Letters, We Get Mail, CLXIII
by A. Orange



Date: Mon, March 1, 2010 3:11 pm     (answered 23 May 2010)
From: "Charlie"
Subject: Orange Papers

I found everything I had time to read very interesting. It distracted me from homework for a few hours, I hope to return later and read more. I am an AA or AA member or whatever the terminology is, but I have not experienced any of this cult type stuff (maybe I should say yet?).

In the material I read I found no mention of the preface to the Big Book, in it the members clearly state they have recovered, meaning it is not a life long membership. Also one of Bill's writings mention that if you are still attending meetings after five years you are doing something wrong, i.e. you should be recovered after some period of time. Again not a life long commitment.

I want to make perfectly clear I am not opposed to your beliefs or website, I disagree with the cult angle. I have fought for your right to believe and express your beliefs, but I think the cult view is wrong. Cults separate people from their families bleed them dry financially, and usually move people into isolated living arrangements. AA has not done any of these around my area.

Basically I am writing to ask why the beef with AA? None of the AA's I know put Bill or Bob on a pedestal, my home group is at the Freedom Club in Browntown, VA. We make jokes about how much of a hypocrite Bill W was. I knew of the anonymity nonsense he pulled, but was not privy to the 13th stepping he was up to. At any rate anyone in recovery knows others in recovery are hypocrites and expect others to do as i say not as i do. Given that we are all flawed, hypocrites cons and crooks, the point is to stop drinking. All the other crap is to be addressed if it makes life unmanageable like drinking and drugs have. That is why the tolerance of smoking, dangerous yes, but does not make life unmanageable.

So why the resentment, what did some group do to you, and why the idea that it is a cult you are locked into for life?

I also want to address the issues with Yahoo and AOL, if stuff like this happens again I would be glad to support you in any way, although I disagree with your position I disagree more wit any effort to stifle free speech.

Best Wishes
Live Long and Prosper,
C.S.

Hello Charlie,

Thanks for the letter.

Taking your points from the top,

  1. "I saw no mention of the preface to the Big Book, in it the members clearly state they have recovered, meaning it is not a life long membership."

    What you are calling "the preface" was really the "Foreword to First Edition". And I've mentioned Bill's exaggerated claims of a hundred successful recoveries there several times, like here and here and here.

    Bill Wilson pulled a "switcheroo" there. First, in places like the Foreword to the First Edition of the Big Book, Bill Wilson bragged about men having recovered, as in "These are the stories of 100 Men who have Recovered from Alcoholism." In fact, Bill Wilson originally wanted the Big Book to be titled "100 Men".

    WE, OF Alcoholics Anonymous, are more than one hundred men and women who have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body.
    The Big Book, Foreword to the First Edition, William G. Wilson

    To show other alcoholics precisely how we have recovered is the main purpose of this book. For them, we hope these pages will prove so convincing that no further authentication will be necessary.
    [Italics in the original.]
    The Big Book, Foreword to the First Edition, William G. Wilson, page xiii of the 3rd edition.

    But then those guys relapsed. Fully 50% of the original Big Book authors relapsed and returned to lives of drinking. So Bill Wilson changed his story to "we are not recovered":

    We are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. Every day is a day when we must carry the vision of God's will into all of our activities.
    The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Into Action, page 85.

    We are like men who have lost their legs; they never grow new ones.
    The A.A. Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, William G. Wilson, Chapter 3, "More About Alcoholism", page 30.

    A.A. is not a plan for recovery that can be finished and done with. It is a way of life, and the challenge contained in its principles is great enough to keep any human being striving for as long as he lives. We do not, cannot, out-grow this plan.
    A.A. Big Book, 3rd Edition, anon., The Keys Of The Kingdom, page 311.

    In conclusion, I can only say that whatever growth or understanding has come to me, I have no wish to graduate. Very rarely do I miss the meetings of my neighborhood A.A. group, and my average has never been less than two meetings a week.
    ... our one desire is to stay in A.A. ...
    A.A. Big Book, 3rd Edition, Jim Burwell, The Vicious Cycle, pages 249-250.

    That made it into another bait-and-switch trick: First, a cure, and then, no cure. First, hope of recovery, and then hopelessness.

  2. "Cults separate people from their families bleed them dry financially, and usually move people into isolated living arrangements. AA has not done any of these around my area."

    You are lucky if you have not seen it. Please do not forget Carl Sagan's great line, "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." Check out these stories:

  3. "I want to make perfectly clear I am not opposed to your beliefs or website, I disagree with the cult angle."

    Please read The Cult Test, the whole thing, questions and answers.

    Then you might also read the web page on Propaganda and Debating Techniques.

  4. Basically I am writing to ask why the beef with AA?

    I think these three items say most of it:

    And then I guess I have to add, "A.A. just doesn't work." See The Effectiveness of the Twelve-Step Treatment.

  5. Thank you for the moral support in opposing Internet censorship.
Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "Smart people are very good at rationalizing things
**      they came to believe for non-smart reasons."
**          ==  author unknown





Date: Mon, March 1, 2010 4:02 pm     (answered 23 May 2010)
From: "Hunter M."
Subject: Thank You

Orange,

I am sure you get these notes quite often, but please allow me to add one to the pile.

