A.A.-Booster Pseudo-Science

There is quite a cottage industry of A.A. public relations hacks who proselytize for A.A., while hiding their membership in A.A. and pretending to just be neutral observers who cannot help but notice that "A.A. is wonderful for alcoholics..." They routinely plant pro-A.A. articles in magazines and journals.

The following article is all too typical of the pseudo-science that the A.A. true believers are foisting on the public in the name of informing the public about effective treatment for alcoholism. This article pretends to show us how spirituality helps people to recover from excessive alcohol use, but all it really does is try to sell us a lot of Alcoholics Anonymous religious dogma, superstitions, and belief in A.A. "spirituality".

In the following article, the black text is the original article, and the blue text is my comments and responses.

Title: Spirituality: The key to recovery from alcoholism.
Source: Counseling & Values, April 1996, Volume 40, Issue 3, Page 196.
Authors: Warfield, Robert D.; Goldstein, Marc B.
AN: 9606215267
ISSN: 0160-7960
Database: MasterFILE Premier
Available on the Internet through your public library's EBSCO periodicals database.


The authors suggest that a condition of "negative spirituality" underlies and sustains alcoholism, and perhaps all addictions, and that a secure recovery is not possible unless a "spiritual awakening," such as is envisioned by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), is achieved. A broadly applicable conceptual model of spirituality is inferred from the AA 12-Step rehabilitation program.

"Negative spirituality," huh? That's just as good as Scientology's "negative energy" that infects MEST (Matter, Energy, Space-Time) and screws up the world. Can demon-hunters or exorcists expel that negative spirituality? How about Buffy the Vampire Slayer?

The authors are introducing A.A. cult beliefs very rapidly. We got three just in this first paragraph. Besides the "negative spirituality", we also got the belief that "a secure recovery is not possible" without a "spiritual awakening." William G. Wilson, one of the two co-founders of A.A., wrote this in the 'bible' of Alcoholics Anonymous, the book also named Alcoholics Anonymous,, but popularly called The Big Book:

If, when you honestly want to, you find you cannot quit entirely, or if when drinking, you have little control over the amount you take, you are probably alcoholic. If that be the case, you may be suffering from an illness which only a spiritual experience will conquer.
The Big Book, 3rd and 4th Editions, page 44.

Neither The American Medical Association nor The American Psychiatric Association recognizes the existence of any disease which only a spiritual experience will conquer, but Alcoholics Anonymous does. And, like the screwy Christian Science religion, A.A. says that only God or a "Higher Power" can cure that "spiritual disease".

Then, the authors stated that "A broadly applicable conceptual model of spirituality is inferred from the AA 12-Step rehabilitation program." That sentence is loaded with implications:

  • The Twelve Steps are "spiritual". The authors will never define spirituality, or tell us what it is, or what it means to them; they will try to just sort of infer some vague meaning from the Twelve Steps.
  • The Twelve Steps are a rehabilitation program. The authors will repeat this claim all through this article, but will never support that claim with any actual evidence.

Alcoholics Anonymous' "Big Book" states, "Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program... "(AA World Services, 1976, p. 58). The simple program referred to is AA's twelve steps. They represent the actions taken by the founders of AA to assure their own recovery from alcoholism. AA calls its twelve steps a program of "spiritual awakening" (AA World Services, 1976, p. 60).

Yes, the authors are true believers, all right. They are quoting the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book as an authoritive tome on alcoholism. Few professionals really do that, at least not in public, because it is so stupidly and bombastically written, not to mention the fact that it's totally insane. And their choice of what to quote from the Big Book is a classic — it is one of the worst paragraphs in the whole book:

RARELY HAVE we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average. There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest.
At some of these [steps] we balked. We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not.
The A.A. Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, 3rd and 4th Editions, Chapter 5, "How It Works", page 58.

William Griffith Wilson
That is one of the biggest lies in the Big Book. A.A. really has a failure rate that is between 95% and 100%, but A.A. just blames all of the victims, and says that they are all "constitutionally dishonest", and that the Twelve Step program is perfect — "The program never fails anyone, it is just the alcoholics who fail the program." (==Popular A.A. slogan)

The original A.A. members did not discover that the Twelve Steps worked to save alcoholics, or that no "easier, softer way" would work. Bill Wilson's original A.A. group had a horrendous relapse rate, one that Wilson lied about.

Like most typical cults, A.A. maintains that its guru and founder, William Griffith ('Bill') Wilson, and his teachings are without error and faultless, and it's just everybody else in the world who is crazy and doesn't understand, and who fails to live up to Bill's divinely-inspired teachings and vast wisdom...

Lastly, the authors wrote:

The simple program referred to is AA's twelve steps. They represent the actions taken by the founders of AA to assure their own recovery from alcoholism. AA calls its twelve steps a program of "spiritual awakening" (AA World Services, 1976, p. 60).

Again, that is deceptive. The Twelve Steps are just a rewrite of the recruiting and indoctrination practices of Dr. Frank Buchman's Oxford Groups cult religion. They are not the steps taken by the founders, because Bill Wilson didn't write them until four years after he quit drinking. A.A. may call the steps "a program of spiritual awakening", but that isn't what they really are. The Twelve Steps are better described as a program of religious conversion, or a program of thought reform (Dr. Robert J. Lifton's terminology) — something that brainwashes people into true believers in some cause.


Alcoholics Anonymous is both a fellowship and a rehabilitation program. The fellowship provides alcoholics with a supportive peer group. It is designed to instill in them the level of trust necessary to risk exposing their vulnerable selves to honest examination and correction of their dysfunctional behaviors and beliefs (Kurtz, 1979).

And unfortunately, that trust, that cultish instant intimacy, makes it easy for sexual predators and other sick personalities to take advantage of newcomers. Since A.A. sponsors are not licensed or examined or held accountable for their actions in any way whatsoever, it's always open season on the newcomers. And since the newcomers who just quit drinking are still shaky, confused, cloudy-headed, and vulnerable, the predators who want fresh meat have an easy time of it.

It is the twelve step program, not the fellowship, which is primarily responsible for the rehabilitation of the alcoholic (AA World Services, 1976).

They claim to be quoting from the Big Book again. The Twelve Steps do the magic, huh, and not the fellowship? (Where? Which page says that? I have never found a page in the Big Book that says that.) Does that mean that we can all quit going to A.A. meetings now?

This study investigated the spiritual implications of AA's twelve step program in an attempt to understand the value of spirituality in achieving a secure recovery from alcoholism.

Calling this piece of preachy propaganda a "study" that "investigated" something is really stretching the English language.

A better understanding of AA spirituality will aid those rehabilitation programs currently, but ineffectively, employing the twelve steps (Booth, 1984a; Kohn, 1984). It might also encourage recovering alcoholics to better use the AA program and thereby reduce their risk of relapse.

We are going to understand "AA spirituality", are we? It would help a lot if they would define their terms, and tell us what they think spirituality actually is, but they don't. They just give us a lot of vague handwaving and then hope that we will go along with it.

The authors complain that some Twelve-Step-based rehabilitation programs are not pushing the spirituality enough? How can that be? That sounds like an internal church problem to me.

The authors claim that if alcoholics "better use the AA program", it will "reduce their risk of relapse." Where is the evidence for that? Every good test of A.A. has shown the opposite to be true. Even a Trustee of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., Professor George Vaillant of Harvard University, proved that A.A. treatment was totally ineffective and utterly useless, when he did an 8-year-long test of A.A. treatment, trying vainly to prove that A.A. does work. He found that A.A. had no better a recovery rate than the usual rate of spontaneous remission in alcoholics — which means that A.A. didn't make anybody quit drinking — but A.A. had a much higher death rate. A.A. had the highest death rate of any treatment program that he examined.

Several studies reveal the success of AA in promoting recovery from alcoholism (Bradley, 1988; Cook, 1988; Emerick, 1987; Hoffmann, Harrison & Belille, 1983; McLatchie and Lomp, 1988; Shereen, 1988; Thurstin, Alfano & Nerviano, 1987). Gorski and Miller, among the foremost of relapse prevention specialists, asserted, "Alcoholics Anonymous is the single most effective treatment for alcoholism" (1986, p. 52).

