Letters, We Get Mail, XXXI

Date: Sun, December 11, 2005 1:45 pm
From: "Mairtin O'M"

Dear Sir/ Madam,

I have enjoyed reading your material on the net concerning the AA cult. I spent 8 years of my life in this evil organisation. In that time I have seen many young men commit suicide, a direct result I believe of the program. I brought this subject up at meetings but of course they tried to put me down.

When I shared about being beaten by my parents as a child I was told to make amends to them! I just laughed loudly.

I have also seen sponsors, who think they're great spiritual masters, exploit women for sex. This is very common.

It is a difficult problem, as members believe deep down that they are right, that AA is perfect. Most disturbing of all is that they believe they will die if they leave AA, hence the appalling suicide rate. I live in Dublin, Ireland, but I believe AA is the same everywhere. Keep up the good work in exposing this evil cult.

Mairtin O M

Hi Mairtin,

Thanks for the letter. Yeh, it sounds like A.A. in Ireland is just like here in the USA.

Have a good day, and a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

[2nd letter form Mairtin:]

Date: Wed, December 21, 2005 12:44
From: "Mairtin O M."

Dear Orange,

Thanks for your reply. I have read more of your articles and found them very enjoyable.

I don't know whether you cover this: I have found, over the 8 years I wasted in the AA Cult, that many members have a bizarre, empty expression. Or their body language contradicts what they're saying. For example it is not unusual to hear a member say, 'I'm very happy in AA' while the facial expression is blank or almost tearful.

I should have fled when I went to my first meeting. The chairman talked like an insane religious fruit cake. Naive and in great pain, desperate for love and acceptance, I went to shake his hand. His grip was weak and his face was.. well I can only say chilling.

I feel now that my rational thoughts were suppressed. If I had any doubts about AA, I'd assume it was my problem. The problem (as I thought it was then) was that I was seeing a wonderful counselor, who encouraged me to work out my own problems. She did not have any opinion of AA or influence my decision to leave AA. I worked it out my self. I have been away from AA and its drones for 4 months and I feel great! I am so much more open to people. I feel a warmth towards and from people. Unlike the cold fucked up members of AA, whom I genuinely pity. Before i left I tried to persuade others to leave. Guess what? They said, "you can't do it alone" Yes I can. And I have. And i now have genuine friends. It is good to be free and it is good to think. Thanks Orange for confirming what I already knew. Though I don't think I could have put it as well as you.

Have a merry Christmas (Oh AA members don't like to use the word merry here)
And a very Thinking New Year.

Mairtin O M

Hi again, Mairtin,

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

Oh, and about that blank look thing that so many members have, and the denial of feelings, that just seems to go with the territory. That seems to be common to so many cults. I don't have a specific cult test item for that, but it is reflected in a whole bunch of the common cult characteristics:

All of that can leave a person in a place where he is saying, "I'm happy; very, very happy. I'm not unhappy, no not me. That would be wrong. So I'm happy; very, very, happy."

Oh well, have a good day anyway.


[3rd letter from Mairtin:]

Date: Sat, December 24, 2005 4:35
From: "Mairtin O M" Subject:

Hi Orange

Gosh. Just been reading some of the hate mail you've been getting from the holy serene people of AA. It just confirms to me that this is a disgusting group of hate filled religious fanatics. AA people hate, and I mean hate, any opinion other than their own.

The really funny part about their letters is that they attack you and offer no evidence that AA works. And when they lose the argument they say stuff like 'well I will leave it there' or 'we'll end this now'.

Keep up the good work. You have many friends. You may get hate mail, but your friends will keep mailing too!

Mairtin O M

Okay, thanks again.

[4th letter from Mairtin O M:]

Date: Sat, December 24, 2005 9:57
From: "Mairtin O M"

Hi Orange,

Hope you don't mind me writing to you so often. Please don't worry at all about writing back. I know you get many, many letters. I am in the early stages of recovery from the AA cult and I find it very helpful to write to you. As I read more of your articles I am reminded of the shear stupidity of AA and the mind boggling arrogance of sponsors.

That's quite alright. I like hearing from people from all over the world, to hear what things are like over there.

I only had one sponsor in the 8 years of my AA experience. He lasted the first two years. And he dumped me! Why? Well I can only guess. I discovered that he had DOZENS of sponsees! All of which gave him money and gifts, except me (I think my guess as to why he dumped me is a pretty good one). He was also screwing every female he could get his hands on. It was awful to see young women coming in, lonely, tired, seeking love and warmth and support, used and abused to gratify this excuse for a man; then discarded and dumped, only to go back out drinking, disillusioned.

And what cuts me up inside and makes cry even right now, is that many years ago one of his sponsees told me that there was something wrong with this bastard and AA. That young man, along with at least two others he sponsored committed suicide.

I just dismissed him. If I could say something to him now I'd say, 'I'm sorry. I am so sorry for not believing you.' At his funeral we, AA crackpots, stood around his grave and said the serenity prayer. The only sane person in that circle was in a grave. How lonely must have been his last days. Knowing the truth of AA, a truth he could not deny. He had no friends, only AA 'friends' and therefore his truth was denied by everyone in his world. How lonely must that be?

I only just escaped with my life. I tried to hang myself. Luckily I have good upper body strength and pulled myself back up in the attic, to safety. I also took an overdose and awoke in a hospital pissed off that I was still alive.

I was so close to death and continued to listen to the backward 'logic' of my so-called sponsor. Oh Orange it is good to be free. In the Big Book it talks of everyone being in a disaster and coming together in AA to freedom and safety. Well I was in a disaster. And it was AA. I just feel baffled sometimes. How could I have been taken in for so long! Why did I keep suppressing the alarm bells in my head!

Well that's what the Phobia Induction does. Phobia Induction is a very powerful cult technique, and it makes people even afraid to think the wrong thoughts, or else something really bad will happen to them. People actually end up practicing self-censorship, and stopping themselves from thinking "the wrong thoughts".

But I am not so hard on myself. I was desperate for love and warmth. I grew up with little or no love, and thought AA could give me the affection I craved.

Also while in AA I covered my body with tattoos. I was denying my pain and numb. I see now that it manifested itself in tattoos, skulls, death, knives. My body is destroyed, but that's OK. My mind isn't. I still meet AA members. (I'm only out of AA four months, but the brainwashed crap in my head has been slowly broken down over the last two years.) I will chat with those on the outskirts. I try not to be too anti-AA to them. I don't wish to hurt them. But I will be honest. As for those members in the inner circle... these I detest. When they say hello I make it a must that I look into their eyes and grin at them: 'Hard look pal, ye nearly had me, not quite. Hey guess what I am still sober. Fuck you!'

Thanks Orange for letting me get this off my chest. You are a good man.
I believe history will say that Agent Orange was the beginning of the end for Steppism.

That's too flattering. It would be nice to think so, but I don't think that just one stake through the heart of the vampire is going to keep it down...

I will be writing to locally elected councellers (politicians) on many of the matters you have discussed. I'm going to play my part.

Kindest Regards,
Mairtin O M

You have a good day too. And a Happy New Year.

*                  Agent Orange               *
*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "You go to war with the jokes you have, not the jokes
**     you might want or wish to have at a later time."
**      == Our Secretary of Offense, Ronald McDumsfeld

[5th letter from Mairtin:]

From: "Mairtin O'M."
Subject: ACoA
Date: Mon, December 26, 2005 12:42

Hi Orange

I for to tell you in my letters that I also did an ACoA course in Dublin. That really messed me up. At one meeting I was sharing some really deep painful stuff about my childhood. After a minute the so-called counsellor abruptly turn away from me and in a loud happy voice said, "And how are you today Mary!" Also this 'counsellor' I note was a binman (Trash collecter) a year earlier! So what kind of a degree did he get! ACoA almost drove me to suicide. One girl was forced to admit that her Dad was alcoholic. She was saying, "Maybe he was an alcoholic. I saw him drinking in the house once." Oh ye, a raving alco he!

A real counsellor with many years training helped me get through the experience of ACoA and AA.

Life now is getting better. It is a little wierd. I walk out the door and that wicked 'higher power' is no longer watching me. I got sober in spite of AA, not because of it.

I would like to tell you how an ACoA course works in Ireland. It might be different in the US; I'm not sure. There are three stages (it ain't free, by the way!).

  • 1
    this is like a class room setting. Three teachers write all sorts of crap on the whiteboard. The alcoholic is this and that. You are this and that. You are damaged. You are powerless. Your whole family should be on the program.

  • 2
    This is group therapy. It is (or was in my experience) a cruel brainwashing program to get people on a 12-step program for life. Many people went on this course because of their cruel childhood. By the end of it many were alcoholics! The 'counsellor' was so false it was unbelievable!

  • 3
    This stage I did not do. But it is a 12step workshop.