I have been a participant in 12 step programs since I first got clean in the mid 1990's. Yet no matter how many years I have gone between relapses and no matter whether I have worked the steps or not I have continued to not only have issues with relapsing but when I do relapse I often find myself sinking into the standard patterns of a binge...especially toward the end of a drinking/using episode as I contemplate that my only option is to return to AA, so I might as well get good and drunk. I don't blame AA for this thinking, but it is certainly one more log on the fire of going all out, as long as I've "gone out."

I have tried to discuss many of the same shortcomings of "the program" that you expound on, here, but it is very rare for me to find someone who is both knowledgeable about AA AND is willing to have a conversation about what about it isn't working (esp. as concerns my attempts to maintain sobriety).

I really appreciate your taking the time to do the research you've done, to write intelligently on the subject, and to keep the information available to be found.

While I will admit that the combination of having been inculcated and being married to a woman who has joined the Al-Anon branch of the cult makes it very difficult to contemplate walking away from the program, I take from your writings a newfound confidence and the hope that I might be able to help some of the other people I meet who are "too smart" to get AA. Maybe I can be the person I've been hoping to meet for some other drunk who's trying to recover but just doesn't buy into AA.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

— Hunter M.
Los Angeles, CA

Hello Hunter,

Thank you for the letter. It is more than just "another one for the pile". And thank you for the compliments.

I wish you well, and hope you can work your way out of your difficulties. Having a wife in Al-Anon makes it doubly tough. Still, you sound like you are going to win.

And you sound like a good candidate for the Newcomer Rescue League, too.

One thing that occurs to me is going to some SMART meetings and soaking up some of their teachings and attitudes. In particular, they don't believe in the policy of "one drink and you have lost all of your sober time", precisely because that leads to thinking, "I just lost all of my sober time, so might as well really tie one on tonight, and make it worth it."

SMART teaches that if you slip and fall, well then, get back up and get back on that horse and ride it some more. Obviously, you still have a bunch of sober time, interrupted by only one drunken night. Your liver, your kidneys, and your brain are acutely aware of the difference between continuous drinking and one slip.

Quitting drinking again after just a day or two of bingeing is also a kind of victory, really. It beats the hell out of just drinking until you die (or "going out" for 9 years, like I did).

Oh, and I don't mean to slight SOS, Lifering, WFS or anybody else. It's just that I haven't been to their meetings so I can't quote their teachings. The list of links to all of them is here.

Have a good day and a good life now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Bacchus hath drowned more men than Neptune.
**       == Dr. Thomas Fuller (1654 — 1734), Gnomologia, 1732





Date: Tue, March 2, 2010 4:38 am     (answered 23 May 2010)
From: "E."
Subject: Thank you for the site, but...

To Orange,

I came across your site after I left NA at the end of 2008, and was very interested to read the history of Buchmanism since I stumbled across "Initiative of Change", the current incarnation of the Oxford Group, through my involvement with meetings. I had been going to meetings everyday for three months to deal with my persistent cannabis addiction, and I thought it was helping. I was taking a steps class, buying into the lingo and generally trying to lose myself in the activity that it gave my life. And, to be honest, I believe that I did get a lot better, my self confidence was regenerated and I thought I was a model member. Except pretty much nobody would speak to me, I would get dirty looks fairly regularly and (I later found out) that I was being spoken about behind my back. So I quit and went it alone, but then I relapsed because I was indignant that if the people were complete f-wit cult members then the whole thing must be bankrupt of any value and that I knew better. So I told myself that I didn't need drugs but that I might still use them if the chance came by, which led to the slippery slope that ended in a psych ward middle of last year.

I'm now clear of drugs for half a year, and I've done it by myself and am clear in my resolve not to start all over again. Even though there have been moments where I thought about "just going back", I know that it's not worth it and would only cause more damage to my health, mental physical and spiritual.

The quandary that I wanted to bring to you, is that although I have gone it alone, I still see relevancy in the 12 step concept, not as this rigid rule complex with all the trimmings of a brain washing mechanism, but as a way to be mindful of my actions and to stay in the right direction. Perhaps that is the secret of a successful cult, to use a kernal of truth as the centrifuge to control and destroy peoples souls.

Anyway, I was just wondering what you think. Thanks again for the information that you have given me, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours,

e.

Hello E.,

Thanks for the letter and the compliments. And congratulations on your sobriety.

My reaction is that there is a little bit of truth in all propaganda. There has to be, or else people will quickly figure out that it's a bunch of bull.

A clever propagandist or cult leader skillfully blends truth and lies to get his finished product.

Then, your job is to figure out which is which. That can be very difficult when you are freshly detoxed and still cloudy-headed and confused and disoriented. That's one of the reasons why I really object to treating sick people with 12-Step programs — the "counselors" are preying on the weakest and most defenseless people, the people who are least able to figure out what is bullshit and what is truth.

My favorite piece of truth that I got from the 12-Step world is this line:
"Just don't take that first drink, no matter what."
I got it from some pro-A.A. movie, where it was one of the slogans that a member repeated. I don't remember what movie; that was a long time ago. I then expanded the line slightly, to:
"Just don't take that first drink, not ever, no matter what."

And I also modified it to:
"Just don't smoke that first cigarette, not ever, no matter what."

I live by those two simple rules. It is a mathematical certainty that you cannot drink too much if you don't take that first drink. And you can't get hooked on cigarettes again if you don't smoke even one.

