Letters, We Get Mail, CCXCVIII
by A. Orange

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters298.html#Michael_O ]

Date: Mon, March 26, 2012 3:29 pm     (answered 1 April 2012)
From: "Michael O."
Subject: 3 things AA does usefully


I've written before but I just wanted to throw out 3 possible "positive" aspects of AA (borrowing off of your "What's Good?" section):

— Something to do.
— Somewhere to go.
— Someone to talk to.

Of course all these 3 things could be better served by finding other activities to fill your life with meaning but at least in the beginning (first year or so) when a recovering alcoholic is looking for something to fill the vacuum if there are relatively benevolent low-pressure groups then it can fill this niche. However after then the training wheels should come off and at that point that person should be looking to move on with their life. The problem is so many groups are inherently high-pressure, step-obsessed, "program-centric" groups and without experience you wouldn't know the difference until you're in there for a while, by that time getting fully indoctrinated.

Thanks for all your work and hope the goslings are well this spring.


Hi Mike,

Thanks for the letter. Yes, I have to agree with that. Some companionship and moral support can be very helpful in the first year — provided that it doesn't come at the price of also getting indoctrination in cult religion and gross misinformation about alcohol abuse and addiction.

Fortunately, the sane recovery groups are growing and proliferating.

And of course, how empty must someone's life be for him to say, "I'm bored. I need something to do. I know, I'll go join a cult religion and drink some koolaid. Or maybe overdose on barbiturates so that I can hitch a ride on an invisible flying saucer that is hiding behind a comet."

Oh well, 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/   *
**     "What is it all but a trouble of ants
**     In the gleam of a million million of suns?"
**        ==  author unknown

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters298.html#Mary_A ]

Date: Thu, March 29, 2012 6:28 am     (answered 1 April 2012)
From: "Facebook"
Subject: New message from Mary A.
To: "Orange Papers"

Mary sent you a message.

"Hi, thanks for your really informative website. I have been trying to get sober in AA for 16 years but it has never worked and I have such low self esteem now. I stopped going to meetings a week ago and have been trying moderation which is working fine at the moment, but if it doesn't I will stop altogether, which I have always been able to do. But I keep hearing their voices in my head. I wish I'd never gone in the first place, I was concerned because I used alcohol when I was under stress at work, but I got sucked into all the bullshit and then when I drank I binged — something I never did before I started going. My husband and adult children all say they don't think I'm an alcoholic and my husband says whenever I go to AA it causes so much trouble at home as they tell me to leave him as he drinks. The last 16 years I have been on a go to AA — binge — go back to AA cycle. Do you know where I can get some information about de-programming my brain? I feel so angry at myself for believing all the crap they told me! And now I feel I am going mad with all the AA stuff going round in my head. Thanks again for putting the truth out there."

Hello Mary,

Thanks for the message and the compliments. And I'm glad to hear that you are doing well. I'm especially glad to hear that you are resisting the indoctrination, and not allowing them to destroy your marriage. Those fools are downright vicious.

First off, please do not be down on yourself, and criticize yourself for believing the stuff that A.A. shoved on you. You were just a babe in the woods, up against some of the most skilled cult religion recruiters and indoctrinators in the world. A.A. has 75 years of experience in fooling people with their propaganda, and they even had a head start. They recycled Dr. Frank Buchman's cult religion tricks and dogma and beliefs, and he in turn recycled the dogma and slogans and tricks of those evangelists who were his mentors, and they got it from others before them. Those old cult religion salesmen had a couple of centuries of advantage over you. They have had centuries of practice and time to refine their mind-bending tactics before you innocently wandered in their door. It was never a fair fight.

It is entirely possible that you are not an alcoholic and never were. If you can moderate, then good for you. And like you said, if you cannot moderate, then just quit altogether.

The problem of binge drinking after going to A.A. is a real problem. That is what Dr. Jeffrey Brandsma found in his study of A.A.: The people who got A.A. did five times as much binge drinking as other people who got no "treatment" or "help" or "support group", and the A.A.-indoctrinated people did nine times as much binge drinking as other people who got Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Teaching people that they are powerless over alcohol becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.

It will take some time to get the A.A. garbage cleared out of your head. Heck, I'm still catching myself thinking a Stepper thought now and then, forgetting what I know for a moment and accepting a Stepper assumption, even though I only went to A.A. for 3 months, and I know better. A.A. has been inserting their memes into American society and popular thought for 75 years now too, so it's hard to get away from it.

  • "Nobody can do it alone."
  • "You need a support group."
  • "You need a program."
  • "You need help from a Higher Power."
  • "People who depend on a Higher Power for their sobriety are more spiritual."
  • "He won't really start to recover until he hits bottom."
  • "We just want to freely give away what was freely given to us."
  • "Helping others keeps us sober."

