Letters, We Get Mail, XCVIII

Date: Mon, January 12, 2009 10:55 am     (answered 13 Jan.)
From: "anonymous"
Subject: The Dangerous Cult of A.A.

Hi Orange,

My mind is swimming with thoughts, so please bear with me!!! First let me tell you that I think your website is fantastic! I actually found it by googling "A.A. cult", listed along with some other less in depth references. The amount of strange behavior I have witnessed over the last two years surrounding A.A. would take a while for me to fully detail, but please allow me to relate one story in particular, just in case it will help someone else realize the contradictions and absurdities of this "religion".

If a "newcomer" is reading this and has been feeling that A.A. is not for them... go with your gut instinct and politely sever all ties to anyone or anything (chips,lit.) related to Alcoholics Anonymous... because I wish I had done that in the beginning.

The biggest mistake I made, second only to actually joining this cult, was to obtain a job working for an established member that I could only describe as a "Lieutenant Guru" (just not quite an old timer, yet). IF YOU ARE A NEWCOMER — NEVER, EVER, EVER DO THIS!!! I not only allowed my personal life to be controlled, but also my financial one as well. In a previous letter the writer described being punished and rewarded, well — imagine what happens when it comes down to your participation in the cult and your paycheck!!! To make matters worse, it took me quite some time (due to the cult-brainwashing-self-questioning-psycho-analysis) to realize what a manipulating and controlling egomaniac of a fraud he ACTUALLY was (as were 99% of the established members I came in contact with). So I bit my tongue for a year and a half with this guy, because I was in an unfamiliar and uncertain job market, and bore first-hand witness to his EXTREMELY disturbing behavior. I never sponsored anyone during my tenure mostly due to the way he spoke so openly about his sponsees' personal matters and how condescending he was to them and — behind their backs — in regards to them (another trait shared by the previously mentioned 99%)... I never wanted to be like that, and never will be, thank goodness!

I'll be honest Orange, one of my favorite things on your site is to read what I refer to as "anti-share" letters from former A.A. cult members describing their horror stories. It truly makes me feel more at ease knowing that I'm not alone. Here's my personal favorite:

— My former boss (of whom I previously spoke), a sponsor with numerous sponsees, was caught cheating on his longtime girlfriend with her twenty-something sponsee. HIS EXPLANATION — "God probably wanted me to do this so I wouldn't drink." and "I didn't do a thorough enough 4th Step last time."

...YOU MEAN IT WASN'T THE FACT THAT YOU COULDN'T KEEP YOUR PANTS ZIPPED UP?!!!... Oh yeah, I forgot — it's all God's fault in A.A., you don't have to take responsibility for your actions whatsoever!!!

So, he went absolutely nuts, leaving me alone on the job with his clients so he could go blubbering around town like a fool, making amends for stealing a screwdriver here and a dustpan there five freakin' years ago. His reasoning was that he knew that the promises came true once before and they would again if he humbled himself before his god and made amends (admitted his sins) again. Even the Big Book says that's not the point of making an amends! But you know what?... SHE TOOK HIM BACK!!! After he acted like a total jackass and nearly starved himself to death by not eating for a week, she fell for his manipulating guilt trip (I'm sure the Cult-Think had her believing it was somehow partially her fault). I still can't believe it, months later.

He was sponsoring new guys during this episode and continues to, he never lost one or let one go the whole time... another golden cult member untouchable by the morals of man or God. The thing that really burned me is that he gave me unwanted advice for months and months in regards to how to treat a woman properly (as though I had no clue) while this was going on! He also admitted to me after he got caught that this girl wasn't the only one he'd slept with in the rooms! I guess he really was "Practicing those principles in all his AFFAIRS"!!!

I quit working for him and severed my ties to A.A. completely after that incident (I was pretty well on my way out by then anyways). That takes the cake as far as wacky A.A. stuff (and trust me, I saw A LOT of wackiness around A.A.)

Thanks for letting me vent and thanks for all your hard work, Orange!

(please keep me completely anonymous, no name or address... not like what A.A. calls it, I really mean anonymous!)

PEACE — "anonymous"

Hello, anonymous,

Thanks for the letter, and thank you for sharing (or "anti-sharing", as you call it — cute phrase). It's good for other people to hear about the goings-on in there.

You know, it just occurred to me that the people who really have "spiritual recoveries" or "spiritual awakenings" are the people who refuse to go along with the immoral and unspiritual behavior.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

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

Date: Thu, January 8, 2009 8:15 am     (answered 13 Jan.)
From: Karmaslayer
Subject: Dont Trust "good" Talkers

A dog is not considered a good dog because he is a good barker.
A man is not considered a good man because he is a good talker.

Hi, Karmaslayer,

Thanks for the input. That's nice and succinct. And I see that there are lots more at that link.

And have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "Neither fire nor wind, birth nor death can
**   erase our good deeds."
**      ==  Siddhartha Buddha

[This is the second letter in a sequence. The first is here.

Date: Thu, January 8, 2009 1:59 pm     (answered 13 Jan.)
From: David
Subject: Re: Gilding the lily?

