Letters, We Get Mail, XCVII

[This is the 2nd letter in a chain. The first is here.]

Date: Fri, December 26, 2008 9:13 am     (answered 1 Jan 2009)
From: "Carol"
Subject: RE: hello


I do believe your website and all of the information and letters saved my life from the cult. When my gut instinct screamed at me to, "Get Out!" of AA, I was really sick and getting sicker with every meeting. I will never forget how sick AA made me, or how I felt after leaving the chaos & confusion. AA does create the chaos & there is no harmony in their lies.

When I found your website, the Propaganda & Debating Techniques helped me to start deprogramming. They described all the insanity that the fellowship was doing to mess with my sanity. I experienced big-time love-bombing turned into abuse in the form of reward or withholding. Since I wasn't putting on a good enough "act as if; fake it BS" the fellowship turned zombie-abusive towards me. I can remember being so sick feeling & trying to communicate with the self-proclaimed winners & they would have snide one-liners that didn't even apply to what I was talking about. It drove me nuts. It hurt at first to realize I had wasted so much time & resources in a cult, it was hurtful to realize that "none" of those cult members ever had intentions of forming healthy relationships with each other or myself.

The deprogramming was the hardest. I am still going through the down-side to recovery, because a person can't just open up all their wounds and then go merrily skipping off into a sunset. I had to find "real facts, meaning, & solutions" to all the issues AA opened up for me and AA didn't have even one reality-based solution for. There are so many more intelligent, advanced books on subjects related to healing than the pathetic solutions of the Big Book. I tried many times to use the steps to solve my problems and the results were disastrous every single time. I hope you keep your website up, because it is a fine collection of anti-AA material & there are people out there who need to know that if they are suffering in AA it is not their imagination.

I come from a real alcoholic family with real alcoholic tendencies myself and there is not one single person in this entire world that could convince me AA has an honest, factual, realistic solution to anything related to the subject. Before I ever attended AA, I had created this method of coping with life that was similar to what AA tries to implies, & so at first I thought it would be really cool to meet other people who were trying to live simple & honest sober. The truth is AA destroyed my entire delusional state of living life accepting everything as having some spiritual purpose (it is a mind trick into accepting or coping with things in this world that are really unacceptable). AA changed my entire view of all the experience and knowledge that I have & left me seeing the world around me as one big lie ... all the systems are created to keep a person so busy trying to make them work when they don't that a person can easily get lost. I am not inspired to have a life that is the reflection of the people around me.

Just imagine how many people over the last 70 years went insane working the AA program, because there was no internet allowing people to find eachother & speak up: about AA's crimes against other people? To me AA's message, program, steps, and fellowship are all abusive which is the most common dysfunction of addiction and they breed it and keep it alive and well. I don't need any more tough-love in my life. I have never met an alcoholic who wasn't belligerent and mean. I have met a few alcoholics that were too drunk to be anything but either looking for a drink, stumbling, or passed out ...

I don't need any more "fake love" or "fake, plastic, superficial, narcissistic, abusive, dysfunctional, stupid crap" in my life & there is plenty of it in the rooms of AA. Your website is "real" and gives everyone a chance to express their true experience with the AA cult, and allows AA members to show the world how they really are: illogical & abusive. I do believe without a doubt the steps' intention is to be used to exploit people (period). There is no good will in them. I remember my sponsor telling me that my 5th step was going to do her more good than it would me (I thought everything was weird then, & your site allowed me to process the truth through to why it is all 100% weird now!) ... Sponsors are nothing but communication triangle break-downs; they are people with an incurable, deadly, insane disease and they will give you freely their std of death if you let them. I don't want whatever AA members think they have and I don't find their speaker tapes to be funny or educational at all.

I have over one-year of deprogramming & thanks to all the information on your website & the work of Blamedenial. I can see & hear the AA message for what it is: a cult. I am recovering from being completely destroyed by the stupidest solution ever for problems associated with alcohol. When I cross the path of cult members who "love-bombed" me for over a year or two or three & now pretend they don't know me (just like many people have said) it shows their true colors: you either accept the entire cult program or you are out-casted ... I would rather be out-casted trying to make a life in reality based on facts and honesty than to be a life-time member of the most insane recovery cult ever developed. I don't think it is funny to hurt people who are already suffering: AA is like pouring salt & vinegar on people's open wounds and then laughing at them. I can picture all those "winners" sitting around their clubs until they become old-timers who can only repeat a false message of nothing and believe themselves. I did not meet "one" single person in AA that I would consider honestly recovered from anything related to addiction. Your website helped to free my mind from all the AA lies & it did save my life.

Thanks for the letter Carol. It serves as a warning to the unwary, especially the innocent beginner who has no idea what they may be getting themselves into — and I just got a letter from another one of them.

