Letters, We Get Mail, XV
by A. Orange



[Tue, March 2, 2004, Rebecca L. wrote:]

Just read your article and had to tell you that I thought it was EXCELLENT !!! I could launch into a huge monologue with praise and accolades about it, as well as about how my personal experiences made me really relate to it ? but that would take forever, and I should probably spend that time living my life. Thanks for writing such a great piece though!

Rebecca L.

Hi, Rebecca. Thanks for the thanks.

Have a good day.

== Orange





[Tue, March 2, 2004, Michael wrote:]

Hi Orange,

I found this on 12SF today. It's a review in the New York Observer of a new Wilson biography. From the review I glean that the author is not a gifted historian but another AA zealot. I'd be interested to know if you have ever heard this story of Wilson demanding a drink on his deathbed from other sources.

http://www.observer.com/pages/story.asp?ID=8641     [Obsolete link to a book review.]

-Michael

Hi. thanks for the tip. That's an interesting article. Very interesting. I wonder where she got the story of Bill demanding a drink on his death bed. What I have read in other biographies is that he was so sick from emphysema and pneumonia that he was very out of it. Lois and Bill's doctor and friends flew him down to Florida for a last-gasp attempt to save him, but it didn't work.

I've been wanting to get my hands on that book. It promises to be interesting, even if it is a "soft-focus" brush-off of all critical material (which is just so typical of steppers).

== Orange


[Later:]
P.S.: I got the book, and have read it. Quite a white-wash. Susan Cheever repeats so many of the standard myths and falsehoods, like that A.A. works great. But she does reveal a few new things, like Bill Wilson screaming for a drink in his final months of life, and threatening to punch out the nurse who wouldn't give him one:

      On James Dannenberg's log for December 25 — Bill Wilson's last Christmas Day — at six-ten in the morning, after a long night, the patient "asked for three shots of whiskey," Dannenberg noted. He also noted that Wilson was quite upset when he couldn't have what he asked for. There was no whiskey at Stepping Stones. A few days later he became belligerent and tried to punch the nurse.   ...
      On the seventh of January, Nurse Dannenberg noted that Bill had been visited by some family members and that after the visit he and Lois had an angry argument. The next morning Bill again asked him for whiskey.   ...
      By the fourteenth of January, Bill Wilson, a man who hadn't had a drink in almost thirty-seven years, a man who had discovered what is still the only successful way to treat alcoholism, was asking for whiskey again.
My Name Is Bill: Bill Wilson, His Life and the Creation of Alcoholics Anonymous, Susan Cheever, pages 248-249.

And I noticed that Cheever said that she got access to the A.A. archives, so she could dig into material not available to the rest of us.

I got a bunch of revealing quotes out of it, here, here, here, here, and here.

Thanks again.

== Orange.


P.S. Saturday, 10 April 2004: One of the Saturday morning National Public Radio programs, Weekend Edition, interviewed Susan Cheever about her book. The woman announcer — Linda Wertheimer — asked of Bill Wilson, "He was a bit of a monster, wasn't he?"

Cheever replied that she just loved Bill, and however he and Lois got along for 53 years was their business... Cheever explained that she had fallen in love with Bill during the research for the book.

Ah, the mind of a true believer — rationalize, minimize and deny: "Don't distract me with mere facts..."

The rap about Bill and Lois staying together for 53 years is pretty irrelevant. People didn't get divorced so much in those days. Besides, Tom Powers and other early A.A. members had to sit up with Bill all night one time, talking Bill out of divorcing Lois and marrying his young mistress, because they feared that it would make A.A. look bad if the leader was treating his wife that way. Then Bill even got one of his mistresses a house just a couple of miles down the road from Stepping Stones, so that he could go visit her any time he felt like it. The fact that Bill remained legally married to Lois, and might have sometimes even slept in the same house as her, didn't really mean that it was any kind of a relationship to brag about.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange





[Thu, March 4, 2004, Ron R. wrote:]

Hello Agent Orange:

I admire and respect what you, Jack Trimpey, and others are doing to de-bunk all the addiction treatment hocus-pocus. As a social worker I estimate that every 3rd or 4th client I see is struggling, often desperately, with addiction. Most have been through the treatment mill more than once. Many sing the praises of treatment and blame themselves for not working a good program. Because of my profession they assume that that's what I want to hear. When I suggest that maybe the program is "working them", many will quickly become relieved. Finally someone is confirming what they've long suspected. They are not crazy. They are neither "selfish" nor "paralyzed" from using their own intelligence to understand what's going on inside their own heads!

Unlike you I self-recovered from booze without any exposure to AA. I used AVRT but I was skeptical of Trimpey's anti-AA ranting in his last book and at his website. Like you I initially assumed AA to be a benevolent organization. That was until I started listening to the struggles of other addicts. Why was it so hard for them but not for me? THAT'S when I really started to pay attention to AA specifically, and the treatment industry in general. Like you and Trimpey, what I'm finding is just sickening. I'm pissed to see an entirely bogus industry make a profit by preying on the vulnerability of its victims. So I'm really pleased, and empowered, by your efforts. Thanks for your on-going meticulous research and reference material. Your site is a rich information treasury for budding anti-addition treatment advocates.

By the way, I liked the Vaillant references in your intro page and elsewhere. I'm sure you've read his book The Natural History Of Alcoholism Revisited. I'm wondering if you caught this quote from page 266. Here he lists some of the facets of AA that has drawn criticism:

"Third, AA certainly functions as a cult and systematically indoctrinates its members in ways common to cults the world over. The negative side effects of AA, however, are perhaps more benign than those of any other cult with which I am familiar."

"Nevertheless, in the absence of proven scientific efficacy, critics are legitimate in suggesting that mandated AA attendance may be criticized as a failure of proper separation between church and state."

Unbelievable! So a respected addiction researcher/Trustee of the AAWS Board acknowledges that AA is a failure and a cult, and still advocates 12-Step based treatment. Worse, he condones forced participation in treatment against the will of inmates, civil employees, health care professionals, and others who are offended by AA's overtly religious nature. What an egregious violation of civil rights protection against state-sponsored religion!

Keep up the great work and YOU have a nice day!

Ron

Hi Ron,

Thanks for the letter, and all of the compliments.
I couldn't agree with you more about George E. Vaillant.
Vaillant is really something else.
Thanks for that quote; I overlooked that one. I'll have to go through that book again.

I also quit by, essentially, using AVRT, although I didn't know about that name at the time. I had been calling it simply "The Addiction Monster", and I had learned by trial and error to not be fooled by the jabbering and screaming and seductive persuasions of that voice. I have a page on that here.

(Oh, I went to A.A. meetings, but they did little or nothing for me. I worked my own program. I never got a sponsor, I never did the 12 Steps, etc..)

Thanks again, and have a good day.

== Orange


[ Tue, April 13, 2004, 2nd letter from Ron R.:]
Subject: More of Vaillant's True Colors

Hello again, Agent Orange. Thanks for your response. I also found this nugget from The Natural History Of Alcoholism Revisited, page 277. Vaillant is discussing the potential drawbacks to abstinence. Here's the chapter's concluding paragraph:

"Finally, and most important, it must be remembered that abstinence is a means, not an end. It is a puritanical goal that removes but does not replace. It is justifiable as a treatment goal only if moderate drinking is not a viable alternative and only if sight is not lost of the real goal — social rehabilitation. Even in Alcoholics Anonymous, the term 'sobriety' has the far broader, more platonic meaning of serenity and maturity. The perjorative term 'dry' is reserved for individuals who are abstinent from alcohol but otherwise remain unchanged from their former alcohol-abusing selves. The lesson of this chapter is not that abstinence is good, but that uncontrolled, symptomatic abuse of alcohol is painful."

How about that? Do you believe the arrogance of this guy? Gee, I didn't realize that my life was so much emptier without the booze. I guess my improved physical health, fulfilling social relationships, and sharpened critical faculties are not suitable replacements.

At least Vaillant reveals his true motivations. Quitting isn't the main priority; it's social rehabilitation. I wonder if Vaillant really means "social engineering"? Do you think he'd love to see society transformed by the soothing waters of sobriety, filled with a serene (dull) citizenry? Meanwhile, would the rest of us be branded by the scarlet letters D-R-Y, and socially marginalized unless/until we "get with the Program"? Nice. Who needs a Puritan when a Buchman/Wilsonian Fascist is so much better?

No thanks. I'll remain in the quenching desert of Reason.

Take care.

Ron

Hi again, Ron, and thanks for this quote too.

Vaillant's statement fits into the pattern. In a way, it's just another restatement of the old "dry drunk" put-down of the stereotypical alcoholic. You are "only dry", but not "sober", if you don't join their religion and change yourself into their idea of a good person — someone who spends his life on his knees, confessing how bad and stupid he is.

What is very strange is how Vaillant says, "It [total abstinence] is justifiable as a treatment goal only if moderate drinking is not a viable alternative."

On first impression, it sounded like he was being broad-minded and not pushing total abstinence on everybody; but on second thought I get the impression that he is justifying coercive treatment. The "real goal" is "social rehabilitation" of the individual. I'm sure that sounds good to the judges who are sentencing people to A.A. meetings.

And of course Vaillant is just assuming that all alcoholics are evil, and must be socially (read: 'spiritually') rehabilitated. He is so sure that there is much more wrong with their "former alcohol-abusing selves" than just drinking too much alcohol. But how would he know? He doesn't know how it feels. He was never an alcoholic. He's one of the Class A — non-alcoholic — Trustees. Does he really have any idea why people drink?

Again, we see the idea that alcoholism is a sin, not a disease. A.A. keeps telling us that alcoholism is a disease, and we are powerless over it, so it isn't our fault. But then they pull that medical-to-moral morph — a bait-and-switch stunt — and start declaring that alcoholism was really caused by moral shortcomings and defects of character and defective relationships and desires that far exceed their intended purpose... etc...

Even "puritanical abstinence" isn't good enough. It isn't enough that you quit drinking and save your own life, and repair your health, career, marriage, and everything else. Nope, you must be "socially rehabilitated" in the Alcoholics Anonymous program and become an example of the A.A. definition of the word "sobriety".

Like Vaillant wrote in his first book,

Frank's model maximizes both the relief of suffering and — of special importance in alcoholism — attitude change.   ...
      In other words, if we can but combine the best placebo effects of acupuncture, Lourdes, or Christian Science with the best attitude change inherent in the evangelical conversion experience, we may be on our way to an effective alcoholism program.   ...
      Frank's prescription for attitude change is initially interrogation by and confession of sins to a high-status healer.
The Natural History of Alcoholism: Causes, Patterns, and Paths to Recovery, George E. Vaillant, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1983, pages 286-288.
The same text was reprinted in Vaillant's later book, The Natural History of Alcoholism Revisited, George E. Vaillant, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1995, on pages 352-354.

Yep, I do believe that guy is a religious fanatic.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange





[Sat, March 6, 2004, The Frase wrote:]

Hi there,
I am in Australia getting sober (26 mths now) and I was hoping you can tell me where all the money and royalties etc of sales of the Big Book go? Everyone newcomer I see gets flogged one of these books and I remember when I first came in I had a few myself (solely because I was not game to refuse as everyone was into the book, steps etc).

I am not into steps et al. but have been going well. Unfortunately I told the older members who are helping me to F*&% off last night and threw a plate of sandwiches at their car. They just drive me mad but I have yet to learn how to control my temper and as a result they keep controlling me because I am constantly apologising for past indiscretions. I like AA but in my head it is always 'Bloody AA' but I am not game to stop the meetings (I do one every night...just ID)

Cheers and hope you can get back to me!

