Letters, We Get Mail, CXXXIV



Date: 21.07.2009 18:39     (answered 25 July 2009)
Sender: Jay
Subject: sobreity coins/chips

orange,

what is your take on the symbolism of the triangle on the coin? You realize that its very occultic? Do you think Bill W. or Frank Buchman were Freemasons?

curious,
JT

Hi JT,

I suspect that Bill Wilson was just being a copycat. He and Dr. Bob were (or had been) members of the Oxford Group, which was very occult and superstitious, so Bill wanted a symbol for A.A. that looked mystical. So what did he borrow from? The pyramid and eye in a circle on the dollar bill.

I've been asked several times (like here), if Bill was a Mason, and I haven't seen even a shred of evidence, or hint, that he was. And nobody has sent anything in.

Frank Buchman is another question. I haven't thought about that before. I also doubt it, but it bears checking out. I can see how membership in a secret white boys' society could have helped him in networking with millionaires. But then again, Frank may have considered himself above that kind of thing. He wouldn't go join somebody else's organization; he would demand that they come and join his society, where he was the leader. I don't think that Frank Buchman's narcissistic ego could have long tolerated being a low-ranking member of somebody else's organization.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths,
**      but how myths operate in men's minds without their
**      being aware of the fact."
**       ==  Claude Lévi-Strauss, The Raw and the Cooked [1964], Overture.

P.S.: Also see this letter. It turns out that Thomas Jefferson had something to do with the pyramid with the eye — it was a symbol of reason, not an occult symbol.





Date: 22.07.2009 06:24     (answered 25 July 2009)
Sender: kimberly
Subject: suggestion for http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-links.html

Hello!

My name is Kimberly E. and I'm sorry to bug you but I was browsing around for some pages with sober living and addiction information that I can use in a program I'm helping out with when I came across your page
http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-links.html
which looks like it could turn out to be very useful to me.

Also in case you are interested I found this other page that I thought you or your visitors may be interested in
http://www.orchidrecoverycenter.com/womens-health/alcohol-and-addiction-studies.html
maybe it would be a good addition to your page?

Thanks for reading my email!

Cheers!
Kimberly

Hi Kimberly,

Thanks for the link. That is an extensive list of links to studies. Good stuff. More grist for the mill. And more homework....

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Nothing so needs reforming as other people's habits.
**       ==  Mark Twain (Samuel Longhorne Clemens) 1835-1910
**           Puddn'head Wilson, Puddn'head Wilson's Calendar, 15





Date: 21.07.2009 19:42     (answered 25 July 2009)
Sender: Paul J. B.
Subject: very interesting reading! thanks!

Hello,

I just found your website as I was coming back from an AA meeting where we discussed Step 6, and I was trying to figure out what Defects of Character were, so I searched Google for "Defects of Character".

I read your pages much like a child who finds a banned book might, reading hesitantly at first, worried that I was fooling myself and looking for an excuse to not "work my steps". I've been sober now for almost a year and find I am happy to be free from alcohol and marijuana. I read your pages more and more enthusiastically at the end and I am grateful to you for having published them on the Web. It is very refreshing to see the facts about AA and its founders. Though I agree with what you've disclosed, I don't plan on using this as an excuse to undo all the good that going to AA meetings has done for me over the past several months, but I will definitely consider what you have posted. I agree with much of what you've written and found myself laughing at times (you have a good sense of humour).

I thank you for maintaining this website and hope this message finds you in good health and in good spirits.

Paul J. B.

Hi Paul,

Thanks for the thanks and the compliments.

I especially liked the line about, "I don't plan on using this as an excuse to undo all the good..." [that you have done]. I agree totally. I occasionally say that "I am abstaining from both alcohol and A.A." The fact that A.A. may be screwed up is no reason for us to wreck our health. A.A. is completely irrelevant when I consider the fact that alcohol is poisonous to me, and I'm so much better off without it.

And of course the same goes for tobacco and other drugs, too.

Have a good day, and a good life.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Look to your health, and if you have it, praise God, and value
**     it next to a good conscience; for health is the second blessing
**     that we mortals are capable of; a blessing that money cannot buy.
**       ==  Izaak Walton (1593—1683), The Compleat Angler, I, 21





May 14, 2009, Thursday: Day 14:

Canada Goose goslings
This is seven of the "Family of 9" goslings. The other couple of parents, the parents of the two (or three) other goslings, have gone off with 2 of their offspring somewhere else this day.
This particular photo makes it look like the split in the "Family of 9" is 7+2 — that is, one family has 7 goslings, and the other couple has 2.

[The story of Carmen continues here.]





Date: 23.07.2009 00:14     (answered 26 July 2009)
Sender: M. Otis B.
Subject: AA? F Minus!

