Letters, We Get Mail, CCXXIV
by A. Orange



Date: Thu, February 17, 2011 12:34 pm     (answered 17 February 2011)
From: "Peter V B."
Subject: Talbott

U r correct, especially about talbott and his buddies.

Sent from my iPad

Thanks for the note.
Do you have anything more on Talbott?

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.


Date: Fri, February 18, 2011 5:47 am     (answered 18 February 2011)
From: "Peter V Bieri"
Subject: Re: Talbott

Maybe... tried, and failed, to bring him down twenty years ago

Sent from my iPad

Ah, well, you do know of course that another doctor nailed him with a multimillion-dollar lawsuit for false imprisonment and false diagnosis?

So he is history now. But I am sure that there are several others willing to take his place.

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.





Date: Thu, February 17, 2011 11:49 pm     (answered 21 February 2011)
From: "Brett A."
Subject: cool site

Thanks.





Date: Fri, February 18, 2011 3:21 am     (answered 21 February 2011)
From: "Simon C."
Subject: Way of the Bodhisattva

Hello Terrance,

I last emailed you about 18 months ago about how AA takes the credit for what is really a personal triumph. I'm not much of a letter writer but I do still visit the Orange Papers regularly and find your work to be a great source of strength.

I liked the Boddhisattva vow you quoted a few letters ago:

The suffering of humanity is without limit.
I vow to end it all.
The number of sentient beings is without limit.
I vow to enlighten them all.

I thought perhaps that particular form came from Shantideva's wonderful Bodhicharyavatara (The Way of the Bodhisattva), which I understand is HH Dalai Lama's vade mecum on his never-ending travels.

While I was looking for that quote, I came across a couple of other verses which, if you will permit, I would like to dedicate to you, especially given the vicious abuse aimed at you by the 12 step spiritual giants.:

Should anyone wish to ridicule me
And make me an object of jest and scorn
Why should I possibly care
If I have dedicated myself to others?

And

May the slander, harm
And all forms of abuse
That anyone should direct towards me
Act as a cause of their enlightenment.

I see no evidence that your abusers will be finding enlightenment any time soon but you're keeping your side of the bargain and, as you say, a Bodhisattva is in it for the long game.

Keep telling the truth.

Simon

p.s. I was greatly heartened by the web traffic stats you mentioned in another recent response. The truth is clearly now reaching a lot of people and minds CAN be changed. When I first visited the Orange Papers 3-4 years ago I was furious with you and thought that you just had to be wrong. But I "kept coming back." I'm so glad I did.

Hello Simon,

Thank you for the letter and for the compliments. And thanks for "coming back". Those quotes are good. And indeed, why should I care if fools slander me? It's kind of a compliment, in a way. What they are saying is, they don't like me because I'm not like them.

About the statistics: What is interesting is that the real visitation rate is higher than the numbers indicate. My web site has huge web pages, some of which can take a long time to read. Other web sites deliberately split up large articles into many small pieces on many small web pages, so that people have to do many clicks to see the whole story. That makes the web site get a higher hit rate, and the owners can brag that they displayed banner ads many more times. I don't have banner ads on my web site, so I don't care.

So to compare the Orange Papers hit rate to other sites, you have to either divide their numbers by some factor (like 3 or 5 or 7 or more), or multiply my numbers by something.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth;
**      not going all the way, and not starting.
**        ==  Buddha





Date: Fri, February 18, 2011 8:36 pm     (answered 21 February 2011)
From: "Rene M."
Subject: AA

Dear Sir,

Seams like your a relatively intelligent guy. The problem is you are wrong on all of your points. To truly comprehend a book from a time before your birth you need a dictionary from that time frame. You obviously don't have a dictionary from 1930-1933 since it took at lest 2 years to write The Big Book.

Hello Rene,

Thank you for the letter. I do not need a dictionary from 1938 to understand the lies that Bill Wilson wrote. The language has not changed that much.

Your time line is way off. The Big Book did not take two years to write. Here is the correct timeline:

  • Spring 1935. Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob met, and they agreed that Frank Buchman's cult religion, called "The Oxford Group", was the best cure for alcoholism, so they went recruiting alcoholics in the hospitals of Akron where Dr. Bob's status as a doctor got them access to alcoholic patients. The new recruits went to Oxford Group meetings, usually at the the large Westfield home of T. Henry and Clarace Williams.

  • August 1935. Dr. Frank Buchman, the leader of the Oxford Group, attended the Nuremberg Nazi Party Day rally as the personal guest of Heinrich Himmler, the notorious leader of the SS and the Getapo, just like he had done the year before. Buchman enthusiastically saluted Adolf Hitler with straight-armed Sieg Heil! salutes, and then had lunch with Heinrich Himmler, where they discussed religion and politics. Neither Bill Wilson nor Dr. Robert Smith nor Clarence Snyder quit the Oxford Group in protest.