Dear Mr. Orange,

Yeah, you know, now that I have read almost the entirety of your web site (except for all the letters), I regret having sent you that previous email — your research into the foundations of the Oxford Group and its later incarnations and offshoots is impressively thorough, and your position is very well-articulated and rational (albeit biased against cults). With a sample size of one (myself), I cannot address the issue of confusing causation with correlation — no one person could, although that 5% recovery rate is, as you state, pretty damning circumstantial evidence against causation. Certainly, I never had the subjective impression that AA was keeping a lot of people sober over the long haul, judging from the paucity of people with lengthy continuous abstinence at AA meetings. At any rate, I hope you will accept my apologies for the rather premature nature of my previous post. Story of my life — running full speed ahead, sword out, whilst tripping over false premises.

Hi again, David,
Hey, no problem.

I do quibble, though, with your take on a moral inventory — to start from a position of asking what you've done "wrong" begs the question of whose morality you violated. Going at it exactly like the Big Book outlined (listing fears, sex problems, and resentments), combined with introspection, I was able to very clearly see that I had been carrying guilt for violating other people's moral systems which, on further analysis, I decided that I did not really want to do, anymore. Once I realized that many of the things that used to make me feel ashamed of myself were really just conditioned by my cultural and family background, but had little to do with my worth, I was able to branch out, try new things, and build a moral system of my own, rather than adopt somebody else's. But, it has to be emphasized, I was a desperately unhappy person, at that time in my life, and also very young, so maybe the exercise is only beneficial for basket cases, like I was at that time. (I have read the 12 & 12 — I dismissed it, for the most part, simply because it was not really consistent with the Big Book; I imagine that from your perspective, that's like eschewing incest in favour of cannibalism).

Again, keep up the good work. Thank you for taking the time to respond to my previous, somewhat impetuous post. I continue to believe that even corrupt people can communicate wise things; to argue otherwise, is to argue ad hominem, is it not?


NB: Please keep my identity confidential.

Hi again, Dave,

If you were able to unburden yourself of some unwarranted guilt by using self-examination and introspection, then good. I'm really glad to hear that you were able to get rid of some irrational feelings of guilt. (Really, no sarcasm.) It is especially good that you built your own moral system, rather than buying a canned package from some con artists.

But that isn't what Bill Wilson's "moral inventory" rap was about. The example on page 65 of the Big Book is just the tip of the iceberg as far as guilt induction is concerned. Bill Wilson really went off the deep end on guilt induction and denunciation of alcoholics in his second book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. There, he ranted and raved about how bad us alcoholics are, and how we are all guilty of the Seven Deadly Sins. And pride — like thinking you don't need A.A. — was the worst sin of all, Bill said, and leads to all of the other deadly sins.

Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions is basically a non-stop guilt-induction diatribe. See the file on "The Us Stupid Drunks Conspiracy".

Oh yes, and Bill used the word "sin" a lot in 12X12. He dropped the "moral shortcoming" and "defect of character" euphemisms that he used in the first book, the Big Book, and just used the word "sin", finally saying what he really meant all along.

When Bill Wilson wrote the Big Book, he was trying to hide the connections and similarities to the Oxford Group, which was a very unpopular cult due to Frank Buchman's repeated praise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis, as well as its goofy heretical theology, its habitual gross dishonesty, its condescending attitude towards non-members (like calling them "pagans"), and its habit of back-stabbing other churches. But in 12X12, which was written thirteen years later, after most people forgot about the Oxford Group, Bill really took the gloves off and rolled up his shirt sleeves and gave us 192 pages of hard-core cult religion.

You are right that 12X12 and the Big Book are not the same. The reason is that Bill Wilson was trying to tone down the religious content in the Big Book, for publicity purposes. Bill didn't want to scare away the newcomers and prospective recruits. Bill Wilson explained that the religious content must be revealed to the newcomers only very slowly.

Stress the spiritual feature freely. If the man be agnostic or atheist, make it emphatic that he does not have to agree with your conception of God.
There is no use arousing any prejudice he may have against certain theological terms and conceptions about which he may already be confused. Don't raise such issues, no matter what your own convictions are.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Working With Others, page 93.

(Notice how Bill Wilson declared that people who disagreed with Bill Wilson's religion were "prejudiced" and "confused about theological terms and concepts".)

To some people we need not, and probably should not emphasize the spiritual feature on our first approach. We might prejudice them. At the moment we are trying to put our lives in order. But this is not an end in itself. Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God...
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 6, Into Action, pages 76-77.

And again,

...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,

So, in the Big Book, Bill Wilson actually played down the fanatical religiosity of the Oxford Group (which the new A.A. still had), and he changed the terminology to hide things. But Bill Wilson still intended to shove the Oxford Group religion on the alcoholics.

It is 12X12 where Bill Wilson didn't hold back. There, he and co-author Tom Powers gave us the real inside story — the real A.A. theology that they got from the Oxford Group.

And what the real A.A. theology says is that you are a disgusting sinner, and you should be ashamed of yourself and confess everything, and wallow in guilt. (Oh, and then make a surrender and let the group do your thinking for you.)

Oh, and, about "...even corrupt people can communicate wise things; to argue otherwise, is to argue ad hominem, is it not?"

Well, sure, sometimes a "corrupt" person may tell the truth or impart wise information, but I wouldn't bet my life on it. If somebody usually transmits misinformation, then I wouldn't be very willing to trust what he says to me.
Consider the source.
Ask about ulterior motives.
Ask, "Who profits?"

