Top Ten Reading Lists|
Top Ten Alcoholism and Alcoholics Anonymous Books
Alcoholics Anonymous: Cult or Cure? Charles Bufe
See Sharp Press, PO Box 1731, Tucson AZ 85702-1731, 1998.
Dewey: 362.29286 B929a 1998
This book is an eye-opener. One of the first to tell the truth
(This is the second edition; it has noticeably more information
than the first edition. The first edition is: ISBN 0-9613289-3-2,
printed in 1991.)
This book is now free on the Internet, at:
(And you can also get Ken Ragge's books, The Real AA, and
More Revealed, there.)
A History of Addiction & Recovery in the United States,
See Sharp Press, PO Box 1731, Tucson AZ 85702-1731, 2001.
Dewey: 362.29180973 or 362.2918 L547h
Also from See Sharp Press, another excellent critical analysis
of the whole recovery industry, including A.A., treatment centers,
and "codependency therapy".
Mental health in A.A.
Addiction, Change & Choice; The New View of Alcoholism
Vince Fox, M.Ed. CRREd.
See Sharp Press, PO Box 1731, Tucson AZ 85702-1731, 1993.
Dewey: 362.29286i FOX
And yet another great book from the See Sharp Press.
One of the things I like best is how Fox stresses just
how damaging and dangerous it is for A.A. and N.A. to teach
addicts that they are powerless over alcohol or their addiction, and
have no choice in the matter. That is a ready-made rationalization
for a drunkard to have another drink, or a doper to shoot up again.
And that is what the steppers do.
Fox also does a good job of criticizing the arrogant
"My way or the highway"
attitude of self-righteous A.A. and N.A. sponsors.
- Heavy Drinking: Its Historical Context
- Alcoholism: Definitions & Opinions
- Polarization: Us vs. Them
- The Objective: Personal Autonomy
- Alcoholics Anonymous: Essence & Functions
- Alcoholics Anonymous: Effectiveness
- The Forces & Directions of Change
- The Independent Self-Help Programs
- Rational Recovery Systems Network
- Traditional Recovery Management
- Nontraditional Recovery Management
- Noninstitutional Recovery
- ...and more...
Resisting 12-Twelve Step Coercion: How to Fight Forced Participitation
in AA, NA, or 12-Step Treatment Stanton Peele and
Charles Bufe with Archie Brodsky
See Sharp Press, Tucson, AZ, 2000.
More truth from the See Sharp Press — how to resist being coerced into the 12-Step cult.
This book is now available for free download at:
Many Roads, One Journey: Moving Beyond the 12 Steps
Charlotte Davis Kasl, Ph.D.
Harper Perennial, A Division of HarperCollins Publishers Inc.,
New York, 1992.
ISBN 0-06-055263-8 and ISBN 0-06-096518-5 (pbk.)
LC: RC533 .K365 1992
Dewey: 616.86'06—dc20 or 616.8606 K19m
This book is excellent. It definitely ends up in the Top 10 List of books
that you must read if you are thinking about quitting (or perhaps if
a loved one is trying to quit, or needs to quit).
She covers addiction and alcohol misuse from a lot of different viewpoints,
including the need for improved nutrition and getting off of other
addictions like nicotine, caffeine, or TV.
She is about the only one who addresses the issue of the narcissism
inherent in A.A., which it got from
the champion narcissist, Bill Wilson.
(Pages 153-154.) She is also the only one to talk about Candida
Albicans, a potentially-devastating yeast infection, in connection
with alcohol abuse. Something that A.A. all too often fails to consider
is that people kill their pain with alcohol because they are sick and
in pain, not because they are sinful.
Ms. Kasl has the brains to realize this.
She also covers recovery from the woman's viewpoint better than
anybody else I've seen. This book is simply Must reading for
women alcoholics and addicts.
She also has a good take on the inherently-patriarchal attitudes of
A.A., and the fallacies of codependency.
An example of her perceptiveness:
As a counselor and therapist who has had to repair a lot of
refugees from A.A. and 12-Step programs, she has a lot
to say about things like
"How to violate other people's boundaries with:"
(Pages 218-222 and 239-240.)
(Tell somebody whose mother just died: "God never
gives you more than you can handle. Don't feel sorry for yourself.
Get outside of yourself. Stuff your feelings.
Don't dredge up the past. Take responsibility.
Get off the pity pot. Be of service. Go make some coffee.
Let Go and Let God.")
- Giving unsolicited advice.
- Hugging members of the group without permission.
- Assuming friendship on the part of another member.
- Not accepting a member's saying "no" to phone calls,
socializing, and so on.
- Trying to get a new member to talk.
- Flirting with a group member.
- Seducing a group member.
- Telling sexist or racist jokes.
- Bringing sex into the conversation.
- Coming to group with the intent of finding a date rather than
a sincere interest in personal growth.
- Disclosing lots of personal information without taking time to
create a friendship or find out if the person wants to listen to you.
Her list of the characteristics of unhealthy groups is:
- The group discourages or blocks outside involvement.
- The group limits or discourages access to reading material or
other forms of personal growth.
