Letters, We Get Mail, XCII

Date: Wed, August 6, 2008 8:20 am     (replied same day)
From: john_r.
Subject: "Willing to go to any lengths ..."

Greetings, Agent Orange !

Glad to see you are still Active ! Love the goslings. My father used to work in our (Ireland's) Forest and Wildlife Service. One of their many responsibilities was that of looking after colonies of Brent and Canada geese that wintered in the south-east part of Ireland, a process that included feeding them supplementary rations at the toughest times. I myself spent a time working in our Department of Finance — equivalent of your Treasury — and heard something of an alternative aspect of this process. At the time my father was helping to feed the geese, a colleague of mine attended a "budget" meeting with the Forest and Wildlife Service. Coming across an estimate for the cost of feeding the geese, he paused, thought, and then asked — "Do they get napkins for that ?". I don't know. Sometimes, I think I'm in the wrong business ...

As to the main issue — thanks again for your site, and for the help that you have given me and many others in seeing through the tangles in the Forest of Recovery. Looking at your most recent correspondence update (once I had gotten over the goslings), I noticed your exchange with "ANTHONY J.". An interesting example, I thought, of a case of a person wanting to start balanced, but wobbling increasingly off the point as the email progressed. One point that came up a number of times is the significance of an "alcoholic's" willingness "to go to any lengths" to get "what we have" — whether that is Sobriety, sobriety, or Eternal Bliss in Heaven (Buchman Stop) being somewhat unclear. I know that trying to "go to any lengths" to become an AA True Believer, in the teeth of my personal convictions, ultimately damaged my recovery (not "Recovery"), and could have have hurt me a lot more. Finding your site, at close to my worse moment of 12-Step Withdrawal, helped to set me back on an effective path of (lower case) recovery.

In this connection, you may be interested to see a little piece I posted recently in the "community" section of www.mentalhelp.net. On both its public comment area and its community, this site has hosted a reasonably civilised forum for discussion of 12-Step matters.

Yours with best regards,


" "Willing to go to any lengths ..." A number of comments around this site in recent weeks have turned my mind back to an issue which, I suppose, relates to my own central problem with 12 Step recovery programs. It was suggested almost at the beginning of AA history by Bill Wilson when he wrote ?

"If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any lengths to get it — then you are ready to take certain steps."
Alcoholics Anonymous, "How It Works", [4th Edition, page 58]

A poster in the general comments area (Mike Whitmer, 29 July 2008) recently described Bill's "what we have" in these terms :

"I think that above all, my biggest issue with the program is the idea that it is an "infallible program for fallible people". Seriously, folks? A pseudo-religious program of indoctrination into an extremely rigid way of thinking as a spiritual treatment for a medical disease is the best we can still do 73 years later?"

He went on to say :

"I think the bottom line is this: "caveat emptor" applies to a lot of things in life, and this is certainly one of them. Question EVERYTHING ? because in doing so, in using your natural intellectual scepticism, you are protecting yourself from something that, in my opinion, is nearly as bad as drinking and drugs were ? that is, indoctrination into something that fits many of the qualifiers for a cult group."

I do not particularly want to get into the question of whether AA or its 12 Step offspring are, or are not, a "cult" or "cults". Also, in fairness to AA at least, they would no doubt be quick to point out that with them at least, it is not really a matter of "caveat emptor" since its members are not, in the commercial sense, "buying" anything ? which is more than can be said for the, shall we say, "followers" of many rational alternatives suggested by non-Stepping treatment centres, not to mention my friends in Rational Recovery. (Although, mind you, AA will sell you books ?)

My intention here is to pose two, related questions :

  • whether, and to what extent, it is sensible or safe for a person to adopt a "spiritual program" in the hope of addressing an addiction in cases where the program in question may be fundamentally at variance with their own beliefs — rational, religious or otherwise — And

  • whether, and to what extent, it is sensible, responsible, ethical or safe for the "mentors" of "addicts" — whether they be health care professionals, ministers of religion, employers or even family members and friends — to "encourage" or require such persons to adopt such a program in the teeth of their convictions ?

    This is not just about AA. Elsewhere on this site — again, in the general comment area — we witnessed somewhat "warm" exchanges when an advocate of the Narconon program proposed this particular message of "strength and hope" to sufferers of addiction. Now, the (very impressive) website suggested by the poster — that of the Narconon facility at Arrowhead, Oklahoma — does insist that :

    "The only affiliation [i.e. with the Church of Scientology] is that the Narconon drug rehab technology and the religion of Scientology are based on the works of the same man, L. Ron Hubbard."

    Well, perhaps, but is quite clear from a perusal of the site, including its very pretty color brochure, that the Narconon program incorporates a wide range of Hubbard's ideas, ranging from his behavioural notions to his ideas on what might be termed "social hygiene". Similar notions also appear to feature in Scientology. In fact, it is difficult to conclude otherwise than that, even if there is no formal, organisational link between the Church of Scientology and Narconon, the latter connects with the former, on an "ideas" level, rather more closely than the 12-Step movement does with any conventional religious organisation or movement. The connection seems more reminiscent of the ideological connection between early AA and the Rev. Frank Buchman's "Oxford Groups" movement/cult, a connection in the latter case that was explicitly admitted by Bill Wilson himself. And, as with AA and the Oxford Groups, the "ideas" concerned may be seen as sufficiently — well, extreme and unusual — to represent a major swallow for a very great number of people.

    Similar observations about the advisability or otherwise of "surrender" to a closed system of ideas in the interests of recovery from addiction can be made elsewhere. Should the sufferer be encouraged to espouse one of the more extreme manifestations of Calvinistic Christianity, just because it might steel one against the Demon Drink — What about certain schools of Buddhism — should drinking Roman Catholics be enjoined to follow a particularly rigid map of the Noble Path, because it might carry them clear of the Bottle — Should adherence to Wahhabi Islam be advocated — True, it may have certain unfortunate associations with petroleum profiteers, not to mention certain activities of a distinctly explosive nature but — it will, if embraced, steer one well clear of the Demon Drink.

