Letters, We Get Mail, CCLXI

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters261.html#Lisa_F ]

Date: Tue, September 6, 2011 11:14 am     (answered 14 September 2011)
From: "Lisa F."
Subject: Appreciation

I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate all the hard work and research that you have put into your website.

I have been going to AA meetings for nearly 8 years and have always been a non — theist. My first meeting in rehab, I was lucky enough to have had the speaker say that she was an atheist and used the group as her higher power, which made me feel I could at least tolerate the meetings that I was being forced to attend.

But what really changed my addiction to drugs and alcohol was the doctor that spoke at the rehab and explained to me what was going on in my brain around addiction. It finally made sense to me why I couldn't stop using and it was the memory of that talk and thinking about all my receptor sites healing that helped to keep me sober — not prayer. I eventually went back to school and studied neuroscience and worked in a lab studying traumatic brain injury because of my love of science and the brain — knowing that drugs and alcohol and my neurochemistry did not mix.... I have been sober since January 19, 2004 with no relapse.

I did the "Atheist/Agnostic" 12 steps and worked with a sponsor who accepted my non — belief system. But recently I feel like I have hit a wall. I have felt that the 'Babble Fish' that I have to place in my head each time I go to a meeting to translate all the Higher Power and God talk into something that I can listen to has just gone belly up. My Babble Fish has expired from Ick.

I found your website and it has helped me see that the cultish aspects of AA have worked on me — feeling like I am going to relapse if I don't think like everyone else. Trying for so many years to "fit in" and never feeling like I do. Thank goodness I have a few friends who feel similarly to me that I can talk to. And your well-researched website has been very helpful. I am a scientist at heart and love reading papers and data — that is how I craft my philosophies and views of the world. That is my "spirituality" — spiritus just means "breath" in Latin. When I breathe, I do so with gratitude that I have the intellect to understand addiction and how my brain cells react differently than, say, my husband's who can have a beer at night every now and then and not become an addict. My mother died from a drug and alcohol overdose when I was a teenager and I was heading down that path. Rehab was what I needed and having a doctor that explained the neurochemistry to me was my "evangelical conversion" (loved that quote from Jerome Frank...). If I had been told to go to 90 meetings in 90 days, I don't know what my sobriety would have been like. I feel incredibly fortunate to have had both that addiction doctor and the atheist speak at my rehab.

Keep up the great work. You are not alone. We are out here listening....


Hello Lisa,

Thank you for the letter and the compliments. And I'm glad to hear that your rational, thinking mind is still alive.

So have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Voltaire said that doubt is an uncomfortable state,
**      but certainty is a ridiculous one.

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters261.html#Adrian_B ]

Date: Tue, September 6, 2011 1:11 pm     (answered 14 September 2011)
From: "Adrian B."
Subject: Article for Salon on AG, 21st Century AA

Good evening,

Adrian B. here, journalist, sober fellow and former visitor to the Atlantic Group who is working on a story for Salon.com <http://Salon.com/> tentatively called "Not Your Father's AA" about the ways in which AA has been evolving over the past few years. In other words, it's a story about all the things AAers are doing outside meetings (i.e. retreats, sober parties, visits to the Bill W. House, etc.), the earlier ages at which people are coming to AA, the different flavors of the AA meetings and the effect technology has had on AA (Facebook, for example).

No group exemplifies this change better that the Atlantic Group — Pacific Group — Midtown Group (Washington, DC) Dynamic. It's a formula that seems to have taken hold in a lot of ways — for good and for ill. I sent an email around about a week or so ago seeking out information on people's experiences with AA, particularly the Atlantic Group, and/or Pacific Group/Midtown Group, since I understand they are all related to the Pacific Group founded by Clancy Imislund. However, I didn't receive much of a response, or when I did, it was a response citing the 11th Tradition about anonymity.

I am still writing the article. I believe people have a right and a need to know what to expect before they go into those rooms, good and bad. And I don't believe that silence helps — or protects — anyone. So I am emailing again because I am soliciting the other side of the things I have been reading and hearing about the Atlantic/Pacific/Midtown Group, which are becoming a large portion of my story. Namely, I have been reading/hearing about the sexual misconduct alleged against Clancy Imislund, the encouragement of people in these groups to form "families", date and live together, the strict adherence to AA principles and these family codes at the risk of isolation or social censure, the discouragement of psychiatric and other medications within these three groups and finally, the death of an Atlantic Group member named Natalia, who allegedly committed suicide after the AG holiday party last December.

This blog paints a pretty severe picture:

I take a very Didionesque approach to writing: "I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear." I want to figure this thing out — help me shape this article. Anonymity — as Susan Cheever interprets it in her biography of Bill Wilson, "My Name is Bill" — does not mean silence. It simply means not using your full name. This is not a damning article. This is your chance to make a difference in the way people see AA and these particular groups. I hope you will contact me; I am available through all the following means.