Remember the old Chinese saying, "The longest journey begins with the first step." And also, "When you have taken the first step, the journey is half over." And you have obviously taken the first step, and more.

May I recommend this web page?: How To Deprogram Your Own Mind. There, I wrote down some ideas that I had on the subject. Now that isn't the end-all and be-all on the subject, but it's a start.

Beyond that, just learning more about the dark side of A.A., and the real history of A.A., will help you to "un-think" it.

Also, you might like SMART. They teach some thought techniques that can help in deprogramming. I already mentioned one technique in that web page on deprogramming your own mind — catching and rejecting the irrational words like "should, ought to, must, deserve, etc." that push an unspoken value system. But they have a few more techniques for detecting and rejecting irrational thoughts, like challenging them with "Says who? Where is it written? Is there any proof for that?" So you might like SMART. It can't hurt, and you could learn some useful tools. (Note that SMART really does what A.A. only claims to do — give you some tools that will help you to maintain sobriety.)

And on the subject of techniques to moderate or quit, this page points to a bunch of letters and techniques on the subject: How did you get to where you are?

Have a good day now, and don't hesitate to message again.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*       http://www.Orange-Papers.org/forum/   *
**   An insincere and evil friend is more to be feared than a wild beast;
**   a wild beast may wound your body, but an evil friend will wound your mind.
**      ==  Buddha

May 27, 2009, Wednesday, Downtown Portland, Waterfront Park:

Canada Geese family
Mama Goose and two younger goslings

Canada Geese family Canada Goose family
Yes, they have one thing on their minds: munchies.

Geese and Girl
Geese and Woman
As you can see, the Waterfront Park flock is so tame that they don't even bother to move when people walk by them. The father has his head up and is watching attentively, but he is not sounding the alarm, and they are not running away.

[More gosling photos below, here.]

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters298.html#Paul_K ]

Date: Wed, March 28, 2012 7:42 pm     (answered 2 March 2012)
From: "Paul K."
Subject: Re: hello again

Hi Orange,

I recently borrowed an AA book from the local library. It is titled "Experience, Strength and Hope" and it is a collection of 56 AA stories that were in earlier editions of the Big Book but are not in the present edition of the Big Book.

I have heard it said that about half of the sober alcoholic AA members who got their their stories published in earlier editions of the Big Book eventually returned to drinking and died drunk. Have you ever read or heard anything about this?


Hello Paul,

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

The answer to your question is a simple and resounding "Yes" on all counts. That report comes from Francis Hartigan, Lois Wilson's private secretary. "Private secretary?" Weren't Bill and Lois living in poverty, just struggling to survive? Well no, not exactly. More like getting rich off of A.A. royalties, living in a beautiful house in the country, driving a Cadillac car, and Bill was supporting mistresses on the side, and Lois had a private secretary. (By the time of her death, Lois was getting about $900,000 per year.)

Well anyway, here is what Francis Hartigan reported in his biography of Bill Wilson (which he didn't write until many years after Lois died):

We have to wonder why both the Wilsons and the Smiths did not simply give up. Today the nation's best alcoholism treatment centers report success rates ranging from 25 percent to 50 percent. During Bill's stay in Akron, he and Bob calculated their success rate to be about 5 percent, and among the few who seemed to catch on, not all of them were able to maintain consistent sobriety. The first edition of AA's Big Book, published in 1939, contains the personal recovery stories of many of AA's earliest members. Some years later, Bill made notations in the first copy of the book to come off the press, indicating which individuals portrayed therein had stayed sober. A good 50 percent of them had not.
Bill W. A Biography of Alcoholics Anonymous Cofounder Bill Wilson, Francis Hartigan, pages 91-92.

There is more about that here:

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/   *
**     Found in a fortune cookie: "Among the lucky, you are the chosen one".
**     I got this the day I left drug rehab, knowing most of those I was
**     in the hospital with would relapse shortly.
**        == 15 yrs Sober, Brooklyn NY. ==
**           Written in a blog, January 16th, 2008 4:26 pm

[The previous letter from Xtina is here.]

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters298.html#Xtina ]

Date: Wed, March 28, 2012 8:14 pm     (answered 2 April 2012)
From: Xtina
Subject: Re: Curious

Wow Orange, I can respect your opinions — but I can also say that you are not the nicest fellow by your response. It was quite curt and lacked common respect for other people. If the site helped you stay sober by helping others, it would make some logical sense to put so much time and work into it. I won't mimic your attitude back at you, but you may want to ask yourself why you are more obsessed with AA than the actual members. It's creepy. — x

Hello again, Xtina,

Sorry to hear that you are offended by somebody telling you the truth. (That is of course just another standard propaganda and debating trick. Liz Cheney was "so offended" by John Kerry mentioning that she was a Lesbian, after she broadcasted the fact to the whole world on radio and TV.)

My response to you was not "quite curt" — it was four times as long as your comment. I patiently explained the situation in some detail, with links to supporting evidence. You just don't seem to like someone exposing the facts.