- Expression of dissension is punished, squelched, or strongly
- The group becomes grandiose in its self-definition — "Ours
is the one way, the road to salvation."
- People get locked into stereotyped roles.
- The group becomes paranoid about outsiders or those who
question the norm.
- People talk like robots.
- In-group jargon predominates in conversations.
- The group exerts pressure on people to stay.
- People use the group for sexual needs.
- The group is unable to reflect on itself, its history, and
its values from a broad perspective.
- When AA Doesn't Work for You, Rational Steps to Quitting Alcohol
Albert Ellis, Ph.D., and Emmett Velten, Ph.D.
Barricade Books, Inc., New York, NY, 1992.
Dewey call number 362.2928 E47w
This is a lot of good sensible advice. Dr. Ellis is the creator of
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), which is the foundation of SMART
(Self Management and Recovery Training). — And he's also the founder
of SMART. If you are looking for some realistic, rational, non-superstitious,
common-sense, help in quitting drinking, definitely read this book.
It includes chapters on:
- "But therapy doesn't work!"
- How to stop self-defeating BS (stinking thinking).
- How to change your stinking thinking.
- Integrating rational ideas into your self-help work.
- Other cognitive or thinking techniques of RET.
- How to get in touch with your feelings.
- Relapse prevention.
- and more...
More on REBT:
firstname.lastname@example.org == Albert Ellis
The SMART web site:
How Alcoholics Anonymous Failed Me;
My Personal Journey to Sobriety Through Self-Empowerment
Eagle Brook, an Imprint of William Morrow and Company, Inc.,
New York, 1998.
LC: HV5293.G55A3 1998
Dewey: 362.29286'092—dc21 or 362.2928 G481h 1998
In spite of its negative title, this is actually a very positive book.
This is one of the best-looking "alternatives to
A.A." kind of books that I've seen (from my biased viewpoint, of course).
It definitely contains a very strong
flavor of spirituality, but without the cult religion aspect.
This is a good "something" for those who try to take the middle road,
for those who try to be spiritual but sensible,
for those who want something other than either atheism or blind
faith in cult religion.
...the Love that binds the Universe together gently encourages me to
go even where there is intolerance, hatred, and anger. For Love wisely
knows that to go there in peace and acceptance will literally
transform these negative traits into Love itself.
Bill Wilson had a bad habit of
accusing everyone who didn't buy his
peculiar Buchmanite religious beliefs of being an atheist.
This book is a good answer to that.
There can only be duality of good and evil, right and wrong, love and
fear at the lower levels of awareness. For at the highest levels,
there is only Love. Love sends itself out and returns to itself.
All the world is a journey in which love seeks to go where it is not
and heal itself. We can each do this individually with our own lives
and our own physical bodies. To go where love is not, fully supported
by the Universe, we heal.
It also contains chapters on Food and Cigarettes, Fear and Dependency,
The Nature of Addiction, The Role of Ritual, Pleasure and Guilt,
Finding My Inner God, and much more.
If you are looking for an alternative to the A.A. philosophy, then
definitely check this book out.
Coming Clean; Overcoming Addiction Without Treatment Robert Granfield and William Cloud
New York University Press, New York and London, 1999
ISBN: 0-8147-1581-8 (cloth: alk. paper), ISBN: 0-8147-1582-6 (pbk.: alk. paper)
LC: HV4998.G73 1999
Dewey: 616.8606—dc21 or 616.8606 G756c 1999
An excellent book that tells it straight. Dispenses with the myths about recovery,
the disease theory, and the slogans about "Nobody can do it alone", and describes
how a lot of people do in fact recover from addictions on their own, without treatment.
AA Horror Stories Rebecca Fransway, 2000.
See Sharp Press, PO Box 1731, Tucson AZ 85702-1731
Dewey call number 362.2918 T971 2000
This book will curl your hair. One fair-minded 12-Stepper suggested that
every new member should be issued copies of both the Big Book and
this book when he or she walks in the door,
to tell the newcomers about both
the good and bad things that could happen to them in "the rooms."
One of the most disturbing repeated themes is women who were the victims
of rape or thirteenth-stepping being told to just shut up and find their
part in it and go make some coffee, and to not harbor any resentments
against their attackers.
Note: The Orange Papers has ended up with its own long list of A.A.
horror stories, too, here:
A.A. Horror Stories.
Addiction is a Choice Jeffrey A. Schaler.
Open Court Publishing Company, 2000. phone: 1-800-815-2280
ISBN 0-8126-9403-1 hardcover, 0-8126-9404-1 paperback.
Dewey call number 362.29 S297a 2000
Quite good. This book makes a good case for the standard ideas
of addiction and the A.A. idea of "powerlessness over alcohol"
being myths. Must reading for anyone wishing to be well-informed in
the alcohol abuse or addiction fields.
Dr. Schaler's web site, here.
The Truth About Addiction and Recovery; The Life Process Program
for Outgrowing Destructive Habits Stanton Peele, Ph.D.
and Archie Brodsky with Mary Arnold
Simon and Schuster, New York, 1991.
