Twelve-Step Snake Oil

For every complicated problem there is a simple and wrong solution.
== H. L. Mencken

The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous

Step One: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.

Step Twelve: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

The Twelve Steps of Al-Anon

Step One: We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.

Step Twelve: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

The Twelve Steps of Narcotics Anonymous

Step One: We admitted we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable.

Step Twelve: Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

The Twelve Steps of Overeaters Anonymous

Step One: We admitted we were powerless over our food compulsion, that our lives had become unmanageable.

Step Twelve: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other overeaters, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

The Twelve Steps of Nicotine Anonymous

Step One: We admitted we were powerless over nicotine, that our lives had become unmanageable.

Step Twelve: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other nicotine users, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

The Twelve Steps of Dual Recovery Anonymous

Step One: We admitted we were powerless over our dual illness of chemical dependency and emotional or psychiatric illness — that our lives had become unmanageable.

Step Twelve: Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to others who experience dual disorders and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

The Twelve Steps of HCV (Hepatitis C Virus) Anonymous

Step One: We admitted we were powerless over the fact that we acquired HCV — that our lives had the potential to become unmanageable.

Step Twelve: Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these Steps, we prepare ourselves through faith. We will try to carry this message to others and demonstrate these principles in all areas of our lives.

(We prepare ourselves for what, death? Well, yes. You don't really imagine that the 12 steps actually cure or treat Hep C, do you?)

The Twelve Steps of Diabetes Anonymous

Step One: We admitted we were powerless over diabetes — that our lives had become unmanageable.

Step Twelve: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to other diabetics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

The Twelve Steps of Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous

Step One: We admitted we were powerless over sex and love addiction - that our lives had become unmanageable.

Step Twelve: Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to sex and love addicts, and to practice these principles in all areas of our lives.

(Note that SLAA people don't get to practice "these principles" in all of their "affairs".)

Because the Twelve Steps are not a program for quitting drinking, it is easy to change them into something else that is not a program for getting off of drugs, or not a program for avoiding over-eating, or not a program for fixing whatever else you don't like. Just edit Step One, and change the words "powerless over alcohol" to "powerless over our addiction", or "powerless over our food compulsion", or whatever else you want to be powerless over, and then edit Step Twelve, and change the word "alcoholics" to "addicts", or "overeaters", or whatever, and Hey Presto! you have a new "spiritual" program for unsuccessfully treating some other problem or "spiritual disease." I hear that there are now over two hundred of these clone twelve-step programs, intended to cure (or not cure, but "treat") just about everything imaginable. Some of them sound pretty wild, like Artists in Recovery, or Partners of Sexaholics.

(I just can't help but wonder, is that last group complaining or bragging?)

(And in my wild imagination, I can see an Artists in Recovery meeting where a dozen crazy paint-stained guys with berets and only one ear talk about how they really have to stop drinking that absinthe...)

The last time we had a universal medicine that would cure so many different ailments, it was the snake oil sold by the traveling medicine shows.

The rest of the program, besides those words in Steps One and Twelve, is always the same. In fact, in most all of the 12-Step programs, Steps Two through Eleven are word-for-word identical to the Alcoholics Anonymous steps.

  • "Admit that you are powerless" over your problem, and that your life has become "unmanageable".
  • "Come to believe" that only "A Power greater than yourself" (God) can save you — "restore you to sanity."
  • Surrender your will and your life to the control of the group's old-timers and 'God' as you misunderstand Him.
  • Perform a "searching and fearless moral inventory" to find and list all of your "defects of character" and "moral shortcomings", and then confess the "exact nature of your wrongs" to your sponsor and to God.
  • Ask God to perform soul surgery on you, and fix you, by removing all of your "defects of character" and "moral shortcomings".
  • Make amends to all whom you have harmed.
  • Repeat the above steps endlessly, for the rest of your life, and always promptly admit when you are wrong.
  • "Seek, through prayer and meditation, to make conscious contact with God." That is, conduct a séance where you sit quietly and listen for the Voice of God to talk to you and dictate your work orders to you. Pray for the power to carry out those orders. Go do whatever the voices in your head tell you to do. (That is not a joke.)
  • Claim that you have gotten a "spiritual experience" or a "spiritual awakening" from doing the previous eleven steps. "Carry the message" to anyone else who will listen — make religious converts out of everyone else that you can — and somehow practice the above so-called "principles" in all of your affairs.