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** An alcoholic is a fellow who is "trying to get his
** religion out of a bottle... when what he really wants
** is unity within himself, unity with God...."
** "There is a definite religious element here."
**  ==  Bill Wilson at the Shrine Auditorium in
**     Los Angeles, in March, 1943

Date: Sat, January 17, 2009 11:30 am
From: "anon"
Subject: Shell shocked

(Please do not print my email address)

This April, I will have been sober for 20 years. I am one of those 1 in a 1000 that you talk about, I guess. From my personal experience, I can say that the statistics you quote seem pretty dead on. I have watched thousands of people come and go. Most just do not stay sober, and I agree with the sentiments I have read here: AA does not work.

AA is a close-minded organization full of contradictions and religious nonsense. The sign on the wall says "Think. Think. Think." but no one really does as far as I can tell. I have listened to people spout the exact same B.S. in meetings for years, literally. There is no exploration into anything outside of "AA approved literature". Meetings are mundane and repetitive. I cannot remember the last time I was in one that had any substance. Most are of the variety that I call the "AA infomercial". It goes something like this: "When I got to AA...(ramble on about how lame they were before they got to AA).....now everything is awesome!!!!" I almost expect fucking Billy Mays to jump out into the room yelling about how I can buy a Big Book for $9.99.

For an organization that maintains that spiritual growth is required for sobriety, they sure do like to recycle the same old stale shit over and over again. Most, if not all, of my real growth as a person did not really happen in AA at all. I made a few close friends there and we did real work on our issues...outside of the program. After all, if you shared anything of any real substance in a meeting, it would be all over the gossip channel within a few hours.

The way I stayed sober is almost the exact opposite of the 12 Steps, but of course I would never say this in a meeting. If you don't tow the party line, you are laughed at or ostracized. Even though I have almost 20 years, people would surely say "He's going to be drinking soon." The fact is, I do have power over alcohol. I believe that I can change myself for the better. I have the awesome ability (just like everyone else on the planet) to reinvent myself into whatever I want. I steer my own ship, not some divine entity. I can listen to myself <gasp!>. I do believe it is important for me to examine my behavior and grow as a person. The thing is, AA is not the right vehicle for that. In many ways, it is too superficial to accomplish much. Don't you find it funny that AA does not follow it's own advice? How many times have you heard in a meeting, "Doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity"?

Today, I made the decision that I was never going back to AA again. I had a "moment of clarity" last night, and saw that I could not ignore the truth any longer. I threw my Big Book, 12x12, and some other garbage in the trash this morning. Then, I googled "ex-AA members who are still sober" and found your site. I have been reading for several hours now. I cannot express how I feel — sad (that I did not make the decision to leave sooner), free, but hopeful. I am looking forward to taking a new direction in my life.


Hello, Anonymous,

Thank you very much for the letter, and congratulations on your 20 years of sobriety, and also congratulations on your new-found liberation.

And have a good day, and a good life.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "There is no use trying, said Alice, "one can't believe impossible things."
**  "I dare say you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was
**  your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've
**  believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
**   ==  Lewis Carroll, 1832-1898, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Date: Sat, January 17, 2009 11:20 am
From: "Dixie"
Subject: cite for PattyCake Treatment Program?

Orange, Excellent site. I only wish it were more searchable and citable, as you've packed a LOT of information into it. You are to be commended for your dedication in creating this site and answering all these questions.

Hello Dixie,

Thanks for the compliments. I also wish the site were more searchable. The Entropy search engine that the web host (Hostmonster.com) provides is broken, and I keep bugging them about it, but it isn't fixed yet.
[UPDATE: 22 Jan 2009:
It's fixed. Try it — Try the search box at the bottom of every web page.]

Do you have a citation for the PattyCake treatment program? I looked for one but did not find it. Do you have anything — university, year, researchers — even if it wasn't published?

Alas, that is the single toughest reference to find. I've been looking for it for years. To the best of my recollection now, it was said in a program about drug and alcohol treatment that was on KUNM public radio in Albuquerque, NM, around 1991. (Previously I had thought that I had read it in a magazine article around that time, but now I think it was on the radio.) Anyway, I'm still looking for that.

Just as an aside, I do not consider myself an alcoholic or addicts — if I drink 5 drinks a week, it's a big drinking week for me — but I do have loved ones who are alcoholics, and I used to work in a 12 step-based treatment center, where I took clients to innumerable AA/ NA meetings. At one time, before I knew much about AA or had attended any meetings, I bought into the argument that AA was "the only thing that works" and thought of AA as a good program. I went to my first AA meeting eager to discover how wonderful this program was. Boy, was I ever disappointed when they couldn't answer the most basic questions or substantiate any of their claims which were patently false on their face.

I am an atheist. My then-boyfriend (now ex-boyfriend but still friend) had to go to AA meetings (court-ordered), so I took him and attended many with him. I asked what atheists are to do, as 7 of the 12 steps refer to a Higher Power (god). I was told to read Chapter 3, which boils down to 3 words: get a god. No, I'm not going to. Why should I pray to something that doesn't exist and in which I have absolutely no belief? I've thought through these things through time and time again. I was raised as a Christian and even went to a church school for 7 years, taking religion classes and attending chapel every day. (It was a combination of world history and religion classes that cemented my atheism.)

Then I was told I could make anything, even my dog, my higher power. Okay, I'm going to turn my life and my will over to MY DOG. Yeah, that makes perfect sense. I might lead us into homelessness because I spent all my time playing with my dog and taking her for rides, but my dog would get steaks every night, per her will. How that was going to keep me sober, or help me deal with my alcoholic boyfriend, was not apparent to me, unless I couldn't afford to buy booze because all my money had to go to buying Lola steaks.

