Letters, We Get Mail, CCXXXIII
by A. Orange

Date: Mon, April 18, 2011 6:35 pm     (answered 21 April 2011)
From: Bob O.
Subject: The End

Mister T,

After three decades without a drink or drug in AA and a few years of NA I have reached the end. Your work has done a great deal to show me that what I thought was harmless is not. I will continue to read your work and send financial support when I can. I now volunteer at "New Beginnings Community Center for brain injury rehabilitation" www.NBLI.org on Long Island. As I close the stepper doors I borrow some words from THE DOORS:

"This is the end, I'll never look into your eyes again. The end.
Can you picture what will be, so limitless and free?"

Thank you for all you do. I hope I live to see the end of the 12-step disease.

Long Island Bob O.

Hello Bob,

Thanks for the letter, and congratulations on your new freedom. And volunteering at that recovery center sounds really good. The world needs more sane, realistic people talking to the sick people.

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

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     The secret of health for both mind and body is
**     not to mourn for the past, nor to worry about the future,
**     but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.
**          ==  Buddha
**     As I see it, every day you do one of two things:
**     build health or produce disease in yourself.
**          ==   Adelle Davis

May 22, 2009, Friday: Day 22, continued:

Canada Geese gosling, the light-colored one
Carmen's brother, the light-colored one, flapping

One of these mornins, you're gonna rise up singin',
Spread your wings, an' take to the sky...

      == George and Ira Gershwin, "Summertime", in Porgy and Bess

Aren't these little kids so cute as they practice for taking to the sky? And this gosling has such beautiful eyes.

Alright, this little guy has gone without a proper name for far too long. I'm going to call him "Blondie". I know that is usually a girl's name, but not always. Clint Eastwood was called Blondie in the movie The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, so I think it's okay for this little guy too.

Then, not to leave out the other brother, let's call him Sam.

Now those three kids have names, and I don't have to call the boys "the light-colored one" and "the other one".

[More gosling photos below, here.]

Date: Tue, April 19, 2011 6:19 pm     (answered 22 April 2011)
From: "Tim R."
Subject: AA

I'm intriqued by your research into the success of AA. I've been going to meetings for 8 months and have been sober for that long. I'm interested in finding alternatives to AA. What non 12 step program do you follow?


Hello Tim,

I don't follow any program. I just don't drink alcohol, or smoke, or consume drugs, any more. I decided that I wasn't going to die that way.

I live by this simple slogan,

Just don't take that first drink, not ever, no matter what.

And this slogan:

Just don't smoke that first cigarette, not ever, no matter what.

The idea that you must have a "program" to stay sober is another one of the myths that Alcoholics Anonymous teaches. The truth is, most of the alcoholics who successfully quit drinking do it alone, without any program or "support group". The NIAAA (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) found that 75% of the successful quitters did it alone, without any program. The Harvard Medical School published an analysis of addiction and recovery that found that 80% of the people who successfully quit drinking for a year or more did it alone.

The NIAAA's 2001-2002 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions interviewed over 43,000 people. Using the criteria for alcohol dependence found in the DSM-IV, they found:
"About 75 percent of persons who recover from alcohol dependence do so without seeking any kind of help, including specialty alcohol (rehab) programs and AA. Only 13 percent of people with alcohol dependence ever receive specialty alcohol treatment."

Nevertheless, there are a bunch of good self-help and support groups available to you, if you wish. I just printed the list again, here.

Personally, I went to SMART for a while. I can recommend them as teaching some good stuff. I haven't been to any of the meetings of the others, but I hear good things about them. But understand that none of them have a panacea. You still have to hold your own hand every Saturday night and do the work yourself.

By the way, SMART means "Self-Management and Recovery Training". Self-management is the key. A.A., on the other hand, teaches that you are incompetent and powerless over temptation, and self-reliance is a very bad thing, and you must have a sponsor or "higher power" running your life. That didn't work out at all well.

We have discussed what other people found helpful many times. The list of lists starts here: How did you get to where you are?.

Good luck, and have a good day.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance
**     is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators,
**     but names and customs.
**        ==  Ralph Waldo Emerson [1803—1882] Self Reliance

Date: Wed, April 20, 2011 2:26 am     (answered 22 April 2011)
From: "Laurence C."
Subject: Fw: SMART Recovery Stepping Out

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: SMART Recovery UK
To: Laurence
Sent: Wed, 20 April, 2011 10:16:58
Subject: SMART Recovery Stepping Out

Smart recovery Update April 2011

SMART Recovery Stepping Forwards

This week, we will announce which organisations have signed up under the SMART Recovery UK Partnership scheme. This is an important milestone and very exciting for SMART Recovery.

With this model in place, we would also like to go public with our goal for there to be over 400 SMART Recovery meetings per week in the UK within three years. These meetings will be high quality and peer led.

Based on the history of SMART Recovery in this country (or indeed in any other country) there is no reason to believe that this kind of growth could be achieved purely from the "organic" growth of people moving from participating in one meetings to starting another. This will always be something we value and support, but it is hard to replicate across the country and has not worked well outside of the north-west.