Dear Agent Orange,

I am a former heroin addict and general substance abuser. Back when I was using, I got high every single day on anything I could get high on. When it was in full swing, my heroin habit topped a hundred dollars a day (and that was in 1983 dollars). I never went into rehab, detox, or a 12-step program. I never even tried methadone. After years of shooting dope, I just got tired of it and stopped. It's been almost 20 years now since I used heroin, or any other drug stronger than marijuana. Yes, I still smoke pot... but only on rare, isolated occasions. I also drink beer and whiskey, but more for the taste than anything else. I insist on good microbrews and single-malt scotches from Scotland (my favorite is Laphroaig) and turn my nose up at swill like Budweiser, Miller, Coors, etc. even if it's free. It's entirely typical of me to go without a drink for a month or two at a time, then have one or at most two pints of some interesting microbrew, and if I'm really celebrating, maybe sip on a shot of good scotch for half an hour to forty-five minutes, savoring the taste. The last time I got drunk was almost six years ago, and that was a special occasion. I remember at the time thinking how odd it was that I was drunk, since it was the first time in years.

Recently an old friend took me to a 12-step meeting, and I was appalled at what went on there. I'm only a neophyte at the AA-bashing business, so there won't be any surprises here for an old hand like yourself, but I thought you might enjoy the write-up I did of my visit to the strange unreal world of 12-step. Here's what I wrote:

"You're so stupid," said Humann, "you're gonna buy me a steak dinner."

"You're so stupid," I replied, "I'm gonna buy you a raw fish dinner, and you're gonna eat it."

And so it came to pass. The two of us went to a sushi restaurant, and the dumb son of a bitch gorged himself on uncooked penguin chow on my dime... and how did he repay me? He took me to an AA meeting.

Bastard.

It was a late-night affair, held in a tiny Hollywood playhouse called the Next Stage Theater, on La Brea just north of Sunset Blvd. The turnout, I was told several times by several attendees, was unusually light due to it being the night before Easter Sunday (I guess Lindsay Lohan had eggs to dye). I helped myself to coffee from the urn outside the door, dropped a buck in the hat when they passed it, and settled in to listen and observe.

The guest speaker was a slender, older black man who climbed up on the stage and recited a tired-sounding litany of his sin and degradation in the clutches of demon tequila. An occasional half-hearted whoop of encouragement or agreement came from the audience, startlingly loud in contrast to the quiet, almost hypnotic monotone in which he spoke.

Some of what he said seemed a little preemptively defensive, all of it regarding God and/or the AA concept of a "higher power." Several details of the room's minimal decor had caught my eye, including the phrase "God loves you" on the meeting's main piece of signage. Two large posters hung crookedly on the upstage walls, one with the 12 Steps printed on it, and the other with the 12 Traditions. Of the 12 Steps, five mention God by name, a sixth mentions the "higher power," and a seventh refers to the AA experience as a "spiritual awakening." Of the Traditions, number two on the list designates "a loving God" as the group's "one ultimate authority."

These churchly features of AA must generate friction with stubbornly atheist or agnostic recruits with great regularity, as our speaker spent several minutes obliquely defending them without having been challenged on any of them. He stressed the idea that the "higher power" can be anything more powerful than you are, and gave the ocean and electricity as examples. This was nonsensical enough by itself, but he went on to compound the WTFitude of his statements by saying that you could have a doorknob as your higher power if you liked.

During the break, I spoke with him about all this and tried to get him to clarify a bit. How, I wondered, could a doorknob be more powerful than you? I can see how the ocean, or electricity, could be seen as more powerful than a person, but a doorknob?

What kind of power are we talking about, anyway? The ocean is undoubtedly more physically powerful than a human being, but can the ocean write a sonnet, lead a revolution, or travel to the Moon? 'Powerful' is too vague, relative and arbitrary a term... and how does sheer dumb unknowing physical power render the ocean loving? How can (and why should) people willingly abdicate responsibility for their lives and their addictions to an object, no matter how much brute kinetic force it possesses?

The specific mentions of God, I told him, were something I simply couldn't choke down. If AA is sincere about God being "as we understand Him" then we are still left with two immutable qualities that the AA God has: 'He' is male, and He exists. I don't buy that, I said, and frankly, if I were given some kind of hard evidence that a God exists who created this world and all that is in it, my immediate and heartfelt reaction would be a resounding cry of "FUCK YOU, GOD!"

Why is spirituality and religious belief considered a necessary component of recovery from addiction? Clearly, despite all the rhetorical dodges used by AA to qualify their statements about God and submission to Him codified in their Steps and Traditions, what we're dealing with here is a church. Why are our courts ordering people to attend church? Wouldn't there be some kind of concern and even outcry if judges were sentencing people like my friend Humann to attend Scientology meetings, or Catholic mass?

Taking another tack, I told him that my personal experience has been that not only can you stop being an addict (AA says that once you're an addict, you're an addict for life), but you can do it entirely without the 12 Steps. I did. I haven't had a needle full of heroin in my arm for almost twenty years now, and while it wasn't easy and the cravings lasted for most of a decade, I have in the intervening years moved beyond all that. My desire to shoot dope remains as an intellectual memory alone, the visceral memory having long since faded away to nothing.