Now that's funny.

When I interviewed at the treatment program, I was dismayed how little these LCDCs (licensed chemical dependency counselors) knew about anything other than AA. They knew that AA alternatives existed, but didn't know anything about them other than to assert, "Oh, none of those work."

Alas, that is the tragedy of the "treatment industry". There are so many "training programs" and "associates' degrees" that teach conselors little more than how to recruit new members for Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.

I looked into Al-Anon. But since the first 3 statements (steps) were totally false when applied to me (I was NOT powerless over alcohol, my life was NOT unmanageable, I did NOT believe that a power greater than myself was the only way to give me sanity, and I was NOT going to turn my life and my will over to my dog, Zeus, Hera, Buddha, Orion, Dionysus, or that 30,000 year old dude that Scientologists believe in — Xenu?), I realized that Al-Anon really didn't have anything to offer me other than stuff that I totally disagreed with. As for the 12 steps, and the insistence that alcoholism/addiction was a "physical disease to which the answer was spiritual treatment", they fell completely flat in the "does this sound true?" test. It didn't pass even the first, most rudimentary bullshit test. If I didn't buy the package of goods Christianity and Islam want to foist upon me, why should I buy the patently false package of goods that AA wanted me to swallow?

Actually, nasty old Scientology evil Galactic Overlord Xenu would have to be at least 60 million years old, because Xenu supposedly dumped those frozen aliens into the volcano on Earth 60 million years ago — which stuck us with millions of unhappy ghosts who cause us no end of problems.

Yes, Al-Anon is even crazier than A.A. in some ways. You don't even have to be an addict, or have a physical problem in order to need the cult. You have a "spiritual disease" because you care about somebody who has a drug or alcohol problem, so you must confess all of your sins and surrender to God... Nuts.

In one sense, I did pay attention to one platitude that's often bandied about at Al-Anon meetings, and maybe AA meetings as well, whenever objections are raised to the indoctrination: "Take what works and leave the rest". I took what I believe works — a support group of people who are facing the same kind of problems (whether they be problems with addiction or problems coping with addicted people — and left the rest: everything else, the whole program. Having said that, I still say that if someone's facing the choice between warming a seat in a bar, and warming a seat in an AA meeting, the AA meeting is the better choice, just as long as they don't buy into the B.S. and just take the comraderie of other people saying some version of "hang in there, bro"

True. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to go to A.A. meetings for years and not absorb the dogma.

I started a SMART Recovery meeting in San Antonio, Texas, but I couldn't get many people to attend, and I didn't really have time to devote to it. However, I've got half a mind to write to local judges, telling them that AA really doesn't work and forced AA attendance is a direct violation of the principle of separation of church and state, and telling them about SMART and offering to mentor people in the SMART program (even though I haven't worked it myself, and don't know near as much as I should about it, but I figure what I do know, plus my experience working in addiction treatment, has got to be better than what's in store at the average AA/NA meeting). I do think that many judges are very frustrated, as they agree that filling our prisons with people whose problem is addiction is not the right answer, but the only answer those judges know about is 12 step based programs. In thinking about what I would say (as I think I need to be short and sweet in saying, "I want to offer an alternative to 12 step meetings for alcoholics/addicts in the court system" but at the same time, I need to offer a plethora of footnotes when I say that "AA doesn't work"), I thought about mentioning that AA is no more effective than weekly pattycake meetings, but I think I'd need a source to back up that claim.

Starting a SMART meeting sounds like a good thing. I would post some questions on their forum and see what people can suggest in the way of help.

So — can you provide a cite for the Pattycake Treatment Program?

rational, sane, relatively happy, and very giving, loving, generous person (for those of you who claim that a person can't be "good" without being spiritual or religious) in San Antonio, Texas

(not to brag, but a friend of mine, a Quaker, says I'm the best example of a "practical Christian" he knows, meaning that I practice more of the precepts and teachings of Jesus Christ — minus the belief in god part — than anyone else he knows. My actions certainly hew more closely to the teachings of Jesus Christ than do the actions of most self-proclaimed Christians)

Yes, thanks for the letter, Dixie, and I'll keep looking for the report on the Patty-Cake Treatment experiment.

And have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  Lafayette Ron Hubbard was really secretly working for the evil
**  Galactic Overlord Xenu to help keep the human race enslaved.
**  Hubbard was actually the original Suppressive Person.
**  Hubbard did more than anybody else on Earth to prevent
**  thetans from getting out of Xenu's global trap. Hubbard's
**  reward from Xenu is that he now gets to spend all of the
**  rest of eternity in a gold-plated cage.

Date: Sat, January 17, 2009 1:48 am
From: "Monica R."
Subject: who are you

HI I am an AA for 33 years.

I had once heard in 1993 by a family member related to Bill some strange things about him.
I was not ready to hear the truth.
I was 13th stepped by some jerk in 1975. I was 18 when I got sober.

Now being a GSR I am getting more insight!
WOW. I had no idea Bill was getting this kind of money for the book or his heirs.
keep up the good work.
How old are you?

Hi Monica,

Thanks for the letter and the compliments, and congratulations on your 33 years of sobriety.

