A_L ]

From: "A_L from Finland"
Subject: Thanks for your reply!
Date: Fri, January 6, 2012 4:10 am     (answered 8 January 2012)

Thank you for your reply to my e-mail earlier!

Can you tell me if there is any books on this subject? About Na and AA and the cult behind it?

Hello again, A.L.,

The best books that come to mind are the ones listed in the "Top 10" reading list, here:
Now they are not all about the history of A.A., but you will find some information there.

Also check out Ken Ragge's books, The Real AA, and More Revealed, which are free downloads here:

I just attended a Na meeting the other day, haven't been to any for like months and months, so I thought I go with an open mind just to check it out. The theme for the night was the Third step, and I did not get it at all! How do I give my will to a God of my understanding? And as it was my turn to speak I just said that "I do not get this, what I am supposed to do here? And I prefer to have my will power myself and decide for things in life myself, and who is that god anyway, I just do not get it"

And 2 guys got really furious and told me that they are "Really happy to be such simple people and not thinking and analyzing stuff that is already written once in the Big Book!" And how hard life must be for me as I am thinking about stuff from such a critical aspect. :D

I thought it was kind of hilarious really! That 2 hours really showed me that it as a CULT! Really.

Thank you for sharing :D

Happy new year!

best wishes,


Thanks, Anna, and you have a good new year too. And yes, you are right. It's a cult. I also find it both funny and tragic how some people think that being a mental slave is a wonderful thing.

Need I even mention the disasters that has led to? Like Hitler and the Nazis, and every cult that ever committed mass suicide?

And here is the kicker: "If you choose to be a mental slave of some 'Big Boss', how do you know whether the Big Boss got it right? If you live by the words in the Alcoholics Anonymous "Big Book", how do you know whether Bill Wilson wrote great words of wisdom or the ravings of a mentally-ill man?" Just believing without question that he was perfect and he got everything right is mental suicide.

Oh well, have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "What did you learn in school today?
**     Did you learn to believe, or did you learn to think?"
**       ==  Ralph Nader's father
**         PBS One On One, 3 October 2011, 1:05 AM PDT

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters281.html#Drew_O ]

From: "Drew O."
Subject: aa
Date: Fri, January 6, 2012 9:12 am     (answered 8 January 2012)

thanks so much for publishing these papers they confirm and solidify the fishiness that is aa /na/ca. i am 7 years clean but left meetings soon after getting sober and felt a lingering festering guilt about not going to meetings. best to you and happy new years..

Hello Drew,

Thanks for the thanks. And yes, you don't need to feel guilty for following your intuition and quitting the cult. Isn't it interesting how they implant the thought that you are doing something wrong if you leave their organization? That's what cults do to people. (No Exit, and They Implant Phobias.)

Well, you are free now. So have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Voltaire said that doubt is an uncomfortable state,
**      but certainty is a ridiculous one.

Date: Thu, January 12, 2012 6:08 pm     (answered 16 January 2012)
From: "Drew O."
Subject: Re: aa

Thanks for responding. I have 7 years and never felt comfortable getting a sponsor or working the steps. Believe it ir not I independently imagined a 12 step program when I was in 5th grade. I thought it made no sense and required circular reasoning

Hello again, Drew,

I can believe it. In fact, Dr. Frank Buchman thought up the same stuff in the nineteen-twenties and -thirties, and then the Chinese Communists thought of it in the nineteen-forties and -fifties. And Frank Buchman actually got his stuff from Prof. Henry B. Wright of Yale University, who got it from other guys before him. Those techniques for messing with people's minds have a long history.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Since mind control depends on creating a new identity within
**     the individual, cult doctrine always requires that a person
**     distrust his own self.
**       ==  Combatting Cult Mind Control, Steven Hassan, 1988, page 79.

[The next letter from Drew_O is here.]

May 25, 2009, Monday:

The Bay

The Bay

the bay
The Bay, with boats and geese
The geese are not fazed by all of the boats around. They consider the boats to be just so many floating snack bars.

[More gosling photos below, here.]