Snake Oil

Some of the twelve-step groups are absurd. There are groups for an amazing number of "spiritual diseases". Just the short list of the common ones includes:
  1. AA Alcoholics Anonymous
  2. Abusive Parents Anonymous
  3. ACOA Adult Children Of Alcoholics
  4. ADD Attention Deficit Disorder Anonymous
  5. Al-Anon
  6. Alateen
  7. Alcoholics Victorious of the Institute for Christian Living
  8. ARTS Anonymous (Artists Recovering through the Twelve Steps)
  9. Augustine Fellowship: Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous
  10. CA Cocaine/Crack Anonymous
  11. Calix (a Catholic semi-12-Step-based recovery organization. Description here.)
  12. CDA Chemically Dependent Anonymous
  13. CEA Compulsive Eaters Anonymous
  14. CMA Crystal Meth Anonymous
  15. Chronic Illness
  16. CLA Clutterers Anonymous
  17. CLA Clutterers Anonymous
  18. CODA Codependents Anonymous
  19. COSA Codependents of Sex Addicts
  20. Compulsive Eaters Anonymous
  21. Compulsive Shopping
  22. Debtors Anonymous
  23. Diabetics Anonymous
  24. Divorce Recovery
  25. Dual Diagnosis Anonymous
  26. Drug-Anon Focus
  27. Dual Disorders Anonymous
  28. DRA Dual Recovery Anonymous
  29. EAA Eating addictions anonymous
  30. EA Emotions Anonymous
  31. EDA Eating Disorders Anonymous
  32. EAA Eating Addictions Anonymous
  33. Emotional Health Anonymous
  34. Ethics Anonymous
  35. FA Families Anonymous
  36. FA Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous
  37. GA Gamblers Anonymous
  38. GamAnon — families of gamblers
  39. Gangs Anonymous
  40. Gangsters Anonymous
  41. Hoarders Anonymous
  42. HCVA Hepatitis C Virus Anonymous
  43. High blood pressure
  44. ISA Incest Survivors Anonymous
  45. Marijuana Anonymous
  46. Methadone Anonymous
  47. Messies Anonymous
  48. MTC Make Today Count (for someone with a terminal disease)
  49. NA Narcotics Anonymous
  50. Nar-Anon — families of addicts
  51. Nick-a-teen Anonymous
  52. Nicotine Anonymous
  53. Obsessive-Compulsive Anonymous
  54. Offenders Anonymous — for convicts
  55. ODAT One Day At a Time — pagan recovery
  56. Overcomers Outreach
  57. OE Overeaters Anonymous
  58. PIR Pagans In Recovery
  59. Pagan Sanctum Recovery
  60. Parents Anonymous
  61. Partners and Friends of Incest Survivors Anonymous
  62. Pill Addicts Anonymous
  63. Pills Anonymous
  64. Prostitutes Anonymous
  65. Recovering Couples Anonymous
  66. RSA Rape Survivors Anonymous
  67. S/A Schizophrenics Anonymous
  68. S/A Schizophrenics Anonymous
  69. Self-Mutilators Anonymous
  70. SA Sexaholics Anonymous
  71. SAA Sex Addicts Anonymous
  72. SAA Sex Addicts Anonymous (alternate URL)
  73. S-Anon — family groups of sex-addicts
  74. SCA Sexual Compulsives Anonymous
  75. S-Anon International Family Groups
  76. SLAA Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous
  77. Sexual Recovery Anonymous
  78. SIA Survivors of Incest Anonymous
  79. Tough Love
  80. TOWMA The Other Woman/Man Anonymous
  81. UA Underearners Anonymous
  82. WA Workaholics Anonymous

Some of these groups offer their own minor variations on the twelve steps, but all have the same spiritual-religious orientation.

Notice the funny mix of so-called "spiritual diseases" there: you can "cure" some of them just by changing your behavior, like alcoholism, narcotics, smoking, over-eating, sex addiction, gambling, cocaine, or being a compulsive shopper or a clutterer. But the others are not what we might call "voluntary" diseases. You cannot just voluntarily quit having high blood pressure, diabetes, hepatitis C, chronic illness, dual disorder (i.e.: having both mental and drug or alcohol problems) or schizophrenia, so I really want to hear how listing and confessing all of your sins, "moral shortcomings", and "defects of character" will cure those diseases.

Someone would have to be pretty crazy to think that doing the Twelve Steps — performing a searching and fearless moral inventory and confessing all of his sins — is going to cure mental illnesses like schizophrenia and compulsive-obessive disorders.

But, come to think of it, that's just how the game works, isn't it? Go find sick, vulnerable people who are suffering, whose minds aren't too clear, and exploit their weaknesses and talk them into joining a cult religion while telling them that this magical 12-Step program will heal what ails them.

Last night I joined Gamblers Anonymous. They gave me two to one I don't make it.
== Rodney Dangerfield

Dumb Question: Why are there three "Dual" recovery groups that appear to treat the same mental problems — Dual Diagnosis, Dual Disorder, and Dual Recovery?

Dumb Answer: So that the people who have Multiple Personality Disorder4 can send each of their personalities to a different group, so that they don't run into each other at the meetings...

If Workaholics Anonymous people do 90 meetings in 90 days, are they still being compulsive workaholics?