The break-through for SMART Recovery was the Alcohol Concern pilot scheme where we found that just six partnership sites blossomed into twenty five free-standing peer led meetings over a two year period. Far from undermining peer led mutual aid, the partnership model encouraged it to flourish. Amazingly, most of the current SMART Recovery meetings in the UK owe their "ancestry" to this small number of sites in the Alcohol Concern pilot.

We must not ignore that kind of success!

If that is what can happen from just six sites, what about forty sites? That is how many sites SMART Recovery UK has now agreed with a number of treatment providers. We are aiming for 100 partner sites within the next six months and more beyond that. If the scheme is only a fraction as successful as the Alcohol Concern pilot we will easily achieve the 400 weekly meetings within three years.

Under the Partnership model there will also be SMART Recovery within treatment services that may not always be peer led, but this enhances rather than detracts from the wider network of meetings. "SMART Recovery Champions" — professionals who have done the facilitators course will introduce literally thousands of people to SMART Recovery who would otherwise never come across it and encourage many dozens of these to become facilitators and start their own meetings.

The other benefit of the Partnership approach is that it brings in some revenue — and SMART Recovery UK has no other source of income. We have now turned the corner on our precarious finances and are confident that the organisation is here to stay.

Although the Partnership scheme has taken a lot of work to put in place, having a bit of stability and being able to pay a few bills will directly benefit our growing network of peer facilitators. Work is already underway to review and improve the manuals and handbooks; we should be able to print posters and the other materials that will help local meetings and hopefully run more training, events and conferences to support facilitators.

SMART Recovery is an unusual animal in the Recovery movement as it has always been a partnership between people in Recovery and treatment professionals. To some, this collaborative approach might seem to be a threat to the "purity" of the recovery movement. Certainly we have had to put safeguards in place to make sure SMART Recovery cannot be misused by others, but with these safeguards in place we should be truly grateful that Commissioners and provider organisations want to see SMART Recovery spread and are prepared to step up and do things to help make this happen.

This is truly a "win-win" approach that benefits both peer led mutual aid and the providers and users of treatment and an exciting day for SMART Recovery.

Richard Phillips
Interim Director — SMART Recovery UK

SMART Recovery UK
Albyn House
37a Union StInverness, Scotland IV1 1QA

Copyright (C) 2011 SMART Recovery UK All rights reserved.

Hello Laurence,

Thanks for the notice. I'm glad to hear that SMART is getting established in the UK.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Men grind and grind in the mill of a truism, and nothing
**     comes out but what was put in.  But the moment they desert
**     the tradition for a spontaneous thought, then poetry, wit,
**     hope, virtue, learning, anecdote, all flock to their aid.
**      ==  Ralph Waldo Emerson [1803—1882] Literary Ethics [1838]

[The next letter from Laurence_C is here.]

Date: Wed, April 20, 2011 2:52 pm     (answered 22 April 2011)
From: "Michael B."
Subject: videos

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zaLT1GFNYOc — "smile til it hurts" — opening and preview of selected scenes


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7IxGGfpSWk — "jonestown: the life and death of peoples temple" — pt. 1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHIL4yP0q6Q&feature=fvwrel — "jonestown cult survivor: vc2"


Hi Michael,

Thanks for the links.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex,
**     and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a
**     lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.
**        ==  E. F. Shumacher

Date: Wed, April 20, 2011 6:00 pm     (answered 22 April 2011)
From: "alex d."
Subject: follow up

Dear Agent Orange,

I am a big fan of your site and actually sent my first letter a little while ago ( thanks for posting it). My beef was with Al-Anon and the like, which I stopped going to in favor of SMART meetings, where I am welcome and feel I learn much more.

I'm following up to hear your two bits on this interesting scenario. My partner has just passed 5 months in a highly restrictive 12 step based treatment center. (She has the "option" of staying up to a year, which has been "suggested".) I do truly believe in her desire for sobriety, and we have been through much together. I would not call myself co-dependent. On the contrary, I'm happy to see her become stronger, more confident,and independent. I have always tried to encourage this. I am neither an addict (except for nicotine) nor an alcoholic.

Having lived together for two years and through two brief but non disastrous relapses, I do realize that moving in together again may be risky, and don't see the point in rushing to do so. I think living sober on her own for awhile would boost her confidence and give her the space to focus on her recovery.

Anyway, enough back story. Here's the meat of it. After complying with all the rules, regulations, mountains of meetings, etc., and just looking forward to finally going to second stage (" upstairs"), there's one catch. It is being strongly "suggested" that she cut all ties with me. Really? Even she can't make sense of this one. I can, because it smacks of 12 step indoctrination. Why would you cut someone out of your life you know you can count on? I've lasted through 4 months of painful separation, brief supervised 10 minute phone calls spaced out over a two week period, "suggestions" about ending the relationship and staying friends (which we were to begin with for a long time), but apparently that's not enough.