    These examples may appear facetious, but they do tend to a particular, serious question. This is — accepting that many substance-dependent people may find it possible to espouse Calvinist fundamentalism, or Buddhism, or Wahhabism, or indeed Bill W's Buchmanism, is it, simply, right that they should be induced or indeed compelled to pursue such "spiritual" cures in the interests of some sort of "Recovery" in the teeth of their convictions — Or — referring back to Mike's posts — should we not expect the "treatment industry", so many years after Bill W (so to speak) left Oxford, to be in a position to offer something better and — yes — more rational, than that — And, is it possible that some forms of "surrender" may be, not just "nearly as bad as drinking and drugs" but actually worse, in view of the extent of self-annihilation involved — Is the best we can hope for from most of the "recovery sector", even now, a suggestion that we surrender our personal integrity in return for an idea of Recovery that always depends on acceptance in some form of "Bill's Bull", or even "Hubbard in the Cupboard"?

    Just asking !

    Best regards,
    JR "

  • Best regards and Loving Honks,


    Hi again, JR,

    Thanks for the letters, and of course you are welcome to repeat material about A.A. and recovery. Please do. The more the merrier, and we need all of the letters to the editor that we can get published. (And letters to Senators, and Congressmen, and Mayors, and the City Council, and all of the other politicians who fund recovery programs...) Counter-acting the A.A. and "recovery industry" publicity mill is an uphill battle, and we need all of the help that we can get.

    About the letter from "Anthony J.". — "An interesting example, I thought, of a case of a person wanting to start balanced, but wobbling increasingly off the point as the email progressed."

    Yes, to the extent that I wondered if he had actually read the bottom of the Introduction web page where it described how my "counselor" at the "treatment center" was arrested and convicted for criminal sexual penetration of two minors, child pornography, and possession of cocaine. I couldn't believe that Anthony would still stubbornly maintain that I should have unquestioningly followed all of that counselor's instructions and advice in spite of the evidence that the counselor was really anything but sober and spiritual.

    As the commandments on how to achieve sobriety became more bizarre, there were moments when I considered that letter to be a God-send. Anthony said things that I could never accuse Steppers of saying, because nobody would believe me.

    As Anthony's statements became increasingly wacky, it actually occurred to me that maybe the letter was a joke — something written by a clever anti-stepper as a satire and a grotesque characterization of the mind of a 12-Step sponsor. But I don't really think that the letter was a hoax. It was pretty convincing. It reminds me of something that Ann Landers said: Every so often, somebody would accuse her of making up the letters that she published. She answered that her imagination just wasn't that good — that she couldn't possibly make up the kind of stuff that she received. Similarly, it would have taken a wild imagination to have forged Anthony's letter.

    By the way, I love your reference to Wahabi Islam. One obvious solution to the alcoholism problem is of course to turn everybody into hard-core fundamentalist Moslems. Since Islam forbids drinking any alcohol at all, membership in the Taliban or Al Qaeda should fix the alcoholism problem very nicely, shouldn't it? I suspect that the treatment centers might find that the Moslem religion is even better than the Alcoholics Anonymous religion for discouraging alcoholism...

    (Never mind the tiny technical detail that we have a Constitution that says that you can't legally force anybody to join a religion... After all, doesn't the current administration insist that documents like the Geneva Convention and the Constitution are just "quaint" old things now?)

    Oh well, have a good day anyway.

    == Orange

    *             [email protected]        *
    *         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
    *          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
    **  "doesnt it suck when you accidentally drink a half empty
    **  old beer that's been sitting on the ground?"
    **  == Calebina, on the "Once Just" band web site
    **  (Now does that give you ecstatic recall?)

    And here's another gosling picture for you:
    May 19, 2008: Still in the park; it's still day two. The goslings are engaging in a free-for-all battle. This is just play fighting, practicing for the much more serious fighting for a place in the pecking order that will come later in life.

    Canada Goose goslings play fighting

    [The story of the goslings continues here.]

    Date: Sat, August 9, 2008 3:33 pm     (answered 15 Aug.)
    From: "ANTHONY J."
    Subject: RE:

    Thanks for taking the time to get back to me. We'll have to agree to disagree about AA as a cult and the effectivness of it.

    Hello again, Anthony,

    The phrase "agree to disagree" usually means, "I'm going to ignore the unpleasant facts and just continue to believe whatever I wish to believe."

    I'm just one of those guys who AA was made for, I guess. I'm happy to be sober and I've grown more than I could have imagined in the program and working the steps. I also know that AA isn't for everyone. The important thing is that your staying sober and are living a decent, contented life.

    It is good that we are both sober. But that is not all that there is to life. It is questionable whether cult membership and mental suicide are either good for life, or necessary for sobriety.

    Just for the record, I did read about your counselor. I just wasn't sure what that had to do with the discussion. We have at least one or two local teachers charged every school year with having sexual contact of some kind with a minor. They're prosecuted but no one has yet tried to dismantle the public school system. Yeah, the guy was a crack pot and I guess you picked up on it but most people in AA aren't pedophiles or cocain users.

    Now that is a prime example of the propaganda technique called Minimization and Denial. When a guy is a cocaine-snorting child pornographer and child molester, no way is he qualified to advise other people about how to get and stay clean and sober. What does he know? How well is he "working the program"? And why on Earth should I listen to him?

    If you have two more local teachers who are charged with child molestation every year, then you need to fire the school district's Human Resources Director. He (or she) is a terrible judge of character and is obviously unqualified for the job, and cannot be trusted with childrens' lives. In the same way, the treatment center that I went to is also incompetent, and not to be trusted. (But the low bidder gets the contract from the city and state [Portland, Oregon], so what can you expect?)