I never heard that particular line in an A.A. meeting, but I heard something very similar in an N.A. meeting: "Just don't pick up, not ever, no matter what."

Works for me.

This line resonates for me:
"I relapsed because I was indignant that if the people were complete f-wit cult members then the whole thing must be bankrupt of any value and that I knew better."

I have had the same thoughts, and thought about it both ways. That is,
"Go ahead and have a drink just to show those A.A. assholes that you can do it."
or:
"Don't even think about relapsing and giving those A.A. assholes the satisfaction."

Fortunately, the second line won out.

So, see? You can even use resentments to your advantage. So the A.A. lines about resentments are also wrong.

Yes, you have a lot of bullshit to sort through, to find the jewels.

This line also resonates:
"I still see relevancy in the 12 step concept, not as this rigid rule complex with all the trimmings of a brain washing mechanism, but as a way to be mindful of my actions and to stay in the right direction."

Yes. However it isn't the 12 Steps that will keep you mindful. That is, there is a big conflict there, where Steps Four through Ten induce guilt, and are a very bad practice for mindfulness.

Ram Dass talked about meditation this way. (I can only paraphrase him from memory; I don't have any written text handy.)

When you meditate, you light a candle and watch the flame. You just watch the flame, and count your breaths. In, out, one. In, out, two. In, out, three...

You will find that your awareness gets dragged away by all kinds of thoughts. You may be thinking about what you have to do at work later today, or what you did yesterday, or what you want to do tomorrow, or what somebody said to you... It's always something.

You discover that you were last looking at the candle flame at breath 58, and now it's 79.

You do not condemn yourself or criticize yourself or complain about what a bad meditator you are. You just look back and notice what the thought was that grabbed your attention, and you make a note of it, and reconnect the thread of awareness, and then you go back to the candle flame. You just focus on the candle flame again and go back to watching the candle flame and counting your breaths.

The part about not condemning yourself is especially important. Condemning yourself would be very counter-productive, and would in fact be just some more departure from meditating in the here and now. So you just look back, and see what attracted your awareness away from the here and now — from the candle flame — and then you go back to the flame.

Looking back and noticing what grabbed your attention is just learning what you want — what thoughts or desires have the power to grab your attention. So you just see it, seeing how the thought grabbed your awareness and dragged your attention away from the flame, and you reconnect the thread of awareness, and then you go back to the candle flame.

I'm sure that you have already seen that Steps Four and Five are just the opposite of staying mindful in the here and now. They demand that you go way into the past and find fault with yourself. Those Steps induce feelings of guilt, inadequacy, and imperfection. Those Steps are just the opposite of right mindfulness and staying in the here and now. Steppers call the 12 Steps "introspection", but they aren't. They are just fault-finding and guilt induction. And that is one of the ways that the 12 Steps are very harmful.

Also, I'm sure that you did improve yourself while you were in A.A. — "I believe that I did get a lot better, my self confidence was regenerated and I thought I was a model member."
Not drinking alcohol can produce almost magical improvements in your health and mental clarity and behavior. And just wanting to be a better person helps too. And you are due the credit for that, not some 12-Step program.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Drinking makes such fools of people, and people are such
**     fools to begin with, that it's compounding a felony.
**             Robert Benchley (1889 — 1945)





Date: Tue, March 2, 2010 6:49 am     (answered 23 May 2010)
From: "Life Groups"
Subject: AA

Why would you post an email that has the potential to harm people. AA is a beautiful program that saves lives. It may not be for everyone, but it has the potential to save a life.

I just wanted you to know how I felt and I pray the Lord will open your mind to AA, because one day maybe you or a family member could desperately need it.

Thank you.

Growing Together,

Stacey E.
Life Groups Pastor Assistant

Hello Stacey,

Thanks for the question. And the answer is, "Because A.A. has the potential to kill far more people than it helps."

The story that A.A. saves millions of lives is a myth and a lie that was invented by Bill Wilson a long time ago. It was untrue then and it is still untrue now.

Do you even know what the actual A.A. success rate really is? Do you have any idea how few people actually get the 1-year, 5-year, or 10-year "sobriety medallions"? Look at this.

I invite you to read this: The Twelve Steps do not work as a program of recovery from drug or alcohol problems.

You should also look at the A.A. death rate: as established by one of the Trustees of A.A., Prof. Dr. George E. Vaillant, here.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         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, formerly 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: Wed, March 3, 2010 1:30 pm &nbps;   (answered 23 May 2010)
From: shannon
Subject: aa cult scorecard

I have copied and pasted all 289 pages of this paper to my MSWord but would much rather get a hard copy that I can write on, highlight and make notes. I very much appreciate your work on this document. Has it been published and how may I obtain a copy?

Thank you.

Shannon S.
Mount Vernon WA


Date: Wed, March 3, 2010 1:38 pm     (answered 23 May 2010)
From: shannon
Subject: Fwd: aa cult scorecard

as well as all the links! you did so much work and research... it's got to be published, right?!

Hello Shannon,

Thanks for the interest. There is no paper edition of the Orange Papers — it is all online.

You can download the entire book/web site by downloading a set of zipfiles. The files are listed on the first menu page, here, and the process for making a CD of the web site is described here.