I fled after stage 2 in a state of acute depression to my doctor. I am so thankful to my doctor and counsellor for the help and support they gave me through the horror of my childhood, AA and ACoA.

Warm Regards
Mairtin O M

Hi Mairtin,

Thanks for the update. It sounds like ACoA is just as bad in Ireland as it is in the USA. Wow. Aren't cults just such strange monsters?

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*                  Agent Orange               *
*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     And the Steppers said, "If you want what we
**     have, and are willing to go to any length to
**     get it, then, here, drink this koolaid."

Date: Sat, December 10, 2005 12:54 pm
From: "Katie M."
Subject: fascinating

Dear Orange,

Thank you for the best education I have received to date.

I am 44 years old and have had 12 steps and labels shoved down my throat for nearly 25 years. I recently learned about REBT and SMART Recovery, which changed my life overnight. I was sober 15 years (on my own) until a year ago last July when my dad died, my marriage was plummeting and I started taking Xanax, un-prescribed, that I ordered off the Internet. I functioned and felt better although I was depressed. I didn't lose my job but had thoughts of suicide. When my husband discovered I was "self-medicating" I told him, "no problem, I will stop". It was 24 hours later that I discovered I was addicted. I spent 10 days of intense withdrawals getting clean.

Having family members in AA, I was immediately shamed into believing that my year of taking Xanax was a relapse and that the 15 sober years prior were wiped off the face of my existence. I was told I was in a "dry" drunk all those years because I didn't go to AA and that my relapse was inevitable. That was the most shameful "incomprehensible demoralization" I have ever experienced and felt in my life. I was given an ultimatum by my husband to go to AA and "work a program" or he would leave me. I had been sentenced to a life of 12 step dogma and I didn't see a reason to live.

After 6 months of living hell in AA I finally decided that I had to take control of my life back, with or without my husband, or kill myself. I remembered that I was successful at staying sober on my own and was immediately "enlightened". I took my life back in the space of a minute.

I am resentful and angry that my emotional problems around my father's death and my failing marriage were dismissed. "Go to AA and all your problems will be solved". I was suicidal for crying out loud! The fact that I was self medicating was a big red flag. I see that now but nobody else does. It's the strangest phenomenon to me and who can I tell who will actually listen?

I'm telling you my story because I wonder if you've included the percentage of people who have been damaged by AA and the 12 step brainwashing scheme.

I have "come to believe" that the reason I had always felt guilty and different was because I wasn't allowed to be a thinking, feeling human being in my own right. I was taught to believe that my own thoughts didn't count because of the disease factor or that I was immoral for not conforming to society's way, which is of course, "AA is the only way". I would have done anything not to go to AA in the late '80's, including get sober, which I did successfully and still am. I am learning to validate myself and get the help and "education" I need. I am no longer suicidal. I have no need to medicate because I am free, finally, from a belief that once had taken away my fundamental rights.

I have a long way to go to undo the damage 25 years of brainwashing can inflict but today there is a light at the end of the tunnel and it's not a train.

Thank you again, Orange. Thank you.

Katie in Seattle, WA

Hi Katie,

Thanks for the letter and all of the compliments.

Sorry to hear about your suffering. I trust that you are feeling better now that you have escaped from the madhouse.

Again, it is just so obvious that A.A. is the opposite of good counseling or good psychotherapy. I keep getting these stories about suicides and near-suicides, enough to curl your hair.

You said, "I wonder if you've included the percentage of people who have been damaged by AA and the 12 step brainwashing scheme."
Alas, no. I don't know what the percentage is. I don't even have a hint, other than to know that it is much greater than zero. To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever done a good valid study of psychological damage caused by 12-Step programs. That is, a Randomized Longitidinal Controlled Study, which is about the only kind of test that would be valid and would clearly reveal such damage. I doubt if such a test will ever be done, because members of 12-Step groups do not, in general, want to be psychoanalyzed every few months for several years to see how much their minds have deteriorated under the influence of cult practices.

More than three years ago, I wrote a web page about The Problem With Statistics: Who Is Killing Themselves? There, I talked about the near-impossibility of collecting valid statistics about the suicides in A.A. and N.A.. Unfortunately, that page is becoming more and more relevant, as these stories about suicide in the groups keep coming in.

I have lots of anecdotal evidence, but that doesn't give us any reliable numbers or valid statistics.

The only study I have found that relates to the mental states of A.A. members is one that found that the majority of them were mentally disturbed, with some of them being very disturbed and even downright psychotic. But that study was a one-time thing. That supplies no information about whether the 12-Step program made them worse over time. I suspect that it does, but I can't prove it.

By the way, while you are detoxing from the cult influences, you might enjoy reading Charlotte Kasl and Elaine Rapping. Both are on my "Top 10" list of books. Both are women who have clear thinking, constructive outlooks, and a lot to say about recovery without a cult, and even recovery from the 12-Step cult.

Enjoy, and have a good day. And Merry Christmas.

== Orange

*                  Agent Orange               *
*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     And the Steppers said, "If you want what we
**     have, and are willing to go to any length to
**     get it, then, here, drink this koolaid."

Date: Sun, December 11, 2005 2:48 pm
Subject: Alcoholics Anonymous and the Oxford Group

Dear A Orange:

Who are you and why do you have so much time to devote to researching the origins of Alcoholics Anonymous?

James Gregg G.

Hi James,

Isn't it amazing how much spare time and energy you have when you aren't drinking or smoking any more? Why, it's almost as if every evening was your own.

Who am I? Start here.

Have a good day, and a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

*                  Agent Orange               *
*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Gandalf said, "The demons of the darkness howl in
**     pain when you shine the light of truth on them."

[2nd letter from James Gregg G.:]

Date: Sun, December 18, 2005 16:53
From: "gregg g."
Subject: RE: Alcoholics Anonymous and the Oxford Group

Dear Agent Orange:

I took a look at your web site. Nice work. I hope you found what have been looking for. As far as AA is concerned it seems to have worked out pretty well for me personally. However, I don't feel compelled to recruit for the "cult" or anybody lese for that matter. It really is a program of attraction rather than promotion. I am also one of those counselor types. AA is a spiritual program. It is a religious and God based, God centered approach. No question. It has fundamentalist Christian roots. So what is the big deal?

Hello James Gregg,

Thanks for the compliments.

Every day, you see people with those court slips that they have to get signed, or else, and you maintain that A.A. is just "a program of attraction rather than promotion"? And then what about the propaganda mill of Vaillant, Moos, Humphreys, and their friends who seem to have dedicated their lives to promoting the 12-Step cult by manufacturing a stream of deceptive misinformation?

The fact that you enjoy A.A. meetings does not mean that they are good for other people or that they work to make people get sober.
The fact that you quit drinking does not show that the 12-Step program actually works.

The roots of Alcoholics Anonymous are Frank Buchman's cult religion.

"Early AA got it's ideas of self-examination, acknowledgement of character defects, restitution for harm done, and working with others straight from the Oxford Groups and directly from Sam Shoemaker, their former leader in America, and nowhere else."
Bill Wilson, Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age, page 39.

Buchmanism is not fundamentalist Christianity and never was. Please read "The Religious Roots of the Twelve Steps" again. Frank Buchman occasionally claimed that his religion was something like "First Century Christian Fellowship", but, when it was politically convenient for him to do so, he happily dumped Jesus Christ and declared that Moral Re-Armament was quite compatible with Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam.

A contemporary minister, Rev. Ironside, noticed that Frank Buchman's religion was so totally un-Christian that Buchman would not have had to change any of his dogma even if Jesus Christ had never been born.

I also have a MA in Clinical Psychology and counsel in a drug and alcohol program. We use the Minnesota Model; as such we utilize AA and NA, Rational Recovery, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Rational Emotive Therapy, Secular Recovery, Zen Buddhism, Yoga, meditation, spirituality, virtually anything — to help people quell the "Beast". Good luck. Great Web site. Frank Buchman was sure peculiar.

James G., Realtor

Well, with your MA in Clinical Psychology, you should certainly understand what the following terms mean:

  1. Randomized Longitudinal Controlled Study. (You know, those medically-valid tests that show that 12-Step treatment is completely ineffective and just raises the death rate, and raises the rate of binge drinking, and that a whole year of A.A. is no more effective than having a doctor talk to the patient for just one hour, telling him to quit drinking or he'll die.)

  2. Confusion of Correlation with Cause and Effect. (Like assuming that A.A. meetings make people quit drinking, or that 12-Step programs work to make people quit drinking, or that the 12 Steps cause people to quit drinking.)

  3. Cult Religion (like what Alcoholics Anonymous is.)

  4. Rate of Spontaneous Remission. (You know, that funny number that is curiously equal to the success rate of treatment programs.)

And yes, I know that "Minnesota Model" means that the Hazelden Foundation slapped their coat of paint on Alcoholics Anonymous, and then passed it off as "treatment" for the "spiritual disease" of alcoholism.