    Although, I will admit, that my sponsor told me over and over in early sobriety, "The sickest people in the world come to AA meetings". It took a few years before I realized he was right !!

    Yes, and I will agree that that isn't even A.A.'s fault. That's just the nature of the A.A. clientele. However, those sick people are most assuredly not qualified to be mentors or advisors or sponsors or counselors — not for anybody, not even for other alcoholics — especially not for the really sick people who desperately need some sane advice and competent medical treatment.

    I also hope I wasn't too condescending. I really didn't mean to be. I honestly do respect your opinions. I just don't agree with them all.

    I didn't mean to imply that it was your personal condescension. It's wasn't your condescension. Condescension is built into the A.A. program. If you just repeat the A.A. jargon and slogans you will come off sounding condescending (and some of it may well creep into your thinking). A.A. is practically "Condescension Incorporated". A.A. slogans say things like:

    • "You have a thinking problem, not a drinking problem."
    • "Don't Drink and Don't Think!"
    • "It's too early in your recovery for you to start being creative."
    • "Don't take yourself too damn seriously."
    • "Your best thinking got you here."
    • "People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care."
    • "Poor me, poor me, pour me another drink."
    • "Nobody is ever too dumb to get the program, but some people are too intelligent."
    • "Opinions are like ass-holes — everybody's got one, and most of them stink."
    • "Put down the magnifying glass you use to look at others and look in the mirror."
    • "Some people are so successful in recovery, they turn out to be almost as good as they thought they were while drinking."
    • "If you think you're happy, you are. If you think you're wise, you're not."
    • "Keep It Simple, Stupid."
    • "He suffers from terminal uniqueness."
    • "She is trying to set the world record for the longest time taken to find a sponsor."
    • "He's a bleeding deacon" (He's an unhappy old-timer).
    • "He's on a dry drunk" (He is simultaneously sober and in disagreement with A.A.).
    • "He's sitting on the pity pot" (He is indulging in self-pity; not being grateful for A.A.).

    And one of the most condescending things of all is the attitude that you can kill alcoholics by telling them the truth about A.A., Bill Wilson, alcoholism, and recovery:
          "Those poor feeble-minded alcoholics just can't handle the truth. Their brains will melt and run out of their ears and they will instantly drink again if they hear anything about Frank Buchman's Oxford Group cult religion, or Bill Wilson's stealing of the Big Book copyright and the money, or Bill's philandering and necromancy... Or the real A.A. failure rate."

    Anyway, stay sober and keep up the good fight
    Tony J.

    I shall, and you have a good life too.

    *             [email protected]        *
    *         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
    *          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
    ** "As a matter of fact, the successful worker [A.A. recruiter]
    ** differs from the unsuccessful one only in being lucky about
    ** his prospects. He simply hits cases who are ready and able
    ** to stop at once."  Bill Wilson, quoted in 'PASS IT ON',
    ** The story of Bill Wilson and how the A.A. message reached
    ** the world, page 252.

    Date: Mon, August 11, 2008 11:09 am     (answered 15 Aug.)
    From: Brian
    Subject: Thank You Orange

    Hi Orange,

    I just wanted to thank you for your web site. I am amazed at the amount of information you have accumulated. I found your site because I have been looking for secular meetings. I could not agree with you more about AA. I have not had a drink in 7 years but have been wanting to connect with people who have shared experience. I spent a year in AA all the while being very uncomfortable with the religious aspect of the program. The final straw was when someone said about themselves, "I had nothing to do with my sobriety it was all God." I could not understand this. Even now I felt that old AA logic creeping in that I was a bad person because I did not go to AA anymore (only slightly). Your site confirms my rational thinking. Thank you so much Orange. Keep up the good work.


    Hi Brian,

    Thanks for the compliments, and congratulations on your escape — from both addiction and A.A.

    And have a good day.

    == Orange

    *             [email protected]        *
    *         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
    *          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
    **  "If you don't talk to your cat about catnip, who will?"

    Date: Tue, August 12, 2008 1:53 pm     (answered 15 Aug.)
    From: "Andy M."
    Subject: Funnybone

    Dear Orange

    This is just an observation, nothing more. I think this 12 step beast will shrivel up and die when it routinely becomes cause for ridicule. I don't think that day's far off. You really can't fool all of the people all of the time, can you? James Thurber said you can fool too many of the people too much of the time, and I'd agree with that. Meanwhile best wishes to the goslings.

    Best wishes
    Andy M
    It's the first sponsor that causes the damage
    obeyyouraasponsororfuckoffanddie.com {permission pending}.

    Hi Andy,

    Thanks for the note. I agree that humor is just devastating to cult religions, bad politicians, and other miscreants. I was delighted to see the South Park satire called "Bloody Mary" that spoofed Alcoholics Anonymous. (Season 9, Episode 14.) In just 25 minutes, they managed to pretty much destroy it.

    Pompous B.S. can't stand up to good humor for long.

    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."

    May 19: Still day two, still in the park:
    Here, one of the goslings is drinking out of my cup. I used that Corningware pan on the right for a nice big water bowl for them, and they often drink out of it, and climb in and play in it. (And then splash all of the water out of it, and track mud and leaves into it...)
    And still, they also like my cup. Maybe it's just "monkey see, monkey do": they see me drink out of my cup, so they drink out of my cup.
    (Or maybe it's just that, having messed up their water, they now prefer mine.)

    Canada Goose gosling drinking from cup

    Date: Tue, August 12, 2008 8:30 pm     (answered 15 Aug.)
    From: "Bernie T."
    Subject: Hummmmm

    Sounds like these papers are somewhat realistic but written from a radical left wing point of view overrun with damaging comment and opinion. Obviously the author is a left wing conspiracy theorist. We never know who GOD will pick to channel his efforts through. I'm glad it was Bill just as he was. I was just like him and have 30 years. I am glad God has acceptance values higher than the writer of this montauze of denegration. I am glad the messenger was a normal male alcoholic looking for progress not perfection. It's pretty sickening all the enablers that never let Bill have his philandering bottom. Shame on them. Warrior

    Hello Bernie,

    Thanks for the letter, and congratulations on your years of sobriety.