I told him that I thought he and his AA friends were selling themselves short. You don't clean yourself up and stay that way without wanting to, and no program or set of steps is going to do that for you if you aren't ready and aren't willing. Boozers and dope fiends who quit because they think they should rather than because they want to nearly always relapse eventually. Overcoming addiction simply is not an externally-actuated process. If you've been clean for a week or six months or twenty years, I told him, then that's something YOU did, and it's OK for you to own that and be proud of it.

He listened to my objections, observations, and questions about AA dogma, nodding his head and furrowing his brow as though concentrating on what I was saying. When I finished and was obviously waiting for some sort of response, he continued nodding for another long moment, then seemed to be distracted by an invisible fly that drew his darting gaze away from me and towards the door... the door, his escape hatch back into the warm safety blanket confines of his idiotic, hypocritical faith. I felt as though I had suddenly turned invisible and inaudible as he fled back into the theater without a single word.

The second half of the meeting consisted of testimonials from the audience. Two or three broken, sad-faced derelicts rambled pointlessly about the awful things addiction had inflicted on them, then spoke without a trace of irony about how God had waved his magic dick and made it all better. One even mentioned Jesus by name, without a hint of shock or protest from the rest of the crowd.

The bottom line is that it's a church. It's a cult. The Steps and Traditions are carefully structured to destroy the ego, induce feelings of powerlessness, and keep people in the group, thinking the groupthink and spouting the group dogma, at any cost.

I could take the easy way out and simply end this little diatribe with a big hearty "fuck AA" and be done with it, but I know that the response from many who read this will be something along the lines of "well, if it helps people stay clean, it's a good thing, right?"

I have two responses to that: First, NO, it's not necessarily a good thing even if it does help people stay clean. The phrase "by any means necessary" is a noxious one to me and should be to any reasonable person. I would rather ruin my entire life carousing my ass off, even to the point of partying myself straight into prison or an early grave, than join any cult and have my courage and my confidence surgically removed, my ego crushed and recast in the group's mold. Substitute the word 'Scientology' for 'AA' and see if you still think it's such a good thing just by virtue of helping people overcome their drug and alcohol addictions.

Second, according to AA's own statistics, it DOESN'T help people stay clean. I have already mentioned what I intuitively and experientially know about addiction recovery not being an externally-actuated process; you have to truly want to stop. You have to be ready and willing, and you have to take charge of yourself and take responsibility for what you are doing every waking moment. Statistics show that only 3% to 5% of those who try to stop drinking and/or drugging outside of 12-Step programs succeed, and this reflects the fact that most people who try to quit are doing it because they think they should, not because they actually want to. If AA was truly an effective program, the recovery rate of their members would be significantly higher than that 5%. Instead, according to their own records, the long-term recovery rate of the 12-Step faithful is... 3% to 5%. Their pamphlets gloss this fact over by showing only statistics on the people who stay, so when they trumpet the fact that 48% of their members have been clean for five years or more, what they're saying is that 48% //of 3% to 5% who try their program have been clean for more than five years. That's less than 1.5% to 2.5% who stay clean for five years or more... and at what cost?

AA doesn't work any better than any other approach that people take to getting and staying clean. What it does remarkably well is suck people into a set of faith-based beliefs, shove a big steaming God-turd down their throats, and forcibly remove their dignity along with any possible belief in themselves and their own strengths. AA sacrifices its members' self-confidence on the altar of Bill W. as a means of keeping them in the group //by any means necessary.

At the end of the meeting last night, Humann got his 90-day chip, indicating that he hasn't indulged in three months now. Screw the chip; fuck AA and their precious Steps and Traditions; Bill W. and all his friends can go sleep on a bed made of dicks... but congratulations to Humann on his fortitude and resolve in making it 90 days without poisoning himself any further. AA didn't do that, and neither did God, or the ocean, or electricity, or a doorknob. Humann did that, and as far as I'm concerned nobody gets to take a single shred of credit for it but him. Good job, my old friend. If you ever need to talk yourself down off the ceiling of your urges, I'm here for you and you know how to reach me.

Not long ago, I joined Facebook, and old friends from the L.A. and San Francisco punk rock scene started coming out of the woodwork. People I hadn't heard from in years or decades have been turning out in droves. It was wonderful! But then I discovered that about 85% of them are now 12-steppers. I'm shocked, appalled, incensed, and all fired up to do something about it. My wife and I are getting ready to move to Michigan, and I have some professional videographer friends there who have agreed to help me make a documentary about AA. It was in the course of doing some research for this project that I found your website. What an amazingly comprehensive mountain of data you have put together! I've been reading your stuff at every available moment for most of a week now, and I would love to use your site as source material, if you don't object. Naturally I will also be looking elsewhere for source material, and plan on filming interviews with medical professionals, addicts, former addicts, etc. as well as surreptitiously making audio recordings of 12-step meetings. I don't know if my documentary will go anywhere, but I have to try. It breaks my heart and inflames my mind that so many of my old friends have been suckered into this shitty cult, and I have to do what I can. In my wildest dreams, I manage to make a film that deprograms thousands of AA victims, and convinces the State and the Feds to stop ordering people into the cult. Eh, in reality I'll be lucky if a hundred people see the damned thing, but I'm going to make it anyway.