I am now 62 years old, and who I am is really a complex question. I've answered that a bunch of times in various ways:

  1. Intro to A.A.
  2. Bait-and-switch treatment
  3. Friends driven away from help by the 12-step nonsense
  4. who are you

There are some recent pictures of me and my little friends here and here.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "The trouble ain't that there is too many fools,
**  but that the lightning ain't distributed right."
**   ==  Mark Twain  (American Humorist, Writer and Lecturer. 1835-1910)

Date: Mon, January 19, 2009 10:36 am
From: "Sundance"
Subject: Re: Religious Roots

That's the biggest load of souless crap I've ever read in my life!!

Hello Sundance,

Now that's a very interesting choice of words. "Souless"?

Would I be equally soulless if I criticized Scientology, or the Moonies, or the Hari Krishnas, or Jim Jones' People's Temple, or Marshall Herff Applewhite's Heaven's Gate cult, or David Koresh's Branch Davidians, or Warren Jeffs' FLDS?

Or is it only The Oxford Group that is off limits because that's the cult that William Griffith Wilson and Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith joined and served for years?

Have a good day.

== Orange

*          [email protected]       *
*      AA and Recovery Cult Debunking     *
*      https://www.orange-papers.info/      *
**  "Early AA got it's ideas of self-examination,
**  acknowledgement of character defects, restitution for
**  harm done, and working with others straight from the
**  Oxford Groups and directly from Sam Shoemaker, their
**  former leader in America, and nowhere else."
**    == Bill Wilson,
**      Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age, page 39.

[2nd letter from Sundance:]

Date: Mon, January 19, 2009 5:10 pm     (answered 20 Jan.)
From: "Sundance"
Subject: Re: Religious Roots


AA has helped an incredibly lot of people — saved their lives in fact, and re-built them back onto a good way, reconnected to their spirutuality, to themselves and to others. To liken AA to some sort of religious cult is denograting a very valuable service, which, if a new person just considering AA reads, may turn them off significantly. That's what sickened me. That someone speeling off their intellectual opinions might actually cause significant harm to someone else who reads it.

Hello again, Sundance,

Alas, those numbers about the millions of people whom A.A. has helped are bogus, faked, and phony as a 3-dollar bill. A.A. has a success rate that is much closer to zero.

Only about five percent of the alcoholics who come to A.A. stay around for one year, and the other 95% leave. And not all of those 5% who keep coming back actually get and stay sober. And then the attrition continues. Barely one in a thousand makes it for 20 years.

But A.A. cannot even claim those five percent, because five percent per year is the normal rate at which alcoholics quit drinking on their own. You will get the same low success rate from any other treatment method, and from no help and no treatment at all. Send them to the Baskin Robbins Ice Cream parlor, or the local Tiddly-Winks Society, and you will get the same success rate.

Worst of all, A.A. actually raises the death rate in alcoholics, and raises the rate of binge drinking.

Another letter that just came in is from a 20-year A.A. oldtimer, and he also says that A.A. does not work.

The rest of your rap about spirituality is irrelevant. There is nothing spiritual about lying to sick people about what might heal them, and that is what Bill Wilson did in the Big Book, and that's what A.A. still does at the start of every meeting: "RARELY HAVE we seen a person fail...."

And then, telling alcoholics the truth won't "cause significant harm" to them. (That's the standard cult characteristic of "You can't tell the truth.") The crazy religious dogma of A.A., like telling alcoholics that they are powerless over alcohol, is what really causes a lot of deaths. And then telling the sick people not to take their doctor-prescribed medications really puts the frosting on the cake.

Lastly, I do not express "intellectual opinions". I collect and report facts. There is a difference.

ALL religions have certain elements as contained in AA — the faith and surrender to the guidance of a "higher power" WHATEVER YOU CONSIDER IT TO BE. Cults are very prescriptive, and call the higher power something partiucular, have specific beliefs, rituals etc. AA is very open, and embraces all beliefs, even agnostics — who take the "higher power" to mean the fellowship. They totally abstain from materialism, only taking small (gold coin) contributions to pay for minimal expenses, and use humble community halls etc.

This is all actually pretty standard cult fare.

  • The idea that you must "surrender to God" is pure Buchmanism, and serves only to make you a passive, obedient and unthinking member of a religious cult.

  • The idea that you can surrender to any "Higher Power" and it will be wonderful spirituality is nonsense. What if someone believes that Satan is the Master of This World, and that evil rules this world? How will surrendering to Satan and Evil work out?

    Or, what if someone believes that Reverend Sun Myung Moon really is the reincarnation of Jesus Christ? Or Bagwan Shree Rajneesh is God. Or Swami A. C. Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada? Or Lafayette Ronald Hubbard is the Savior of Mankind?

    Are you going to then instruct such a believer in "the correct beliefs", and "the correct faith", or will you say that their "Higher Power" is okay?

    So, will Satan or Moon or Rajneesh or Prabhupada or Hubbard really get people sober and deliver miracles and guide people in Step Eleven?

    Oh, and remember that A.A. claims that any Higher Power is okay, as long as it makes sense to the newcomer.
    But what if the newcomer is insane? Lots of them are, you know. The A.A. Step Two even says:
    "[We] Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity."
    So what "Higher Power" is restoring that insane person to sanity?
    And how could an insane person chose the correct Higher Power to restore him to sanity before he gets sane?