The Frase

Hi. The money rattles up the pyramid. The Australian A.A. national headquarters will get part of it, and then the rest of the royalties go to Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Incorporated, in New York. All of the foreign countries pay royalties to AAWS for the "right" to publish the Big Book in their native languages, in spite of the fact that the copyright is bogus, expired, invalid, and as phoney as a three-dollar bill. That is a whole subject in itself. AAWS has even been committing perjury in the courts of Mexico and Germany to keep on collecting those royalties. See:
http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-not_good.html#AAWS_perjury
and
http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-bigbook.html

Have a good day.

== Orange


[Thu, April 15, 2004, 2nd letter from The Frase:]

Hi there orange,

Look I am really hooked into this mob in a big way. I am over 2 years off the drink but am going mad in aa but too scared to leave because all the people I mix with have told me i will drink or be mad or just unhappy. They will also hold me out as an example of someone who thought they knew better than the sober members. We dont do steps or big book in our group but some of the long sober members are real stand over merchants, playing people off against each other etc etc. they will take all the credit for me getting sober but none of the blame if I don't because they have told me that will be because I have done something wrong. Is everyone in aa like that? I figure for some of them it is the only place where they have any standing. It is one hell of a screwy place.

Am I seeing it correctly or am I just bitter and twisted?

Bye now,
The Frase

Hi, Frase,

It sounds to me like you are seeing things pretty straight. You sound angry but not twisted and bitter. You might want to work on that temper, if only for the sake of your sandwiches, but otherwise you sound okay.

This is one of those letters where you manage, in just one paragraph, to ask a question that could get a huge complex answer. But I'll try to keep it short.

First off, the easy stuff:

  1. "Is everyone in aa like that?"
    Nope. I can safely say that, because a "yes" answer would stereotype a whole lot of people, which is just what is wrong with the usual A.A. description of "the alcoholic". There are some good people to be found everywhere, even in A.A..

    See another recent letter for an example of one old A.A. member who sure sounds like he has his head screwed on straight. It's just unfortunate that he isn't in your group.

  2. "I figure for some of them it is the only place where they have any standing."
    Yes, no doubt about it. In the A.A. meeting room they get to be a big frog in a small pond. Outside of the rooms they feel like a nobody.

  3. "It is one hell of a screwy place."
    Yes. Some psychiatrists studied A.A. members, and found that the vast majority of them ranged from moderately disturbed to downright psychotic.

  4. They make you afraid to leave.
    Yes, that is a very common standard cult practice. They induce phobias, and tell you that all kinds of horrible things will happen to you if you leave the cult. That's how they keep you coming back.
    Here is the cult test question, Inducing Phobias, and here is the answer for A.A..

Now for the big, tough question: "Will you relapse if you leave Alcoholics Anonymous?"

Well, I can't predict the future.
My crystal ball rolled away and termites ate my Ouija board.
I can't predict that you won't relapse if you leave; and I can't predict that you won't relapse if you stay.
Can we be sure that they won't drive you to drink if you stay in Alcoholics Anonymous? Doctor Brandsma found that A.A. involvement increased binge drinking.

But after two years, you are not in any great danger of immediate relapse. Not really. You know which way is up. You have your head together and your compulsions under control. You aren't crawling the walls for a drink, or detoxing any more.

You sound like you are, in fact, feeling frustrated because you are ready for something more in your life than just not drinking, and spending all of your spare time in A.A. meetings. You sound like you are ready for growth and they don't want to let you go.

So why don't we try to logic our way through this? Try a little rational thinking?

While contemplating quitting A.A., you should think about all of the positives and negatives of quitting or staying. Ask yourself, What do you get out of it? What benefits or enjoyment do you get from A.A. meetings? What will you get from quitting A.A.? And then ask, "What do I want most? What do I value?"

If we want to be organized about this, we can arrange the answers in a cost-benefit analysis. We make a chart where we consider the positives and negatives of both staying and quitting, like this: (These are just some ideas that occur to me. Go ahead and make your own lists.)

 

Positives

Negatives

Stay in A.A.

Social club, keeps you from being lonely.
They assure you that you are doing the right thing.
Familiar routine.
Something to do
It quiets down those fears.
They cheer for you when they give you those coins.
You can tell yourself that you are really spiritual, one of God's Chosen People.
Irrational nonsense
Irritating people
Cult religion
Going mad
Have to listen to untrue information about alcoholism.
Too many thought-stopping slogans.
Wastes your time.
They implant phobias.
They induce feelings of guilt and inadequacy.
You have to keep apologizing for things.
They tell you that you are stupid, brain-damaged, or insane.
Meetings make me want to drink.
You can't tell the truth.
They won't tell you the truth.
Mind games, they play people off against each other.
You have to cope with angry feelings of frustration.
Have to listen to out-and-out lies about how successful the A.A. program is.

Leave A.A.

Freedom
Don't have to give them one evening a week, never mind every evening.
Don't have to listen to people moaning about how stupid they are.
Don't have to listen to people complaining about how unhappy they are.
Don't have to listen to untrue information about alcoholism.
Don't have to listen to strange, heretical religious statements.
Don't have to put up with the ego games and mind games.
You can tell the truth.
May be lonely; must find a new social circle.
They will gloat if you relapse.
Must suffer through implanted phobias and fears
Most of the A.A. members won't like you any more — you will suffer some ostracism.

So you look at all of that, and add it up in your mind, and then ask, "What do I really want?"

The single biggest problem I foresee is loneliness. Do you already have a clean and sober social circle outside of A.A.? If not, get one, make one, build one. Make it your next big work project. Before you cut all ties to A.A. and burn your bridges behind you, go find and develop new social connections and build a new circle of friends, or at least get some new clean and sober aquaintances whom you like.

Since you are going every night, and that is way too much, you could withdraw from your A.A. addiction slowly. Start off with one night a week that will be yours, rather than A.A.'s. Then make it two, and then three... Wean yourself off of the toxins slowly, rather than just going cold turkey. That way you can slowly, comfortably, get used to life outside of The Roomz.

And while you are going through all of your changes, just keep a couple of good slogans in mind:

  1. Just don't take that first drink, no matter what.
  2. Bad as it is, you still don't have to drink over it.

End of sermon. That's it. That's all you need.

Try out some of these activities instead of A.A. meetings:

Things To Do Instead Of Drink Or Go To A.A. Meetings:

  1. Play bingo.
  2. Go to a movie, or a concert.
  3. Go to the library.
  4. Go roller skating.
  5. Go dancing.
  6. Develop a new hobby.
  7. Go to a SMART meeting, or WFS (Women For Sobriety).
  8. Connect up with the LifeRing Internet group and join a sober chat there.
  9. Go down to the Kerry For President headquarters and volunteer to help out. Oops. Wait. You're in Australia, aren't you? Ignore that one.
  10. Tie me kangaroo down, mate.
  11. Go swimming and dodge Great White Sharks.
  12. Work on expanding your social circle. Go to non-drinking places to find new acquaintances.
  13. Take a lover. Have fun, get laid.

Make up your own list. Add about a hundred more items.

If, while you are tapering off of A.A., someone starts giving you the "You're Going To Relapse If You Don't Go To A Meeting" routine, ask him how he knows that.
"When was the last time you relapsed by going to the library instead of to an A.A. meeting?"

Remember that you don't have to apologize to them for deciding to get on with your life. What you decide to do with your life is your business, not theirs.

And above all, have a good day.

== Orange





[Tue, March 9, 2004, Squiggles wrote:]

Hi Agent Orange,

I like the work you've done, and the Nazi photos are a great collection. I thought you might like to know of a great German, Stauffenberg — who probably deserves a place in your collection as he singlehandedly [excuse the gross pun] gathered the high official opponents who would kill Hitler and tried to do so himself. They failed.

The book you might like to read on him is:

"Stauffenberg — A Family History, 1905—1944"
by Peter Hoffmann, McGill University, Cambridge U. Press, 1992,
ISBN 0 521 45307 0

Anyway, judging by your criticism of cults I sincerely hope I am not writing to someone who belongs to ANY cult.

Take care

Squiggles

Hi Squiggles,

Thanks for the note. I'll check out the Stauffenberg book. His story is a fascinating one, but unfortunately, I can't see how I could squeeze it into the history of the Oxford Group or Moral Re-Armament. It's a different story, even though it is a tragic and important one. He almost ended World War Two, and almost saved many millions of lives.

Another favorite story in the same vein is Die Weisse Rose (The White Rose), the story of three college kids who resisted the Nazis and ended up being killed by them. (I read it in German; I don't know for sure if it has been translated into English, but I think it has.)

Alas, my collection of photos isn't nearly as good as I would like it to be. And the crown jewels that I would really love to get my hands on are out of reach. I would love to get photographs of Frank Buchman with Adolf Hitler or Heinrich Himmler, or Goebbels, or any of the other high-ranking Nazis. Undoubtedly, somebody took some publicity photographs of the oily Frank Buchman smoozing with the Nazi leaders in Germany, between 1934 and 1939.

There must be pictures of Himmler, Buchman, and Moni von Kramon together at the Nuremberg Nazi Party rallies in 1934 and 1935, for instance. They must exist somewhere, in some dusty cellar or attic or official archive, if they weren't destroyed in the war.

Do any German readers have old photos aging in the attic?

I don't need the originals; I'd be happy to just get computer image scans that I could put into my web page on the history of the Oxford Group. (But please, no faked, computer-generated, composites. I'm only interested in real history.)

Have a good day.

== Orange

P.S.: I don't belong to any cult. As our wise alcoholic patron saint, W. C. Fields, once declared: "I would never join a club that would have me as a member."





[Sat, March 13, 2004, Eric D. wrote:]
Subject: Recovering addict

I am a recovering heroin addict. I am not recovering with the use of NA/AA but rather medication and my own spiritual journey that is between me and God not the "group" aka cult. Two years ago I tried to get clean off of heroin and the outpatient rehab I got involved in (along with every other rehab) pushed the NA way. We had to attend NA meetings three or four times a week. In fact, they told us the only way we really could get clean was to go to 90 meetings in 90 days! For over a year on and off (and truly against my will), I attended NA/AA meetings. I never had more than 1 month clean in those two years. In fact, my drug use progressed.

Finally I found the thing that truly has saved my life, and brought back to me all the things that I had lost — methadone. I had bought into all the myths and lies that I had heard. But I asked, "why does NIH and NIDA (national institute of drug abuse) state that methadone is the only treatment that they encourage". The relapse rate for opiate use with the NA treatment is somewhere in the range of 80-90%!!

I then learned that most all opioid addicts constantly return to the drug is because they have endorphin deficiency — that only medicine can fix. From day one, my life has changed because of methadone.

I do not mind that I have to take a tiny cup of medicine every day to make my life liveable without heroin. I am not high because of it, I just feel normal. But NA members would say I have no right to speak at a meeting because I am not clean. Of course members of NA drink coffee (caffeine) and smoke cigarettes (nicotine) like they are going out of business. These things are just as mood altering as methadone is to me. Many members also take antidepressants, but this is ok. They do not see the hypocrisy there.

Your website is quite revealing. Feel free to use my letter...

Eric D.

Okay, Eric. Thanks for the letter. And I couldn't agree more about the "no medications" hypocrisy as they kill themselves on cigarettes. And they also occasionally kill somebody else, too, by talking him or her into not taking much-needed doctor-prescribed medications.

Have a good day anyway.

== Orange





[Wed, March 17, 2004, Karen wrote:]

Dear Sir/Madam

I have been to AA meetings on and off for 4 years here in the UK — (some were enforced through a treatment centre). Now, I have been in mental torture for years now seeing I do not seem to get their philosophy — I just don't understand it. I am an alcoholic and it has been suggested to me that I might die if I do not get myself sorted in AA.