I would love to hear your opinion on this matter. Any thoughts, similar stories?

Hello Alex,

Thank you for the letter. Get her out of there NOW! That is the cult at its worst. They are trying to convert her into a true-believer cult member whose whole life is the cult. They don't want her associating with any non-members who might contradict A.A. nonsense. They rationalize their behavior by arguing that non-members are a threat to her sobriety.

Scientology does the same thing too. At a certain point in a Scientologist's training, she is informed that she must cut all ties with non-Scientologists, including parents, spouses, siblings, old friends, everybody. Those other people must either join Scientology or else they get black-listed and ostracized.

That is really very common cult behavior, and it's listed in the Cult Test. Here are some relevant items, first the Cult Test questions, and then the answers for A.A.:

And the answers for A.A.:

I don't like the sound of this: "I think living sober on her own for awhile would boost her confidence and give her the space to focus on her recovery."

I cannot think of a single old friend who benefitted from such an approach, but I can think of some who relapsed badly because they were alone and had no one to act as an anchor and hold them back. At least one died.

Now that does not mean that you become her supervisor and control her. It just means that if she were to feel tempted one evening, it would be so much easier to go out and get something to get high on if she were alone. There is just nothing to hold her back.

And in fact loneliness is one of the prime causes of relapses. The old A.A. saying about "HALT" is true. You are at your weakest when you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. Sitting around alone and bored is begging for trouble.

From the sounds of things, I don't see any benefits from leaving her alone, to do it on her own, when you could be a good emotional support, and friend, and companion, and lover. Her confidence will build up just from getting some sober time. There is no need to make it harder.

And I see a huge downside to leaving her in the clutches of that evil cult that intends to take her from you. And you can bet money that some of those "sponsors" and "counselors" are already thinking about getting her into bed.

Lastly, you asked for similar stories. I have several of them, real tragedies where 12-Step rehab programs destroyed marriages and relationships. And one of them is nearly the same story as yours, ending like, "her sponsor forbid her from seeing me for thirty days... and at the end of the 30 days I was told by my now ex that I could never talk to her again". And another says, "...all the men had already started asking her out. 2 days she was gone and they were already preying on her."

Here is the list of horror stories: A.A. Horror Stories.

I suppose some of this was inevitable. What else could you expect when somebody takes a bunch of creeps and low-lifes and criminals and alcoholics and drug addicts and tells them that they are the Chosen Children of God, "Doing God's Work" by parrotting a lot of slogans and Steps and making converts out of newcomers? And telling them that they are better than the outsiders?

I am reminded of what a correspondent wrote to me a few years ago: "The idea that one deeply flawed person can cure another deeply flawed person: a dynamic fraught with peril."

Good luck, and don't hesitate to write back if you wish.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     And the Steppers said, "If you want what we
**     have, and are willing to go to any length to
**     get it, then, here, drink this koolaid."

Date: Wed, April 20, 2011 8:12 pm     (answered 22 April 2011)
From: "LJ"
Subject: like your site

Dear Orange,

I am reading your website for the 1st time tonight. Been 'in' and around the 12 step program for 14 years. Most of those 14 years have been a mix of all kinds of feelings and a lot of it was confusion to say the least and lately just not feeling safe at all.

I think I am ready to 'break up' with the program. It feels akin to when I've broken up with abusive people. i.e I'm afraid! When I realized that tonight I thought "holy freakin' cow!". If I were in a 'good' relationship — would I be afraid to leave it? don't think so...

anyway, I've also (thankfully) been working with an extremely good counsellor who's not an AA'er. She has not criticized it but gently nudges me off the whole concept of viewing everything from an addictive model — which is starting to work well for me.

I could go on and on. Now here's the funny part, I feel like I'm 'compulsively' reading yours site. lol!

anyway, I haven't officially left yet. What happened today was, after being treated shabbily by one of the other 'trusted servants' in the group yet again, (this is after I'm doing tons of 'service'), I just said to myself WTF?

ok I'm about to go on and on. so I won't.
but thank you so much for your research. I like a lot of what you are laying down.

best wishes,

lj (please do not post my email address — thank you!)

Hello LJ,

Thanks for the letter and the compliments. That fear of leaving A.A. is normal. They deliberately plant phobias in you to make you afraid to leave the cult. That is one of the stunts that they pull to keep people in the cult. We were just discussing that in several other letters recently:

Have a good day and a good life now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "If you want to make the right decision for the future,
**      fear is not a very good consultant."
**        ==  Markus Dohle, Chairman and CEO of Random House,
**         "Publish or Perish", The New Yorker, April 26, 2010, page 28.

[The next letter from LJ is here.]

May 22, 2009, Friday: Day 22, continued:

Carmen the Canada Goose gosling, scratching
Carmen scratching her head
That is quite a contortion. I'll bet you can't scratch the top of your head with your toe.

[The story of Carmen continues here.]

[The previous letter from Beth is here.]