    And then there is the problem that the Twelve Steps declare that your Higher Power will deliver miracles on demand, like restoring people to sanity, and removing all of their defects of character and moral shortcomings, and talking to them in séances and giving them power. Oh, and of course, managing their unmanageable lives and making them quit drinking alcohol, and taking care of their wills and their lives for them.

    So what if someone believes in a version of God Who does not deliver miracles on demand — which is true of most branches of Christianity, Buddhism, Vedantic religions, Islam, Judaism, and everything else...? Very few religions are childish enough, and superstitious enough, to believe that they can get miracles on demand just by praying or begging for them. Few mature religions believe in Santa Claus spirituality.

    So how are the 12 Steps supposed to work if God won't work the Steps the way that Frank Buchman and Bill Wilson declared that God works? You see, A.A. actually requires a very specific kind of God, even while declaring that you can have any god you want.

  • Furthermore, A.A. is most assuredly not "very open, and embraces all beliefs, even agnostics..." Obviously, you don't remember the "We Agnostics" chapter of the Big Book very well. There, Bill Wilson declared that you must stop being an agnostic and start believing his way, or else. Try reading Chapter Four again.

    The whole "any Higher Power" rap is just another A.A. bait-and-switch trick.

  • Oh, and it is standard cult behavior to insist that "We aren't a cult; just those other people are." Every cult I've ever visited said the same thing.

  • The fact that many local groups are impoverished doesn't change the fact that the A.A. headquarters commits felony perjury to steal more millions of dollars and to put in prison A.A. members who are giving away A.A. literature for free or selling it extremely inexpensively. Apparently, the A.A. headquarters will do anything to protect its profits.

    The leaders of A.A. in the New York headquarters (in The Interchurch Center) get anything from $70,000 to $125,000 or more per year. They aren't impoverished. The poor little local group that meets in the church basement is merely the smiley-face front for a rich, powerful organization that commits crimes to get more money.

    And that doesn't even consider the great number of treatment centers that act as A.A. recruiting agencies for only $1500 to $40,000 per "12-Step treatment".

    CORRECTION (2011.03.28): It turns out that the trustees are not paid. But other people get lots more. The President and General Manager of A.A. Greg Muth gets $125,000 from both AAWS and the GSB (General Service Board of A.A.), for a total of $250,000 per year. And then his friend Thomas Jasper gets $469,850 for being a "Senior Advisor". And many others get salaries in the range of $70,000 to $100,000 each. Look here.

Anyway, I'm not interested in debating your views, just wanted to give you some feedback that I don't think its what you're doing is good.

It isn't a matter of "my views", it's a matter of FACTS, like the fact that A.A. does not work to sober up alcoholics, and A.A. raises the death rate in alcoholics.

Kind regards

You have a good day too, Sundance.

== 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: Tue, January 11, 2009 1:09 pm     (answered 13 Jan.)
From: "Michael B. Denial"
Subject: Re: Fw: Alcoholics Anonymous Attrition Rates

Here is the link and the transcript of our latest video on Youtube. I'm not sure if you can view vids yet, so I included the text. It is already catching a surprising number of views. Good to see you back on the site, and hope that Portland weather isn't being too hard on you.
Mike B.


Frame 1- Since AA's earliest days, it has experienced high drop-out rates. "At first, nearly every alcoholic we approached began to slip, if indeed he sobered up at all." William G. Wilson, 1957

Frame 2- "You have no conception these days of how much failure we had. You had to cull over hundreds of these drunks to get a handful to take the bait." William G, Wilson, 1952

Frame 3- "The summer I worked in Akron with Doc Smith, we tore about frantically, and only bagged two who made the grade." William G. Wilson, Pass It On, page 225

Frame 4- AA triennial surveys compiled between 1977 and 1989 revealed that AA experienced horrendous drop-out rates. For every hundred who attended one AA meeting, about 40 didn't return.

Frame 5- At one month, fully 81% of the original 100 were no longer attending. At 3 months, attrition had increased to 90%. At 6 months, 93% had left.

Frame 6- At one year, 95% of all who had attended at least one AA meeting had quit attending. A 1994 study by AA Australia found the exact same number.

Frame 7- AA proponants try to mask this incredibly poor retention rate by eliminating those who don't stay for at least 3 months, the point at which the most dramatic decline in attendance has already occurred.

Frame 8- They cite a 56% one-year retention rate for those who continue AA for at least 3 months. While this may be accurate, it is based on a mere 10% of the entire pool of initial AA attendees.

Frame 9- This is the statistical equivalent of doing a one-year cancer treatment survival survey of one hundred people, while eliminating the 90 who died within the first 3 months of the treatment, and then proclaiming that the treatment had a 50% one-year survival rate.

Frame 10- Notice that the triennial surveys draw no conclusions about how many people stay sober in AA, or out of AA, or in spite of AA. This video does not attempt to equate retention with success or failure.

Frame 11- AA's current membership claims, average years sober for the membership, numbers of years sober for each catagory, and numbers of people at each month and year of sobriety all indicate that same 5% annual retention rate. The numbers all work.

Frame 12- For every one hundred new or returning people who came to AA today and picked up a 24-hour chip, only five of them will still be attending one year from today. That was true in 1935, and it is still true today.

Frame 13- Deny it, justify it, cherry-pick it, explain it away, or just plain ignore it, the 5% one-year retention rate for AA has always been a reality.

