Letters, We Get Mail, LXIII

Date: Fri, August 4, 2006 1:35 am
From: juliette u.
Subject: good job dude

I have just been introduced to your site and I haven't gone through it enough but I can already see a lot of flaws. At this time I will be general, I just have to let you know most of what you are writing is true based on the current membership of Alcoholics Anonymous and ("the fellowship") They are carrying a really weird message (supposedly since the 1970s pop physiology) and with that I agree, all of the people whom are showing up attending meetings claiming to be alcoholics. In order for these people to stay and feel comfortable they do make it a cult and alcoholism becomes something other than what it is. I just want you to know that The Big Book and its steps are written for a very particular drunk. And this particular drunk really has very few options, and the steps really do provoke a spiritual awaking and life is then a much different experience for these once problem drinkers whose only hope is a spiritual awakening, if they do not have a spiritual experience, they can go on to drink and die or commit suicide. reread to employers it's pretty sad but it seems to me you are looking at the big book very narrow minded only because of your encounters with the wacked out fellowship, but that is just the fellowship to let you know in our big book we only use the word disease one time.... it was in 1951 i believe the federal government proclaimed alcoholism a disease.

Hello Juliette,

Thanks for the letter.

About the "disease" declaration — Um no, that is confused. The American Medical Association, which has no connection to the government — it is merely a private fellowship, just like Alcoholics Anonymous is — stated in 1956 that "alcoholism was an illness", but they didn't get around to publishing an article in the JAMA that actually defined the disease of "alcoholism" until 1992. The A.M.A. decision to call alcoholism an illness in 1956 was a political decision, not a medical decision that was based on the results of research. They just got tired of A.A. members nagging them, so they said, "Okay, we will call alcoholism an illness."

Even worse, what the A.M.A. published in 1992 was an article that was actually written by two front groups for Alcoholics Anonymous — "The Joint Committee of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence and the American Society of Addiction Medicine". The A.M.A. did not actually define alcoholism and declare it to be a disease; A.A. did.

The big book never not one time in the 164 pages of how to recover do we ever talk about sponsorship at all that is all "fellowship." Also I am encouraged over and over to think for myself in the big book and I only read breifly about your writings on the 11th step and it's not coming from the book you just wrote out the 11th step made it seem all creepy and freeky but it's not. re read 11th step in big book.

You are right that sponsorship is hardly mentioned in the Big Book. Bill Wilson raved about it in his second book, "Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions". So what? What difference does it make which of the two books promoted the sponsorship system?

About thinking for yourself — actually, Bill Wilson demanded that you stop thinking and just have faith. Bill did say that you should think about how stupid your behavior has been, but then he switched to telling you to stop thinking — that rational thought is an impediment to true faith. It's a bait and switch trick. See this. Also see the web page on religious faith. Bill Wilson even demanded that we abandon 'Reason' and logic.

I don't know why you are so caught up in the Oxford Groups and acting like we are the oxford groups we are totally removed and seperated from that cult and we have always been. But there were some straight ripp off's rocketed into the fourth dimension.

About the Oxford Group — you are ignoring the fact that the theology of Alcoholics Anonymous IS Buchmanism. All that Bill Wilson did to create the 12 Steps and all of the rest of the A.A. practices and beliefs was edit the practices and beliefs of the Oxford Group and occasionally substitute the word "alcohol" for the word "sin". Like, instead of being defeated by sin and powerless over it, alcoholics are defeated by alcohol and they are powerless over it and their lives are unmanageable.

I don't know why you bagg on Bill Wilson so hard he did not write the big book by himself.

He wrote the 12 and 12 which Bob begged him not to do.

Oh really? That is news to me. Please tell me more about Dr. Bob begging Bill Wilson not to write the second A.A. book, "Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions".

any way I wholeheartedly agree with your take on the fellowship LAME! I have thought about it a lot and I have come up with.

  • #1 they are not real alcoholics
  • #2 if they are they want to drink again, not face themselves completely come up with weird shit like turn it over?
  • #3 They do not want to find out the truth because of the responsibility

I have to let you know I am very happy you have put this site up and I hope AA people will visit.

But I agree they are very cult they are afraid and somehow they end up in AA. But I must emphasize that alcoholism is a spiritual illness and it would only make sense that people will come to AA whom are not alcoholics and carry a weird message because in the end the one whom suffers is the real alcoholic.

What the heck is a spiritual disease? How do spirits get sick? Are there spiritual bacteria and spiritual viruses that infect them?
Or evil spirits or something?
How about spiritual cooties that rub off and cause the spiritual disease of "codependency" just by being near an alcoholic?

Oh I also want to say the only objective the people whom wrote the big book wanted were for alcoholics like me to live, be super happy, to be successful to think... God gave us brains to use.. all without having to die from alcoholism.

People whom are not alcholics can't really understand the big book, so they make shit up.

once a drunk now spirtually awake, Thanks to AA


You have a good day too, Juliette.

== Orange

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

Date: Fri, August 4, 2006 10:05 am
From: "Michael S."


Hello Michael,

Check out these three links:

  1. the introduction, my introduction to A.A., and also
  2. the "treatment" bait-and-switch trick, and
  3. another friend goes missing.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   If we persist in writing blank checks to
**   treatment centers without demanding results,
**   then we will continue to get failure
**   disguised as success.

Date: Fri, August 4, 2006 4:22 pm
From: "Elizabeth O."
Subject: Hi and thanks


We exchanged brief emails last year and I continue to be uplifted amused and impressed by your website.

You're doing a great thing.