That's quite a list of references. Lots of people agreeing that A.A. is perfect. It is a shame that all of those studies and reports fall into one of these categories:

  • The authors are also hidden members of this same A.A. boosters' club, and their articles aren't any better, or any more truthful, or any more scientific, than this pathetic piece of propaganda.
  • They are being misquoted.
  • They are just flat-out totally wrong. Some of the reasons for this are:
    • The studies are methodologically flawed, and do not measure what they purport to measure.
    • There are no control groups, so the results are unclear, or even meaningless.
    • The so-called "studies" are merely the collected opinions of some A.A. enthusiasts, not the results of valid tests of treatment programs, or actual scientific experiments designed to test A.A.. (Again, what real testing has been done has shown A.A. to be completely ineffective, and even harmful.)
    • The authors accept anecdotal evidence or unsubstantiated testimonials as proof of success.

The truth is, Alcoholics Anonymous is not an effective treatment for alcoholism. A.A. does not have a success rate. A.A. has a horrendous failure rate, one that is between 95 and 100 percent, depending on how you count and measure things. Remember that the usual rate of spontaneous remission ("self-healing") in alcoholics is approximately 5% per year. All of the apparent success stories of A.A. can be explained as mere spontaneous remission — those people would have quit and recovered anyway, without the cult religion.

Nevertheless, relapse (the unintended abuse of alcohol during recovery) even while involved with AA is a distressingly common phenomenon (Blum, 1991). Stories of relapse are often reported by alcoholics who claim to have been active in AA at the time of relapse. Upon questioning, it is usually found that they avoided step-work meetings and attended mostly large "fellowship" meetings at which they could risk less self-exposure. Even for those who claim to have had a "sponsor" to shepherd them through AA and its twelve steps, little effort was made in this vital area.

For once, some A.A. true believers admit that their organization has a horrible relapse rate. Eventually, 99% or more of the people leave or relapse, but most A.A. enthusiasts are in denial, and claim that there is no problem. "It's just weak, sinful people who fail the program. There is nothing wrong with the program. RARELY HAVE we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path..."

And note how the authors play "blame the victim." A.A. members supposedly relapsed because they didn't do the Steps properly, "little effort was made in this vital area". Note that there is no supporting reference or footnote pointing to any study that found that the relapsers didn't do the Steps properly.

  • Where did that "information" come from?
  • Who conducted what study, survey, or poll to discover what kinds of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings the relapsers had been attending?
  • Who "usually found" that the people who relapsed had avoided the step-work kinds of A.A. meetings, and "attended mostly large 'fellowship' meetings at which they could risk less self-exposure"?
  • Who decided that "risking self-exposure" is necessary for recovery from alcoholism?
  • So now it isn't enough to go to A.A. meetings all of the time, now we have to attend just the RIGHT KIND of meetings?
  • Who decided that working the Steps is a vital area?
Or are they just taking Bill Wilson's word for it? In the Big Book, Bill hinted that you will relapse unless you do his Twelve Steps:
"If we skip this vital step, we may not overcome drinking." (The Big Book, 3rd and 4th Editions, page 72.)

But Bill Wilson did not say that "risking self-exposure" in the right kind of meetings was necessary for recovery from alcoholism.

And the authors' definition of relapse is funny, too: Relapse is "the unintended abuse of alcohol during recovery".
What do you call the intentional use of alcohol during recovery? Is it not a relapse if you really did intend to party your brains out? Is intentionally buying a fifth of whiskey and guzzling it down not a relapse?

Relapse Risk Factors in Alcoholism
What is it about alcoholism that makes relapse such an ever-present risk?

People want to feel good. People have very long memories about what made them feel good in the past. People tend to forget the negative details, and just remember the pleasure, and they want to feel good again...

Khantzian and Mack (1989) referred to alcoholism as "a complex disorder in which problems of self-governance malignantly interact with other vulnerabilities such as disabilities in regulating feelings (i.e., affects) and self-care to cause biologically susceptible individuals and others to become hopelessly dependent on alcohol" (pp. 79-80). This definition recognizes the importance of personality and behavioral characteristics that are subject to change (AA World Services, 1976; Whitfield, 1984c) as well as biological and genetic factors for which effective treatment has not yet been developed (Blum, 1991; May, 1988).

That is quite a complex definition of alcoholism. What's the matter with, "Alcoholism is habitually drinking far too much alcohol"?

They are splitting the blame for alcoholism between psychological and biological/genetic factors. No "spiritual illnesses" yet...

But we are getting plenty of other A.A. tenets:

  1. Alcoholics "become hopelessly dependent on alcohol." That is the Step One "powerless over alcohol" belief.
  2. Alcoholics are "biologically susceptible individuals." That is the genetic factor. Alcoholics are supposedly born with a big problem. Other people may be able to drink all they want, but the situation for congenital alcoholics is "hopeless". [Note that this is true for some alcoholics.]
  3. "...problems of self-governance malignantly interact with other vulnerabilities..." That means, alcoholics are incapable of running their own lives. They were incapable even before they started drinking, because they were born congenital alcoholics. That is the other half of Step One: "our lives had become unmanageable." Alcoholics must have A.A. and their sponsor to run their lives for them, they say.

Alcoholics suffer from what AA calls "character defects" (AA World Services, 1976, p. 59). These are feelings, beliefs, and behaviors that dispose them to seek a sense of well-being by abusing alcohol. Such "character defects" are frequently reflective of a pathological narcissism, in which those addicted to alcohol behave as though they were the center of their universe or their own God (Kurtz, 1979). Alcoholics also possess an underlying codependency involving an alienation from their true selves and an inability to establish functional relationships with significant others in their lives (Whitfield, 1989). The combination of these biological and character risk factors makes alcoholism difficult to treat and makes the recovering alcoholic vulnerable to relapse.

A.A. cofounder Bill W. in 1949.
This is nuts. This is just the standard A.A. stereotype of "The Alcoholic". It is quite untrue. The Alcoholics Anonymous cult founder and chief guru Bill Wilson was one of the few people for whom it was an accurate picture. And it really was an accurate picture of him. He really did think that he was the center of his own universe, or his own God. He had a really bad case of delusions of grandeur, or a narcissistic personality disorder. Bill was so crazy that he thought he was in psychic communication with the spirits of dead priests and other dead people, and according to Henrietta Seiberling and Horace Crystal, Bill ended up claiming that he was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. Henrietta wrote of Bill, "I don't know what is going on in the poor deluded fellow's mind." Bill Wilson's own psychiatrist, Dr. Harry Tiebout, said of Bill Wilson: "he had been trying to live out the infantilely grandiose demands of 'His Majesty the Baby.'" So Bill Wilson fits the authors' stereotype.

The authors' wording here is both confusing and deceptive: Alcoholics have "character defects" that are "feelings, beliefs, and behaviors that dispose them to seek a sense of well-being by abusing alcohol."

Why not just speak plain old English and say that they feel bad, and are trying to feel good? Some of those alcoholics are desperate to feel good, and they make the mistake of thinking that more alcohol will make them feel better...

The authors are pulling another bait-and-switch stunt on us here. They just said, in the preceding paragraph, that alcoholism was caused by a genetic factor. Now they are trying to tell us that alcoholism is caused by "character defects" — i.e., immorality.

The authors use the term "character defects" here to mean something like "psychological factors" or "mental factors." Here, character defects are "feelings, beliefs, and behaviors". But Bill Wilson used the term "character defects" in the Big Book as a synonym for "sin". Bill didn't want to publicly use the words "sin" or "confession" because that would have created conflicts with the Catholic Church, and he would have lost all of the Catholic members. (And it would have revealed just how intensely religious this cult really is.) So instead of "confessing our sins" while doing Steps 4 and 5, we make a list of all of our "defects of character" and "moral shortcomings", and then we "admit ... the exact nature of our wrongs."

But note that when Bill Wilson wrote his next book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, published in 1952, 13 years after the Big Book, Bill reverted to using the words "sin" and "confession" throughout the book:

That is the measure of our character defects, or, if you wish, of our sins.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William Wilson, page 65.