Above all, the single most important question is, "What is your success rate?" Out of each thousand clients who start that "Minnesota Model" treatment program, how many of them are clean and sober a year later? Two years later? Five years? Ten years?

Remember that the normal rate of spontaneous remission in alcoholics is approximately 5% per year, and that groups of clients who actually want to quit, and are motivated to quit, should score much higher, even without treatment. (No excuses are allowed, and no qualifiers like "Well, they didn't really try," or "They didn't thoroughly follow our path".)

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

*                  Agent Orange               *
*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Foisting ineffective quack medicine on sick people is not
**     a wonderful noble act of self-sacrifice to help others;
**     it is the reprehensible behavior of a damned fool.

Date: Mon, December 12, 2005 2:37 pm
From: "Adam F."
Subject: your site

Hey there. I saw your site and I am in awe. Clearly you've put a tremendous amount of work into it, and I'm not writing to try to sway your opinion of anything. It just seems to me the feelings expressed on your site are based on your negative experiences with some people within AA, and not with the program of AA itself. To me, AA is like life itself, it's what you make of it (and likewise, what the people attending your group make it). We are just life-forms spinning on a rock which orbits a star, plain and simple. Any problems we face are of our own making.

Hi Adam,

Thanks for the letter and the compliments.

My criticism is most assuredly of the A.A. program itself. If my disagreement were only about one bad counselor, then I could laugh that off. He is irrelevant in the big scheme of things. (And he is gone to prison.) But A.A. is a pervasive problem.

To argue that "AA is like life itself, it's what you make of it", is bad logic. That is like arguing that "Hydrogen bombs are neither good nor bad; it is the use you make of them that counts." (Marshall McLuhan dispensed with that argument 35 or 40 years ago.) Things have inherent natures and inherent effects. The Alcoholics Anonymous program is inherently damaging to peoples' psyches.

And not all problems are of our own making. That is an oversimplification.

Likewise, AA is just a program. Any positive or negative experiences encountered within are the design of people, not the program itself. Your site actually reminds of one a good friend of mine runs http://christianburner.com/ — which is why likening AA to an organized religion bothers me, it's simply not the case. Of course, people always have the ability to screw up good things...

That is classic Minimization and Denial, something that alcoholics are said to be good at. A.A. is not "just a program" any more than Scientology and the Moonies are "just a program".

A.A. is most assuredly an organized religion, just like the Moonies and Scientology. The headquarters of the organization is in the offices of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Incorporated, in New York City, and in the offices of the General Service Organization, also in New York City. A.A. has a Board of Trustees, paid executives, a national council, state and regional councils, and even a council that approves literature and decides whether it is kosher enough to get the church's holy seal of approval — "Council-Approved Literature". A.A. is organized and has always been organized, ever since Bill Wilson incorporated it in 1940.

As far as it being a religion, of course it is a religion. Read the web page on "It's Spiritual, Not Religious".

At any rate, hopefully you site does not discourage someone from at least trying AA because I can guarantee the common experience is not as filled with dishonest people as yours has been. The program does indeed help many people and I hope you're not preventing the potential it holds from reaching someone.

Sorry, but there is no evidence that the program helps a lot of people. Just because you get a bunch of people into the rooms does not mean that they have been helped. Prof. Dr. George E. Vaillant, who is a member of the Board of Trustees of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., spent 8 years testing A.A. on alcoholics. His conclusion: that A.A. was completely ineffective, and the death rate of 3% per year was "appalling".

Take care —

Yeh, you have a good day too, and a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

*                  Agent Orange               *
*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Foisting ineffective quack medicine on sick people is not
**     a wonderful noble act of self-sacrifice to help others;
**     it is the reprehensible behavior of a damned fool.

Date: Tue, December 13, 2005 9:43
From: "whitney h."
Subject: AA

It is my hope that you find a *spiritual path* that does work for you, allowing you to respectfully honor and embrace yourself. When you do, you will not use valuable and vital life energy focusing on useless ideas and pursuits, nor will you harbor such to extend to others.

Peace and blessings,
Whitney H.
committed to love, committed to life?

Hi Whitney,

Thanks for the letter.

I already do have a spiritual path. Part of my spiritual work is to tell the truth as I see it, including telling the truth about some quack medicine and dishonest practices that are harming friends and acquaintances.

Is there no place in your spiritual path for work to fix what is wrong?

Oh well, have a good day anyway, and a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

P.S.: I see from your web site that you are into ACIM — A Course In Miracles. Well then, you should read this.

*                  Agent Orange               *
*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Foisting ineffective quack medicine on sick people is not
**     a wonderful noble act of self-sacrifice to help others;
**     it is the reprehensible behavior of a damned fool.

Date: Tue, December 13, 2005 10:09
From: "J. S."
Subject: Wow

Wow, is this part of a doctoral thesis? It is very well written and it's obvious that you have extensively researched your topic. It feels good to know that I have a chance at recovery without AA. I never felt comfortable going to AA. It felt more like a punishment for being a drug addict. When I would tell family members that AA wasn't for me they would roll their eyes because they assumed I was just lying so I could continue to use. I felt I was in a no win situation. The treatment centers told my family that a 12 step program was the only way and that if I balked at it I was being manipulative. I stayed up until almost 3am to read this article because it puts into words what I've felt all along about AA. Thank you for giving me a voice. I feel free now to get better on MY terms.


Hi Julie,

Thanks for the letter and the flattering comments.

Alas, no, I don't think I will get a Ph.D. out of this. That would be nice, but most universities sort of expect you to get a B.A. before you get a Ph.D.... :-)
(That's what happens when you drop out of college in the psychedelic 60's.)

I'm glad that you got a small enlightenment or liberation from reading my stuff. And yes, you most assuredly can recover on your own. In fact, that is how most successful people do it. Don't miss the statement from the Harvard Medical School about how the majority of successful recovered alcoholics and addicts do it alone. With alcoholics it was 4 out of 5. With addicts, they were more vague, and didn't give exact numbers. But the odds are definitely on our side.

Oh, and I always recommend that anybody who is in recovery go read about The Lizard Brain Addiction Monster. Understanding how he works, and not getting fooled any more by his yammering and complaining, has been a huge help for me in staying off of alcohol and cigarettes.

It seems to me that getting unaddicted happens in two distinct phases. First, there is just physical withdrawal. That can be very uncomfortable, even extremely painful, but it is usually over in a few weeks at most. And then the mind games start, and go on for years. That's where the old lizard brain is always whispering,
"Oh, we've got it under control now. We can have just one now — just a little hit — just a little feel-good because we are young and strong and smart and we can handle it now... It'll be okay."

Not getting fooled by him is everything in staying clean and sober after you detox.

(Or maybe it's a 'her' in your case. I don't know, do women experience a female lizard brain yammering at them?)

Have a good day, and a good life. And a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

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

Date: Tue, December 13, 2005 14:53
From: Wylie
Subject: Good Day

My name is Wylie and I just wanted express myself towards you and your web-site. This is not hate mail for it is love mail. I am part of A.A. and at first I took offense to your viewpoints and to your perspectives. At first a thought fuck you but then I set aside my feelings and said I love you. Being part of A.A. today has helped into a better way of life in which I can choose to love or to hate. Of course you may not agree with me, but I do not agree with you either. That doesn't matter though. What matters is that although many people have different viewpoints and different ways of living their lives, we need to understand and accept people for who they are and what they do. I know that you probibly do not agree, but I say let A.A. be what it is and let A.A. do what it does. From my experience A.A. has helped many people despite its failures. My question is why does it matter if A.A. is successful or not? Why does it matter if A.A. is wrong and full of lies?

Hi Wylie,

Thanks for the letter.

Why does it matter whether A.A. is successful or not?
Why does it matter if A.A. is wrong and full of lies?
Well because people are dying over this stuff, that's why.

Foisting ineffective quack medicine on sick people is a despicable crime. It causes people to die.

Why does what Agent Orange or Wylie have to say matter? So that others can disagree or agree. I do not judge you based on your viewpoints and the way that you live your life, you are a human being. We may not agree but that does'nt matter what matters is that I do not know you but I love you, I accept that whatever has caused you to have hatred towards A.A. be taken in consideration and that what was expressed here today can be taken seriously or not as long as we can set aside our individual motives and ideas and come together as a whole and help each-other live our lives, that is all A.A. has done for me. It has shown me love, which I did not have and it has shown me a way of living my life through certain guidelines. More power to you if you can just accept me as a person and not by what I say, or what I do, our how I live my life. Thanks I love You.

Wylie, if you really love the addicts and alcoholics then you should get to work trying to get them better treatment, something that actually works, just for a change.

You can start off by going to the Action Alley web page and sending emails to your Congressman (or woman) and two Senators, telling them not to waste any money on 12-Step treatment, because it does not work. That will leave the money available for some better treatment. And that will be doing the alcoholics and addicts a big favor.

