More A.A.-booster Pseudo-Science:
"The Spiritual Dimension of Healing"

In the May 1, 2000 issue of the magazine, The World & I, we find the article, "The Spiritual Dimension of Healing", by Jeff Jay. That article is another example of A.A.-booster pseudo-science. The A.A. proponents routinely plant such articles wherever they can, to make the public believe that Alcoholics Anonymous is a good program for treating alcoholism. This one is unusually obnoxious.

The first three paragraphs of the article are:

A Peek Into Twenty-First-Century Medicine

      The healing power of the spirit, exemplified by the success of the Twelve Steps program in helping overcome a variety of addictions, will be harnessed more fully to treat a wider range of medical problems.
      Lawyers boast that when their professional forebears were writing the Constitution and organizing the Supreme Court, doctors were still bleeding patients to remove ill humors and using leaches as medical apparatus. Indeed, it is only in the last 150 years that physicians in the West were separated out from barbers and chemists and recognized as a true profession.
      As medicine moved out of its primitive beginnings and joined the revolution in science, it is easy to understand why the spiritual dimension of healing was absent from serious discussion. Spirituality, with its nebulous connotation, sounded too much like the folk traditions of another era and did not have the clarity of the surgeon's knife or the pharmacist's pill. Today, however, it is only because medicine is on a firm scientific basis that the spiritual dimension of healing can be fairly evaluated. Although modern medicine has been slow to take up the challenge, this healing factor is now too obvious to ignore.
The Spiritual Dimension of Healing, Jeff Jay, The World & I, 05-01-2000, Size: 8K.
Available on the Internet through your public library's Electronic Library of periodicals.

Note the embedded lies. This is a great demonstration of the Big Lie propaganda technique. The author managed to pack a great number of falsehoods into a very small space:

  • "'The healing power of the spirit' is an established fact."
  • "Everybody knows that spiritual healing works."
  • "The spiritual dimension of healing is an established fact."
  • "The success of 'the Twelve Steps program' in helping to overcome a variety of addictions is an established fact."
  • "Modern medicine is an infant, just barely out of the realm of blood-letting and leaches."
  • "Modern medicine was slow to move out of its primitive beginnings and join the revolution in science." (Not, that it was the revolution.)
  • "'Spiritual healing' has never been properly studied."
  • "The spiritual dimension of healing was absent from serious discussion."
  • "Modern medicine has been slow to take up the challenge of studying faith healing and 'spiritual healing'."
  • "The spiritual dimension of healing is a healing factor that is now too obvious to ignore."
  • "The field of medicine is still in its infancy in understanding the spiritual dimension of healing."
  • — And, by implication, "Sometime in the future, like in the twenty-first century, modern medicine will finally get smart enough to discover 'spiritual' medicine and learn how to use it."

Most of those statements are blatant lies. The only one that is even half true is the third one: that modern, hi-tech medicine is relatively young. It is true that the Constitution was written roughly 225 years ago, when medical practice was still very primitive. Modern medicine has made such fantastic progress in just the last 100 years that even a very good doctor from the year 1900 would hardly recognize it. He would be totally lost in a modern hospital. He wouldn't know penicillin from streptomycin, and he wouldn't know an EKG from a CAT scan.

The author compares ancient law to ancient medicine, because he wants to make modern medicine look bad. The practices of law and medicine have been on the opposite ends of the success scale for at least 4000 years — meaning, law writers have been successful, and doctors have been relatively unsuccessful, and powerless over disease, throughout most of recorded history. Thus it is easy to denigrate the practice of medicine with such a comparison.

The practice of law is one of those areas of human knowledge which has no need for electronic measuring instruments, or any of the other tools of modern science. The legal profession could grow and evolve even in antiquity. The Old Testament Jews and Egyptians had systems of laws, and so did the Chinese, Japanese, and Indians at the same time. So did the Greeks and Romans later, and so did the Roman Catholic Church during the Middle Ages. And then the English came up with Common Law. And any philosopher could dream up another system of laws, and another form of government, like democracy and a democratic republic, without being at all hampered by the rotten state of the electronic arts.

But the doctors could not make progress so easily. Much, or even most, of modern medicine had to wait for the invention of sophisticated electronic instruments and other technology that would help doctors measure, see, and learn. The discovery of bacteria had to wait for the invention of good microscopes. The discovery of the structure of DNA had to wait for the inventions of X-ray crystallography and the electron microscope. The sequencing of the human genome had to wait for computers, computer imaging, PCR, and automated electrophoresis.