Reading your article came a bit of a surprise, although I must admit I had my doubts. What I am curious about is — how do you get all this information? Are you alcoholic yourself i.e.. have you been to AA meetings? Is there a reason for you obvious deep hatred for AA?

I don't mean to sound nosy but I need evidence so that I can sever my ties with AA forever.

Thank you and Best Wishes

Karen

Hi Karen,

Thanks for the letter.

Okay, starting at the top,

  • Where did you get all of this information?

    Everywhere I can. I use the local libraries, city and university, heavily, and also the Internet. And I am in love with inter-library loans. That means that I can often get even rare historical books of which only a few copies remain. My research on the Oxford Group and the early days of A.A. was done that way, and I get medical research articles that way too.

    Also look at the bibliography. It lists the books from which I have gotten something or other. And the footnotes and quotes tell you more about where the information came from.

  • Are you alcoholic yourself i.e.. have you been to AA meetings?

    Oh yes, many. More than I can count. See the introduction.

    But I must comment, watch out for the word "alcoholic". It means different things to different people. A.A. gives the word three different definitions, and unfortunately uses them interchangeably, which really confuses the matter at hand. I don't agree with all of their definitions.

    1. An alcoholic is someone who habitually drinks far too much alcohol.
    2. An alcoholic is someone who is hyper-sensitive to alcohol, almost allergic to alcohol, perhaps a genetic alcoholic; someone who cannot drink even one drink or his drinking will spin out of control and he will become readdicted to alcohol.
    3. An alcoholic is an insane sinner who is full of disgusting character defects and moral shortcomings and resentments and barely-contained anger, and is a prime example of self-will run riot and instincts run wild and selfishness and self-seeking and the Seven Deadly Sins, although he doesn't think so... etc., etc., ...

    1. By definition 1, I stopped being an alcoholic three years ago.
    2. By definition 2, I will always be an alcoholic.
    3. By definition 3, I was never an alcoholic. I was always a nice drunk. People liked having me at their parties because I was so much fun to have around when I got high. (But, as one friend said, "Even nice drunks die of cirrhosis of the liver...")

    The same confusion applies to the definitions of the word "addict" in NA. I am an old hippy who has known some really wonderful drug users, over the years, so I don't agree with the stereotypical put-downs of the standard addict or the standard alcoholic.

  • Is there a reason for your obvious deep hatred for AA?

    Well, I hope it isn't actually "deep hatred", but I obviously do strongly dislike cults that hurt my friends and drive them away from recovery; cults that misinform my friends and make recovery and survival harder.

    And I do consider it a serious crime to foist quack cures, voodoo medicine, and cult religion on very sick people and then charge their health insurance for "treatment".

    And personally, I dislike being lied to. I find it insulting when they foist a bunch of blatant lies on us and think that we will be stupid enough to believe them.

Lastly, you said, "I do not seem to get their philosophy — I just don't understand it."
Welcome to the club.
The reason that it doesn't seem to make any sense to you is because it doesn't make any sense. It is just irrational cult dogma, not any kind of helpful recovery information.

I hope that answers your questions. If you have any others, don't hesitate to ask.

And have a good day.

== Orange





[Fri, March 19, 2004, Marilyn wrote:]
Subject: Gay sponsor is brainwashing 22 year old newcomer to AA - HELP!

Dear Orange

I have a 22 year old male friend of the family (my daughter's boyfriend) who decided to become sober and was doing an excellent job on his own with once a week trips to AA meetings. He was finding other passion in life, cooking, art, crafts and was further developing his relationships with friends and family.

Until, this 39-year old male came up to him at an AA meeting and said "I will be your sponsor". Let's call the sponsor Tim. Tim started monopolizing my friend's time. He started taking him to meetings — and would keep him in his company up to 10 hours per day. Taking my friend on errands, work, wherever.

My friend started isolating himself from us. He now prays about EVERYTHING and expects a message or sign from God. Once he gets his "sign" — (the way he now feels) he acts impulsively on it without any regard to others' feelings.

He moved out of our home — where he has had love and support for two years that brought him to the point of getting sober. He has broke up with my daughter. He told her that he asked God to give him a sign and God told him "it was the right thing to do." It was devastating for my family and my daughter. The treatment was irrational, cold, and supported by his new AA buddies. He told her it was part of his 4th step and even though he didn't want to do it — he had to do it. Mike is tormented, not knowing what to do and how to be happy now. No more cooking, crafts, going to the movies or simple joys of life.

I am very concerned at this "brainwashing" technique of AA. His sponsor (who I suspect is gay) has succeeded in isolating him from his support network. Now, this young man lives in a disfunctional home with his father and two teenage brothers who drink and smoke weed like a chimney.

When I confronted Mike that he "is losing it" and that he should consider the source of his AA sponsor that may have Gay intentions — he became highly irrate and told me that it's people like me who doubt the program that will make him start drinking again.

I do not want to see this young man go insane with messages from God. He is totally sucked into this cult like behavior - any advice???? I still have somewhat of a dialog with him. It is a tough call — to mess with someone's recovery program — but I know that something is fishy with this Tim guy. Mike's personality has radically changed.

Thank you.
MM — Michigan

Hi Marilyn,

The first thing that comes to mind is Steve Hassan's advice about loved ones who have gotten sucked into cults: "Never give up. Never stop trying to get them out." (By the way, Hassan has a new book out, "Releasing the Bonds; Empowering People To Think For Themselves", that he graciously sent me a copy of to check out. I like it. It is loaded with practical advice about breaking loose from cults, and getting loved ones out of cults. It comes from a guy who spent six or seven years in the Moonies cult.)

The way that the sponsor picked Mike up is classic. One of the unwritten rules of survival in A.A. is, when someone approaches you and offers to be your sponsor, RUN, DO NOT WALK, FOR THE DOOR. You just met a vampire. (The newcomer is supposed to seek out the sponsor, to avoid the problem of sponsors who collect slaves.)

And you are describing a lot of the standard cult techniques for recruiting and rapid indoctrination:

But my second reaction is that it takes two to tango. Cult victims are also willing cult joiners. People who get sucked into cults have to voluntarily buy into the load of baloney on some level, to some degree. It's like the old saying about how you can't con an honest man, and the easiest man to con is another con artist. Mike's new mentor is offering him something — holding out some kind of bait — perhaps

  • ego gratification, a feeling of being special, or
  • a feeling of being appreciated or of being "loved",
  • or being "one of God's Chosen People", or
  • promises of a ticket to Heaven, or
  • the guarantee of "spiritual" clean and sober life,
  • or something, that he is buying into.
And he has chosen that temptation, the gratification of that spiritual make-believe world, over you and your daughter.

Mike allegedly received, while doing the Fourth Step, a message from God telling him to dump your daughter. The Fourth Step is not even when you are supposed to be receiving such "Guidance from God"; that's Step Eleven. Step Four is where you make a long list of all of your sins, "moral shortcomings", and "defects of character". So was your daughter one of his "sins" or "moral shortcomings"? Says who?

For Mike to treat your family in such a manner is callous, selfish, and ungrateful. The Twelve Step program is allegedly supposed to make people "Serene and Grateful", not into ungrateful cads. But dumping one's family, including wives and children, in the selfish pursuit of "my sobriety" is unfortunately another standard A.A. practice, a time-honored tradition that Bill Wilson wrote about in the Big Book.

I don't know how "reachable" Mike still is, but if you can get through to him at all, you might educate him a little bit about religion. The A.A. program is pretty heretical, by the usual Christian standards. You might want to read the file on The Heresy of the Twelve Steps, which might give you some things to discuss with him.

Mike's behavior sounds just like that of some of the converts to Frank Buchman's Oxford Group cult, from which A.A. was derived. And check out this criticism of "receiving Guidance" — of the Buchmanite idea that you can receive messages and signs from God all day long.

The whole idea of seeking signs was criticized by Jesus Christ in the Bible. When the Pharisees demanded that Jesus show them a miracle, Jesus called them evil and told them to flake off.

But it is questionable whether Mike will hear any of that, or whether he will immediately reject it.

Again, Hassan's book comes to mind. He tells about how to side-step thought stopping (page 184). When Mike immediately rejects criticism of his sponsor, or criticism of "seeking signs", by saying that it will make him relapse, that's "thought-stopping" behavior. Hassan says that the best way to side-step such behavior is to avoid triggering such behavior to start with, which means that you kind of have to talk around the point, and approach it obliquely, slowly.

Hassan says that one way to criticize a cult without arousing immediate antagonism is to criticize a different cult that exhibits exactly the same behavior. Cult members are often more than willing to call other groups cults. (It's typical cultish hypocrisy: "Those groups are of course obnoxious cults. Glad we aren't like them.") Obviously, talking about the failings of the Oxford Group cult and its theology (without mentioning that it was the precursor of A.A.) is a workable technique for discussing the failings of "Guidance", and how much everybody was misled by Frank Buchman's "Guidance". ("I thank Heaven for a man like Adolf Hitler... D'you know Heinrich Himmler? No? Say, you ought to know Heinrich. He's a great lad.")

And maybe, you could slip in a few jokes. Some people can't handle them; some can. The joke about the A.A. member getting told the winning lottery numbers by God seems particularly relevant to Mike's behavior. The TV repairman joke might be a good one to slip him too.

Somewhere in his mind, Mike has to know that he is indulging in spiritual make-believe. He must know that his beliefs are indefensible. That's why he immediately resents and rejects criticism of his behavior, his sponsor, or A.A.. His whole belief structure will fall apart if it is subjected to the slightest critical analysis. (But that's a good thing for you. It makes your job easier, if you can get a word in edgewise.)

And perhaps Mike is also afraid to hear any conflicting information because of fears and phobias. Cults routinely implant phobias in their members and tell them that all kinds of horrible things will happen to them if they leave the cult or "lose faith". In A.A., the rap is that you will relapse and die drunk if you don't toe the line and do everything just right.

As far as you messing with Mike's recovery program is concerned, I wouldn't worry about it too much. He doesn't have a recovery program. Going nutso on cult religion is not a recovery program. Treating people in such a cold, exploitative manner is not "recovery". You can see from his behavior that he has already relapsed; his quality of life has gone to hell. It's just that, instead of getting drunk on ethanol, he is now getting drunk on cult religion, superstition, and make-believe.

I suspect that Mike has a lot of really big, problematic, underlying issues. Whatever mental problems he had in the beginning that led him to get into trouble with drugs and/or alcohol are still there. And the sponsor is exploiting those weaknesses.

You probably cannot repair Mike. I get the feeling that Mike is unable to develop really deep, feeling, relationships with anyone. I don't see a hint of compassion or consideration of the feelings of other people in your description of his behavior. Apparently, he considers your daughter to be expendable in his search for his own happiness.

And Mike is just pulling a standard old A.A. manipulative stunt of threatening to relapse if somebody says something that he doesn't want to hear. That's the same stunt as Bill Wilson pulled on his wife 69 years ago. It is taught in the Big Book:
      Let him devote himself to his "spiritual activities" [A.A. busywork], so that "dad will be on a firmer foundation than the man who is placing business or professional success ahead of spiritual development."
      Let him act crazy, even if his behavior is "alarming and disagreeable" (or else really bad things will happen, Bill says). Don't bother him with mere reality, or ask him to be sane and responsible. Don't tell him to go get a job. Let him neglect his family and irresponsibly devote his entire life to Alcoholics Anonymous.
      "He will be less likely to drink again, and anything is preferable to that."

The Big Book, 3rd edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 9, The Family Afterwards, pages 129-130.