Cheers,

M OTIS B.

Hello Otis,

Thanks for the letter. All I can say is, "Right on. You've got it. You understand, and know everything you need to know." Oh, and congratulations on breaking free of your addictions. Twenty years off of smack, yes, that's good.

And this is the heart of the matter:
"You don't clean yourself up and stay that way without wanting to..."
Yes, that's the whole ball game. That's everything.

And these two lines,
"The Steps and Traditions are carefully structured to destroy the ego, induce feelings of powerlessness, and keep people in the group, thinking the groupthink and spouting the group dogma, at any cost."
and
"If you've been clean for a week or six months or twenty years, I told him, then that's something YOU did, and it's OK for you to own that and be proud of it."
...are so true. And I get so many objections when I tell people who have some sober time that THEY did it. Not the Steps; they did it. They panic, and say that taking credit for your sobriety is like "taking your will back", and they are sure that it's suicidally foolish behavior to take any credit for one's own sobriety. "Why, you will puff yourself up and make yourself into a 'Big Shot'."

Thus blinded by prideful self-confidence, we were apt to play the big shot.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, page 92.

As an insurance against "big-shot-ism", we can often check ourselves by remembering that we are today sober only by the grace of God and that any success we may be having is far more His success than ours.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, Page 92.

So A.A. destroys their self-confidence and self-respect, and makes them afraid of having any. And I know that those constant put-downs really are harmful to a lot of people.

By the way, if we aren't supposed to take pride in our sobriety, why do A.A. members proudly walk to the front of the room to accept another sobriety coin, while the crowd claps and cheers for them, and congratulates them for their hard work?

But then it's a major sin if you are proud of your accomplishment:
"Congratulations on your 90 days of sobriety. That is great. You have done some good work. Oh, and quit being so proud of yourself, you egotist. God is due the credit, not you. You are sinful and selfish and dishonest and manipulative and just want your own way... You should do another Fifth Step."

That back-and-forth "build them up, then put them down" routine is called "battering", and it's just like wife-battering:

  1. First, the husband is friendly and loving, but then he turns on his wife and threatens and beats her.
  2. Just when the wife is ready to leave, the battering husband reverts to being loving and reassuring, telling the wife that things will be better in the future and that he didn't really mean it and he loves her.
  3. Then, when the wife stays, the husband soon reverts to attacking and beating her again.
  4. Then, just when the wife is ready to leave, the battering husband reverts to being loving and reassuring again.
  5. Eventually, the battered wife is so paralyzed by confusion and fear that she doesn't know if she is coming or going.
  6. And worse yet, while all of that is going on, the husband convinces the wife that it is her fault — that her bad behavior is the problem. She starts to think: "Maybe if I was a better wife, he wouldn't get so angry. I must try harder to be a good wife and please him." Thus, he gradually destroys what little self-respect and self-confidence the wife has left, which makes it even harder for her to leave him.

A.A. does the same thing: First you are wonderful because you are sober, and then you are disgusting because you are proud and selfish and self-seeking. Then you are wonderful because you are working a strong program, and then you are despicable because you have done so many wrong things, and you have so many moral shortcomings and defects of character. Then you are lovable because you are one of us, "The Friends of Bill"; and then you are a social pariah because you "took your will back", and "tried to do it your own way."

And it isn't just A.A. that does that battering routine. Steven Hassan wrote about how Rev. Sun Myung Moon (leader of the Unification Church, i.e., "the Moonies") did it to him. Moon would play the role of the charismatic charmer, lavishly praising his followers in public, honoring them for all of their hard and faithful work, and then Moon would take them to his palatial estate, where he would switch personalities, and play the role of judge and executioner, attacking and denouncing those same followers for not working hard enough.

And this:
"When I finished and was obviously waiting for some sort of response, ... he fled back into the theater without a single word."
... reminded me of Scientology:
'If the criticism cannot be silenced, then the scientologist should cease all communication with the critic, or "disconnect".'
Yep, turn off the receiver and run away. Don't allow any contradictory information to lodge between the ears. (I described that process in the web page on Propaganda Techniques.)

You asked:
"What kind of power are we talking about, anyway? The ocean is undoubtedly more physically powerful than a human being, but can the ocean write a sonnet, lead a revolution, or travel to the Moon?"
Yes. Undoubtedly, the ocean is big and powerful enough for a gigantic wave to knock me down and drown me, or even drown hundreds of thousands of people in Indonesia, but does that make the ocean a wise and caring recovery counselor who can and should seize control of someone's life and will, and force them to get clean and sober? (Oh, and holy and spiritual, too...) Duh....

And about the success rate:
"That's less than 1.5% to 2.5% who stay clean for five years or more... and at what cost?"
Yes, that's what I got from calculating the success rate based on the numbers of sobriety coins handed out. I got the number 1.63% for 5-year success stories. The chart is here.