  • Autumn 1935 and later. Bill and Dr. Bob's recruiting for the Oxford Group continued for some years. Bill Wilson went back to New York and recruited alcoholics for the New York chapter of the Oxford Group, which was led by the Episcopal minister Samuel Shoemaker Jr.

  • August 1936. Dr. Frank Buchman attended the 1936 Berlin Olympics as the personal guest of Heinrich Himmler. Buchman came back from Berlin and declared to a New York newspaper, "I thank heaven for a man like Adolf Hitler, who built a front-line of defense against the anti-Christ of Communism. My barber in London told me Hitler saved all Europe from Communism. That's how he felt." Neither Bill Wilson nor Dr. Robert Smith nor Clarence Snyder quit the Oxford Group in protest. They just kept right on recruiting for the Oxford Group.

  • Spring 1937. Bill Wilson was kicked out of the Oxford Group for refusing to follow orders. Dr. Bob stayed in the Oxford Group for two more years. Bill Wilson stole the alcoholics' branch of the Oxford Group in New York City and set up his own cult that still practiced Buchmanism, but without the Oxford Group name.

  • Autumn 1938. Bill Wilson got the idea of writing and selling a book to make some money. At first, the other alcoholics didn't like the idea and were very wary. But Bill convinced them to do it by promising that they would all own the book together.

  • In December of 1938, Bill Wilson and fellow alcoholics put out the stock prospectus for "The 100 Men Corporation", which was supposed to finance the writing of a book called "One Hundred Men", the story of how 100 men recovered from alcoholism. (Click on that link to see the prospectus.) The prospectus declares that Bill Wilson ("author") will get paid $1000 for writing the opening chapters of the Big Book. Bill Wilson and Henry Parkhurst will also get very large blocks of stock in the One Hundred Men corporation. The prospectus also says that all royalties will go to the Alcoholic Foundation, not the authors. Bill Wilson, Henry Parkhurst, and William Ruddell began selling stock subscriptions, promising big returns from the profits that the book might produce.

  • December 1938. Bill Wilson wrote the 12 Steps by listing the Oxford Group religious practices that he and the other alcoholics had been doing, like confessing their sins and "making amends" and "making a surrender" and "listening to God" in "Quiet Times".

  • Spring 1939. Bill Wilson, Henry Parkhurst, and Ruth Hock sat in an office and wrote and typed up the opening chapters of the Big Book. Bill Wilson was supposed to get paid $1000 for his work, but he stole a lot more than that. (Click on that link for the details.)

    Many other alcoholics also contributed their autobiographical stories to the book. All of their stories fervently declared that doing the occult practices of the Oxford Group had saved them from Demon Rum. But they carefully avoided using the name "Oxford Group" because Frank Buchman was very unpopular because of his pro-Nazi attitudes and praise of Adolf Hitler.

    Clarence Snyder, another alcoholic who had also defected from the Akron Oxford Group and set up independent meetings for alcoholics in Cleveland, Ohio, contributed the name that his group was using,"Alcoholics Anonymous". Snyder also contributed the story, "The Home Brewmeister".

  • April 1939. Bill Wilson stole the copyright of the Big Book "Alcoholics Anonymous" by copyrighting it in his own name, claiming on the copyright form that he was the sole author of the book, and that he was the proprietor of a publishing company named "Works Publishing". That immediately invalidated the copyright.

    Actually, the copyright was already blown, and null and void, because Bill Wilson had already printed up a bunch of multilith (like mimeograph) copies of the book and sold them for $3.50 each, to raise some quick cash, but without putting a copyright notice in the books. That forever invalidated the copyright.

    Original Big Book copyright certificate, front side.

    Original Big Book copyright certificate, back side.

So that's that. Four or five months to crank out the book, not two years.

Next no-one is recruited ever.

Baloney. As soon as Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob got together in Akron in the spring of 1935, they went around to the local hospitals looking for alcoholics to recruit into their favorite cult religion, which was Dr. Frank Buchman's Oxford Group. They were always recruiting.

And when A.A. members do the same thing today, that is recruiting. It is called "Twelfth-Step Work".

Next as for 12Th step work, Doctor's call a local group and ask them to come and talk to a patient especially if they have nearly died from drinking. No new members are asked to do anything that everyone else isn't already doing themselves.

That is a funny qualifier. Does that mean that it's okay to tell the newcomers to do the 12 Steps because the other A.A. members are already doing them? What about 13th-Stepping under-age girls? Is it okay to do that if other A.A. members are already doing it?

And you think that going to hospitals and detox centers and talking to sick people and telling them that A.A. is the only way to recover and you will die if you don't work the Steps right isn't recruiting?