Date: Fri, December 26, 2008 9:24 am     (answered 1 Jan 2009)
From: "Carol"
Subject: RE: hello


I find the following information interesting! It seems that Bill's association with famous people really was a joke on him to help create another institution for keeping people slaves to the system. The famous system of non-profit and volunteering to do the work for free or at below-living wages while a select group stays forever wealthy from the stupidity of the masses. I am struggling with my children's education and this explains why ... I remember in school being taught we have 5 senses. That isn't true, we have 6 and the 6th sense incorporates all the senses that our system wants to deny people like their gut instinct or the right to think, feel, or know the truth. The blind following the blind ... hope you find this as interesting as I did. I had to read it a few times to let the totality of what these people were trying to warn the future about. I already knew most of it, but sometimes it takes courage to speak the truth, because it is easier to just be a blind voiceless sheep with your ego beaten down into despair forever a slave to the systems ... the bottom line of the spreadsheet doesn't add up.

Between 1896 and 1920, a small group of industrialists and financiers, together with their private charitable foundations, subsidized university chairs, university researchers, and school administrators, spent more money on forced schooling (i am adding this: Indians were forced into horrible schools where they were abused under these policies too) than the government itself did. Carnegie and Rockefeller, as late as 1915, were spending more themselves. In this laissez-faire fashion a system of modern schooling was constructed without public participation. The motives for this are undoubtedly mixed, but it will be useful for you to hear a few excerpts from the first mission statement of Rockefeller's General Education Board as they occur in a document called Occasional Letter Number One (1906):

In our dreams...people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. (brainwashing) The present educational conventions [intellectual and character education] fade from our minds, and unhampered by tradition we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or men of science. We have not to raise up from among them authors, educators, poets or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians, nor lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen, of whom we have ample supply. The task we set before ourselves is very simple... we will organize children... and teach them to do in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way.

quotes worth considering about education:

"A government system of education in Prussia is not inconsistent with the theory of Prussian society, for there all wisdom is supposed to be lodged in the government. But the thing is wholly inadmissible here . . . because, according to our theory, the people are supposed to be wiser than the government. Here, the people do not look to the government for light, for instruction, but the government looks to the people. The people give the law to the government. To entrust, then, the government with the power of determining the education which our children shall receive is entrusting our servant with the power to be our master. This fundamental difference between the two countries [United States and Prussia], we apprehend, has been overlooked by the board of education and its supporters."
— Orestes Brownson, In Opposition to Centralization, 1839

"This subject [mass psychology] will make great strides when it is taken up by scientists under a scientific dictatorship. Anaxagoras maintained that snow is black, but no one believed him. The social psychologists of the future will have a number of classes of school children on whom they will try different methods of producing an unshakable conviction that snow is black. Various results will soon be arrived at. First, that the influence of home is obstructive. Second, that not much can be done unless indoctrination begins before the age of ten. Third, that verses set to music and repeatedly intoned are very effective. Fourth, that the opinion that snow is white must be held to show a morbid taste for eccentricity... It is for future scientists to make these maxims precise and discover exactly how much it costs per head to make children believe that snow is black, and how much less it would cost to make them believe it is dark grey. Although this science will be diligently studied, it will be rigidly confined to the governing class. The populace will not be allowed to know how its convictions were generated. When the technique has been perfected, every government that has been in charge of education for a generation will be able to control its subjects securely without the need of armies or policemen. As yet there is only one country which has succeeded in creating this politician's paradise."
— Bertrand Russel, The Impact of Science on Society (1952) page 41

"Our schools have been scientifically designed to prevent over-education from happening? The average American [should be] content with their humble role in life, because they're not tempted to think about any other role."
— U.S. Commissioner of Education William Torrey Harris, 1889

"A general State education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another: and as the mould in which it casts them is that which pleases the predominant power in the government, whether this be a monarch, a priesthood, an aristocracy, or the majority of the existing generation, in proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism over the mind, leading by natural tendency to one over the body."
— John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

"[Administration] covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting; such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to be nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which government is the shepherd."
— Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (1835)

"Every teacher should realize he is a social servant set apart for the maintenance of the proper social order and the securing of the right social growth. In this way the teacher is always the prophet of the true God and the usherer in of the true kingdom of heaven."
— John Dewey's Pedagogic Creed, 1897

"That erroneous assumption is to the effort that the aim of public education is to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence....Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States, whatever the pretensions of politicians, pedagogues, and other such mountebanks, and that is its am everywhere else."
— H.L Mencken, The American Mercury, April 1924

"Take at hazard one hundred children of several educated generations and one hundred uneducated children of the people and compare them in anything you please; in strength, in agility, in mind, in the ability to acquire knowledge, even in morality?and in all respects you are startled by the vast superiority on the side of the children of the uneducated."
— Count Leo Tolstoy, "Education and Children" (1862)