Dewey: 616.8522 P374t or 616.85227 P44 1991
LC: RC533.P33 1991
Stanton Peele was one of the pioneers in exposing the disease theory
of alcoholism as a cult myth.
He is another voice of sanity in the vast wasteland.
Includes: Addiction is not a disease — Skills for Taking Control of
Your Life — Changing Communities, Changing Lives.
- Why It Doesn't Make Sense to Call Addiction a "Disease".
- Are People Born Alcoholics?
- Which Is the Most Addictive Drug of All?
- Smoking: The Toughest Habit to Lick?
- Obesity: Are People Biologically Programmed to Be Fat?
- Addictions to Gambling, Shopping, and Exercise:
How We Evade Moral Responsibility
- Love, Sex, and Codependence: Overcoming Trauma
- The Life Process Program
- Quitting as Life Process
- Are You an Addict? Assessing Addiction in the Life Process Program
- Assessing Your Values: Knowing What Is Important to You
- Accessing Your Resources: What Do You have That You Can Count On?
- I'm Not the Person I Want To Be: How People Carry Out Plans to Change
- Changing the Behavior: That Obscure Object of Desire
- Life Skills: If You Don't Have Them, Get Them
- Integrating Change Into Your Life: Groups and Your Social World
- Kids Have To Be Made Into Addicts: You Can Prevent Addiction
- Where the Solutions Lie: Re-establishing Communal Ties
- A Road Map: Where We've Been and Where You Need to Go
"Recover! Stop Thinking Like an Addict" by Stanton Peele and Ilse Thompson.
I haven't seen this yet, but already,
I know that is going to be good because everything by Stanton Peele is good.
SOS Sobriety, The Proven Alternative to 12-Step Programs
Prometheus Books, Buffalo, NY, 1992.
Dewey call number 362.2928 C556s
This book is about
Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS) a.k.a. "Save Our Selves".
SOS is an alternative recovery method for those alcoholics or drug
addicts who are uncomfortable with the pseudo-spiritual and superstitious content of widely
available 12-Step programs. SOS takes a reasonable, secular approach
to recovery and maintains that sobriety is a separate issue from
religion or spirituality. SOS credits the individual for achieving and
maintaining his or her own sobriety, without reliance on any "Higher
Power." SOS respects recovery in any form regardless of the path by
which it is achieved. It is not opposed to or in competition with any
other recovery programs.
Especially check out the interview with Dr. Kenneth Blum, titled
"The Fickle Gene". Dr. Blum discovered
one of the genes
that appears to contribute to alcohol addiction, and perhaps also a
tendency towards drug addiction.
The SOS web site is:
The Small Book Jack Trimpey
Dell Publishing, 1992
Dewey call number 362.2918 T831s
This was one of the original calls to war against the Evil Empire
of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Note that Jack Trimpey has declared this book obsolete, and says
that you should just read the next one, "Rational Recovery."
The funny thing is, I don't find it to be obsolete.
Trimpey borrowed some techniques from Doctors Maultsby and
Ellis like the ABCs of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and
did a good job of explaining them.
Trimpey did a good job of collecting a variety of
tools for quitting drinking and staying quit and working
them together into a fair toolkit.
This book does what A.A. only claims to do —
the tools you will need to maintain sobriety".
Rational Recovery Jack Trimpey
Pocket Books, 1996
Dewey call number 362.2918 T831r
This is Trimpey's second book about quitting drinking (or other addictions)
using rational techniques. He changed his mind about a
lot of things and decided that you only need one technique
to defeat cravings — the ability to recognize and dispute
the Addictive Voice as it cajoles, wheedles, and seduces
you into having "just one".
This book is worth reading just for the chapter in the back that
describes a counselling session
where Trimpey exposes "the Beast",
the addiction monster that tries to con us into drinking or
using again (really, the
base brain craving mechanism).
Also see the chapter on "Beasts in Love" — "Beasts don't
fall in love; they just form partnerships to help feed their appetites."
Really must reading.
the Rational Recovery web site, here.
The Lizard Brain Addiction Monster, which talks
about the same thing.
Heavy Drinking: The Myth of Alcoholism as a Disease
Herbert W. Fingarette
University of California Press, Berkely, Los Angeles, London, 1988.
ISBN: 0-520-06754-1 (alk. paper)
LC: HV5292.F56 1988
This is a landmark book that discusses and reject the idea of alcoholism as a disease.
It also examines "treatment" for that non-existent disease,
and finds it to be an ineffective fraud.
Controlling Your Drinking: Tools to Make Moderation Work for You
William R. Miller and Ricardo F. Muñoz, PhD
Prof. William R. Miller, of the Center for Alcohol, Substance Abuse and Addictions, Dept. of Psychology,
University of New Mexico, could have written a scholarly tome on alcohol abuse
(and in fact, he has written several), but this book is non-technical and is aimed at the layman.
That is, it is written in simple, clear, easily-understood language and is intended
for someone with a problem controlling their drinking.