The authors' use of the term "character defects" here is just getting us accustomed to the term, before they pull a psychological-to-moral bait-and-switch redefinition stunt on us. By the time this article ends, "character defects" will be more moral than psychological.

Then the authors continue their hateful assault on the stereotypical alcoholic: "Such 'character defects' are frequently reflective of a pathological narcissism, in which those addicted to alcohol behave as though they were the center of their universe or their own God."

That was Bill Wilson's standard attack on alcoholics. Bill Wilson practiced psychological projection a lot. He would declare that all other alcoholics had the very character faults that he himself exemplified, like delusions of grandeur or a narcissistic personality disorder, and having an arrogant world-class inflated ego.

Note that, in just one sentence, the authors went from saying that alcoholics feel bad, and want to feel good, to declaring that alcoholics have "a pathological narcissism" and "behave as though they were the center of their universe or their own God." There is actually no connection between those two things. It really is possible to feel bad, and want to feel good, without having delusions of grandeur and thinking that one is God.

As I said before, Bill Wilson was the alcoholic who best exemplified the A.A. stereotypical "A.A. alcoholic". Bill Wilson had a vicious self-contempt, and lots of hatred and loathing of his own faults and shortcomings, and he projected all of those faults onto an imaginary standard alcoholic. Bill routinely taught contempt and hatred of that stereotypical alcoholic. Then Bill declared that "We are all like that." The authors, like so many other 12-Step-indoctrinated drug and alcohol counselors, are just following Bill's teachings here.

That statement, "Alcoholics behave as though they are the center of their universe or their own God" is very standard, often-repeated Wilsonism. And Wilson's next line was usually, "And that sick ego thinks it is too big and too good to need God." Those statements are also part of the A.A. rationale for why the newcomer alcoholics' egos, self-respect, and self-confidence have to be attacked and destroyed. Which, in turn, is part of why Alcoholics Anonymous is a harmful cult that inflicts psychological damage on its members.

In the quote above, the authors also stated, "Alcoholics also possess an underlying codependency"... That is just another A.A. superstition — just another phony non-existent disease like "dry drunk". Neither the American Medical Association nor the American Psychiatric Association recognize the existence of any such disease or condition as "codependency", but A.A. does.


If alcoholism is to be effectively treated, the nature of well-being that is sought by the alcohol abuser, no less than by all human beings, must be understood. Well-being can be thought of as meeting one's basic needs. Some might say it means satisfying our wants. But, as many rich and "successful" people will agree, achieving our wants frequently results in a dissatisfying quest for more and more wants. If we were created for a positive purpose, and it makes little sense to think otherwise, satisfying our basic needs should produce a state of well-being.

That sure is a lot of fancy double-talk to avoid saying that people want to feel good, and even need to feel good. Note how the authors suggest that we should not get what we want, because we will then only want more...

Funny how the authors slip a little religion in there, suggesting that "we were created for a positive purpose", and "it makes little sense to think otherwise." Oh really? So now these authors claim to know the Will and Purposes of Our Creator, God? And it makes no sense to question their perceptions? Isn't that just a little bit presumptuous?

What if God is an alien who does not think in human terms at all? Imagining that humans were created for a positive purpose is human logic, and might not be God's way of thinking at all.

And, by the way, God definitely IS an alien. He, She, or It is not native to the planet Earth, or even to the Milky Way Galaxy, and probably not even to this Physical Universe... So it is very presumptuous and conceited to imagine that God thinks like humans do. It's the same old "God was created in Man's image" conceit.

If you want to just try to imagine how God might think, try Kenneth Rexroth's line, "Your words are inside out."

What, then, are our basic needs? Glasser (1984) seemed to be largely on target, with one exception, when he listed them as survival, belongingness, power, freedom, and fun (or more correctly, pleasure). The survival need, he said, is physical, but the concept could be broadened to include possession of the means to function effectively in the world. The other needs, he said, are psychological. In fact, with the exception of power, which seems culture-bound and compensatory, all the other needs seem to be spiritual in the broadest sense. It is highly likely that our Creator endowed us with these needs for our spiritual development.

There they go again. More strange religious nonsense. Our "basic needs" are all "spiritual in the broadest sense"? The authors' idea of what the word "spiritual" means seems to change from one paragraph to the next. And this is some strange theology: our basic needs for belongingness, power, freedom, and pleasure help our spiritual development? How? Please define spiritual development. Most preachers say that the pursuit of pleasure hinders spiritual development.

Therefore, no less than for the rest of us, the quest of the alcoholic is for spiritual well-being.

What incredible bull. The quest is for a pleasant buzz, to feel good.

The only people who are really on a quest for "spiritual well-being" through chemicals are the users of LSD and other psychedelics. Acid can sometimes, if you are lucky and prepared, and in the right place at the right time, give you some very profound spiritual experiences. Alcohol never does. In fact, it is only alcohol withdrawal, not drinking, that comes even close. The hallucinations of delirium tremens will get you a lot closer to a spiritual state than alcohol ever will.

Of all the basic needs--survival, belongingness, freedom, and pleasure--the most spiritual is belongingness, which can be described as enjoyment of loving, accepting, and trusting relationships with one's self, other people, the world in all aspects of life experiences, life itself, and the God of one's understanding. These relationships seem to be the primary means of achieving well-being for alcoholics and for us all.

Oh? They never defined just what spirituality was, remember? They hinted that we would better understand it, and then they didn't define it. Now we are told that wanting to belong to a group and have trusting relationships is "spiritual". Not social or psychological? This is ridiculous.

Of course it is social. And the drive to socialize is one of the basic human instincts. We have few genuine instincts, but the urge to socialize is one of them. We are intensely tribal animals. Solitary confinement is torture for a human.

Fish swim in schools, birds flock, horses herd, and so do cows, buffalo, antelope, gazelles, elephants, and on and on. And monkeys and humans live together in tribes. And a big part of our psychology relates to our social relationships: getting status in the tribe, competing with others of our own sex for mates, cooperating with other tribe members for our mutual survival, trading favors... And our need to belong to the tribe is certainly intense. Teenagers, in particular, really go bananas over social acceptance and being one of the gang. To be rejected, ostracized, and exiled from the tribe is often a fate worse than death. To declare that our most "spiritual" basic need is "belongingness" is not just wrong, it is just plain stupid. The need for companionship is psychological, and it's social, but it isn't "spiritual". Again, the authors cannot seem to figure out what the word "spirituality" really means.

Alcoholism is best understood and treated holistically (Wegscheider, 1981). It affects every aspect of the human condition. Abuse of alcohol damages a person physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually.

Yes, that is the standard A.A. party line, "the patient must be treated physically, mentally, and spiritually." And the best "spiritual" treatment program always involves sending the patient to A.A. or N.A. meetings for the "spiritual benefits". (I guess the second-best treatment program would be some other cult religion, like The Church of Scientology, which also claims that its courses and "auditing" of members causes "spiritual" benefits.)

Note how the Steppers hijack the term "holistic healing" and use it to mean, "You also have to treat the 'spiritual' dimension of people by sending them to A.A. meetings and making them do the Twelve Steps."

The central element in holistic healing is spirituality (Chandler, Holden, & Kolander, 1992; Witmer & Sweeney, 1992). Unfortunately for the alcoholic, it is the spiritual aspect of well-being that is usually overlooked or deemphasized in most treatment programs.

That is a very funny complaint to be making: "the spiritual aspect of well-being ... is usually overlooked or deemphasized in most treatment programs." Funny, considering that at least 90% of all of the treatment programs in the USA are based on the Twelve Steps. (The National Treatment Center Study conducted by the University of Georgia found that 93 percent of the more than 400 representative alcohol treatment programs surveyed were based on the twelve steps of AA.2) So they should be very spiritual. What is the matter with all of the Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous members who run those treatment programs?

UPDATE: 2012.08.28: For many years now, I have been quoting the National Treatment Center in Atlanta, Georgia, which found in 1996 that 93% of the treatment centers in the country used the 12-Step model. Well, it turns out that they did another study in 2005, and found that only 75% of the treatment centers are now using the 12-Step model. That is a big drop.

1996 Study:

2005 Study:

What are the authors really saying here? What are they campaigning for? Do they want us to support a law that demands that all treatment programs teach the Spirituality of the Twelve Steps? Are they really getting that upset over the tiny percentage of treatment programs that are not based on the Twelve Steps?