[The previous letter from Mary is here.]

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters281.html#Mary ]

Date: Fri, January 6, 2012 12:35 pm     (answered 8 January 2012)
From: "Mary"
Subject: Re: I'm an AA member that appreciates your site

Dear Orange,

I emailed you before and was very happy to correspond with you. My own particular life situation has caused me to do a great deal of thinking regarding mental health and alcoholism. As I said in my previous letter, I suffer from Depression and Anxiety Disorders and have since childhood and began drinking as a young woman to try to lessen the symptoms of these problems; I also do not believe this is at all unusual.

Another thing I do not believe is unusual, for those who are ushered into "the rooms" as the main means for their psychiatric treatment, was my being raised by a severely mentally unstable parent. My mother fits nearly all the criteria for "Borderline Personality Disorder". Ironically one of the few criteria that doesn't fit her is excessive drinking, but she lived most of her life in a dry county in the Bible Belt and had quite a bit of religiosity going on herself, which could explain the lack of drunken-ness to go along with her rages.

I have read that over half of all people who suffer from Cluster B Personality Disorders (Antisocial, Borderline, Histrionic, Narcissistic) also abuse substances. I found a few articles that deal with this over-lap:

An article in the April 2004 issue of The Archives of General Psychiatry states: "The co-occurrence of personality disorders with alcohol and drug use disorders is pervasive in the U.S. population," write the authors.
"Results highlight the need for further research on the underlying structure of these disorders and the treatment implications of these disorders when comorbid [when they occur together]."



An article in Men's Health Magazine from Oct 2007 titled Alcoholics With Antisocial And Borderline Personality Disorders says: "Around 50 percent of alcoholic patients have psychiatric disorders that include pathological impulsivity,"

The "Practical Recovery" web site,


had a short description of the various personality disorders associated with addictions. If anyone who is/has been in AA doesn't recognize these traits as familiar, they didn't go to very many meetings:

Antisocial personality disorder, according to the DSM-IV, is marked by "a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood."

Borderline personality disorder typically involves unstable moods as well as unstable interpersonal relationships, behavior, identity, and sense of self. The DSM-IV describes histrionic personality disorder as "pervasive attention-seeking behavior including inappropriate sexual seductiveness and shallow or exaggerated emotions," while narcissistic personality disorder is described as "a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and lack of empathy."

People with PDs are quite unlikely to seek help from psychiatrists, from what I've read, likely to abuse substances, and as I conclude, likely to show up in various 12 step fellowships. This is purely conjecture on my part, but when I put all those things together I see a recipe for some of the worst behavior and abuses that are encountered in the fellowship. I would think that someone with a Personality Disorder, who had trouble fitting in with the "normal" world might be quite capable of making a place for themselves in the fellowship through getting "time" without a drink and committing to various forms of "service". I have seen many people through the years that I've participated in AA who have gained a great deal of respect in the fellowship while being unable to have a job in the real world, maintain the same residence for very long, or have close, meaningful personal relationships. I believe I may have read somewhere on your site that you believe Bill Wilson was possibly a Narcissist; I believe he is not the only one, along with representation from other PDs.

If a person can do what it takes to be a big deal in the 12 step world why would they ever seek psychological help? In their minds when they sponsor someone with control and grandiosity they are being "honest", telling them "what they need to hear"; just like the black and white thinking Borderline or grandiose Narcissist who sponsored them (and just like the parent they learned or inherited these traits from did). In fact, they could easily say that their good, sober, pro-12 step traits would be interfered with by some idiot Psychiatrist, destroying their sobriety and taking their "time" with medication.

When you throw in people suffering from other mental health problems that are often self-medicated with alcohol and/or drugs, people who suffer from great anxiety or dependence issues, and you get the sadly willing victims for PD abuse. They believe it is the only way to get over their substance abuse, especially when so many people recite sponsor abuse as a kind of proud rite of passage to "really good" sobriety.