Best Wishes,
AM B. | Freelance Writer | Blindfolio.com
347-759-xxxx (M)

Hello Adrian,

Thanks for the question. The best sources of information on the Midtown group that I have are here: the Midtown Group.

Information about Clancy's Pacific Group is here: the Pacific Group.

I like your title, "Not Your Father's A.A." The problem with that is that your Father's A.A. was not good either. Nor was your Grandfather's. The nice neighborhood A.A. self-help group was a legend, a myth, a fantasy deliberately created by Bill Wilson and the other early A.A. members. The truth is that A.A. was always a coercive cult religion with a sky-high failure rate in curing alcoholics:

... they thought it a good idea to have a preliminary talk with his wife. And this became part of the way things were done in the early days: Discuss it first with the wife; find out what you could; then plan your approach. It should be noted, as well, that the alcoholic himself didn't ask for help. He didn't have anything to say about it.
Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1980, pages 82-83.

Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob were such arrogant Oxford Group recruiters that they actually felt entitled to shove their Oxford Group cult religion quack cure on sick alcoholics regardless of the patient's wishes or beliefs — the patient didn't get any say in the matter of religious conversion. (That is still the attitude of many so-called counselors and therapists today.)

More on that here.

Then there is the historical A.A. failure rate:

You have no conception these days of how much failure we had. You had to cull over hundreds of these drunks to get a handful to take the bait.
Bill Wilson, at the memorial service for Dr. Bob, Nov. 15, 1952; file available here.

At first nearly every alcoholic we approached began to slip, if indeed he sobered up at all. Others would stay dry six months or maybe a year and then take a skid. This was always a genuine catastrophe.
Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age, William G. Wilson, (1957), page 97.

"As a matter of fact, the successful worker [A.A. recruiter] differs from the unsuccessful one only in being lucky about his prospects. He simply hits cases who are ready and able to stop at once."
Bill Wilson, quoted in 'PASS IT ON', The story of Bill Wilson and how the A.A. message reached the world, page 252.

And Nell Wing, who was a secretary of Alcoholics Anonymous for 35 years, and Bill Wilson's personal secretary for many of those years, as well as A.A.'s first archivist, reported:

"There were alcoholics in the hospitals of whom A.A. could touch and help only about five percent. The doctors started giving them a dose of LSD, so that the resistance would be broken down. And they had about fifteen percent recoveries. This was all a scientific thing."
Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age, William G. Wilson, (1957), page 370.

It would appear that LSD was three times as effective as Alcoholics Anonymous for treating alcoholism. Unfortunately, that doesn't work either, in the long run.

More on the historical A.A. failure rate here.

I will also post your question to the forum so that anyone else can make suggestions or additions, here:

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "Wanting to believe is perhaps the most powerful dynamic
**     initiating and sustaining cult-like behavior."
**     The Wrong Way Home: Uncovering the Patterns of Cult Behavior in
**     American Society, Arthur J. Deikman, M.D., page 137.

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters261.html#Martin_C ]

Date: Thu, September 8, 2011 2:34 pm     (answered 14 September 2011)
From: "Martin C."
Subject: Help

I have a friend in AA and I want to get them away from a life of meetings and self-loathing.

What can I do?


Sent from my iPad

Hello Martin,

Thanks for the question. Two things immediately come to mind: true information, and his desires. That is, does he really want to get out of A.A.? If he doesn't, then trying to get him out is interferring with his life just as much as shoving an unwilling victim into A.A.

But if he has any desire to be free, then telling him the truth can help him.

  1. You can start off with the knowledge that A.A. is totally unnecessary and does not improve the sobriety rate of alcoholics at all.

  2. You can also emphasize the harmful aspects of A.A. membership: the death rate, and the suicide rate, the binge drinking, and the divorce rate.

  3. You can also use humor. Print up some joke sheets for him. (See the end of the file.)

  4. Then you can tell him about the falsified history of A.A., and what A.A. really is.

  5. Then there is my web page on deprogramming: How To Deprogram Your Own Mind.

  6. Oh, and then, for that matter, reading The Cult Test may remind you of a few things that they are pulling on him. Recognizing what they do, and how they do it, is helpful in undoing it.

  7. Of course you can refer him to the Orange Papers for more information.

  8. And then, if you wanted more information on cults in general, see the "Top 10" reading list on cults, here.

    Especially, you might read Steve Hassan's two books on getting out of cults: Combatting Cult Mind Control and Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves. They will tell you a lot about the mechanics of cults and how they mess with your mind, and how you can fight it.

Good luck, and have a good day.

== Orange

P.S.: I forgot two of the most obvious aids:

  1. The list of non-cult recovery organizations. I just put together a new file of their addresses, here:

  2. Many discussions of what helps people to get sober and stay sober: How did you get to where you are?

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     The Wizard's First Rule:
**     People will believe a lie because they want it to be true,
**     or because they are afraid it might be true.
**       ==  The Legend of the Seeker

Date: Tue, September 20, 2011 12:16 am
From: "Martin C."
Subject: Re: Help

Thanks again.