Have a good day, and a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

*                  Agent Orange               *
*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Foisting ineffective quack medicine on sick people is not
**     a wonderful noble act of self-sacrifice to help others;
**     it is the reprehensible behavior of a damned fool.

Date: Fri, December 16, 2005 8:57
From: "James B."
Subject: My Theory of AA

Agent Orange

The more distance I get from AA, the more I see how much I was caught in its spell. I have concluded that AA is just a life long route of cognitive dissonance, meaning that if you want to spend your whole life agonisingly trying to fit yourself into a doctrine — then AA is for you. That's what happened to me: kept reassessing my past, my future, my present, into the AA way — and when, inevitably I disagreed with the AA way, I felt guilt, shame, and — quite often — terror. That to me is the most senseless and cruel existence.

Hi again James,

Thanks for the letter. What you just described sounds exactly like this cult test item: 75. New Identity — Redefinition of Self — Revision of Personal History. And the answer for A.A. is here

What has helped me immensely is learning about CBT. I am well versed now in how my emotional problems develop, maintain, and can be eased away. A great tool. And it has also opened me up to the idea of personal beliefs, how sincere and well thought out (mostly) they are within each individual, and how they are essential in viewing the world and others. So, how would AA have it? To destroy all those personal beliefs and replace it, with shaming and guilt force, with Bill Wilson's view of himself and the world. People replace old beliefs with new ones all the time — sadly AA only prescribes "AA approved" beliefs — so the end result is, yes, a reframed mind, a brainwashed individual. Horrible — and I feel for those who are so deep in that they have signed away their complex identities, often forsaking goals, creativity, empathy for others, all through a process of "tough love" and fear.

For those readers not familiar with the term, CBT is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. That is what SMART teaches.

Far fetched? Probably. I am not a psychologist — but I SAW how AA functioned and I believe what I have stated to be true, in reference to what I have learnt with CBT theories.

You don't have to be a professional psychologist to notice that something is cultish.

Some love AA beliefs — and they will be the happy ones. But they should understand that what they are doing to others is essentially psychological torture and personality reshaping. They should be made AWARE of what happens in AA before they choose, or choose not to, approach newcomers.

Yeh, but brother are they ever in denial about it.

Pop psychology rant over!

Three years sober very soon.

Keep on it agent.


Three years! Good, very good. Congratulations! The hardest part is over. It slowly gets easier, and the healing continues.

And there really is healing still continuing. I just had my 5th anniversary, and guess what happened? At 4 years, 11 and a half months, my memory for details started working again. I picked up a book, and my mind immediately said, "Page 153." I realized that when I had to put the book down the previous day, I had made a mental note of the page number where I was at. And I actually remembered it the next day. Then I realized that it had happened a couple of other times in the previous two weeks. And it hit me like a thunderbolt that my memory was working again.

It's been more than 5 years since I've been able to do that. My short-term memory was severely damaged by alcohol. When I quit drinking, my memory was so shot that I couldn't even remember things like having talked to a fellow 12 hours earlier.

And I couldn't remember faces at all. It's called "prosopagnosia". I tried and tried to just close my eyes and picture the faces of Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings, and Dan Rather. (I picked them because they were faces I had been seeing for 20 years.) Impossible. There just wasn't anything there. I would watch the network news in the evening, and when a commercial came on, I would close my eyes and try to picture the face of the news anchor whom I just saw. I couldn't do it. No picture. Nothing.

It got really embarrassing and frustrating when I would talk to a pretty girl and not realize that she was the same person as I had talked to 15 minutes earlier. She had changed her blouse and brushed her hair, and I couldn't recognize her.

It took 9 months before my brain recovered enough that suddenly one day I could clearly visualize Rather, Jennings, and Brokaw. Oh do I remember that day. Happy day.

After that, the improvements have been coming slowly. The fog dissipates and things get clearer very slowly.

It's been a long road back, but the improvement is still continuing. Thank goodness.

Okay, that's my psychology rant for the day.

Have a good day and a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

*                  Agent Orange               *
*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     And the believers said, "If you want what we
**     have, and are willing to go to any length to
**     get it, then, here, drink this koolaid."

Date: Fri, December 16, 2005 12:06
From: "adam f."
Subject: RE: your site

Christmas is a religious holiday, don't you know? I find it odd you would wish anyone a merry one.

What, are you pulling Bill Wilson's stunt and declaring that everyone who rejects his crazy cult religion is either an agnostic or an atheist? For your information, I am neither. I just don't like cults that hurt people. So I have no problem with wishing people a merry Christmas.

Anyway, I think you've outsmarted yourself on this one. Your mind is full of logic, yet you are full of hate and anger. If you are ok with living that way, who am I to judge. My problem lies with the fact that the AA you detail on your site is simply not the AA I know.

So you enjoy your meetings. That doesn't mean that they help other people. You should read the other letters that come into this web site. There are a zillion horror stories from people who don't find A.A. or N.A. meetings to be nice or helpful. Your favorite meeting might be a pleasant little social club, but other people have found A.A. meetings to be hell on earth. And that is part of the real A.A. experience too.

So my last question for you is: let's assume for a moment you are right, AA and all 12-step programs are a fallacy and do more harm than good. What is your solution then? I see none on your site. Doesn't that put you right on par with them, selling negativity with no solution?

You see none? You haven't looked very hard. I've been saying it, and we've been talking about it, over and over again. Look here:

  1. suggestion 1: just don't drink
  2. get over drugs and alcohol
  3. Cost-Benefit Analysis
  4. Lizard Brain Addiction Monster
  5. one woman finds WFS very helpful
  6. not powerless
  7. what is the answer
  8. more suggestions
  9. quit now and save a brain cell
  10. my 'Four-Step program'
  11. the one-step program
  12. better than A.A.
  13. what's helpful
  14. do it yourself
  15. more suggestions, groups
  16. alternatives
  17. do it yourself — the most successful program
  18. do it yourself some more
  19. more of what works
  20. the phases of quitting

== and that still isn't nearly all of them.

UPDATE: There is now an entire separate file of "what works", here:

Oh by the way, to accuse someone of "selling negativity with no solution" is just the standard A.A. propaganda and debating stunt of saying, "You can't criticise our phony voodoo medicine unless you have a perfect cure of your own to offer as an alternative." That is wrong, and bad logic. That is like saying that I can't criticize quack cures for cancer unless I have a perfect cure for cancer of my own to offer. Nonsense. Of course I can and should criticize quack medicine.

Happy holidays to you, sir.

Yes, you have a Merry Christmas too.

== Orange

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

Date: Fri, December 16, 2005 12:24
From: "epalfreyman"
Subject: You're the man! (or woman)

Hi Orange

You're website was certainly instrumental in my leaving AA and thank goodness for that! I now have lots of free evenings to live my life to the full! Also, I am using Cognitive Behaviour Therapy as a more cerebral and effective alternative to the guilt and fear-inducing, thought-stopping, platitudes of the program. Your letters page is great for a good old laugh and to help with my de-programming.

Thank you!


ps 4 years today! Hooray

Hi Emma,

Wow. I don't know what to say, besides congratulations on your 4 years, and congratulations on your getting free. Oh, and thanks for all of the compliments.

I never thought that the web site would have that kind of effect on people. That's a little frightening. Now I might have to be more careful with what I'm doing, maybe...

Oh well, have a good day and a merry Christmas, and congratulations again. Have a good life.

== Orange

*                  Agent Orange               *
*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     The A.A. Plan: "Search out another alcoholic and
**     try again. You are sure to find someone desperate
**     enough to accept with eagerness what you offer."
**     (The Big Book, page 96.)

Date: Fri, December 16, 2005 14:29
From: "Tara"
Subject: Suggestion

I came across your site, and I'm really impressed. I have a suggestion though — maybe you could put in a google "search this site" box. There's so much information to wade through.

Hi Tara,

Thanks for the letter and the compliments.

I'm still looking into a search engine. I want one, but it's tricky. It is actually a double problem: First a search engine to index and search web pages, and secondly, pointing to labels. That is, so many of the pages are so large that just pointing at the web page would still leave people lost. I need to have a named anchor for every paragraph or two. I might have to write a computer program to create them and insert them into the pages, and then I need a specialized search engine that would point people to the most recent named anchor before a specific thing.

I had an unpleasant experience with AA. A year ago, I nearly committed suicide while I was in the program. I had relapsed, and there were things running through my head like "I have a disease, it's never going to be cured, I have to live like this forever, there's no other way..." well, you get the idea. I felt powerless, and AA only reinforced that. I felt like a victim of unjust circumstances, and I didn't want to be alive anymore, since being an alcoholic was too hard.

Of course, the truth was that I was an immature little brat who liked to get wasted and play on the internet while sponging off my parents, and perhaps get into my car and cruise around (that's what got me into AA).