As far as publishing it on paper, I think about it every so often, and somebody asks me about it every so often... And I think that sounds like so much work that I'd rather go down to the river and play with the little goslings.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Be careful about reading health books.
**     You may die of a misprint.
**           ==  Mark Twain (1835 — 1910)

[Next letter from Shannon is here.]





From: m. F.
Subject: Donation
Date: Wed, March 3, 2010 8:39 pm

thanks for everything you have done, I wish it was more and i wish it was sooner. hopefully someday you write a print book and i will buy it for every library i ever go to. or maybe someday when i make more $ i can fund it being published ;) wishful thinking but you never know.

Thanks again, m/k

Hi. Thank you very much for the kind remarks. That is very flattering. And thank you for the donation.

And you have a good day now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         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.


From: m. F.
Subject: Re: Donation
Date: Sat, March 6, 2010 11:05 pm

Your welcome. And if u publish that please leave off my names/email.

Ps I wasn't trying to flatter you, it's the truth. Sometimes you just need someone else out there to let you know your not crazy.

Btw book you might be interested in. Addiction a disorder of choice, ny, gene heyman. Published last summer. He teaches a class at harvard extension school that highlights choice theory.

Book was good until he said that vaillant's recent study or evaluation of old study participants (the same rehashed old drunks from how many years ago?) shows that as is not harmful so a.a. is ok to suggest to go to even tho it doesn't work.

But considering they are prolly buddies and vaillant is on aaws board of advisors, he can't say anything bad or he wouldn't have gotten harvard to publish the book for him.

Ok enough rambling. Hope life is well. Take care.

Yes, I am fine, thank you. I'll have to check out that book.

Have a good day now.

== Orange





Date: Mon, March 8, 2010 7:36 am     (answered 23 May 2010)
From: "Jim McC."
Subject: More info?

Hi there Agent Orange

— wondering if you had any idea where I could get more info on those last wills and testaments

http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-LoisWill.html

http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-BillWill.html

Does that mean people profited personally from sale of aa literature? It would be interesting to know.

hope you are well and stuff

James McC.

Hi James,

I am well, thank you.

I don't have much more information than that on the subject of those wills.

The long and short of it is, "Yes, other people profitted, and are still profitting." The people who are now collecting more than half of the royalties on Bill Wilson's writings have nothing to do with A.A.

Coincidentally, we were just talking about those wills, a few letters back, here.

As I was saying there, Bill's mistress Helen Wynn got 10% of the royalties, and Lois Wilson got 90%. Then Lois' share was divided evenly between a foundation that she set up to make the house Stepping Stones into a permanent museum, and her relatives.

So the final outcome was that the Stepping Stones Foundation got 45% of the royalties, and friends and relatives of Helen Wynn and Lois Burnham Wilson, and their descendants, are getting 55%. That bothers some people, who feel that the Alcoholic Foundation, or Alcoholics Anonymous, should be getting that money.

Well, it's way too late now. And the way that Congress keeps extending copyrights, those people will be getting money for a very long time. (Google the "Free Mickey" movement for more on endless copyrights.)

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "What is it all but a trouble of ants
**     In the gleam of a million million of suns?"

UPDATE: There is more on this. Claire, an estate attorney, explained the intricacies of those wills, and Helen Wynn's share reverted to Lois Wilson at Helen's death. So the final disposition is 50% to the Stepping Stones Foundation, and 50% to Lois Wilson's heirs who have nothing to do with Alcoholics Anonymous. Look here.





Date: Thu, March 11, 2010 2:22 pm     (answered 23 May 2010)
From: "MARK S.
Subject: AA

I came across your site and read with great interest many of the letters that you have posted as well as your experience with AA. I myself spent 10 years going to AA meetings after a 30 year career as a drinker and drug user. Jail, joblessness and a judge convinced me that AA was where I needed to be. Mine was one of those stories that you would hear every now and then, one of those real tear jerkers of someone hitting a mental, spiritual, physical, and legal bottom all at the same time.

After 10 years though I realized as you did that I had had enough. I learned that alcohol and drugs were never the problem, only the symptom of something much deeper. Once those issues were resolved, everything changed.

It's been several years now since I quit AA and my life could not be better. I can take a glass of wine when I want without consequence and the drug use is something that I would never ever consider again. And yes, just as many people find out, those who were my friends in AA have now distanced themselves from me since I no longer subscribe to the cult.

I will say this, that in those meetings I did find solace and support at a time in my life when things could have gone either way and I did meet a number of people who were caring, thoughtful and considerate and offered me insights that I may never have gained otherwise. At the time perhaps it was just what I needed but I found that I could only listen to the same stories a certain number of times before they lost their meaning and impact. Thus I made the decision that it was time to move on.

Good luck and keep up the good work. I'll be back to read some more. Take care.

Mark S.

Hi Mark,

Thank you for the letter and the compliments. I'm glad to hear that you are doing well, so congratulations on your healthy living.

I agree that having the right people around you, saying the right things and giving you moral support, can be a big help. The interesting thing is that the helpful moments can happen anywhere, not just in an A.A. meeting room.

One of the moments that made a big change for me was hanging out in the kitchen of our rehab housing, and this other guy who was about my age said, "You know, we are getting to be too old for that shit."