Shouldn't 180 meetings in 90 days fix the problem?

And the oddest ones have to be "divorce recovery," "parents," "emotions," and "families." They are neither bad habits like alcohol and drug consumption, nor diseases like Hepatitis C and diabetes.

  • Is making lists of all of your "defects of character" and "moral shortcomings", and confessing them, really going to fix the heartbreak of divorce?
  • Or is the goal to wreck your ego, destroy your self-respect, and convince yourself that you really are a worthless piece of dirt, and your partner was right to have dumped you?

I cannot help but think that group therapy sessions, where divorced people get together and talk about their common problems and suffering, could be a very good thing, but the Twelve Steps are totally inappropriate for such a healing process.

The children's groups are strange, too. They are the groups like Al-Anon, Alateen, and ACOA — Adult Children of Alcoholics. Those groups teach that because someone was born to alcoholic parents, he should spend the rest of his life doing the Twelve Steps. Didn't Alcoholics Anonymous say that the Twelve Steps were a program for quitting drinking? Those children don't drink, and never have.

And just when you think you've heard it all, it gets even worse.

Ann W. Smith, M.S., C.A.C., has written a "recovery" book for "Adult Grandchildren of Alcoholics""Grandchildren of Alcoholics; Another Generation of Co-dependency". Now you can waste your life in meetings, work Bill's 12 Steps, and confess everything to strangers because Grandpa liked his moonshine.

A book that is popularly known as "The Serenity Bible" tells us:

That you have picked up Serenity® probably means that you or someone you love is already involved in or considering joining a Twelve Step program of recovery. We embark on recovery as a means of seeking freedom from any one or more of a number of addictive agents. Addictive agents are those persons or things on which we form an excessive dependency. The catalog of addictive agents includes:
  1. Alcohol or drugs
  2. Work, achievement, and success
  3. Money addictions, such as overspending, gambling, hoarding
  4. Control addictions, especially if they surface in personal, sexual, family, and business relationships
  5. Food addictions
  6. Sexual addictions
  7. Approval dependency (the need to please people)
  8. Rescuing patterns toward other persons
  9. Dependency on toxic relationships (relationships that are damaging and hurtful)
  10. Physical illness (hypochondria)
  11. Exercise and physical conditioning
  12. Cosmetics, clothes, cosmetic surgery, trying to look good on the outside
  13. Academic pursuits and excessive intellectualizing
  14. Religiosity or religious legalism (preoccupation with the form and the rules and regulations of religion, rather than benefiting from the real spiritual message)
  15. General perfectionism
  16. Cleaning and avoiding contamination and other obsessive-compulsive symptoms
  17. Organizing, structuring (the need always to have everything in its place)
  18. Materialism
Serenity, A Companion for Twelve Step Recovery, Complete with New Testament Psalms & Proverbs, Dr. Robert Hemfelt and Dr. Richard Fowler, pages 13-14.

That list of so-called "addictions" is, of course, absurd, and even insane. According to the authors, just about everything, good or bad, is an addiction. And they apparently don't even know the difference between real physical illnesses and hypochondria (item 10). They use the title of doctor, but they surely are not medical doctors. (One is a psychologist and the other runs "a Christian counselling clinic in Dallas, Texas".) But no matter — they will prescribe the same 12-Step quack cure no matter what your ailment may be.

But for sheer goofy wackyness, it's hard to beat Clutterers Anonymous:

...chapters of Clutterers Anonymous, a 12-step recovery program for compulsive accumulators, are also springing up all over the country. There are now groups in 50 cities in 17 states, including two chapters in Pennsylvania, where participants learn the self-help, growth and healing principles that have proven so successful in programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous.

Clutterers Anonymous, or CLA, was formed in 1989 in Simi Valley, Calif., after several women who were doing work in Overeater's Anonymous learned that they were also either pack-rats, or married to one, according to Christy B., of the CLA World Service Organization. As with other 12-step groups, the members don't reveal their last names.

The 12 steps embody a set of principles that promote inner change, she says. "We're not about teaching organizational skills, housecleaning tips or time management," she says. "We focus on the tools of recovery that address and free us from the underlying causes of clutter." The process has worked wonders for Ruth S., a licensed professional addictions counselor in Montgomery County, who discovered the program through group workshops.

Through attending meetings and workshops and working closely with her own sponsor or "clutter buddy," Ruth says she has been able to understand the kind of behavior that has led her to be constantly surrounded by physical and emotional chaos.

"It helped me to see my home as a sacred space, and to understand how removing clutter from my life — internally and externally — has really helped me gain clarity and control," she says.

For more information on Clutterers Anonymous, visit the Web site at, which provides links to information about the program, chapters, and meetings.