I am certainly not saying that everyone who has a substance abuse problem in their lifetime also has some deep-seeded mental illness, I have nothing at all to base an assumption like that on. But there is quite a bit to lead one to assume that if you join a 12 step fellowship you will inevitably encounter, and probably be asked to follow in some way, someone who certainly does suffer from mental illness without being permitted to acknowledge that something just isn't right.

If a mental health professional were asked if a psychologically unstable, untrained, person would be a better guide for another psychologically unstable person that a Psychiatrist or Psychologist I am sure they would dismiss the idea as ridiculous. But there are studies that show how prevalent mental illness is in 12 step fellowships, and with sponsorship having become the be-all and end-all at this point in AA anyway (I have no personal experience with other 12-step fellowships), that is exactly what is happening. And in the end substance abuse is seen as virtually untreatable by the general public.

Thanks for receiving my ramblings. I love your geese; we have quite a few in my "neck of the woods" too, as we say. I need to take my camera out more.


Hello Mary,

Thanks for the information. That makes a lot of sense, and I have no doubts that the psychiatrist who stated that about 50% of alcohol abusers have mental problems is correct. But of course. People who insist on killing themselves with alcohol really do need their heads examined.

Your descriptions of people with personality disorders being abusive sponsors sound spot on.

And yes, I diagnosed Bill Wilson as suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder, here. Now I am not a psychiatrist, but Bill Wilson was just so blatant and outrageous that it leaves little doubt.

All of the foregoing information leads to the obvious conclusion that A.A. members are not qualified to act like doctors or psychiatrists and treat sick people. Most are not even qualified to be sobriety counselors. And they certainly are not qualified to tell people not to take their medications, and just trust God and the 12 Steps to heal them.

One of the most unrealistic myths that Alcoholics Anonymous promotes is the idea that anyone who has quit alcohol for a while suddenly becomes wise and sane, and qualified to be a mentor. Bill Wilson even wrote in the Big Book:

We, who have recovered from serious drinking, are miracles of mental health.
The A.A. Big Book "Alcoholics Anonymous", 3rd and 4th editions, William G. Wilson, The Family Afterward, page 133.

Wow. Denial isn't just a river in Egypt.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     If someone has cancer or diabetes or coronary disease,
**     we don't use a quack doctor to treat those sick people —
**     a quack whose only qualification is that he used to drink
**     too much alcohol or take too many drugs, and who is now
**     a member of a cult religion. But with the so-called
**     "disease" of alcoholism, the standard treatment is
**     to have former alcoholics or dopers dispensing their
**     platitudes and slogans, and insisting that "spirituality"
**     is the cure.

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters281.html#Brian_L ]

Date: Fri, January 6, 2012 2:55 pm     (answered 8 January 2012)
From: "Brian L."
Subject: Thanks

I just wanted to thank you for that well written piece. Yeah, I drank too much. I had to go through detox. The facility hosts NA and AA meetings on weekends, so I went to each. I hadn't really investigated AA much but the impression I was left with is they are definitely a cult. The real shame is that those with a drinking problem are basically herded into AA.

Thanks again for putting it out. I hope it leads some people into some real help.

Hello Brian,

Thanks for the thanks, and I also hope that things get better and alcoholics start getting some real help.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     A.A. is not a "self-help group", it's an
**     "elf-help group". You are supposed to pray
**     and beg for some invisible "Higher Power"
**     to solve all of your problems for you and
**     grant all of your wishes.

May 25, 2009, Monday, Downtown Portland, Waterfront Park:

Canada Goose Family
The Family of 7
That is, the larger half of the Family of 9. The two children of the other family are someplace else today.
These goslings are eating rice off of a brown paper bag. I put the sticky, cooked rice on the bag so that it wouldn't mix with the dirt.
They have already eaten most of the food. You can see how a couple of the goslings are already stuffed, and they have stopped eating and sat down to rest, and nap, and digest the food. The other goslings are just picking up the remaining stray grains of rice.

Canada Geese and Goslings
Parents and Goslings of the New Family of 2.

Canada Goose Gosling
One of the goslings of the Family of 7.

[The story of Carmen continues here.]