Oh well, 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/   *
**     Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.
**        == Mark Twain (American Humorist, Writer & Lecturer. 1835—1910)

[The previous letter from Hetu-Ahin is here.]

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters298.html#Hetu-Ahin ]

Date: Thu, March 29, 2012 2:46 am     (answered 2 April 2012)
From: "Hetu-Ahin"
Subject: Re: 12 steps for sane 'lunatics'

Dear Orange,

Thanks for your reply. I found it extremely interesting. Three of quick points.

Why on earth would you think that I would think that other people could work miracles? What I learned from AA was that I was indeed relying far too much on my own drunkard's ways of thinking and that I had to learn to seek guidance from people who collectively know more than I do, and many of whom know me quite well and are good at spotting dangeours ways of thinking that I am prone to. They are carefully selected and there are enough of them so that I can get really good advice. And I have learned that when there is something like consensus, I should just do what they advice, even if I don't want to. I don'rt pray to them I talk to them.

Hello again, Hetu-Ahin,

I never said that you believed in miracles. I said that the 12 Steps require God to perform a whole bunch of miracles in order for the 12 Steps to work.

Now if you want to write an essay explaining how you don't believe in God, and you don't believe in miracles, and how the 12 Steps cannot possibly work in a supernatural fashion, I'll gladly publish it.

The rest of your paragraph explains that you got counseling from someone whom you trust and consider wise. Good. You can of course, find such people in other places than cult religion meeting rooms.

I think that those in AA who are out to convert atheists are overt about it. They say that you need some kind of supernatural HP to get sober. And then they give you all this stuff about: take the group as your HP to start with. Just to start with, because this will change. This is what BB says. It isn't a secret. This goes along with: talk like a believer, act like a believer, open your mind, be humble etc. A benevolent and overt attempt at indoctrination that sometimes works. Annoying. But not a con. Then you have many theists who don't think that belief in a supernatural HP is necessary. That's nearly all of the theists in my groups.

That sounds like a fair assessment of the situation. The term that you avoided using is, "Bait and switch trick", which is what it is. First you can believe in anything, including a rock or a tree, and then you should just "Fake It 'Till You Make It", but then you should really start to believe in the Tyrant Upstairs who will give you miracles if you grovel enough.

Confusion arises with 'use 'God' to mean what you like'. It can mean use 'God' to mean Group of Drunks or whatever. Or it can mean use 'God' to talk about God as you understand Him. The second is theistic: you are to talk about God the all-powerful, but there is leeway in relation to how He is conceived. The first is benign, though irritating and stupid. This confusion now spreads across every use of the term 'God', including 'find your own conception of God'. People do get confused about this. But I don't think that anyone trades on the confusion in order to indoctrinate, by trying to plant the word in someone's mind by using the first interpretation and then somehow cajoling then into theistic beliefs by inculcating a concept of God via the second interpretation.

That "confusion" is at the heart of the deception and I'm sure that they do "trade on the confusion". The 12 Steps are passed off as working technology — the 12 Steps are supposedly a set of things for someone to do to make him quit drinking and stay sober. But to then declare that the single most important word in the Steps — "God" — doesn't mean anything in particular is both dishonest and insane. But that's what they say.

Remember that 'God as we understood Him' comes from two people wirth different agendas, not one person with a single con-job conversion agenda. Confusion is what results, not a confidence trick, a device for indoctrination.

I disagree. Bill Wilson was selling the crazy dogmatic Oxford Group religion as a cure for "alcoholism". "The only radical cure for dipsomania is religiomania." Jim Burwell saw that Bill's fanaticism was going to drive away many of the alcoholics whom A.A. was supposed to help. So Jim tried to get Bill to tone it down. He didn't really succeed. Inserting two "as we understood Him" qualifiers did not change the fact that the 12 Steps are Dr. Frank Buchman's cult recruiting and indoctrination practices.

The rest of it, the "anything as your Higher Power", really is a confidence trick. Here is how the Serenity Bible describes the con:

We may start out as agnostics. We may then come to view the group or recovery process as our higher power, looking to other people for strength. Gradually, we accept a vague notion of god, which grows to a more specific monotheistic god. We may even begin to pray to and dialogue with this god. Eventually we come to know the one true God.
Serenity, A Companion for Twelve Step Recovery, Complete with New Testament Psalms & Proverbs, Dr. Robert Hemfelt and Dr. Richard Fowler, page 78.

On groups accepting atheists. In one group I go to there used to be a sign up: 'Who are you to say that there is no 'God?'. I asked if the sign could be taken down. We had two meetings to discuss. And it was voted down more or less unanimously. The theists saw that it was inapprorpiate. Since then the other two 'God' posters that were up have been taken down, I believe because the theists want to make us atheists feel comfortable. And two nice men who used to be AA fundies have completely changed their way of talking. This week one of them pointedly used 'higher power' instead of 'God' and drew my attention to this. The other one talked of how he had come to believe in a creative intelligence whom he chose to call 'God, 'but whatever floats your boat', he said.