The reason appears to be both a lack of 'understanding of the role of spirituality in rehabilitation and a reluctance to become involved in what is presumed to be religion' (Booth, 1984a; Kohn, 1984).

Excuse me, but we haven't even established that the A.A. and N.A. members who run the treatment programs are not shoving cult religion down the throats of the patients. They usually do that, you know. The Twelve-Step true believers work at counselling jobs in those treatment programs just so that they can convert patients into members of their Twelve-Step religion. So it is absurd to be looking for the cause of why the 12-Step counselors are not doing it.

The result is an incomplete and relapse-prone recovery for the alcoholic.

That is some more standard A.A. cult dogma and fear mongering — "phobia induction":

  • "You aren't really 'recovering' if you aren't doing the Twelve Steps, you are only 'abstaining'."
  • "You can't recover from alcoholism if you don't do the Twelve Steps."
  • "You will turn into a dry drunk if you don't do the Twelve Steps."
  • "You will relapse if you don't do the Twelve Steps."
  • "If we skip this vital step, we may not overcome drinking." (The Big Book, 3rd and 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, page 72.)

Carl Jung observed of one of his patients, "his craving for alcohol was the equivalent, on a low level, of the spiritual thirst of our being for wholeness, expressed in medieval language: the union with God" (cited in Sikorsky, 1990, p. 14). Did he mean that spirituality is the same as what we today call religion? Probably not; for the more prominent thinkers of medieval times religion encompassed all aspects of life, both sacred and worldly (Moore, 1992). This broad view of spirituality is similar to that recognized by Booth (1984b) and Whitfield (1984a) as the essential but largely missing element in alcoholism treatment.

This is a bunch of ludicrous double-talk. The authors have no idea whether Carl Jung was hair-splitting and yammering the A.A. line, "it's spiritual, not religious." They just wish he had. And poor Carl was pretty addled in his old age: He praised the spirituality of the Nazi movement, and allowed himself to be used in radio programs that bragged about the spirituality of the Aryan race and the racial purity programs, breeding tall, blond-haired, blue-eyed Germans for Heinrich Himmler's SS... And Jung said that Jews and women were inherently dishonest and spiritually inferior... So it's hard to guess exactly what Carl Jung might have meant by "spirituality."

Again, how can their much-vaunted "spirituality" be "largely missing" from alcoholism treatment when A.A. totally dominates and controls the alcoholism treatment field? How can the authors possibly think they have something to complain about?

Spirituality is concerned with whomever or whatever is most important in a person's life (George, 1990).

They really do make some ridiculous statements, don't they? Their description of "spirituality" is becoming less and less clear. It seems to be everything to everybody:

  • If someone is obsessed with getting more money, and that is the most important thing in his life, are his money-grubbing habits "spirituality"?
  • Were the Enron executives "spiritual" when they defrauded the public and stole all of their employees' retirement funds? Why not? Enriching themselves seems to have been the most important thing in their lives...
  • What about a compulsive sex fiend? Are his sexual practices "spirituality"? Why not, when they are the most important thing in his life?

Essentially, spirituality involves attitudes that are based on beliefs about our relationships with our self, with other human beings, with our world (including our physical and social environments), with life (as to its meaning and purpose), and ultimately, with God, a Higher Power, or "Universal Consciousness" (Whitfield, 1984a).

This description of "spirituality" is just a mixture of psychology and religion. What is the difference between my "religious" view and my "spiritual" view of my relationship with God?

The answer is: "There isn't any difference." There is no firewall separating religion and spirituality. In A.A., it is all cult religion, period, in spite of the constantly-repeated slogan about how "It's spiritual, not religious."

When you strip off the excess verbosity, the authors are saying, "spirituality involves attitudes". What is so spiritual about having an attitude?

If those beliefs were formed in circumstances of unconditional love, acceptance, and trust, we probably exhibit attitudes of unconditional love, acceptance, and trust in all of our relationships. Prezioso called this positive spirituality, which, he said, reflects, "a sense of gratitude and acceptance, a sense of connectedness with others and with a benevolent power greater than self. .. anchored in the belief that life has meaning and purpose and that, although imperfect, each of us is acceptable, lovable, and worthwhile" (1987, p. 239).

Meaning: if you weren't an abused child, you will have a better, more positive attitude towards life in general. That is hardly a great discovery... Prezioso may have called this "positive spirituality" but that doesn't make it so. It isn't spirituality at all, it's just good psychology, and the proper, loving way to raise children, giving them good attitudes about themselves, life, and everything.

Note that the authors never used the word "childhood". They just said, "If those beliefs were formed in circumstances of unconditional love..." Well, early childhood is when all of our attitudes about life, the Universe, and everything are formed. A child has formed his or her basic core personality by the age of four. If you treat them good during those years, then they get a positive attitude towards life and their relationships with other people, and they feel good about themselves too. But if you abuse them and mistreat them during those years, then they come out of those first four years bitter and angry, resentful and hateful, and have very negative attitudes towards themselves and other people. They become callous and unfeeling, and cannot be compassionate or considerate of other people's feelings. It is very difficult for them to even feel good. And it is extremely difficult to change those feelings later.

It's just like baby birds imprinting the image of "mother". The baby birds just think that the first big moving thing they see after they hatch out is their mother, and they memorize the picture of it. Once the baby birds imprint, it's impossible to change their minds. Some researchers did a goofy experiment once: They fooled baby birds into thinking that ping-pong balls were their mothers, because ping-pong balls were the first big moving thing that the birds saw after they hatched out. And those poor birds spent the rest of their lives pushing around ping-pong balls... Let us hope that we are not just as blind about some of our imprinting.

When we experience positive spirituality, we tend to view ourselves as lovable, capable, and deserving. We allow others to enter and enrich our lives without feeling a need to manipulate, use, or abuse them. We find our world (job, school, community) to be a largely safe place wherein we are able to develop toward our full potential. Life has positive meaning and purpose, and many of us find a loving God who guides our lives, shares our joys, and sustains us when we are in pain or in need. When positive spirituality dominates our lives, we have no need to alter our moods with addictive substances or behaviors.

Again, meaning: if you weren't an abused child, you will have a better, more positive attitude towards life in general.

The authors claim that many of us will find a loving God because we weren't abused children? I suppose there is some truth to that. Those children are less likely to believe that a hateful, malicious God runs the Universe. But that isn't "spirituality", that's just somebody's opinion... And it is true that when you feel good, you have less need to make yourself feel good by using drugs or alcohol, but that isn't spirituality either. That's just very simple logic, a truism. If you already feel good, then you don't need to make yourself feel good.

The opposite is true for active alcoholics and sober but nonrecovering alcoholics referred to in AA as "dry drunks." Their lives are dominated by a negative spirituality (Prezioso, 1987). They are insecure, defensive, and lacking in self-esteem. They try to fill their unmet relationship needs by using and abusing others whom they fear and distrust. They see the world as unsafe and use that as justification for conning and manipulating their way through it. Life for them is not only devoid of positive purpose; to quote an often-heard comment, "Life sucks, and then you die." And the god, if any, of their understanding is either harsh and unforgiving or has no relevance to them.

Meaning: if you were an abused child, you will have a bad, negative attitude towards life in general. That is hardly a great discovery... And, like before, Prezioso calls this "negative spirituality", but it still isn't "spirituality." It's just simple, every-day psychology.

According to the authors' logic, positive or negative "spirituality" is basically the kind of mind-set or attitude towards life that comes from being loved or abused as a child... So what is the difference between the authors' ideas of "spirituality" and a psychologist's concepts of "outlook on life" or "attitude towards life"? Apparently none. It would appear that this idea of "spirituality" is quite unnecessary, and can be replaced with simple non-supernatural psychological terms.

But the term "a positive approach to life" doesn't sound nearly as grandiose and ego-pleasing as "positive spirituality", does it? Apparently, the authors and also a lot of A.A. members like to think that God really cares whether they are in a good mood or not... And they like to imagine that they are getting closer to God by being cheerful. — Now actually, there might be something to that. I won't challenge that attitude, because it has a ring of truth to it. You are certainly distancing yourself from God by being hateful. But isn't all of this yammering about "spirituality" just a big self-congratulatory ego trip? Isn't it just the kind of egotism that Bill Wilson and A.A. hate, or claim to hate, and insist must be destroyed?