    I would never, ever, accuse God of aiding and abetting Bill Wilson's crimes as he foisted a Nazi-sympathizing cult religion on sick alcoholics and lied to them and told them that it works great for recovery from alcoholism. God wouldn't do that.

    Now if you told me that Satan or Lucifer tempted Bill Wilson, and got him to sell Frank Buchman's un-Christian occult religion to the alcoholics, then I might believe that...

    I might even believe it if you told me that the "higher power" was one of the demons or evil spirits that Bill Wilson claimed he contacted during his séances and "spook sessions"...

    But not God. God didn't do it.

    Oh, by the way, Bill Wilson was sober, not "at his bottom", when he did those things.

    Oh well, have a good day anyway.

    == Orange

    *             [email protected]        *
    *         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
    *          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
    ** "I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God
    ** who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect
    ** has intended us to forgo their use."
    **     ==  Galileo Galilei

    P.S.: Your line about "all the enablers that never let Bill have his philandering bottom" reveals something else very disturbing about the Alcoholics Anonymous philosophy — the idea of "letting people hit bottom", or even actively shoving them down towards a bottom. While I agree that no good came of the early A.A. members covering up all of Bill Wilson's misbehavior and criminal activity, I find the A.A. practice of actually shoving newcomers towards a "bottom" to be both harmful and sadistic. We've already discussed that practice in a previous letter from a fellow in England where an A.A. volunteer offered the telephone advice to the fellow's boss that the fellow should be fired so that he would "wake up and see sense". See the letter here.

    Waiting until people "hit bottom", or even making them hit bottom, maximizes the damage from alcohol, and often leaves people with permanently damaged livers, kidneys, brains, and other internal organs. And maximal psychological damage. That is not a good practice.

    Oh, and about the "conspiracy theorist" slur:
    I don't waste much time on conspiracy theories. I find real history to be fascinating, and complex enough. Every so often, some Stepper tries to dismiss my history of Alcoholics Anonymous as "conspiracy theories", but that isn't even vaguely true.

    Here are some conspiracy theories:

    • Lee Harvey Oswald actually worked for the CIA, and "defected" to Russia in order to work as a spy.
    • Oswald was merely a patsy and a fall guy in the assassination of JFK. The real assassins were never caught, and never charged.
    • Maybe JFK was murdered by the CIA.
    • Maybe by the FBI.
    • Maybe by Big Oil, because JFK was going to repeal their Oil Depletion Tax Credit.
    • Maybe by the Florida Cubans, who were still angry about the Bay of Pigs fiasco.
    • Or maybe by Fidel Castro, who was angry about the repeated CIA attempts to assassinate him.
    • Maybe by organized crime, because Bobby Kennedy was busting their balls.
    • Maybe the Vice President LBJ was involved in the assassination.
    • Maybe there was an assassin or two on the "grassy knoll".
    • And so on, and so on...

    That is all conjecture, backed up by few, or no, facts, and it has kept conspiracy theorists entertained for 40 years.

    The following, on the other hand, is not a conspiracy theory — it is real, factual, well-documented history:

    • A young Austrian/German World-War-One veteran named Adolf Hitler joined an obscure splinter political party in Bavaria in the nineteen-twenties, and, by developing and using his exceptional public speaking skills, gradually rose to the leadership position in the party.
    • Hitler renamed the party to The National Socialist German Workers Party.
    • These other people joined the party: Rudolf Hess, Herman Goerring, Heinrich Himmler, and Joseph Goebbels. Together, they conspired to take over Germany, and, after one failed putsch attempt, they eventually succeeded. Their small underfunded conspiracy actually succeeded in propelling Hitler into the Chancellorship of Germany.
    • Once he became Chancellor, Hitler dismantled the machinery of the democratic state and made himself the absolute dictator of Germany. During the "Night of the Long Knives", he murdered 1000 of his political opponents and rivals, and eliminated all opposition.
    • Hitler began an agressive campaign to absorb or conquer neighboring countries, and started World War 2 when he invaded Poland.
    • During that war, Hitler conducted a program to kill all of the Jews in Europe. He managed to kill about 6 million of them, which was most of them.

    None of that is a theory. It is history — well-known, well-documented history. It included a conspiracy, but it is not a theory, or a "conspiracy theory".

    Likewise, this is also well-documented history:

    • A vain, narcissistic, dishonest renegade Lutheran minister from Pennsylvania, who was named Dr. Frank Nathan Daniel Buchman, started a new religious sect that emphasized confession and self-criticism, especially in meetings. And they had lots and lots of meetings. For some years, that sect used the name "The Oxford Group".
    • Frank Buchman's religion also had a very occult bent — Buchman declared that you could hear the Voice of God if you sat quietly for an hour and listened. The Groupers were forever having group séances where they declared that they had received a message, or "received Guidance" from God (or other spirits).
    • Frank Buchman's philosophy was fascistic. He wanted everyone to be an obedient slave — "a slave of God", Frank said, although in actual practice that meant "a slave of Frank and his lieutenants". Buchman went around the country making radio broadcasts where he urged everyone to "make a surrender" and put themselves "under God-control". Buchman declared that he wanted the country run by a "Spiritual dictatorship" and "the true dictatorship of the living God" He also declared that Christian Fascist dictatorships could solve all of the problems of the world.
    • Buchman said, "I thank Heaven for a man like Adolf Hitler..." He also declared that Heinrich Himmler, the man who would manage the Holocaust and kill 6 million Jews, was "a great lad".
    • Frank Buchman attended the Nuremberg Nazi Party rallies, year after year, as a guest of Heinrich Himmler, and gave Hitler the Sieg Heil! straight-arm salute along with the rest of the Nazis.
    • Frank Buchman never repudiated Adolf Hitler or the Nazis. When World War 2 started, Buchman declared that he was very patriotic, and that our real enemies were "selfishness" and "chaos". Then Buchman and his followers did everything that they could to dodge the draft and avoid fighting against the Nazis.