I hate to see people acting like the stereotypical A.A. alcoholic — selfish, unspiritual, manipulative, inconsiderate and uncaring. It gives all of us alcoholics a bad name. It makes some people wonder whether we are worth rehabilitating.

Well, gee, I'm really down on Mike's behavior, aren't I? I hope that I'm not being unfair. I don't want to get into blaming the victim (which I seem to be doing). It's just that I can't help but feel that, while the sponsor is undoubtedly encouraging Mike to act like that, he isn't forcing Mike to do it. Mike is a grown-up boy. Mike is making his own choices, and he must have some idea of what he is doing.

I hope this doesn't sound too cold, but being dumped by Mike may be the best thing that could possibly have happened to your daughter. Imagine if she had married him and had a couple of kids, and then he dumped her like that. Better now than later. Now she has a chance to get a good man who is more likely to stay with her and the children.

And while maybe Mike might eventually come to his senses and want to get back together with her, I would be very wary of that. I wouldn't encourage it, or even stand for it. He has already clearly told you, by his actions, how he really feels about you and your daughter. If she gets back together with him, won't he be just as quick to dump her again the next time it is convenient in his pursuit of his own happiness? I think your daughter will be a whole lot better off, and a lot happier, with somebody else.

Oh, and I don't know if the sponsor is a homosexual predator. Besides the obvious AIDS threat, I think it might be almost as bad if he isn't. The alternative is that he's a cultish energy-sucking vampire, some kind of a religious fanatic who gets his kicks by stealing people's minds and lives. It would be easier for Mike to see through the game of a homosexual predator. At least he would know when he was getting screwed.

Still, is there anything that you can do to help Mike? I find myself referring back to Steve Hassan's book again. There is a lot of good, practical advice in there, more than I can type here. Check it out. And, in fairness to Mike, one of Hassan's instructions is, "Don't blame the victim." (Pages 120 to 122.)

Regardless of everything else, and no matter what else you do, I would adopt a hard-nosed attitude of keeping your daughter's welfare firmly in mind as the first and most important consideration, and Mike's welfare is strictly secondary. If he is going to make some stupid choices and mess up his own life, you may not be able to do much to stop it. But your daughter doesn't have to be pulled down with him or hurt again.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange





[Mon, March 22, 2004 John M. wrote:]

Thank you for the web site. I am an AA member who has for many years had problems with the white anglo saxon arrogance of the AA message (I am a white anglo saxon of the non US type). This false belief that the ego must be crushed in order to get well has driven many people out of AA. Interestly enough, many "old timers" appear to suffer from a largely inflated ego and demonstrate that they have the right to bully newcomers into doing it the AA way.

John M.

Hi, John. Thanks for the input. I have to agree.

And have a good day.

== Orange





[Wed, March 24, 2004, Mark L. wrote:]
Subject: Bait and Switch of AA

You are among the biggest, useless and disgusting assholes I have ever had the displeasure of stumbling across on the internet. Whatever your delusional analysis says, there remains a significant population of alcoholics world wide who have stopped drinking, stayed stopped, put back together careers, financial credit and personal relationships. Do they exist in your world? You are obviously an intelligent man to compile such a paper. However, you are even more obviously selfish and irresponsible for not presenting a viable alternative to the drunk whose life is deteriorating but can't stop drinking no matter what he or she tries.

Hello Mark. You are correct when you talk about the large number of alcoholics who have quit drinking. And the Harvard Medical School says that 80% of them do it alone, without any A.A. or any other support group. (Like me.) A.A. merely manages to fool a few people into believing that they quit because of A.A., in spite of the large numbers who actually quit drinking before they ever go to A.A. (also like me).

Nan Robertson was a promoter of Alcoholics Anonymous who wrote a book called "Getting Better Inside Alcoholics Anonymous", where she reported that most of the newcomers to A.A. had already quit drinking. Check it out. How can the alcoholics whom A.A. allegedly saves be so powerless — "can't stop drinking no matter what he or she tries" — when they have already quit drinking before they come to A.A.?

Thanks for the large compliment, "You are obviously an intelligent man to compile such a paper." I notice that you did not object to my facts, and you did not say that I had my facts wrong. You know that I research very carefully. You simply objected to my telling the truth about A.A. and alcoholism.

You said that I don't present a viable alternative to A.A.. I already have. DO IT YOURSELF is the single most successful program in the world. Recovery without cult religion is the time-tested, proven, way that works for the vast majority of successful quitters. And then, as I have said again and again, there are also organizations like SMART, WFS (Women For Sobriety), SOS (Secular Organizations for Sobriety), and the LifeRing Internet group if you want a group or some company or advice.

Furthermore, you are assuming a lot when you say that alcoholics "can't stop drinking no matter what he or she tries." (And then you imply that somehow A.A. makes quitting possible, a presumption for which there is absolutely no supporting evidence.) The majority of alcoholics do eventually quit drinking.

I would suggest that these who don't quit simply do not want to quit. Oh, they may say that they wish to quit, but they don't. Not really. They just wish that they weren't sick. They just want to find a way to avoid the negative side effects of drinking. They want the joy of drinking without the hangovers, the destroyed health, the job loss, the broken marriages, the legal troubles, and the rest of it. So they say that they want to quit, but as soon as the desire to get high again hits, as soon as the cravings kick in, they start thinking about how it will be okay to just nibble, to just have a little bit, and they rationalize their way into taking another drink.
That is not being powerless over alcohol or being unable to quit.
That is just a matter of being unclear about what one really wants.
That is just a matter of wanting a drink more than they want sobriety.

And, just like the A.A. slogan says, many of them will eventually quit drinking when they get Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired. And some won't. Some will stubbornly choose to drink themselves to death. That is sad, but nobody, including A.A., can make them live. A.A. has a terrible track record when it comes to making them live.

Likewise, many people choose to eat themselves to death, or to smoke themselves to death. Powerlessness has nothing to do with it.

So, what is your alternative to AA? I suppose in your world, the weak-minded, feeble-willed drunkards of society should just be left to die.

Wrong. I'm for giving them all of the help that we can. I just don't approve of shoving voodoo medicine and cult religion on sick people, and telling them that they are getting good "treatment for alcoholism".

So how much hatred do you harbor against AA to put such a thesis together? The detail and research you put into your paper surely reflects that you put a great deal of time and effort into it. You must have an unbelievable amount of hatred in your depraved black heart to devote so much time and effort into doing nothing more than ranting like a child.

Well, I must confess that I really do dislike cults that hurt my friends and drive them away from recovery. I have seen it many times.

My dog demonstrates more care and responsibility than you do. Do you think you are doing mankind a favor by publishing this propaganda garbage? Hardly.

Ah, there it is again — that old line about, "It is irresponsible to release such information about alcoholism and recovery."

You actually have a lot of contempt for alcoholics — those "weak-minded, feeble-willed drunkards of society" , as you put it. You think that those stupid, feeble-minded alcoholics cannot handle the truth, and that telling them the truth will kill them, so we shouldn't tell the truth about A.A. or alcoholism.

I strongly disagree. Alcoholics need more true information, not less. The alcoholics that I know can handle the truth just fine, thank you anyway for caring so much about our welfare.

If you really want to help mankind, simply kill yourself. I pray that no one who is suffering so physically and mentally from alchohol addiction comes across your work. May you die in wretched misery.

Ah yes, Twelve-Step Spirituality, Serenity, and Gratitude. You've gotta love it.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange





[Tue, April 6, 2004, Dave A. wrote:]

Hello,

"Sponsors in Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and Dual Recovery have a bad habit of telling new sponsees to stop taking their pills — to stop taking the medications that a real doctor has prescribed and just trust the Twelve Steps to heal them."
(excerpt from your web site)

I don't see much point in debating your subject matter as you obviously feel very strongly and you are certainly entitled to your opinions. The Internet is a wonderful tool that give us a broad forum and opportunity to use our free speech rights.

Actually, I have facts, not just opinions.

I would like to point out to you that in Dual Recovery Anonymous, taking prescribed medications is considered as being part of a healthy and constructive plan of recovery. No, not recovery from a psychiatric illness, but learning to manage symptoms in a healthy and constructive way. This program isn't for everybody. It doesn't claim to be. It does help a lot of people who often do feel pressured, as you suggest, at the traditional 12 Step meetings or by sponsors who don't understand mental illness. Of course, giving up needed prescribed medications without a doctor's advice can be a tragic mistake.

Thanks for listening,

Dave A.

Hi Dave,

The very first friend of mine who went to Dual Recovery Anonymous was immediately told by his new sponsor and other old-timers in the group to stop taking his Paxil, to learn to live without medications, so, in my experience, DRA is batting 1000.

Perhaps you would like to telephone the Vancouver, Washington, Dual Recovery Anonymous group and tell them to cut the crap and quit endangering vulnerable people's lives? Thank you.

But you know that you can't really do much about it, can you? That is one of the big problems with how all of the 12-step organizations are organized — there is no way to discipline or reign in a misbehaving group. The religious fanatics in Vancouver can be killing people with their no-medications nonsense, and neither you nor the DRA headquarters can make them stop it.

This is really old hat. Several years ago, the GSO of A.A. sent out a letter that asked all of the sponsors to please quit telling their sponsees not to take their medications. The sponsors ignored the headquarters and kept right on doing it.

This is really very, very old hat. The A.A. old-timer who first told me about the no-medications problem was fighting it 20 or 30 years ago, and nothing has changed since then.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

Oh, and do check out The Hazelden Coffee War, where the dogmatic fools decided that even coffee was too strong of a drug to allow to patients in recovery.

Also see the write-up in the web page on Snake Oil.

== Orange

P.S.: Just recently, I ran into an article by Carolyn See, the step-daughter of Wynn C., who was one of Bill Wilson's lovers and the author of the Big Book story "Freedom From Bondage". Carolyn reported that the early A.A. members bickered about whether taking an aspirin for a headache constituted a slip.

They were nuts.

UPDATE: 2012.12.21: There have been so many "no meds" stories that the list has been moved to its own file: orange-no_meds.html





[Wed, April 7, 2004, Jason H. wrote:]

I just came across your web site and I'm already reading it with some pessimism. The reason why is two fold. Number one, I am an addict in recovery. The 12-steps and those principles have worked for me. Whatever the reason why this life changing event occurred, I credit it all to the work these two men did. I do this compelled by myself and myself only.

The second reason for my pessimism is I don't see a whole lot of references made to other sources. If this is the case, most of this is slandourous and mostly opinionated.

References to other sources? Are you actually reading what I have written? Many pages have large numbers of footnotes, and a bibliography at the bottom. For the entire bibliography, look here.

My biggest question is, are you in recovery? Did you have a bad experience with A.A. or N.A. While I will agree that these programs have mutated since they were first started, where is the animosity coming from?

Just curious as I begin to read your "online book"

Jason

Hi Jason,

Yes, I am "in recovery", or "recovered", depending on which terminology you like. I now have more than three years off of alcohol, cigarettes, and all other drugs.

Yes, I had an experience with the 12-step organization. Read the introduction, and also this bait-and-switch trick, and also this.

About the program "mutating", that isn't the problem. It didn't work in the beginning, and it still doesn't work. Bill Wilson was lying in the beginning, and it's still a Big Lie.

As far as the animosity goes, I don't like cults that deceive and hurt my friends.

Lastly, the fact that you enjoy 12-step meetings does not necessarily mean that the Oxford Group cult religion practices (practices, not principles) of Bill and Bob actually "work" to accomplish anything useful. When Prof. Dr. George E. Vaillant, Class A Trustee of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., tested A.A., he found that it didn't work at all.