I fear that they have no desire to leave AA but I can see the harm it's doing.



[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters261.html#John_McC ]

Date: Thu, September 8, 2011 2:02 pm     (answered 14 September 2011)
From: "John McC."
Subject: Fwd: No Forum?

Hey Orange, you think I will ever get an answer to whomever runs the "Green Papers" about this inquiry? Or was the site just created to answer all your detailed (and ACCURATE) information on "OP"?

John McC.

Begin forwarded message:

> From: John McC.
> Subject: No Forum?
> Date: September 6, 2011 1:26:21 PM PDT
> To: [email protected]
> Your site has no forum for discussion, debate, questions, answers, etc? WHY?

Hello again, John,

I hear that other people have also written to "Agent Green", and gotten no answer from her. She seems to prefer positive, supportive letters.

However, I just saw her Facebook web page, where she continues to claim that I distort the numbers, and won't get honest about the triennial survey. (Someone might tell her to look at both interpretations of the survey results.)


In all fairness, I don't expect her to have a forum on her web site. Setting one up proved to be complicated and tricky. It took me months to figure it out and get it right, and I'm an old computer programmer.

So in the mean time, her Facebook page is sort of a forum.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "Mind like parachute, only function when open"
**     == Charlie Chan, from "Charlie Chan at the Circus" (1936)

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters261.html#Ray_S ]

Date: Wed, September 7, 2011 10:56 pm     (answered 14 September 2011)
From: "Ray S."
Subject: AA/rehab link

Friendthegirl over at Stinkin' Thinkin' was talking [about] a former client of High Watch Recovery Center who made threats against the director and staff:



This comes from the rehab's website:

"High Watch has a rich history connected to both the New Thought movement and more profoundly, Alcoholics Anonymous. Bill W., co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, established High Watch Farm in 1940 as the first 12 Step treatment center in the world. The debate over the role of Alcoholics Anonymous versus the role of professional treatment can be traced back to the first days of High Watch Farm. It was at that time, AA's future was set to remain independent from the business of "treatment" for alcoholics. Today, AA's widespread use of the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi is attributed to Sister Francis (Etheldred Folsom), the woman who gave the farm to Bill W. in 1940. The colorful history of High Watch begins with Sister Francis."


Hello Ray,

Thanks for the input. Now that is interesting. Bill Wilson established a 12-Step rehab center? Somehow, that seems to have gotten left out of the official history of Alcoholics Anonymous. I don't remember reading that in

  1. Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age, or
  2. 'PASS IT ON': The story of Bill Wilson and how the A.A. message reached the world, or
  3. Bill W. My First 40 Years, or
  4. Lois Remembers: Memoirs of the Co-Founder of Al-Anon and Wife of the Co-Founder of Alcoholics Anonymous,

    or even any of the biographies of Bill Wilson like

  5. Bill W. by Robert Thomsen, or
  6. Bill W. A Biography of Alcoholics Anonymous Cofounder Bill Wilson by Francis Hartigan, or
  7. Bill W. and Mr. Wilson — The Legend and Life of A.A.'s Cofounder by Matthew J. Raphael.

Everybody seems to have forgotten that Bill Wilson went into the rehab business. No wonder he died rich. Funny how everybody forgot that important detail.

So Bill didn't bother to mention the fact that Sister Ignatius gave him a farm for free?

And then Bill Wilson set up a profitable treatment center where he sold Dr. Frank Buchman's cult religion as a quack cure for alcoholism? Outrageous.

That kind of contrasts with Bill's bragging about how A.A. members help others with no thought of the profit motive.

So it looks like Bill's schemes came to fruition after all:

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

And the hypocrisy and denial in that web site is really monumental:

"The debate over the role of Alcoholics Anonymous versus the role of professional treatment can be traced back to the first days of High Watch Farm. It was at that time, AA's future was set to remain independent from the business of "treatment" for alcoholics."

There is nothing "independent" about the Founder and High Priest of Alcoholics Anonymous going into the 12-Step rehab business. What was really established there was the deceitful tradition of "Two-Hatters", people who were both secretly "anonymous" members of A.A., and also professional salesmen of "treatment for alcoholism" that supposedly really works. Can you say, "Conflict of Interest"?

Thanks again for the information.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     The unselfishness of these men as we have come to know them, the entire
**     absence of profit motive, and their community spirit, is indeed inspiring
**     to one who has labored long and wearily in this alcoholic field.
**       —  The Big Book, 3rd Edition, The Doctor's Opinion, page XXV.

UPDATE: Spring, 2014: Unfortunately, the correspondent Ray S., really Ray Smith, has died from cancer. He worked hard for a long time at getting the truth out, and ran the Yahoo group "12-Step Free" for many years. May he have a good time in the next dimension.