Now that is not the kind of line that you would think would be life-transforming and all wise and cosmic and the kind of saying that would make a big change in your life, but oddly, it was. It kind of planted the idea in my head that we really are getting too old for that shit, and that phase of life really is over, and it's time to do something else now. And something sort of clicked and settled into my head. I could feel myself accepting the idea of change — real permanent, life-long changes, and for the better — and that's just how it's going to be, because we are just getting to be too old for that shit.

Incidentally, that friend was the same old guy as the one who went to Dual Recovery Anonymous and the crazy fanatics there told him not to take his psychiatric medications, like Paxil.

What is really odd is that he actually got very bad advice in the 12-Step meeting room, but was giving me very good feedback in the kitchen.

So it goes. I hope he is doing well. I haven't seen him for a bunch of years.

I hope you are doing well too. So have a good day now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "Age does not protect you from love.
**      But love, to some extent, protects you from age."
**         ==  Jeanne Moreau





May 17, 2009, Sunday: Day 17, continued:

Carmen + siblings == Canada Goose goslings
Carmen and remaining siblings
The little one in front is the friendly "light-colored one", who is actually getting darker by the day. I think Carmen is the one on the right, in the background.

[The story of Carmen continues here.]





Date: Sat, March 6, 2010 11:24 pm     (answered 23 May 2010)
From: "rick m."
Subject:

WOW!!! I am at a loss for words. I really feel less intelligent after reading only a small portion of your ramblings. You are so confused on so many levels. I do hope you find some form of sanity and serenity in your life. I will say a prayer for you. ;)

A.S.A.P.
Always Say A Prayer

Hello Rick,

Thanks for the letter. I'm sorry to hear that your intelligence is declining.

But thanks for the kind thoughts, and actually, I feel a lot of serenity, and even sanity.

So you have a good day too now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**      Henry David Thoreau on his deathbed, when his aunt asked him if
**    he had made peace with God: "Why, I did not know we had quarreled."





Date: Tue, March 9, 2010 9:55 am     (answered 24 May 2010)
From: "Fred F."
Subject: A.A. works for me

I wonder how many people you've killed?

The information contained in this electronic message and any attachments to this message are intended for the exclusive use of the addressee(s) and may contain information that is confidential, privileged, and/or otherwise exempt from disclosure under applicable law. If this electronic message is from an attorney or someone in the Legal Department, it may also contain confidential attorney-client communications which may be privileged and protected from disclosure. If you are not the intended recipient, be advised that you have received this message in error and that any use, dissemination, forwarding, printing, or copying is strictly prohibited. Please notify the New York State Thruway Authority immediately by either responding to this e-mail or calling (518) 436-2700, and destroy all copies of this message and any attachments.

Hello Fred,

Ah, there it is again: Ann Landers' attitude, "Rand deserves a kick in the collective pants for their irresponsibility in releasing such destructive materials."
And:
It is irresponsible to tell the truth about A.A. — you might kill an alcoholic.

Yassuh, bozz man, dem poor, feeble-minded alkies jus' cain't handle duh truth — it will kill dem — so don't tell dem duh truth. Jus' entertain dem wit' myths and fairy-tales and duh rants of a crazy Nazi sympathizer.

About the death rate from my web site: My guess is "none killed". Telling the truth does not kill alcoholics; lying to them and shoving an ineffective cult religion cure on them does.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**      Never find your delight in another's misfortune.
**        —  Syrus,  42 B.C.


Date: Fri, May 28, 2010 6:29 am     (answered 31 May 2010)
From: "Fred F."
Subject: Re: A.A. works for me

I will continue to pray for you.

Fred


Date: Fri, May 28, 2010 8:45 am     (answered 31 May 2010)
From: "Fred F."
Subject: Re: A.A. works for me

That's right — that "none" would be a guess on your part — no telling how many of us, soured on A.A. by reading your postings, decided to do it on our own and ended up picking up a drink again; finding we couldn't stop by ourselves; then getting killed in a DD accident; committing suicide; dying from cirrhosis, pancreatitis, heart attacks, stroke, etc. Nah — guess there's no way to keep any statistics on anything like that.

Hello again, Fred,

Well now, why don't you send me a list? Or even just one documented story of somebody who read my web site, and learned the truth about A.A., and then quit A.A. and killed himself with drugs and alcohol, when he would have lived if he had stayed in A.A.?

Do you have any real evidence, or just smears and accusations?

And while you are assuming that leaving A.A. kills people, why don't you consider whether staying in A.A. kills people? Here are two lists:

There are approximately 2,100,000 members of A.A. at present world-wide; all colors; all ranges of beliefs (or lack thereof — there are a number of atheist A.A.s — one is a good friend of mine); all layers of the socio-economic stratus. We are free from alcohol because we practice a few simple steps on a daily basis. I do not belong to a cult- my eyes are wide open. I know about Bill Wilson — he certainly was no saint; maybe Bob Smith would be a better role-model; but I'm sure he had plenty of defects as well. Yes, I've read all about the Midtown Group in Washington D.C. As my buddy Pete (31 years sober) says; "Let me clue you in on something — A.A. ain't exactly a hotbed of mental health!" I think that's one of A.A.'s strongest assets; at least for me it is.

So you have a bunch of members in your organization. (Appeal to Numbers == Argumentum ad Numerum) So do Scientology and the Moonies. Just ask Tom Cruise. And Tom Cruise says that Scientology and Narconon are the only answer for addictions and mental problems, and Scientology knows more about the human mind than all of the psychiatrists in the world. So why is he wrong and you right?