And note how the authors slipped the standard A.A. negative stereotype of The Alcoholic into that paragraph: "They see the world as unsafe and use that as justification for conning and manipulating their way through it. Life for them is ... devoid of positive purpose"...
The majority of alcoholics are not like that. In fact, the majority of alcoholics eventually quit drinking, and the vast majority of the successful quitters do it by themselves, without A.A. or any other treatment program, precisely because they have a positive view of life and believe that life is worth living.

How can you possibly be "sober but nonrecovering" when alcohol was the thing that was killing you, and you aren't drinking it any more?
Simple: A.A. redefines the word "recovery" to mean "doing the Twelve Steps, going to A.A. meetings, and abstaining from drinking alcohol".

Also note how the authors managed to slip in that imaginary A.A. bogeyman, the "dry drunk" — "sober but nonrecovering alcoholics referred to in AA as 'dry drunks.'"
The A.A. true-believer cult members say that you will turn into a bitterly unhappy dry drunk if you quit drinking alcohol without practicing Bill Wilson's Twelve Steps. There is absolutely no scientific or medical evidence to support that statement. There is no such thing as a dry drunk, the way that A.A. describes it. The "dry drunk" story is just more cult-religion dogma — "Those people who don't belong to our religion and do our practices are bad. They are seeking an easier, softer way."
That is also some Phobia Induction, another standard practice of cult religions. Cults say: "If you don't join our cult and follow all of our rules, then you will go insane, or Satan will get you, or some other really nasty thing will happen to you."
In the case of Alcoholics Anonymous, the story is, of course, that your fate is "Jails, Institutions, or Death" if you won't do it the A.A. way.

So the authors say: "sober but nonrecovering alcoholics, referred to in AA as 'dry drunks,' [have] lives ... dominated by a negative spirituality..."
They maintain that "You won't recover", and "Your life will be dominated by negative spirituality" if you don't join A.A. and do Bill Wilson's Twelve Steps (which he actually got from the fascist minister Dr. Frank Buchman).

And some people still claim that Alcoholics Anonymous is not an irrational cult religion...

Nevertheless, they seem to be constantly striving to realize the joys of positive spirituality, albeit through a substitute relationship with alcohol.

They are trying to get a buzz on and feel good, you idiot.

Unfortunately, their strivings are doomed to failure because the relationship with alcohol is unnatural and the problems alcohol abuse creates causes them increasing unhappiness.

Excuse me? This just gets better and better. The last time I heard that "unnatural relationship" rap was in a denunciation of homosexuality by a rabid right-wing hatemonger fundamentalist Christian minister... You know, one of those TV evangelists... So now alcoholics have "unnatural relationships" with their bottles?

So what position constitutes a "natural relationship" with a bottle?

And of course alcohol has bad side effects, and if you drink too much it makes you feel sick. We figured that out for ourselves...


(Excuse me, but what was the "old look"?)

As the human personality develops from a preoccupation with the survival, passion, and power needs of its "lower self," toward the understanding, compassion, and unity strivings of its higher self (Whitfield, 1984a, 1984b), it also grows spiritually.

This is really beautiful flowery talk. Please prove it. And please define "spiritual growth." To Bill Wilson, it meant brainwashing yourself into being a good A.A. cult member. What's your definition?

As the lower self is transcended, life's relationships become more fulfilling. Without that transcendence, life's relationships are predominately troublesome.

More Bull. And it is all a big gnostic heresy: The belief that survival, life, sex, and the need for control over one's own life is all evil. Everything down here on Earth is dirty and evil, and the domain of Satan, and the only goodness to be found is in Heaven. — That's a gnostic heresy.

The authors treat the idea of "the lower self" the same way. They claim that "the human personality develops from a preoccupation with the survival, passion, and power needs of its 'lower self'..."

  • Is that everybody's personality, or only the stereotypical sicko alcoholics?
  • Who defines how much interest or attention amounts to "preoccupation"?
  • If you get hungry and horny, are you "preoccupied" with the "lower self"?
  • Why does this sound suspiciously like shaming and guilt induction?
    • Are we supposed to be ashamed of our bodies, or at least the lower half of them?
    • Are we supposed to be ashamed of our sexuality?
    • Are we supposed to feel guilty if we enjoy sex with a beautiful mate?
    • Is there something low and wrong about us if we concern ourselves with our survival?
  • And the lower self must be transcended? Can't you be a good person, and still have a lower self, and still do things like eat and live and have a sex life?

The authors claim: "As the lower self is transcended, life's relationships become more fulfilling. Without that transcendence, life's relationships are predominately troublesome."
Where is the evidence for those pseudo-psychological or pseudo-religious statements?
There is none.
There wasn't even a footnote or a reference to a study.
There aren't even any suitable people to study — Show me even 100 people who have actually "transcended" the "lower self".
This is just psycho-babble nonsense. The authors are just running off at the mouth, engaging in wishful thinking.

The authors leave us no elbow room in their absolute attitudes here. It seems that all alcoholics are automatically evil and "preoccupied" with the bad, lower self. It doesn't seem to matter how much or how little attention they pay to sex or survival... They are preoccupied with the "survival, passion, and power needs" of their "lower self" because the authors say they are, and only joining the authors' religion and experiencing "spiritual growth" in the Twelve-Step program will save them from sex and survival.

Maslow (1954) held that psychological illnesses occur when the attainment of the higher nature of the individual becomes blocked. For alcoholics, mainly because of attitudes of negative spirituality, relationships with self, others, the world, life, and God are unsatisfactory. Indeed, they are primary sources of stress, which initiate and prolong alcohol abuse.

Meaning, abused children are messed up in the head. We already knew that, and it doesn't take any vague superstitious concepts of "negative spirituality" to explain the phenomenon.

Most alcoholics began drinking abusively in their teens.

William G. Wilson
Wrong again. Completely untrue. (These authors just don't seem to know anything about anything, do they?) Real people begin drinking excessively at all ages. The authors are just stupidly repeating the standard A.A. stereotype of The Alcoholic again. There are, in fact, two classic types of alcoholic:

  1. First, there is the teenage drunk, the high school lush. They often start drinking at 13 and are in big trouble with alcohol by 20. They tend to be the violent, wild and crazy shooting stars. (Shooting stars burn out fast.)
  2. Then there is the middle-aged alcoholic. They often don't even start drinking much until age 30, and then their drinking slowly but steadily increases until they are drinking so much that their lives are in danger.

Even the Big Book says:

"My drinking did not start until after I was thirty-five, and a fairly successful career had been established. At first it was just ... an occasional drink."
The Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, the story "It Might Have Been Worse", 3rd Edition page 374 and 4th Edition page 349.

Likewise, Bill Wilson didn't start drinking until he was in his twenties, a young lieutenant in the Army on the eve of World War One.1

And the Big Book also says:

My drinking career started late. A square from ultra-dry Kansas, I did not taste grog until I had finished college, done a stint on newspapers, married, become a father, and been in studio publicity two years.
The Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, 3rd Edition, page 328.


"He did no drinking until he was thirty-five. In a few years he became so violent when intoxicated that he had to be committed."
The Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, 3rd and 4th Editions, page 35.

So much for the stereotyping statement that most alcoholics start drinking abusively in their teen years.

From that point, alcohol became their method for coping with stress, and they apparently failed to develop much beyond the adolescent personality stage. The twelve step rehabilitation program of AA helps to complete that personality development process.

More total bull. People who began drinking heavily much later in life do not need to relive their teenage years. And they are not stuck at "the adolescent personality stage." This is still just more of the same old stupid A.A. stereotype of The Alcoholic.

The Twelve-Step "rehabilitation program" of AA helps to make people into cult members, period. The Twelve Steps help to destroy people's personalities. The bible of Alcoholics Anonymous, the Big Book, even says that explicitly:

  • Page 420 (3rd Edition), in the story titled "Growing Up All Over Again": "In A.A., I have had to be torn down and then put back together differently."
  • Page 459 (3rd Edition): "All Twelve Steps of A.A. are designed to kill the old self (deflate the old ego) and build a new, free self."