There are those person's who are in A.A. only to please other people. My own experience is if you are in A.A. for any other reason than to help yourself there is a 90% chance of dying. Rarely if ever is it from natural causes. I know my position is unpopular by you.

Oh wow. A 90% death rate if they don't work the A.A. program right? Please tell me where you got that statistic. I mean really. I really want to hear this. Where did you get that bit of crazy misinformation? Who told you that? Did you read it somewhere?

If Alcoholics Anonymous members really have a 90% death rate if they don't work the Steps right, then that makes A.A. a very, very dangerous way of recovering, doesn't it?

The Harvard Medical School has very different numbers. They say that over half of the alcoholics eventually quit drinking, and 80% of the successful quitters do it alone, on their own. Like without Alcoholics Anonymous.

Let me explain why. (you are not allowed to puplish this in any way what so ever)

SNIP!!!! Another standard tragic drunkalogue was deleted. It's the usual, "I had all of these horrible problems and the doctors couldn't fix me and I was drinking myself to death until some wonderful cult recruiters came and saved me."

8-There were people not Doctor's who saw what was happening, asked some questions, Introduced themselves, bent over backwards to help me anyway that they could.

Here's a few of them: Food, clothing, transportation, shelter, shoes, counseling, dental care, vision care, assistance with DHS, legal aid, and getting my SSI. Not once ever did anyone at anytime ask me for a dime.

You have not made it clear whether those generous people were A.A. members. If they were, then they were very unusual A.A. members, because Bill Wilson specifically instructed A.A. members not to do such service work:

The minute we put our work on a service plane, the alcoholic commences to rely upon our assistance rather than upon God.
The Big Book, 3rd & 4th editions, William G. Wilson, Working With Others, page 98.

So why weren't those A.A. people obeying the orders in the Big Book?

Not once did anyone ever ask me to "share" anything that I was not comfortable sharing. Not once have I ever had any of the experience's that you have refered to in your article. Personally I would like a great deal If you would stop putting out your trash and making false allegations and saying that they are in fact true!!

What's the matter with you?? Didn't your mommy hold you enough?? Or breast feed you enough?? What too many divorce's?? Too many years in prison?? What??

I just believe in telling the truth — something that really does bother a lot of A.A. true believers. Your failure to see something does not mean that it is not happening in other groups.

P.S. Cc- email monitored by federal authorities due to former employment!!

Oh, the Feds are watching you, and listening in, huh? Okay. Let me say hello to the Feds. "Hello Feds! Have a good day!"

And you have a good day too.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "There is no use trying, said Alice, "one can't believe impossible things."
**  "I dare say you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was
**  your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've
**  believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
**      ==  Lewis Carroll (1832—1898), English Logician, Mathematician,
**         Photographer and Novelist, especially remembered for
**          Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.





Date: Sat, February 19, 2011 9:55 am     (answered February 19, 2011)
From: Lily McB.
Subject: Representation ?

Reading article on AAWS-Works Publishing Company. Any way to document any truth in it?

Hello Lily,

Which article? And which point? I say a whole bunch of things about AAWS.

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.





Date: Sat, February 19, 2011 1:31 pm     (answered 21 February 2011)
From: "daniel d."
Subject: A.A. writings

Hello, recently I have attended a few meetings for A.A. Although everyone was exceptionally friendly, supportive, and eager to help I grew concerned over the sudden overload of so much social activity, coercion, and religious pandering. However, after spending quite a bit of time on your site reading, I must say you are entirely incorrect on more than one account. ("Everyone has a right to their own opinions, but not their own facts.")

To begin with, you mention guild, shame, and regret. I know the facts concerning this groups stance on these subjects because at only my second meeting I was "volunteered" to stand up and read the promises letter laminated in plastic. It absolutely said, very clearly, the alcoholic would NOT give in to those things, but instead let them go. I was actually surprised they would see regret as something in the way of sobriety, or peace. (I myself have many regrets which I have not forgotten, and will not forget less I become ignorant of the depravity I might sink into.) Most of the "lead' stories from recovered alcoholics centered around finding the peace they never had, and the ability to let go of the regret, even though they did some shameful things.

You have an article showing a list with differences between religion and spirituality. Regret, guilt, shame, and other words appear in the religious while peace, new age, serenity appear in the spirituality section. You claim A.A. is more on the religious side which is not at all what I've encountered. It's definitely on both sides. And yes, the "big book" as they call it is getting on my nerves already, and definitely being treated as something "divine" which it is not.

I do agree (if it is your belief too) the religious aspect is over done, and is still giving me a worrisome attitude regarding my involvement. I have been told many times my spirituality is mine, and i can substitute what i believe for what others call God, but most of this has more to do with the specific meetings, and the people that have made them their home meetings. (more baptists in the South, as example.)