[The previous letter from Andrew_S is here.]

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters281.html#Andrew_S ]

Date: Sat, January 7, 2012 1:20 am     (answered 11 January 2012)
From: "Andrew S."
Subject: Re: AA's Problems

Dear Agent Orange,

I feel that you were a little unnecessarily combative and adversarial in regard to my last letter. Perhaps I didn't make myself clear; I agree with your two central theses: 1) AA has a neutral or harmful effect on recovering alcoholics in comparison to natural remission (descriptive) and 2) AA should not be the first choice of treatment program for an alcoholic attempting recovery (prescriptive). If a friend of mine asked me what to do about their drinking problem, I would direct them to speak to a doctor first and try to be an understanding friend without any recovery dogma. I would not refer them to AA.

You assumed that I was defending AA and proceeded to berate me as a logically-inconsistent adherent of AA. If you read my letter, you will see that I am a logically-consistent person who views AA as a complex subject in the whole context of recovery. In my letter I described AA as 'benign foolishness' that may provide 'illusory clarity' to very confused people. That is a not a positive endorsement; rather, it is a negative description based on my own anecdotal experience and intuition.

Hello again, Andrew,

Sorry if I was overly harsh in my response. But honestly, you were saying that you don't believe that A.A. is a cult, and we should just look at the "utility and happiness" that comes from A.A.

My first line is still the most relevant:

You do realize, don't you, that you are not doing the A.A. program? So you defending the A.A. program and claiming good results for it is kind of illogical.

I am not defending AA. Rather, I believe that my personal experience was neutral (possibly because I am a skeptic at heart about it being either Super Sugar Genius or Hell Devil Incarnate). I do think that here are very specific aspects of it that should be incorporated into successful programs. For instance, people have an irrational fear of loss. When we encourage them to count their years of sobriety, celebrate birthdays and reward them with tokens, cards and gifts, the fear of losing all the emotional energy they've invested in their sober time is an extra incentive to continue abstaining from alcohol.

Now I am all for reusing the good aspects of A.A., if that is possible, and incorporating them in some better organization or program. I have considered that before:

Yes, I know about that sense of belonging, and that sense of comradery, and the enthusiasm and esprit de corps that you can sometimes find at an A.A. or N.A. meeting. I've often felt like that could have been a very good thing, and a very powerful thing. It really is a shame that there is so much toxic stuff that comes along with it — stuff that makes alcoholics relapse or even commit suicide.

At times I've wondered if it might be possible to put together a benign sobriety cult that would help people more than it hurt them. Unfortunately, the answer seems to be "No." The cultishness itself becomes the problem.

Unfortunately, A.A. has made the reverse approach impossible. There is no way to bring good things into A.A. to improve it. A.A. bans outside information that is not "council-approved". And my child-raping 12-Step counselor's reaction to Rational Recovery was typical. He declared that the Rational Recovery techniques required "recognizing thoughts" and that it was so complicated and difficult that you will die before you figure it out, so don't mess with it. No joke, no exaggeration. He went to prison for two counts of criminal sexual penetration of minors, and he would not tolerate anybody talking about anything but the standard A.A. Party Line. He didn't even want to hear that my alcoholism had not progressed during three years of sobriety — that when I relapsed (23 years ago), that I started back up at the same level as I was at when I quit drinking. He really didn't want to hear that. He wanted to hear that "my disease" progressed even when I wasn't drinking. He just wanted to hear the standard untruths.

Experiences like that make me skeptical about much good coming out of A.A.

I think that the constant barrage of hostility you have received from over-zealous and hypocritical AA's has created a sort of 'me versus them' mentality in you.

Now that is probably true. I sometimes "trigger" more quickly than I wish.

I am not interested in that dialogue because I agree with you more than I agree with AA. I promise that I will read your website with an open and critical mind. I would appreciate it if you could read my letter in the same spirit.

I'll try.