I'm glad to hear that you are doing well. Congratulations on your recovery. You did the work, and you are giving the credit for your accomplishments to somebody else. Nobody holds your hand every Saturday night but you.

Have a good day.

== Orange


[ Thursday, April 8, 2004, 2nd letter from Jason:]
Subject A critical Look At A.A. / N.A.

I have used the past few days reading your article and have made several notes regarding your web site. There is a lot of information and I disagree with a lot of it (however, not all of it). I sent you an e-mail a few days ago, and perhaps you haven't received it, or perhaps you just didn't bother to read or respond. In either case, once I have completely read your piece I will send you my entire opinion and you can choose to ignore it, post it, do whatever you want with it.

However, I have to take issue right now with a statement you made on the web site. This seems to be a typical criticism with A.A./N.A. in which you read the text as someone who does not have a problem with drugs or alcohol. The passage comes from the page http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-effectiveness.html and it goes like this:

And note that the Harvard Medical School says that the support of a good spouse is more important than that of a 12-step group. But A.A. says just the opposite: "Dump your spouse and marry the A.A. group, because A.A. is The Only Way."

"I decided I must place this program above everything else, even my family, because if I did not maintain my sobriety I would lose my family anyway."
The Big Book, 3rd Edition — Chapter B10, He Sold Himself Short, page 293.

And a rehash of the Big Book that is targeted at youths tells this story of an allegedly-successful recovery:

Even after she remarries, she doesn't lose sight of her priorities. She places God first and A.A. second. Her husband is never more than the third most important aspect of her life.
Big Book Unplugged; A Young Person's Guide to Alcoholics Anonymous, John R., page 107.

The book does not advocate the dissolution of the family. What this passage does is takes the biblical approach to relationships that says the order of importance of one persons life is God, Self, and all others. Actually, I believe it is God, self, spouse, children, family, and then all others, but this is another discussion. This program is meant to better the life of the individual. If my wife left me, or if my son died, God forbid, I would relapse if my priorities were not in the right order. I must put myself above all other things on this earth in order to live a successful life. The easy thing for me to do is to put my wife and my son above all else. However my spiritual teachings tell me otherwise. This does not mean I am selfish. Quite the opposite. I love my wife the way God loves the church. I live and stay sober due to the fact I love my family and do not want to injure them anymore than I already have.

You are correct in saying that A.A. does not openly advocate divorce and breaking up marriages. Bill Wilson did it obliquely, by talking out of both sides of his mouth. Read the Big Book.

It's all in the Big Book.

Then, in the Big Book, Bill Wilson even dispensed advice on how us good old boys can cheat on our wives and get away with it. Read this. How is that going to keep marriages together?

And more to the point, we have to look at the actual effect of such teachings. What's really going on in A.A.? Read these three letters — one of the first that I received on the subject, and then these two — here and here — that I received just recently. They describe how A.A. really affects marriages, all too often.

And then there is just the A.A. culture. You often hear remarks like, "I had to let my family go for the sake of my sobriety." Check out a videotape of The Days of Wine and Roses for more of that attitude.

To claim that "God" (who might be a Group Of Drunks, Baal Bedpan, or Doorknob Almighty) comes first in one's life is just a veiled way of saying that the cult comes first, because A.A. redefines the newcomers' ideas of God even while A.A. is saying that it doesn't do that. It's another bait-and-switch trick — First you can believe in any "Higher Power" you wish, but then you have to believe in a wish-granting, order-dictating tyrant in order for the 12 Steps to work.
See this and this and this and this.

Not only does A.A. get to redefine God, but the sponsor and other A.A. old-timers get to declare what God says. Ostensibly, newcomers are supposed to hear the voice of God in Step Eleven, but then Bill says that the beginners get it all wrong, so they must "check Guidance" with the elders, who will tell them what God really says.

If all our lives we had more or less fooled ourselves, how could we now be so sure that we weren't still self-deceived?   ...  
      ... what comes to us alone may be garbled by our own rationalization and wishful thinking. The benefit of talking to another person is that we can get his direct comment and counsel on our situation, and there can be no doubt in our minds what that advice is. Going it alone in spiritual matters is dangerous. How many times have we heard well-intentioned people claim the guidance of God when it was all too plain that they were sorely mistaken? Lacking both practice and humility, they had deluded themselves and were able to justify the most arrant nonsense on the ground that this was what God had told them.   ...   Surely then, a novice ought not lay himself open to the chance of making foolish, perhaps tragic, blunders in this fashion. While the comment or advice of others may be by no means infallible, it is likely to be far more specific than any direct guidance we may receive while we are still so inexperienced in establishing contact with a Power greater than ourselves.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, pages 59-60.

In the end, the sponsors, not God, end up running the newcomers' lives and giving them their orders, and telling them what to think and what to do...

And you are overlooking the arrogance in that BB Unplugged quote, where A.A. is more important than the husband. He only comes in third in importance. In reality, by following that BB Unplugged advice, A.A. gets both first place and second place in the newcomer's life — once as "God", and once as the A.A. program.
So that becomes another way in which A.A. and N.A. break up marriages. Many people dislike being told by their spouses that they are less important than a cult religion.

Since it seems you are someone looking from the outside in, you have no idea the struggle we go through. I myself struggled for over seven years to quit. I could not do it alone. There is a defect in myself; these steps have helped me to be a better person. My wife's support has also helped. After turning my will and my life over to the care of God I have not used, not once. There are several things that have helped that I won't go into now.

No, I am most assuredly not someone on the outside looking in. (That's another standard A.A. ad hominem attack"You don't know what you are talking about.")

You haven't even read the introduction, have you? I've been through the mill too, and around the block. I've also struggled to quit drinking and smoking for far too many years. Just my last relapse lasted 9 years. I finally quit when my doctor told me that I would die if I didn't. He even said that I was a late-stage alcoholic, and that the death rate for them was the same as for cancer — fifty percent.

I still managed to quit drinking and smoking anyway, without a cult religion, because I was sick and tired of being sick and tired, and I didn't want to die that way. I decided to be part of the fifty percent who didn't die from it.

A.A. does not have a monopoly on knowledge about alcoholism. That is just A.A.'s cultish behavior again — " We are Special. We are the only ones who have the real knowledge and the deepest innermost understanding."

Remember that the vast majority — 80% — of the alcoholics who successfully quit drinking do it alone, without A.A. or any other treatment program, so it appears that it is the other people who are really in the know.

I am still going to read your web site. Once finished I will send you my entire critique. I am continuing to read it as honestly and independently as I can. This has been difficult though. I look forward to a spirited debate in the near future.

Jason

Okay, I'll be looking forward to it.

Have a good day.

== Orange


[Tue, April 13, 2004, 3rd letter from Jason:]

We will simply have to agree to disagree for now.

I've heard that before too, and what it usually means is, "I'm not going to change my mind no matter how many facts you provide."

As I said, I have just begun to read your web site and there is a lot of information to take in. You have obviously done a considerable amount of research and I noticed you even quoted Dick B. I am reading one of his books now "The Akron Genesis of AA."

I like The Akron Genesis of AA for its wealth of historical facts, but disagree with Dick's religious interpretation of history. He wants to believe that God created The Oxford Groups and Alcoholics Anonymous. No way did God create the Oxford Groups. The Hitler-praising Frank Buchman did it, or maybe you could say that the Devil did it, but certainly not God. And then Bill Wilson just copied the Oxford Groups cult to get Alcoholics Anonymous.

The reason I know AA/NA works is b/c I tried in vain several times to stop using. I failed ever time.

Sorry, but that's bad logic --
"When I was a child, I was never able to ride a bicycle. I just couldn't do it. I fell down every time I tried. Then one day, Jimmy loaned me his lucky rabbit's foot, and IT WORKED! I didn't fall down. That proves it: I KNOW that the rabbit's foot made me stay up on the bicycle. There is no doubt about it, because I succeeded only after I got the rabbit's foot."

That is the common logical fallacy of Confusing Coincidence or Correlation with Causation.
And it is also a logical fallacy called Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc. Meaning: "It happened after 'something', so it must have been caused by that 'something'."

  • The rooster's crowing does not really make the sun rise.
  • Going to church and getting married does not really make young women get pregnant and have bablies, even though there seems to be a strong correlation between those two events. The real cause of the girls' pregnancies is something other than the preachers incanting words and prayers.

It wasn't until I discovered the 12-steps where I finally rediscovered God and was able to successfully stop using.

It wasn't until you learned to quit that you quit. You didn't quit until you got so sick and tired of failing that you realized that you had to really totally quit and stop messing around with "sort of quitting, and sort of nibbling a little when the cravings hit."

It was a learning process. The 12 steps are just Frank Buchman's routines for indoctrinating new cult members. They don't make people quit drinking, and they don't make people spiritual.

  • Why didn't you go to A.A. earlier? Why didn't you do the 12 steps earlier?
  • Because you were not yet really 100% ready to quit drinking.
  • When you were finally really ready to quit, when you finally really decided for sure to quit, when you were "willing to go to any length" to quit, you went to A.A. for help, and the nuts there told you to do the 12 steps.
  • It was your decision to quit drinking that worked the magic, not the 12 steps.

And if you had gone to some other group that told you that you had to dress up in a ballerina's tutu and dance around for an hour whenever cravings hit, you would probably have done that because you were "willing to go to any length to get what they had", and now you would be totally convinced that the Tutu Technique really does work, and is a great program for achieving sobriety. Not only that, it is good exercise and clarifies the mind, too. And in the end, it will make you more spiritual.

That may sound absurd, and it is absurd, but it is no more illogical than believing that listing and confessing all of your sins will make you quit drinking.

However, more than that, I became a better person. Before, I simply was a user. I didn't steal to feed my habit; I didn't rape or commit harmful acts against others. However, I also wasn't a respected member of my community. I wasn't doing my fellow man any service either. These principals have helped me to do just that. I am now an active positive force in my community. I volunteer; I help those who are unable to help themselves.

I won't argue with that, other than to say that you improved yourself because you chose to, not because of Bill Wilson's adaptation of Frank Buchman's cult religion practices — Practices, not Principles. There are no spiritual principles in the 12 steps.

"Love thy neighbor as thy God as thy self" is a spiritual principle.
"We turned our wills and our lives over to the care of God" is a heretical cult practice.
(It is also the standard cult practice of Surrender to the Cult.)
(It is also infantile narcissism, where an adult regresses to acting like a helpless baby and demands that a Big Parent take care of him and grant all of his wishes.)

"Do unto others as you would have them to unto you" is a spiritual principle.
"We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol" is a heretical cult practice.

"Honesty is the best policy " is a spiritual principle.
"Fake It Until You Make It" is a cult practice.

I don't push my religion or my sobriety on other people. It sounds to me like you had a bad experiences with AA, and that is unfortunate. However, b/c it didn't work for you congratulations. I think I would consider you not to be an addict or an alcoholic.

And there is that standard A.A. cop-out again — "You aren't a real alcoholic, because you quit without our cult. No real alcoholic can quit without our magic."

That is also just another way of saying that "A.A. is THE ONLY WAY", which is typical of cults. They usually claim that they have "THE ONLY WAY"

Read this letter, where another true believer declared that I wasn't really an alcoholic.

It sounds as if you were able to quit on your own strength.

Yes, as do the vast majority of recovered alcoholics and addicts.

My concern, however, are for those, like me, who can't. Your "online book" does a great disservice to those looking for an answer.

Ah yes, there it is once again. Sooner or later, the true believers almost invariably parrot that line. It's like a standard A.A. slogan:
"Telling the truth about A.A. and alcoholism is doing a great disservice to those who are seeking sobriety."
NOT!