It is very systematic and complete, and loaded with good advice and working techniques,
and should be helpful to anyone who is drinking too much, no matter whether
he ends up choosing moderation or complete abstinence.
This book will do what A.A. falsely claims to do: Give you the tools you need to stop
(or moderate) drinking.
This book includes:
- Keeping track
- Taking charge
- Slowing down
- Discovering your triggers
- Visual techniques for relaxing
- Managing anxiety and fear
- Coping with negative moods and depression
- Managing a positive self-concept
- When abstinence seems like the best choice for you
Selling Serenity: Life Among the Recovery Stars
Upton Books, a division of Sirs Mandarin, Inc., Boca Raton, FL, 1999.
LC: HV5279 .M43 1999
Dewey: 362.292'0973—dc21 or 362.292 MEACHAM 1999
This book is a blockbuster. It is must reading for anyone in the
alcohol abuse or addictions treatment or rehabilitation field.
It details a lot of the selling of the standard recovery myths,
like selling the idea of codependency and turning its treatment
into an industry, and "recovering" false memories,
and "reparenting", and more.
He describes "Codependency" as invent a non-existent disease, and then
charge a fortune to treat it.
And one chapter title is priceless: The Metastasizing of Metaphor.
Andrew Meacham's take on
Grandchildren of Alcoholics.
SHAM: how the self-help movement made America helpless Steve Salerno
Crown Publishers, New York c2005.
Dewey: 155.2 S163s 2005
Quite impressive. Leaves you feeling haunted, because the evils and ills that he describes are
all around us.
Contents: Introduction : Hopelessly hooked on help — The culprits — How we got
here — wherever here is — False prophets, false profits — Dr. Phil Mcgraw :
absolute power — Tony Robbins : leaps (and bounds) of faith — "Ya
gotta want it!" — Put me in, coach, I'm ready to pay — Killer
performances : the rise of the contrepreneur — The consequences — You
are all diseased — Looking for love — on all the wrong bases? — I'm OK,
you're — how do you spell OK again? — Patient, heal thyself —
Conclusion : a SHAM society.
The Useful Lie, William L. Playfair, M.D. with George Bryson
Crossway Books, Wheaton, Illinois, A division of Good News Publishers, 1991.
LC: BV4596.A48P42 1991
An interesting exposé of Alcoholics Anonymous, coming from both
a scientific and biblical point of view:
"The real truth from the Bible and science about addictions and
codependence — and how you can be free of them!"
In spite of its very unusual approach, this book makes a lot of good
points, and clearly shows that A.A. dogma is false both from a medical
and theological viewpoint, as in:
The irony of a Twelve Step program customized for Christians is that many
who use it believe it is not only effective but Biblical.
... If the original Twelve Step program needs to be "adapted" for
Christians, it seems odd to say that it is "Biblically based."
What kind of double talk is going on here? Unfortunately, this kind of
confusion is characteristic of the literature of "Christianized"
After all is said and done, Christians do not seem to be making the recovery
industry approach more compatible with Biblical Christianity. On the contrary,
the recovery industry seems to be influencing the Christian approach.
The Useful Lie, William L. Playfair, M.D. with George Bryson, pages 84-85,
and 185-186 (footnote).
The Heresy Of The Twelve Steps,
More Revealed: A Critical Analysis of Alcoholics Anonymous and
the Twelve Steps Ken Ragge, 1992.
ALERT! Publishing, P.O. Box 50233, Henderson, Nevada 89016-0233
The first chapter of More Revealed, which
specifically covers Frank Buchman and
the earliest days of A.A., is available free on the Internet,
It is very good; highly recommended.
Relapse Prevention: Maintenance Strategies in the Treatment
of Addictive Behaviors
Edited by G. Alan Marlatt and Judith R. Gordon
The Guilford Press, New York and London, 1985.
LC: RC564.R45 1985
Great stuff. A huge amount of true information about alcohol abuse
and relapse prevention. Rather scholarly and heavy going;
written for professional therapists and counselors rather
than for the average alcoholic.
Recommended. Chapters are:
G. Alan Marlatt wrote the first five chapters, and a variety
of other authorities and experts wrote the following four.
The authors are quite specific in their descriptions of
tools and techniques that work to help people avoid relapsing,
and that is the greatest value of this book (to me, at least).
- Part 1. Relapse Prevention: General Overview
- Chapter 1. Relapse Prevention: Theoretical and Overview of the Model
- Chapter 2. Situational Determinants of Relapse and Skill-Training
- Chapter 3. Cognitive Factors in the Relapse Process
- Chapter 4. Cognitive Assessment and Intervention Procedures
for Relapse Prevention.
- Chapter 5. Lifestyle Modification
- Part 2. Applications with Specific Addictive Behaviors
- Chapter 6. Alcoholic Relapse Prevention and Intervention:
Models and Methods
- Chapter 7. The Problem Drinker's Project: A Programmatic
Application of Social-Learning-Based Treatment
- Chapter 8. Preventing Relapse in Ex-Smokers: A Self-Management
Alternatives For The Problem Drinker; A.A. is not the only way
Ariel Winters; preface by William R. Miller, Ph.D., Dept. of Psychology
at U. of New Mexico
Drake Publishers Inc., New York and London, 1978.