"Today's corporate sponsors want to see their money used in ways to line up with business objectives.... This is a young generation of corporate sponsors and they have discovered the advantages of building long-term relationships with educational institutions."
— Suzanne Cornforth of Paschall & Associates, public relations consultants.
As quoted in The New York Times, July 15, 1998

"We want one class to have a liberal education. We want another class, a very much larger class of necessity, to forgo the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks."
— Woodrow Wilson, 1909

"They [the "un-intelligent"] are amenable to any reasonable treatment that we may prescribe for them and whenever society is ready to eliminate them from the main group and to provide for them in ways that will make them happy and as efficient as they, with their limited intelligence can be made, we will at least have increased the total efficiency to an almost unbelievable extent. It is said that the busy bee, so often held up to us as a model of industrious work, actually works twenty minutes a day. The explanation of the great amount that he accomplishes is said to be in the fact of the perfect organization of the hive. Perhaps it would be wiser for us to emulate the bee's social organization more and his supposed industry less."
— Henry Herbert Goddard, Human Efficiency (1920), page 61-62

"Ignorance was widespread and formal education did not flourish in the Chesapeake. This condition was not an accident. It was deliberately contrived by Virginia's elite, who positively feared learning among the general population."
— David Hackett Fischer, Albion's Seed

This excerpt is from page 192 of The Underground History of American Education:

In the Congressional Record of January 26, 1917, for instance, Senator Chamberlain of Oregon entered these words: They are moving with military precision all along the line to get control of the education of the children of the land.

Senator Poindexter of Washington followed, saying: The cult of Rockefeller, the cult of Carnegie...as much to be guarded against in the educational system of this country as a particular religious sect.

And in the same issue, Senator Kenyon of Iowa related: There are certain colleges that have sought endowments, and the agent of the Rockefeller Foundation or the General Education Board had gone out and examined the curriculum of these colleges and compelled certain changes....It seems to me one of the most dangerous things that can go on in a republic is to have an institution of this power apparently trying to shape and mold the thought of the young people of this country.

Senator Works of California added: These people...are attempting to get control of the whole educational work of the country.

If it interests you, take a look. It's all in the Congressional Record of January 26,1917

"The ideology that lies behind these texts [school textbooks] is rather difficult to define.... it does not fit usual political patterns.... the texts never indicate any line of action.... authors avoid what they choose to and some of them avoid main issues.... they fail to develop any original ideas.... they confuse social sciences with science.... clouds of jargon.... leave out ideas.... historical names are given no character, they are cipher people.... there are no conflicts, only "problems"."
— Frances Fitzgerald, America Revised


Thanks again for the input.

You know, those quotes reminded me of something that Dr. Paul Diener wrote about how, in the earliest days of A.A., the Alcoholics Anonymous organization and philosophy was actually spread, promoted, and forced on drunks from above, by the wealthy people like Rockefeller, and by the courts, rather than growing as any kind of "attraction, not promotion" program: Look here. Paul Diener believed that A.A. was just another way for the rich and powerful to subdue and control the lower classes.

Have a happy new year.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  Emotional Coercion
**  Although we may be able to behave to some extent differently than
**  we feel, any successful coercion to feel other than we actually 
**  feel — even a coercion to fit some preferred version of ourselves
**  — will keep us at a distance from our true selves.
**     —  Robert Langan in "Psychoanalysis and Buddhism", from
**   More Daily Wisdom, edited by Josh Bartok, Wisdom Publications 
**    (http://www.wisdompubs.org)

May 21, 2008: In the park, Day 4.

Canada Goose goslings and me

[The story of the goslings continues here.]

Date: Thu, December 25, 2008 6:20 pm     (answered 5 Jan 2009)
From: David
Subject: Gilding the lily?

Dear Mr. Orange,

I have spent an hour or so looking over your site, so there is a lot there that I have not read, yet. But some of what you write is just so singlemindedly biased, that I am forced to wonder whether your commitment is to truth or to the gallery. Of course, you did not exactly ask me for the following opinions, but I see that you are a keen correspondent, so I am emboldened to

Hi David,

Thanks for the letter. Please do.