I currently have an issue with the 12-step lack of criticism and total surrendering to the 12 steps. I need to always stay critical of everything; That way, I remain critical of myself, thus more self aware. Still, I'm keeping in mind that no group is all positive, and everything has its negative qualities. And there is a tangible success rate of A.A. that has decreased health care costs in a big enough way to warrant court and doctor recommendations to those who are suffering.

I do not like to be forced into a religion, and A.A. absolutely has some cult like tendencies. But they give me my choice, and have never once attempted to deny me a choice. They've only tried to help me. And they constantly say that helping me is actually helping them. And I get what they mean. That's why sometimes I think the members project their personal faith into the program a little more than I'd like. They're also helping themselves, and their personal faith, and group collective has given them a way to do just that. Thank-you for reading this reply, I enjoyed your site but wanted to let you know of the discrepancy. I myself am an alcoholic, and have actually found it fairly easy to quit. I haven't relapsed, and was in a bad way before I quit. (although no physical dependency.) I've found support, and people caring about me (which is rare for most, and for myself) has helped more than any step in the "program." And I'm concentrating on my own spirituality, and not being afraid to ask for help . . . a version of A.A.'s policy on surrender.

Sincerely,

Dan

Hello Dan,

Thanks for the letter. And congratulations on your sobriety.

Starting at the top, they had you read out loud some text that is called "The Promises". That text is located on pages 83 and 84 of the Big Book.

The funny thing about The Promises is that they are not things that the A.A. members had actually accomplished. The Promises are all in future tense — they are wishful thinking. "The Promises" say that some fine day in the future, things will be good for the A.A. members who "Work The Steps" right. When Bill Wilson wrote those "Promises", the A.A. faithful were still waiting for the good results of "Working The Steps" to start materializing.

Bill Wilson claimed that when the A.A. member were halfways through Step Nine, and IF they did things right, this would happen:

        If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are halfway through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.
        Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.
The Big Book, 3rd edition, William G. Wilson, pages 83-84.

The Promises are really just a bunch of veiled accusations, which are great for guilt induction: The Promises are actually saying, in so many words, that you are currently a real spiritual slob — that you don't have peace or serenity or confidence, and that you feel uselessness, self-pity, and selfishness:

  • You are not free or happy.
  • You regret the past.
  • You don't comprehend serenity or know peace.
  • You have gone way down the scale, and you can't see how your experience could benefit others.
  • You have feelings of uselessness and self-pity.
  • You are interested in selfish things, and you are self-seeking, and not interested in your fellows.
  • You are afraid of people and economic insecurity.
  • You don't know how to handle situations — they baffle you.
  • You can't do things for yourself, and God isn't doing them for you, either.
  • The Promises are not materializing in your life because you are not working for them.
  • And since the promises are not extravagant, you must be a real loser for not having gotten any of that stuff.

Isn't that clever? By listing all of the wonderful things that people will supposedly get at some unspecified distant time in the future, Bill Wilson manages to make people feel really guilty and inadequate in the present. And he was such a good mind-manipulator that he even managed to make people like it. The true believers swear that The Promises are inspired scripture, and some groups even read them out loud at every meeting.

So, are you starting to feel guilty and inadequate, you imperfect loser?

Then, the statement that some day in the the future you won't feel guilty is pretty crazy, considering that the 12 Steps tell you to list and confess all of your wrongs, moral shortcomings, and defects of character all of the time. (Step 10 sets up an infinite loop.) I don't know of anyone except psychopaths who can list everything they ever did wrong without feeling guilty. In fact, not feeling guilt or remorse for wrong-doing is part of the definition of a psychopath.

The rest of your letter describes things that I can relate to. You are noticing that it really is a cult religion:

  • Devotion to The Book
  • Excessive preoccupation with religion
  • You cannot criticize the cult
  • Demands for surrender to the cult
  • Irrational beliefs
  • Newcomers don't know anything
  • Fake freedom and fake democracy (You may not have seen this yet, but you will.)

Above all, please do stay critical. Keep your eyes wide open and your antenna up. It sounds like you are still in the love-bombing phase. That is where they are very nice to you and yammer slogans like, "Let us love you until you can love yourself." Later, they will start to pull a lot of bait-and-switch tricks on you, and demand that you believe what they believe. (Click on that link.)

And I find this paragraph troubling:

But they give me my choice, and have never once attempted to deny me a choice. They've only tried to help me. And they constantly say that helping me is actually helping them. And I get what they mean.

I think you will find that the pressure to conform comes slowly but insistently.