So it is easy to pick on medicine by comparing where it and law were 225 years ago. But that isn't a fair comparison, and it has little to do with the state of the art today.

That is an example of the Straw Man propaganda technique — set up a weak opponent and then knock him down to make yourself look strong and victorious. The author has a resentment against modern medicine because the doctors will not agree with his ideas of "spiritual healing", so he attacks the doctors who lived 225 years ago, trying to make modern medicine look stupid.

And medicine did not "move out of its primitive beginnings and join the revolution in science" like it was some slow, stupid laggard. Medicine was one of the biggest and most important parts of the scientific revolution. What could be more revolutionary and important to the average citizen, and really transform his life more than not dying and not having to watch his children die from horrible things like staphylococcus, streptococcus, polio, small pox, typhoid, tetanus, diptheria, cholera, whooping cough, or The Black Plague? Mother Nature had some truly horrendous little surprises for the average man back in the days when the Constitution was written, but we do not live in terror of those things today. The other visible aspects of the scientific revolution, like steam engines and electric light bulbs, were relatively unimportant, compared to watching all of your children get sick and die — or watching them not die because the doctors could now somehow save them.

Beep! Beep! Warning! Bullshit Alert! The author is trying to play mind games on your head by presenting false logical arguments. He wants you to believe that modern medicine is stupid, and is slow to learn, and that is why modern medicine doesn't use "spiritual healing." But our doctors don't use Voodoo dolls, witchcraft, or Gypsy hexes to treat their patients either, and it isn't because the doctors are stupid or slow to learn about "spiritual medicine".

In fact, the author's logic is completely backwards: Historically, modern medicine finally made great progress precisely because it finally abandoned superstitious things like faith healing and "spiritual medicine" and overthrew the dictates and medical restrictions of the Roman Catholic Church,1 and rigorously applied the scientific method to all medical studies.

"Spiritual medicine" and faith healing have most assuredly been studied and tested. It isn't as if no one wanted faith healing or other magical cures to work — hundreds of millions of people have wished that they would work, because in the distant past, that was all they had. It isn't as if no one thought such alleged "spiritual cures" worth examining. They have been examined and tried, and tested, often, for many centuries — for thousands of years, in fact — and they were found to not work. That is why we use things like penicillin, streptomycin, and tetracycline for treating our diseases today, rather than magical incantations, rattle-shaking, charms, prayers, spells, exorcisms, or voodoo dolls.

But the author cries that spiritual healing has been so totally ignored and misunderstood that nobody knows how good it is. And if only the doctors would get their act together, we could apply spiritual healing to all kinds of ailments. And the author implies with his title, "A Peek Into Twenty-First-Century Medicine", that in the future, we will return to using superstition and voodoo for medical treatment.

Obviously, the author has some very funny religious beliefs, as well as some funny medical opinions. And he wants to shove those beliefs on the rest of us. (Is he trying to practice medicine without a license?)

The article continues:

The problem of alcoholism

Ironically, the most powerful example of the spiritual dimension of healing was first seen in conjunction with one of the most virulent physical and mental diseases: alcoholism.
In 1935, Robert Smith and William Wilson began a process that would revolutionize the treatment of this disease. Both men were hopeless alcoholics who, by a miracle of fate, were brought together to overcome their common problem. The experience of these two men and the next 100 "recovering alcoholics" led to a program called the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). This formula has now helped several million people break the bonds of addiction to alcohol and other drugs. And it has been successfully extended to help those trapped in other addictive habits, such as gambling and overeating.

This is totally untrue. Again, the author is trying to shove his superstitious beliefs and cult dogma on us as established facts. He uses an illogical argument like "Everybody knows that the Earth is flat...":
"Everybody knows that the A.A. program works, and keeps millions sober."

Nothing could be further from the truth. It doesn't work. It has never worked. A.A. doesn't have a success rate, it has a horrendous failure rate, like 98 or 99 or 100 percent. But the true believers just ignore that, and continue to chant, "Keep Coming Back! It Works!" and "RARELY HAVE we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path..."

Repeating the lie a thousand times won't make it come true, although they have had great success in fooling people into believing that Alcoholics Anonymous has a working program.

Almost everything in that brief history of Alcoholics Anonymous is a gross exaggeration or a lie. Even the "next 100" phrase is dishonest. There were about 40 A.A. members at the time that Bill Wilson bragged about the "First 100", and approximately half of those first 40 A.A. members relapsed and died drunk.