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters261.html#Richard_B ]

Date: Sat, September 10, 2011 10:45 pm     (answered 14 September 2011)
From: "Richard B."
Subject: Fw: David Mann — Powered by Google Docs

Richard B. here again —

I was just trawling just now through some Letters of a while back and I noticed you wrote [re the attached article]: "Somehow the author and title got lost in transmission. Now you have me curious."

For what it's worth, here 'tis again.

http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:1lMvB322F1EJ:www.mannpsych.com/Psych_AA.pdf+ David+W.+Mann+Alcoholics+Anonymous&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl& srcid=ADGEEShO2Bc2K5j3xUfJMzQE3xBPEXV8ftGfKTPFqm2s6xss5W7VUxWMd621kXc8t_ 7BXwmDh1LxRtT0TB_JSI3PiMM7ogCjDejFkVVXW7GdP3c0_ccEU7eUiwPT6R09xfATkJ2XrFcw& sig=AHIEtbQq86eVAnYCX3cfOqfyS00aaeXCGg&pli=1

One kind of voodoo (Freud's) being grafted onto another (Bill Wilson's and Frank Buchman's).

What a monster! It's moving! Run for the hills!

Mightn't there be such as a thing as contempt subsequent to investigation? In my not-humble opinion, A.A. is really asking for it.


P.S. I've always liked the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze's mischievous summing up of psychoanalytic "thought": "Whatever you say, it means something else."

Hello again, Richard,

Thanks for the link.

Yes, there is "contempt subsequent to investigation". That's what I have. We have talked about that a few times. (Like here.)

I didn't really have a lot of contempt for A.A. until after I had spent a few years investigating, watching, learning, and seeing what was really going on. But as I watched the true-believer fools repeating the same old lies to new victims year after year, my contempt grew.

And when the true believers stubbornly refused to learn anything, or even to discuss the issues honestly, my contempt really grew.

Oh well, have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     If you want to make someone angry, tell him a lie.
**     If you want to make him furious, tell him the truth.
**       ==  author unknown

July 20, 2011, Wednesday, a side trip to the Fernhill Wetlands this summer:

Pelicans at the Fernhill Wetlands

Mama Duck + Ducklings
A Mama Duck Plus Ducklings

Of course they want bread.

[More gosling photos below, here.]

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters261.html#Michael ]

Date: Thu, September 8, 2011 7:10 am     (answered 14 September 2011)
From: "Michael B. Denial"
Subject: Bill Wilson Opened a Treatment Center in 1940

Have you heard of this one? http://highwatchrecovery.com/founded.html

Date: Thu, September 8, 2011 7:21 am     (answered 14 September 2011)
From: "Michael B. Denial"
Subject: The Original Link

Hey, again.

Here is where I got the link I just sent you. These guys are doing some good things on the AA muckraking front.



Hi Mike,

Thanks for the links. Yes, I just heard about it a few minutes ago, from another reader. I commented here.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     The mystery of life is not a problem to be solved
**       but a reality to be experienced.
**         ==  Aart Van Der Leeuw

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters261.html#Anon3 ]

Date: Sun, September 11, 2011 11:20 pm     (answered 14 September 2011)
From: "Anon3"
Subject: The Trauma, The Horror, The Angriest "Dry Drunk" You'll Ever Meet — But In A Good Way, I Hope....

.....is me!

****OK, I failed miserably in keeping this brief, but at least it's somewhat sarcastic, though I can do much better. I failed by the point I had intended to work up to, I'm dead tired....my main point is to share my own personal discoveries while thanking yours and extolling them highly. Which proves my main point in LIFE, that critical thinking and certain institutions do not go together, a view you obviously share and do a GREAT job of putting into words for the world to see. I am new at the "talking about how damned pissed I am about the crap I had to go through" part of this, so please, I beg you, forgive me for the rants I couldn't help but type out. I could've done a lot worse, and given you MUCH more text to just ignore here! That said, I in NO way expect a reply or certainly not a timely reply here....and I also didn't even include the things I am actually (unsuccessfully, as no one wants to TOUCH this subject it seems) seeking legal representation to fight, save the problem of being left with no doctors who'll accept me within a 30 mile radius of my home — a bit of a problem for me, seeing as I have one of the best insurance plans out there that almost all primary care physician's offices take.