Clutter begone — Don't let guilt keep you from culling through your possessions; Linda Harbrecht, Allentown Morning Call, 01-15-2006



You may think that getting involved in an affair is something one chooses to do. But according to a new group called TOWMA (The Other Woman/Man Anonymous), it is a "painful and devastating addiction." (Step number one down the road to victimhood: Deny the exercise of free will and renounce all responsibility; claim an addiction.)

Modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous, this new 12-Step program is "open to anyone struggling with confusion, frustration, anger, or loneliness that comes with being in or have [sic] been in a relationship with a married person," says founder Elissa Gough of Huntington Beach, California. Gough contends that "the spurred [sic] partner or wayward spouse can find comfort in family and friends," but not so "the third side of the triangle — the other woman or man. We face a secret hell."

Sounds like sour grapes to us.

Psychology Today, Nov/Dec 1993, Vol. 26, Issue 6, p22.

It begins to look like the real purpose of these twelve-step groups is to practice the twelve steps and to expand the 12-Step religion, not to cure anything.

Of course. That has always been the objective.

(Starry-eyed A.A. faithful have even been quoted as saying things like, "The Twelve Steps are so wonderful that there needs to be another Twelve-Step group, one for all of the people who aren't alcoholics, so they can do the Twelve Steps, too.")

The real purpose of the Twelve-Step "self-help groups"3 is to get everybody to practice Frank Buchman's cult religion — "The Oxford Groups" — by "Working The Steps" and "Seeking and Doing the Will of God". Bill Wilson even said so, very clearly:

Six months earlier, the broker [Bill Wilson] had been relieved of his drink obsession by a sudden spiritual experience, following a meeting with an alcoholic friend who had been in contact with the Oxford Groups of that day.   ...   Though he could not accept all the tenets of the Oxford Groups, he was convinced of the need for moral inventory, confession of personality defects, restitution to those harmed, helpfulness to others, and the necessity of belief in and dependence upon God.
The Big Book, William G. Wilson, pages xv and xvi of the Foreword.

(In other words, he did accept all of the tenets of the Oxford Groups, but he didn't want to admit that his so-called "sobriety program" was just a copy of Frank Buchman's cult religion.)

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, William G. Wilson, page 77.

Follow the dictates of a Higher Power and you will presently live in a new and wonderful world...
The Big Book, William G. Wilson, page 100.

Then Bill Wilson schemed to recruit the alcoholics' entire families into his cult religion:

Though an alcoholic does not respond, there is no reason why you should neglect his family. You should continue to be friendly to them. The family should be offered your way of life. Should they accept and practice spiritual principles, there is a much better chance that the head of the family will recover. And even though he continues to drink, the family will find life more bearable.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 7, Working With Others, page 97.

Notice how Bill suddenly changed the advertised effect of his "spiritual" Twelve-Step program from making alcoholics quit drinking to just making the family's life "more bearable". Are the 12 steps really a program for recovery from alcoholic drinking, or are they really something else?
Well, the truth is that the Steps are really a religion for the whole family, just like the Oxford Group was.

And lastly, Bill wrote in the Foreword to the Big Book that:

We think this account of our experiences will help everyone to better understand the alcoholic. Many do not comprehend that the alcoholic is a very sick person. And besides, we are sure that our way of living has its advantages for all.
The Big Book, William G. Wilson, in the Foreword to the First Edition, page xiii of the 3rd edition.

"And besides, it will be wonderful if we can convert everybody in the world to our religion, to 'our way of living', and have all of them under 'God-control', following the dictates of a Higher Power, doing the Twelve Steps, and seeking and doing the Will of God as we understand it..."

And Bill's followers have tried hard to make that ambition a reality, cloning the Twelve-Step program into a couple of hundred other groups that will supposedly treat an absurdly large and all-inclusive list of ailments, which makes everyone in the world a candidate for twelve-step salvation, in one guise or another, for some disease or other, real or imagined.

  • The first clone was Al-Anon, for the wives and children of alcoholics.
  • And then there was Alateen, just for the teenagers.
  • Then there was ACOA, Adult Children of Alcoholics, where you can confess your miserable choice of parents.
  • Then they started 12-Step groups for drug addicts and compulsive gamblers — Narcotics Anonymous and Gamblers Anonymous.
  • Then it got really ridiculous, with groups that are downright bizarre, groups to "treat but not cure" high blood pressure, Hepatitis C, diabetes, chronic illness, compulsive shopping, over-eating, schizophrenia, and being the partner of a sex addict, all by doing the Twelve Steps and confessing all of your sins, defects of character, and moral shortcomings, and then surrendering your mind and your will...

Europeans regard that routine as pretty silly. Something that the 12-Step true believers will never tell you is that Europe manages to handle its drug and alcohol problems without the Twelve Steps. Oh, the 12-Step organizations have branches over there, of course, but they are not nearly as popular as in the USA, and they do not dominate their nations' treatment programs like the Steppers do in the USA.