    • Meanwhile, back in 1934, two burned-out alcoholics named William Griffith Wilson and Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith joined Frank Buchman's cult, and liked it. They came to believe that Frank Buchman's "Oxford Group" and its strange practices (which Buchman incorrectly called "spiritual principles") were The Answer to alcoholism — a wonderful new cure for alcoholism — the answer that no one else had ever discovered before — and they set about recruiting more alcoholics for that sect.
    • Eventually, the other Oxford Groupers objected to Bill Wilson's habit of recruiting shabby down-and-out alcoholics, rather than rich people, so they edged Wilson out. Bill Wilson took the alcoholic branch of the Oxford Group cult with him and made it into his own cult. And Clarence Snyder separated the Cleveland Ohio alcoholics from the Oxford Group and set up alcoholics-only meetings there. Likewise, Dr. Smith took his group of alcoholics from the Akron Ohio chapter of the Oxford Group, and made the meetings into an independent religious group a few years after Bill Wilson did it in New York.
    • In 1938, Bill Wilson adopted Clarence Snyder's name "Alcoholics Anonymous" for his reformulated Oxford Group and its new book.
    • Wilson, Smith, and Snyder continued to declare that the Oxford Group practices were a wonderful new cure for alcoholism. They simply stopped using the name "Oxford Group", but continued using Frank Buchman's strange occult practices and unChristian theology.

    Again, none of that is a conspiracy theory. It is all well-documented history. It's just a history that some Alcoholics Anonymous members don't like to hear told.

    Oh well, have a good day anyway.

    == Orange

    Date: Tue, August 12, 2008 10:11 am     (answered 15 Aug.)
    From: "Melanie J."
    Subject: A New Book for Your List


    I wanted to tell you about a book I just read called "The Heart of Addiction" by Lance M. Dodes. It's right up your alley, I think, and it was hugely helpful to me in understanding my addictive tendencies. I think you will agree it would be an excellent addition to your reading list.

    I just found your site and think it's good work. I am an ex-12 stepper, happily in control of my addictions after 10 years of meetings and 5 years of no meetings. I have no axe to grind with AA, but I do think it's a serious problem that a program with such a low success rate is so entrenched in popular culture, as well as the legal and medical communities. There are better ways, and it is important to get that message out there. It is extremely troubling to me how the disease concept has taken hold, but I see it as a wider problem with the medical establishment's views of psychology in general, of which addiction is just one part. We also see depression and anxiety as diseases now, with the result that people are taking pills in epidemic numbers to solve their problems of daily living.

    It's all related. Any work by Thomas Szasz (a mentor of Jeffrey Schaler, author of "Addiction is a Choice") addresses these crucial issues.

    Thank you again for putting your work out there.

    Best Regards,

    Melanie J.

    Hi Melanie,

    Thanks for the note, and the tip on the book. I'll have to check that out.

    And congratulations on your sobriety and your escape. And have a good day.

    == Orange

    *             [email protected]        *
    *         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
    *          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
    **   "We AA's have never called alcoholism a disease because,
    **   technically speaking it is not a disease entity."
    **     ==  William G. Wilson, speaking to the National Catholic Clergy Conference On Alcoholism,  April 21, 1960, in New York
    **   'Resentment is the "number one" offender.
    **   It destroys more alcoholics than anything else.
    **   From it stem all forms of spiritual disease...'
    **     ==  The Big Book, William G. Wilson, Chapter 5, How It Works, page 64.

    Date: Sat, August 9, 2008 2:51 am     (answered 15 Aug.)
    From: "Sharen K."
    Subject: Hilarious AA Confessions

    Hi Again, Orange!

    Regarding the Oxford Group practice of making confessions humorous which AA adopted: I sometimes listen to tapes of AA sobriety speeches, and in several of them, the speakers said that the practice of talking about one's own drunkenness as if it were funny, is both strange and offensive!


    (Ever since I was a teenager, anyone who didn't have a chronically manic personality seemed half dead to me, smirk, smirk, http://home.att.net/~s.l.keim/AboutUsSumm.htm.)

    `6_ 6 ) `-. ( ). `.___.`)
    (_Y_.)' ._ ) `._ `. ``-..-'
    _..`-'_..-_/ /-'_.' '
    (il),-'' (li),' ((!.-''

    Hi again, Sharen,

    I have to agree with that one. There have been times when I heard groups laughing at "hilarious" drunkalogues and all I could do was cringe in pain. The memory of the horror was too clear for it to be funny.

    Oh well, have a good day anyway.

    == Orange

    *             [email protected]        *
    *         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
    *          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
    ** To describe drunkenness for the colorful vocabulary
    ** is rather cynical. There is nothing easier than to
    ** capitalize on drunkards.
    ** Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (1860-1904)

    Date: Mon, October 6, 2008 7:21 pm     (answered 30 April 2009)
    From: "Sharen K."
    Subject: Re: Hilarious AA Confessions

    Hi Again, Orange!

    With all the technology that they now have that can detect exactly how the brain processes various thoughts and feelings, I can't help but wonder what it would look like if one put an addict who laughs at his own previous traumatic experiences, into a brain-scan machine and had him laugh at his own traumatic experiences. One just might find certain endogenous differences between how their brains react emotionally, and how most brains react emotionally. What with all the practical experience that I have with chronically manic temperaments, I could see how they could make someone both be able to laugh inappropriately, and impulsively begin a drug or alcohol problem. Someone once told me that to him, I looked "giddy" (though what I was talking about was pretty mundane).