Actually, giving people misinformation about alcoholism kills far more alcoholics. That is what A.A.W.S Trustee Professor George E. Vaillant found when he put A.A. treatment through an 8-year-long test. Nothing killed the alcoholics faster than A.A., so it is A.A. that is doing a great disservice to those who are seeking sobriety.

People just want good, practical, helpful information about how to quit and stay quit, and what they get from A.A. is cult religion and Bill Wilson's lies. It drives some people to drink.

I found that answer, and you have yours.

You really don't know what you have found. You are confusing causation with coincidence again.

You are also trying the debating trick called Escape Via Relativism — trying to imply that it's just your opinion versus my opinion, and one opinion is just as good as another, or one answer is just as good as another...
That isn't true at all.
An opinion that is based on wishful thinking and prejudice is not equal to an opinion that is based on study of the facts.

Furthermore, you are stubbornly refusing to see the facts, which makes your "answer" worthless.
You know full well what the real A.A. failure rate is.
You have eyes that work. You can see.
You know what the A.A. dropout rate is.
You see what is happening, and then you go into denial about it, just like an alcoholic who says that he doesn't need to quit drinking.

You clearly see how few of the newcomers become successful old-timers, and yet you still try to claim that A.A. has a working answer.

Denial isn't just a river in Egypt.

Now the fact that you have found personal happiness is just fine. Congratulations on your sobriety. I'm happy for you. But that does not prove that A.A. has a workable answer for anybody else. A.A.'s huge failure rate proves that it doesn't.

However, what about the millions of addicts who are looking for the answer to stop using, but can't on their own. What if these principals would work for them, however, after reading the material you present, they give up before ever trying. Should their one and only chance at living on this earth be wasted to a life of addiction and misery?

That is just so much baloney. A.A. kills more alcoholics than it saves, so warning people about A.A. is not denying them a chance to recover.

Again, there are no "spiritual principles" in the cult practices that are embodied in the 12 steps.

And the 12 Steps don't work. Even A.A. leader George Vaillant proved that.

Furthermore, I do offer people hope and an answer — sane, happy, healthy freedom. Recovery from alcoholism and addictions without life-long dependency on a guilt-inducing cult religion. We have talked about this here before, several times. Read this and these recovery aids.

Again, I do not go recruiting. I would never recruit. Those who want what I have are more than welcome to come and check out what I have attained.

You may not, but your friends and associates do, sometimes in very ugly coercive ways, like using judges and parole officers to force people into A.A., with the threat of jail or prison. Look at what the judges in Westboro, Massachusetts, have done just this year. And counselors and "therapists", many of whom are A.A. members, routinely tell people that they will die if they don't go to A.A. meetings.

This is what got me to where I am today.

Again, you are assuming a cause and effect relationship where there is no evidence for any such thing. You might as well be saying, "I ate mashed potatos and gravy, and then quit drinking, so obviously mashed potatos and gravy are a good program for making people quit drinking."

Was Bob and Bill saints, I don't think so. Did they happen to stumble upon something great, I think so.

They didn't stumble into anything great — they were recruited into Frank Buchman's strange fascist cult religion, the Oxford Groups, remember?. Then Bill decided that he could make a lot of money by treating alcoholics with cheap cult religion:

Dr. Bob very much liked the idea of a book. But when it came to paid missionaries and profit-making hospitals he was frankly dubious. Promoter that I was, I shared few of his fears. I felt that we would have to have money and maybe a lot of it.
Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age, William G. Wilson, page 145.

Has it become something else entirely different, absolutely.

No, it is just what it was in the beginning — a hoax. The idea that A.A. was a great success in the beginning is just another one of Bill Wilson's Big Lies.

Courts are forcing addicts and alcoholics who do not want to change their life to a group who's mission it is to change lives.

Now the coercion part of that statement is unfortunately all too true, but the courts get told to do it by the true believer A.A. members. The Little Red Book of Hazelden (yes, a clone of the Communist Little Red Book of Chairman Mao) specifically teaches recruiters to indoctrinate judges, police, doctors, and other officials as part of the 12th-step proselytizing work. It says that faithful A.A. members can "carry the message" by:

11. By telling the A.A. story to clergy members, doctors, judges, educators, employers, or police officials if we know them well enough to further the A.A. cause, or to help out a fellow member.
The Little Red Book, Hazelden, page 128.

Bill Wilson himself started that practice. In a 1939 letter from Bill to Earl T., a founding member of the Chicago A.A. group, Bill wrote:

By educating doctors, hospitals, ministers along this line, you will surely pick up some strong prospects after a bit.
PASS IT ON, The story of Bill Wilson and how the A.A. message reached the world, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., pages 225-226.

The "Group" has also become institutionalized, and has compromised its integrity.

Again, it wasn't great in the beginning, so it hasn't really gone downhill. It didn't have any integrity in the beginning, because Bill Wilson did not have any integrity.

But I agree that the institutionalization of A.A. has made things even worse, because now places like Hazelden and the Betty Ford Clinic charge people $15,000 for 28-day-long A.A. meetings. And that kind of money makes a whole host of propagandists eager to lie and praise 12-step treatment in order to get more paying customers.

There is now a national organization with approved literature. This is dangerous in my opinion.

Really. Very dangerous. Read about the A.A. headquarters committing perjury in two countries and getting A.A. members sentenced to prison in a squabble over the issue of who can print and give away (or sell very inexpensively) translations of the old, out-of-copyright "approved literature". The situation is already way beyond dangerous; the disaster has happened. The national organization has become corrupted to the point of committing felony perjury against other A.A. members who were "carrying the message".

However, I do not worry myself with either of these issues.

No, it should be my job to worry, because I'm the one who can see more clearly what is really going on.

I stay sober. I rely on the power of God to get me through the day. And after two years, it has become second nature. I have a loving and lasting relationship with my creator.

Good. Congratulations on your recovery. It does get easier, as the years pass.

I'm still working on reading your entire piece. It will probably take me a while, and I am making an honest effort to read it without bias and making no judgments. I will give you my complete opinion once I'm finished.

Thank you for the response and for your opinion.

Yes, have a good day.

== Orange


[Thu, May 6, 2004, 4th letter from Jason H.:]

Orange,

The proof for me is in our writing styles. I never disparaged you or the things you believed in. I simply gave you my take on things and left it at that. However, you tore apart, criticized, and judged every statement I made. The proof I need is in that contrast. I have my beliefs, and they are strong, and you have yours and I'm sure they are strong as well. It is ok for us to disagree, as long as it is done respectfully. I feel I have done that.

I will continue to go once a week to my meeting. I will continue to enjoy the fellowship we have. We will also continue to accept and help those who want to be helped. We will pass on what we did to get sober and let them make up their own mind. No recruiting, no coercion, no stipulations. I don't understand how you can see a problem with that.

I wish you well in your future endeavors.

Jason H.

Hi Jason,

I did not disparage you or launch personal attacks on you. Read my letters again, carefully. In fact, I congratulated you on your years of sobriety, and agreed with you when you said that you had improved yourself: "I am now an active positive force in my community. I volunteer; I help..."

I most assuredly did criticize your (really, A.A.'s) beliefs, but that is a very different thing. Beliefs are not sacred. Beliefs are fair game. Beliefs are, after all, just someone's cherished ideas or mental impressions or opinions, no matter how true or untrue they may be.

If you sincerely, strongly, believed that the world was flat and that U.S. astronauts never went to the moon, like one cult religion does, and you were teaching those beliefs to schoolchildren, then I would also most assuredly attack those beliefs. Why? Because teaching those beliefs to children would be doing harm to them, misinforming them about the truth of this world. (I see from your email address that you work for a school system, so the example is relevant.)

Similarly, Alcoholics Anonymous has a bunch of beliefs that are not only untrue, but which are positively harmful to people who are trying to recover from alcoholism, like teaching people that they are powerless over alcohol, and that they should abandon "Reason" and "just have faith", and that alcoholism is caused by "defects of character" and "moral shortcomings".

A.A. routinely teaches a lot of very wrong ideas about alcoholism to the newcomers who are sick, cloudy-headed, and vulnerable to indoctrination. And A.A. will not quit doing it. A.A. will not ever correct its dogma and doctrines. They won't change one word of Bill Wilson's insane ravings in the sacred "first 164 pages". But Bill Wilson really was insane and his "spiritual cure" for alcoholism is lunacy. And that is why I have to criticize those beliefs.

Lastly, you say, "I will continue to go once a week to my meeting.   ...   We will pass on what we did to get sober and let them make up their own mind. No recruiting, no coercion, no stipulations. I don't understand how you can see a problem with that."

Alas, you are still dodging the issue of coercive recruiting. You may not personally do it, but A.A. does. It is still happening every day. Every day, all across this country, thousands of people are sentenced to A.A. meetings, where they will then be indoctrinated with the standard A.A. dogma — what you call "We will pass on what we did to get sober..."

But that really means that you will repeat the indoctrination that was done to you. They convinced you that the Twelve Steps made you get sober, so you will now teach them to others, happily unaware of the fact that the Twelve Steps are tools for converting newcomers into true believers in a cult religion.

That's the problem I have with it.

Oh well, have a good day anyway. And I also wish you well, sincerely.

== Orange


[Tue, May 11, 2004, 5th letter from Jason H.:]

Orange,

You said in your last e-mail to me

Alas, you are still dodging the issue of coercive recruiting. You may not personally do it, but A.A. does. It is still happening every day. Every day, all across this country, thousands of people are sentenced to A.A. meetings, where they will then be indoctrinated with the standard A.A. dogma — what you call "We will pass on what we did to get sober..."

But that really means that you will repeat the indoctrination that was done to you. They convinced you that the Twelve Steps made you get sober, so you will now teach them to others, happily unaware of the fact that the Twelve Steps are tools for converting newcomers into true believers in a cult religion.

That's the problem I have with it.

That is the overwhelming issue I have with your "book" and your statements. Each AA / NA group is autonomous. No one can tell me how to run my meeting and I can't tell them how to run theirs. I would have less of a problem is you mentioned specific groups that were doing this. Specific people who were causing this harm, b/c I do think that people in AA and NA can do wrong. But you instead lump us all together and judge each one of us, tell us we are wrong for thinking this way, and then shove facts in a very specific order.

Excuse me, but every A.A. meeting that I've ever been to began the meeting by reading the Twelve Steps and the Twelve Traditions out loud. It doesn't matter who runs the meeting or how autonomous they are. Most everybody reads large quotes out of pages 58 and 59 of the Big Book to start the meeting. All of those groups push the same basic theology — Bill Wilson's version of Frank Buchman's cult religion. All of them start their meetings by repeating Bill Wilson's lies like:

RARELY HAVE we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average. There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest.
...
At some of these [steps] we balked. We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not.
The A.A. Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, William G. Wilson, Chapter 5, "How It Works", page 58.

I am not over-generalizing. You want me to list specific meetings that push the A.A. theology? Okay, how about the last 10 meetings you went to?

The truth of the matter is I know it works b/c it works. You may not believe that, but I don't need facts to believe it. Take your rabbit foot example. If a child learning to ride a bike falls every time, and a friend gives her a rabbit foot and she begins to take off, was it the rabbit foot. Maybe, maybe not. If she leaves the rabbit foot in her room and can't get on the bike could that not offer as just more proof.

That is a good example of circular reasoning "I know it works because it works." That is, of course, totally invalid logic. You offer no facts or evidence that it works; only your belief.

Then you say, "You may not believe that, but I don't need facts to believe it." That's the whole problem. That's why you qualify as a true believer. You don't need facts to believe. ("Don't distract me with mere facts...")
[P.S.: Jesus Christ said, "Learn the truth, and the truth shall set you free.", not "Facts be damned. Believe whatever you want to believe and call it 'faith'."]