The twelve step "rehabilitation program" of AA does not help to complete any personality development process other than brainwashing and cult conversion. The "new, free self" that will be built is actually a slave, someone who is "totally dependent" on A.A. and its "Will of God." The authors will clearly say that a little later. Bill Wilson repeatedly bragged that his program made people dependent upon Alcoholics Anonymous, that Alcoholics Anonymous was just a substitute addiction. Read on for the gory details.

It also instills attitudes of positive spirituality, which will allow recovering alcoholics to deal effectively with the stresses of life and bring about a fulfilling and even joyful recovery.

The twelve step "rehabilitation" program of AA unfortunately helps to instill a nasty tendency to become neurotic, to engage in uncontrolled binge drinking, and sometimes even to commit suicide.

It does so by promoting the growth of a healthy ego in a nurturing environment.

The Twelve Steps destroy egos, they don't nurture them. The authors have written, even in this very article, that the purpose of the Twelve Steps is to "deflate" the egos of new A.A. recruits. And if by a "nurturing environment", they mean A.A. meetings, they've got to be joking.

According to Khantzian and Mack, "The spiritual dimension of AA helps to move a person from a less mature, childish self-centeredness toward a more mature form of object love" (1989, p. 79). Essentially, the founders of AA understood that the transcendence of ego stimulates in the alcoholic a corresponding growth of positive spirituality.

The authors just really lay it on, don't they?

  • Father Wilson will make the children be good. Again, they will fix the stereotypical "childish" alcoholic with the Twelve Steps by damaging the ego, not transcending it. Destroying people's self-respect and making them wallow in guilt, and making them admit that they are powerless, insane, weak, stupid, flawed, defective, immoral, and guilty of everything is not "transcending the ego." It is the induction of guilt, and the use of guilt to manipulate people's minds.
  • And such psychological abuse surely does not induce a "corresponding growth of positive spirituality."
  • And no matter what Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob thought they "understood", they still didn't really get any better success rate than no treatment at all.

The process duplicates, in part, the early childhood and subsequent relationship influences intended to promote positive spiritual development in us all but which often fall short of the mark.

This is insane. Note that none of this happy hype about what great things the Twelve Steps will do for you is even supported by a reference or a footnote. It's all just grandiose hand-waving and wild generalizations, unsupported by any facts. The authors are just repeating the grandiose, bombastic, delusional sermons of William G. Wilson. If the Twelve Steps really duplicate early childhood, then the unfortunate members whose early childhoods are being duplicated really were abused children, weren't they? Abused children with crazy fundamentalist cult religion preachers for parents...

AA also serves as a kind of surrogate family to provide alcoholics with consistent unconditional love, trust, and acceptance, coupled with reality-testing and a respectful amount of direction and guidance.

William G. Wilson
This is just such incredible bull. The neurotic true-believer cult members of A.A. are hardly what you would call a surrogate family with consistent unconditional love, trust, and acceptance... Just see how unconditionally they love you and accept you if you criticize Bill Wilson or the Twelve Steps...

Hint: They are a bunch of alcoholics with messed-up personalities, remember? They are incapable of unconditionally loving anyone. The authors just told us that. According to the authors, they are all full of "negative spirituality." Putting two dozen of them together in a room doesn't just suddenly magically fix them, so they will still be shoving all of their various "character defects" and other negative mind games on each other. There are far too many horror stories of sexual predators and crazy control freaks in those rooms. Don't expect any "unconditional love, trust, and acceptance" from them.

Again, read Rebecca Fransway's book, AA Horror Stories.
And read the A.A. Horror Stories that readers have sent to the Orange Papers.
And visit a few more web sites.

Although AA exerts no pressure on alcoholics to change, it provides every encouragement and assistance necessary for them to do so if they are willing, open-minded, and capable of being honest with themselves and others.

Baloney. Of course there is pressure to change, lots of pressure. Immense pressure. That's how the game works.

  • Do you think they congratulate people for drinking?
  • Do you think they praise people who don't parrot the party line?
  • Do you think they cheer for people who announce that they aren't doing the Twelve Steps?
  • The social pressures to conform to the group are intense.
  • And the old-timers can get quite nasty with people who won't conform...

It is the authors of this propaganda who are not "capable of being honest with themselves and others."

The Twelve Steps

Now the authors list the Twelve Steps. The true believers just love to reprint the Twelve Steps at every possible opportunity. One of the hallmarks of this A.A.-booster school of literature is that they find some excuse to reprint the Twelve Steps in their article. Sometimes, they even include The Twelve Traditions and the Serenity Prayer, too, just to make sure that we get The Message. (Step Twelve specifically commands members to "carry the message" to others, so that's what the authors are doing to us.)

A listing of the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and their implications for ego-transcendence and positive spiritual development is found in the publication Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (AA World Services, 1952).

Yes, these authors are really hard-core true believers, quoting "12x12". The book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions is some very dark hateful sermons that Bill Wilson wrote 13 years after he wrote the opening chapters of the Big Book. By then, Bill's madness was complete, and he just raved hateful insane negative stuff about alcoholics and human nature for 192 pages, while going through a bout of deep, crippling, clinical depression that lasted for eleven years.

Bill Wilson and Lois (possibly at Dr. Bob's funeral)

Most professional psychologists or drug and alcohol rehabilitation counselors avoid quoting 12x12 in public, because it is practically impossible to then declare that A.A. isn't a religion. Words like "God, Higher Power, sin, guilt, blame, faults, defects, pride, greed, lust, sex, anger, gluttony, envy, sloth, moral shortcomings, defects of character, or confession" appear on almost every page.

The steps are introduced as follows, accompanied by interpretations provided by the authors of this study.

Step 1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol--that our lives had become unmanageable.
The "self-centeredness" of a willful and irresponsible ego is recognized as the root cause of the destructive use of alcohol, and dependence on self-confidence or willpower in its treatment is seen as a "total liability" (AA World Services, 1952, p. 22). Acceptance of being "powerless" prepares the groundwork for the eventual transcendence of the narrow ego-self.

Excuse me, but it doesn't say that at all. Step One said that we were powerless over alcohol, and that our lives had become unmanageable. It said nothing about us being self-centered.

Those lines that follow Step One are ostensibly quotes from Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, but the line:

The "self-centeredness" of a willful and irresponsible ego is recognized as the root cause of the destructive use of alcohol
is not present on page 22 of the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. Something like the second half of that statement —
... dependence on self-confidence or willpower in its treatment is seen as a "total liability"
— is present:
We had approached A.A. expecting to be taught self-confidence. Then we had been told that so far as alcohol is concerned, it was a total liability. Our sponsors declared that we were the victims of a mental obsession so subtly powerful that no amount of human willpower could break it.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, page 22.

("Our sponsors" declared that, but "our sponsors" were dead wrong.)

Those statements are very revealing, because they show how Wilson and his followers will twist things around, and make the words mean whatever they want them to mean.

Step One said nothing, absolutely nothing about "a willful and irresponsible ego is recognized as the root cause of the destructive use of alcohol."

And Step One said nothing, absolutely nothing about "dependence on self-confidence or willpower in its treatment is seen as a 'total liability'."

Both of those statements are completely false. The statement that dependence on self-confidence or willpower is seen as a "total liability" is just laying the groundwork for demanding that you surrender your mind and your will to the cult and let someone else order you around and do your thinking for you. Likewise, "acceptance of being powerless" prepares the ground for the eventual surrender to the cult, not for the transcendance of ego, like the authors claim. Prof. Margaret Thaler Singer listed "Create a sense of powerlessness, covert fear, guilt, and dependency" as one of the five essential conditions for successful brainwashing, and the constantly-parroted statements that you are powerless over alcohol accomplish the 'powerlessness' part of it. (And steps four through ten accomplish the guilt part — constantly listing and confessing all of your sins. And the 'covert fear' part is accomplished through Phobia Induction — constantly telling people that they will relapse and die a horrible death if they don't "work the Steps", and conform to the A.A. program, and do everything their sponsor says. Likewise, new members are made dependent on A.A. for everything from their self-respect to their self-confidence.)