Date: Sat, April 23, 2011     (answered 23 April 2011)
From: "Beth"
Subject: Re: Criminal Minds ... AA

Hi Orange,

Thank you ... so much for me to catch up with on your site. I glanced briefly and oh gosh how I love, "Blondie." And I thought Carmen was it, (I'm not fickle, no I'm not :)

What a darling little cutie little boy Blondie is!

My best,

Hi Beth,

Oh, isn't he so cute? And he was the most friendly little gosling of all. He would happily chirp hello as soon as he saw me, and come on over to see me.

Carmen was kind of cool towards me — I think because she was afraid I might grab her and take her home again, and she didn't want me to do that after she got a new mother. But Blondie showed no such fear or hesitation.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** "Now I know what it's like to be high on life.
** It isn't as good, but my driving has improved."
** == Nina, on "Just Shoot Me", 13 Jan 2006.

Date: Tue, April 12, 2011 1:13 pm     (answered 24 April 2011)
From: Bob O.
Subject: All substance abuse is a choice

Mister T,

Please read www.baldwinresearch.com/alcoholism.cfm if you have not read it.

Thank you for all you.
Long Island Bob O.

Hi again, Bob,

Thanks for the link. I've heard of Baldwin Research before, and have them listed on my links page, but had not seen that page.

That article is really good. And nails the situation precisely:

History and science have shown us that the existence of the disease of alcoholism is pure speculation. Just saying alcoholism is a disease, doesn't make it true. Nevertheless, medical professionals and American culture enthusiastically embraced the disease concept and quickly applied it to every possible behavior from alcohol abuse to compulsive lecturing and nail biting. The disease concept was a panacea for many failing medical institutions and pharmaceutical companies, adding billions of dollars to the industry and leading to a prompt evolution of pop-psychology. Research has shown that alcoholism is a choice, not a disease, and stripping alcohol abusers of their choice, by applying the disease concept, is a threat to the health of the individual.

Wow. They don't leave me much to say, do they? I mean, they've already said it all.

But I notice that they did understate the fraud of Jellinek. Much further down, they said:

Jellinek not only published a fraudulent study, he defrauded members of his academic community, and apparently lied about his educational background to gain acceptance.

There is much more to it:
The "Dr." E. M. Jellinek, who was a cofounder of the Yale School of Alcohol Studies, was apparently a fraud without a college degree. Stanton Peele reported that Ron Roizen investigated Jellinek, and found that Jellinek didn't have the degrees that he claimed to have. Jellinek claimed that he had a master's degree and a doctorate from the University of Leipzig in Germany, but they said that Jellinek never got a degree from them. In fact, Jellinek's transcript shows that Jellinek was dropped from the University's rolls in 1913 and 1914 for failure to attend classes or lectures. Then it gets worse. Jellinek's whole academic career was faked.

So one of the "leading authorities" on "alcoholism", the guy who was big on promoting the disease theory of alcoholism, the guy who spent his career advancing A.A. ideas of alcoholism like that alcoholics are "powerless" over alcohol, was a non-degreed fake "expert" who just conned Yale into putting him on the faculty. And then the so-called "research" that Jellinek did consisted of little more than handing out questionaires to 60 Alcoholics Anonymous members, and generalizing from their answers, and declaring that he knew all about alcoholism, and writing an authoritive book on the subject.

That's like giving questionaires to 60 Scientologists and then declaring that you are the world's leading authority on psychiatry, based on what you learned from the Scientologists. (Like Tom Cruise says, "Scientology knows more about the human mind than all of the psychiatrists in the world.")

It just goes on and on. The level of deceit and quackery in the "recovery industry" is unbelievable.

The following quote again understates the situation:

While the AMA's classifications for the most part are accurate, the organization is not without error. Since its inception the AMA has made classifications of varying "deviant" behaviors without scientific research to validate its claims. And, for whatever reason, the definition of a disease, as set forth by the AMA, is a malleable and all inclusive definition allowing for the inclusion of almost every behavior, deviant or otherwise. As a result, every unwanted behavior can be medicalized and medically treated, thereby providing professionals with more patients and more income.

The truth is, the AMA had two A.A. front groups write up a very twisted definition of alcoholism. (Click on that link.) A Joint Committee of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence and the American Society of Addiction Medicine created a definition of "alcoholism" that is so crazy that it does not even say that "alcoholism" is caused by drinking alcohol. They leave the door open for a vague, nebulous "spiritual" cause for alcoholism.

About this:

In treatment and 12 step groups the individual is told that they can only live "one day at a time." Additionally, they are told that they should never be fooled into believing they can be cured, and if they don't attend meetings they will inevitably fall prey to their "disease doing push-ups in the parking lot."

Yes, the lessons that alcoholics are powerless over "the disease" and helpless is very harmful. I nearly died from believing that the situation was hopeless and that I would always relapse. Might as well just stay stoned and kill the pain until the bitter end. But then, somehow, for some reason that I still don't understand, I changed my mind at the last minute and decided that I just was not going to die that way. A.A. teachings be damned. And that saved my life.