The fact of the matter is I can't prove the 12 steps work.

Right. Because they don't work (for sobriety, that is). Even a leader of Alcoholics Anonymous, Prof. Dr. George E. Vaillant, member of the Board of Trustees of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., showed that they don't work to keep people sober when he tested them for eight years.

However, the 12 Steps most assuredly do work for brainwashing and indoctrinating people. They are a well-designed program of "thought reform" or mind control.

I also can't prove there is a God or that Jesus Chris died on the cross for my sins, but that is what I believe.

Well then you really must go read the file The Heresy of the Twelve Steps. As a Christian, you will find many very serious conflicts between Steppism and Christianity. You had better figure out which religion you really believe in. And you had better figure out whom you really serve: Jesus Christ or Bill Wilson.

I also can't prove I have an undying love for my child, or I would do anything my wife ever asked. I am now a person who believes in certain things. In my heart I know I am right. Maybe I'm doing it on my own, maybe I'm not, but I'm not going to stop b/c some random guy has a web site didn't like a group he went to and did a lot of reading from other people work.

The fact that you fervently, ardently believe certain things does not prove that you are right — "In my heart I know I am right." It just proves that you want to believe those things.

You really have done a lot of work. However, I know have a power now that I never had before. I make a conscience contact with God and he gives me strength as only my creator can. I'm sure science might be able to explain it, and when we are dead only then will we truly ever know. That is my truth. You have yours. The difference is I respect your truth. Yours isn't any better or any worse.

The fact that you draw power or energy from your beliefs is nothing new. That is a very well-known, very old phenomenon. Fanatical religions have had highly energized followers throughout history. Check out the Zealots in the Bible. Again, the fact that your beliefs make you feel good and make you feel energized does not prove them right.

Think about Hitler's followers. They were raised to heights of passion and excitement by Hitler's oratory. They Came To Believe that they could take over the world. They even believed that they were noble and spiritual people — that they were doing the world a favor by getting rid of the dirty Jews. They drew enormous energy and power from their beliefs, but that didn't make them right.

Many churches and cults use emotional ceremonies to give people power and energy. Study the evangelistic Christians. You are in Tulsa, Oklahoma. You should be able to find some emotional evangelists to study there. Who's the guy with the Tower of Prayer in Tulsa? Also, isn't there an Oral Roberts University there? You are in grand central station for people who believe without facts. You should be able to visit some churches or ceremonies to see other people who draw great energy and power from their beliefs (which are not the 12 Steps or Frank Buchman's fascist philosophy).


Now I understand full well how you can draw both energy and peace of mind from beliefs. It is enormously comforting to believe that a benevolent Higher Power is running the world and making everything turn out okay. I just got my hands on a copy of this popular piece of Steppism:

Good Morning,
This is GOD!
I will be handling all your
problems today. I will
not need your help —
So, have a good day.

You can derive a great feeling of comfort and serenity from that. The only problem with that is that it is totally untrue. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that God will handle all of your problems for you while you sit on your duff and bliss out with Serenity and Gratitude. (Nor does it say any such thing in Buddhist literature, or the Koran, or Jewish Talmudic tradition, or the Hindu Vedas, or the Bhagavad Gita, etc...)

When I am feeling stressed out, I often use such mind-control or relaxation techniques on myself, to keep from going into a tizzy and flipping out with an anxiety attack:
"Relax. Take it easy. It won't be as bad as you imagine. It's an okay universe, after all. Think of the Big Scheme, the next 15 billion years or so. Awareness is immortal. Life will go on."

But the big difference is that I know what I am doing. There is a world of difference between consciously using mind-control techniques on yourself to control your own mind and calm yourself, and having other people using mind control techniques (like guilt induction and self-criticism) on you without your knowledge of how it works.

Again, I really don't want to get into a debate over this.

Yes you do. That's why you keep writing these letters.

And to answer one last question, I work in the Bond project office for the Tulsa Public Schools. I don't work with kids, and if I did, I would find that subject inappropriate. Your assumption that I'm indoctrinating youth is unfounded.

Jason H.

I did not assume or even hint that you were indoctrinating children. I noticed that you work for a school district. I did not assume that you were a teacher. I merely assumed that you would agree with me that it would be inappropriate to teach children that the world is flat. I hoped you would understand why I would attack the belief that the world is flat if I found that somebody was teaching it to children. And I hoped that you would understand why beliefs are not sacred. Beliefs are just ideas. And some ideas are true, and some are not.

And I hoped that you would understand how teaching some erroneous beliefs to people can hurt them. —Like teaching alcoholics that they are powerless over alcohol.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange


[Mon, May 17, 2004, 6th letter from Jason H.:]

Lastly,

This is something I believe in. To you, a belief may not mean much. But to me, I hold my beliefs dear.

And that is the problem. Where did you get the idea that beliefs were valuable, something to be held dear?

Let me guess: When you were a child, some preacher told you that God would get mad at you if you didn't believe in Him, right? You might even go to Hell.

Actually, the only person who cares that much what you believe is the preacher. If you stop believing what he says, you won't give him any more money.

During the middle ages, many men, including Church authorities, sincerely and fervently believed that there were witches — that Satan would come up out of the ground and have sexual intercourse with women and turn them into evil witches who cast nasty spells on the common folk and made them get sick. Millions of women, girls, and even baby girls were murdered because of such beliefs. So what were those beliefs worth, even though their believers held them dearly?

Such beliefs are not good and holy things, they are positively evil. One could even say satanic.

What is it worth to faithfully believe that Frank N. D. Buchman brought a wonderful new "spirituality" into this world while he hung out with Heinrich Himmler and praised Adolf Hitler?

Likewise, what is it worth to believe that Bill Wilson was a genius and a great saint who brought wonderful new spirituality into this world, when he didn't?

Unexamined beliefs can be extremely dangerous, and are nothing to brag about.

I appreciate you trying to show me the light, but as you can tell, no matter how much we debate this issue, we are not going to get the other to see our own point of view. Reading your "online book" is nonsensical. We don't share the same history.

Excuse me, but the truth does not change depending on your personal history. (That is an attempt to use the propaganda trick of Escape Via Relativism — "It's just your opinion versus my opinion.")

I am talking about things like the history of A.A., and what A.A. is now, and the effectiveness of A.A. in helping people to overcome alcoholism, and that has nothing to do with whether you or I enjoyed the last 20 years. Our personal histories are totally irrelevant and have nothing to do with whether Bill Wilson was a scheming fraud who enriched himself by selling a quack cure for alcoholism — Frank Buchman's cult religion.

I'm glad you have your sobriety. I know ,from experience, it is a rare gift for some. Again, you have your truth, and I have mine.

I really do not and will no longer continue to debate this issue with you. I don't see the point in banging my head against a brick wall, nor do I want you to do the same.

I wish you well in all your endeavors.

Sincerely,
Jason H.

Quitting already? You have not answered any of my questions about the important issues. Every time I make a point, you just change the subject. Are you really going to quit by saying "Well, I believe what I believe and don't distract me with mere facts"?

You never answered the question about the major conflicts between Christianity and the A.A. heresies. I thought that at least that one would interest you, considering how important your beliefs are to you. I mean, you are a Christian living in Tulsa, aren't you? Or are you?

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange





[Tue, 2 Mar 2004, Sean McS. wrote:]

Why?? and why not use you name ?agent orange. There a few things that motivate a human to put forth this much effort?.. What are yours?

Hi Sean,

In A.A., maintaining anonymity is proclaimed to be a high, holy virtue. Funny that you think it strange if I choose to do the same.

I choose, for now, to maintain my anonymity because it is convenient. Period. I may break it later, if I feel like it.

About the question, "Why put this much work into such a web site?" Well, the real answer to that is also "because I feel like it".

But here are some more reasons:

  1. Intro to A.A.
  2. Bait-and-switch treatment
  3. Friends driven away from help by the 12-step nonsense

Have a good day.

== Orange

P.S.: The answer to the question about the "Agent Orange" name is here.





[ Tue, April 13, 2004, Ian wrote: ]
Subject: Your Ideas on A.A. interest me.

I am a former heroin addict. I do understand what you say about AA and how it is being cultish. It's membership does consist of a large number of actually crazy people who quite possibly distort into "their own belief" the principals of AA.

      There are a large number of people who have known me for many, many years. I was at one point somewhat popular in the Los Angeles Subculture of rock and roll — hence the attraction to substances. I was a Chemistry major, I think that's why I was popular... though I am not entirely sure.

      After years of drug abuse, I became, what my ex and family lovingly referred to as "dangerously unstable and unhealthy." After that sunk in, for a while I did no drugs and had no alcohol — I even quit smoking for a month or so. However, my mood had not changed much outside of me being a bit more pleasant to be around and completely non-violent. But the craving to use never went away. Not for nearly a year. Then, one day, it was gone — I felt amazing, invincible almost... that, however was very fleeting. I ended up strung out less than one month before staying sober for a year.

      I had no good reason to use. I had not gone through anything emotionally jarring. I just got a few drinks one night, because it seemed like a good idea, and less than 3 hours after, I drove my car to my old dealers house, not drunk, and spent $200 on heroin. I was stone sober — a beer and half a martini. Not much alcohol, but it triggered something in me.

      I was not sober for 9 months. I was on heroin again, every day, while making a hair more than minimum wage selling coffee... I would steal the stuff a "friend" of mine bought when he passed out in the car. I would also spend my paycheck on whatever I could afford. Not exactly smart behavior, and I knew it, but I couldn't stop.

      I don't know exactly what happened, but one day I stopped — and almost completely painlessly. I had, the night before, been completely destroyed after finding out that the girl I had recently broken up with was now dating my old boss. I haven't used since.

      Most of the people who knew me then still know me now. The closest of them knew me when shit was getting out of control, when it spiked and I nearly killed this kid out of jealousy, and when I finally gave up. Of those people, only a handful of them know I am in AA. I do not make it known. However, the general consensus is I am fantastically better than I had been in years. I am still the same person — not changed for the cultier. I do not force what works for me onto other people (I know it may seem like I am trying to do this to you, but I am honestly not — read on).

      In AA, I have encountered countless people who are honestly spooky and cult-like in their behaviors. Many of them belong to a subset of AA that really creeps me the fuck out [that] is called The Pacific Group. Your encounter with AA sounds like you ran into people who started there or are active PG members. THEY ARE LIKE THE SCIENTOLOGISTS — many of them anyhow. There are a few gems, but most of the PG is freakywierd and dangeresque. Someone mentions they are part of PG, and I leave many details of myself out (like everything).

      Another group of people in AA are people (like myself) who used to self medicate. I don't say that in the way you are expecting. It is not the root of why I started, but probably one of the main reasons I couldn't stop. I have what is known as unipolar depression — I get a massive influx of dopamine as the serotonin level drops suddenly. I become REALLY DANGEROUS to other people. Apparently, opiates and wellbutrin are excellent treatments for that. I now take the latter. But many of the people think that to be sober, you need to be free of ALL substances (yet they smoke and drink coffee... gets me every time) and don't take medication that would probably benefit all of them and cause others, like yourself, to be less spooked by AA or NA. Did I mention that PG will kick you out if you take meds? Even ones for asthma — they are stimulants mostly derived from adrenaline.

      Now, I mentioned that I do not force this on anyone and I believe I need to clarify that. I am not trying to force this on you, but rather trying to give an explanation for some of the crazy things you say happened. All I know is that it works for me. I would love to discuss my take on it and have a bit of a debate, so PLEASE respond... sorry for the length of this email, but back story always seems to help people out a bit.