Again, you are doing the "We are not saints" minimization and denial tap-dance around Bill Wilson. But you will be reciting his holy plastic-laminated words at the start of your next A.A. meeting, won't you?

And Dr. Bob was not a better role model. You are right — he had plenty of defects too. Dr. Bob was a vicious child-abuser and a serious nutcase, a doctor so wrecked and insane that he could not make a living as a doctor. Bill Wilson had to beg money from John D. Rockefeller Jr. to pay Bob's mortgage. (See Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age, by Bill Wilson, page 151.) And Dr. Bob shoved the older philanderer Ernie Galbraith, A.A. Number Four, on his daughter Susan, and really messed up her life. Dr. Bob was not qualified to tell anybody else how to live.

And again, you minimize the problems with things like the Midtown Group. How do you plan to fix that problem and protect the girls in the future? Just happily proclaiming that you are not shining examples of mental health does not cut it. If you are really all that insane then you have no business acting as recovery counselors and sponsors, pretending to know how to get people sober, and guide them to better lives.

All I know is that it was suggested in late May of 2004 that I follow the directions in the first 164 pages of the book, Alcoholics Anonymous, and I am not the same person I was 6 years ago.

Then you don't know very much, do you?

You are making a very simple logical error: "It happened after X, so it was caused by X." Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc is what it is named. You might as well be declaring, "Mary Ellen went to an A.A. meeting and then she got pregnant. So that evil A.A. meeting made Marry Ellen get pregnant." Same logical error.

(But if she got raped at an A.A. meeting like the Midtown Group, then that is a different issue.)

I am not the same person as I was six years ago, either. Nobody is. Some are in better shape, some are in worse shape. It all depends on what people chose to do with their lives.

My self-conception, my attitudes about other people, my sense of belonging and sense of real meaning for my life have all dramatically improved as a result of taking the steps A.A. suggests. I know the same is true for millions of others who had previously been slaves to alcohol, as I know I was. I also am fully aware that A.A. does not claim a monopoly on recovery — we say as much in the forward to the 2nd Edition of the Big Book.

Okay, so you really enjoy the cult religion. Isn't it all so wonderful to have a hotline to God, as well as a guaranteed ticket to Heaven? Isn't it fun to "walk hand-in-hand with the Spirit of the Universe, on the Broad Highway in the Sky"? "Life will take on a new meaning... as we trudge the Happy Road to Destiny", etc., etc.

The line about "no monopoly" is just one more of Bill Wilson's bait-and-switch tricks. Look here for Bait and Switch: First, Bill Wilson declared that Alcoholics Anonymous was only one of many ways to achieve sobriety, then he declared that it was The Only Way.

I do not know what has caused your heart to be so filled with such hatred towards A.A. Hate may or may not greatly harm the recipient, but it always greatly harms the possessor (or is it possessed?) If in your heart you believe you are doing good by maintaining this site; there is nothing I can say or do that will dissuade you. My only request is that you give what I have written a little bit of consideration, for the sake of those who are still suffering from this disease. I will keep you in my prayers.

take care-
Fred

My heart is not filled with hatred. I do, however, strongly oppose foisting quack medicine and cult religion on sick people. And lying to them, in order to fool them into thinking that A.A. really works great, is inexcusable.
"RARELY HAVE we seen a person fail...".

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Almost every man wastes part of his life in attempts to
**     display qualities which he does not possess, and to gain
**     applause which he cannot keep.
**        ==  Dr. Johnson





Date: Wed, March 10, 2010 4:47 am     (answered 24 May 2010)
From: "Michael O."
Subject: Former AA member sober 25 years enjoys The Orange Papers

After more than 25 years of sobriety and 30 years of continuous membership in AA, I found myself in residential treatment for depression. In brief, I learned enough and acquired new skills to relize that drinking and using other drugs was simply a maladaptive coping mechanism for me in my teens. Booze was medicine for depression and pain. I threw myself into AA, never really buying the whole god thing and eventually coming to naturalism/atheism/secular humanism beliefs. A number of things helped — Julia Sweeny's "Letting Go of God" on Showtime; Chris Prentice's "Alcoholism Cure" book; The Orange Papers; SOS and Men for Sobriety pamphlets; and mostly my own journaling and investigation. I see now that much of what I heard in early days of attending AA, much of what I heard I did not identify with, however I was desperate to belong and get out of the hole I was in, so over time I repeated things enough that I 'came to believe' them. I'm not saying AA is all bullshit, but there is a lot of it going around.

Today I am in therapy, on medication, no longer consider myself a member of AA nor an alcoholic and am more happy and productive in life than ever.

I'll keep reading the Papers. Appreciate what you're doing.

Mike

Hello Mike,

Thank you for the letter, and I'm glad to hear that you have found a way out of your suffering.

So have a good day and a good life now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     I think that every human being has an innate sense of "I."
**     We cannot explain why that feeling is there, but it is.
**     Along with it comes a desire for happiness and a wish to
**     overcome suffering.  This is quite justified: we have a
**     natural right to achieve as much happiness as possible,
**     and we also have the right to overcome suffering.
**        == The Dalai Lama's Little Book of Wisdom





Date: Mon, March 8, 2010 1:56 pm     (answered 24 May 2010)
From: "Bob"
Subject: getting out of the cult

hi orange,

i like your website. nice work you've done. its informative and complete and useful.

im an AA member. i have never really fallen for the BS of the steps but I do have a sponsor. one thing i have fallen for is that AA works. i dont think it does though. at at the same time im kind of afraid to stop going to be totally honest.

you responded with this to a letter.