It's nice that you found a reasonable group that would take down the sign. But the vast majority of the emails and stories that I get describe a far less understanding and tolerant A.A. Check out the horror stories here. Especially check out "My friend started isolating himself from us. He now prays about EVERYTHING and expects a message or sign from God."

Have you considered taking your experience and knowledge someplace else, like to SMART or Lifering or SOS, where you don't have to argue about theology in order to talk about how to get and stay sober?

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/   *
**     ROBIN:  "Holy Higher Power, Batman! How can we Seek and Do
**             the Will of Doorknob Almighty? That's impossible,
**             because He won't ever open up and talk!"
**     BATMAN: "Shut up, Boy Blunder!
**             You're going to confuse the newcomers!"

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters298.html#Hetu-Ahin2 ]

Date: Thu, March 29, 2012 9:17 am     (answered 2 April 2012)
From: "Hetu-Ahin"
Subject: Re: 12 steps for sane 'lunatics'

Dear Orange,

Here is a reply to yiur bait-and-switch game claim:

Dear Orange,

AA is a fellowship of men and women. It does not tell anyone anything. It is not that kind of entity. AA has BB and 12 and 12. These tell you things in the way a book tells you things. They have no power to make you do anything at all. Official documents from GSO also count as AA written material and they tell you things in the way written material does. These also has no power to make anyone do anything. Individual members tell other people things all the time. Some of what they tell people is consistent with the books and official documents, much of it is not. AA plays no games. As a fellowship it is far too disorganized to do anything that sophisticated. All it does as a whole is help alcoholics, by providing meetings, sponsors, written material some of which at least that they would be well-advised to read. Prospective new members can read BB and 12 and 12. If they did so they would then know what was on offer, and could avoid any difficulty with anyone telling them anything problematic. There can then be no first and then later. They can see how 'God' is used in BB and 12 and 12 for themselves.



Hello again, Hetu-Ahin,

Wow, you are really descending into denial now, and just parrotting the A.A. party line.

  1. "AA is a fellowship of men and women. It does not tell anyone anything. It is not that kind of entity."

    The A.A. holy book says:

    Once more: The alcoholic at certain times has no effective mental defense against the first drink. Except in a few rare cases, neither he nor any other human being can provide such a defense. His defense must come from a Higher Power.
    The Big Book, 3rd Edition, Chapter 3, More About Alcoholism, page 43.

    Remember that we deal with alcohol — cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power — that One is God. May you find Him now!
    The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Into Action, pages 58-59.

    Not telling anybody anything?

  2. AA has BB and 12 and 12. These tell you things in the way a book tells you things. They have no power to make you do anything at all. Official documents from GSO also count as AA written material and they tell you things in the way written material does. These also has no power to make anyone do anything.

    If the A.A. books have no power to make anybody do anything, why are they published? Why are they worshipped by most of the membership? Why did the A.A. headquarters sue A.A. members for publishing their own inexpensive translations of the out-of-copyright first edition of the Big Book?

  3. "AA plays no games. As a fellowship it is far too disorganized to do anything that sophisticated."

    All it takes is one clever or insane or fanatical sponsor to play games on newcomers' heads. And all it takes is one nutcase to set himself up as the leader of a new subcult. Haven't you read about the games that Clancy's and Mike's groups play? Including financial and sexual exploitation?

    And then there are more subcults like Foxhall, and the Atlantic Group, and more Atlantic Group here and more about the Atlantic Group here. Then even Young Peoples' AA has degenerated into a sexual exploitation society.

  4. "All it does as a whole is help alcoholics, by providing meetings, sponsors, written material some of which at least that they would be well-advised to read."

    No, actually, what A.A. also does is raise the rate of binge drinking, and increase the death rate, and raise the cost of hospitalization, and raise the rate of rearrests. Foisting the teachings of an old pro-Nazi cult religion from the nineteen-thirties on sick people and telling them that it is a great cure for "alcoholism" produces some very bad results.

  5. Prospective new members can read BB and 12 and 12. If they did so they would then know what was on offer, and could avoid any difficulty with anyone telling them anything problematic. There can then be no first and then later. They can see how 'God' is used in BB and 12 and 12 for themselves.

    Avoid any difficulty with anybody? Go read the horror stories again. People are routinely told to either believe and do what they are told, or else "Go out and do some more research on the subject." In other words, relapse and die. And lots of people have no choice in the matter. People are sentenced to A.A. by judges or "treatment programs", or E.A.P.s (Employee Assistance Programs), and those people had better "get with the Program", or else they suffer dire consequences.

    No first and then later? Talk about ignoring reality. A.A. is nothing but a huge mess of bait-and-switch tricks. Did you actually read them?