I might just start a blog to vomit up my absurd rehab stories on, but until finding your site, I honestly thought I was alone and opening myself up to attack with no defenders out there if I did so. I didn't even mention my feelings to family or friends, to be honest, until this week. Your site provided such a huge catharsis for me personally (not spiritually, heh heh) that I feel finally that these conclusions & inklings even that I have had for over a year are at least valid, if not entirely correct. Thank you SO very much again, and please, read as much at your leisure (if at all) as you can. This is not urgent)-Lex*****

I am going to try (I must stress that word) to keep this very brief. I can scarcely put into words how very much I have found a happy conclusion (which occasionally, I'll admit, does wax into utter rage!) to my presently quite happy life since getting away from the 12 Step monopoly in your site. Good heavens, if I'd only read this before I entered into dangerous treatment programs, I'd be so much better off — and note, I'm once again the pretty abstemious person I was prior to being prescribed almost illegal amounts of opiate painkillers for two extremely painful conditions/injuries. The fact that it doesn't ever OCCUR to me to use drugs, even around the music scene, is not just proof to me that I'm not only NOT diseased (& doomed to use drugs and then DIE), but that I am RECOVERED. Not "in recovery", not perpetually a "recovering addict", but that I went through what, prior to reading your site, some Dr. Stanton Peele, meeting other well people on YouTube who link to your site, etc. (I've been VERY busy in the last week & 1/2) is what I called at the time "phase addiction".

In fact, the only thing left of it seemed to be, after a while of people seeing that I am back to being myself, and a sane and fully functional person who is indeed trustworthy, yada yada yada, well, actually it came down to two things. (Ok, I end up digressing here into anger at my own story, sincere apologies, but I can't strike it out somehow, I'm too upset at remembering it)

Actually, strike that also. I'll leave what I wrote below, though unfinished, and be a bit more concise here.

1.) people not self-labeling as addicts or alcoholics but completely indoctrinated into the 12 step subculture — but who consider themselves VICTIMS of addicts & alcoholics they'd been either married to, parents of, involved with personally, etc. who seem obsessed with verbal abuse aimed at forcing someone into submission, not merely to 12 step programs, but to them personally. Any disagreement, even on subjects such as the weather, can therefore result in accusations that one is merely disagreeing because they are "unwell", suffering from "dry drunk syndrome", etc., I'm sure you know the rest already;)

1.a) people one has known since college who ended up in "the program" and are so terribly happy that you've joined the club.....but are disheartened and seemingly a bit distressed that you're succeeding without still attending meetings: "remember, if you have a rough day, go to a meeting!" — "nah, the only rough days I have have nothing to do with "cravings" or this seemingly "eternal struggle", but due to real reasons, or perhaps just a bad mood, something that naturally happens with most people which require no meetings or drugs, etc." i.e., shit happens, get over it.

2.) the fact that some of the "shit" that "happened" to me in rehabs makes me wake up in an angry nightmare on occasion. Yes, I know I shouldn't still feel angry at this or that counselor or nurse who claimed repeatedly that I was denying "the fact" that I'm (supposedly) an "addict" and therefore was lying through my teeth when I'd get angry and say I was never "doing my klonopin" and that my prescriptions for it were rather sparse, in fact. Yes, people are in fact horrible jerks on occasion, and I am usually the type who naturally seeks to mend fences or move on. As I said, things happen, sometimes bad things, you cannot sink into that & wallow in it. I've always lived my life this way..... HOWEVER, I was forced into those situations, and frankly forced by the doctors I trusted who over-prescribed opiates to me. And by my insurance. And by a virtual monopoly on "treatment centers" in the U.S. And by these people telling my family to force me or I would surely die.

OR THE FACT THAT: regardless of the mission statements of these centers, ones that aren't explicitly 12 step centered also do not tend to hire people open to other treatment options and having two counsellors in charge who are both "in recovery" — with the caveat that patients cannot have full privileges or even stay in the facility if they do not attend compulsory lectures, visits from (in one case) Cocaine Anonymous (of all people!) members doing "service work" and even (I'm not making this up!) a biopic about Bill Wilson starring (I think it was) James Woods — yes, an entire sappy film(!) among other tortures, including the requirement that one state once per hour that one is undoubtedly an (incurable!) addict and/or alcoholic and that one must SUBMIT to this fact.

Yes, I am angry. And unlike what these centers tried to brainwash me into thinking, I do not need to "make amends" myself for this anger, or even to "let it go". I need to do what I've always done with my angst, turn it into an opportunity to analyze and learn both about it, the nature of the thing itself, and of the methods used to have led me to it. My faults are my own, but I never needed Bill W. to tell me that. I do, in fact, have some small measure of intelligence.

Many points have come to me that I want to list. These are ideas I (hopefully) will be able to discuss with others and learn from myself as well as lead others to think about, though I'm sure these have been pondered in full measure by those already at The Orange Papers.

1.) Personal, but not always the case: I'm highly educated. My family come also from a tradition of valuing rather highly both education and critical thinking. In my "recovery" experiences, this was often held in extreme disrepute by "those in charge", and I hate to sound condescending or like a classist here, but "those in charge" frequently had educations extending outside of high school to The Big Book and little else. No "Degree in Truthology" is going to be respected when the holder of such a fanciful "degree" is someone usurping authority over themselves. It becomes highly apparent among those well educated people "in treatment" that they have utterly no place in this subculture (and anyone who doesn't think this is a subculture in the sense defined by both anthropologists and sociologists is not seeing the big picture — I hate to sound that definitive, but I believe I can prove my case). Some are emotionally damaged enough to need some religious revelation and seek that regardless of what they know already, and that people in these situations are (obviously) in them at their lowest & most vulnerable points in life is one of the worst aspects of this abusive system, IMHO. However, even those capable of any measure of critical thinking quickly lose this ability, a well known phenomenon to anyone even remotely versed in either cult coercive techniques or even political movements. This is not uncharted territory (and what I've read at Orange Papers indicates that the writer/writers (?) certainly know their subject matter.