Hello again, Mike,

Yes, I saw it. Neat. Good stuff. I finally got my Windoze machine fixed, so I can again see things like flash videos.

The weather here is bearable, just bearable. Very rainy now, which is keeping me indoors and actually causing me to get some more email answered.

The heavy snows of Christmas are gone. The geese are really happy about that. They couldn't get anything to eat when everything was buried under snow. They were starving for more than a week, so I went and fed them oatmeal and rice. Most of the time, I was the only one crazy enough to go out in the snow and feed them, so they got to waiting for me.

It's an experience to see a hundred geese, ducks, and sea gulls all lined up and waiting for you and staring at you expectantly, hoping for you to come and give them something to eat. It's enough to make you glad you came.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** "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.

P.S.: To readers: do check out all of the other anti-AA videos at http://www.youtube.com/user/blamethenile

May 22, 2008: In the park yet again, Day 5 now.

One of the goslings is just browsing. They spend hours every day just poking through the grass and nibbling. It's their natural environment, and their natural diet.

a Canada Goose gosling

[The story of the goslings continues here.]

Date: Tue, January 20, 2009 8:51 am
From: "Roger H."
Subject: You write a lot about which you do not know!

Your opinions of Alcoholics Anonymous are based on zero experience of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Hello Roger,

Apparently you have not even read the introduction to the web site. There, I explain that I've been to a lot of A.A. and N.A. meetings.

Your translation of what you think is occuring, try going to a meeting, several different meetings?

Been there, done that.

It's easy to pick on an outfit that will not defend itself.

You and many other A.A. members seem to be doing an okay job of defending A.A.

AA has helped millions, there is no leader and no rules, gee you seemed to have left that out.

No, A.A. has not "helped millions". That's just another untrue cult slogan, totally untrue. I just answered the same statement in a letter from another A.A. member, here.

No rules? Nonsense. Start with "Don't drink alcohol."
Then there is "Get a sponsor, read the Big Book, and go to meetings."
And then there is, "Don't criticize the Program."
And "Don't tell the truth about the history of Alcoholics Anonymous or Bill Wilson..."
That's just for starters. There are lots of rules.

And A.A. has leaders. The leaders of A.A. sit in the Interchurch Center in New York City and receive anything from $70,000 to $125,000 per year.

CORRECTION (2011.03.28): It turns out that the trustees are not paid. But other people get lots more. The President and General Manager of A.A. Greg Muth gets $125,000 from both AAWS and the GSB (General Service Board of A.A.), for a total of $250,000 per year. And then his friend Thomas Jasper gets $469,850 for being a "Senior Advisor". And many others get salaries in the range of $70,000 to $100,000 each. Look here.

AA clearly states they do not have a monopoly on recovery, a member is also encouraged to get a god of their own understanding, any kind of god they wish. ANYKIND. Also AA does not recruit members, DO YOU UNDERSTAND, AA DOES NOT SEEK OUT MEMBERS, they are there for those who want help, PERIOD.

Bill Wilson wrote that A.A. does not have a monopoly, but he also wrote that A.A. is the only way and you are signing your own death warrant if you don't Work The Steps right. It's just another A.A. bait-and-switch trick. Look here.

Again, I just answered the same A.A. slogan about "any god of your understanding" in the previous letter, here

And not seeking out members? You've got to be kidding. Denial isn't just a river in Egypt. People are sentenced and coerced and pushed into A.A. by everything from criminal courts to 12-Step-based treatment programs, and A.A. encourages such coercion. See this: Aggressive Recruiting.

Recovery begins for each person when they admit they have a problem, you must feel really proud knowing you may have gotten in the way of someone seeking help with your critisism of an outfit that will not defend itself.

You are defending A.A., and praising A.A. as well, so please don't give me that ridiculous slogan about how A.A. cannot defend itself.

The real facts show that A.A. is what gets in the way of people recovering. When A.A. was put to the test, it was worse than useless. A.A. raised the rate of binge drinking, and A.A. raised the rate of rearrests for drunkenness, and A.A. raised the death rate in alcoholics.

By the way, you are now claiming that someone criticizing A.A. or telling the truth about the bad parts of A.A. is "getting in the way of someone seeking help". But that directly contradicts your earlier claim that A.A. does not have a monopoly on recovery. Recommending more sensible and sane and effective recovery methods cannot possibly be "getting in the way of recovery" unless A.A. is the only way to recover, and steering people away from A.A. will prevent them from getting sober.

But that's what true-believer A.A. members routinely claim:

It's just a standard bait-and-switch trick: Start the letter by claiming "we have no monopoly", and end with declaring that criticizing A.A. hurts those who are seeking sobriety.

A way of living better than the path you are on is a path you could clearly use.

And you have a good day, too.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  If I say something like, "You know, penicillin isn't really very good
**  for treating staphylococcus infections, and it is totally useless against
**  things like MRSA staphylococcus and anthrax", people respond in a
**  sensible manner like, "Yes, you are right. If somebody has infections
**  like that, they are better treated with Keflex or dicloxacyllin or
**  streptomycin — anything but penicillin."
**  But if I say, "You know, Alcoholics Anonymous isn't really very good
**  for treating alcoholism," the A.A. true believers scream "You are
**  heartless and immoral! You don't care how many alcoholics you kill!
**  You are doing a great disservice to those who are seeking sobriety!"
**  That alone is proof that Alcoholics Anonymous is a cult religion,
**  not a cure for alcoholism.