    Since Buchman changed the name of his organization to Moral Re-Armament in 1938 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_Re-Armament), I'd think that this name would deserve plenty of attention on your Nazi Partying webpage. I'd think that since that name sounds so Nazi, it really does show the mindset of the group. When you consider that AA's conceptions of "personal responsibility," "weakness of character," etc., are so much oriented toward might-makes-right (If you're strong you courageously change and if you're weak you serenely accept.), this affinity for "armament" is very relevant.

    Also, the recent financial crisis should make very relevant the fact that Bill Wilson was a stockbroker around the time of the Great Depresion. I'd think that anyone who was a stockbroker at that time would have wanted everyone to just shut up and deal with their own problems! Since 60% of Americans now think that an economic depression is likely, they should be able to see how problematic is the sort of Buddhism that tries to get control over the yin but not the yang.


    (Ever since I was a teenager, anyone who didn't have a chronically manic personality seemed half dead to me, smirk, smirk, http://home.att.net/~s.l.keim/AboutUsSumm.htm.)

    `6_ 6 ) `-. ( ). `.___.`)
    (_Y_.)' ._ ) `._ `. ``-..-'
    _..`-'_..-_/ /-'_.' '
    (il),-'' (li),' ((!.-''

    Hello again, Sharon,

    I don't know about the brain scans. I do know that things that we make light of become less serious. If alcohol addiction and dying of alcohol poisoning is such a laughing matter, why shouldn't we do it, just as a lark?

    You are right that it is funny for Bill Wilson to be bragging about having been a stock broker (which he wasn't) after the Crash of '29. But then again, Wilson also bragged about having been part of a criminal gang of "operators" who ran Pump-n-Dump schemes on the stock market (which Bill Wilson erroneously called "Ponzi Schemes"). In the wonderful world of A.A., you can brag about any sins and crimes that you committed before you got saved: "It's all the fault of alcohol, and look at what alcohol made us do."

    About the renaming, yes, that is an interesting take on it. There is a certain military air to the name "Moral Re-Armament". Getting ready for war with a different set of tools. But then again, it isn't much worse than "Onward Christian Soldiers", which I find really obnoxious...

    Have a good day.

    == Orange

    *             [email protected]        *
    *         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
    *          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
    **  If you're not on the edge, you're taking up too much space.

    Date: Wed, August 20, 2008 7:21 pm     (answered 21 Aug.)
    From: "W.H."
    Subject: Bill W.

    After reading your "Funny Spirituality" page, I can only say that my goodness, that is one judgmental, unsympathetic, and have obviously missed the entire point of Bill Wilson's existence on earth — which is to have authored the 12 Steps of AA. Who cares what kind of life he lead, though it is interesting.

    Hello, W.H.,

    Thanks for the letter.

    You are assuming that re-writing Dr. Frank Buchman's cult practices into the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous was Bill Wilson's purpose in life — as if God really wanted Bill to do it. Not likely.

    The whole point is that millions of people have been able to stay sober, stop smoking, and other addictions due to his brilliant scribing of the 12 Steps. I'm one of them.

    No, Alcoholics Anonymous and its Twelve Steps have not "saved millions", or "helped millions". That is the commonly-repeated A.A. party line, but it is just not true at all. The true number of people helped by A.A. is far closer to zero. A.A. does not work. The real A.A. success rate is nothing more than the normal rate of spontaneous remission from alcohol abuse. That's the rate at which alcoholics quit drinking all on their own. Then, when you subtract out the people hurt by the A.A. practices and misinformation, you get a truly appalling score. A.A. actually raises the death rate of alcoholics.

    And there was nothing brilliant about Bill Wilson copying Frank Buchman's cult practices and calling them "The Twelve Steps".

    Should we care where it came from? No.
    Does it matter? No.
    Do they work? YES!

    No, they don't work.

    If you believe that they work, then let's see the numbers. What is the actual Alcoholics Anonymous success rate?

    If we send 1000 randomly-selected alcoholics to A.A., how many of them will get a year of sobriety? How many of those 1-year medallions will you need to keep on hand to give out a year later?
    (Hint: See the answers here.)

    And how does that success rate compare to the success rate that comes from sending 1000 alcoholics to the local Tiddly-Winks Society, or the Ladies' Home Garden Club?
    (Hint: the success rate there will be about 50 per thousand.)

    Please answer those questions. They are very important questions, and reveal the whole truth about "Twelve-Step Recovery".

    Am I alone is having stayed sober for over 20 years with the adherence to the 12 Steps of AA? No. Not by a long shot.

    Congratulations on your 20 years. Now why you or others abstain from drinking alcohol is an open question. The fact that some sober people get together in a room doesn't prove anything about why they quit killing themselves with alcohol. It doesn't prove that the chairs did it, or the coffee, or the 12-Step poster hanging on the wall.

    People really quit drinking alcohol for a lot of different reasons — to save their jobs, or their marriages, or their health and their lives, or to stop the pain, or to regain their self-respect — reasons which don't have anything to do with the Twelve Steps or Alcoholics Anonymous.

    Isn't it just like a bible thumper to cast so many stones? I see this over and over. It's truly disgusting. Aside from being horribly hateful, it just plain wrong. Positively evil.

    I am not a Bible-thumper. In fact, the hard-core true believers routinely accuse me of being an atheist.
    (The non-Christian people accuse me of being a Bible-beating fundamentalist, and the true believers accuse me of being an atheist. I must be doing something right.)

    What is really evil is lying to sick people and shoving ineffective quack medicine on them, and telling them that it works great and has saved millions, when it doesn't and it hasn't.

    God bless Bill W. His fearless dive into Spiritualism and seeking brought us 12 Steps to recovery.