    And there is nothing accidental about it. Bill described his deceptive selling of the Oxford Group religion this way:

    ...drinkers would not take pressure in any form, excepting from John Barleycorn himself. They always had to be led, not pushed. They would not stand for the rather aggressive evangelism of the Oxford Group. And they would not accept the principle of "team guidance" for their own personal lives. It was too authoritarian for them. In other respects, too, we found we had to make haste slowly. When first contacted, most alcoholics just wanted to find sobriety, nothing else. They clung to their other defects, letting go only little by little. They simply did not want to get "too good too soon." The Oxford Groups' absolute concepts — absolute purity, absolute honesty, absolute unselfishness, and absolute love — were frequently too much for the drunks. These ideas had to be fed with teaspoons rather than by buckets.
    Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age, William G. Wilson, pages 74-75.
    Not-God, Ernest Kurtz, page 46,

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/   *
**  The way to see faith is to shut the eye of reason.
**    ==  Benjamin Franklin

[The next letter from Hetu-Ahin is here.]

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters298.html#Christina ]

Date: Sat, March 31, 2012 12:35 pm     (answered 3 April 2012)
From: "Christina"
Subject: Hi A. Orange

Hi Orange,

It appears H. Ketchum hasn't taken his arrest seriously. He was arrested 4 days ago for not registering. I can't find the guidelines of how often or when Oregon sex offenders need to register anywhere, regardless I'm sure there's plenty of time given.


I've been to PAAC, back when it was on 12th st. for acupuncture and at their new location for outpatient in '06 but that wasn't what did it entirely for me. Believing in my own power and sensibility, doing things on my own path and time approach and having gone through numerous trials and errors is what worked best for me. Since then I have formed (and it's always evolving) my own theory of what addiction is and how to remain separate from it. I did go to inpatient at NARA for 4 months at the end of '06. It was helpful to be removed entirely from the society I had, and to be given my basic necessities respectively so I could start over. I was so addicted physically I needed those things and didn't have family or other sources that could offer that in a way I could actually end the addiction. It got to where I lost my housing plus and was living in my truck, I couldn't reach out to family and even lost contact with good old friends because I knew I was addicted. I haven't had a beer in 6 years almost and am repulsed by the thought, I do drink a glass of wine a few times a year but there's no sense in drinking to excess and definitely not what I want. The information you have put together is amazing. I have viewed your site a few times and still am searching through it, I plan on spreading the word even more.

Have a good day,

Christina in Oregon

Hello Christina,

I'm glad to hear that you are doing well. Thank you very much for the tip. That is news to me. I don't know how you found that, but I'm glad that you did.

I was kind of wondering whatever happened to old Harry Ketchum. VINES erased his web page when he finished his probation last year (05/16/2011). I searched the Internet for sex offender listings, but could not find him. Now I know why. He didn't register.

His appearance has really changed. I wouldn't have recognized him if I met him on the street. He used to have short hair and was clean-shaven.

For those readers who don't know what all this means, in November of 2000 I was sent to PAAC, the "Portland Alternative Addiction Center" (also when it was at 12th & Morrison), for what they called outpatient treatment for alcoholism and/or drug addiction. It included lots of acupuncture, which was supposed to "reduce our cravings". It was a total sham. A fanatical nutcase who yammered 12-Step slogans at us was our "counselor". That was Harry Ketchum. The Oregon Health Plan was charged $1700 per person for this guy to tell us that "I am teachable today. I don't know if I will relapse tomorrow. Your addiction wants to kill you. You need a higher power in your recovery program. Go to at least three A.A. or N.A. meetings each week, and get a sponsor."

I described that so-called "treatment" more here:

  1. Intro to A.A.
  2. another description
  3. the "treatment" bait-and-switch trick
  4. the acupuncture hoax
  5. At the four-year point, I was the only person out of my group of clients (between 100 and 200 people) who had not relapsed.
  6. A biography written for SOS

Harry Ketchum is also the fool who counseled me not to quit smoking. "If you put too much on your plate, something might spill off." I had to quit smoking. I couldn't breathe any more. In the homeless shelter where I was staying, I got exposed to every disease in the city, and I came down with multiple colds and flus and bronchitis and I literally couldn't even get one cigarette down because I would go into such a bad coughing fit that I couldn't inhale the smoke. So I gave it up and went to the doctor and got patches, and quit. Then Harry advised me not to quit smoking. That is one of the worst pieces of advice that I've ever gotten in my life. Fortunately, I ignored Harry's advice and followed my own conscience, and stayed quit. And I'm still quit.