And the line about you helping them more than them helping you is standard recruiting jargon. Bill Wilson's recruiting manual instructs:

Outline the program of action, explaining how you made a self-appraisal, how you straightened out your past and why you are now endeavoring to be helpful to him. It is important for him to realize that your attempt to pass this on to him plays a vital part in your recovery. Actually, he may be helping you more than you are helping him.
The Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, chapter 7, "Working With Others", page 94.

Yeh, I can't get my merit badge in recruiting until I get three more new converts.

This sentence is just flat-assed 100% wrong — somebody has been feeding you propaganda:

And there is a tangible success rate of A.A. that has decreased health care costs in a big enough way to warrant court and doctor recommendations to those who are suffering.

There is no tangible A.A. success rate. In fact, the best tests of A.A. have revealed that A.A. has very bad negative effects:

  1. Dr. Jeffrey Brandsma found that A.A. indoctrination greatly increased the rate of binge drinking in alcoholics. People who were sent to A.A. ended up, after 9 months of A.A., doing FIVE TIMES as much binge drinking as another group of alcoholics who got no such help, and NINE TIMES as much binge drinking as another group that got Rational Behavior Therapy.

  2. Dr. Keith Ditman found that A.A. involvement increased the rate of re-arrests for drunkenness.

  3. Dr. Diana Walsh found that "free" A.A. just messed up a lot of alcoholics and made them require more expensive hospitalization later.

  4. This one is the most damning evidence of all, because it came from a doctor who loves Alcoholics Anonymous, and is one of its biggest promoters. He is (or was) also a member of the Board of Trustees of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.. Doctor George E. Vaillant (who later became a Professor of Psychology at Harvard University), clearly demonstrated that A.A. treatment kills patients. For eight years, while he tried to prove that A.A. works, his A.A.-based treatment program had a zero-percent success rate above normal spontaneous remission, and worse, it had the highest death rate of any kind of alcoholism treatment that he studied. Dr. Vaillant candidly called the A.A. death rate "appalling". At the end of 8 years, the score with his first 100 A.A.-treated patients was: 5 sober, 29 dead, and 66 still drinking.

    But 5% per year is the normal rate of spontaneous remission in alcoholics — what Dr. Vaillant called "the natural history of alcoholism". That's how many alcoholics recover on their own, without any "treatment" or "support group". A.A. cannot claim the credit for those recoveries, no matter whether they attend some A.A. meetings or not, and Dr. Vaillant clearly said that. So 5 minus 5 equals zero, the real A.A. recovery rate.

  5. And then, even though these items have not been surveyed and documented by doctors, there is plenty of evidence that the A.A. suicide rate and the A.A. divorce rate are big problems too.

When you see someone recovering from alcohol addiction, you cannot assume that you know what is causing him to abstain from drinking alcohol. Even if he is attending A.A. meetings, that does not necessarily mean that the meetings are doing anything good for him. Many people do just wake up and smell the coffee one day. They get sick and tired of being sick and tired, and just quit drinking. There is such a thing as spontaneous remission from alcohol abuse.

In fact, spontaneous remission explains the vast majority of recoveries.

Have a good day and a good life now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
**  "That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
**     ==  Lewis Carrol, Alice in Wonderland





May 20, 2009, Wednesday: Day 20, continued:

Carmen the Canada Goose gosling
Carmen's family napping
Carmen is the small one in back. The light-colored one is the gosling on the left. The gosling with its eyes open is "the other one", that poor youngster without a name.

The "other one" is also so plump that his legs don't touch the ground when he cuddles up.

[More gosling photos below, here.]





Date: Sat, February 19, 2011 2:40 pm     (answered 22 February 2011)
From: "Ctmjon"
Subject: Fwd: Requested NewsBank Article(s)

AA MEMBER SAYS GROUP HAS LOST WAY

Akron Beacon Journal (OH)-May 12, 2009
Author: Bob Dyer, Beacon Journal staff writer

The true believer, when invited to discuss his cause, is a sight to behold. Take Jon S., as we shall refer to him, in keeping with the second word of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Jon S. arrived for our conversation toting four loose-leaf notebooks, as well as a briefcase containing books, newsletters, photocopied magazine articles and e-mail printouts.

The battered books set new standards for annotation. Competing on nearly every page with the printer's ink was ballpoint ink and yellow highlighter ink. In some chapters, he had circled individual words — say, "alcoholic" or "God" — later tallying the number of times they appeared.

As he spoke, Jon S. zipped back and forth from book to book and paper to paper, reading entire paragraphs as he attempted to prove his points. Given the opportunity, he would have gone on for days. And, in a sense, he did: Following our conversation, he sent me eight e-mails, two handwritten letters and a newsletter with notes in the margins.

Most of it was overkill, because everything in his verbal arsenal essentially pointed to one message: Alcoholics Anonymous has gone to hell and needs to get back to its roots.