Date: Wed, January 21, 2009 5:19 am
From: "jaune s."
Subject: why

What i want to know is, what happened, that was so bad that it made you want to spend all of this time researching and finding faults and something wrong with A.A. Did you walk in the rooms with a certain expectation? If you see this as a problem, can you offer a solution? After all, if A.A. is such a problem, can you tell others what is your solution to the problem of alcoholism? Can you help me and other A.A'ers to understand why you feel this badly about it?

Hello Jaune,

What happened? Well, I discovered that A.A. doesn't actually work to make alcoholics quit drinking, nor does Narcotics Anonymous work to get addicts off of drugs. It's a hoax.

You want experiences? Okay, here are some experiences:

  1. Intro to A.A.
  2. Bait-and-switch treatment
  3. Friends driven away from help by the 12-step nonsense

We have often talked about what works better than A.A. and the 12-Step routine. Here is a list of such discussions:

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

I myself have been sober for 10 years with AA/N/A. Sobriety is an attitude rather then quantity of time. Seven years are something to be applauded in any state, with or without AA/ NA. But sobriety is not only a state of being but also a state of mind. It is the way we interact with ourselves and others. Anyone can remain clean but the question is, can they do it with serenity, well being, and happiness. Sobriety more than anything is an attitude. An attitude that allows other concepts and ideas, no matter how much we understand, dont understand them, want or dont want them to be.

Congratulations on your 10 years of sobriety.

Sorry, but I'm not buying the jargon. Sobriety is a state of mind that is caused by the lack of alcohol or drugs in your body, period. The rest of your rap is an attempt to sell the A.A. religion's definition of a "serene" and "spiritual" state of mind as sobriety. They are not equal or equivalent at all. That is the propaganda trick of False Equality

Furthermore, the A.A. program does not create any such happy serene state of mind. Check out the letter from a 20-year A.A. old timer who just commented on that, here.

And I am reminded of what a 24-year old-timer wrote some years ago: "I have also noted how angry so many of the 'old timers' are." You should read his letter, too.

Recovery is an experience and attitude. Yes there are people in Self Help Groups that are conceded, pathological liars, rude , abrupt , and self centered. But then again, that is also a description of an addict. The old saying is " You can take the boy out of the country, but you cannot take the country out of the boy. It is saying that just because someone is not using/drinking doesnt mean that they are not acting like it. It is the people in AA who are geniune, cognizant of their deficts, and aware of and are activiely changing their maladaptive behaviors that keep this program going, and are the members to befriend, I have met many people in AA over the past 10 and almost 11 years that have jilted me and taken me for granted, but then again, i have met alot of people in and beyond my sobriety and addiction, who are not members of AA that have treated me the same way.

You recognize that many of the A.A. members are less than angelic and less than spiritual teachers, and some are even downright sociopathic, but there is no system or set of rules for preventing those people from becoming sponsors and teachers, and telling the newcomers how to live and how to get sober, and not to take their medications. And there is nothing to stop those newly-minted sponsors from abusing their sponsees. That is one of the big reasons why A.A. does not actually work to help alcoholics get sober.

But my will not only to stay sober, but to be happy while doing it is stronger than anything and anyone with the exception of God ( my belief). Meaning i dont allow the negative people in AA to overshadow the Positive people in AA. When going to AA or NA, it is kind of like looking at Art or a Painting, the picture of what is lye's in the eye of the beholder, if the beholder has a negative attitude, the painting will be ugly and disproportiante, if the beholder has a positive attitude the painting will be beautiful.

I agree that it is your will to stay sober that keeps you sober. "The Program" is irrelevant, and even harmful.

The rest of that rap, about how A.A. looks good or bad depending on your mental attitude, is just an attempt to use the propaganda trick of Escape via Relativism, as in, "It's just your opinion versus my opinion. It's just one viewpoint versus another viewpoint."

A.A. has some very specific bad side effects that have nothing to do with your attitude while looking at A.A., like raising the rate of binge drinking, and raising the rate of rearrests for drunkenness, and raising the death rate in alcoholics.

And then you might want to look at the thirteenth-stepping of young girls, and exploitation of newcomers, here. That is unfortunately also a part of "The Real A.A.", and "The Real N.A." too. And it doesn't change, or go away, depending on how you look at it.

It seems that a cynical attitude would allow people to see that painting or bigger picture as negative therefore probably many other things in their life seem negative, I cant demean them for that because there was a time, even in sobriety, that my attitude towards life was the same, but AA changed that.

AA is not for everyone, just like everyone does not like country music, but that does not give them the right to belittle anothers way of life. It just means we are different. I beg of those who have had negative experiences in AA to try and go back with a better, and maybe different attittude and then judge for themselves. Do not take anyone persons advice, get different opinions, and form your own, but no matter what it is, if AA is not for you or if it seems like it is not for you, dont close your mind to anything, it is our closed minds and narrow views that allowed us to remain intoxicated.

Again, you are trying an Escape via Relativism. You might as well be saying, "Cyanide Koolaid isn't for everyone. Some like it better than others. Don't close your mind to anything. Don't let one negative experience deter you."

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** Rev. Jim Jones said, "Drink the red koolaid. It
** has cured millions. RARELY HAVE we seen it fail...
** But then again, the green koolaid is good too.
** Take what you want, and leave the rest."

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Last updated 22 January 2013.
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