I got sober, in AA, in 1981. I found it to be therapeutically very effective to examine the bases of my morality, as the Big Book recommends. But, like a lot of others, I increasingly found the cultlike aspects of the AA meetings to be such a complete waste of time that I stopped hanging out with AAers about 15 years ago (or thereabouts). So I am an not an AA apologist, but I genuinely object to your chronic misrepresentation of the program. I list some examples:

1. You repeatedly refer to the moral inventory as a list of "sins," as though we're supposed to list our moral transgressions. The moral inventory is a simple list of (a) things we are angry about, (b) things we fear, and (c) our sex problems. I guess the idea is that if we face our resentments, fears, and sex problems, then we gain insight into how the loss of inhibition with drinking lets us do what we really want to do, but don't have the balls to do sober. So, as I read the moral inventory, it was part of a plan to gain the courage to do and say what we really want to, even when we're not drinking. I found this to be very helpful and would recommend it to others. Maybe I was unusually screwed up when I got to AA and people who are less screwed up can work this stuff out for themselves. But your repeated portrayals of the moral inventory as a kind of soul-cleansing confession of wrongdoing by a supplicant to some kind of "sin-scrubber" really misses the point of doing this. I gained self-knowledge through this activity — why would an honest guy like you attack what seems to me to be a relatively healthy thing to do?

What Bill Wilson described as a "moral inventory" on page 65 of the Big Book is no such thing. A list of angers, fears, and sex problems is an emotional inventory, or a psychological inventory, but it most certainly is not a moral inventory. A real moral inventory would have to start with things like, "Who have you killed lately? Do you help to exploit the poor and down-trodden, or do you work to liberate them from their suffering? Work for war or peace?" and so on.

I am all for introspection, but that isn't what Bill Wilson was teaching. His simple-minded "moral inventory" was nothing more than a veiled put-down, implying that you are defective for being angry or fearful, or sexually insecure.

2. You repeatedly rail against the dominating influence of sponsors — noting how they take over the lives of the AA inititiates. You are spot on about this, by the way. I never had a sponsor, because absolutely nowhere in the first 164 pages of the Big Book (the canonical doctrine, I guess) does the Big Book actually recommend a sponsor for any purpose other than to introduce a newcomer to a group. As far as I could see from the Big Book, I did not need a sponsor to work the 12 Steps, and I had enough problems without having to deal with another ex-drinker trying to advise me. So, once a sponsor says, "Hi folks, this is Ralph," then all sponsorship duties vis-a-vis Ralph have been duly completed. This is not what you hear in meetings, but that's what the Big Book has to say about sponsors, so I wonder why you keep harping about this. People in meetings tell you that you need a sponsor, but the "canonical doctrine" does not, so the truth is just more nuanced than you make it out to be. (Incidentally, over the years, I have moved from a position of believing that getting a sponsor is merely a harmless diversion, to my present view, which is that AA sponsorship is positively dangerous, but then it is not really part of the 12-steps).

You should read Bill Wilson's second book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. That's where he went off the deep end on sponsorship. Sponsorship was hardly mentioned in the first book, the "Big Book" Alcoholics Anonymous, even though it was a regular practice in A.A. because that's what the Oxford Group did, and A.A. was just another branch of the Oxford Group (even after it split from the Oxford Group). At that time, your sponsor was the person who recruited you. The sponsor was also usually the person to whom you made your surrender and your confession.

I think Wilson down-played and hid sponsorship in the Big Book because he was hiding the similarities between the Oxford Group and Alcoholics Anonymous. The founder of the Oxford Group, Dr. Frank Buchman, was very unpopular for his praise of Adolf Hitler and support for the Nazis, so Bill Wilson pretended that there was no connection between A.A. and the Oxford Group, and he changed the language and terminology to remove resemblances between the two.

...drinkers would not take pressure in any form, excepting from John Barleycorn himself. They always had to be led, not pushed. They would not stand for the rather aggressive evangelism of the Oxford Group. And they would not accept the principle of "team guidance" for their own personal lives. It was too authoritarian for them. In other respects, too, we found we had to make haste slowly. When first contacted, most alcoholics just wanted to find sobriety, nothing else. They clung to their other defects, letting go only little by little. They simply did not want to get "too good too soon." The Oxford Groups' absolute concepts — absolute purity, absolute honesty, absolute unselfishness, and absolute love — were frequently too much for the drunks. These ideas had to be fed with teaspoons rather than by buckets.
      Besides, the Oxford Groups' "absolutes" were expressions peculiar to them. This was a terminology which might continue to identify us in the public mind with the Oxford Groupers, even though we had completely withdrawn from their fellowship.
Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age, William G. Wilson, pages 74-75.
Not-God, Ernest Kurtz, page 46,

Here is a story from "12X12" where a sponsor teaches a newcomer to stop thinking:

"... all you really need is a truly open mind. Just resign from the debating society and quit bothering yourself with such deep questions as whether it was the hen or the egg that came first. Again I say, all you need is the open mind."
      The sponsor continues, "Take, for example, my own case. I had a scientific schooling. Naturally I respected, venerated, even worshiped science. As a matter of fact, I still do — all except the worship part. Time after time, my instructors held up to me the basic principle of all scientific progress: search and research, again and again, always with the open mind. When I first looked at A.A. my reaction was just like yours. This A.A. business, I thought, is totally unscientific. This I can't swallow. I simply won't consider such nonsense.
      "Then I woke up. I had to admit that A.A. showed results, prodigious results. I saw that my attitude regarding these had been anything but scientific. It wasn't A.A. that had the closed mind, it was me. The minute I stopped arguing, I could begin to see and feel. Right there, Step Two gently and very gradually began to infiltrate my life. I can't say upon what occasion or upon what day I came to believe in a Power greater than myself, but I certainly have that belief now. To acquire it, I had only to stop fighting and practice the rest of A.A.'s program as enthusiastically as I could."
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, pages 26-27.