Baldwin Research challenges the genetic theory of susceptibility to alcohol addiction. Personally, I still tend to think that there is something to it. My father was a really bad alcoholic before me, and his mother was a nutty alcoholic before him. Either something is passed on in the genes, or miserable childhoods make alcoholics out of the kids. Nature or nurtur. I can't say for sure which it is.

It seems that self-proclaimed treatment professionals, blinded by intention, ignore the overwhelming evidence that contradicts the very principles they teach.

Oh God! Don't get me started on that one. I just answered another letter from someone whose girlfriend was in a "treatment center" that was telling her to cut off all ties to her non-alcoholic friends, including her significant other, and spend a year isolated in the center. What a bunch of destructive quacks.

A great article. Thanks again for the link.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     We have more power than will; and it is often by way of excuse
**      to ourselves that we fancy things are impossible.
**        ==  François, Duc de la Rochefoucauld (1613—1680),
**              French courtier and moralist

Date: Mon, April 25, 2011 3:02 am     (answered 28 April 2011)
From: "Cindy"
Subject: RE: You are kind and of service.

What is getting wacky is that it isn't just the geese. Just a few days ago I was watching PBS television, and they had a program about baby animals, and it included those unbearably cute little penguin chicks down at the Antarctic. At about a month of age, the kids leave their parents and go join a "teenage gang" of other penguin chicks, and hang out with their buddies. As one newcomer chick joined the group, he was chirping hello and another was jabbering back at him, and I realized with a shock, "Hey, I'm understanding what they are saying. That's the same as gosling talk." They were actually using the same chirps and the same "words", and saying, "Hello, greetings. I'm happy to meet you."

When you understand what they are saying, you start regarding them as little people. It's just so obvious. I know it sounds a bit crazy, but I see them as little people more than as "wildlife" or just animals.

Hey that is not wacky what-so-ever. I think people have just lost their connection to nature. I saw a thing on PBS also and they were showing the parrots on, Telegraph Hill, in San Francisco and the guy who had studied them for years on his own time. He understood their lingo and stuff also. Then I also saw a thing on this guy who worked with monkeys and he knew when the monkeys were warning the others of danger, etc. So not wacky at all, I believe maybe somehow humans think they are superior to animals but if we are all here all of us count for one reason or another. I think you just eye-witnessed what many won't learn in a life time. Good for you.

One person's wacko,
Is another person's hero.


Hi again Cindy,

Thanks for the note. Yes, some people think I'm a little whacked for my devotion to the goslings, and the lengths I will go to to take care of them, but other people understand.

And when a little creature can walk up to you, look you in the eye, and say, "I want to cuddle and get warm", how can you not regard it as something more than just a dumb animal?

Some people, after watching the goslings for a while, remark that they are just like children. Actually, they aren't just like children, they are children. The differences between them and human children are minimal. They all want the same things: first off, Mommy. They want Mommy all of the time and cry if they are separated from her for even a minute. (Or me, when I'm Mommy.) And they want food, of course, lots of it. And they want to be warm and safe and clean and comfortable. (Okay, goslings are much better at taking baths than human children are.) They want attention. They love it when you pay attention to them and make a fuss over them. And they want to be free to wander around and browse the grass, which means that they spend most of their time in the park. And then they want adventure. They are naturally curious and love to go exploring. It's a chore to keep up with them and keep them from wandering into trouble when you are caring for them and letting them roam around parks.

I love The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill. Somebody recommended that to me several months ago, and I got it out of the library (both book and DVD), and it's great. Of course I could understand and sympathize with that guy's attitudes towards the parrots. And there, people remarked that the parrots were like little people too.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "You can observe a lot just by watching."
**       ==  Yogi Berra

Date: Tue, May 10, 2011 12:11 am     (answered 11 May 2011)
From: "Cindy"
Subject: RE: You are kind and of service.

Yeah, when Connor the parrot with the blue on him, got caught by a hawk, that was sad. If it was Connor. But I like how Connor watched out for the others. Glad the guy found a girlfriend too, but I'd bet after a year with her he'd be wishing he had his parrots back. Humans, you know. So annoying. Haha

Cindy R

Yes, I've been wondering about that myself. Why does it seem to be a lot easier to put up with animals like geese or ducks or parrots than people?

And with animals, I often get the feeling of being connected to the life-stream, or eternity. But I rarely get that feeling from people.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*       http://www.Orange-Papers.org/forum/   *
**     Hast thou named all the birds without a gun?
**     Loved the wood-rose, and left it on its stalk?
**       ==  Ralph Waldo Emerson [1803—1882] Forebearance

Date: Sun, April 17, 2011 11:25 pm     (answered 28 April 2011)
From: greg
Subject: Self-knowledge

On page 39 of the Big Book, in the chapter "More About Alcoholism," Bill Wilson says,

"But the actual or potential alcoholic, with hardly an exception, will be absolutely unable to stop drinking on the basis of self-knowledge."