Alcoholism is not a "virulent physical and mental disease". "Virulent" means contagious and deadly. Alcoholism is not a contagious disease. You can't catch it from your friends, neighbors or co-workers. Mental illnesses are never virulent. There is no disease known to medicine which is simultaneously physical, mental, and virulent.2 The author's credentials listed below state that he works in a hospital, but he has somehow managed to avoid learning much medicine from the doctors who surround him.

William Wilson and Doctor Robert Smith did not "revolutionize the treatment of alcoholism." They founded and popularized a new sect of Frank Buchman's cult religion, one that specializes in getting alcoholics to practice Buchmanism and meet in rooms and talk about their alcoholic experiences and also believe in a "Higher Power" who will control their alcohol consumption for them. In the final analysis, that "treatment" is a waste of time. It doesn't work. It's just another irrational, dishonest, cult religion. And it is quack medicine.

The article continues:

At the heart of the AA program are practical and specific actions, including prayer and meditation. The Twelve Steps are a simple formula by which anyone may come to a "spiritual awakening" that is powerful enough to put their addiction in remission. The steps have been seen to work effectively in cultures around the world without the benefit of a sponsoring organization. They have been embraced by people of all creeds, as well as those with no particular religious belief. The Twelve Steps themselves are not the product of university training or laboratory research, but their efficacy is unmistakable.

Half of the first sentence in that paragraph is true, and half of the last sentence is true, and all of the rest is lies. The A.A. program is based on prayer and meditation. That is true. But the A.A. program is not practical. It is "spiritual", magical, illogical, and delusional. The rest, about how wonderfully it works, and the freedom of religion that A.A. offers, is all untrue, and ranges from wishful thinking to deliberate lies.

Note the arrogance of the last sentence:
"The Twelve Steps themselves are not the product of university training or laboratory research, but their efficacy is unmistakable."
That is standard A.A. cult dogma: that the war stories of some old alcoholics are much better than a college education — that people who have no training in medicine, psychology, or drug and alcohol rehabilitation counselling except going to A.A. meetings and doing the Twelve Steps, can fix problems that baffle even the most learned and distinguished of real doctors, priests, ministers, and psychiatrists. (The Big Book, 3rd Edition, page 473.)

That is, of course, very egotistical, conceited, smug, and self-congratulatory. And it's also completely untrue.

The only part of it that is true is the fact that the Twelve Steps were not designed by a university or laboratory, or any kind of scientific research. They were actually designed by an evil perverted Lutheran minister who praised Adolf Hitler — a minister by the name of Dr. Frank Nathan Daniel Buchman. The co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, William G. Wilson, Dr. Robert Smith, and Clarence Snyder, were members of Buchman's fascist religious cult, "The Oxford Group", and Bill Wilson simply restated Buchman's religious practices and teachings to produce the Twelve Steps. The Twelve Steps are actually a formula for building up a cult religion like Buchmanism, not a formula for quitting drinking.

The Twelve Steps don't even tell you to quit drinking, or to help anybody else quit drinking. But they do tell you to

The Twelve Steps are most assuredly not a "simple formula by which anyone may come to a 'spiritual awakening' that is powerful enough to put their addiction in remission." That is just another standard A.A. fairy tale, and the wishful thinking of Bill Wilson. People don't get the big psychedelic religious experience and see God, and people don't quit drinking, from doing the Twelve Steps. Bill Wilson had a dramatic religious experience that he said caused him to quit drinking, but that experience came from alcohol withdrawal and hallucinogenic drugs like belladonna and henbane and morphine, not from doing the Twelve Steps (which Bill Wilson did not even write until four years later).

The article continues:

Power of the mind

The placebo effect has been widely documented in the last 30 years. Briefly, it states that 35 — 75 percent of patients will be cured or will experience marked improvement of their condition when given a sugar pill or other placebo. Apparently, a patient's belief that he is receiving medical treatment plays an important role in curing his ailment.

The placebo effect points unmistakably to the healing power of the mind. Still, the mechanics of this effect are almost entirely a mystery.

The author is actually getting dangerously close to the truth here, but he happily avoids making the crucial connections in his thinking. He considers the placebo effect and psychosomatic healing as proving the power of the mind to heal, but he avoids ever thinking that any apparent success of A.A. or the Twelve Steps that he thinks he sees may really be just the placebo effect at work. The author just won't allow that frightening thought to enter his mind at all. He can't. If he were to realize that the placebo effect could explain all observed "benefits" of 12-step "therapy", then his whole belief system would collapse like a house of cards. He would realize that the sacred Twelve Steps of Bill Wilson are unnecessary for recovery, and irrelevant.