According to the A.A. cult dogma, you can not, you absolutely must not, depend on yourself and just quit drinking. If you do, then you won't need them. Plus, you will set an example they don't want the beginners to see: sane, sober, cult-free, guilt-free, self-reliance. Happy recovery without any cult religion, which is supposed to be impossible. Wilson also wrote, on that page in "12x12",

Few indeed were those who, so assailed, had ever won through in singlehanded combat. It was a statistical fact that alcoholics almost never recovered on their own resources. And this had been true, apparently, ever since man had first crushed grapes.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, page 22.

That is a lie — a complete, total, deliberate, bare-faced lie — a lie intended to fool people into thinking that they cannot live without the A.A. cult. Most people who recover from alcoholism do it alone, without any treatment program or support group or any other cult religion "help".

The NIAAA's 2001-2002 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions interviewed over 43,000 people. Using the criteria for alcohol dependence found in the DSM-IV, they found:

      "About 75 percent of persons who recover from alcohol dependence do so without seeking any kind of help, including specialty alcohol (rehab) programs and AA. Only 13 percent of people with alcohol dependence ever receive specialty alcohol treatment."

And the Harvard Medical School reported that 80% of all alcoholics who successfully quit drinking for a year or more did it alone, without any "treatment".

Doing it alone is the proven, successful, way of quitting. It was Bill's "spiritual treatment program" that almost never succeeded in curing alcoholics. Half of the original Big Book authors relapsed and returned to drinking. A.A. had, and still has, less than a one percent long-term success rate (above normal spontaneous remission). And Bill knew that when he wrote those words, because he had 16 years of experience in failing to cure alcoholics by the time that he wrote his second book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, in 1951 to 1952. What Bill Wilson should have written is:
"Few indeed were those who, so assailed, ever won through in Alcoholics Anonymous."

This step is bad, really bad. It teaches people that they cannot take care of themselves, and just quit drinking. They are told that it isn't their fault, that it's a disease, and that they can't control it (so don't even bother trying). It's a setup for failure, and a setup for dependency on the cult. It is intellectual suicide disguised as admission of having a drinking problem. One of the A.A. slogans is: "I pray to God every day that I never get the idea that I can run my own life."

The truth is, self-confidence and will power are good things, necessary strengths, and vital tools in the battle to recover. You won't be able to resist temptation without will power. Self-confidence helps to keep you stable, and keep you from despairing, or getting depressed, or freaking out. Those 12-Steppers have it all backwards. No wonder they have nearly a 100% failure rate.

Step 2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
The "character defects" that generate and sustain alcoholism are a form of mental illness that is not amenable to self-treatment. Only a power greater than the ego-self is capable of curing the alcoholic condition. That power is ultimately God, as one understands God. But, until that realization is made, AA or some other therapeutic agency is an acceptable substitute.

I'm not insane, so I don't need an invisible Higher Power or spirit or God to restore me to sanity. I really would be insane if I came to believe that I was insane and needed some ghost or spirit to fix my brain. (Such a bizarre delusion is characteristic of schizophrenia.) And I will eventually become pretty neurotic if I come to believe that I can't trust my own thinking, because I'm insane. That routine is illogical and self-contradictory: If I'm really that insane, then how can I possibly be so clear and correct in diagnosing my insanity?

This is religion, not a quit-drinking program. And it's crazy religion at that. It is also a lot of unproven and disproven dogma, like:

  • You can't quit drinking all by yourself. (Yes you can.)
  • You have to depend on A.A. and God to do the work for you. (No you don't.)
  • Only a power greater than the ego-self — God — is capable of curing the alcoholic condition. (Baloney. You can do it yourself.)
  • You are insane, and only God can cure you, but meanwhile, you should let the A.A. elders do your thinking for you. (More cult nonsense. You can help yourself. You don't need any cult elders running your life.)

Again, it is NOT a matter of believing in a God; it's a matter of believing in the deluded ravings of a lunatic — specifically, Bill Wilson. And it's a matter of surrendering to a cult religion.

Step 3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
A commitment is made to transcend the narrow ego-self and embark on a course of spiritual growth by giving up one's willfulness and surrendering to a power greater than self.

More grandiose bull. Very very few people get to transcend the ego, and it is usually the culmination of many years of study and practice. Sometimes, an entire lifetime of study and practice. Declaring that you will quit drinking and transcend the ego instead is just as stupid as declaring that you are going to quit drinking and become a world-class concert violinist instead. Oh, and you are going to do it in just one year, too, even though you have never played a note before in your whole life.

Actually, here is where you are supposed to surrender to the cult. You turn your will and your life over to the control of your sponsor and other old-timers in the group while pretending that you are surrendering to God.

Step 4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
An honest accounting is made of "character defects." Personal assets and strengths are also noted. An awareness of acceptability despite one's imperfections is created and is reinforced by an accepting fellowship. Ego defenses begin to be surrendered.

No, personal assets, strengths, and positive qualities are never counted. Only bad things, like "character defects", "moral shortcomings" and "resentments" are counted. The goal is to make you feel guilty, inadequate, inferior, powerless, hopeless, and depressed, so that you can be more easily controlled by others.

Besides, alcoholics have a "disease", don't they? They should be getting a searching and fearless medical examination, not a moral inventory.
(But a medical examination won't induce enough guilt to make you surrender to the cult...)

Step 5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Responsibility for "character defects" is accepted and acknowledged. The ego shrinks as its defenses are overcome: honesty increases self-esteem.

See, you confess "the exact nature of your wrongs" here, not your assets and good qualities. The goal is to induce guilt and self-doubt.

They say that "The ego shrinks as its defenses are overcome: honesty increases self-esteem." No, actually, self-respect and self-esteem shrink as you wallow in guilt, self-rating, and self-condemnation.

The authors shove some strange logic on us. The discussion above talked at length — albeit indirectly — about how child abuse and bad childhoods cause "negative spirituality" and "character defects", and now we are being told that our character defects are all our own fault, so we will "accept and acknowledge the responsibility." How is it our own fault if we were abused children?

Now there is nothing wrong with doing an honest self-assessment and figuring out who you really are, and maybe whom you would like to become. I recommend it, in fact. But A.A. twists this all around, and won't let you talk about your good qualities. It is really just a very ordinary cult guilt-induction process, disguised as honesty and self-improvement.

This is actually a bait-and-switch stunt. In the beginning, they tell newcomers that they have a disease, a very dangerous, progressive, usually-fatal disease that is something like an allergy to alcohol, and that they are powerless over it, and that it isn't their fault. So they don't need to feel guilty about being alcoholics.

But then they pull a medical-to-moral morph, and demand that the newcomers list all of their sins, everything they ever did wrong in their entire lives, all of their defects of character and moral shortcomings, and wallow in guilt and confess it all, confessing the exact nature of their wrongs, sometimes on their knees in front of their sponsors.
So what do sins have to do with an allergy?
Finally, the new convert is supposed to believe that everything that ever went wrong is his own fault. Bill Wilson wrote that "bottles were only a symbol", and that "our problems were of our own making."

A.A. won't use the "disease" word again until they are trying to hoodwink another newcomer into joining. From here on out, you are guilty of everything.

Steps 6 and 7. Were entirely ready to have God remove all those defects of character, and humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
Willingness to depend on God and the humility involved in that dependence are further evidence of the lessening influence of ego and increasing spiritual growth.

I am not just ready, I am downright eager for God to take away all of my defects and shortcomings. I want to look like Robert Redford, sing like Neil Diamond, and play the guitar like Jerry Garcia and Eric Clapton. So get busy, God. You've really got Your work cut out for You this time...

Excuse me again, but increased "Willingness to depend on God" does not mean "the lessening influence of ego." Your ego is your concept of who and what you are. Your ego doesn't stop you from believing in God.