And this is one of the most important, really big questions:
Why are our courts ordering people to attend church? Wouldn't there be some kind of concern and even outcry if judges were sentencing people like my friend Humann to attend Scientology meetings, or Catholic mass?
Indeed. People would scream if the victims were sentenced to any other church. But through 70 years of clever advertising and self-promotion, the Church of Alcoholics Anonymous has managed to pass itself off as a "spiritual, not religious, recovery program". I still have to agree with what District Judge John Shabaz said. In the case of Grandberg v. Ashland County, a 1984 Federal 7th Circuit Court ruling concerning judicially-mandated A.A. attendance, the judge declared:

Alcoholics Anonymous materials and the testimony of the witness established beyond a doubt that religious activities, as defined in constitutional law, were a part of the treatment program. The distinction between religion and spirituality is meaningless, and serves merely to confuse the issue.
— Wisconsin's District Judge John Shabaz

And yet other judges in small traffic courts or drug courts ignore that ruling, and either sentence people to A.A. meetings, or to "treatment programs" that send the clients to A.A. meetings.

Good luck on your video. I'm also working on one for YouTube too, but it's about the orphaned gosling Carmen. It has nothing to do with alcoholism or drug addiction; it's just a sweet story that I want to tell.

But then again, I think that is the real recovery process: You don't spend the rest of your life talking about how miserable you were while you were drinking or drugging, and become addicted to, or obsessed with, meetings and cult religion practices — you just get on with your life, and go do something better.

Maybe I'll get into some recovery-oriented videos after I get the hang of movie-making with the goslings.

Have a good day, and a good life.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     To the naive, skepticism often seems malicious perversity:
**     "Only some secret enemy in the inward degenerate nature of man,"
**     said Topsell, "could lead anyone to doubt the existence of
**     the unicorn."
**          ==  Bergen Evans

P.S.: I forgot to say that of course you may use my web site as a source. Have at it, and make a good video. And have a good day too.





Date: 23.07.2009 08:21     (answered 26 July 2009)
Sender: Ted B.
Subject: the 3 unwritten rules of AA

Hi Orange,

thanks so much for the website and the truth about this propaganda that has been sewn into the social fabric of the mainstream by AA and the recovery/treatment industry. I will write again, but this first letter is about why I quit AA.

First off, I admit that I have trouble committing to and finishing alot of things (college, the Navy, AA).... but I did do the best I could with AA. I got a sponsor, did the steps as best I could and shared at meetings... sometimes.

Before I read the Orange Papers I was not aware of how dangerous AA thinking (or not thinking) could be. The thing that really stuck out for me was the information about the Synanon games and the cult that used them, and their psychopathic leader. What is really very disturbing is that they use that very method at the main rehab center here on O'ahu. I've seen them do this while I was in there (17 days, left against 'medical advice')... and no one questioned it. Everyone seemed to believe that it had therapeutic value. I thought it was strange, bizarre mind games, and dreaded the idea of being put in the hot seat. One woman in the outpatient program I currently attend who went to that rehab for help, had her counselor tell her "you're a drug addict, you're a thief, and a liar". Then this woman (the client) said that that was good for her and what she needed to hear.

The same woman said that her sponsor grilled her for hours on her 4th step and asked her 33 questions for each person she "harmed" on her 5th step. I don't think it was necessary for her to be interrogated like a criminal suspect.

Anyway, back to me. After my last "relapse", my sponsor's sponsor (grand sponsor) suggested I do 2 things. One was to write a farewell letter to alcohol (not really a bad idea), and the other was to write down my thoughts that preceded my last binge (another good idea, he was much more intelligent than most of the people I've met in AA).

Well, I did both, but what I noticed about the 2nd exercise was that my first thoughts surrounding my last binge were that I was sick and tired of going to and sitting through AA meetings. Of course any AAer would say "there's the problem, you gave up on the program". I suppose that if a person busies themselves with meetings and service work and sponsoring, that could keep them sober, but I would think that they would have to buy into the whole philosophy of the program to stay motivated and I don't see how anyone can.

When we were children did we not learn about right and wrong, good and evil, and religion? The 5th step seems Catholic in nature, and for most non-Catholics (at least me anyway) seems bizarre and unnecessary. But I did it, as I was supposed to, and desperately wanted to lose the obsession, or desire, for alcohol. Everyone seemed to think AA had (or was) the answer.

The steps seem to be geared toward the morally inept, and spiritually bankrupt (by the way my former sponsor and his sponsor were both atheists that used AA itself as their higher power) and egotists. This is not a good way to view yourself if part of the reason for your heavy drinking was low self-esteem (as it was for me).

Not knowing the cult origins of AA, and not feeling good about myself anyway, however, the steps seemed relatively harmless and had this great reputation as a spiritual, moral support group program. That's what everyone seems to think. I was not willing however to go into AA's 3 unwritten steps which sound more like membership rules if you go to enough meetings. Aside from speakers who go up and praise the program while at the same time talking about how screwed up they are even though they're sober, or the ones who just can't shut up about how great they are now that they're in AA, you hear over and over and over again...

1. Get a sponsor, stay in touch with them, and if they become unavailable (or God forbid get a life), fire them and get a new one. Later, you must sponsor a newcomer (the only way to keep it is to give it away).