The article concludes:

The field of medicine is still in its infancy in understanding the spiritual dimension of healing. But it is clear that the power of the mind and the spirit to overcome both chronic and acute medical problems is real [see "Is Religion Good for Your Health?" The World & I, February 1996, p. 290; "Spirituality and Medicine," The World & I, June 1998, p. 180]. In the twenty-first century, this healing force can be harnessed more fully and effectively through scientific persistence and spiritual growth within the discipline of medicine.

Once again, the author knocks modern medicine, saying that it is still in its infancy because it won't embrace his favorite flavor of voodoo medicine.

Then he cites two other articles that were published earlier in the same magazine as this article was in, The World & I, to support his claim that "the power of the mind and the spirit to overcome both chronic and acute medical problems is real." That amounts to misquoting those articles. The author is trying to shove this broken logic on us:

  • 1. Terminal cancer patients have been seen to get a lot of comfort from religious faith.
  • 2. Positive, upbeat attitudes have been seen in many people who are recovering from serious illnesses. (And the people who aren't recovering tend to be depressed. Why is that no surprise?)
  • 3. Therefore, all alcoholics should go to the 12-step meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous.

The author also misuses the word "spiritual". Come to think of it, he never defined it; he just used it and let us guess what he meant. And it turns out that his meaning is bogus. Bill Wilson constantly confused psychological, emotional, and spiritual things, and so does this faithful follower of Wilsonism.

The authors of those two cited articles talk about things like how people having a positive mental attitude towards their recovery from illness has been seen to coincide with those people rapidly healing whatever ails them, and then the authors call that "spiritual healing." It isn't; that's just psychology. That's just having a good mind-set. And, the authors have not established whether the positive attitude causes the rapid healing, or the rapid healing causes the positive attitude, or they mutually reinforce each other — that each one causes the other one to improve, in a good "vicious cycle" (i.e., a feedback loop). That last one — that they mutually reinforce each other — is highly likely, because there have been other studies that have shown that good mental health and positive, cheerful attitudes enhance the workings of the immune system. And of course people are more cheerful if they are recovering than if they are sick to death, and dying.

In addition, those two cited articles were less than rigorously scientific, and were very pro-religion, going on and on about how religion is the neglected factor in healing, and doctors are prejudiced against religion...

So just who or what is The World & I magazine, where all of those articles appeared? Well, it is a beautifully-printed, very colorful, glossy magazine that is owned by The Washington Times Corporation. (Watch out: The Washington Times, not The Washington Post.) The Washington Times belongs to the Moonies. It is part of Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church empire. No wonder that magazine is slickly pro-religious, and unscientific. It's the well-camouflaged mouthpiece of another cult religion.

(Note that those are the only citations. The author does not reference any other documents or publications in the whole article, to support his sweeping claims that Twelve-Step therapy and spiritual healing actually work, or that A.A. keeps millions sober.)

In the last sentence, the author makes a really grandiose statement, that
"In the twenty-first century, this healing force can be harnessed more fully and effectively through scientific persistence and spiritual growth within the discipline of medicine."

  • The author has not defined what on Earth "spiritual growth within the discipline of medicine" is supposed to be. That sentence is just so reminiscent of Bill Wilson — Bill wrote plenty of equally vague, bombastic, grandiose, and delusional things in the Big Book — things that sound impressive at first, but which are really impossible to clearly define or explain, things that don't really mean much at all when you look closely.

  • Likewise, just what is "scientific persistence" supposed to mean, and how will we use it to more fully "harness" an invisible "force"?

  • And the author states that "this healing force can be harnessed more fully and effectively..." without having established that we have ever harnessed that "force" in the first place, and without having ever shown that there actually is any such magical "force" as "spiritual healing".

  • So, somehow, the author says, we are going to "harness" the "force" of "spiritual healing" just like we "harnessed the Power of the Atom", except that this time around, we will do it "through scientific persistence and spiritual growth within the discipline of medicine..."

Yeh, right. Why does it sound like somebody needs to remember to take his medications?

Then the author lists his credentials, which clearly show that he is one of the influential people who has dedicated his life to shoving the Twelve-Step cult religion on America:

Jeff Jay is president of the Terry McGovern Foundation in Washington, D.C. He is also director of program development and chief information officer at Brighton Hospital in Brighton, Michigan, where the Twelve Steps program is being successfully applied in treating chemical dependency and other illnesses.