Twelve-Step recovery is a distinctly American phenomenon, just like Puritanism is a distinctly American phenomenon.

British researchers see it this way:

The application of AA dogmas to behaviours which could scarcely be termed "diseases" — shopping, for instance — with all the paraphernalia about recognizing these as illnesses over which one has no control, has a faintly ludicrous quality. Their acceptance by many Americans testifies to the fact that what we are witnessing here is a socio-religious phenomenon requiring of followers the confession and repentance through which they receive status and acceptance.

Hence the attempt to explain alcohol problems, as well as other drug problems, in non-disease terms not only steps on commercial toes by threatening the theoretical basis for disease-based treatment programmes, it also threatens an entire social movement by asserting that there are other means of breaking habits than by confession and repentance.
Problem Drinking, 2nd edition, Nick Heather and Ian Robertson, Oxford University Press, 1989, page 169.

A.A. and the other 12-Step groups like to claim that the 12-Step program has a sound psychological foundation and that it is good therapy for whatever your ailment may be, but the so-called "psychology" is just a thin veneer of psycho-babble laid on top of the superstitious 12-Step program. ("Psycho-babble" is popular psychology babble — the kind of talk where people just rattle off lists of buzz words that sound like psychological terms but which are either grossly misused, meaningless, or just plain wrong.)

The official A.A. history book about Doctor Bob tells us:

He said, "Duke, I think this A.A. program will appeal to you, because it's psychologically sound and religiously sane."
Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1980, page 253.

(But A.A. is really completely irrational and unscientific, and even brags about it. And A.A. is religiously insane — it is just the authoritarian cult religion of Dr. Frank N. D. Buchman dressed in a shabbier suit of clothes.)

Back in the earliest days of Alcoholics Anonymous, the poetry editor of The New York Times promoted the newly-printed Big Book by writing a fake book review that said of a stereotypical alcoholic who was trying to quit drinking:

The point of the book is that he is unlikely to win through unless he floods his mind with the idea of a force outside himself. So doing, his individual problem resolves into thin air. In last analysis, it is the resigning word: Not my will, but Thine, be done, said in the full knowledge of the fact that the decision will be against further addiction.
The argument, as we have said, has a deep psychological foundation.

(Percy Hutchison gave us no explanation for the terrible problem that the real decision was for further addiction. Then, as now, the truth was that most of the A.A. members relapsed and returned to a life of drinking.)

Likewise, Dr. Ruth Fox, an early A.A. booster, declared:

The Twelve Steps constitute the cardinal programmatic aspect of Alcoholics Anonymous, than which, for alcoholics, there is no better therapeutic approach.
Alcoholism; Its Scope, Cause, and Treatment, Ruth Fox, M.D., and Peter Lyon, page 97.

Note that Dr. Ruth Fox was the founder of ASAM — the American Society for Addiction Medicine — an A.A. front group that tries to sell Alcoholics Anonymous to other doctors as a cure for alcoholism. Dr. Ruth Fox also liked to dose her alcoholic patients with LSD because it made them more compliant. So apparently, sometimes, she felt that LSD was a "better therapeutic approach" than the 12 Steps.

But then William L. White declared in Slaying The Dragon: The History of Addiction Treatment and Recovery in America that the effectiveness of A.A. in treating alcoholism cannot be determined because A.A. is not a treatment program and does not keep records (page 176).

And a doctor who is trying to convert other doctors to the 12-Step religion wrote:

Dr. Whitfield agrees that AA's effectiveness can't be explained in scientific terms, or tested in controlled studies.
Doctors in A.A.; the profession's skepticism persists, but MDs in Alcoholics Anonymous say the 12-Step program could benefit all physicians, C. Thomas Anderson, American Medical News, Jan 12, 1990 v33 n2 p33(2)

And A.A. true believers routinely claim that A.A. is not based on science, so it cannot be scientifically tested.

(Actually, the effectiveness of A.A. most assuredly can be — and has been — scientifically tested in controlled studies. A.A. just failed the tests every time, so the true believers claim that the results are invalid, and that A.A. cannot be properly tested.)

So that becomes two more bait-and-switch tricks:

  1. First, A.A. is allegedly "psychologically sound" and then A.A. is not based on science at all.
  2. First, the 12-Step program is allegedly good therapy for the "disease" of alcoholism, and then it isn't therapy at all.