That story obviously reeks of mental surrender to the cult. Just stop thinking, just stop questioning, and wonderful things will happen, Bill says.

And the "sponsor" supposedly didn't find happiness until he underwent a religious conversion and "came to believe" in the Alcoholics Anonymous deity. So much for the often-repeated A.A. statements that you don't have to believe anything.

Here, Bill Wilson explains how the sponsor continues to guide the new member's thinking:

      So how, exactly, can the willing person continue to turn his will and his life over to the Higher Power? ... His lone courage and unaided will cannot do it. Surely he must now depend on Somebody or Something else.
      At first that "somebody" is likely to be his closest A.A. friend. ... Of course the sponsor points out that our friend's life is still unmanageable even though he is sober, that after all, only a bare start on A.A.'s program has been made.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William Wilson, pages 38-39.

And here, Bill Wilson teaches that the newcomer should allow his sponsor and other A.A. oldtimers to edit and correct his thinking as he lists his faults in Step 4, or hears the Voice of God in Step 11:

If all our lives we had more or less fooled ourselves, how could we now be so sure that we weren't still self-deceived? How could we be certain we had made a true catalog of our defects and had really admitted them, even to ourselves?
      ... what comes to us alone may be garbled by our own rationalization and wishful thinking. The benefit of talking to another person is that we can get his direct comment and counsel on our situation, and there can be no doubt in our minds what that advice is. Going it alone in spiritual matters is dangerous. How many times have we heard well-intentioned people claim the guidance of God when it was all too plain that they were sorely mistaken? Lacking both practice and humility, they had deluded themselves and were able to justify the most arrant nonsense on the ground that this was what God had told them.   ...   Surely then, a novice ought not lay himself open to the chance of making foolish, perhaps tragic, blunders in this fashion. While the comment or advice of others may be by no means infallible, it is likely to be far more specific than any direct guidance we may receive while we are still so inexperienced in establishing contact with a Power greater than ourselves.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, pages 59-60.

Do read "12X12".

3. You have made a lot of Bill Wilson's quote:

"After the husband joins A.A., the wife may become discontented, even highly resentful that Alcoholics Anonymous has done the very thing that all her years of devotion had failed to do. Her husband may become so wrapped up in A.A. and his new friends that he is inconsiderately away from home more than when he drank. Seeing her unhappiness, he recommends A.A.'s Twelve Steps and tries to teach her how to live."

Instead of taking this as intended (as a humorous example of what a fanatical blowhard a new AAer is likely to be), you interpret the quotation literally. This was clearly an example of self-deprecation, yet you choose to portray this as Bill Wilson actually sanctifying the "teaching of wives" or some such. Now, if you think that Bill Wilson was something of a demagogue, a megalomaniac, or just plain nutty, then I would be disinclined to disagree with you, but in this passage I genuinely believe that any dispassionate reading would force the interpretation that Bill Wilson was simply noting the kinds of excesses that can occur in the initial rush of purposefulness that many new AAers do experience, even to the point of trying to "teach [the wife] how to live." The humor lies in the absurdity of the newly sober spouse preaching to the person who has probably kept the family together over some years, through a series of crises caused by the newly sober spouse, and Bill Wilson invoked this absurd image fully self-consciously. If you are as honest as you claim to be, why do you repeatedly interpret this text so literally?

I can see how you can read that passage that way, but self-deprecating humor was not Bill Wilson's strong suit. Maybe, if everything else that Wilson wrote about his wife was sane and tolerant, then maybe Bill could have been poking some fun at himself. But that wasn't the case. Bill Wilson's treatment of his wife was downright vicious, as well as arrogant, condescending, and chauvinistic. Bill actually wrote Lois's confession for her, and printed on page 116 of the Big Book that she was afflicted with pride, self-pity, and vanity, and that she was so silly that she thought she was too good to need God. Remember that Bill Wilson wrote this, while pretending to be his wife Lois:

      We wives found that, like everybody else, we were afflicted with pride, self-pity, vanity and all the things which go to make up the self-centered person; and we were not above selfishness or dishonesty. As our husbands began to apply spiritual principles in their lives, we began to see the desirability of doing so too.
      At first, some of us did not believe we needed this help. We thought, on the whole, we were pretty good women, capable of being nicer if our husbands stopped drinking. But it was a silly idea that we were too good to need God. Now we try to put spiritual principles to work in every department of our lives.   ...   We urge you to try our program, for nothing will be so helpful to your husband as the radically changed attitude toward him which God will show you how to have. Go along with your husband if you possibly can.
A.A. Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 8, To Wives, page 116.