The question is: what now? I wrote you because I wanted to discuss the road ahead for problem drinkers and drug addicts. Should we try to change AA from the inside? Should we become anti-AAers? What is the most accurate medical concept of alcoholism? What is the most useful concept of alcoholism for the alcoholic? You have to realize that your stance and attitude are just one of many possible attitudes.

Like I said above, I don't think that improving A.A. from the inside is even possible (never mind the question of desireable). It would be necessary to gut A.A. and throw away most all of the teachings, especially the Buchmanite rants of Bill Wilson in the Big Book, and 12X12, and replace them with true information. Never gonna happen. A.A. was designed so that a double majority is required to change anything. And the corrupt leaders in New York City control The Grapevine, and don't publish anything "controversial". Thus, nothing can be changed. A.A. cannot be reformed.

And in the long run, just becoming anti-A.A. isn't the answer either. The best answer is the proliferation of other, saner and more sensible organizations and methods that really will help people. Here is the list:

There are also simple comparative criticisms of the rational recovery programs that you do endorse:

  • 1) They aren't widely geographically available
  • 2) They don't seem to be as 'sticky' as AA. In other words, they don't have the power to create evangelical zealots. Depending on your perspective, that can be either a good thing or a bad thing.
  • 3) They don't have a compelling origin myth and adherents who have been practicing for 50+ years.
  • 4) Their language and symbols haven't been integrated into popular culture yet.

Those are all true. Unfortunately, they are not all good, but they are all true.

  1. Availabilty: that will be improved by establishing more meetings.
  2. Evangelical zealots: Right. The other organizations aren't cults, and don't proselytize and recruit.
  3. Compelling origin myth? You mean old lies and fairy tales and cover-ups of the real history.
  4. The "language and symbols" are again lies and misinformation, like that statement that "my disease must have progressed even when I wasn't drinking".

Again, this isn't a criticism of rational recovery. It's a description of an objective distinction in two separate social movements. I am starting to think that the best group therapy would combine the positive attributes of many different self-help movements with a counselor's oversight.

Again, the positive esprit de corps of the cult sometimes degenerates into attacking critics and lying, and even drinking cyanide koolaid in Jonestown. And it never seems to produce wonderful recovery results. Both Jim Jones' People's Temple and Chuck Dederich's Synanon were experiments in recovery cults. They both failed badly.

Also, I am offended that you accusing me of using propaganda techniques when you yourself invoke Hitler in a criticism of my logic. If you sincerely desire to persuade rational people about your viewpoints, you should remember that overuse of Nazi and Hitler comparisons should be avoided, because it robs the valid comparisons of their impact.

No, sorry if you are offended by the mentions of Nazi philosophy and Hitler, but the Nazis really did give us good lessons in the practical application of propaganda and irrational thinking. Joseph Goebbels gave the world great lessons in propaganda techniques that politicians are still using today. Look at the tactics of Karl Rove.

Furthermore, the connection between Dr. Frank Buchman's Oxford Group and the Nazis was not a loose, vague connection. Dr. Buchman went to the Nuremberg Nazi Pary rallies year after year and then came home and praised Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler as wonderful fellows.

Alcoholics Anonymous is still selling Nazi ideas, like the belief that the average man (alcoholic) can not, and should not, think for himself. Bill Wilson actually wrote that you do not even have the right to think for yourself:

How persistently we claim the right to decide all by ourselves just what we shall think and just how we shall act.
  ...   We are certain that our intelligence, backed by willpower, can rightly control our inner lives and guarantee us success in the world we live in. This brave philosophy, wherein each man plays God, sounds good in the speaking, but it still has to meet this acid test: how well does it actually work? One good look in the mirror ought to be answer enough for any alcoholic.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William Wilson, pages 36-37.

So just obey your Führer, and let him tell you what to think.

For instance, after I said that "When we are often at our weakest, we need symbols and pageantry and some higher authority that can give us illusory clarity.", you replied: "Everybody from Adolf Hitler to Rev. Sun Myung Moon and David Koresh and Rev. Jim Jones were "higher authorities" who gave people "illusory clarity". No thanks."