Al-Anon, the A.A. auxiliary for the other family members, is itself a good candidate for the title of "spiritual disease". It practices battering, just like a cruel, vicious, wife-battering husband:

  1. First, the husband is friendly and loving, but then he turns on his wife and threatens and beats her.
  2. Just when the wife is ready to leave, the battering husband reverts to being loving and reassuring, telling the wife that things will be better in the future and that he didn't really mean it and he loves her.
  3. Then, when the wife stays, the husband soon reverts to attacking and beating her again.
  4. Then, just when the wife is ready to leave, the battering husband reverts to being loving and reassuring again.
  5. Eventually, the battered wife is so paralyzed by confusion and fear that she doesn't know if she is coming or going.
  6. And worse yet, while all of that is going on, the husband convinces the wife that it is her fault — that her bad behavior is the problem. She starts to think: "Maybe if I was a better wife, he wouldn't get so angry. I must try harder to be a good wife and please him." Thus, he gradually destroys what little self-respect and self-confidence the wife has left, which makes it even harder for her to leave him.

A.A. and Al-Anon foist the same back-and-forth routine on their victims:

  • First you are good, then you are bad, then you are good, then you are bad...

  • You are powerful, then you are powerless. First you are powerful and responsible for your own fate, and responsible for your quitting drinking, and then you are powerless and your will power is useless...

  • You are not responsible for what was done to you.... Then you are guilty of all kinds of defects and sins... Then you are not responsible... And then you are guilty...

  • First it's a disease over which you are powerless, and then you are a sinner who is selfish and self-seeking and manipulative and dishonest and self-centered....

  • In the Al-Anon 3rd Step, "God" supposedly loves you so much that He will take care of your will and your life for you, and solve all of your problems forevermore, just because you demand that He do so. That builds up your ego and gives you delusions of grandeur where you imagine that God is your butler, waiting on you hand and foot.
          But then the 4th through 7th Steps, where you make long lists of everything that is wrong with you, and dwell on it and confess it all to man and God, just continue the routine of having an angry alcoholic father constantly criticizing everything that you do, tearing you down, destroying your ego and your self-respect, and making you feel guilty about everything.

The official Al-Anon publications teach us that:

  •       "When you have to go into your head," says an Al-Anon friend, "don't go alone. It's not a safe neighborhood."
    Hope for Today, published by Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., page 47.

  •       Before Al-Anon I allowed the behaviors of the alcoholics in my life to cause me great unhappiness. While it was true that I was suffering, was my pain really their fault? Al-Anon has taught me to take responsibility for my own happiness.
    Hope for Today, published by Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., page 9.

    And how is it the fault of an abused terrorized child if he or she gets beaten and tormented by a crazy alcoholic? How does a child "take responsibility" for that?

    Likewise, how is it the fault of an abused, beaten wife if her husband drinks too much? Is she supposed to "take responsibility" and be "happy" in spite of her husband's bad behavior?

    This Al-Anon true believer moronically asks, "...was my pain really their [the alcoholics'] fault?"
    Well, yeh, duh...

    Again, we see two glaring cult characteristics: Don't Feel Your Feelings, and You Are Always Wrong.

  •       The longer I am in Al-Anon, the more clearly I perceive that alcoholism is indeed a sickness, a compulsion, an obsession. But haven't I, too, been afflicted with a sick compulsion? Wasn't I determined to "save" the alcoholic, and that to the same degree as he was addicted to alcohol?
    One Day At A Time In Al-Anon, Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, 1990, page 72.

    So, ladies, if you actually want your husbands to quit drinking themselves to death, you are some real sickos... You need to do Bill Wilson's Twelve Steps to Buchmanism, and get down on your knees and confess all of your sins.

  • How could I admit that I was powerless over alcohol when I was 27 years old, single, living independently, and my alcoholic father had been sober for 10 years?
          One night, God sent me a beautiful spiritual awakening. When I was the young daughter of an alcoholic father, I was powerless. I was powerless over every criticism that came from his mouth, and I was powerless over every blow he struck against me. To survive such an upbringing, I developed many defenses. When no longer needed, those defenses became character defects. As an adult, I was still powerless over the effects of my father's abuse.
    Hope for Today, published by Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., page 59.

    Now she's back to being powerless. How is she supposed to "take responsibility" for the situation when she is powerless over it?

  •       Like many children of alcoholics, I vowed I'd never drink like my father. Nevertheless, I do get drunk; only I get drunk on feelings.   ...
          I use the First Step to accept that, just for today, I'm powerless by myself to stop these emotional binges once they gain momentum.
    Hope for Today, published by Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., page 10.

    Powerless again.
    Drunk on feelings? There is no such thing. Having intense feelings is not the same thing as being intoxicated by ethyl alcohol. What this woman is actually describing is a cyclical mental disorder like a manic-depressive or bipolar disorder, where the victim cycles between extreme emotional states, up and down, up and down. Being flipped out in a manic state is not being "drunk on feelings", and it is not an "emotional binge". (Bill Wilson used the term "emotional benders" to explain away his own insane behavior, and Al-Anon is copying it.)

    Again, Al-Anon is teaching its victims Don't Feel Your Feelings and You Can't Trust Your Own Mind and You Are Weak And Powerless And Always Wrong.