2.) the twists and unbelievable turns in false logic, leading to contradiction after contradiction, is not something a person can follow logically — as it isn't logic at all. Another common thread in revelatory religious movements (and one you know well, obviously, but I still must bring it up!), but the sheer fallacy of claiming to have a disease model AND this logical failure is astounding to me — and it seems everyone discussing and writing critically about 12 Step mentality.

3.) the logical fallacy (and outright heresy) of any idea of deifying "the group" and in turn being effectively deified by other group members who choose "the group" itself as their "higher power" (wow, I had to rewrite that, Freudian slip? I accidentally wrote "higher poser" there..... not joking....). I'm an agnostic turned Roman Catholic and in either of these religious views I cannot fathom such a heretical idea! Nor can I reconcile that any member of any of the major faiths, or even neo-pagans or even Satanists, could accept that it is quite alright to be held as a "higher power" with ANY measure of power over the lives of others. To Christians this is utter heresy, yet this is a profoundly Protestant American Christian program in influence and usually belief. Christian steppers have no problem with this it would seem. I know no devout Muslim members of this group, but more devout (and less devout, hey, I'm the only 1/2 Greek-American I know who socializes with such a high number of Turks) Muslims I know whom I confided in found this notion repellant as well. I've known a few slightly lapsed Hindus in treatment who flatly rejected this also, though I doubt on more superstitious grounds.

Long third point short, this is a fundamental aspect of the program. You cannot join without it. No matter what one chooses as a higher power, the statement is ALWAYS made that one may choose the other option of the group itself as their "higher power" in a rather permanent manner — and that therefore the members themselves are by at least some then deified. That's enough to make atheists cringe in my view, even without the Lord's Prayer said constantly.

This may seem petty, or contrived, but I assure you, this stumbling block made me run screaming when combined with the quite obvious attempts to break down any individuality ("You're suffering from 'terminal uniqueness' — what, you've never heard this term? Look it up!" I did, and found that it is confined to AA jargon. So much for that attempt on me;)

4.) the symptoms mimic the DX. What little I've read of Dr. Stanton Peele and of The Orange Papers seem to confirm this. As resistant as I was to everything I was told, I did (and discovered this only honestly after reading old mail threads) finally begin to go around believing I had an incurable disease. In that light, my problems all hinged on that diagnosis. For a short time. No, I'm fine as are most people who get stuck like this for a time. However, the 12 step mythos trains one to think they're not just suffering from the primary diseases of addiction/alcoholism, but also from every syndrome under the sun suggested by the therapists working in this field who are in the 12 step mentality, and even some who aren't. These people beg for psyco-ceuticals not out of craving but out of sheer terror that these "disorders" and "syndromes" would drown them in the gutter just as surely as their drinking had. Or that their "disease" had been caused by these mental problems. I'd hate if people actually suffering from mental illness were denied treatment or meds for them, but in my experience most people in treatment are talked into starting these medications, not previously DXed with anything even if they had had a psychiatrist/psychologist. Is ANYONE in a sane and sound state of mind coming off of using huge amounts of drugs, prescription or illicit or both, and/or alcohol? Of course not. Should they be labelled permanently afterwards with mental illnesses, something many treatment centers somehow report to insurance companies, many doctors serving the patients, and psychiatrists they talk patients' families into sending them to? AND to the families of these patients (or at this point, really, victims?) who sometimes fall for this farce hook line and sinker?

I was fired by so many doctors after these reports were spread from doctor to doctor locally that I'm currently unable to HAVE a primary care physician, though my medical insurance plan is one of the best PPOs in the country. My insurance is investigating currently how some offices I've never even been to even found out I went to a few rehabs. This is dangerous. I am not a "drug seeker", though when fired from one doctor in the past at the suspicion of "dependence" I did probably exhibit that behavior once finding a new doctor. Who would not, if forced off of drugs in a manner so suddenly that my pharmacists were utterly shocked at it? Yet, even in the end, once I had no fast option for medical care — two moves, two different cities and the ensuing firings for suspected "drug seeking behavior" — I was in fact left with no option but detox/rehab. How exactly does that treatment plan help someone with two injuries to the trigeminal nerve? Yes, nerve pain hurts. I healed, the pain is gone. Thank some "higher power" out there, but I am OK. And therefore need nothing for the pain. Oddly enough, this phenomenon is not unheard of in the world of medicine. And not even in the MODERN world of Western medicine. Again, I'm stating the obvious, but everything wrong with this 12 step monopoly on treatment centers and conventional wisdom falls rather flat in the face of some extremely obvious statements.