2. Get into service and commit to your obligation at your Home Group (if your job and your family couldn't keep you sober, this will surely do the trick).

3. Share at meetings (talk about your personal life in front of a group of strangers), go up and tell your life story (not the whole thing, just the part about your alcohol/drug abuse and how AA saved your life)... and sing the praises of this wonderful 'fellowship'.

The only thing I can say in favor of AA is that if you get too lonely and need to be around people who aren't drinking/using they're available, but other than that... that's it! Don't wait for a miracle that is not going to happen.

That's my story (part of it anyway).. Thanks again Orange, and keep up the great work.

Ted

Hi Ted,

Thanks for the letter and the compliments.

The first thing that caught my eye was the mention of Synanon games. Synanon — the insane brainchild of Chuck Dederich — is the root of all of the "confrontational therapy" and "attack therapy" techniques and organizations, and it is still quite popular, as you noticed at your local "treatment center", in spite of the fact that it does not work and produces bad results. Heck, Chuck Dederich and his commune degenerated into a bunch of crazies, and Dederich's lieutenants went to prison for attempted murder of critics and defectors, and Dederich avoided prison only by copping a plea and giving up leadership of Synanon. So much for the wonderful mental health produced by Synanon Games and confrontational therapy.

Nevertheless, Synanon was the model for a whole crop of child and grandchild programs: The Seed, Straight, Inc., Kids of New Jersey, Delancy Street, Drug Free America Foundation, Daytop, Phoenix House, Amity, and more.

Right off the top of my head, I know that half of them, The Seed, Straight, Kids of New Jersey, and Drug Free America Foundation were guilty of vicious child abuse. That's why they don't exist any more. They were shut down amid criminal investigations and lawsuits. But other descendants have taken their places.

The professions of psychology and psychiatry must be in very sick shape if shams and quackery like Synanon Games and "confrontational therapy" that are the best that they can recommend for drug and alcohol problems.

I also agree with the rest of your letter. "The Three Other Steps" are true. Funny how cults' programs seem to always have some more duties that aren't written down, or mentioned beforehand. That's Progressive Commitments, another standard cult characteristic.

The third one, "Share at Meetings", reminds me of the Self-Sell propaganda technique. You are urged to speak, and an unspoken assumption is that you will say things that are acceptable to the group. You'd better, if you want their approving smiles rather than hard frowns... So you scrounge through your mind trying to find something positive to say about A.A. and the program and the great progress you are making... The idea is, that you will start to believe that stuff. You will sell yourself on the idea.

Make them say it enough times, and they will start to believe it. That's Use of the Cognitive Dissonance Technique.

A wacky cult called "Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism" that I was briefly trying out in the seventies used the same technique. At Sunday morning meetings, newcomers were urged to get up in front of the whole congregation and declare what wonderful things have come to them, and which of their wishes were granted, by chanting "Nam-myoho-renge-kyo" at a printed scroll. Absurd as it may sound, say it enough times, and you will start to believe it. They did.

Oh, and I can think of one other "unwritten rule" of A.A.: "You can't criticize The Program."

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    The instinctive need to be the member of a closely knit group
**    fighting for common ideals may grow so strong that it becomes
**    inessential what these ideals are.
**       ==  Konrad Lorenz





Date: Thu, May 21, 2009 12:20 am     (answered 28 July 2009)
From: "Jim F."
Subject: Hi there! :-)

I would love to talk on the phone with you.

Anybody can write what they want in this country and I admire you for doing what you feel is right

I don't know about those emails, that you say "got sent to you." LOL

I have been sober in Alcoholics Anonymous since July 15, 1979.

My name is Jim F.

My Home Phone is: xxx-xxx-xxxx

My Cell Phone is: xxx-xxx-xxxx

Toll Free USA: xxx-xxx-xxxx

I don't think you would have the nerve to call me. Like any alcoholic without recovery, we can make a lot of noise, but no real action.

Nothing will ever hurt AA, but what comes from within. Bill Wilson

I wish you the very best.

Jim F.

Hi Jim,

Congratulations on your years of sobriety.

Well, I'm not going to be making a phone call to you, because, as I explained here, Qwest pulled the plug on my phone line for being a nice guy and letting poor neighbors piggy-back on my DSL line, so I don't have a phone any more.

I have thought about getting another one, but I found that I usually make only one phone call a month (to the Veterans' Administration to renew my medications prescriptions), so it isn't cost effective to pay $30 or $40 per month to make one phone call. Right now I am saving $80 per month by not paying Qwest for phone service and Internet access. I'm looking at other non-phone methods of Internet access, like Clear, which uses "WiMax" (microwave radio) technology. Getting one where the USB microwave transceiver gizmo has a device driver that works on Linux is the challenge.

I do not conduct private, off-line debates. I have barely enough time to keep up with answering my email, and have no time to waste on a pointless back-and-forth argument that no one else will see or hear. The online debates can either inform the public, or at least entertain them. If you have something to say, then write it, and I'll print it.