Then I came down with pneumonia because my lungs were cleaning out the old garbage, smoke and tar and nicotine and carbon and whatever, so fast that my lungs couldn't expell it fast enough, and tubes got plugged up in there. I never dreamed that your lungs could hurt so bad. Then, when I tried to explain to Harry that I was not able to make my quota of A.A. meetings because I couldn't go out in the cold winter night air in December with pneumonia, he wouldn't even let me finish the sentence: "Recovery must be the most important thing in your life. You can't let anything get in front of your recovery. There is no excuse for not going to meetings." He wouldn't even listen to one sentence about my medical condition.

Harry gave me the creeps. I really didn't like him, but I didn't know quite why. I was glad when he got sick and took a leave of absence. I finished the "treatment program" with a less insane guy. The replacement guy had below-average I.Q., and could not get a job as a regular counselor, because the T.C. managers didn't think that he was qualified, but he could work as a substitute. Ironically, he was actually a better counselor because he listened to people, rather than just arrogantly assuming that he knew everything (and we knew nothing). And he is the guy who handed out slips of paper that listed SMART meetings, for those people who didn't like A.A. I had never heard of SMART, but I was curious, so I went and checked it out, and when I saw what it was like, I immediately switched from A.A. to SMART meetings from then on. So I thank him for that tip.

So I "graduated" from the "treatment program" without Harry's help. Then, a little over a year later, I ran into an alumnus from my "group therapy", and he told me that Harry had been arrested for child pornography. I asked around, and it turned out that he was arrested for a lot more than that. (The reason that I had to ask around is because neither the local newspaper, The Oregonian, nor any of the local TV stations reported this story of an outrageously criminal treatment center counselor. Why not?) Harry Ketchum was actually arrested for two counts of criminal sexual penetration of a minor, and also possession of cocaine and child pornography. He had cocaine at home, and in his car, and in his office at the "treatment center". Then, when they searched his computer, they found it full of child pornography. So it turns out that while Harry was counseling us in how to live clean and sober lives, he was going home and snorting cocaine, and then looking at child pornography on his computer, and then raping his step-children. He was convicted on all counts and sent to the Snake River Correctional Facility in Ontario, Oregon, near the Oregon-Idaho border for several years. Then he got out and was on probation for some more years.

Well, I'm happy to report that 11 years later, I have 11 years off of alcohol, tobacco, and all other drugs too. I'm so clean and pure that it is disgusting. Harry, on the other hand, has a long criminal history and he may go back to prison again. He could get another year of prison for failure to register, or he could get probation, if he is lucky. One thing is certain: I know that he won't be counseling anybody else in how to live clean and sober lives. Thank God!

By the way, to the best of my knowledge, Harry really is a certified drug and alcohol counselor. As I have said so many times, certification of drug and alcohol counselors is a joke. The standards are very, very low. About all that is required is a few classes in how to recruit for Alcoholics Anonymous, and parrot slogans, and send people to A.A. meetings.

PAAC and its parent corporation, Central City Concern, are still in business (at 8th Avenue & NW Burnside in downtown Portland), still selling "treatment" to the suckers.

Oh well, 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/   *
**     You can fool some of the people some of the time,
**     And that's enough to make a decent living.
**        ==  W. C. Fields

May 27, 2009, Wednesday, Downtown Portland, Waterfront Park:

Canada Goose browsing
Goose Family, resting
Well, Mother and the babies are resting while Father stands guard.

Canada Goose family
The Marina and Marquam Bridge. The Ross Island Bridge is underneath, in the background.

Canada Goose gosling
Goslings and Backpack
This youngster is wondering if he can get some munchies out of the backpack. He has noticed that I pull the goodies out of the backpack, so how does he get more out? That is actually a sign of intelligence. Most geese don't make that connection.

[The story of Carmen continues here.]

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters298.html#Erik ]

Sent: Monday, March 26, 2012 7:54 PM     (answered 4 April 2012)
From: Erik
Subject: The Age of Ignorance

Widespread ignorance bordering on idiocy is our new national goal. It's no use pretending otherwise and telling us, as Thomas Friedman did in the Times a few days ago, that educated people are the nation's most valuable resources. Sure, they are, but do we still want them? It doesn't look to me as if we do. The ideal citizen of a politically corrupt state, such as the one we now have, is a gullible dolt unable to tell truth from bullshit.

An educated, well-informed population, the kind that a functioning democracy requires, would be difficult to lie to, and could not be led by the nose by the various vested interests running amok in this country. Most of our politicians and their political advisers and lobbyists would find themselves unemployed, and so would the gasbags who pass themselves off as our opinion makers. Luckily for them, nothing so catastrophic, even though perfectly well-deserved and widely-welcome, has a remote chance of occurring any time soon. For starters, there's more money to be made from the ignorant than the enlightened, and deceiving Americans is one of the few growing home industries we still have in this country. A truly educated populace would be bad, both for politicians and for business.