If you look on the more revealed website, there's a recent story there from Scotland — I can hear his voice,uncannily, as I listened to many similar tales in the rooms. Sounds like he needs a friendly wave.

Hi Elizabeth,

Thanks for the compliments.

Alas, I still haven't found the story from Scotland. Do you have a URL for it?

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** Abstinence isn't self-denial or deprivation.
** It's just that I've already done my lifetime quota.

Date: Fri, August 4, 2006 6:03 pm
From: "Sharen K."
Subject: A Telling Example

Hi Again, Orange!

I've noticed that on your website you tell of Bill Wilson propounding the stereotype that alkies are too amoral. In fact, it has been proven that addiction are far more likely in people whose brain biologies make them more impulsive. Plenty of people have "dual diagnoses" of both bipolar disorder and addiction. I'm very familiar with the impulsivity typical of hyperthymic personalities, and the following, at http://www.cnn.com/2006/LAW/08/04/uncle.speed.ap/index.html, follows the sort of pattern that hyperthymic recklessness tends to take: Driver charged with killing niece

Friday, August 4, 2006; Posted: 12:03 p.m. EDT (16:03 GMT) CONNELLSVILLE, Pennsylvania (AP) — A man who ran over his 2-year-old niece while she was playing in her driveway was charged with homicide by vehicle, speeding and other counts, police said.

Greg Gibbs, 28, pulled into the driveway at a speed greater than necessary Wednesday evening and ran into Megan Shipley, police said.

Authorities said family members repeatedly had told Gibbs to slow down.

Gibbs, who has been living with Megan's family, was arraigned Thursday on homicide by vehicle, careless driving, reckless driving and speeding charges.

He was being held in the Fayette County jail. It was unclear if he had an attorney.

That webpage at http://www.gpnotebook.co.uk/cache/-986382297.htm, defines the Hyperthymic Personality Disorder as, "Individuals with a hyperthymic personality disorders are persistently more happy and optimistic than normal. They have marked enthusiasm for life but on the other hand tend to be rash and show poor judgement." The Merriam Webster's Dictionary defines the word reckless, as, "lacking caution : RASH." Therefore, you could say that the behavior that comes from HPD, is basically reckless. But to many people, the word "reckless" implies an intent to flirt with danger, while those with HPD usually don't intend that. What Greg Gibbs did, could easily be called "reckless driving," yet he obviously wasn't intending to flirt with danger. Instead, he's probably as impulsive as someone who's under the influence of uppers which disinhibit as booze does, so he didn't notice the dangers.

Chances are that if, after this happened, you were to talk about it with him, or with someone who aimed to lessen your resentment anger and other painful emotions, that person would insist that you see that he had no malicious intent. What he did wouldn't look malicious as alcoholics were described in those quotes on your website: "instinct run wild," "perverse soul-sickness," "shameful," "So stupid, so selfish, so self-seeking!", "like a tornado roaring his way through the lives of others," "argumentative," "implacably selfish, and chronically self-centered," etc. Yet what he did was still as impulsively dangerous enough, that he could easily develop a drinking problem heedlessly.

Sure, the dangers of what Greg did might seem obvious to you, and family members repeatedly pointed them out to him, but that doesn't mean that he believed that these dangers really did exist. Also, you could say that everyone is responsible for recognizing when his own behavior is that dangerous. Yet Greg, or the person encouraging the well-adjusted forgiveness, could respond by saying that there really is no objective standard for determining how responsible someone is for not seeing big dangers, so to whatever degree you hold him responsible, that's just your self-interested opinion. And by far most people do have a sense for why they shouldn't be that heedless.


(Ever since I was a teenager, anyone who didn't have a chronically manic personality seemed half dead to me, smirk, smirk.)

Hi again Sharen,

Thanks for the input. What you are describing reminds me of a friend whom I think has a bipolar disorder. When he is in the manic phase, he is so giddy that he will drive around crowded downtown areas as fast as he can, taking corners on two wheels, and when I tell him to stop it, he will laugh and say that he is a good driver and there is no problem. I have had to literally take the keys away from him, and insist on driving, and he thinks I'm just being an old fuddy-duddy who is worrying needlessly.

And yet he means no harm. He literally cannot see the danger. He is just high as a kite on a brain chemical imbalance.

It's a miracle that he has not hit anyone. Fortunately, he screwed up and wrecked his car, so now he walks.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** Make your own recovery the first priority in your life.
**    ==    Robin Norwood

(Thread continues here.)

Date: Fri, August 4, 2006 7:10 pm
From: "Mike B."
Subject: Correction of Info

Hey, Guy,

I just discovered an error in your Akron_success HTML. You quote Wilson on page 17 of the Big Book as saying

"We of ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, know of thousands of men and women who were once just as hopeless as Bill. Nearly all have recovered. They have solved the drink problem."

Your assertion that he wrote this statement in the original manuscript is incorrect. This is one of the several cases where the original text was later edited to update numbers or to reflect change in groupthink. What the original multilith stated on page 8 and the 1st edition hardback on page 27 is this:

"We, of ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, know one hundred men who were once just as hopeless as Bill. All have recovered. They have solved the drink problem."

Just as dishonest, only lesser numbers.

Take care till next time.

Mike B.,
Marion, Ohio

Hi Mike,

Thanks for the correction. I like it when those little glitches get corrected.

Years ago, I downloaded a set of files from the Internet that were supposed to be the first edition of the Big Book, but they turned out to really be first and second edition files mixed together, and I'm still getting my fingers burned on some of the changes in text between the two editions. I really need to get a first edition copy for reference, or at least a pure set of first edition files.