After I got out of the hospital, I realized that something was VERY wrong, and I began the process of AA deprogramming. I realized that while all of my friends were graduating from college, I was barely a sophomore and my grades were terrible, mostly because I was too hungover to go to class or I'd rather drink than do reading.

This was my fault, of course. It seems so simple now.

The way that I recovered is I up and moved to Hawaii to go to school. I needed a change, and I needed to not be financially dependent on my parents, so if I missed class or got bad grades, it was my own money and time I was wasting. Perhaps this move would be drastic for some, but that's the beauty of it: it's what worked for me, even if it wouldn't work for a single other human being. The idea of a canned prescription for ending an addiction is ridiculous because we are all so individualized.

Like I was saying at first (sorry I got off topic), a search tool would be awesome. I was trying to find stuff on AA and suicide.

Thanks for listening!

Oh, you are quite welcome, Tara. Thanks again for the letter, and the story. And congratulations on your victory, and saving your own life.

Your story reminds me of myself in a few ways. In the last year of my drinking and smoking career, I too despaired of ever recovering:

"Why quit smoking and drinking when you know that you are just going to relapse again? You always backslid before, so you know that you will again. What's the point in trying? It's over. It's hopeless. Might as well just stay stoned until you die. Kill your pain as best you can until the bitter end comes."

And yet, somehow, one day I just snapped out of it. It had a lot to do with a doctor telling me to quit drinking or I would die, but I still just snapped out of it one day.

That's why I, like you, think that the whole A.A. "powerless over alcohol" thing kills a lot more alcoholics than it ever helps.

Oh well, have a good day anyway, and have a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

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

Date: Fri, December 16, 2005 15:16
From: "Chris B."
Subject: question

I've been reading through your orange papers website, and I find it all very interesting. I am an alcoholic and just recently started attending AA meetings, and have been having skepticism about the program and it's startling resemblence to a cult. I was just wondering about a few questions:

  • a) Are you yourself an alcoholic, and have you ever gone to AA meetings or attempted the AA program?
  • b) What was your motivation for compiling the 'orange papers'?
  • c) Do you ever get criticized or lambasted, by AA's or non AA's, for creating the site?


Hi Chris,

Thanks for the letter.

And the answers are:

  1. An alcoholic? Oh yes. I drank too much for 18 or 20 years. Been to A.A. meetings? Oh yes. Too many. Read the introduction.

  2. Motivation? I just wanted to get the truth out. When I went through "treatment", I was shocked to find that it was a total fraud where cult religion was being sold as "treatment" for a deadly illness.

  3. Have I ever been criticized or lambasted? Oh yes, a zillion times. I get lots of hate mail, which convinces me of how right I am in saying that A.A. is a cult. Read the files of letters. Some of the more "spiritual" 12-Steppers have even recommended that I relapse by doing things like swallowing a fistful of downers and washing them down with a 40-ouncer.

Oh well, have a good day anyway, and a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

*                  Agent Orange               *
*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     And the Steppers said, "If you want what we
**     have, and are willing to go to any length to
**     get it, then, here, drink this koolaid."

A bunch of email that should have arrived during the period from the evening of December 16 to the evening of December 21 was lost due to a mailbox overflow. If you sent a letter during that time, and it doesn't show up here, please send it again. Thanks.

Date: Sun, December 18, 2005 17:31
From: "terry w."
Subject: strange web site

Wow! You certainly do bring something to the party.

"Ain't we a strange combination of dealers
Hillbillies, hookers and nuns
Old cattle rustlers, city street hustlers
And all of us dead on the run

We're too old for savin'
We're seekin' a haven
And all of us dead on the run"

Shel Silverstein, 1980 something

:Don't argue with the once born.

Terry W.

Hi Terry,

Thanks for the letter. That is amusing. I had not thought of Shel Silverstein in years. I'm kind of surprised that he never became a more popular song-writer than he was. He sure had a way with words.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*                  Agent Orange               *
*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "You go to war with the jokes you have, not the jokes
**     you might want or wish to have at a later time."
**      == Our Secretary of Offense, Ronald McDumsfeld

Date: Sat, November 19, 2005
From: "Rex A."
Subject: The Lizard Brain Addiction Monster

Hi A.,

I hang out on a Yahoogroup, "LifeRing Secular Recovery" ==>
A member posted a link to your interesting essay "The Lizard Brain Addiction Monster" which I enjoyed reading. The LSR philosophy — to the extent that there is much philosophy — is eclectic, minimalist, humanistic, and secular. However, several of us are REBT-CBT junkies, so much of your essay resonated with me, especially your compendium of distorted thoughts we addicts use to rationalize drinking and using. It must have been a lot of work compiling and organizing those examples of self-talk so methodically. I am downloading a copy as a "keeper." Thanks!

There were two issues you didn't deal with very directly, and I would be curious as to your take on them. BTW, I have no particular answers of my own. It's an ongoing "meditation."

(1) Using your "base brain" model, why can large numbers of people (most people?) use (some types of) drugs "recreationally," while others use them destructively, and only a minority (10-20%) use them addictively?

(2) What is it with recovering drunks whose cravings have pronounced longevity and who chronically lapse and relapse and never "get it" or go through years of misery before they "get it"? Is it — as you seem to suggest — just a "cognitive" problem of being ignorant of "self talk" and how to deal with it? However, keep in mind that most drunks never encounter the concept of AVERT, REBT or any other primarily cognitive approaches to recovery. But from that population of "cognitive virgins," some are still going to "get it", struggle for awhile and choose permanent abstinence. Others are going to drag the process out for a long, painful time.

Any thoughts?

Thanks again for a good read.


Hi Rex,

Thanks for the compliments, and thanks for some great questions. I have a bunch of thoughts on them. Pardon me for taking so long to answer, but I had to really think these questions over for a while.

  1. You asked,
    Using your "base brain" model, why can large numbers of people (most people?) use (some types of) drugs "recreationally," while others use them destructively, and only a minority (10-20%) use them addictively?

    I suspect that it is both nature and nurture — that is, it is genetic, and psychological and physical damage to the brain also plays a major role.

    • The genetic factor is a wild card. It is a truism that in alcoholics' families, one or a few of the children turn into raging alcoholics just like one of their parents, and the other children don't. (I was the one in my family who followed in my father's footsteps, in spite of having seen what it did to him, and swearing that it wouldn't get me like it got him, and in spite of having spent my youth doing every drug except alcohol.)

      The level of detail in the genetic code never ceases to amaze me. When I was a child, I had a dental problem with my upper left fang where the baby tooth didn't come out and allow the adult tooth to descend and move into its proper position. And lo and behold, my son had exactly the same problem, with the upper left fang, and only with that one tooth. Who would have imagined that the genetic code is so specific and so detailed that it contains tooth-by-tooth descriptions of how the teeth will come in?

      Then, for the last five years, I have been feeding the Canada Geese down at the river. I noticed that some of the gozlings are quite brave and will take bread right out of your fingers. But others just won't do it. They just won't get that close to you, even when they are really hungry. In a clutch of four eggs, often two come out brave and two are conservative and cautious. It's quite a show to watch the changes the timid ones go through. I hold out a piece of bread and one of the little guys wants it. His head bobs up and down as he thinks about it, and he sort of takes a step towards me, and he's really debating being that daring, but he just can't quite do it. Then one of his braver siblings rushes in and grabs the bread. Then you can read his little mind as he thinks, "Gosh, shucks! I missed out! But next time, I'll be brave and I'll rush in there and get it." So I hold out another piece, and suddenly he goes back to being timid and really wanting it, and humming and hawing and thinking about it, but he just can't quite do it. So one of the braver siblings rushes in and grabs it. Finally, the parents take pity on their more cautious offspring, and take the bread out of my hands and drop it in front of the timid gozlings so that they get to eat too.

      Now we are talking about very young gozlings here, only days or a few weeks out of the egg shell. But they already have distinct personalities. They were obviously born that way. It's in the genetic code.

      It strikes me that mother nature doesn't like to put all of her eggs in one basket. (Pun intended.) Mother nature is hedging her bets. In a situation where it's "get it while you can, and devil take the hindmost", the brave, perhaps reckless, youngsters will get to eat, and the cautious, slow ones may starve. But where the situation is a trap, the reckless ones may become lunch for a clever predator, while the cautious ones will survive. Either way, some of them will live to continue the species.

      I believe that the variation that you see between children in one family, where some become alcoholics and some don't, works on a similar principle.

    • Where physical damage to the brain plays a major role in alcoholism, the damage is caused by abuse during childhood. Follow that link to an article that described some research that I think is critically important in understanding addiction:

      Researchers found that childhood sexual abuse and stress caused permanent changes in a part of the brain called the cerebellar vermis:
      "Damage to this area of the brain may cause an individual to be particularly irritable, and to seek external means, such as drugs or alcohol, to quell this irritability," Anderson said in a statement.