In the past, if someone knew nothing and talked nonsense, no one paid any attention to him. No more. Now such people are courted and flattered by conservative politicians and ideologues as "Real Americans" defending their country against big government and educated liberal elites. The press interviews them and reports their opinions seriously without pointing out the imbecility of what they believe. The hucksters, who manipulate them for the powerful financial interests, know that they can be made to believe anything, because, to the ignorant and the bigoted, lies always sound better than truth:

  • Christians are persecuted in this country.
  • The government is coming to get your guns.
  • Obama is a Muslim.
  • Global Warming is a hoax.
  • The president is forcing open homosexuality on the military.
  • Schools push a left-wing agenda.
  • Social Security is an entitlement, no different from welfare.
  • Obama hates white people.
  • The life on earth is 10,000 years old and so is the universe.
  • The safety net contributes to poverty.
  • The government is taking money from you and giving it to sex-crazed college women to pay for their birth control.

One could easily list many more such commonplace delusions believed by Americans. They are kept in circulation by hundreds of right-wing political and religious media outlets whose function is to fabricate an alternate reality for their viewers and their listeners. "Stupidity is sometimes the greatest of historical forces," Sidney Hook said once. No doubt. What we have in this country is the rebellion of dull minds against the intellect. That's why they love politicians who rail against teachers indoctrinating children against their parents' values and resent the ones who show ability to think seriously and independently. Despite their bravado, these fools can always be counted on to vote against their self-interest. And that, as far as I'm concerned, is why millions are being spent to keep my fellow citizens ignorant.



Hello Erik,

Thanks for the information. Yes, I think our country has also suffered from periods of anti-intellectualism in earlier periods of history, but this time may be worse. Way back, more than a century ago, we had the "Know-Nothings", an actual political party. And Kurt Vonnegut critically summarized the American mind-set with: "If you are so smart, why aren't you rich?"

Still, the current ignorance worries me. The movie that just came out "Game Change" reveals a new depth in American politics. Before George W. Bush, have we ever had a time when a blithering idiot could become President? Yes, we have had corrupt criminals and murderous liars and fools and weak hands, but idiots? I don't remember any.

And obviously, it is easier to sell cult religion and quack medicine to ignorant people, too. There's plenty of money to be made deceiving the ignorant. (And the sick, and the cloudy-headed and confused, and the superstitious...)

Oh well, have a good day.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*       http://www.Orange-Papers.org/forum/   *
**     "Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of
**     Congress. But I repeat myself."
**       ==  Mark Twain

[The previous letter from Laine is here.]

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters298.html#Laine ]

Date: Thu, March 29, 2012 7:45 am     (answered 4 April 2012)
From: "Laine S."
Subject: RE: Just about out the door

Thanks Orange. Last week I emailed my sponsor that I decided to look into other programs. Surprisingly, she was okay with this and wished me well. In only a week, I feel so much better that I've stepped away. I feel much clearer about holding myself accountable rather than Big Brother watching. Thanks for all you're doing to help shed some light on this issue. Take care.


Hi again, Laine,

That is good news. I especially like the fact that the sponsor was understanding. I have received so many horror stories where the sponsor wouldn't ever talk to the sponsee again after the sponsee said that he or she was going to try another way.

Good luck, and 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/   *
**     One of the most sublime experiences we can ever have
**     is to wake up feeling healthy after we have been sick.
**          ==  Rabbi Harold Kushner

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters298.html#Russell_H ]

Date: Thu, March 29, 2012 11:36 am     (answered 4 April 2012)
From: "Russell H."
Subject: Thank you for exposing A.A. (Russ)

Dear Orange-

I can't thank you enough for exposing Alcoholics Anonymous for who they really are. A brief story about myself, I got into trouble a while back (DUI) and was told to go to SATP (Substance Abuse Treatment Program) at the VA hospital in Hampton, VA, and they told me I needed to go to 3 AA mtgs a week as part of the program and I've been in AA for a total of 8 months (until yesterday). At first glance, it seemed to be a good thing and people were living ordinary lives. Then as soon as I got into speaking for the first time (The "Newcomer") I got bashed harder than anything. I was shocked with the way they were speaking to me and then I kept my mouth shut for the remainder. I thought that I was convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that I had a serious problem with alcohol when I first met my sponsor and they spoon-fed me the whole disease theory and that I'm powerless over my addiction. And he put the spiel on me and I bought into it real hard, so I decided to take it for what its worth and work the steps. The only "restlessness and irritability" I got was from the program itself and my annoying sponsor telling the same thing over and over, telling me I'm going to die an alcoholic death, blah, blah, blah, and so on and so on. I just recently dropped him and dropped the whole A.A. thing yesterday and I feel more relief of restlessness and irritability from not having to listen to him constantly and continuously writing down my 10th and 11th step every day. This program is so hurtful and does the opposite of addressing the problem, instead focuses on bashing the newcomer and making them feel worse than they already are (which would probably lead them to commit suicide). I sincerely believed that A.A. was the only solution to people with alcohol problems, now I'm going to consider something else such as SMART or SOS. I see more irritable people and less human decency at these meetings, especially toward newcomers and just shoveling all this nonsense in their minds about being powerless, selfish, blah, blah. Your well-researched and peer-reviewed literature confirms this organization is nothing more than a bunch of crazed cults shoveling nonsense into people's brains, making them feel no way out and not solving the problem with their addiction. It's no wonder why so many people in AA commit suicide. Of course it's gonna take some time to recover from all the bashing I've received over the course of time from my sponsor, but I already feel a lot better than I did with the program.