Yes. The very idea that sick people should get comforted with "illusory clarity" is condescending and patronizing. Sick people need to get told the truth, especially the truth about how well recovery programs really work. And confusing and wowing the common rabble with "symbols and pageantry and some higher authority" is just what the Catholic Church did before burning people at the stake for "heresy and witchcraft".

There, you are using the propaganda technique you would characterize as "guilt by association". If an evil cultist used this technique, then it must be evil and cultish. FDR and Winston Churchill also gave people an illusory confidence because this is the universal technique of nationhood and war. However, you picked out the four most odious people anyone could think of to demonstrate your argument. In addition, they did not think of their message as illusory; they probably thought that it was accurate, not illusory. That is purposefully using vagueness to drag in some irrelevant people that everybody hates.

I totally reject your argument. FDR and Winston Churchill did not give people "illusory confidence". Winston Churchill's "Blood Sweat and Tears" speech is a masterpiece of public speaking, but there was nothing illusory about it, was there? He wasn't lying to them and feeding them a load of untrue cult propaganda. He was telling the truth. Churchill rallied the British people and gave them hope and led them to victory. But he did not lie to them or deceive them or give them "illusory confidence".

So which of the propaganda techniques that Hitler or Goebbels used do you think are really okay ones?

Of course "they did not think of their message as illusory". None of them did. FDR and Churchill were not delusional, living in a world of illusions. The Nazis were though. They drank their own koolaid. Hitler really believed his bullshit. So did the rest of the Nazi leaders. And A.A. has the same problem. The A.A. proselytizers actually believe the crazy dogma that they are repeating.

The only area of your site that I really think is really distorted is your concept of AA as a cult. You presumed that I hadn't read the questions and answers. I have.

And, again, I am not defending AA here. I believe that you are very passionate about this subject and that that passion sometime interferes with your objectivity. There's always a dilemma when we try to convince others about something that we really care about. We must either: a) adopt an objective tone and a bunch of scientific jargon that drains all the life and passion out of subject or b) use the propaganda techniques that demonstrate our passion, but cast a cloud on our objectivity.

Here are some areas where I think the "AA as a Cult" section distorts the truth:

For instance, many of the categories are virtually identical. "No Exit" and "No Graduates" describe almost the same mindset; you can't leave AA without disaster. By having two categories for something small that you can arbitrarily score a 10, you inflate the final score. Personally, I am much more interested in whether or not a cult will kill me in a mass suicide! Isn't it funny how all the last categories score low? Or that they describe many of the most serious attributes of a cult?

Yes, there is some similarity between "No Graduates", and "No Exit", but they are not the same thing at all.

  • "No Graduates" means that nobody ever learns enough to become equal to the "guru". Nobody ever learns enough; nobody ever becomes wise, nobody ever finishes his training and becomes equal in stature and wisdom to the teacher. That keeps all of the cult members in the "student" category forever, and only the "guru" is the Wise Father. That promotes the infantization of the members, and keeps them subservient.

  • "No Exit" is simply "no exit — no honorable way to leave the group". And no legitimate reasons for leaving, and to quit the group is to fail and go to Hell (or whatever phobias the cult induces).
I left the mass suicide item to the very end of the test because that is actually a very rare cult characteristic. I can only think of half a dozen cults that committed mass suicide, while there are thousands of cults in this world now. (Some are small, some large, some are famous, most are obscure and unknown.)

For instance: Group think, you are always wrong, the guru is always right, insistence that the cult is the only way, Newcomers can't think right and Black And White Thinking fundamentally cover the same ground. Authority=Correct; Member=Incorrect. This is six categories re-iterating the same central premise.

Sorry, but those are not the same things at all. They do reflect a similar mindset, but they are not the same thing. And they are very revealing. They are all signs of a cult.

If you summarized it to the five or six most cogent points, it would have more of an impact on the reader. Of course, it would also be more objective and balanced and less unfairly persuasive.

"Unfairly persuasive"??? Again, they are not the same things at all, and they should not all be condensed down to just one point.

If you want a cult test with only 10 items, there are some like that on the Internet. Do a simple Internet search.