      They did not research other kinds of abuse, like physical abuse and terrorism by an abusive parent, but I believe that the effect is going to be the same.

    • And then there is psychology. Different people have different mind-sets. Some people are so unhappy that they really are self-destructive.

    • Undoubtedly, many alcoholics and drug addicts suffer from mental illnesses or physical illnesses that they are trying to fix by self-medicating. I think that Bill Wilson falls into this category — he was insane before he ever took his first drink. He was narcissistic, neurotically insecure, and bitterly unhappy since childhood. When he first felt the effects of alcohol, at the age of 21, it was love at first sight. Here was something that could make him feel good like he had been unable to do since childhood.

    • And then there is something else very important going on. Different drugs affect different people in different ways. What is a safe drug for one person may be a fatally dangerous drug for another person.

      The whole government policy of labeling some drugs "dangerous drugs" and others as "safe drugs" is wrong. Really wrong — pig-headedly stupid wrong. Different drugs hit different people in different ways.

      I am a prime example of that. As a sort of scientific experiment, I just had to try all of the drugs in the world, just to see what they were like. I almost succeeded; I almost got every last one of them. I only failed to get ibogaine from Africa and ayahuasca from South America. I skipped PCP simply because friends told me about it and it didn't sound like a horse tranquilizer was worth the bother. I missed STP, and didn't get enough DMT to get off on it. But otherwise I got them all, and gave them all a good test.

      I have shot heroin and cocaine. In fact, the first time I ever had cocaine I was shooting pure cocaine straight from South America. Wow! What a rush!

      Now every drug in the world had a shot at me. They all had their chance to get me.

      What did I end up addicted to?

      Tobacco and alcohol. The "old people's drugs", as Gracie Slick called them.

      Why them? Who knows?... other than that I am obviously carrying the gene for alcoholism that I got from my father.

      You would think that heroin and cocaine would be more addicting than alcohol, wouldn't you? Not to me they aren't.

      You know, it's funny how I can look at cocaine and say, "It's just a buzz. You know, a fantastic, really intense buzz, but it's still just a buzz. And heroin is just a warm rush, and then you vomit, and then you itch all over. Not worth much in the big scheme of things, really."

      I actually decided not to be a junky while rushing on heroin. I had just shot it, and was considering devoting my whole life to being a junkie. (That is how insidious the stuff is — half a dozen times of shooting it, and you are thinking about devoting your life to it.) The answer I got from within was, "No, it isn't as good a high as LSD, and it's too expensive, and the people who have been doing it for a while are too weird." So I just walked away from it, and haven't done it in 30 years.

      But I can't be so detached about alcohol. It too is just a buzz, just a warm buzz, but once I get started, I want to make it my lifestyle. I guess you could say that I never got married to heroin, but I married alcohol.

      Now how can it be that my vulnerability to various drugs is so vastly different? I think it's just that different drugs hit different people in different ways. We have our own peculiar biochemistries and psychological makeups.

      I have an ex-junkie friend who is okay with a beer now and then, but he says that he just can't touch opiates at all, not even the legal, legitimate pain pills that his doctor gives him, because just a taste of opiates awakens the dragon, and the next thing you know, he's in trouble and out looking for the dealer.

      I am exactly the opposite. I would literally be better off smoking opium or shooting heroin than having a few drinks of alcohol. I would be able to shrug off and forget about the opiates, and go do something else the next day. That isn't how it works with alcohol.

    • And then there is the random factor. I remember a program on National Public Radio talking about pathologically violent people. The visiting expert was saying that we can explain half of the cases of such extreme insane violence — it was caused by childhood abuse, genetics, and such things. But the other half of the cases are inexplicable. The expert said that maybe the vicious criminal caught a virus when he was a baby, and it made his brain grow slightly differently, or maybe his mother dropped him on his head, or something. But we just don't know what caused it. Half of the cases were simply inexplicable.

      I suspect that something similar may be going on in the children of alcoholics — and in the children of non-alcoholics, when all but one of the kids is okay with alcohol, and one is killed by it.

  2. Next question:
    What is it with recovering drunks whose cravings have pronounced longevity and who chronically lapse and relapse and never "get it" or go through years of misery before they "get it"? Is it — as you seem to suggest — just a "cognitive" problem of being ignorant of "self talk" and how to deal with it? However, keep in mind that most drunks never encounter the concept of AVERT, REBT or any other primarily cognitive approaches to recovery. But from that population of "cognitive virgins," some are still going to "get it", struggle for awhile and choose permanent abstinence. Others are going to drag the process out for a long, painful time.

    I think that there is a lot going on there. I get the hint of a feeling that you think they don't know what is going on. Bill Wilson wrote some stupid things about alcoholics needing to "be rigorously honest" and not "have resentments" which were actually half true. I think that some alcoholics know full well what is going on, and they have some suppressed anger and rage at not being able to have it all — at not being able to get high and feel good as much as they wish. So they decide that they are just going to go ahead and do it anyway, consequences be damned. They may or may not be honest with themselves about what is going on. I know that some of the hard-core alcoholics have an attitude like, "The doctor says that it will kill me, but he won't say when." And then they laugh and have another drink and another hit of dope. Some of them have consciously chosen to drink themselves to death, and they do.

    Alcoholics in A.A. are not totally ignorant of the principles of cognitive approaches; they just use different language. I was explaining the lizard brain idea to one A.A. member and he immediately started describing "the weasle" which the guys in his group said they had in the backs of their heads. And that slimy little weasle would lie to them and tell them that it was okay to have a drink. One guy talked about how he was going to grab that damn weasle and nail it to the wall.

    I find the idea of the lizard brain addiction monster to be very helpful in avoiding relapses. That is, I have consciously decided that I really don't want to smoke or drink any more because it causes me too much pain. But that little monster comes along and insists that just a little fun will really be okay. Understanding what is going on, and understanding how totally wrong his goofy logic is, helps me a lot. I ain't gonna get fooled again.

    But that technique is of no use to someone who does not want to quit drinking (or smoking, or doping, or whatever). Actually wanting to quit and change your life is a whole different issue. Someone who is determined to stay stoned all of the time will say, "So ol' lizard brain says that I should have another drink and another hit of dope? Well he's right!"

    Deciding to quit your addiction is a matter of deciding that it isn't any fun any more, and that the pain outweighs the gain. Some people never get there. They may die before they want to quit.

    Other people despair of ever being able to quit, and don't think it is worth trying. "I always relapsed and back-slid before; why should I try again? It'll just be the same."

    They decide to just stay stoned and kill the pain until the bitter end. (That's how I nearly died.) Again, understanding the lizard brain is of no help in that situation. What is required is deciding to live, and deciding to succeed in quitting, no matter what.

    (And I don't know how to teach that. What is the magic that suddenly makes someone decide to live?)

Have a good day and a Merry Christmas.

== Orange

*                  Agent Orange               *
*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     And the believers spake unto me, and saeth, "If you
**     want what we have, and are willing to go to any
**     length to get it, then, here, drink this koolaid."

From: "Steve M."
Subject: Cults
Date: Tue, December 20, 2005 10:35

Its an Interesting document, and I am sure that there are many truths to your opinion!

However you have some basic facts wrong in your document, concerning the SGI, and the Gohonzon.

The SGI Is no longer a part of Nichirin Shosho. The laity were excommunicated in 1991, by the priests, who are showing cultish tendencies. In fact The SGI headed by Daisaku Ikeda now have some 15 million members worldwide and are a respected and peaceful organization.

They can not be described by any of the 100 tests of a cult in your document.

The UK organisation was subject of a thorough investigating by a team of Independent researchers, headed by Oxford university, And the SGI opened its doors and filing cabinets to allow full and complete access, to over 5000 members, a large sample of whom were interviewed.

The results are published and make fascinating reading.

I suggest you find a copy, as it is truly independent, before you assert that the SGI is a cult.

Although we are no longer associated with the Priesthood, who undoubtedly had become corrupt,

They are not worshipping the Gohonzon as an object, but showing respect to the text inscribed on it.

The Gohonzon is worthy of such respect as it contains a path to enlightenment.

In essence it is a mirror to your life showing you how to follow the correct path to happiness.

Although many members individuals chant for material gain, it is a path to enlightenment never the less.

We know material things will not bring happiness, but if people are sincerely chanting for these things, they still have a long way to go .

Sometimes you have to take the wrong path to learn the right one. Humans often learn better from their mistakes.

If you want to remove any association from Nichirin Shoshu and the SGI, I would be a lot happier, and you will not be telling a lie

A happy follower, but not a slave
Steve M.

Hello Steve,

A cult does not stop being a cult just because they have a civil war and split the organization in two. I know all about the squabbles and the denunciation of the priests and the destruction of the Budokan in Tokyo.