Note that Mr. Jay is not actually a doctor. He is a "director of program development" and a "chief information officer."

Let me guess:
"director of program development" actually means that he says that the Alcoholics Anonymous Twelve-Step program will be the one-size-fits-all cure that the hospital uses on all alcoholics and other cases of chemical dependency, and also on "other illnesses", too.
And "chief information officer" means that he does Public Relations work, and writes propaganda articles like the one that we are examining here.

Did I get that right?

We run into Jeff Jay again in a book that was published by the Hazelden Foundation, on how to do "interventions", Love First. Interventions are basically the tactic of confronting someone with a gang of family, friends, and strangers, including the strong-arm goons of an "escort service", who all demand that he go to a residential treatment facility where he will pay a fortune to have cult religion preached at him for a month. Hazelden, for example, charges $15,000 for a 28-day stay. No wonder they published Jay's book.

I found that book to be a disgusting collection of mind games designed to overwhelm someone and pressure them into agreeing to go with the "interventionists" or "escort service".

What was particularly revealing was what Jay had to say about those alcoholics or addicts who wouldn't play along. Throughout the book, Jay repeatedly chanted the standard A.A. dogma about how alcoholics are powerless over alcohol, and it's a disease, and the alcoholic has no control over it:
"We now know that this is a disease and willpower doesn't work." (Page 230.)
Step One: "We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable." (Page 247.)

And then, about the alcoholic who refused to "voluntarily choose" treatment in an expensive residential treatment center like Hazelden, Jeff Jay wrote:

If the alcoholic refuses treatment, read your bottom lines [ultimatums]. Remember, your bottom line is a way of saying, "I will not support this disease." It is a way to take care of yourself when addiction continues to attack your family. You are not punishing the alcoholic or addict. The alcoholic brings the consequences upon himself by choosing addiction over recovery. He can avoid consequences in one of two ways: (1) choosing recovery or (2) convincing people to enable his addiction again. If people stop supporting the addiction, the alcoholic who refuses treatment is likely to choose recovery in the weeks or months following the intervention.
Love First, Jeff Jay and Debra Jay, page 134.

Choice, choose, choose, choose. So much for how it's a disease and the alcoholics have no control over it, and only God can stop the disease.

So much for the A.A. dogma that alcoholics are "powerless" over alcohol.

Someone who can make a choice has power and control.


1) The Roman Catholic Church had bans and restrictions on medicine and science all through the middle ages. The execution of Bruno and the near-execution of Galileo for telling the truth about astronomy were just the tip of the iceberg. Internal medicine was outlawed, and punishable by death. Thus no doctor could treat internal diseases, or even study them. They couldn't even cut open cadavers to see what was in there. So people almost always died of things like appendicitis.

The ancient Egyptians had a good practice of dentistry going. They could extract absessed teeth, and do gold fillings, crowns and bridges. The Catholic Church changed all of that. Europeans got to suffer and die from absessed teeth and impacted wisdom teeth because the Church considered dentistry to be internal medicine, and a violation of the Will of God. The "spiritual practices" and beliefs of the Church managed to delay modern medicine by a thousand years.

2) I think it is fair to say that "There is no disease known to medicine which is simultaneously physical, mental, and virulent." A couple of near misses come to mind: Rabies attacks the brain, and someone who is in the final stages of the disease may act crazy, but I don't think it would be proper to say that he is suffering from a mental illness. He is suffering from horrendous brain damage caused by the virus. The same logic applies to syphilis.

Both of those diseases are communicable — they can be spread through a bite or sex, but they are not "contagious" in the sense of diseases like smallpox or bubonic plague, so we should not call them "virulent". And they are definitely not mental illnesses like schizophrenia or delusions of grandeur. They are just horrible, nasty, communicable physical illnesses that happen to attack the brain.


Love First, Jeff Jay and Debra Jay
Hazelden Information and Educational Services, Center City, Minnesota, 55012-0176, 2000.
ISBN: 1-56838-521-8 (pbk.)
LC: HV5132 .J39 2000
Dewey: 362.29' 286-dc21
Standard Hazelden propaganda on how to force people to spend their money on Hazelden treatment. That is, this book is a manual that will teach you how to do "interventions" where you confront a loved one with a gang of family, friends, neighbors, and strong-arm strangers, and pressure the alcoholic to go with the "escort service" for a $15,000 28-day stay at Hazelden where Hazelden will indoctrinate the patient in the cult religion and superstitions of Alcoholics Anonymous.

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Last updated 3 September 2012.
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