Let me guess. You couldn't possibly disagree more with that statement. I know I couldn't. As far as I'm concerned, I was able to stop drinking ENTIRELY on the basis of self-knowledge.

Hello again, Greg,

Yes, you understand. The self-knowledge that was most valuable to me was these two items:

  1. Lizard Brain lies all of the time. When he says that we should kill the pain now, and a cigarette and a beer will feel great and it won't hurt anything, he is lying.

  2. My personal temperament is such that there is no such thing as just having a little and being moderate about drinking or smoking. It just doesn't work that way. It never did. So my defense is, "Just don't take that first drink, not ever, no matter what."

Worse, what Bill Wilson described as "self-knowledge" was nothing but some quack misinformation:

It relieved me somewhat to learn that in alcoholics the will is amazingly weakened when it comes to combating liquor, though it often remains strong in other respects. My incredible behavior in the face of a desperate desire to stop was explained. Understanding myself now, I fared forth in high hope. For three or four months the goose hung high. I went to town regularly and even made a little money. Surely this was the answer — self-knowledge.
      But it was not, for the frightful day came when I drank once more.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 1, "Bill's Story", page 7.

Bill's "self-knowledge" that his will was "amazingly weakened" was baloney. The truth is, he had very strong will power, and he stubbornly wanted what he wanted, no matter whether it was booze, cigarettes, money, women, or fame. When he wanted a drink, he took a drink, the consequences be damned. And then he took another and another. And he did the same thing with cigarettes until it killed him. But his "self-knowledge" wouldn't look at that fact. Bill claimed that he wasn't in control, so it wasn't his fault.

A search of your site turns up one letter from several years ago that mentions the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). It was developed as a paper-and-pencil test in the 1940s based on some armchair theorizing done back in the 1920s by Carl Jung. It sorts people into 16 basic "personality types" based on four dimensions: Extraverted vs. Introverted, Sensing vs. Intuiting, Thinking vs. Feeling, and Judging vs. Perceiving. Each type is designated by a four-letter code like INTP for my type which is Introverted, iNtuiting, Thinking and Perceiving.

I have made sort of a hobby of studying the MBTI. It's not exactly "hard science," but it's not just b.s. like astrology either. The "types" are really just descriptive, and the "theory" behind it is not exactly robust. I have found, however, that the objective descriptions alone provide useful insights both into ourselves and into others.

I was curious to know whether you ever got around to typing yourself, e.g. by taking the free online test at


It's really difficult to typecast people that you have never even met in person, but based on your extensive writings my first guess for you would be ENFP. The combination of N (for iNtuiting) and P (for Perceiving) comes through in your writing loud and clear. The F (for Feeling) appears quite likely as well, but not quite as strong. The E (for Extraverted) is far less certain because I have nothing to go on but your writing.

These pages:



contain links to other pages that provide interesting descriptions and discussions of the various types.

Besides having a Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I feel quite sure that Bill Wilson was also a Myers-Briggs ENTJ. Jim Burwell was most likely an ESTP. The classic A.A. Nazi is typically either an ESTJ or ESFJ. I have noticed that in general the four ExxJ types, especially the ENTJ and ESTJ, are the ones that are most likely to actually get some real good out of working the Twelve Steps. The eight xxxP types almost never get any good at all out of the exercise; and the four xxTP (preferred "introverted thinking") types in particular (like myself) seldom bother even pretending to. The four IxFx types, and especially the two IxFP (dominant "introverted feeling") types, seem to be the most likely to be significantly harmed by even attempting to work the Steps because by nature they already tend to be excessively self-critical. An appropriate "program of recovery" for them might well be described as the "anti-Steps."

— "Greg the Atheist"

Okay Greg, I took that test. The results are:

Your Type is
Introverted   Intuitive   Feeling   Judging
Strength of the preferences %
78   88   12   33

Qualitative analysis of your type formula

You are:

  • very expressed introvert
  • very expressed intuitive personality
  • slightly expressed feeling personality
  • moderately expressed judging personality

Kiersey.com described that personality type as:

Portrait of the INFJ — Keirsey's Counselor

Counselors have an exceptionally strong desire to contribute to the welfare of others, and find great personal fulfillment interacting with people, nurturing their personal development, guiding them to realize their human potential. Although they are happy working at jobs (such as writing) that require solitude and close attention, Counselors do quite well with individuals or groups of people, provided that the personal interactions are not superficial, and that they find some quiet, private time every now and then to recharge their batteries.

I was surprised at those results.

Date: Sun, April 17, 2011 3:42 pm     (answered 28 April 2011)
From: greg
Subject: Alternatives Within A.A.

You certainly are correct in characterizing A.A. co-founder Bill Wilson — at least at the point in his life when he was writing the Big Book and 12&12 — as a prevaricating jerk who suffered from a pronounced Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). In fact, as an active A.A. member myself for many years, I am constantly pointing out that the Twelve Steps do not actually constitute a "program of recovery" from alcoholism per se. They are actually a sometimes-effective treatment for NPD. That's why, as it says in chapter on Step Seven in the 12&12, "the attainment of greater humility is the foundation principle of each of A.A.'s Twelve Steps."