5.) There is NEVER any need to force or even suggest that people all be told they're alike and "equals" when their choices define them as otherwise, especially vulnerable kids! I am sorry, but dammit, I didn't need to be laughed at by teenagers for not enjoying the oxycontin I'd been prescribed because I'd not crushed it up and snorted it! I didn't need to KNOW that! I'm practically elderly by these kids standards at 36, but other teens don't need to know that their new best friends in rehab/recovery know every meth dealer in town! Or to meet other kids who are deemed "safe" by families who aren't even close. Nothing even in terms of classism or socio economic status here, it's just that at vulnerable times in one's life one shouldn't be thrown in and TOLD THEY ARE IN EVERY WAY THE SAME regardless of socio economic status to people who never have any concept of not partying half to death in high school & wasting that much time and money on illicit drugs. There's a reason that kids in high school who do like to drink, smoke pot, do all of this recreationally but not as a lifestyle differentiate between SOCIAL groups. John Hughes expounded on this theme in the 80s to great Molly Ringwald infused popular success! Don't ignore the obvious, and since you don't already, why trust (supposedly with your LIFE?!?) people who insist on doing just this?

6.) This IS cultural. Those of us from Greek families, or in my case Greek and Spanish with a dash of good ole Georgia Scots-Irish (BAPTIST!) can sense the change in the air immediately here. Especially the amazement that your first glass of wine came at the family dinner table and was served by Dad, who along with all of your other relatives are in fact not sodden drunken fools unable to control themselves, but rather successful people who don't even live up the restauranteur stereotype. Growing up in the heavily Protestant South, this was intensified for me personally. The vast gulf between the cultural concepts of abstaining from alcohol — COMPLETELY, or you'll go to HAAAAIIIIL!! — and seeing it as a normal part of life (though not succumbing to it and becoming the aforementioned sodden drunk) is rather staggering. Especially growing up in a state where most of my school were not fundamentalist Baptists, but there were always enough of them around to ask, "What are you?" and then follow up that question with some idiocy about how everyone in my ethnic group feeds liquor to their kids. Followed by some uneducated rant about non-white people. No, I don't see racism at every turn, but those so ready to jump up with their own cultural biases should at least see my POV when I look at what I find to be a very odd attitude regarding alcohol, sex, etc. and how that has permeated various levels of American thinking.

7.) Finally, ok, this one is personal, but the ringleader in the socialization at the rehab I had to LEAVE and go back to once he left was in the freakin' Klan. I hate people who seem hell-bent on giving all Southerners a bad name, but boy, was this guy ever working as hard as he could to do just that. The ONLY Southerner there, he came up from N. Carolina for "drinking too much moonshine", wore nothing but camo, bragged about how he lived down the street from KKK headquarters for his region and ended up kicked out for sexual fraternization with the girl who wore the "Elk: The Other Red Meat" sweatshirt with a target on it. Not saying I don't like guns myself, or even my more rednecky nature, but dammit, the effing KLAN??? Not just the klan, but BRAGGING about the damned KKK and getting others to engage in discussions about white supremacy, and the constant verbal slaps on the wrist I got when I'd (rarely!) mention this to my counselor or nurses. "Let go, let God", my butt! You don't let the KKK take over a rehab, even if it's just in spirit, then punish those of us who were offended for being bloody offended. Treat the Klansman, treat everyone else too. Favoritism for a mother*#^@ng KLANSMAN?!?!? OK, yeah, sorry Valley Hope, as they say on the internet you do not ALLOW, "EPIC FAIL".

SO FINALLY, I come to the very issues I have spent so very much time working for advanced degrees, and even as an undergrad in. I am going for my PhD in linguistics. Not even socio-linguistics, mind you, that isn't my area of study. But yes, even with intense amounts of opiate painkillers either in or leaving my brain, throwing someone who studies language into any situation in which language is used for manipulation is never a good idea. The idea that inference is implied in the many bits of jargon seems anathema to these imbeciles, though not for lack of my education.

Add to that the fact that I'm married to a cultural anthropologist — with an added BA in Linguistics for kicks — and this set-up is a recipe for disaster. I didn't obviously do the research personally, but his Thesis even dealt with the use of language to create a sense of identity, to simplify, in subcultures, namely the anti-racist skinhead subculture. Spotting these patterns is what we do. In other areas of my life, this may make me less accessible as a human being, but thrown into "recovery subculture", I assure you, I wanted to study them as much as they wanted to break me down and tell me not to. So how do I direct my angst, and what do I already know, and what can I learn further to add to my study and hopefully critique of this DANGEROUS movement? Well, I am learning.