    Al-Anon is also failing to tell this woman to get some real help from a real doctor.

  •       My alcoholic father sexually abused me when I was young, and I never dealt with the thoughts and feelings from that trauma. When I came to Al-Anon at age 52, my resentment and anger were deep-seated. As I painfully worked the Steps and took my Fourth Step inventory, my buried pain and anger started to surface. I shared these thoughts and feelings in my Fifth Step with my sponsor. Through this process I came to feel forgiven for the many wrongs I had committed, including judgement of my father.
    Hope for Today, published by Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., page 114.

    This is some of the sickest stuff in the whole book. The little girl "committed wrongs" by "judging" her father after he raped her?
    She needs to seek forgiveness for that?
    What a sick, twisted, wierd, masochistic cult religion.

  •       Today I know I was the perfect enabler. My autocratic behavior deprived my husband of responsibility. I tried in vain to control him, and to keep him "dry". Eventually I felt only hate and digust towards my husband and alcohol. My life seemed totally worthless...
          Then I was led to Al-Anon, where I learned to do something just for me — recover.   ...
          My husband's illness has enriched my life by leading me to Al-Anon.
    Hope for Today, published by Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., page 122.

    Oh yeh, right. "Al-Anon is so wonderful that it was really worth it to marry a hopeless alcoholic and go through years of hell, because that would eventually force her to join the wonderful 12-Step cult religion."

    And telling an alcoholic husband to please quit killing himself is not "autocratic behavior" that "deprives the husband of responsibility".
    Where does Al-Anon get all of this crazy nonsense?

    Well, from Bill Wilson for starters. Bill was always declaring that the alcoholics' wives (meaning his wife Lois) should just shut up and stop nagging the alcoholics (meaning, him) to quit drinking. The wives should just be quiet and leave the problem to God and the A.A. men.

    Al-Anon also got it from the Oxford Group, which taught Bill Wilson all of his cult religion dogma. Beverly Nichols, a contemporary journalist and former member of the Oxford Group, described the Oxford Group dogma and their treatment of wives this way:

    Absolute Unselfishness
          I should have to bring a whole collection of family skeletons rattling out of the cupboard to explain why I mistrust this apparently spotless ideal. All I care to say here is that I have seen several people's lives brought to the brink of ruin because of one woman's absolute unselfishness. If you strip this vague and mushy ideal to its essentials, how does it reveal itself? As a complete abrogation of the rights of the individual concerned. For example, an absolutely unselfish wife must endure, year in and year out, the persecution of a drunkard. She must never assert herself, never speak harshly to him, never protest when he revolts her sensibilities, terrifies her children, turns her house into a lunatic asylum, gambles away her money. 'It is not him,' she must say. 'It is a disease.' Or again: 'I took him for better or for worse; I must endure to the end.'
          Such women exist by the thousand; the Oxford Group approves of them; I do not. They are magnificent but mad. Unselfishness, if carried to these extremes, is an obsession that does nothing but prolong unnecessary pain. (Read Stefan Zweig's Beware of Pity.)
    All I Could Never Be, Beverly Nichols, pages 262-266.

    Note that Beverly Nichols was describing the situation in the Oxford Group back in the nineteen-twenties and -thirties. The excuse that alcoholism is a disease was already common then. The disease concept of alcoholism did not originate with Bill Wilson, Alcoholics Anonymous, or Dr. William D. Silkworth, either. Bill Wilson did not invent or discover anything when he created the A.A. cult; he just copied the Oxford Group.

  •       After a few years in Al-Anon, I came to accept my powerlessness over the alcoholic in my life.   ...
    The Third Step asked me to do something new — to hand over control of my will and my life, not knowing exactly who this God was or whether He would help me.   ...
    Hope for Today, published by Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., page 157.

    Now she is "powerless" again, and the 12-Step cult's answer is for her to give control of her will and her life to somebody else.

    Even worse, they teach that she should surrender control of her mind and soul to some 'God' or other without her even knowing what that 'God' is, or whether it will actually help her. That's insanely stupid behavior. That is suicidally stupid.

    (By the way, surrendering one's life to a cult is not "something new". It is thousands of years old.)

    That whole rap is really just some very common cult talk:

  • ...Step Five seemed to require more strength than I possessed. Ugly character defects had sprouted on my written inventory like poisonous mushrooms...
    Hope for Today, published by Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., page 168.
    Now she's just a horrible defective sinner again, because Hubby drank too much alcohol.

  • By the time I got to Step Seven, I finally understood that the best way for me to recover was to change my attitudes. I prayed to my Higher Power to remove my obsession with others and to help me focus on myself.
    Hope for Today, published by Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., page 170.

    Recover from what?
    "Obsession with others"?
    Wanting your husband to quit drinking himself to death is an "obsession" and a "spiritual disease" from which you must "recover"? Since when?