Whether you believe it or not, the letters that I post are all real — real letters that I really received from real people. Like Ann Landers wrote when somebody accused her of making up letters, I couldn't possibly make that stuff up. My imagination isn't that good. People are so wacky and crazy and creative and different, with such a wide range of experiences and opinions, my imagination just cannot keep up with reality.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     In America today there is a marked reluctance to accept reality...
**     the indiscriminate commingling in the national mind of man as
**     he is and as one might wish him to be.
**        ==  Gordon Liddy





Date: Mon, June 15, 2009 10:00 pm     (answered 29 July 2009)
From: "tomjb"
Subject: Buchman at Conference in Washington 1921

Dear sir:

I read that Buchman met H G Wells and Arthur Balfour at the conference in 1921 suggesting that this has a profound effect on the purposes of MRA. Do you have any information on this?

I was part of MRA for many years beginning at Buchman's funeral in Allentown in '61.

Thanks,

Tom

Hi Tom,

Now that's a good historical trivia question. I don't know about that. I'll have to see what I can find out. Any readers have any idea?

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     I have a feeling that at any time about three million Americans
**     can be had for any militant reaction against law, decency,
**     the Constitution, the Suprmeme Court, compassion and the
**     rule of reason.
**          ==  John Kenneth Galbraith





Date: Sun, June 7, 2009 10:24 am     (answered 29 July 2009)
From: "John McC"
Subject: Fw: Kaiser Permanente: You matched new jobs

Hey Orange,

Given the "criteria" of the job description of a "CDRP" at KAISER PERMANENTE no less, perhaps you could e-mail them a "synopsis" of your site, and see if maybe this HMO won't get into the 21st Century already. Notice a "small" bias here? And this is a MEDICALLY BASED HMO???

Scary,

John McC., M-RAS. NCAC-I

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Kaiser Permanente <[email protected]>
To: John McC.
Sent: Sunday, June 7, 2009 1:21:48 AM
Subject: Kaiser Permanente: You matched new jobs

Thank you for your interest in a career with Kaiser Permanente. New opportunities have been identified that fit your ideal job as indicated in your Job Profile. Please review the job description(s) below and, if you're interested, click on the job link at the bottom of the description. This will take you to our Careers Web site, where you will be able to submit your resume for the position. IF YOU ARE RECEIVING AN UNUSUALLY HIGH VOLUME OF NOTIFICATIONS, IT MAY BE DUE TO A RECENT CHANGE IN OUR JOB MATCHING NOTIFICATION SYSTEM. PLEASE LOG IN TO YOUR KAISER PERMANENTE JOB PROFILE. YOU WILL BE PROMPTED TO SELECT ONE OR MORE AREA(s) OF INTEREST(s) AND LOCATION(s) (STATE/CITY) FOR FUTURE NOTIFICATIONS.

There may be more opportunities available to you than the new ones listed here. To view the entire list of matching positions, please refer to "View jobs matching your profile" when accessing your job profile. For helpful tips on using the Keywords field, click on the "Search Hints" link. Should you no longer wish to receive these e-mails, please log in to the Kaiser Careers Web site. From the Candidate Home Page, select "Create/Update your job profile and notification preferences". Uncheck the notification box.

RI.0900562 — CDRC III (Moreno Valley) Qualifications: Current CA LCSW / or Current CA MFT license. Master's degree in Behavioral Science or related field. Two (2) years post-Masters in Alcohol and Drug Counseling setting. Knowledge of Disease model; 12-Step programs. Ability to work in a team environment. Crisis management and group counseling skills. Adolescent and adult population addictions counseling. If recovering from chemical dependency, must have three (3) years of continuous sobriety at the time of hire, and must maintain continuous sobriety as a condition of employment as a CDRP Counselor III. Consistently demonstrates the knowledge, skills, abilities, and behaviors necessary to provide superior and culturally sensitive service to each other, to our members, and to customers, contracted providers, and vendors.

Preferred Qualifications: Bilingual (English/Spanish) preferred. Duties: Consistently supports compliance and the Principles of Responsibility (Kaiser Permanente's Code of Conduct) by maintaining the privacy and confidentiality of information, protecting the assets of the organization, acting with ethics and integrity, reporting non-compliance, and adhering to applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations, accreditation and licenser requirements (if applicable), and Kaiser Permanente's policies and procedures. Kaiser Permanente is an EEO/AA Employer.

Notes: Schedule varies according to department needs. Some evening and weekend coverage required. Travel among clinics between Moreno Valley, Coachella Valley and Corona as needed.

Sound Interesting? Click here to review more job details and to submit your resume for the position.

As a reminder, here's the criteria you currently have in your Job Profile:
Area of Interest: BEHAVIORAL / MENTAL HEALTH — ALL
Shift: Day
Job Type: Short Hour, Full-Time
State/City: CALIFORNIA (SOUTHERN) — ALL, CA, Fresno

Online Help is available by visiting our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section of our Careers Web site.
Send comments or questions to [email protected]

Hi again, John,

Yes, that is scary, and also just plain old frustrating. The year is 2009, and a major "health care" company still uses the lying propaganda of a cult religion, rather than valid clinical trials, to decide medical issues like the appropriate treatment of a life-threatening condition. Pathetic.