It took a couple of decades, but it appears as if the Steps eventually even had a salubrious effect on Bill Wilson himself, as evidenced by an article he wrote for the official A.A. Grapevine magazine in 1961, available at the following link.


There he roundly criticized some sharing he had recently heard at meeting, saying,

"With perfect fidelity, both were repeating my performance of years before. Quite unspoken, yet implicit in everything they said, was the same idea—'Folks, listen to us. We have the only true brand of AA—and you'd better get it!'

"The new prospect said he'd had it—and he had. His sponsor protested that this wasn't real AA. But it was too late; nobody could touch him after that. He also had a first class alibi for yet another bender. When last heard from, an early appointment with the undertaker seemed probable."

(Note that Bill Wilson was still claiming that he had the only cure, and that quitting his wonderful A.A. leads to death.)

Bill also admitted in the same article that,

"In AA's first years I all but ruined the whole undertaking with this sort of unconscious arrogance. God as I understood Him had to be for everybody. Sometimes my aggression was subtle and sometimes it was crude. But either way it was damaging—perhaps fatally so—to numbers of non-believers."

It turns out that there is no particular correlation between alcoholism and personality type. However, if an alcoholic by chance happens to also suffer from NPD, the end result is what is described in the Big Book as an alcoholic of the "hopeless variety." The narcissism effectively blocks recovery, and has to be gotten under at least a modicum of control before any progress at all can be made with the alcoholism. That was the case for Bill and apparently a majority of the A.A. pioneers. The basic A.A. program, including especially the Twelve Steps, was expressly designed for their use. The Big Book was written while Bill was still a very sick man, at only the beginning of a very long and gradual process of recovery from pathological narcissism. He had apparently made at least some progress by the time he wrote the 12&12 in the early 50s, but he still had a long way to go.

Unfortunately, as you have taken pains to point out, at best the Steps provide a placebo effect for the vast majority alcoholics. More often than not, they are about as useful as the proverbial "screen door on a submarine." For a few, including some of my best friends in the rooms, even attempting to "work" them can have nothing short of disastrous results. Doing so can take someone who is inherently capable of enjoying a rapid recovery, and drive them instead directly into a life-threatening, even fatal relapse or nervous breakdown. There is no doubt in my mind that on balance the Twelve Steps do far more harm than good.

As a sober member of A.A. since 2001, I have never "worked the Steps" myself, nor do I ever intend to. I also describe myself as a "nice, simple, plain-vanilla atheist," and do not even pretend to use anything at all as a so-called "Higher Power," not even my group or A.A. as a whole. I regard the entire concept as irrelevant to my recovery from alcoholism, and I openly say so even in the few mainstream A.A. meetings I attend. I wrote an article titled "Without a Higher Power" that was published in the January, 2010 issue of the Grapevine magazine. The Grapevine has also recently accepted for publication, but not yet printed, a second article in which I criticize as totally unjustifiable the common practice of describing A.A. as specifically a "Twelve Step program," on the grounds that neither the Preamble nor the Traditions even allude to the Steps. I also explicitly point out how inappropriate they are for the use of most alcoholics. (Grassroots A.A. is admittedly still extremely parochial in many areas, but "official" A.A. at the national level, as expressed in the Grapevine and in some of the more recent "Conference-Approved" literature, is surprisingly open-minded.)

Fortunately, real-life A.A. today as I have experienced it bears scant resemblance to your characterization of it as a Buchmanist religious cult. In some areas it hasn't been that for over half a century, in spite of the fact that it certainly started out that way. In San Diego today, most A.A.s still pay lip service to what Bill wrote in the Big Book and 12&12; but in practice they actually pay about as much attention to it as most Christians pay to the Bible — which is to say, virtually none. They may or may not have mechanically plodded their way through "working the Steps" early in recovery, but for the most part they continue to participate in A.A. primarily for the fellowship.

On the other hand, at least here in San Diego, the Twelve Traditions are in fact very much in force. No doubt much of the credit for that can be given to Rosa Burwell, Jim Burwell's alcoholic wife. She is locally reputed to have been what is jokingly called a "Traditions Nazi."

In the short form, Tradition Three states that "The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking." In the long form it says,

"Our membership ought to include all who suffer from alcoholism. Hence we may refuse none who wish to recover. Nor ought A.A. membership ever depend upon money or conformity. Any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an A.A. group, provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation."

Taking full advantage of that, a number of my A.A. friends and I have established three officially-registered A.A. groups, listed in the local meeting directory, with the names "Keep It Simple," "Different Strokes," and "Open Minds." At those meetings we make a point of being openly critical of the old-school A.A. culture and literature which promotes the Twelve Steps as if they were some sort of one-size-fits-all program of recovery from alcoholism. At the beginning of each meeting we read aloud the A.A. Preamble which states, "Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking." We pointedly do not even read the Twelve Steps aloud, let alone "suggest" them "as a program of recovery."