  •       Before coming to Al-Anon, I spent most of my life having expectations of, and making unrealistic demands on, everyone around me.
    Hope for Today, published by Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., page 180.

    Yes, A.A. founder Bill Wilson always complained that his wife Lois was making unrealistic and unreasonable demands when she demanded that he quit drinking himself to death, quit acting crazy, quit smoking himself to death, quit philandering, and quit throwing drunken temper tantrums and tearing up the house.

  •       Fortunately from my first days in the program, it was suggested that I never say no to Al-Anon.
    Hope for Today, published by Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., page 195.

    Never say no to the cult. Always obey the orders of the cult leaders.

  •       As a child of alcoholic parents, I grew up in a violent environment. My parents physically and verbally abused me, and I became angry with them. When I expressed my anger, they abused me even more. I learned to shut down and be silent.
    Hope for Today, published by Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., page 217.

    That is a good description of childhood abuse leading to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, not a child sinfully developing a "spiritual disease".

  •       When I first started coming to Al-Anon, I found that I wasn't alone in trying to meet the challenges from growing up in an alcoholic home.   ...
    A daily dose of the Steps, slogans, service, sharing, and spirituality — when taken day after day, month after month, year after year — has kept my disease in remission.
    Hope for Today, published by Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., page 224.

    A Slogan A Day Keeps The Thinking Away.

  •       I grew up in an alcoholic home where I felt no one was caring for me, so I decided I had to do so myself. Soon my vision became shortsighted. It took all my energy ... just to protect myself or figure out the bare necessities I needed to survive.
    Hope for Today, published by Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., page 238.

    So how is learning to survive in a bad sitation a "spiritual disease" that will be cured by the Twelve Steps?

  •       After coming to Al-Anon, I have finally found peace. My father's alcoholism and my mother's reactions to it caused much pain in my childhood.   ...
    I am not on this earth to change or control others. I am here to change and grow the best I can in order to serve my Higher Power.
    Hope for Today, published by Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., page 252.

    "Right. I exist only to serve my wonderful Higher Power, Beelzebub."

  •       While the alcoholic picked up a drink and became drunk on alcohol, I picked up the alcoholic and became drunk on control and approval-seeking.
    Hope for Today, published by Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., page 254.
    Also: One Day At A Time In Al-Anon, Al-Anon staff, Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., New York, 1990, page 254, September 10.

    Again, you get drunk by drinking ethyl alcohol, not by trying to keep an alcoholic from killing himself.

  •       When I first came to Al-Anon, I didn't care one way or the other about a Higher Power. When I read the Steps with all those references to God, I was a little skeptical. I wasn't even sure I wanted a relationship with a Higher Power or what to do with one if I had it.   ...
          Gradually, by keeping an open mind and heart, attending meetings, and using the program tools, I became willing to have, and then actually yearned for, a relationship with a Higher Power.
    Hope for Today, published by Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., page 262.

    Proving once again that religious conversion is really a big part of "the program".
    One of the hidden goals of the 12-step cult is to make everybody "come to believe"...

  • I never felt like I "fit" in my alcoholic family or anywhere else.   ...
          Fortunately I made it to Al-Anon before I wrecked the entire beautiful puzzle of my life.   ...
    Hope for Today, published by Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., page 277.

  •       I did not choose an alcoholic mother and a workaholic father, who were unable to express love. I did not decide to have an older brother who beat me and a younger brother whose love and attention I craved.   ...
          I joined Al-Anon when my wife and I separated. Although I had become depressed and unhappy by trying to live my life through her, it still hurt to let her go. By immersing myself in Al-Anon, I gradually learned I was responsible for my choices.
    Hope for Today, published by Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., page 279.

    What a perfect example of battering —
          First it isn't your choice, and then it is.
          First you are not responsible for the situation, and then you are.
          First it isn't your fault, and then it is.
    Such bizarre bad psychology is like a contagious mental illness.

  •       My Higher Power gives me situations where I can choose to grow or not to grow. These situations seem to occur more frequently when I practice the Al-Anon principles.   ...
          When I faced people who reminded me of the alcoholic behavior in my childhood home, I used to be so afraid that I panicked, ran away, or shut down. This behavior perpetuated my old cycle of suffering.   ...
          Today, when I'm faced with unhealthy and unacceptable behavior, I don't run away. I use the program to help me. I remember to stop and "Think".   ...
          When I'm willing to let my Higher Power help me face my problems today in a healthier manner than I did in the past, I'm not as likely to recreate them.
    Hope for Today, published by Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., page 283.

    Now she is back to being powerful, responsible, and in control.

  • Thought for the Day
    My Higher Power's guidance suggests it's best to leave decisions about my times of rest, preparation, and action up to God's infintely perfect sense of timing.
    "I will realize that, even in doing nothing about my problems, I am actively practicing the Al-Anon idea."