One area I do have already to glean from in my brain is my sometimes paltry but much loved studies of the classical world. Particularly Homer. Ahh, I sometimes believe the only manual one needs for humanity is The Iliad. I won't go that far though, lest I sound like "one of them". I did want to share one aspect that permeates The Iliad and the study of it, an aspect I return to OVER AND OVER when I think of various areas of recovery thought. I have far too many books, alas, and few bookmarked websites! I found this, and felt the need to share it. This is the importance of "Ate" in both Ancient Greek thought and in Homer, specifically I believe here, in The Iliad:


The references to Ate are numerous, translated here as "delusion", other accepted uses include folly and delusional flights of fancy. The first word of the poem is actually MHNIN "menin", the same root as the English word "mania". I prefer the translation for classical purposes of "rage", though "Godlike wrath" is another good one. I can never stop thinking about the concept (or personification in Greek thought as the Goddess Ate, constantly throwing men off track in her wanderings of exile from Mt. Olympus) of Ate when I come across recovery stories, people, readings, whether critical or otherwise. Alas, I digressed so much that I forgot what I had to say in the first place! And I meant only to share the idea, not to expound on it as my credentials are not up to par in this area — but at least I have studied more than "truthology", eh? Perhaps later.

The other thing I wanted to share, but won't go into here, is the lack of personal responsibility on the part of the very people who claim authority in this growing arena. Why do these people get a pass once someone dies in misery once (it just seems to me) they see that their only option, though that isn't true, it is what is pushed on everyone, is the 12 Step Diagnosis? Why are these kids (in my experience they're always 18-20, though I'm obviously no expert — YET) blamed for "not getting with the program" once they usually just make one stupid mistake, fatal or not? And if it is fatal, why does the failure rate of these institutions not get questioned to the point of being dragged through the courts and the media? This is SHAMEFUL!

I won't go into it, but my one rehab friend the last go-round was a devout atheist. He'd made horrible mistakes, sure. He was 18. He was also traumatized, or at least spoke at length to that effect, by his mother's conversion to a Christian apostolic cult church for which she moved from his home in California to Kansas City (his father was deceased — of a heroin OD, which everyone then told would be his fate).


Thank you SO very much for the web site, I've sent links to even the people now questioning my sanity as well as those who believe that I have FOUND my sanity. My husband is fascinated now by this bizarre subculture and what he's able to read, and if I could get him to or get more time for him, we'd already be doing the ethnography and research, but the future is open wide. I really cannot thank you enough, and the fact that you present a thorough (VERY thorough and easily linked, too!) medium for reading about this is more than I thought possible and highly enjoyable. I hate for anyone to bend to the opposite extreme claiming that if there is no disease and only bad choices then the addicts/alcoholics are therefore to blame for everything, I have seen this on comments online elsewhere, but I think your approach is free from such nonsense. I mean, if everyone was to blame for stupid mistakes, imagine the heaps of damnation on people for choosing horrible lovelives. I see it rather in the same vein, just with (usually) worse results, and with my best friend, a straight-edge old school punk — and geographer — who is recovered from a horrid marriage, well, we're about even as life results go.

Hope you're doing well, hope I can be of help in any way in this activism you have spearheaded here, and please let me know if I can do anything at all!


Date: Sun, September 11, 2011 11:39 pm     (answered 14 September 2011)
From: "Anon3"
Subject: Forgot! Another Huge Fallacy of Logic

Sorry, had to mention this bit I forgot here, & I really will be brief, as these steppers are apparently trying to stomp me at YouTube... luckily I don't take YT comments sections that seriously.... lol

OK, the entire premise of AA/NA/etc. as first presented to newcomers, the supposed reason for their genesis (though you know more on this subject than they or most others do), is that this hopeless drunk named Bill failed at stopping drinking until he came up with his own method. Logically, if it is a good thing for someone to create their own way of getting and staying sober (though I realize now that Bill W. did not), then WHY, oh God, WHY is it so necessary to stay in ONLY Bill & his pal's "program" to do this oneself and a horrible sin to do it on one's own by one's own methods? I realize you've spotted this fallacy, but I just couldn't restrain myself. (and the next logical step here is that it is to keep people in this particular program at all costs to them even unto death. But you know that also. Just HAD TO vent it to someone who understands it.)

Ahh, bless your heart and stay prolific!


Hello Anon3,

Thank you for the letter and the compliments. I hope that you are feeling better, and doing well now.

Your letter says a lot. You made a bunch of good points. I don't want to just repeat everything that you said, so I won't.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     An error does not become truth because of multiplied propagation,
**     nor does truth become error because nobody will see it.
**       — Gandhi

July 20, 2011, Wednesday, a side trip to the Fernhill Wetlands this summer:

Mama Duck + ducklings
Mama Duck Plus Ducklings

Mama Duck + ducklings

[The story of Carmen continues here.]

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Last updated 20 May 2014.
The most recent version of this file can be found at http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters261.html