Thanks again for the correction, and have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.
**   He isn't really trying to get Dorothy killed by
**   the Wicked Witch of the West. RARELY have we
**   seen him fail....

Date: Fri, August 4, 2006 11:09 pm
From: moomba38

you mother fucker. go to hell for killing all those poor dying alcohalics. write me back i dare you

Dear Moomba,

You are assuming a lot, like that the A.A. program actually works to make alcoholics quit drinking and save their lives — which it doesn't — and that telling people the truth about A.A. will kill them — which it doesn't.

And this is an answer to your letter.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "Not only had we failed to alter the natural history of alcoholism,
**  but our death rate of three percent a year was appalling."
**  == Dr. George E. Vaillant, currently a member of the A.A. Board of
**  Trustees, describing the treatment of alcoholism with Alcoholics
**  Anonymous, in The Natural History of Alcoholism: Causes, Patterns,
**  and Paths to Recovery, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA,
**  1983, pages 283-286.

Date: Sat, August 5, 2006 2:16 pm
From: "Sharen K."
Subject: It's Weakness That's Shamed

Hi Again, Orange!

What really gets me about AA's and Al-Anon's shaming tactics, is also the way in which they seem to have most shaped self-help psychology, what Susan Faludi described in Backlash. That is, that they're much more likely to be based on shaming weakness, than they are on shaming destructive behavior. One could think if this mentality as "Übermensch = good, untermensch = bad" Yet if you don't think of loving the übermenschen, as basically fascist, the American culture has an idea that's very similar. About a century ago, William James wrote that Americans tend to classify people as either redbloods or mollycoddles. As Schopenhauer would put it, redbloods in all circumstances powerfully impress the human race. Since mollycoddles use their weakness to get coddled, they're ignominiously cunning, even when they sincerely mean everything they say, since if they think that something is bad or evil then that would reflect their own self-wills. What you end up with, both in Germany and in the USA, is that the strong are übermenschen/redbloods so they tend to get the personal rights, and the weak are untermenschen/mollycoddles unless they just shut up and deal with their own problems, so they tend to get the personal responsibilities.

What I think really shows this, is how the fifth chapter of AA's Big Book, which goes into how to do their twelve steps, talks about their moral inventory of character defects, as a confession of the resentment anger and fear that oneself feels, rather than what one has done that caused others to feel pain. Their sample table of mea culpas, is headed, "I'm resentful at," "The cause," and, "Affects my," rather than, "What I did that hurt others," "What it caused," and "Affects their." Narcotics Anonymous even has a pamphlet titled, "The Triangle of Self-Obsession," in which the triangle consists of resentment anger and fear, though I'd think that those who messed around with serious illegal drugs would tend to have plenty of real self-obsessed character defects. If you want to base a psychological approach on shame, you'll be able to create more shame if it's based on weakness, since it's a lot more difficult to stop one's own weaknesses, than it is to stop one's own destructive choices.

Fundament Christians dislike Situation Ethics, which judge the wrongness of an act by its predictable consequences rather than what any holy book says about it. A moral inventory headed, "What I did that hurt others," "What it caused," and "Affects their," would hold to the heretical modernity of Situation Ethics. Yet if anyone assessed by that standard, others' destructive behavior that hurt him, he'd be told that he'd better confess the resentment anger and fear that he feels about what happened to him.

What my website tends to be about, is this sort of conception of personal responsibility. When I was in college, I knew a lot of chronically depressed guys whose depressions no doubt had a lot to do with the fact that they'd been brought up in seriously religious homes. Just after I graduated, I bought a book to help me in my dealings with chronically depressed people, Antidepressant Treatment — the Essentials, by John H. Greist, MD and Thomas H. Greist, MD, which says,

"According to National Institutes of Mental Health figures, 20,000,000 people or approximately 15% of the U.S. adult population suffers from a serious depressive disorder in any given year."

I then became very interested in this whole question as a social problem, since I'd seen up close how serious each individual depression is.

Soon after that I participated in that therapy group for women diagnosed as codependent, in which no one said anything about wanting to caretake, be a martyr, live a melodrama, etc., but instead talked about how each woman could deal with her own problems the most effectively. Since the husbands caused the problems, that was just as morally bankrupt as, "No matter what caused your problems, you'll just have to courageously change what you can and serenely accept what you can't." As I listened to these discussions, I kept getting the impression that the guilt-feelings that I kept hearing from those chronically depressed guys, must have something to do with our cultural conditioning that "personal responsibility" means responsibility for one's own welfare, one's own problems. Sure, those guys' guilt feelings came from religious ideas about moralistic guilt, but it still seemed to me that the only way that feelings of helplessness would evoke feelings of guilt, is if one believes that if you succeed you're a success and if you fail you're a failure. And just after that I read that intercultural studies have consistently found that depressed people who've lived in developed areas outside of the modern West have tended to feel paranoid, but modern Westerners, whether depressed or not, tend to figure that even if someone did "get you," that would mean only that you lost the battle so you're a loser. Westerners familiar with depression tend to associate depression, in general, with sometimes suicidal guilt feelings and self-blame, though actually depressed people outside of the modern West tend not to have these.