Given the man's history, his passion for the subject is understandable.

"Alcoholics Anonymous saved my life," he said, intensity blazing in his eyes.

He joined in 1976, when his life was at its nadir, and has been sober ever since. If he were to join today, though, "I never would have stopped drinking. I'd be dead."

His beefs are voluminous, but near the top is AA's ever-growing inclusivity. He claims the organization "has become the world's largest dumping ground for every affliction and addiction in the world."

Drug addicts and other substance abusers are not the same as alcoholics, he says, and to include them in meetings shows a blatant disregard for "the Big Book," AA's bible, and the group's paramount mission — "one drunk helping another drunk."

"The message isn't there for [alcoholics] anymore. And I believe lives are being lost."

He rummaged through his papers and produced a list of AA meetings available in the Akron area: men only, women only, nonsmoking, gay/lesbian, members only, open to anyone, sign-language available, Spanish-speaking only. "In all, 22 different categories."

"Gays are certainly welcome, but why bring it up at a meeting? Why is a man standing up there crying about losing his lover?"

Another reason AA has lost its effectiveness, in his eyes, is that many who attend are not there of their own volition. They are sent by courts and rehab centers.

Perhaps that's why the organization has turned into a "touchy-feely" social club, as he puts it, where nobody wants to do the dirty work necessary to reach people who simply must stop drinking.

"It's like kindergarten. You can't look anyone in the eye and tell them the truth to save their life because you might hurt their feelings."

When he joined 32 years ago, "those guys didn't worry about feelings and emotions, thank God. They told me the truth. One of two things was going to happen to a guy like me: I was going to shut up and listen, or I was going to die."

In the halcyon days, he says, a person was not deemed qualified to address the group until he had been sober for at least a year. At modern AA meetings, he has been subjected to the observations of members who had been sober for only a matter of days.

"It's ridiculous. What can they share about sobriety and how to not drink? Not everyone should actively participate."

A native of Springfield Township who served in the Marines during Vietnam, Jon S., 64, says opening the tent to all comers is mostly a money grab. Although membership is free, donations are encouraged, and he says much of the money ends up with the national organization.

Jon S. is so disgusted with the state of the organization that he will boycott Founders Day, the annual celebration of AA's creation in Akron 74 years ago.

That's not exactly the type of publicity the group is looking for ahead of the June 12-14 pilgrimage that will probably draw another 12,000 or more recovering alcoholics from across the country.

Asked to address Jon S.'s complaints, a member of the board of the Akron Intergroup Council, the umbrella organization for Summit, Portage, Medina, Wayne and Holmes counties, insisted he could speak only for himself, rather than the group, or he personally would be violating one of the organization's sacred tenets.

"Nobody really speaks for it," said the man, who declined to provide even a first name. "It works like an inverted pyramid."

Each individual group sends a representative to monthly council meetings to vote on policy, armed with the consensus of his or her own group.

"The groups dictate to us at the executive board what the policy is," he said, "as long as it's in keeping with our traditions adopted in 1955."

And there, apparently, is the rub — one person's adherence to tradition is another's radical departure.

The official concedes that traditions are open to interpretation, but adds, "we interpret them as a group."

So if Jon S. is going to return AA to where he thinks it belongs, he apparently will need to mount an intensive grass-roots lobbying campaign.

If nothing else, he's well-prepared.

Hello Ctmjon,

Thanks for the article. Now that is interesting. On one level, it seems like the story of an obsessed disgruntled old member who doesn't like how the A.A. organization is changing. But on another level, he has a point — A.A. is becoming all-inclusive because it is being passed off as a cure-all. It's trying to be everything to everybody. The current mythology is that the 12 Steps can supposedly cure anything from alcohol abuse and drug addiction to gambling to childhood sexual abuse to dying of Hepatitis C to eating too much to having been born the child of an alcoholic.

Of course the 12 Steps don't really cure anything, but I can see how the old-timer is upset at "the message" getting watered down.

Oh well, have a good day.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "The best cure for drunkenness is whilst sober,
**     to observe a drunken person"
**        ==  Chinese Proverb





May 20, 2009, Wednesday: Day 20, continued:

Carmen the Canada Goose gosling
Carmen and her brothers
Carmen is the smaller gosling in front. Now she is a round butterball whose legs don't reach the ground.

[The story of Carmen continues here.]





Date: Tue, February 22, 2011 12:00 am     (answered 24 February 2011)
From: "Aaron L."
Subject: Thoughts and Thanks

Greetings,

I'm not sure if you're still receiving correspondence, but I wanted to thank you for this site.

I have been involved with AA for a brief time and I can already tell that my time of active participation will be short. I see a lot of red flags.