I take a pragmatic approach to whether or not AA is a cult. One of the most important questions is: What are the final damages to the victim of the cult? I have contributed about $50 to AA in the last six months. I probably received about fifty cups of shitty coffee, a dozen pastries, a slice of cake, a big book and a bronze token. I also got about fifty hours of shitty, quasi-religious group therapy. No one asked me for money. No one asked me to kill myself. No one forced themselves on me as a sponsor. No one raped me or forced me to change my diet, my sex partner or move in with another AAer. I haven't been to a meeting in a week, and no one's called me or harassed me. For me personally, I feel that I am about even.

That is again Minimization and Denial. Just because you didn't get raped or robbed of your life savings in A.A. does not make it an okay organization. Other people did get raped, and robbed, and commit suicide.

That is also The Statistics of Small Numbers — "Nobody was robbed or raped in my group, so obviously it doesn't really happen anywhere else in A.A., either."

I do understand that there are nightmare instances of rape, negligent man slaughter and mind control in AA. I haven't seen comprehensive statistics on this (from critics or proponents). My belief is that no one's keeping track because everyone has decided what they think in advance. In my opinion, it would be irresponsible to either minimize and deny these events or to demonize AA as a hive of cultists.

Apparently, "deciding what they think in advance" is no defense for young girls. Why don't you read about the Midtown Group and Clancy's Pacific Group, and see whether somebody is exaggerating?

And please remember that the A.A. headquarters refuses to do anything to stop this abuse and criminal behavior.

Again, I am not defending AA. I think it is demonizing AA to characterize or group it with the Jonestown Massacre. It's a little insulting to the people who died at Jonestown as well. I believe your central message; that's why I would prefer you to tone down the propaganda methods you abhor. I think you could more effectively steer people away from AA if you did so.

Sorry if you don't like the grouping, but the difference between the two is only a matter of degree, not quality. Remember that local politicians and newspapers called Jim Jones' People's Temple a great program for rehabilitating drug addicts and alcoholics. Jim Jones was "The Humanitarian of the Year". And people were even sentenced to the Temple by courts, just like A.A. About 200 of the children who died at Jonestown were wards of the court, entrusted to Jim Jones' care. Yes, the People's Temple was just as good as Alcoholics Anonymous for rehabilitating those problem people.

The reality is that we are asked to drink the figurative Kool-Aid at work, at school and in our personal relationships. Almost everything in life asks us to believe little half-lies and instances of groupthink. I have a great overriding faith in the American ability to half-ass a program and pay lip service to authority without committing to it. My personal experience has convinced me that AA is dying as an organization because of changing attitudes regarding alcohol and drugs. I think mainstream culture and the recovery movement have co-opted the four or five positive aspects of AA and rejected the cultish aspects.

Again, that is standard Minimization and Denial. "Everything is a cult. Business, schools, churches, government — they are all cults." No, actually, they aren't.

Unfortunately, "mainstream culture and the recovery movement" have not rejected A.A. yet. I have still heard more praise of A.A. and the 12 Steps in public media in just the last few days. In a recent radio interview, the country singer and short-lived TV star Steve Earl declared, "I'm not a Christian, and I'm not a Moslem, and not ... a Buddhist." He went on to declare that he practiced "the 12-Step spirituality." (Here and Now, by Robin Young, NPR, 2 Jan 2012, 10:50 AM)

And people are still being sentenced to Alcoholics Anonymous every day.

Anyway, I am not nitpicking. You have an amazing amount of information here and most of it is objective and factual. I am sure that history and science will demonstrate that you are on the right side of this increasingly relevant issue.

Thank you for critical thinking and message,

Andrew S.

You have a good day too, Andrew.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     If the truth is that ugly — which it is — then we don't have
**     to be careful about the way that we tell the truth. But to
**     say somehow that telling the truth should be avoided because
**     people may respond badly to the truth seems bizarre to me.
**       ==  Chuck Skoro, Deacon

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Last updated 8 March 2013.
The most recent version of this file can be found at https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters281.html