    Bill's "dive into spiritualism" was nothing more than superstition, cult religion, and necromancy. Bill Wilson insisted that he received messages from the dead through the Ouija board, spirit-rapping, channelling, and automatic writing. Bill Wilson was just another fake spiritualist.

    W. H.
    Sober, Smokes only when on Fire since 4/13/1983

    Oh well, have a good day anyway.

    == Orange

    *             [email protected]        *
    *         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
    *          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
    **  The way to see faith is to shut the eye of reason.
    **    ==  Benjamin Franklin

    Date: Thu, August 14, 2008 11:29 am     (answered 21 Aug.)
    From: "Charles M C."
    Subject: On your AA information....

    I'm sure you have been blasted by angry members of AA after they have read your pages about the AA program.

    Hello Charles,

    Thanks for the letter. Yes, I receive plenty of angry critical mail.

    I have read about the first half and couldn't really go on any longer as your venomous fangs just keep showing through. You sure do a hatchet job on a program that has saved millions of people from a hideous death and insanity at this point in time.

    Here we go again. No, "the program" has not saved millions. That's the standard Big Lie of Alcoholics Anonymous (and Narcotics Anonymous). We just went through that in the last letter. Look here.

    And I'll ask you the same question as I asked him:
    What is the actual Alcoholics Anonymous success rate?

    Everything else is irrelevant if you won't answer that one simple question. I don't care how spiritual the program makes you feel, or how grateful you are, or how much you like the meetings.
    What is the actual Alcoholics Anonymous success rate?

    I can't help but think you were once a member. I have seen many like you who have come and gone over my years in AA.

    Of course I was once a member, for a short while — long enough to learn that A.A. was a hoax and a cult religion. Haven't you read the introduction?

    And what kind of person is it that you have seen many of come and go?
    Next, I suppose you will declare that I won't be able to stay sober without doing Bill's Twelve Steps, right?

    Problem is that if you drink again, no one will ever know it, and the damage you have done will remain.

    Oh really? And if I were to relapse, would that prove that Alcoholics Anonymous, or Narcotics Anonymous actually work after all? (NOT!)

    Your statement is illogical. You claim that I am doing harm by telling the truth, and you regret that you cannot monitor my sobriety to see if I backslide, so that it will prove, what?
    That I should have joined your cult and done the Twelve Steps?
    But A.A. doesn't work, so there is no logic to that.

    The uninitiated that have read your pages will never know how off the mark you are, and your alcoholic death will go unnoted in these pages.

    Don't you wish. Do you stick little needles into voodoo dolls when you predict critics' deaths like that?

    There are some truths in what you write, but you take it to extremes and try to pigeon hole all members into the same category.

    No, that isn't so. I merely criticize the worst of the cult. The moderate people get little notice because they are not so much of a problem, or so harmful.

    I am one of the early members of the hippie generation who came into the rooms of AA back in 1974. I must say there was a lot of prejudice in those days against us "druggies" who were beginning to walk in seeking anything that could help us break the drug habits we developed by "better living through chemistry". I thank my God that he led me to AA.

    And I'm also one of the hippie generation, and also 61 years old, and have also done just about every drug known to man. And I also believed in "better living through chemistry".

    My brother got saved by the church, but I couldn't go that route, I have to say I was too rebellious to conform to organized religion. There was no NA in New York at that time due to the Rockefeller laws that banned known drug addicts from consorting with each other. If AA had been able to throw me out, I never would have lived to be 60 years old as I am now. I am sure I would have died before I was 30 from a heroin overdose or AIDS since that first generation that got hit with the AIDS epidemic was never aware of the problem until it was too late. As it was I had already caught hepatitis B from sharing needles, so I'm sure I would have been an AIDS victim if I didn't clean up in AA when I did.

    And I got Hep C from sharing needles. So it goes. And I finally recovered, and cleaned up my act, without joining any church, cult, or other organization.

    That flimsy reed of an AA meeting turned out to be the loving, powerful hand of God offered to me, and He didn't even care if I knew it was from Jesus. I came to know Him by name later on, but never would have gotten to that point if I didn't clean up first. You see, I suffered from a form of insanity that condemned me to go on doing the same damaging behaviour to myself over and over again, and if wasn't for the people who helped me in AA I would not be here today. I would not have been able to save my relationship with my children who are relatively well adjusted due to having sober parents. There are two less damaged kids in the world due to AA.

    You are assuming a cause and effect relationship where none exists. You are assuming that A.A. is responsible for your sobriety, rather than that you simply decided to grow up and get your act together.

    I would never have been able to put my agonized grand parents who raised me to peace before they died, and my mom who was also sober in AA would never have been able to make her amends to me before she died of EMPHYSEMA because she smoked. She lived to be 70 God bless her, but she never would have made it that long if she didn't find the rooms of AA at the age of 40. I smoke, I probably will go from the same disease as her at maybe 70 or so, but dear author, I would never have made it that long, and I would have never had any kind of life worth living at all.

    Again, you are assuming that A.A. did some great things.

    If A.A. is so great, why don't you use it to quit smoking, rather than resigning yourself to death by tobacco? What kind of a recovery is it where you decide to die from a legal addictive drug?

    Without joining any cult, I quit smoking three weeks after I quit drinking, because I decided that it was time to really get healthy. Why don't you do the same?

    Don't tell me that your recovery is so wonderful, and A.A. has saved you, while you plan your death from a drug.

    You haven't really quit drugs — you just quit the easier ones. And now you plan to die from the really tough one.

    So, before you do any more hatchet work on a program that has saved so many, do a little meditation of your own. Ask God as YOU understand Him or Her or who ever if it's OK for you to influence anyone away from seeking help to change their life in AA by reading your acid critique of a beautiful program in spite of it's imperfect members.

    A.A. has not saved "so many". Read The Effectiveness of the Twelve-Step Treatment.

    I do not influence people away from seeking help, or getting sober, or improving their lives. I warn people about cult religion and quackery that does not work, and in fact kills people.