LC: RC565.W57 1978
A lot of good, true, information, including information on
controlled drinking as opposed to absolute abstinence.
Includes chapters on:
Like Charlotte Kasl, the authoress of this book is a woman
who has some special insights into the problem of women
and alcohol misuse. Hence this book is especially recommended
for women, but its usefulness is not restricted to just
- The Rand Report and the Alcohol War
- Alcoholics Anonymous: Pros and Cons
- Treatment Centers: The Old and the New
- On Psychological Dependence
- Is There An Alcoholic Personality?
- On Physiological Craving
- Alcohol and Drugs: Special Dangers
- The Nutritional Approach
- Women and Alcohol: Special Problems
- Teens and Alcohol: New Trends
- Behavior Modification
- Techniques for Solitary Self-Help
- Self-Help Groups and Inter-Group Dynamics
- On Mastering a Drinking Problem
The Culture Of Recovery; Making Sense of the Self-Help Movement in Women's Lives
Beacon Press, Boston MA, 1996.
LC: RC533.R365 1995
Dewey: 305.42—dc20 or 362.293 R221c
Good stuff. As the title implies, this book's emphasis is on women's issues,
and how a woman has experienced the self-help movement.
Particularly read chapter four:
"In the Rooms: Learning to Talk the Talk".
My experiences led me to agree with many professional observers that this
classic AA model operates as a cult — a term I use descriptively,
not judgementally —
and therein lies the secret of its success. It thrives on exclusivity and
social isolation, on rote repetitions of scriptural doctrine, and on a blind
faith in an omnipotent "leader" and God. It enforces rigid rules of
behavior that virtually program one's every move every day, week, and month.
Members who do best tend to break ties with former friends and family
and relate only to fellow drunks, often attending meetings every day,
sometimes even twice a day. By repetition the Steps and Traditions
become so ingrained that all casual
conversation comes to include key phrases — "I let go and let God"
is a common saying, for example — and the idea that one's Higher Power had
a role in virtually every positive moment in one's life is taken for granted
here. The members who told the most inspiring tales, moreover, were generally
the ones whose every moment was coordinated according to the Steps and
Traditions and meeting schedules. Many members speak often of giving up
old haunts and friends to stick "close to home" as one put it,
and the conversation of members tends to revolve so thoroughly around ideas
and activities of recovery that it is probably a relief to old friends when
they drift away. There are alcohol-free social clubs where members meet in
many cities, and many members carry around AA literature and turn to it
whenever they find themselves with nothing to do, for fear that they
to old habits if they relax. "I read the Big Book (the basic text,
written by Bill W.) every day, every time I start to feel nervous,"
one man told me. "It saved me the other day, when I ran into an old
drinking buddy on the subway. He took one look at it and split."
I had no doubt.
— page 98.
Since one may never "cross talk" or raise issues not related to one's
addiction, or even talk about the addiction itself in terms other than
the Steps prescribe, one is forced, in the interest of one's progress out
of addiction, to internalize and adopt the "mainstream attitudes"
fostered by the program. ...
The political ramifications of this tendency to subtly impose a totalizing
ideology on members are easy to see. ...
As in any kind of hegemonic discourse or ritual, the absence of apparent ideology
is itself the most powerful kind of ideology, since it can never be acknowledged
or questioned. The political implications of this kind of thinking, this kind
of process, are apparent and depressing. ...
This reactionary tendency of AA is further bolstered by its tendency to exclude
contact with all "outsiders" who may indeed have other ideas about
what has caused a member's suffering and what might be done to assuage it.
One of the characteristics of cults described by
Arthur Deikman (1990) is a
tendency to "devalue outsiders" and assume "an attitude of
righteousness" about one's own customs and beliefs. In AA and (to a lesser
degree) other recovery groups, this takes the form of labeling as "in denial"
those who question basic tenets.
— pages 99-100.
ACOA is the only group I visited in which no response was ever expected of anyone.
At times, the silence was so nerve-wracking that I felt all eyes upon me, the
ever silent presence, to finally speak. ...
The members of my home group were a bizarre lot behaviorally, although, by
appearance, they were conventional and respectable. ...
Other members of this group — there were about ten women and four men —
were apparently even more out of control, unable to handle the emotionally
charged, unresolved feelings from childhood, for reasons that were sometimes
explained — incest and physical torture — and sometimes hard to figure out
— page 108.
And there is much more. Check it out.
Help At Any Cost: How the Troubled-Teen Industry Cons Parents and Hurts Kids
Riverhead Books, New York, 2006.
LC: HV1431.S97 2006
A great book. Takes up the thread of the web page
Children's Gulags: Child Abuse for Fun and Profit
and takes it much further. Includes "boots-on-the-ground"
interviews with principle characters in the
criminal enterprise called "tough love".
This is absolutely must reading for anyone thinking of sending a
child to a so-called "tough love" boot camp or "character-building"
"disciplinary" "wilderness trek".
Your child might die there. Many already have.