Since we have such rampant depression, self-blame is such a big part of it and other helplessness, and the current trend in self-help means the same definition of "personal responsibility" in that if the problem is yours then yourself is the only one who helps, that's the main theme of most of my website. I'm trying to encourage research and study into this as a social problem. You might think that 20,000,000 Americans suffering from a serious depressive disorder in any given year should stand out as a social problem, yet it's routine for ads, guides, etc., about antidepressant treatments to give such statistics as if they're nothing more than reasons why, as each individual gets his antidepressant treatment, he shouldn't feel alone or deviant. If instead, this were treated as a social problem in the same way that many social movements in the 1960s treated social problems, it would seem very strange to talk about millions of Americans suffering from depression, as millions of Americans who'd better get fixed through antidepressant medication, cognitive therapy, etc. Sometimes I think that as some people would see all the attention that I give to this, they'd think that I'm an obsessive nut-job. But then again, if our culture ever saw this social problem in the same way that social movements in the 1960s saw social problems, they might look back to the time that we treated the rampant depression as if the problem is inside of those millions of Americans, and think that those who thought this were nut-jobs.

On http://home.att.net/~s.l.keim/VictCorrSummary317.htm, I have many quotes from ads, guides, etc. on anti-depressant treatment, which give these huge figures for our rampant depression, but then go on to talk about how each sufferer should treat this as a personal problem. Two of my webpages that are particularly relevant to the influence that the zeitgeist of Twelve-Step groups has had on self-help psychology, are on http://home.att.net/~s.l.keim/InAllOur.htm, and http://home.att.net/~s.l.keim/Sermon.htm. The first of these is all about both quotes from Al-Anon's book In All Our Affairs: Making Crises Work for You, and AA slogans which also seem to assume that even if you're in a crisis, you're responsible for making your realities work for you. The second includes that section of chapter 5 of AA's Big Book, which talks about a "moral inventory" of one's "character defects," consisting of a confession of one's hurt feelings. Of course, these all include that Al-Anon comic that you just e-mailed me!


(Ever since I was a teenager, anyone who didn't have a chronically manic personality seemed half dead to me, smirk, smirk.)

Hi again, Sharen,

Thanks for the input. Those are some interesting subjects. More grist for the mill.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   Give the dead their due. After all, they
**   have worked hard to elect a whole host of
**   Congressmen, Senators, and even Presidents.

Date: Sat, August 5, 2006 3:27 pm
From: "Anonymous"
Subject: some observations

Hello Mr. Orange.

Just to qualify: I've been attending various 12 step meetings for about 2 years now. I'm studying psychology and have also been through alot of medical model treatment stuff also.


Lately I feel that I can't just accept ideas that I hear in meetings or read in the literature — I must think critically, logically and rationally. For me, I want to see the evidence before I accept a theory. That makes sense to me. So, for example, when I read

"We read wordy books and indulge in windy arguments, thinking we believe this universe needs no God to explain it. Were our contentions true, it would follow that life originated out of nothing, means nothing, and proceeds nowhere."

I want the evidence. I have studied many philosophies which do not need God to explain the universe and which do not indicate that life means nothing or proceeds nowhere. Infact, especially for the existential philosophies, they indicate quite the opposite.

This is just one example of what I'm talking about. I want to hear sound rational argument underpinned by robust logic and empirical evidence. Because the alternative is to abandon rationalism and to indulge in some sort of self-serving 'whatever works' pragmatism. Scientology / Islamic fundamentalism probably 'works' for some people, yet most people would not be entirely comfortable with a scientologist / Islamic fundamentalist being their prime minister / president / baby-sitter / whatever..

I work as a salesman to pay my way through college and I'm very good at it — also my background in psychology has helped me understand persuasion techniques very well. Here are two persuasion techniques that I often hear in meetings (not sure if you've covered them before)

1. The straw-man arguement:

"Sometimes I hear people in meetings saying that _____________________ but I disagree, I think the truth is that __________________________"

This works to help any argument you want to put across. For example, on my last sales campaign we were selling telephone service packages. When people would give me an objection (or better yet, I would anticipate that they were about to give me this objection) of "But its so much hassle to change over and then back again if I'm not happy" I'd quickly say "You know, some people seem to think that it's alot of hassle to switch networks and while this may have been true in the past.. with the latest advances in technology switching networks is actually hassle free"

Get the picture??!

2. The metaphor convincer

Telling stories to people is a classic persuasion technique. If I want to tell you that Brown socks are better than red socks, you're more likely to agree with me if I tell you a story about my friend who had to choose between wearing brown or red socks and blah blah blah than if I just make a statement and describe the relevent evidence. People in meetings also tend to use the "down and out transformed into a hero" theme in their stories. They say stuff like "You know, I used to judge people in meetings and I'd be thinking in my head (blah blah blah) but I don't do that today.. today I'm able to accept people just as they are.. blah blah blah"


Love your work,


(by the way, i'm still not sober and agree with you when you say that there are some good things about 12 step meetings — I think its ok to go to them once i'm not fooling myself about why i'm going — i'm going because it gives me a sense of community and social support)

Hi Anon,

Thanks for the letter and the compliments.

While there are some good things about A.A. meetings, I still worry that some people will be harmed by getting fed so much misinformation about alcoholism and recovery. So much of the rap is so totally wrong that people can't help but absorb at least a few misconceptions and erroneous assumptions.

For example, I went to my second-ever A.A. meeting back in 1988, the next day after a bad night of going into D.T.s from suddenly quitting drinking. (The first meeting was a few days earlier, when I went to check it out and announce that I was quitting drinking.) At that second meeting, I was still shaking and suffering from stomach cramps and in ragged shape, but I was surviving. I told all of that in the meeting. Nobody said anything. I wondered what I had said that was wrong. It was disconcerting that everybody gave me the silent treatment and had no reaction to what I said.