      I don't remember if it was your or another article that mentioned the higher power thing, but I do feel I need to address it and maybe clear something up about it. I struggled with that one, but couldn't deny that I was incapable of doing many of the things that nature does, like waves, or gravity and such. I also have had too many bizarre coincidences and had WAY too many "close calls" (like being caught manufacturing and only getting a 60 day home confinement sentence, a year probation, NO RECORD, and a $300 fine) to not believe in something. So with that, all that I believe is that there is something that has vested interest in the affairs of humans, and while I cannot possibly comprehend the whys and whats of it all, I can ask it for guidance. All that consists of for me is if an action I want to take is questionable, it is probably going to cause me or someone grief. Though I cannot expect to cause nobody grief, I can do my best to do the least amount of damage. How I do that is I pause before saying, or doing. It seems kind of basic and easy, but I needed to be taught that, because I didn't know.

      Basically what AA boils down to, FOR ME, is a few key ideas:

  1. Do unto others. Help out when it is possible. NOT just people in AA or people who are trying to get sober, but anyone. I am particularly good at feeding people and jumpstarting cars.

  2. Having an open mind. I actually have a physical allergy to alcohol — it is VERY noticable I become very sore in the joints about 30 minutes after the 1st drink. And continue to drink more, lest my joints stay sore.

  3. I do not expect to stay sober. I do not expect to go to AA meetings every day for the rest of my life. I do not expect that were I to do those things I would get everything I want and need. All I expect is to be a little happier and not have the desire or need to use a substance. That is the only difference between me in AA and me out of AA, not using. Today, I do not want to get high.

      I hope that didn't sound preachy. I hope that you meet more people in AA like myself. People you wouldn't expect to be in AA, but are. If it did, flame me. If it was more of a discussion on your ideas, I would love your feedback. I think this stuff is interesting.

Ian

Hi Ian,

Thanks for the letter. It doesn't sound preachy at all. And the length is no problem — we don't have to pay for blank paper here.

My first reaction is that I really don't hate or even dislike all A.A. members. That would be over-generalizing and stereotyping. I still know a few people who go to 12-step meetings. I even like a few of them. There aren't many of them left, though, because the so-called "recovery community" has such a terrible dropout or relapse rate.

You said, "I had no good reason to use. I had not gone through anything emotionally jarring." That strikes me as one of the mysteries of addictions. Sometimes you don't get the standard list of reasons, like child abuse, sexual abuse, traumatic experiences, or poverty. Why should well-treated rich people's kids suddenly turn into hard-core addicts? And yet they do.

I suspect that there is something like a random genetic glitch, perhaps a broken gene that has something to do with the dopamine receptors, which I have talked about before. It may not a coincidence at all that you also said, "I have what is known as unipolar depression — I get a massive influx of dopamine as the serotonin level drops suddenly." I don't know about that particular condition, but it feels like, "Yeh, somehow, that makes sense. Serotonin and dopamine problems — that's a natural setup for wanting to fix it with self-medication."

UPDATE: 2014.12.09: A study by the NIAAA found that mutations of the gene that grows dopamine receptors in peoples' brains makes some people get much more pleasure out of alcohol than other people.


I had not heard of the Pacific Group before, but the attitudes sure sound familiar — and frightening. It's like the new American fascism. I am reminded once again of Paul Diener's comments about fascism, about how it always had a purity element to it, espousing something like "Clean Minds and Clean Bodies". Specifically, he said:

All protofascisms and fascisms shared, it seems, two characteristics: 1) they were all quasireligious, 'spiritual' movements, and, 2) they were all 'health and medicine' movements, which blended ideas of bodily purity with radical-reactionary politics.

And he might have mentioned that fascisms seem to always flaunt an angry, arrogant, brutish attitude, too.


On the issue of spirituality — I do not discount all stories of spirituality. I am not an atheist, just skeptical of most claims of the paranormal. But I have had some fantastic experiences myself that left me in wonder and joy. And I have felt the magic of being in the groove where somehow it's all an endless series of coincidences, and it's all just how it should be. (Wasn't it The Police who called it Synchronicity?) It's like walking down a street at night, having deja vu like mad, and thinking, "You know, I've had deja vu here before." And then the people across the street were talking about deja vu, and what it is, while I was having it... Yeh, I know about Cosmic Coincidentality.

That's fun stuff, but it seems that you can't make it happen. It just happens when the time is right, and you can't force it. Whenever some phony guru comes along and says that he can sell us a ticket to the magic, that's where I get off of the bus.

Bill Wilson and A.A. say that you can get your ticket to the magic by doing their 12 Steps and going to a lot of their meetings and believing in Bill's Bull. Nonsense. That's where I got off of the bus.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

UPDATE: 2012.12.20: I ended up getting so many letters about Clancy Imusland's Pacific Group that there is a whole file of them now: orange-clancy_i.html





[Wed, April 14, 2004, Diana C. wrote:]

Ciao Arancio,

I am your Italian reader. I was checking out your new mails, and reading your answers. I feel so empowered and validated, when I do that. (And also have a good laugh) It reminds me about that scene in Woody Allen's "Annie Hall" , where he is in a queue in front of a theater and there is a pompous asshole behind him, bragging about and talking nonsense about media and communication, and all that... And Allen is dying to say something to make him stop because he is obviously telling such BS, and then Marshall McLuhan in person steps out of the queue and tells the guy he doesn't know what he is talking about and lets him have it. Well, anytime I read your answers to a Bhagwan follower or a 12 steps addict, I feel the same. Thank you thank you, Marshall!!!!

Ciao,
Diana

Hi Diana,

Nice to hear from you again. Yes, some of those letters are amusing, aren't they? And more are coming in. Re-check the last couple of files of letters.

But you know, there is another take on that Woody Allen scene. I actually got this from a true-life story of a New York literary cocktail party:

      A literary critic was holding forth at a party, expounding on the writings of a certain author. The critic revealed the subtle symbolism, and traced the threads of hidden meaning, showing what the mountains and the sky and the sea represented, and how it was all a story of man's endless struggle against the cosmic cruelty of such a futile life, or some such thing.
      One man spoke up and said, "It doesn't mean any of that stuff at all. The mountains are just mountains, the sky is just the sky, and the sea is just the sea."
      The critic glared at him. "Who are you?"
      The guy answered, "I'm the author. I wrote that stuff."
      The critic snapped back, "So what makes you think you know anything about the meaning of the story?"

Now that's the feeling I often get when arguing with the true believers... You just can't tell them anything.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange





[Wed, April 14, 2004, Shane H. wrote:]

Hi I just had a "moment of clarity" that had been fermenting on and off for several months....

The old "Hi my name is so and so and I am an addict / alcoholic" bullshit trip clone speak, no longer applies.

When I was young, and being sexually abused and raised by two moral monsters for parents, and my emotional and physical needs were not being met, I needed to block out the shame and the effects of being wholly negated and neglected and abused.

Now that I have substantially dealt with almost all of those issues, I can say of my self, "I was someone who due to circumstances beyond his own control - had to self medicate in order to survive; and when those survival tools stopped working I had to learn new survival tools, and now having been drug free for a long time, and having dealt with many of those issues, I have no need or desire to self medicate."

You can stick this in the We Get Letters dept if you want.

Shane

Hi Shane, Okay, I will.





[Sat, April 17, 2004, Boldspirit wrote:]

Dear Mr. Orange,

Thank you for your most excellent site. Your research is awesome and you are to be congratulated for your diligence. I think you are doing a great service to alcoholics and other addicts. You should have your work published outside the net if possible. It should be more widely read. Is there any chance of that happening? I would give copies to the AAs I know as presents on their "sober birthday" dates!!

Hi Pete,

Thanks for all of the compliments. So far, I have no plans to publish this stuff on paper. Maybe on CD... See this previous letter.

I have been a member of AA — sober for nearly 20 years now — and I have been doubtful about what I call the "quack pseudo-spirituality" of AA for some time. Like a lot of folks in AA, at first I accepted it all and tried to follow it. But I gradually realized that a lot of it just does not make sense and some of it is downright dangerous! For example — the dogmas "resentment is the number one offender" so "dont ever get angry" and "stuff your feelings" or you will drink! These statements are simply untrue in my experience. With regard to resentments — it depends what the resentment is. If I am resentful because I missed a train — then its just hard luck — get over it and wait for the next one! If I am resentful because of some gross injustice then it is GOOD to be resentful because it might motivate me (and others) to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Drinking on resentments just doesn't come into it as far as I am concerned! And repressing anger is very dangerous! No wonder Bill W was depressed for 11 years! The Big Book and the 12x12 should have mental health warnings attatched to them!

I still attend meetings, about once per week, and I even sponsor people — in a very non agressive way I have to say. I like helping people stay sober and I am happy to listen to their troubles when they need a friendly ear or a second opinion. But I do not promote Bill Wilson's "Programme" anymore. I go to AA now mainly for social reasons. I have made some good friends there, we go for coffee or a pizza after meetings, and its kinda fun. I also share at meetings and I only share what I feel to be the truth. (Which makes me unpopular with the cultists!)

You are right when you say that the truth matters! In my opinion if is ain't true then it ain't "spiritual!" By that reason alone most (if not all) of what Bill W pumped out was false.

However I also want to say that not all of what AA as a whole says is useless. For example the motto "one day at a time".... I found that a particular useful motto when nursing my father through a long and difficult illness. Getting through it all "one day at a time" helped us both through the crisis. I know that people outside AA find this little motto helpful in times of prolonged trial. I don't think it is either superstitious or cultish. It is compassionate.

Indeed. My favorite "good A.A. slogan" (as opposed to "thought-stopping slogan") is,

"Just don't take that first drink, no matter what."
As long as I follow just that one rule, I don't need any others. ...well, except for:
"Just don't smoke that first cigarette, no matter what."

Finally I have my own humble little addition for your section AA heresy — "The God of AA". Here it is.......

The AA God is highly capricious and just can't make his mind up . He creates two types of alcoholic — those who are born with the capacity to be honest and who can therefore recover Bill W's way. — and then he creates those who do NOT have the capacity to be honest — (remember according to Bill W "They are not at fault. They seem to have been born that way"). So these poor suckers were created unable to be honest and therefore destined for the "gates of insanity and death" helpless victims of incurable alcoholism. (for which, of course, they should be eternally grateful!) Mmmmmmm.. nice God you got there Bill!!!.

Now, I guess that won't getting published in Daily Reflections, or the Grapevine!

Best wishes Agent Orange! Stay sober and keep writing!

Pete (London. UK)

Hi Pete,

Thanks for a great letter and a good laugh.

My take on the "One Day At A Time" slogan is a little different. I get the feeling that there is a strong implication that alcoholics are just too feeble-minded to face the prospect of NEVER drinking again — they will immediately freak out — so let's just ask them to stay sober for just one day — "Just For Today".

I find that attitude to be defeatist, and it always leaves the door open for relapsing tomorrow, or next weekend. And it encourages white-knuckle sobriety, where people are hanging on by their fingernails just for today.

When I quit, I thought, "3 months, at least 3 months. I'll give it a try for three months, and get myself together, and see how I feel then." (I was very sick, and needed 3 months to recover.)

Well, after 3 months of sobriety, I seemed to be even sicker. Actually, it was just that 3 months of sobriety had cleared my head enough that I could see more clearly just how sick I had been, and how much damage I still suffered from. So I said, "3 years. I've done that before. I know how to do that, so I'll do that again." So I did three years.

Well, the three years was up just six months ago, so I signed on for another 3 years. I find that quitting 3 years at a time really reduces the decision-making chores. Instead of having to decide every day not to drink, I only have to make a decision once every three years. :-)

Have a good day.

== Orange





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