Bill Wilson wasn't joking even a little bit when he said that he taught the Twelve Steps to his wife to teach her how to live. Bill Wilson really was so arrogant and narcissistic that he insisted that he had all of the answers to life, and his wife Lois knew nothing. (And that's why Bill thought she wasn't qualified to write the "To Wives" chapter of the Big Book, so he did it for her.) That is a hallmark of somebody who suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

You should read the entire "To Wives" chapter of the Big Book again. Bill Wilson wasn't laughing when he wrote that chapter; he was spitting venom. He was getting even with his wife Lois for screaming at him and calling him a drunken sot.
(Oh, and especially note the part where Bill told the wives to shut up and quit nagging, or else the husbands will go sleep with their mistresses. Bill wasn't joking about that either, and that threat wasn't any self-deprecating humor.)

[There is a continuation of this thread in another letter, here.]

I think your writing would be less tediously hostile (and therefore more accurate) if you distinguished the kinds of nutty things that they say in meetings from the kinds of things that are actually recommended in the first 164 pages of the Big Book. My point is simply that it is far from accurate to paint the AA 12-step program and the behavior of contemporary AAers with the same brush.

Let's compare and contrast:

People in Meetings (PM): Get a sponsor!
Big Book (BB): No sponsor required to perform any of the 12 steps.

PM: Don't have sex with any new people in the first (30/60/90/365 days)!
BB: Simply advises (a) for honesty in sexual (as with other) relationships and (b) against fully selfish motivations in sexual relationships.

PM: Don't make any major changes in your life in the first year!
BB: Completely change your life for the better, the sooner, the better.

PM: If you don't go to meetings, you will probably relapse (as though going to meetings actually keeps people sober).
BB: You can stay sober anywhere, at any time, no matter how far you are from other recovered alcoholics.

PM: (To newcomers): Wondering whether you are an alcoholic? Whatever you do, don't drink!
BB: (To newcomers): Wondering whether you are an alcoholic? Have a drink! Heck, have a couple! Then stop drinking, abruptly. If you cannot do this, then you're probably an alcoholic.

What you are exposing there is the Bait-and-Switch nature of the Alcoholics Anonymous message. I wrote a whole web page on that. Look here. And it isn't just the Big Book versus the sayings of contemporary A.A. members. It's often Bill Wilson versus Bill Wilson. You can quote him on both sides of many issues.

And you are bringing up another issue here: the question of what is "the real A.A."?

  • Some people claim that the real A.A. is just what's in the Big Book.
  • Others claim that it's only what is "Council Approved".
  • Others claim that it's only what is in "The Traditions".
  • Others claim that it's just what was done in the 'good old days'.
I maintain that the whole mess is the real A.A. — whatever is said to the newcomers, or read to the newcomers, or done to the newcomers — that's the real A.A. So is the crazy garbage that you hear in meetings, and the crazy instructions given to newcomers — that's the real A.A. too. And so is the 13th-Stepping and sexual exploitation and abuse of newcomers, and the sponsors telling sponsees not to take their medications. It's all "the real A.A.".

Okay, I'm really finished, now. Thanks for reading, if you got this far.

Keep up the good work — the crap you hear in meetings is really as ridiculous as you make it out to be, but this stuff is also inconsistent with the 12-step program (which, I gather, you see as being equally absurd). Because working those 12 steps really did change how I made decisions in many areas of my life, and because my life improved beyond my wildest fantasies, I would recommend them to anyone. Hell, you can always stop working them, if you want to. The truth of the matter is that you can work a 12-step program (if you want to) without ever setting foot into an AA meeting, and in my opinion, you would be better off if you did.

It's good that you chose to work on yourself and improve yourself, but I think you might find that it wasn't really the practices of Dr. Frank Buchman's cult religion that improved you. — That is, Buchman's cult practices for recruiting and indoctrinating new members that Bill Wilson copied and made into the Twelve Steps. Introspection and working to improve yourself is all fine and well, but practicing a cult religion is generally very harmful.

I think that you are Confusing Causation with Coincidence there, in assuming that the Twelve Steps fixed you.

Use a little logic: Ask yourself: If most of the people who have been going to A.A. meetings and doing the Twelve Steps for years are ridiculous and full of crap, then what are the Steps really doing for them, or to them?