Like it or not, A.A. is here to stay; and the courts and "rehab" programs are going to continue sending us lots of alcoholics who could use some help, especially encouragement, with their recovery, but who are simply not going to find the Twelve Steps or Bill Wilson's polemics in the Big Book and 12&12 any more useful than many of my A.A. friends and I have. Since Tradition Three provides us with that wonderful loophole, I believe it would be irresponsible for us not to use it as we do to provide *within* A.A. a clear alternative to the traditional Twelve Step culture, both for ourselves and for newcomers who are either required to attend A.A. meetings or who just don't know where else to turn for help. As long as we have no other affiliation, there is nothing anyone in A.A. can do to stop or silence us, although there are certainly a few who dearly wish they could.

Our long-term goal is to kick the doors of A.A. wide open from the inside to gracefully accommodate alcoholics of every stripe, and we are actually making some progress. Two years ago we had just one meeting of our own. Today we have three. It's just possible that some day what is presently our minority "alternative" culture will become the majority "mainstream" culture, for the simple reason that the Twelve Steps plainly do not provide an effective program of recovery for the vast majority of alcoholics. Unlikely as that may seem, how likely is it that A.A. in its present form, with over two million members on any given day, would have arisen from its humble beginnings as an offshoot of the Buchmanist cult? I believe it's at least worth making a try. Perhaps some of your web site's fans will be able to work up the intestinal fortitude to join us in that effort. I believe this is especially important in areas where there are large A.A.-pushing "rehab" programs. Our motto can be,

"A.A.—It's not just for low-bottom drunks of the hopeless variety anymore."

—Greg the Atheist

Greg, I try hard to never stereotype all A.A. members as being this or that. I even have the Newcomer's Rescue League of sane kind-hearted individuals who go to A.A. meetings to inject a few notes of sanity and rescue newcomers from bad sponsors.

My descriptions of superstitious Buchmanites are not theoretical though. I've sat through my fair share of meetings where people bragged about how their "higher power" was doing such great things for them and taking such good care of them, and looking out for them. One of the most disturbing things about A.A. is how somebody can "share" any insane superstitious nonsense and, as long as he inserts a few "God" or "higher power" words into his rap now and then, nobody will call him on it or ask him to get real.

Thanks for your work to spread some common sense. But alas, you are in the minority. Just 60 miles up the coast from you is the headquarters of Clancy's Clones, a.k.a. "The Pacific Group", led by Clancy Imusland, which is notoriously fascistic and dogmatic. They are agressive recruiters and have sent missionaries all over the country. Clancy's Clones run groups from Los Angeles to Maine. They take over groups by invading the groups in numbers and voting the leaders out and replacing them with Clancy's Clones, and then changing the rules so that reasonable people can't get elected to anything. (Like, to get elected, or even vote, you must be sponsored by one of the "approved" sponsors, meaning Clancy's sponsees.) In the Midwest they are known as "The Foxhall" group. In Washington, DC, the grand-sponsee of Clancy, Mike Quinones, took over the Midtown Group and turned it into a vicious sexual exploitation society.

Now I hear that they have established groups in London and Plymouth, England. They fully intend to take over A.A., and they are doing a good job of it.

So how many missionaries have you sent out? Your little island of sanity in San Diego is isolated, outnumbered, and surrounded. They are winning and you are losing.

By the way, about the Traditions, they aren't really anything to brag about either. Tradition Three, that any person in need of help can join, is the only really good one. But even that generous rule has a fatal flaw: it allows any pervert or sexual predator or dangerous criminal to join (anonymously), and gives him free rein, and there is no policy to get rid of him.

The other traditions declare things like that you must conform to the nonsense. Both Traditions One and Twelve declare that the group is more important than the individual.

Then Tradition Two says that God runs the meeting by talking through the old-timers. Yeh, right.

Tradition Nine says that A.A. should never be organized, after Bill Wilson organized it into two corporations with a Board of Directors and a Board of Trustees, and highly-paid executives and a National Council that must approve the propaganda, and councils all over the place...

I analyzed all of the traditions here: The Twelve Traditions Interpreted.

By the way, "the two million members" phrase is not true either. The real membership is more like a few hundred thousand, and the rest is just churn: People forced, coerced, cajoled, or shoved in, only to drop out a few weeks or months or years later. Look here for the details. And here for the dropout rate.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you are
**     going because you might not get there.
**       ==  Yogi Berra

P.S.: Also note that A.A. in San Diego was started up by Jim Burwell, the resident atheist of Alcoholics Anonymous. Apparently San Diego's A.A. is much more liberal than the fundamentalist A.A. found in other places. Greg wrote about that here:

Also see http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters274.html#Richard_B for more about Jim Burwell.

And we discussed that further here:

[The next letter from greg is here.]

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