After the meeting, a couple of women came to talk to me, and one of them had good advice like, "Drink lots of orange juice to restore your electrolyte balance, and eat lots of ice cream to ease the pain of the stomach cramps. Just park in front of Baskin Robbins."

That was great advice, and helped a lot. Unfortunately, she also said, "That wasn't D.T.'s. Probably just a minor reaction to quitting. When I detoxed, it was so bad that I went into convulsions and they had to tie me down on the bed for three days. Now that was D.T.s."

I stayed sober for three years, and then, at a friend's birthday party where it was wall-to-wall booze, I was thinking that I could handle a drink now, "You've got it under control. Three years of no drinking, no cheating whatsoever. You can handle just one now. You probably aren't really an alcoholic at all. Real alcoholics have to call their sponsor every weekend to keep from drinking. You never even had a sponsor, and you have stayed sober for three years. Real alcoholics have to go to A.A. meetings all of the time, and you haven't been to an A.A. meeting in three years. You aren't an alcoholic. That counselor who said that you were an alcoholic was probably just trying to fill her quota for the month."

The saner part of my brain asked, "Not an alcoholic? What about going into D.T.s when you quit? What was that?"

"Oh, that wasn't D.T.'s. Remember what that woman at the A.A. meeting said? 'Just a minor reaction to quitting.' ... Okay, not a real alcoholic. So I can handle one beer now...."

Famous last words. I drank for another nine years after that, until it got really bad.

One thing that I learned from all of that is: "Never minimize another person's withdrawal symptoms or suffering or experiences and tell them that it isn't so bad."

Also: "Don't play ego games of one-upmanship. 'My binges and withdrawals were lots bigger and better than yours.'"

That is just one example of how misinformation can trip people up and make things worse, rather than help people.

Oh well, have a good day anyway. — And take care of yourself, now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*  If you have to pray for some "Higher Power" or "God" to save you
*  from alcoholism, why is that called a "Self-Help Movement"?

Date: Sat, August 5, 2006 10:03 pm
From: GuitarSteve
Subject: Hello Again

Greetings Orange,

It's a Saturday night and, as often is the case, I'm alone at home. Learning to be comfortable with myself, alone, was a skill that took me a long time to learn. In all of my years in and around AA the one thing that I was never really able to do was be comfortable with myself and spend time alone. As a matter of fact, I was taught in meetings that it was a bad thing to allow one's "self" to be alone, as they would be in the worst of company. "Your best thinking got you here" — And other such phrases, teach one to be mistrustful of one's thoughts and of one's self. It's amazing to me how AA becomes so invasive to one's life and how AA, in itself, becomes and addiction. I actually found myself doing drugs AND going to the meetings every day. I was completely addicted to both, and remained that way for the last year that I was member of AA.

In two more days, on August 7th, I will have been clean and sober for three years. Much of that time has been spent alone, although I have become a regular at a local Starbucks and for the past two years have been in an LA Fitness gym at least 4 times a week, as well as enrolled at a local community college. It's not unusual these days, to find me at Starbucks after a long workout at the gym, studying for my classes and enjoying a cup of coffee.

Naturally I've met a few people and developed some friendships. Still, the thought that I'm 'different' has been burned so indelibly into my mind from all that time in AA that it's sometimes hard to feel like 'just another Joe.' Sure, I did some damage to my body and mind with all those years of drinking and drugging, but at the end of the day, I'm just another guy with bills to pay and an ordinary life full ordinary problems and opportunities. Seeing myself as some kind of freak, that's different from the rest of society and ' powerless' and unable to manage my life on my own, is exactly the opposite of the truth and extremely psychologically damaging to my psyche!

It's common in AA to hear things like "people like us" or "maybe he's one of us" or the term "normy" to describe someone who is not "one of us", etc... And I can attest to the fact that if one hears that kind of talk long enough, they will believe that they are "different" and feel the need to cling to those that are more like "one of us".

I'm trudging along Orange, and little by little, I'm feeling more like a whole person. It's not easy though. I allowed myself to be programmed for so long, that it's not easy breaking free. Sometimes I don't even think it's possible to be entirely free from all the crap that's been programmed in to my washed brain. And I admit that I resent AA and what it does to people. It should be criminal.

I've been reading your work for a while now and have found the arguments, your research and your thought process very helpful to me. I even quit smoking on the first day of fall last year after reading some of your thoughts. LOL! I'm not giving you the credit for my new found freedom, but I did find encouragement in your papers that helped me.

The way I see it, Bill Wilson could never have done the things that I'm doing. Bill Wilson was a con man and an ass.

I hope that you'll continue your work. Your "Papers" have been such a tremendous help to me and I'm sure that there are millions like me — Trying to break free of the AA nonsense. If you don't mind, I'll continue to check in from time to time and drop you a few of my thoughts. I enjoy the thoughts that we share.

Greenest of wishes as always,

Your friend in font,


Hi Steve,

Thanks for the letter and thank for the compliments. And congratulations, really big congratulations, for quitting both alcohol and tobacco.

Which leads to the "I am different from the normies" thing. It's funny, but I also often feel different because I don't smoke any more.

I also get those funny looks and attitudes about that — from the smokers "He's different. He isn't one of us. He never was. How could he quit and stay quit so easily?"

You know what else is funny? It doesn't bother me at all.

And I think that the "he is different" thing is really a cover-up to avoid feelings of failure or inadequacy: "It isn't that I am weak-willed and just won't make the effort to quit smoking. He is special. He was lucky enough to be born a super-man with super-human powers, not like us ordinary mortals."