Again thank you,

Submitted Respectfully,


Hello Russ,

Thank you for the letter and thanks for the thanks. I'm glad to hear that you have escaped from the madhouse. So have a good life now.

And have a good day, too.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*       http://www.Orange-Papers.org/forum/   *
**     Hain't we got all the fools in town on our side?
**     And hain't that a big enough majority in any town?
**        ==  Mark Twain (Samuel Longhorne Clemens, 1835—1910), Huckleberry Finn

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters298.html#Crystal ]

Date: Thu, March 29, 2012 4:53 pm     (answered 4 April 2012)
From: "Crystal"
Subject: great site!

Hey, Orange,

Thank you for putting together such a wonderful site. As someone who has been sent to AA a few times by mental health professionals and absolutely hated it, it is great to see something confirming all of my suspicions. I also have attended SOS and found it to be much less awkward and depressing. Also, it didn't seem like the men in SOS were hitting on me.

Anyways, I know this is from the jokes section, but oddly enough, I was actually instructed to do something very similar to this by someone who was in a 12 step program:

And so does my magical ice cream cure that I just invented: Every time you get cravings for alcohol, you just go to Baskin Robbins and eat ice cream instead of drinking alcohol.

I particularly recommend the French Vanilla. Definitely avoid the Rum Raisin.

This simple program does not and can not ever fail, if you completely give yourself to it. RARELY HAVE we seen somebody fail this simple program, except for a few people who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with their ice cream. There are such unfortunates among us. They seem to have been born that way.

So Keep Coming Back! to Baskin Robbins. It Works If You Work It! You Die If You Don't! So Work It, You're Worth It!

Allow me to explain: many years ago, late at night, I was all alone and searching the Craigslist sobriety forum trying to find anyone to talk to. I was getting those weird, spastic, skin-itchies I get when I crave something. I do not only struggle with alcohol issues, but also have eating disorder issues as well, which I understand is pretty common in a lot of alcohol abusers. My eating is often irregular and alternates between several days of starvation with nothing but liquids followed by days of binging, and the alcohol definitely doesn't help, and if anything, helps cover up the eating issues. Anyways, I mentioned on the Craigslist forum that I was really feeling like drinking a few 40s or eating several boxes of girl scout cookies. Someone honestly told me to go eat as many damn cookies as I wanted, and it didn't matter at all as long as I didn't drink. Long story short, I didn't eat anything or drink anything right then, but got really pissed off that someone would suggest that I use an eating disorder to maintain sobriety. I think this is kind of similar to how they perceive cigarettes as well. Cigarettes and eating disorders are just as deadly, but they are viewed as ok if used as tools to stay off alcohol.

I am glad to see that your site does draw the connection between eating and drug abuse, as mentioned in the Lizard Brain section. I feel like some AA groups miss this at times, even though they should be aware considering OA is also a big group, and the H in HALT stands for hungry. I know SMART also has resources for eating disorders. I feel like any addiction recovery plan that doesn't at least have additional help for individuals with eating disorders is incomplete since there is so much overlap.


Hello Crystal,

Thank you for the letter and the compliments. You make a bunch of good points there. I especially liked the note of A.A. and N.A. people actually recommending a nicotine addiction as a substitute for an alcohol or drug addiction. Yes, they do that. I shudder, just thinking about it. They also rationalize, "Well, I've got to keep something."

Yes, the whole eating—addiction thing is rooted in the same place in the brain. Switching from alcohol or drugs to eating disorders is just putting a different mask on the monster. And eating disorders are not okay. They kill people too. There has been a flurry of news stories about diet and death lately. 60 Minutes just did a story about sugar and cancer last Sunday. Americans are guzzling sugar — especially High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) — until they come down with morbid obesity and diabetes and cancer and heart attacks. Not fun. (A friend of mine just came down with diabetes for the first time in his life. Guess what he habitually drank all day long? Soda pop, which is loaded with HFCS.)

Personally, I think that HFCS should be outlawed. Putting it in all of our food is literally killing people.

Those fools on Craig's List who recommended that you pig out on cookies were not giving out good advice. It's funny how many self-appointed experts and know-it-alls there are in the recovery field.

Oh, well, have a good day, and a good life now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*       http://www.Orange-Papers.org/forum/   *
**     "Most people dig their graves with their teeth."
**       ==  An Indian guru whose name I can't remember at the moment.

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