And the harm done often far outweighs any benefits. The liabilities of such programs
include children who are scarred for life
and spend many years — occasionally the rest of their lives —
trying to overcome post-traumatic stress disorder.
And many children who did not use drugs before being tortured by such
a program did afterwards.
- For the standard party line about everything, see "The
Big Book", really:
Alcoholics Anonymous, Third Edition, 1976.
(written by William G. Wilson, Henry Parkhurst, and 31 or so others;
published as 'anonymous.')
Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. New York, NY.
Dewey call number 362.29 A347 1976
Alcoholics Anonymous, Fourth Edition, 2001,
published as "anonymous", but really written
by William G. Wilson, Henry Parkhurst, Joe Worth, and many other people.
Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. New York, NY, 2001.
Dewey: 362.29 A347 2001
Note that the earlier editions of the A.A. book are available
for free on the Internet. It seems that somebody was too 'sober'
to remember to renew the copyright (if the original copyright
was even ever valid, which is highly
unlikely, because Bill Wilson stole the copyright for himself
when the book was really written by more than 30 people).
The Big Book is included in this list only for those who want to really see
the insanity of Bill Wilson and his Alcoholics Anonymous.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions written by
William G. Wilson and Tom Powers,
published as "anonymous".
Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. New York, NY, 2000.
ISBN 0-916856-06-2 (smaller hard cover edition, 2000)
ISBN 0-916856-01-1 (larger hard cover edition, 1984)
Library of Congress catalog card number (LCCN:) 53-5454
Dewey call number 362.2928 T969 1965
This is one of the most insane and vicious books around.
It is right down there with Mein Kampf as far as its
ratio of lies to truth, and
hate content, is concerned.
It is ostensibly Bill Wilson's explanation of his Twelve Steps and
Twelve Traditions, but it is really
dark and evil, Bill Wilson's poisonous contempt for
human nature masquerading as spirituality. It was written
while Wilson was in the middle of his eleven-year-long bout of deep
clinical depression, and it shows.
It is really a brutal, hateful assault on the character of
people who happen to have a drinking problem.
Bill Wilson hated himself and his own character flaws, so he
all of his own
weaknesses and character flaws onto the alcoholics
around him, and also onto a mythical stereotypical alcoholic,
and then said,
"Look at him.
Look at how disgusting he is. We are all like that."
This whole book is non-stop guilt induction.
This book is included in the list only for those who want to really see
the insanity of Bill Wilson and his Alcoholics Anonymous.
Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age "anonymous" — really, William G. Wilson
Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. (AAWS), New York, 1957, 1986.
Harper, New York, 1957.
LC: HV5278 .A78A4
Dewey: 178.1 A1c
This is Bill's history of Alcoholics Anonymous. It
suspiciously differs from known history
This book is included in the list only for those who want every nit-picking
little detail of the falsified, sanitized, history of Alcoholics Anonymous.
- 'Pass It On'; The story of Bill Wilson and how the A.A. message
reached the world 'anonymous'
Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. (AAWS), New York, 1984.
LC: HV5032 .W19P37x 1984
This is the official, council-approved version of the history
of A.A.. Strangely enough, there is actually some very interesting stuff
in here, including chapter 16, which describes Bill's spook sessions
and séances, talking with the spirits of the dead, and communicating
with spirits through spirit rapping and the Ouija board. See pages 275
This book is included in the list only for those who want every nit-picking
little detail of the falsified, sanitized, history of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Top Ten Cult, Mind-Control, and Brainwashing Books
The True Believer, Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements
Harper & Rowe, Publishers, New York and Evanston, 1951.
Dewey call number 301.1582 H69
This little book is a real jewel. Hoffer wrote it half a century
ago, paying particular attention to the Nazis, but it reads like a
description of this afternoon's latest cult.
This is one of those beautiful all-time classics that we see too
- Brainwashing, From Pavlov to Powers,
Originally published by Farrar, Straus, & Cudahy, Inc., 1956.
Reprinted by The Bookmailer, Inc., 30 West Price Street, Linden, New Jersey, 1958, 1965.
Library of Congress catalog card number 56-7817 and 60-53397
Dewey call number 131.33 H91
This book is very good. It will probably become another classic.
It really gives you the feeling of being there and going through
the brainwashing program to which the American, British, and other United
Nations prisoners of war were subjected during the Korean War.
It also clearly explains just how the brainwashing worked and how
some men succumbed to it, and how some resisted.
And the book is fascinating and a good read.
The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark
Random House, New York, 1995.
Dewey call number 001.9 S129d
This book is a beauty. This book is not about cults or mind control —
it is the opposite: a book on how to clear your thinking of
such stuff. Carl Sagan always was easy to read, highly
informative, and clear, and this book lives up to his reputation.
This book includes "the baloney detector", which is a list
of deceitful propaganda techniques that gave me the idea for the
The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian
Power Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad
North Atlantic Books/Frog Ltd., Berkeley, California, 1993.
LC: BF698.35 .A87 K73 1993
A great book. Definitely makes the Top 10 list. Discusses the
hidden, underlying authoritarianism in many religious cults and
some other religions, too. Extensively quoted in the web page on
The Heresy of the Twelve Steps.