I do find it frustrating that people venerate Bill when he didn't say anything original. All I can do is speak for my faith, but his answer of recognizing a problem, surrendering to God, and serving others is something Christianity has long offered as the solution to ill-behavior. I know other faiths offer similar solutions. The idea that he came up with something novel is absurd, if not downright delusional. Before, when it came to drinking, I didn't follow where my faith led; now, I do. The difference is not that Bill put things in such a brilliant way, but rather that I made a decision to quit drinking. My attendance at AA is an expression of that decision and not vice versa.

I attend AA for three reasons. First, it keeps my fledgling sobriety near the center of my attention. Second, hearing people's stories reminds me of how I felt when I decided to quit drinking. Third, with a bit of mental gymnastics, I can fit the teachings into my belief system. For instance, I can honestly say "I am powerless over alcohol," because I drink to gain a sense of emotional well-being (which alcohol cannot give), and so will either drink until my (intoxicated) mind realizes I have embarked upon a fool's errand (which is unlikely) or until I black out (which is more likely). Likewise, I can say "I need a restoration to sanity," because my thoughts surrounding alcohol are irrational — I focus on the fleeting pleasure of the first ten minutes of a binge and not the misery that almost always follows. Am I manipulative? Self-centered? Deceitful? Check, check, and check — when drinking, I am all of those things. Am I also those things when I'm sober? More so than I'd like. So I can sit in meetings and agree with almost everything that is said.

What I can't do is agree with how far they take the kernels of truth they've found. Just because I'm irrational when it comes to very specific thoughts about alcohol doesn't mean I'm completely irrational, and just because I can be more manipulative than I'd like doesn't mean I am through and through. Both of these (and all other) "defects of character" arise from faulty thinking that produces and responds to uncomfortable emotions, and like all faulty thinking, it can be corrected to the point where better thinking flows naturally (like learning math). Oddly, the Christian and atheist should agree when it comes to the falsity of the central claim of AA — that the alcoholic needs a moment-by-moment divine salvation from "alcoholic thinking". Obviously, for the atheist, there is no such intervention, and for the Christian, traditional doctrine holds that God's power does not give them momentary reprieve from some hopelessly broken state, but rather progressively transforms a person's character. In both belief systems, the individual is responsible for actively reshaping their thinking, not passively waiting for something else to fix it.

I do find AA creepy. If I didn't already practice the equivalent of "inventories" and "restitution", I would not be working with a sponsor. I strongly dislike how my book study reads and quotes "The Big Book" like it was the Bible. I can't believe Dr. Bob's opinion is considered medically sound. The idea of real deliverance coming from a consciously fabricated "higher power" is laughable. The notion that AA is a successful recovery program from which there are no graduates is ridiculous. I can already hear rumblings that my ideas of service — volunteering with World Relief to help refugees, at hospitals, etc. — aren't enough because they're not "carrying the message to alcoholics".

I'll keep going as long as it helps. AA is where I first heard about "playing the tape to the end." As long as I'm picking up gems like that, the time spent is worth it. I can also see going to meetings when an urge feels strong, just to look around the room and remember why I quit. I also like the chips, so I'll keep picking those up. But I think I'll be doing online SMART meetings for the meat-and-potatoes of my recovery.

So I thank you for the reminder that I'm the one who decided to get sober, my sobriety is first of all for myself, and I am free to pursue it in the way I see fit. I'll also be sure to return here when I decide to cease regular AA attendance, just for the confidence boost since, as you well know, there will be a chorus of voices telling me that if I leave, I'll die drunk in a gutter...

Best Regards,

Aaron.

Hello Aaron,

Thanks for the letter, and thanks for the thanks. Congratulations on your sobriety. I'm glad to hear that you are doing well. And yes, I'm still answering letters.

You make a bunch of good points, and I don't need to repeat them all. But I just have to comment on a few:

  1. "I can't believe Dr. Bob's opinion is considered medically sound."

    Oh, it isn't. It's just the ravings of a completely discredited doctor. Doctor Bob the alcoholic proctologist had such a bad reputation in Akron that the joke was, "When you let Dr. Robert Smith operate on you, you are really betting your ass." Bill Wilson had to finagle some money from Rockefeller to pay the mortgage on Dr. Bob's house because Dr. Bob could not make a living as a doctor. And Bill Wilson cut Dr. Bob in on part of the stolen Big Book royalties because Bob could not support himself and pay his bills, while working as a doctor. Honestly, what kind of a doctor has to be supported by a charitable hand-out? What kind of a doctor is so totally wrecked and discredited that he cannot earn even a humble living? Do you want to get life advice from that kind of a man?

  2. '...the Christian and atheist should agree when it comes to the falsity of the central claim of AA — that the alcoholic needs a moment-by-moment divine salvation from "alcoholic thinking".'