When I was giving it a try, back in 1971, Nichirin Shoshu and Soka Gakai were one and the same. I am reporting what I actually saw and experienced first-hand, not a lie. "Nichirin Shoshu" was the name on the front of the church that I went to. It was just outside of Denver, in a suburb. I'm a little hazy on the exact location; maybe it was in or near Golden or Aurora.

So now you are using the name "Soka Gakai", and not "Nichirin Shoshu"?

You claim that the organization is no longer cultish, but you just admitted that some people still chant for material gain. By what crazy stretch of the imagination could anybody think that chanting to a printed scroll will get them money or sex or any other material gain? That is just a stupid superstitious occult practice.

And no, what I saw was not people chanting to the text inscribed in it. In fact, I could never get a translation of the scroll, so nobody was chanting to the meaning of the scroll. There were no translations of anything available. You were just supposed to chant all of that stuff for hours and hours without knowing what it meant.

When I was in it, I asked about, where was the Buddhism, and the teachings about enlightenment? Buddha's Eight-fold Path, and all of that? The group leader said that I could chant for anything, "even enlightenment", if that was what I wanted, but he obviously regarded me as crazy for wanting enlightenment when I could chant for money or a new car....

There was simply no teaching of Buddhism, none whatsoever. They called it Buddhism but it had nothing to do with Buddha or his teachings. I never once heard any talk about Buddha or his wisdom. It was all about chanting "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo" day and night.

What about the rest of what I reported?

What about, "At every church get-together, people stand up and give testimonials about all of the wonderful things they have gotten by chanting to a Gohonzon, and then they talk about what they are going to chant for next: a better job, more money, a new car, a house, or whatever."

And what about, "They also believe that they can achieve world peace if one third of the people on Earth chant their chant."

What about the Jumping Gohonzons, that allegedly jumped down off of the wall of a burning monastery, and hopped out of there to keep from burning up?

What's the current story about all of that stuff?

I could go on and on, talking about the neurotic followers I encountered there, and the number two guy in the church, who talked about how he had previously practiced black magic, summoning up demons at crossroads at midnight with candles in a pentagram, until he summoned up something that scared him, so he quit that and joined Nichiren Shoshu. And he declared that the Pope of the Catholic Church was like the ugliest guy in the world, so full of hate that his features were distorted.

It was quite an education.

I really don't have the time to search for a copy of that report in England. Perhaps you can find a copy and send it to me?

Have a good day.

== Orange

*                  Agent Orange               *
*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     It may be difficult to determine where religious
**     beliefs end and mental illness begins. — Elaine Cassel

Another letter on the subject of Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism is here.

Date: Wed, December 21, 2005 7:06
From: "John McC."

Dear Agent O.

I have told so many A.A. members that if they can stand the truth to go to your site and show me where its wrong.

NONE have.

Also I emailed G.A.O. in New York just to see if Bill W got any money from the Big Book and sure as shit, he got lots. As a matter of fact, even though he's dead, his estate got something like 135K last year and will recieve royalties for 3 or 4 more...

Is that all? Interesting. Actually, I think that the number they gave you was just for the Big Book. His estate also gets money from all of the other things that he wrote, including:

  1. Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions,
  2. Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age,
  3. As Bill Sees It,
  4. and probably dribs and drabs for Bill's pieces out of the Grapevine that are being republished in things like books of daily meditations.

The last number I had heard was that Bill's wife Lois was getting over $900,000 per year at the time of her death. That whole estate went on to Lois Wilson's heirs, because Bill had left his estate to his wife Lois and his mistress Helen Wynn, (90% for Lois, 10% for Helen) and little or nothing to his own relatives.

Have you heard of Ibogaine?
if not do a quick search.

Oh yeh. Ibogaine is one of the very few psychedelics that I was never able to get and test. (Mind you, I'm not looking for it now. I'm saving my remaining brain cells for marriage.)

and I am not a health food nut, Maybe a little nutty.

Once I get my pay pal issue resolved I will make a donation because the truth is worth a lot!!

Regards John

Okay, thank you.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*                  Agent Orange               *
*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "There were alcoholics in the hospitals of whom A.A. could
**     touch and help only about five percent. The doctors started
**     giving them a dose of LSD, so that the resistance would be
**     broken down. And they had about fifteen percent recoveries."
**       ===  Nell Wing — PASS IT ON, page 370.
**       (Nell Wing was an early secretary of A.A..)
**       Apparently, for treating alcoholics, LSD works three times
**       better than cult religion.

*Date: * Wed, December 21, 2005 10:51
*Subject: * AA
*From: * GERALD P.

Hi: I have been an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous for 3 years and must confess your seething critique of my program on the internet has, quite frankly, almost sent me back drinking. The picture of AA you painted, makes me feel that if I continue this program I will more than likely die premarurely.This is not sarcasm because as an Alcoholic, with a possible fatal disease, any program I choose is a matter of life and death.This email is not intended to contest your findings, but I have surrendered to this program and now am wondering whether or not I am really in a cult. My main purpose is to stay clean and sober and attempt to enjoy the short remaining years of my life ( I am 59 years old). I really don't care if it is AA or any other "proven" workable program out there — whatever it takes I will investigate and act accordingly . I live in Barrie Ontario Canada. Please return your comments as I am confused and need help!!

Gerry P.

Hello Gerry,

Thanks for the letter.

  • First off, there is no reason for you to go back to drinking. Life is not a matter of "Either I will join a cult religion or else I will drink myself to death." You can live a happy and sane life without either alcohol or cult religion.

  • Secondly, A.A. is not "your program". It is their program, something that they are shoving on you. If you surrendered control of your life to them and their program, then take control back.

  • Third, you don't have "a possible fatal disease". Alcoholism is not a disease. It is a bad habit of drinking too much alcohol. You can stop it just like you can stop other bad habits and compulsive behaviors. You don't need to go to meetings for the rest of your life to stop biting your nails or stop eating fatty cholestrol-loaded foods. It may not be easy to stop such habitual behavior, but actually, since you have already done it, you know that you can do it. In fact, you don't need to stop drinking, because you already have stopped drinking.

  • And you don't really need "a program". You just change your habits and then go do something else with your life. If you really must go to meetings, try SMART or SOS.

  • And if you want some more company or companionship, try the online chat groups like SMART and LifeRing.

  • Also look at the beginning of the links page for more sobriety groups, organizations, and aids.

  • You might also want to check out this list of discussions of what works, here.

  • Coincidentally, I am also 59, and I also intend to enjoy my remaining years. Being sick from alcohol and tobacco is definitely not part of the plan.

Have a good day, and a good life.

== Orange

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

Date: Thu, December 22, 2005 10:38
From: "R.T.B."
Subject: some stuff you might be interested in

I came across this in the 12 step coercion watch group, it's a study just done by the veterans affair group.


The article didn't provide any numbers so I went looking for the actual study and I found a more complete synopsis with actual data here.


i put a message up on the group with the above link. This is what I wrote:

A lot of questions come up about this study like this quote that comes up towards the end of the paper:

'One limitation of the study, said the authors, is that people who join and participate faithfully in AA may be a more motivated group of individuals to begin with, and it could be this trait and not AA, per se, that is responsible for their better outcomes. The authors wrote that nonetheless, they "believe the findings reflect the real-world effectiveness of participation in AA."'

Why would they put such a statement in? You don't know who is or who isn't motivated, nor could you ever really know. The statement just seems so out of left field.

According to the study, 57% of the participants who attended AA alone "stayed sober" as opposed to 50% who "stayed sober" only recieving "treatment" alone.

That's only a 7% spread. That's not a big endorsment of AA in and of itself. And what was the "treatment" anyway?

And then there is this statement:

"people who entered AA soon after they first sought professional help were more likely to stay involved with AA than those who delayed joining the group until after their first year of treatment. Those who stayed more involved had a better chance of being free of alcohol problems at 1-, 3-, 8- and 16-year follow-ups than those who attended fewer meetings or were involved for less time."

You can assume from the first sentence of the paragraph that people may have dropped out of AA. Did they stay in the study? Did they decide to just recieve the "treatment" that was provided by the study or did they just drop out? If they did just "drop out", never to be seen again (I'm just assuming this of coarse), how do they know whether or not those individuals stayed sober? What exactly do they mean by "more involved"? Is it 2 meetings per week? 5 meetings per week? 2 meetings per day?

"Overall, 65% of those who initially took part in both treatment and AA were free of alcohol problems at 16 years" (paraphrased)

That would be a pretty good endorsement for AA. Why wasn't this all over the news? I only heard about it from this group. Did anybody out there hear about it from anywhere else? or see it on TV?

Lots of questions.