The Wrong Way Home, Uncovering the Patterns of
Cult Behavior in American Society
Arthur J. Deikman, M.D.
Beacon Press, Boston, MA, 1990.
LC: BL2525.D55 1990
Dewey: 302.3—dc20 or 302.3 D327w
Fascinating. Recommended. Exposes how cult-like behavior and attitudes
permeate a lot of our institutions, including our churches, corporations,
and government. Dr. Deikman was on a Congressional committee that studied cults after
the Jonestown mass suicide and the murder of Congressman Leo J. Ryan,
and one of the disturbing facts that Deikman noticed was: The question of
whether any particular group is a cult
is not a black-or-white, yes-or-no, question. It's all shades of gray,
and many of our organizations, institutions, and government agencies
exhibit cultish behavior to some
extent or other. This book is useful on two levels: First, it describes
cults and cultish behavior in a clear and concise way. And secondly,
it finds that cultish behavior, to varying degrees, in many of our
Deikman saw cults as pushing extreme degrees of these four behaviors:
And then he also found those behaviors contributing to
government disasters like Kennedy's Bay of Pigs and Reagan's Iran-Contra
conspiracy, which has very disturbing implications, because you feel like
it can happen again next week, because the politicians are still doing the
same stupid things, again and again.
- Compliance with the group,
- Dependence on a leader,
- Devaluing the outsider, and
- Avoiding dissent.
(It IS happening again. Now the agenda is, "Attack Iraq because
Little Bush can't find Osama.")
Combating Cult Mind Control Steven Hassan, 1988.
Park Street Press, One Park Street, Rochester, Vermont, 05767
Dewey call number 291.0973 H353c
This one is good. It is one of the fairest and most balanced of the
anti-cult books that came out in the 'eighties. It also does not
recommend the use of forceful abductions and reverse-brainwashing
"deprogramming" that gave exit counselors a bad name.
Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves
Freedom of Mind Press, Somerville, MA, 2000
LC: BP603.H37 2000
Dewey: 291 H353r 2000 or 305.62999
This is good. This is the kind of book you want to have if you discover that
a friend or relative has gotten sucked into a cult, and you want to know how
to get them back alive.
Steve Hassan's web site:
Cults In Our Midst, The Hidden Menace In Our Everyday Lives
Margaret Thaler Singer with Janja Lalich
Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco, 1995.
Dewey call number 291.9 S617c
This book is very good. It gives lots of good general background
information on cults, and particularly exposes, in the chapter
"Intruding into the Workplace",
how some cults have insinuated themselves into the very fabric
of our society, like how Werner Erhard's
est hoax morphed into The Landmark Forum (and similar
organizations) and sold "motivation enhancement seminars"
to corporate America.
(I wish she had paid a lot more attention to the children and grandchildren of
Synanon, the abusive "confrontational attack therapy"
drug-and-alcohol rehabilitation programs like The Seed and
Straight, Inc., and
the children's boot camps today,
and how they have insinuated
themselves into the fabric of our society, and pass off their
fascist torture of children as beneficial to America...)
I just have one bone to pick with her. She says on page 97 that
Alcoholics Anonymous is not a cult, because
Unfortunately, she got every single one of those points wrong.
A.A. is guilty of every single one of those cult characteristics,
and many more.
In addition, in her earlier book, "Crazy Therapies", which
criticized various fad therapies of the nineteen-sixties and -seventies, she
warned of some common characteristics of fraudulent medical treatments:
the "Procrustean Bed" — an all-purpose diagnosis that
can be stretched to fit any problem.
That's A.A. and its Twelve Steps,
the snake-oil that will supposedly cure anything.
- "Unrealistic Expectations"
— that's A.A. again, which
teaches that a 12-Step panacea — listing and confessing your sins,
and feeling powerless and guilty about everything —
will fix "alcoholism", keep you from drinking, remove all of your sins,
and give you Sobriety, Recovery, Serenity, Gratitude, and even
- "Unexplained Workings" — the promoter cannot explain the
theoretical basis of the treatment or its purported successes.
That's A.A. yet again. There is no medical or scientific explanation for
how the 12 steps are supposed to cure or treat alcohol abuse, or make alcoholics
stop drinking. It's all vague hand-waving and claims that
God will really like you and you will become "spiritual"
if you do Bill Wilson's 12 steps and confess your sins, so then God will do a bunch of
favors for you, like make you quit drinking and
solve all of your problems for you.
Take Back Your Life; Recovering from Cults and Abusive Relationships
Janja Lalich and Madeline Tobias
Bay Tree Publishing, Berkeley, California, 2006.
LC: BP603.T62 2006,
Another anti-cult book from Janja Lalich.
Good. Unfortunately, Prof. Margaret Thaler Singer has died, but Lalich
is still continuing the good work with a new collaboration.
This book is loaded with valuable information on how to deprogram and free yourself.