REQUIRED: "Knowledge of Disease model; 12-Step programs."

NOT REQUIRED: Knowledge of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy, Rational Behavioral Therapy, Addictive Voice Recognition Therapy, or Self-Management and Recovery Training, or anything else that actually works.

So I guess I'll have to write something.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** "The therapeutic state is a totalitarian state all
** the more so for masking its tyranny as therapy."
**      ==  Thomas Szasz





Date: 24.07.2009 08:26     (answered 31 July 2009)
Sender: Bill N.

Orange,

I'm loving the new letters you've posted. Thank you for keeping this site going. It's a safe & sane haven for people seeking recovery help. Also, I follow the story of Carmen with great interest, and I love your beautiful photographs of her and her fine feathered friends.

In my last letter I recounted my interaction with the CARF folks — the ones who don't give a damn about whether the facilities they approve actually have any success jamming the 12 step program down peoples' throats.

My company (Fortune 500) donates a sizable amount of money to the same halfway house I've been scrutinizing, which is the same halfway house I got sentenced to back in the '90's and the same one which makes its residents work for free on weekends restoring houses to turn into extended treatment facilities (3/4 houses — does it never end? Once these places get their hands on you they won't let you go for 1, 2 even 3 years.)

I found out one of my company's upper managers is the president of this halfway house's board, so I decided to send her an e-mail outlining my concerns about them shoving ineffective and dangerous cult "treatment" on its hapless residents. I cited as much data as I could and kept the e-mail unemotional (for fear of being labeled a nut.) I concluded by asking that our company refrain from giving monetary support to the place as long as they employ the 12 step method.

Here's the answer I got:

"As you are aware, many many treatment facilities adopt this approach to sobriety and it works for many many people. I have no intention of resigning from the board or advising (company name) to discontinue supporting this program."

(For the record I never asked her to resign.)

Not a big surprise. So the next thing I did (and I should've done this first) was to find out who at my company is in charge of doling out money to worthy charities and causes. I sent this person an e-mail too, outlining the same facts and studies, including information about AA's side effects, like increased binge drinking and how the death rate increases. A day later I got an e-mail back from the legal department (!) from one of our attorneys asking if I would be willing to meet with him to discuss the matter further. I agreed so we set up a meeting a week hence.

The next day the head of my department calls me into his office and says to me, "I understand you have some concerns about how (company name) disperses donations. Well, I would advise you to have your facts in order." I said, yeah, I got my facts straight and plenty of them. But later as I sat at my desk I started freaking out. How did he know about this so soon? Who told him? Was this some kind of veiled warning I should heed? But it was too late — I set this thing in motion and now I had to see it through.

So with some trepidation I met with the attorney. I have to tell you the meeting went very well. He actually thanked me for raising the issue. The very first thing he wanted to know was whether criminal activities were taking place at this halfway house. I said I wasn't sure, so I couldn't give him a definitive answer. Our company's reputation is extremely solid and valuable so he needed to know if this was something we had to urgently disengage ourselves from.

I explained my concerns and gave him copies of studies and statistics, including the stats from the halfway house itself where it claimed a 90+% success rate. Rhetorically I asked him how it was possible that out of 1400 men who entered the program, they could base their success rate on only 43 survey responses — and "self-survey" responses to boot, which are notoriously unreliable. He nodded thoughtfully and asked a few questions. He told me he would raise the issue in a board meeting this fall.

He then mentioned something really interesting which makes a lot of sense and which is probably the main reason why companies just can't seem to stop supporting places like this. He noted that although the numbers I presented concerning AA's lack of success may be true, companies support programs like this with money and "personal assets" (people) because it looks and feels good both to the company to the local communities. It's the same old bind: corporations and individuals simply don't want to believe that they have been duped all these years.

There is a tragic irony that the shear size and breadth of the 12-step falsehood is the very thing keeps people from believing that it's all a lie. It's the craziest and most twisted of paradoxes. In addition, there's a feel-good by-product to be gained by giving support which is extremely hard to disabuse people from. After all, it sure feels so good to be noble and helpful.

No matter what the facts are, people want to feel like they're doing something good.

Like I said, the lawyer told me he would certainly raise these issues at the next meeting. I think he sees my point. He also said that though my company might not stop donating money to the place, it could very well start asking for more accountability from it, beginning with an independent study of its graduates to obtain a more accurate picture its success rate.

I would be happy with that result.

Anyway, keep on truckin'.

Bill

Hi again, Bill,

Thank you for your efforts. Every little bit helps. It is both amazing and appalling how the hoax continues because the hoax has continued for so long. "Everybody knows it works," just like how everybody knew that the world was flat.

Hopefully that will change.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Dishonesty is the raw material not of quacks only,
**     but also in great part of dupes.
**        ==   Thomas Carlyle, Count Cagliostro, 1833.





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Last updated 8 March 2013.
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