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "Wisdom tells me I am nothing.
**  Love tells me I am everything.
**  Between the two my life flows."
**    ==  Nisargadatta Maharaj

Date: Sat, August 5, 2006 10:07 pm
From: "Trish C."
Subject: Question

Dear A. Orange,

Who are you?

I am amazed at all the A.A. Research you have done.

Have you attended AA meetings?

How did you get started and interested in such a thorough assessment of AA and it's founders etc?

Your work is fascinating — I would like to learn about how you developed your point of view.

Have you ever read 'Soul of Sponsorship' about Bill Wilson's relationship with Ed Dowling? I would be interested in knowing your perception of that relationship also.

Thank you.


Hi Trish,

Thanks for the letter.

Starting at the top, the first 3 questions are easy. See these links for my history and experiences with A.A.:

About "Soul of Sponsorship" — Yes, I have read parts of it, but have not read it cover to cover. I was particularly interested in the chapter where Bill Wilson bragged about his séances and psychic contacts with dead people, and Father Dowling discouraged him from such occult activities.

I couldn't help but notice that, while Bill Wilson bragged about his relationship with Father Dowling, Bill actually ignored Dowling's advice and instructions, and just went and did whatever he wished anyway.

Someday, when I have nothing else to do, I'll have to borrow that book again and go through it again, in greater depth.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   The moving finger writes
**   And having writ, moves on.
**   Nor all your piety nor wit
**   Shall lure it back to cancel half a line,
**   Nor all your tears wash out a word of it.
**   == Omar Khayyam

Date: Mon, August 7, 2006 8:19 am
From: "Chad H."
Subject: Hi!

"Agent Orange":

Thank you so much for your wonderful website!

I quit drinking about 5 months ago, and I thought the only way to do it was AA. My dad and sister are both in AA and they convinced me to try it as well. I'll admit, at first it made sense to me, as I was desperate to stop drinking. But after a little time passed, and my head cleared a little, it became very apparent to me that AA, and the people in AA, are completely full of shit. Everything you mention in your site about "the dry drunk," "alcoholic thinking," and all those other scare tactics is completely true. I was made to feel like I couldn't stay sober on my own, and that "my best thinking got me here." Looking at your website, and realizing that at least *one* other person in the world feels the way I do and was able to quit drinking without AA gave me the boost I needed to stop going to meetings so I can start living a normal life (one that doesn't center entirely around AA). I really appreciate what you're doing. Keep up the good work!

Chad H.

Hi Chad,

Thank you for the letter, and I'm glad to hear that you are getting some moral support out of my web site.

Oh, and congratulations on your new sobriety. And congratulations on the realization that you don't have to spend the rest of your life "in recovery". Yes, you really can go back to being just a rather normal person who lives a normal life — a normal person who just one who doesn't drink alcohol. That's okay. There are other things to drink.

Have a good day.

== 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, August 7, 2006 11:55 am
From: "Sharen K."
Subject: The Gam-Anon Chapter

Hi Again, Orange!

Attached is the entire chapter for Gam-Anon. This is the one that includes the stuff about how gamblers' wives should be nice little wives, to decrease the chances that their husbands would gamble again.

The reason why I'm e-mailing this to you now, is that it shares the basic idea of the quotes from Al-Anon that you included in your The "Us Stupid Drunks" Conspiracy webpage. The attached shows that this victim-blaming attitude, which is obviously characteristic of Twelve-Step groups in general, isn't generally "us stupid spouses of addicts," but, very specifically, "us whiny spouses of addicts." This is exactly the zeitgeist of the Reagan era, where people are simply supposed to deal with their own problems self-reliantly, stolidly, stoutheartedly, etc., and not care about "who's to blame."


(Ever since I was a teenager, anyone who didn't have a chronically manic personality seemed half dead to me, smirk, smirk.)

Hi Sharen,

Thanks for the input. The degree to which the 12-Step groups blame the wives of alcoholics/addicts/gamblers is both amazing and appalling. I'm sure that gives some comfort to the guys who are the alcoholics/addicts/gamblers — "It isn't all my fault; the old bag also drove me to it. She should be sorry for having done me so wrong..."

But notice how that directly contradicts the bragging about being a tough man and stolidly, stoutheartedly, accepting responsibility for one's actions. What a load of double-talk.

I don't think I can reproduce the whole thing — copyright issues — but these lines stand out:

12. Do you attempt to anticipate the gambler's moods, or try to control his or her life?   ...

Many who come to Gam-Anon feel that they are in some way responsible for the problems of their gambling spouses, relatives or friends. Members of Gam-Anon learn that they are not responsible for these problems and should feel no guilt because of them.   ...

Many Gam-Anon members need help in defining their roles as spouses of compulsive gamblers.

1. Accept and learn to live with the fact that compulsive gambling is an illness.
2. To question or interrogate the gambler will serve no purpose. You are powerless over this situation. If he has something he wishes to hide, the truth cannot be forced from him. Why try?
3. To nag your husband about past losses or to talk of what might have been if he hadn't gambled will prove to be detrimental to his recovery as well as yours.   ...

14. Do take an honest inventory of YOUR character defects and work on them.
15. Come to Gam-Anon even though your husband may continue to gamble. We understand your problem and if you have an honest desire we can help you through our program.   ...

One of the questions discussed is, "What is my role as an individual involved with a compulsive gambler?" According to Gam-Anon, when one lives the Fellowship's way of life, one can be of great help to the problem gambler even if that person is a member of Gamblers Anonymous.   ...