Recommmended. Here is a sample:
Frequently, at gatherings of former cult members, a lively exchange
takes place when participants compare their respective groups and
leaders. As people begin to describe their special, enlightened,
and unique leader — whether a pastor, therapist, political leader,
teacher, lover, or swami — those present are often surprised to learn
that their once-revered leaders are actually quite similar in
temperament and personality. It seems as if those leaders come from
a common mold, sometimes light-heartedly called the
"Cookie-Cutter Messiah School."
Take Back Your Life; Recovering from Cults and Abusive Relationships,
Janja Lalich and Madeline Tobias.
Age of Propaganda, The Everyday Use And Abuse of Persuasion
Anthony Pratkanis and Elliot Aronson, University
of California at Santa Cruz.
W. H. Freeman and Co., New York, 1992.
ISBN 0-7167-2210-0 (hardcover), ISBN 0-7167-2211-9 (paperback)
Dewey call number 303.375 P912a
This book is especially clear and readable. Recommended.
The Making Of A Moonie: Brainwashing Or Choice?
Basil Blackwell Publisher Ltd., Oxford, UK, 1984.
LC: BX9750.S4B37 1984
Dewey: 289.9 B225m
Quite good. Rather than just sensationalizing the Moonies, or
grandly proclaiming that cults can brainwash people in a few days,
like some extremist anti-cult people and professional
"deprogrammers" do, the author really delves into
how the recruiting and indoctrination mind games work, and how much the
victim cooperates with the program (or doesn't cooperate).
The author also reveals things like that
the actual recruiters' success rate is about 0.005% (page 147).
The author even gets into psychoanalyzing the members, revealing that
many of them had mental problems before joining the Moonies, and
suggesting that that was why they joined.
This book is a breath of sanity in a field that needs more.
Escape From Utopia: My Ten Years in Synanon
William F. Olin
Unity Press, Santa Clara, CA, 1980.
Dewey call number 362.293 O46e
— This is the story of Synanon, as it degenerated from a utopian
social organization and also a successful drug and alcohol
rehabilitation program, into a vicious nightmarish cult, ending
with the arrest of the cult's leader Charles "Chuck"
Dederich on charges of conspiracy to commit murder.
This story is especially good because it is told by a man who was
an idealist, a successful architect seeking a utopia, one of the
"life-stylers" who joined Synanon purely out of choice, rather
than one of the addicts desperately fleeing from death by drugs.
It gives his story a certain credibility,
and it also means that it is the story of a life gradually going
down-hill towards Hell over a ten-year period, as the organization
gradually turned into a really bad cult, rather than the story of
someone coming up from the bottom. Where some of the ex-addicts
might have seen even the worst parts of Synanon as improvements
in their lives, Olin didn't. He had a good bit more perspective on
things than that.
A Piece of Blue Sky; Scientology, Dianetics, and L. Ron Hubbard
Exposed Jon Atack
A Lyle Stuart Book, Published by Carol Publishing Group,
600 Madison Ave., New York, NY, 1990.
Dewey call number 299.936 A862p
— Very good, complete, chilling, and disgusting. I alternated
between feeling sorry for the members for the abuse they suffered,
and feeling contempt for their massive stupidity
and blindness as they turned around and did it all to somebody else.
This book is now available to read free online:
Bare-Faced Messiah; The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard Russel Miller
Henry Holt and Company, New York, 1987.
LC: BP605.S2M55 1988
Excellent. Complete, detailed, thorough, and very interesting. Highly recommended.
This book is now available to read free online:
The New Believers; A Survey of Sects, Cults, and Alternative
Religions David V. Barrett
Cassell & Co., Wellington House, London, 2001.
Dewey 291 B27n 2001
Huge, encyclopedic, 544 large pages of small type.
If you want one reference book about every cult in the world,
this is it.
Covers both the cults, and the phenomenon of cults, starting with
"What is an alternative religion, and what is a cult?"
Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why Bart D. Ehrman
Harper Collins Books, New York, 2005.
ISBN: 0060738170 (cloth)
This is not a book about a cult. It is, rather, a scholarly study
of how the Christian Bible
was written, and rewritten, and changed, over the years, and who did it.
The author is far from a skeptic; he is a professor of theology,
and Chairman of the Department of Religious Studies at the University
of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in the heart of the Bible Belt.
He is one of those rare souls who knows the truth about the Bible and
early Christianity, and who will tell the truth —
and without grinding an ax for some particular sect, or coming off as a fundamentalist.
The author reveals some stunning facts, like that there are so many
variations and differences in the existing historical fragments of the Bible
that there are actually more possible versions of the Bible than there
are words in the Bible.
This book is thus very impressive, and important to anyone wanting to
know the truth about a lot of erroneous doctrines. What is especially
appalling is how many Bible-beating fundamentalist churches pick out
a few lines of the Bible and emphasize them and base their entire theology on
their interpretation of those lines,
when in fact the lines are erroneous, or fraudulent inserts or changes, done by some
well-meaning fool who thought that he would "correct errors" and fix things.
Strongly recommended for anyone who wants a better understanding of the
history of the Bible, or who wants to know what the Bible really says, or did once
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