"Now there is no way to get accurate numbers for how many people successfully quit drinking while intensively doing A.A. practices, and then left A.A. and went on to live happy sober lives. All of the evidence says that there were not very many such happy stories."
http://orange-papers.org/orange-letters103.html#numbers

Do you think that people who get sober in AA and leave are not able to live happy sober lives? When you say evidence suggests there are not very many such happy stories, what do you mean? Once people get sober in AA they are doomed? I know you don't mean that but I would like to leave AA and stay clean and frankly, I am scared.

Bob

Hello Bob,

Thanks for the letter and the compliments, and for the question.

That paragraph that you quoted is really a compound statement — there are two parts to it:

  1. quit drinking
  2. leave A.A. and live happily ever after

I was putting the emphasis on the first part, successfully quitting drinking and staying sober. Unfortunately, A.A. has a very poor track record in sobering them up.

You are interpreting the paragraph in a way that puts the emphasis on the second half — that you won't be happy or successful after you leave A.A. I never meant that.

The two halves go together. Obviously, if they don't get sober in A.A., then they don't get sober in A.A. AND then leave to continue their happy sober lives.

On the other hand, many people do drop out of A.A. and then find their own way to get sober and stay sober. Only about 5% of the newcomers to A.A. get sober and stay sober there, and yet the Harvard Medical School reported that over 50% of the alcoholics do eventually "free themselves". And, since just about every alcoholic in the country has been shoved into A.A. at one time or another, by courts or "treatment programs" or "therapists" or well-meaning but misinformed relatives or friends or employers, the A.A. drop-outs and quitters are enjoying about nine times the success rate that A.A. is getting.

So yes, people do leave A.A. and then live happily ever after.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     The pains that you suffer, the lonelinesses that you encounter,
**     the experiences that are disappointing or distressing, the
**     addictions and seeming pitfalls of your life are each doorways to
**     awareness.  Each offers you an opportunity to see beyond the
**     illusion that serves the balancing and growth of your soul.
**         ==  Gary Zukav, Seat of the Soul





Date: Tue, March 9, 2010 4:51 pm     (answered 24 May 2010)
From: "Christopher C."
Subject: Miserable person

Sorry you had to waste your time.

But you're seemingly dissection of of A.A. has really been an eye opener. Most of which isn't good!! These principles, by which are from the Bible, are just made for a society of people of recover from daily drinking and live a different life. I suspect that you'll drink again from your words and negativity. You're the type that cannot stay stopped!

Please keep your lack of getting a program off the internet when in fact it helps millions of people world wide. The proofs in the pudding.

So smile and don't take life so seriously!!

Hello Christopher,

Thanks for the good wishes.

Alas, almost every statement that you made there is wrong.

  1. The A.A. program does not come from the Bible. It comes from the Nazi sympathizer Dr. Frank Nathan Daniel Buchman, who created a very cultish religious sect called the "Oxford Group". William Griffith Wilson and Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith joined that cult, and learned Buchmanism there. Then Bill rewrote the Oxford Group practices as the 12 Steps, and sold Buchmanism as a cure for alcoholism, which it wasn't, and still isn't.

  2. Frank Buchman's cult practices are not "principles". They are practices, strange actions that you do to induce feelings of guilt, fear, powerlessness, and inadequacy.

  3. Frank Buchman's practices were not made to help alcoholics live better lives. They were made to support Frank Buchman in the lifestyles of the rich and famous, and they did that pretty well.

  4. A.A. does not help millions worldwide. The largest membership that A.A. can claim is 2 million members worldwide, and most of them will relapse and return to drinking.

    You are quite mistaken about the A.A. success rate. A.A. is a total failure that is no better than getting alcoholics to play patty-cake or tiddly-winks. Those few alcoholics whom you see sober themselves up are doing just that — using self-reliance and sobering themselves up. Then A.A. steals the credit for their hard work. See: The Twelve Steps do not work as a program of recovery from drug or alcohol problems.

  5. You are right that the proof is in the pudding. But A.A. failed all of the tests. So A.A.'s "proof" isn't "in the pudding".

  6. Lastly, I don't think I'll go back to drinking and smoking. Been there, done that. It was fun for a while, but then it turned into too much pain and suffering. So now I'm doing other things. And have been for 9 years now.

    Oh, and criticizing quack cures for alcoholism — what you call "negativity" — isn't going to make me drink, either.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Who speaks the truth stabs Falsehood to the heart.
**        ==   James Russell Lowell (1819—1891)





Date: Fri, March 12, 2010 6:33 pm     (answered 24 May 2010)
From: "MaryJane S."
Subject: Are you dead? LOL.

You haven't answered letters in over two months! What's up?

Hi MaryJane,

A new property management company took over the building that I was in and pushed me out. So I was homeless for 3 months, and too busy looking for a new place to live to work on the web site. The story is here and here. But I'm back.