Please do not publish my last name or email address, as this might cause widespread civil disruption in several east European countries (then, again, maybe it wouldn't).


Have a good day, David.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** "Men have become the tools of their tools."
**     == Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

[The second letter in this sequence is here.

Date: Sun, January 4, 2009 5:05 am     (answered Jan 5)
From: "Jon M."
Subject: sub-sects of Alcoholics Anonymous

Hi there

Here is a site that tells of where the cult within the cult have been spotted in the UK




Hi Jon,

Thanks for the tip. Now that's interesting. Sort of like the pot calling the kettle black.

In the overview, http://aacultwatch.co.uk/overview.aspx,
the way in which they declare that "good" A.A. members must conform to the "proper" beliefs is highly revealing —

Whereas it is entirely legitimate for an individual AA member to hold whatever views they want they are usually careful to ensure that others are clear that they do not represent AA in their exposition.

So you can believe anything you want, but you aren't really a genuine, 100% qualified A.A. member, and you don't represent A.A., if you hold non-conforming views. And they don't see that as cultish — or a contradiction to Bill Wilson's declaration that "no beliefs are required".

Likewise, they accuse "the cultish A.A. branch" of:

It is part of the ethos of these groups that they carry a purer AA message...

That's funny, because I've heard regular vanilla A.A. making the same claim to having a purer spirituality than either real medical doctors or other churches.

The rest of it, the description of how the rogue elements operate, is quite informative. Thanks again for the link.

And have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "Every identity has its fundamentalists — the gatekeepers of what is and
**  isn't permissible for those who share that identity.  Since we all have
**  access to multiple identities — race, religion, nationality, ethnicity,
**  class — these fundamentalists usually have their work cut out trying to
**  keep everybody in line.  As the guardians of authenticity, their job is
**  to deny complexity and impose uniformity."
**   == Gary Younge, "To Fight These Reactionaries We Must Tackle the Crisis
**  That They Feed Off", in The Guardian/UK, August 21, 2006
**  http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0821-22.htm
**  http://www.guardian.co.uk/print/0,,329557728-103677,00.html

Date: Wed, January 7, 2009 12:17 am     (answered 7 Jan.)
From: "G."
Subject: NA Cult

Hi Orange,

Thanks for the excellent website ; it confirmed everything I've thought about NA for the last few months!

I'm going to bore you with yet another classic NA story. My girlfriend came out of Rehab in August 2008 and 'needed' to attend these meetings and 'work the steps'. I supported her and even attended two meetings as her supporter and to see what it was all about. Keep in mind I don't use drugs or alcohol — and never have ; know very little about them, treatments, addictions or anything related — so I had no idea of what I was stepping into. The meetings were ... different — but I still didn't suspect much.

After 10 weeks (October 2008) I realized all she spoke about was NA ; she was also never home and always at meetings, socials, events, coffee, dinner, doing service, coming home late etc. She missed my brothers birthday, my staff Christmas party and small sections of my life and what I was doing in it. I seemed to be the one complaining that I missed her and not the other way around ; she had her NA friends and that was all that was needed on her side. I brought up my worries and concerns — and was promised things would change. The group swapped contact numbers a few weeks prior so they could speak to each other when in need. This — admittedly — irritated me slightly as I am a slightly jealous person. However, all in the name of recovery. I even brought up the very real fear of her leaving/cheating for an NA person. She denied this would ever happen.

She told me about one particular guy (a known 13 stepper) that was flirting, texting, asking for coffee, dates and get with her all the time. She told me she rejected him plenty of times and even spoke to the 'senior' NA official about it. This problem — from what I understood — had stopped. This was until early December 2008 when I found out they had been texting and she'd attempted to cover up the texts! We had a huge blow up over this and made up a few hours later. Surely now it would end as she saw what it was doing to us? Not yet. A few days later I found out they had chatted over the phone behind my back. We ended our relationship that night and she moved out. NA ended the best thing in my life.

It gets worse (in my eyes). She relapsed just over a week later after we split up (December 2008) — and ended up in hospital for the night due to the 4 day drug binge, which almost cost her her life. I was the one that picked up something was wrong ; I picked up the behavior and lies. I informed her family that something was wrong with her and the possibility of drugs again. I found out about the hospital incident and I went to see if she was alright — before a single other person even knew what was going on. When her NA friends found about her relapse and swooped in — guess who was at fault? Me! I was the reason she relapsed! She shouldn't see me! I'm abusive! I'm a drunkard! I was disliked by all at NA — yet where were NA when they were needed?