The Fellowship believes that after years of living with a compulsive gambler, the Gam-Anon member is likely to have developed erratic or strange behavior. What is needed, therefore, is the desire to change. It is important to remember that because a member's character may change gradually through the years, one should not expect the trouble to end automatically even should the gambler stop gambling. Gam-Anon recognizes that unless members patiently unlearn the behavior patterns they have acquired over years of living with the gambling problem, their problems will persist for the remainder of their lives.

Thus, spouses, relatives and friends of compulsive gamblers must admit that they too have faults. Members must recognize this fact before they can help themselves through the Gam-Anon program.   ...

And their version of the 12 Steps includes:

We find that we had to become completely honest with ourselves. Most of us discover that we have many defects of character of which we were not aware. We find it helpful to take a moral inventory of ourselves. Among our faults we find self-pity, dishonesty, impatience, hate, false pride, envy, and negative thinking. Lest we become discouraged, it is also important to remember our assets as well as our liabilities.

It is very difficult to admit to ourselves that we are guilty of any wrong-doings, and much more so to admit this to another person. Once we are able to recognize our own wrong-doings and are able to talk about it, we have come a long way towards recovery. We may make excuses for ourselves or put the blame on something or someone else. We feel much better when we are able to be honest with ourselves. As we begin to talk over our problems with another person, the burden becomes lighter and the weight of it is removed from our shoulders. We learn to see ourselves as we really are.

Many of us find this step a very difficult one. When we accept the fact that serenity comes from within, our progress develops. Exploring further along this line, we gain insight. We see that with defects of character such as self-pity, self-justification, impatience and resentment, we will never find this peace of mind and serenity we seek. Having come this far in our thinking, we become willing to be rid of these stumbling blocks in our progress.

This step specifically concerns itself with humility and what the practice of it can mean to us. So with humility and without reservation, we ask Him to remove our shortcomings. We may find we want to hold tightly to some of our defects of character. We need to ask God for courage and patience in order to work this step daily. Day by day we discover new defects of character. Therefore, we need to ask Him daily for His help.


And then...

The Fellowship considers its program to be a psychological "housecleaning" process. Part of this process, as noted, includes the taking of a moral inventory, as described in the Fourth Step of Recovery. "The Gam-Anon Way Of Life" includes a checklist to help members take this inventory.   ...

No matter how difficult a child's home life might be, he or she can build a better life by following the Gam-A-Teen program. The group has both a Recovery Program and a Unity Program. Meetings are run according to the group therapy principle.   ...

Throughout the Gam-Anon literature, reference is made to the fact that the Fellowship's program is run in the spirit of self-help. No one is compelled to participate; coercion of any kind violates the fundamental tenets of the Fellowship.   ...

Nevertheless, as the collective expression of many years of experience, Gam-Anon has learned that those who want to succeed in the recovery program would do well to follow the Fellowship's guidelines. New members come to see that following the Gam-Anon program is the best way toward peace of mind and well being.

It is obvious from reading this chapter that Gam-Anon and Gamblers Anonymous use many similar words, concepts and strategies. It is also apparent that underlying the recovery programs of both Fellowships are similar assumptions about behaviorist psychology, the value of belief in God or in other expressions of personal faith, the importance of the Group in the recovery process, personal anonymity, etc.   ...

Yes, it really is Frank Buchman's cult religion.

What gets me is how so many people can actually believe that garbage.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we've been
** bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the
** bamboozle. The bamboozle has captured us. Once you give a
** charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.
**   == Carl Sagan

Date: Mon, August 7, 2006 1:15 pm
From: h.
Subject: A man is as happy as he makes up his mind to be

Dear Orange:

A. Lincoln said that a man is as happy as he sets his mind to be. True.

I experienced a category 5 unpleasantness — the demise of my wife — and began to drink wine in large quantitities, almost every day. I do not have a hollow leg; so, I had to work very hard to drink as much as I drank. It was not easy drinking 1.5 liters of wine after 4 PM. For self destructive reasons, I decided that it was a "good idea". It was not fun. Does drinking alone, with the lights out, at night, at home alone [except for my only friend, a cat — who happened to be a teetotaler] sound like fun?

Well, I did that.

For a year. April 2004 to April 2005.

I stopped. "Cold Turkey". No AA; no support group of any kind.

After I quit, I went to AA.

For reasons of social isolation.

I was appalled.

The "strugglers did not appall me; not at all. I do have some knowledge of suffering. I am not expert at that. What appalled me were the "old timers"; "the lights were on; but, no one was at home"

This took some time to discover; but, my survival instincts were such that I that I sat with my back to the wall. It seems that I retained such.

I realized that "something was rotten in Denmark", so I found SMART Recovery on line. It was a Godsend. It gave me the cognitive tools that I needed to process my emotions.

I employed those tools to find real world solutions; I am now living a normal life — with all the pleasures and trials thereto — and, as "happy as I made up my mind to be".

I survived. I did learn that I am survivor. I survived a big trauma; I survived a bad "coping tool [ wine]"; I survived AA. I was able to make the changes that I needed to make to begin a process of re invention. I am no longer a survivor; I am a "liver". But, if need be, I can survive, It was quite a "test". But, the dues for joining a widows club are pretty serious.

One lesson: alcohol is not "medicine". It cures no disease; eases no torment. It may seems to sooth the spirit. It does not. Alcohol should be consumed in small quantities for one reason: one likes the taste of a beer, a glass of wine, a dram of whiskey for the taste. I think that any other reason reason is problematical.

Thank you for your site.

Folks need to know about AA.

And, people need to know about options. There are many.