Anyway, I'm looking for any direct reference I can find from The Oxford Group listing the "six practices" that are so similar to the original 6 steps of AA. Where did you get that information? Was it just reasoning from information printed in that Big Book story combined with Louis' testimony in her book? Anyway, just curious. Keep up the good work.

No, it was not "just reasoning". It is thoroughly documented, and described by many books. But I see that you are asking for a direct reference. Darn! I wish I had put a footnote on that item, so I could remember where I got it. I'll have to go back to the library and see which books list the "Six Practices of the Sane", or the "Five C's", or the "Five Procedures".

In the mean time, especially look at the web page about the Oxford Group doctrines and beliefs, "The Religious Tenets and Doctrines of Buchmanism",
http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-rroot090.html

There are quite a number of books that documented the Oxford Group and Moral Re-Armament practices. You can find the entire list in the bibliography,
http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-bibliography.html

This short list of books is the ones that come to mind as giving good descriptions of Buchmanite beliefs.

This first list is books that are very pro-Buchman. The first three books were practically the textbooks of the Oxford Group, and that is where you will find a lot of the practices and beliefs of Buchman's "Groupers" spelled out.

  1. Walter H. A., Soul Surgery   The Oxford Group, Oxford: 1932
    UPDATE: Now downloadable here.
  2. THE QUIET TIME By Howard J. Rose
  3. He That Cometh; A Sequel to 'Tell John,' being further essays on the Message of Jesus and Present Day Religion, Geoffrey Allen, Fellow and Chaplain of Lincoln College, Oxford, 1933
  4. Remaking the World, the speeches of Frank Buchman, Frank N. D. Buchman

    These books are mostly cheer-leading and praise of Frank Buchman and the Oxford Group, but they also give a description of participation in the Oxford Group:

  5. For Sinners Only, A. J. Russell
  6. One Thing I Know, A. J. Russell (1933)
  7. More Twice-Born Men, Harold Begbie
  8. I Was A Pagan, V. C. "Vic" Kitchen
  9. Innocent Men, Peter Howard

These books were critical of Buchman and his Oxford Group:

  1. Saints Run Mad; A Criticism of the "Oxford" Group Movement, Marjorie Harrison (1934)
  2. The Oxford Groups; The Charge Delivered At The Third Quadrennial Visitation Of His Diocese Together With An Introduction, Herbert Hensley Henson, D.D. (the Bishop of Durham), 1933
  3. Inside Buchmanism; an independent inquiry into the Oxford Group Movement and Moral Re-Armament, Geoffrey Williamson, Philosophical Library, New York, c1954
  4. The Groups Movement, The Most Rev. John A. Richardson, Morehouse Publishing Co., Milwaukee, Wis., 1935.
  5. The Mystery of Moral Re-Armament, by Tom Driberg, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1965

And this one was a mixed bag of both viewpoints. Rev. G. F. Allen was a spokesman for the Oxford Group, while some of the others were very critical. All of the authors were faculty or staff at Oxford:

  • Oxford and the Groups; The Influence of the Groups considered by Rev. G. F. Allen, John Maud, Miss B. E. Gwyer, C. R. Morris, W. H. Auden, R. H. S. Crossman, Dr. L. P. Jacks, Rev. E. R. Micklem, Rev. J. W. C. Wand, Rev. M. C. D'Arcy, S.J., Professor L. W. Grensted,     Edited by R. H. S. Crossman;     Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1934.

Most of those books are old and rare, but larger libraries still have copies in the stacks somewhere, and you can get them through inter-library loans. (That's how I got them.)

Okay, now we both have our homework cut out for us.

Have a good day.

== Orange

2011.01.12: P.S.: Also see the historical document What_Is_The_Oxford_Group.pdf, which describes most all of the common practices of the Oxford Group, including

  1. Sharing for Confession and Witness
  2. Surrender
  3. Restitution
  4. Guidance
  5. The Four Absolutes:
    1. Absolute Honesty
    2. Absolute Purity
    3. Absolute Unselfishness
    4. Absolute Love

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     We confess our little faults to persuade people
**      that we have no large ones.
**         ==  François de La Rochefoucauld

UPDATE: 2011.06.08: You can get the book Soul Surgery, by H. A. Walter, here: soulsurgery.pdf. It lists and describes "The Five C's": Confidence, Confession, Conviction, Conversion, and Conservation.





Date: Mon, March 15, 2010 2:21 pm     (answered 25 May 2010)
From: "Jen"
Subject: Thank you

I have only begun reading your Orange Papers but I agree with much of what you have written having several "recovering" alcoholics in my family in the program of AA. I too am feeling like AA is a cult that has capitalized on the weakness of people who choose to drink to escape from their problems and life. I about fell over when I read your "powerless" essay as it was almost exactly what I had formulated in my own mind over the past year. I am happy to know that I am not the only one who hasn't been blinded by this program out of desperation to have sobriety. In my case, those involved in this program have been in many cases worse in their selfish behaviors since being a part of this program.

I am looking forward to further reading and sharing your on line book with others. I feel it is a big step in forcing us all to wake up and take responsibility for ourselves in healing. Thanks again.

Jennifer B.

Hello Jennifer,

Thank you for the letter and the compliments. And I'm glad to see that you are thinking for yourself, and are not "powerless".

So have a good day now, and a good life.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**      God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh.
**        ==  Voltaire  (1694—1778)





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