Once discharged, the 'senior' NA official told her not to see me, made her stay at his place, drove her to work, took her money and basically controlled her life for the following week. All in the name of recovery, of course. Not only that, but I've since seen text and emails from him trying his best to bed her and 'wanting her in his life'. She was his 'everything', according to these love messages. The texts and emails made me ill — knowing that this was the 2nd guy I knew about trying (or succeeding?) with 13th stepping in the past 2 weeks. What had actually happened in the previous 4 months?

And one final blow is that out of the group, the majority have slept with each other and 13th stepped. Fact. That's the norm. There are people that are there for that exact reason. I could peg the percentage of 13th steppers at over 50%. New comers to the group best watch out.

I thought that being in South Africa with a smallish group, things may be different here and the NA politics may not be as prevalent — but it is identical to what you describe. I find it difficult to understand that an outsider can see what the group is like after 10 weeks — yet some people attend (a very, very small percentage — as you point out) for 10 years and are oblivious. After doing some research, NA has a habit of breaking up relationships — intimate, friends or family.

Please be wary of the sexual, social cult.



(Please don't print my email address or name — thanks)

Hello, G,

Thank you for the letter. It's good to warn others what might await them in "the rooms".

Alas, being in South Africa is no defense. The 12-Step cult is a world-wide problem. I am reminded of a previous letter from South Africa, here, where a woman paid seven rehab facilities to cure her drug addict friend, and got burned every time.

Your experiences are disturbingly similar to what another fellow described in a previous letter, here. He lost his girlfriend to a romantic relationship that started when she was in a rehab center. When the correspondent asked how common these illicit rehab romances are, another correspondent answered by explaining the mechanics of how the "treatment program" causes such relationships, here.

Oh well, try to 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: Wed, January 7, 2009 3:08 pm
From: "Glenn"
Subject: AA

I'm surprised at how strongly you find fault with AA. I have had an amazingly good life in AA for 24 years. I had just gotten out of a penitentiary prior to joining, due to a life of alcohol, drugs and crime.

Hello Glenn,

Congratulations on your sobriety and your good life.

I'm glad that you got your life together and quit the alcohol, drugs and crime routine. It's obvious that such a change improves your lifestyle and makes you happier in the long run. And it sure makes it easier to stay out of prison. The fact that you also coincidentally joined a non-drinking confession club does not in any way mean that the club is due the credit for your new good life. You made the positive changes in your life; A.A. didn't do them for you.

And if you are going to argue that somehow A.A. told you to improve your life, or encouraged you to improve your life, well, so did the warden and the parole officer, didn't they? So why not give all of the credit for your good life to them?

You might want to read two previous letters that just came in from people who haven't had such positive experiences with Steppism, here and here.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "What gets us into trouble is not what we don't know,
**  it's what we know for sure that just ain't so."
**   == Mark Twain

Date: Wed, January 7, 2009 10:04 pm     (answered 12 Jan.)
From: "Don"
Subject: AA Paper

I just finished reading your paper, "What's Not Good about AA". I am quite impressed with some of your facts and opinions on the AA Program. I am actually doing a report on the different recovering for drug addiction and alcoholism. I went to a few "open" AA meetings and it appears there were some pretty happy people, a few sad one and several in the middle. I was quite impressed with the format and how the people talked about the solution AA offered them to be free of drinking and drugs. I did not notice you citing any solutions for people that suffer from addiction. Can you point me in a direction in which I may find other solutions more success than AA when it comes to recovery?

Thanks in advance for your help and consideration.

Cedar Rapids, IA

Hi Don,

Thanks for the letter and the compliments.

As I have said many times, you can find some very nice people at some A.A. meetings. (Look here and here and here.)

Unfortunately, you can also find some real monsters there, too. (Look here.) Your luck, and your mileage, may vary.

At A.A. meetings, you will hear people talk about the solution that A.A. has offered them. Unfortunately, it is a myth. It does not actually work. (Look here.) A few people get themselves sober, and keep themselves sober, and then they claim that A.A. is somehow doing it. But the real A.A. success rate doesn't support such a claim. The few sober people that you see in an A.A. meeting are merely a tiny remnant from the hundreds of people who came and left without being helped by A.A.'s "solution". Groups of alcoholics who go to A.A. meetings do not quit drinking in any greater numbers than the other alcoholics who go it alone. The Harvard Medical School says so.

We have often talked about what works better than A.A. There is a list of such answers that I wrote in another letter, here.

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.

From: "rs"
Subject: what's
Date: Thu, January 8, 2009 7:57 am     (answered 12 Jan.)

The point of your internet organization?


Hi RS,

The answer is, to get the truth out, and to disseminate some information that will hopefully be more helpful to addicts than old quackery has proven to be.

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."
**   ==  Bill Wilson,
**   speaking to the National Catholic Clergy Conference On Alcoholism,
**   April 21, 1960, in New York City

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Last updated 8 March 2013.
The most recent version of this file can be found at https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters97.html