Sorry, I need to be anonymous


Call me H

Hello, H,

Thanks for the letter and the story. Congratulations on your getting your life more together, and have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** Every thinker puts some portion of an apparently
** stable world at peril.

Date: Mon, August 7, 2006 7:00 pm
From: "Dusty H."
Subject: Online book

Dear Agent Orange,

About 3 years ago, I got into trouble with the law. Nothing related to drugs or alcohol, but never the less, I was ordered to attend AA meetings twice a week and I am glad to say that I have not had a drink in over 2 1/2 years.

All this time I have had problems with certain aspects of AA, like tobacco being acceptable (I don't smoke either). Last night, I was watching "South Park" on TV. The episode was about Stan's dad being arrested for DUI and ordered to attend AA. Stan tells his dad at the end that "if you spend your whole life avoiding something, then it still has control over you". He also mentioned that AA was a cult. This got me to thinking.

Today, I googled "AA cult" and found your website. I was amazed at the information there. I have never delved much into the history of AA. After all, that's not "God's will", right. I have only begun to skim over the information on your site. I just wanted to say "thank you" for providing an honest look into the history of AA and the 12- step program. While I would not consider confronting alcoholics directly with this information, I consider myself an intelligent, honest person and for one, am glad that this information is available. Don't get me wrong, I believe that AA has helped a lot of people, but for me, I now question their teachings. Thanks.

Best Regards,


Hi Dusty,

Thanks for the letter and all of the compliments. And congratulations on your sobriety.

That South Park episode is also one of my all-time favorites. (Well of course. I'm not a little biased, or anything, right? :-) )

You can download it and watch it again and again, you know... Look here.

The status of that particular episode is funny. I hear rumors that both the Catholic Church and Alcoholics Anonymous found the "Bloody Mary" episode to be so offensive that they got a promise from the Comedy Central network that it would not be shown again, or included in anthologies of South Park episodes. (Although you seem to have seen it again without any trouble...)

But, at the same time: There is a South Park fan web site that had a bunch of episodes for download. The web site was so well done that at first I thought it was an official web site. But it wasn't, and the downloads were illegal. Some legal authority got on their case and made them take all of the South Park episodes off of their web site, except for one. Guess which one?

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  Gandalf said, "The little orks don't like
**  humor. They cringe in pain at the sound of
**  laughter. And they really can't stand it when
**  you poke fun at them. So they howl and growl
**  and scowl and get all bent out of shape."

UPDATE: 2013.01.24: Now the "Bloody Mary" episode is on the official South Park web site. It is described, and linked to, here:

Date: Tue, August 8, 2006 2:17 pm
From: "Cindy H."
Subject: Hi there

I appreciate your work. I spent a bit of time on your site today. I am involved with Overeaters Anonymous for my food issues and I attend AA mainly for social reasons. Even though I enjoy the changes that have occurred in my life over the past 4 years, I will agree with you that the AA literature has a lot of mixed messages and does instill a sense of fear about ever leaving. All I know is that everyone I've seen leave OA truly has gotten fatter than when they started and I have no intention of joining them so I 'keep coming back'. What is your take on the food programs?

Cindy H.

Hi Cindy,

Thanks for the letter. I am no expert of weight-loss programs, because that was never my problem. But here's my take on it:

The body's reaction to periods of starvation is extreme. It's as if the body says,
"Never again. I will never starve like that again. Now I'm going to put on so much fat that I'll be able to make it through the next winter even if I don't find any food at all for the whole winter."
(It's just another ancient cave-man and cave-woman survival routine.)

It's just a truism that everybody who goes off of a diet or weight-control program gains weight.

In fact, even coming off of "no program" starvation has the same effect.
Up until 6 years ago, I was skinny, malnourished, and literally starving at the end of my drinking career. When I quit drinking and smoking and started eating better, my weight shot up from 140 to 193. It happened so fast that I couldn't believe it was happening. I didn't know that it was humanly possible to expand that fast.
I went from a 32 inch waist to 36 overnight. I mean overnight. Literally.
In the middle of my 2nd month of recovery, I took off 32 inch jeans one night, and couldn't get into anything smaller than 36 jeans the next morning. No joke. For real. Unbelieveable but true.
I could not even get into my old jeans, never mind zip them up.
I was lucky to have one pair of 36s laying around, so that I had something to wear while I went and got new clothes.

And then the expansion continued. Now I'm a 40, and have stabilized there. (And I refuse to let things go any further, and am even working on shrinking a little bit. No more candy bars and junk food or other high-calorie indulgences.)

And that, you see, had nothing to do with any program. It was just quitting unhealthy habits, eating better, recovering from a period of starvation, and middle age striking with a vengeance, all at the same time.

The same thing can happen to people who quit O.E., and it doesn't have anything to do with O.E., either.

Likewise, we are all getting older (and bigger). It's downright funny for a 40-something or 50-something woman to complain that she isn't as slim as a 20-something girl, and blame quitting O.E. for the problem.

Now I have no doubts that if somebody stops trying to control his or her weight and goes on a binge, that they will gain weight. The whole starve/binge cycle that desperate dieters are famous for is a big part of the problem, and O.E. doesn't seem to cure it at all. If anything, it makes the problem worse (because 12-Step guilt induction makes people feel bad, and lots of people eat more when they feel bad).

About the teachings (theology and politics and philosophy) of O.E., I like the take that Elayne Rapping had on it, here.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "Problems worthy of attack prove their worth
**  by fighting back." == Paul Erdos (1913-1996)

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Last updated 24 January 2013.
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