Hi Rob,

Thanks for the letter. I have a similar take on that article. It is just another piece of propaganda manufactured by the Rudolf Moos and Keith Humphreys team at the Palo Alto Veteran's Administration Center and Stanford University. I keep running into their garbage again and again. Look here and here for more. They run a busy propaganda mill, constantly cranking out those unscientific "studies" that declare that Alcoholics Anonymous works great and saves zillions of alcoholics. I have a large bibliography of their stuff.

I have never seen them do a single scientifically valid study, or a single medically valid study, like a randomized longitudinal controlled study. It's always their bogus, twisted misinterpretations of a few facts — genuine propaganda.

That first quote is a classic. And the line it ends with is pure wishful thinking:

One limitation of the study, said the authors, is that people who join and participate faithfully in AA may be a more motivated group of individuals to begin with, and it could be this trait and not AA, per se, that is responsible for their better outcomes. The authors wrote that nonetheless, they "believe the findings reflect the real-world effectiveness of participation in AA."

In giving us their beliefs about their favorite religious group, the authors of that paper (Rudolf Moos and Bernice Moos) have made their document into a religious apology, not a scientific paper about the treatment of alcoholism. Beliefs are, after all, just beliefs, and they prove nothing (other than that the believers are screwy in the head).

(The Heaven's Gate cult also sincerely believed that their practices were effective for getting into Heaven, too. Heck, they even took their experiment all the way to its logical conclusion, and tried to go to Heaven, and they still didn't prove that their beliefs were true.)

It's sad, really, that the treatment of alcoholism has degenerated into "Well, we believe that it works" and the Veteran's Administration actually funds such bogus cult activities.

  • In true science, you say, "Well, let's see what the truth is. Let's see what kind of a test or experiment we can do to reveal the true facts."
  • In propaganda, you say, "We already know what we want the truth to be. Let's see what we can do to fool other people into believing that it is the truth."

Other problems with that so-called "study" include:

  1. The clients were not randomly chosen — they were self-selected. The people who were strongly motivated to quit drinking and save their own lives did so, regardless of Alcoholics Anonymous or treatment.

  2. As you noticed, the follow-up was bogus and uneven. The people who stayed in the A.A.-based program submitted more information about themselves over the years, and those who moved on and couldn't be found did not. Moos cannot just assume that all of the wanderers who left A.A. stayed drunk. Nevertheless, Moos wrote:

    Those who beat their addiction but dropped out from AA were more likely to resume drinking than those who stayed involved with the group.

    Oh really? How could he know that? How could he compute that number when he couldn't find the drop-outs who moved on? (And those old veterans do a lot of moving on. I know. I'm an old vet and my friends are all over the map.)

  3. While he was doing his follow-up, Moos apparently did not ask any of the other important questions like, "How many people committed suicide?"
    Did the A.A. group have a much higher suicide rate? Does suicide count as dying sober?

    What about re-arrests, imprisonment, and other legal troubles? Does 10 years in prison count as years of sobriety?

    What about mental health? Were the A.A. "faithful" believers crazier than the other alcoholics?

    Here is my list of questions I would like to see asked, to determine whether A.A. and its 12 Steps improve people's lives.

  4. Moos noticed that spontaneous remission existed, but then tried to ignore it in coming to the conclusion that "A.A." works:

    Irrespective of whether or not individuals obtained help, their alcohol-related functioning, life context, and coping improved. However, individuals who obtained help (AA or treatment) in the first year improved more and were more likely to achieve stable remission than those who did not. Nevertheless, the factors associated with stable remission were comparable for individuals who did and those who did not obtain timely help.

    What a bunch of double-talk. The first sentence admits that spontaneous remission was happening. The second sentence says that the A.A. group improved more. The third sentence declares that those who recovered and those who did not recover were equivalent groups — that "the factors associated with stable remission were comparable". That is obviously untrue. Some people wanted to quit drinking enough to really do it, and the rest didn't. Motivation is the single most important "factor" in determining whether someone will quit drinking and stay quit. That factor wasn't equal in all three groups (A.A. only, treatment only, or A.A. plus treatment) because the groups were self-selected. The patients themselves decided how much involvement with the program they wanted.

    The obvious truth is that those who most intensely desired to quit drinking did so, and also "worked a strong program" and participated in A.A. a lot, because somebody lied to them and told them that they had to go to A.A. meetings all of the time or else they would relapse.

  5. Likewise, Moos glossed over spontaneous remission in this sentence:

    Overall, 65% of those who initially took part in both treatment and AA were free of alcohol problems at 16 years, compared to 57% of those who took part only in AA, and 50% of those who received treatment alone.

    Where's the control group? Where is the information on the people who got no treatment?

    Look at the table of numbers for a spontaneous remission rate of 5% per year, here. (And look at the reasons to peg the spontaneous remission rate at 5% per year here and here.) Those numbers reveal that, at the 16-year point, 56% of the alcoholics will have quit anyway, without any "treatment" or A.A. meetings or anything else. They just quit because they are sick and tired of being sick and tired. And they quit alone, on their own.

    The difference between the 57% A.A. success rate and the 56% spontaneous remission rate is microscopic and meaningless, and may be nothing more than round-off error. So A.A. alone seems to be equal to doing nothing.

    Still, just for the sake of argument, we can tentatively accept Moos's claim that, after 16 years, A.A. got a one percent success rate above normal spontaneous remission. That sure isn't much to brag about.

    Worse yet, the "treatment program" seems to have actually reduced the success rate way below what we would expect from spontaneous remission alone — down from 56% to 50%. The treatment programs were so bad that they made people fail, and kept people from getting sober. Treatment scores a negative 6% — way below zero.

  6. Then, by some bizarre mathematics, Moos found that combining A.A. and treatment improved the success rate way above the normal rate of spontaneous remission, up to 65%, eight points above spontaneous remission. That's like 1% (A.A.) added to a minus 6% (treatment) equals a positive 8% (Moos's new combined success rate). Strange, very strange.
    1 + (-6) = 8
    Welcome to the wonderful world of new mathematics.

  7. As you pointed out, the difference between 57% and 65% is small, and can be explained entirely in terms of the most motivated patients decided to both quit drinking and "work the program", just in case the program might be helpful. Again, they were a self-selected group, and were the most highly-motived people.

    Besides which, that 65% number may be totally wrong, or just a fabrication. If Moos did not include all of the people who started the programs in calculating the final results (which is nearly impossible, because of the drop-outs and disappearances), then Moos was just cherry-picking those people who stayed around and stayed in the program, and using only them to calculate a grossly inflated success rate.
    Again, [ 1 + (-6) = +8 ] is very suspicious.

  8. Then Moos quietly makes the false assumption that Alcoholics Anonymous somehow made the winners quit drinking. There is simply no evidence to support that conclusion. None whatsoever. The A.A. score was equal to the rate of spontaneous remission, which makes the effective A.A. success rate zero. A.A. did not increase the rate of sobriety at all. It was a complete and total failure. Nevertheless, not one to allow his faith to be shaken by mere facts, Moos enthusiastically declared:

    "The findings suggest that counselors in information and referral centers, as well as clinicians in substance-abuse treatment settings, should make every reasonable effort to enable people with alcohol-related problems to enter and continue to take part in self-help groups such as AA," said Moos.

    According to Moos, a big part of the challenge in treating alcohol addiction is keeping patients in 12-step self-help programs such as AA.

    No wonder treatment is a failure.

  9. And then Moos's headline used the propaganda technique of "Sly Suggestions":
    Treatment plus Alcoholics Anonymous may work best for those with drinking problems

    Yeh, and then again, it may be totally useless and a waste of time and money. It may even increase the rate of binge drinking, and raise the death rate.

I don't know how Stanford University and the Veteran's Administration can allow Moos and Humphreys to continue using their facilities to foist this hoax on the public. This sure isn't science or medicine.

Well, actually, I can understand how the V.A. allows it. They have really degenerated. Just yesterday, I was talking to a friend who went to a treatment program at the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care System in Palo Alto, California. He said that they gave him a choice of Bible Study or Alcoholics Anonymous, or get kicked out of the program and tossed out onto the streets. Gee, that's quite a treatment program — fundamentalist Christianity or heretical Buchmanism or homelessness.

Somehow, I'm not sure that is a scientific and medically valid treatment for alcoholism or drug addiction.

And isn't that kind of treatment just what the veterans deserve as their reward for having put their lives on the line for our country?

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*                  Agent Orange               *
*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Foisting ineffective quack medicine on sick people is not
**     a wonderful noble act of self-sacrifice to help others;
**     it is the reprehensible behavior of a damned fool.

UPDATE: 2011.07.11:
The International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction also analyzed the so-called "test" of A.A. versus CBT at the Palo-Alto Veterans' Center, and they found that the Humpheys-Moos study was invalid, erroneous, badly done, and downright deceptive and faked. They concluded that A.A. did more harm than good, and responsible health care professionals should not refer clients to A.A.

Look here: https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters247.html#Clark_M

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