    I totally agree. A.A. wants to reduce people to permanent dependency on the cult. And the claim that you can't think right is a classic cult trick for subjugating people.

  3. "Just because I'm irrational when it comes to very specific thoughts about alcohol doesn't mean I'm completely irrational, and just because I can be more manipulative than I'd like doesn't mean I am through and through."

    Exactly. A.A. actually slanders alcoholics, and stereotypes them as really bad people. I wrote a whole web page on that, here. Just because somebody was stupid and selfish and manipulative when he really wanted a drink does not mean that he is always stupid and selfish and manipulative for the rest of his life. People change. Salvation is possible. — And that is one of the places where A.A. really departs from Christian philosophy. A.A. does not believe that salvation is really possible. No graduates. Nobody ever really recovers. You have to stay in A.A., confessing what a rotten loser you are, for the rest of your life.

  4. 'I can already hear rumblings that my ideas of service — volunteering with World Relief to help refugees, at hospitals, etc. — aren't enough because they're not "carrying the message to alcoholics".'

    Yes. Their attitude is, if you aren't recruiting for A.A., then you aren't being of service, and you aren't doing spiritual work, either. Heck, even Mother Teresa would fail those standards.

  5. "The idea of real deliverance coming from a consciously fabricated "higher power" is laughable."

    But don't you believe that the Holy Trinity of Golden Calf, Baal Bedpan, and Doorknob Almighty can save even the worst degenerate reprobate by delivering miracles on demand?

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     ROBIN:  "Holy Higher Power, Batman! How can we Seek and Do
**             the Will of Doorknob Almighty? That's impossible,
**             because He won't ever open up and talk!"
**     BATMAN: "Shut up, Boy Blunder!
**             You're going to confuse the newcomers!"





Date: Tue, February 22, 2011 7:13 am     (answered 24 February 2011)
From: "anne i"
Subject: deprogramming update

Hello Orange,

I saw your new year's resolution to eliminate high fructose corn syrup from your diet. I have been doing the same thing, and it is hard to find products without this substance. Hunt's products don't have hfcs in them. I also quit drinking coffee due to situations, and I feel so much better it is unbelievable!

After 3 years hard-core AA, and 1 year hard-core deprogramming with the help of anti-AA's & you; I am working on my 4th year of being deprogrammed from the nonsense. I have come to find peace of mind away from all that jazz. There was no serenity in the rooms or organization of AA.

There still seems to be many common themes to the letters you receive, and it is great people have this forum to tell their story. There are no easy answers to addiction, but I do believe that no matter how weak anyone feels that each of us does have the internal power to help ourselves. I found in seeking outside help all my life to be intrusive and a waste of time, energy, & resources vs. helping myself by doing the best I can every day. Both my kids are happy that I no longer associate with AA, and I am glad that they will never have to fall for the AA line of BS in their lives.

I am sure I have shared about my alcoholic family which makes it difficult to heal from, but there is no magic cure except to resolve problems, change behaviors, and set boundaries. It is a slow process, but the time invested in working on life daily shows better results than wasting life on anything to do with the recovery industry. I had to accept that there is huge profit in making people diseased, and then finding magic cures for these diseases. Getting off the merry-go-round of looking for solutions through groups, meds, therapy, books, religion-spirituality, yoga, etc ... & start living life. Start creating your own life through your ability to make choices and be responsible for one's actions & words.

I passed my 13-stepper the other day, and he looks like an old, creepy man. Maybe because that is what he is a lifer of the AA's sexual predator's, narcissistic, control-freak, God club. I don't miss it one single bit. I haven't even heard from any members in almost 9 months which brings peace to my life too. To keep people in a society confused whether on substances, or in recovery only keeps the puppet masters happy. What ever happened to the ability to "free think"?

By reclaiming my ability to free think hasn't been easy, because every where one looks society spends gazillions of dollars trying to sell every thing under the sun to conform people's minds to line their pocket books. The over-load of information we are exposed to is mind-boggling in of itself. To be free of letting any of it be your bible is amazing. I can again be stubborn, opinonated, loving, kind, and laugh without having to go get drunk and make an ass of myself. I also am not as emotionally distraught as I was upon the exit of my time in the AA cult. It was a painful process, but well worth it. Your web site, and Blamedenial on YouTube both helped me to deprogram. I have been standing on my own for a few years now. When any of the recovery path crosses mine, I let the thought pass, and realize I have better things to do with my time now! Hope you have a happy 2011! Anne

Hello again, Anne,

It's good to hear from you again. I'm glad to hear that you are doing well.

So have a good day now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    "I have never made but one prayer to God, a very
**    short one: 'O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.'
**    And God granted it."
**       ==  Voltaire (1694—1778)





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