    An imperfect member of AA
    Charles M C.

    Have a good day, Charles.

    == Orange

    *             [email protected]        *
    *         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
    *          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
    **  One Stepper declared, "My stability came out of trying to
    **  give, not out of demanding that I receive." Serving humanity
    **  is all fine and well, but what if you are humbly, lovingly,
    **  spiritually giving out cups of cyanide koolaid?
    **  No matter how generous and loving and unselfish you are
    **  while you hand it out, it's still cyanide koolaid.

    Date: Wed, September 3, 2008 11:41 am     (answered 22 May 2009)
    From: chazmcool
    Subject: Re: On your AA information....

    I am not "ASSUMING" that AA did some great things.
    I KNOW that AA has done some great things.
    God Bless You.
    Charles M C.

    Does great things? Like producting no more sobriety than giving the alcoholics no help at all, while raising the death rate in alcoholics way up? That kind of "great things"?

    Oh well, have a good day anyway.

    == 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 16, 2008 1:46 pm     (answered 21 Aug.)
    From: "Catherine D.M."
    Subject: If AA is a cult why don't they...

    ....want your money? One dollar, or a buck fifty is not what cults are after.

    Hi Catherine,

    Thanks for the letter.

    Plenty of cults are not first and foremost out to take your money. Rather, they want your heart, your mind, and your soul. Oh, and also your life.

    But you get to keep your money. (A lot of good that does...)

    Bill and Bob proved that one drunk can help another stay sober, not go to heaven, not save the world. Just be less of a soused ass. AA is full of assholes, we all know that.

    No, Bill and Bob didn't prove any such thing. A.A. does not work. It does not improve the sobriety rate of alcoholics. Read The Effectiveness of the Twelve-Step Treatment.

    I don't care if someone wants to walk out the AA door as long as they don't kill me or my kid drunk driving.

    I take it you've found a better way to help drunks stay sober, good for you. I'm sure you'll soon help thousands solve their drink problem since you have all the answers.

    And that is a good demonstration of the propaganda technique called Sarcasm, Condescension, and Patronizing Attitudes.

    And you are also using the technique called The Either/Or Technique, as in "It's either your program or my program, and if you don't have a perfect program that does a great job of curing alcoholism, then let's shove my favorite cult religion on the alcoholics."

    Even if I didn't have a single good idea, or a single helpful suggestion for alcoholics, giving them nothing would still be better than giving the alcoholics misinformation that makes recovery harder.

    I don't know why I got intoxicated on an almost daily basis for 25 years, then stopped the moment I walked into AA 14 years ago.

    Well, you should look into that, and find the answer.

    May I suggest that you decided to change your life for the better? So you quit drinking and then went to your first A.A. meeting the same day. Lots of people do it that way. First, they decide to quit drinking, and then they do it, and then they also go to A.A. to see if it can help any.

    (And then some A.A. members set to work convincing the newcomer that she is sober because of A.A., and that she must continue coming to A.A. forever or else she will relapse and die drunk in a gutter...)

    A.A. is obviously not due the credit for your quitting because you had already quit drinking before you went into that first A.A. meeting. I mean, you weren't drinking when you walked in the door, were you?

    And why did you go to that first A.A. meeting? Wasn't it because you had already decided to quit drinking? Hadn't you already come to the conclusion that alcohol was wrecking your life, and didn't you want something better?

    You had already done the real important work before you went to your first A.A. meeting.

    I guess I should just stop my involvement with it and see what happens. My family and children will have you to thank.

    Now that's the propaganda trick called Argue from Adverse Consequences.

    I never said that you had to quit going to A.A. meetings. If you enjoy them, knock yourself out. Waste your whole life on A.A. meetings. See if I care.

    But please quit telling the newcomers that A.A. works great, and has a working cure, and "RARELY HAVE we seen a person fail, who has thoroughly followed our path."

    Just tell the truth. Is that too much to ask?

    And you might read the file What's Not Good About A.A.?, and refrain from doing those things to newcomers.

    I guess AA just brainwashed me so that I'm now a positive kinder person whose less fearful of life.

    Well, positive kinder person, will you just tell the truth to the newcomers?

    Oh well, have a good day anyway.

    == Orange

    *             [email protected]        *
    *         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
    *          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
    **  The Sagan rule: "Extraordinary claims require
    **  extraordinary evidence."
    **  The far-fetched claims of Bill Wilson that Frank Buchman's
    **  cult religion could cure alcoholism have not been backed up
    **  by even a little ordinary evidence, never mind some
    **  extraordinary evidence.

    Date: Sat, August 23, 2008 9:48 am     (answered minutes later.)
    From: Andy M.
    Subject: Re: smoking

    Hi Orange

    I notice that one of the letters you received recently (from WH) claimed that the 12 Steps would save people from addiction to smoking. Would it be cruel of me to point out that the author of those sacred and infallible 12 Steps died of emphysema after years of invalidism due entirely to his smoking, when he alternated furtive cigarettes with blasts from an oxygen cannister? It's not much of an advert for a smoking cure, is it?

    Andy M
    It's the first sponsor that does the damage.

    Hi again, Andy,

    Funny that you should mention that. I forgot to mention that one.

    Yes, it's a "spiritual quit your addictions" program where the founders both stayed addicted to a nasty drug until they died. Bill Wilson was killed by the direct effects of smoking, and Dr. Bob probably died from the indirect effects — he died of cancer, which tobacco can cause and which tobacco certainly makes worse.

    Oh well, have a good day anyway.

    == Orange

    *          [email protected]       *
    *      AA and Recovery Cult Debunking     *
    *      https://www.orange-papers.info/      *
    ** "Now I know what it's like to be high on life.
    ** It isn't as good, but my driving has improved."
    ** == Nina, on "Just Shoot Me", 13 Jan 2006.

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