Perhaps A.A. and the authors are trying to push a different concept here, one of egotism, one of an inflated, strutting-peacock egotism:

  • A.A. likes to claim that you have a huge, fat ego that insists that it is the center of the Universe and too big and too good to need God. Again, A.A. implies that you are suffering from delusions of grandeur, or a narcissistic personality disorder, just like Bill Wilson did.
  • A.A. says that you have to destroy your ego to quit drinking. That is, of course, both bad psychology and bad religion. People drink to excess because they want to kill their pain and feel good, not because they think they are the center of the universe.
    (Personally, I never cared whether I was at the center of the Universe, or in an obscure neighborhood on the outer rim of the Milky Way Galaxy, just as long as the beer was cold and plentiful.)

Plenty of religions will tell you that "Willingness to Depend on God" is not spiritual growth, it is superstitious nonsense and infantile narcissism. God is not Santa Claus, and God is not a Genie who grants three wishes if you rub His lamp. You should learn to depend on yourself, and not expect God to be constantly pulling puppet strings and doing favors for you and answering your prayers. Very few religions believe in a God Who micro-manages the world and grants everybody's wishes. It is bad manners and bad theology to demand miracles of God "The Lord helps those who help themselves."

But if you learn to depend on yourself, you won't need Alcoholics Anonymous. You won't be addicted to A.A., and A.A. says that's really bad. "Willingness to depend on God" really means willingness to depend on the Alcoholics Anonymous cult, and willingness to surrender one's independence to the cult. That's the A.A. idea of holiness.

Also note the progressive change in terminology that Wilson pulled in steps 4 through 7. In step 4, we were theoretically supposed to do an honest inventory, listing both good and bad things about ourselves. But in step 5, we "admitted our wrongs", only. Then, in step 6, those wrongs were renamed to "defects of character", and in step 7 they were called our moral "shortcomings". Labeling parts of ourselves as defective — so defective that only God can remove the defects — is good for instilling feelings of self-doubt and guilt, but that is not good for recovery.

Steps 8 and 9. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all, and made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Positive spiritual growth is tested in the humble acceptance of responsibility for wrongs done to others. The making of amends, or just the willingness to do so, increases self-esteem as it erodes egocentricity and constructs positive spiritual connections with others.

More baloney: "Positive spiritual growth is tested..." Nobody has even established that the Twelve Steps have a positive influence on people's minds or spirituality, and yet the authors foist "positive spiritual growth" on us as a given. (That's the propaganda stunt called petitio principii — "assume facts not in evidence".) If anything is really being tested here, it is the degree of successful cult indoctrination and conversion to cultish behavior.

There is nothing wrong with making amends, where it can be done. And making amends reduces guilt and paranoia, and may increase self-respect. But to claim that it "erodes egocentricity and constructs positive spiritual connections with others" is pretty far-fetched. It is just more of the A.A. religious hype, and voodoo medicine.

What's the difference between a "positive spiritual connection" and a "positive social connection"? It looks like the authors are making Bill Wilson's standard mistake: confusing "spiritual" things with "psychological" or "emotional" things. The authors are also making the mistake of using Mr. Wilson's bombastic, grandiose descriptions of everything. Rather than accurately saying that we are merely "building positive social relationships", the authors like to brag that we are "constructing positive spiritual connections".

Step 10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
Behavior is continually appraised and responsibility is taken for it. Living a life of commitment to honesty in one's relationships ensures further development of self-esteem.

This is "Repeat Steps 4 through 9, in an infinite loop." You must continue to criticize yourself and denigrate yourself, forever. Note that it doesn't say anything about when you are right. You dwell on when you are wrong. And they call that neurotic behavior self-improvement. No wonder members relapse.

Step 11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for the knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
A willful ego is forsaken in the total dependence on God's will and grace. The highest level of AA spirituality has now been achieved.

Who says that God has a will for us? Maybe God just wants us to be free, and go play outside in the sunshine, like all of the other wildlife. How much did Jesus say that the lilies of the field toil?

      "And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
      And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these."
Mathew 6:28-29.

Step Eleven is where we get into the Buchmanite occult practice of "Receiving Guidance". We hold a séance, and, essentially, "channel" God. We just sit quietly, and listen, and wait for God to deliver messages to us, our "Guidance", our orders for the day from the big Dictator in the sky. Then we go do whatever the voices in our head tell us to do. No joke. Really. We are supposed to spend the rest of our lives "Seeking and Doing the Will of God", as the practice was taught to Bill Wilson by the Hitler-praising fascist minister Dr. Frank Buchman and his disciples. That's why Alcoholics Anonymous is a cult religion, not a quit-drinking program.

  • The "highest level of AA spirituality has been achieved" when you are totally addicted to A.A. religiosity — you are totally dependent on "God's will and grace" -- as defined by your A.A. group's elders, of course.

  • The "highest level of AA spirituality has been achieved" when you are in constant conscious contact with God. You are a psychic, sort of like Shirley MacLaine or Bill Wilson, channelling "the Voice of God".

  • The "highest level of AA spirituality has been achieved" when you are so deluded that you hear voices in your head and then you go do whatever they say.

  • "A willful ego" is traded for submissive slavery in a religious cult.

Watch out. They really do mean what they are saying here. They are like vampires and were-wolves — those lunatics really do intend to B.I.T.E. you and make you one of them. They really do mean "total dependence". They really do believe that they hear the Voice of God in their heads, and that God is telling them what to do, all day, every day. I'm not exaggerating. This really is a crazy cult.

Step 12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
(AA World Services, 1976, pp. 60-61) Ego-transcendent spirituality is practiced in all relationships and strengthened through helping other alcoholics. The process of ego-deflation and positive spiritual development is, thus, complete. But because the brain never forgets what it has learned, spiritually negative patterns remain that can still act as relapse triggers. Therefore, the recovering alcoholic remains in the fellowship and continues working and reworking the twelve steps while new and more powerful patterns of positive spirituality beliefs and attitudes are established.

Having driven ourselves totally insane and having become completely delusional, irrational, and superstitious, we now promise to suck others into our cult and make them just as crazy as we are. We promise to be powerless, guilt-ridden, irrational and superstitious in all of our affairs.

They claim that "Ego-transcendent spirituality is practiced in all relationships." Never mind that there is, for all practical purposes, no such thing. Oh, I do believe that a few rare saints do end up in a state something like that, but they don't get there by drinking too much alcohol, or by doing Bill Wilson's Twelve Steps. Again, someone is foisting a load of bull on us, and calling it "Spirituality."

Then they go on to say that the A.A. member cannot ever leave the cult, and must continue his self-destructive Twelve-Step behavior forever. He must maintain a life-long addiction to Alcoholics Anonymous. They say, "spiritually negative patterns remain that can still act as relapse triggers." That is exactly like Scientology, which says that you have "engrams", which are memories of past injuries, and those engrams make you insane. You must buy lots and lots of "auditing", to "process your engrams", to clear them out of your head, so you can regain your sanity. But you never seem to be able to clear all of those engrams out of there, so you can't ever leave Scientology, or quit paying them money...

Actually, the "You Can't Ever Leave" rule is totally typical of cults. It is one of the most important defining characteristics of a cult.

Finally, note what was not said in the Twelve Steps:

  • They never said that you should quit drinking, or help someone else to quit drinking.
  • They never said anything about health, or sobriety, or recovery.
  • They never said anything about love, or kindness, or affection.
  • The steps just declare that we are
    • "powerless over alcohol" in Step One,
    • and insane in Step Two,
    • and then we must surrender our will and our lives to A.A. (or our "Higher Power" who might be a bedpan or a doorknob) in Step Three,
    • and then we must spend the rest of our days listing and confessing our sins, making amends, "Seeking and Doing the Will of God", and "carrying the message" to other alcoholics.

Why don't the 12 steps describe the process of quitting drinking for us, rather than the process of confessing our sins? Why aren't the Twelve Steps a formula for quitting drinking and staying quit? Because that isn't what A.A. is really all about:

At the moment we are trying to put our lives in order. But this is not an end in itself. Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us.
The Big Book, Bill Wilson, 3rd and 4th Editions, page 77.

But the only way that they want to "serve" other people is to convert them to the A.A. religion. A.A. intends to perform no other services for people, because:

The minute we put our work on a service plane, the alcoholic commences to rely upon our assistance rather than upon God.
The Big Book, Bill Wilson, 3rd and 4th Editions, page 98.

So don't do anything to help alcoholics, other than try to convert them to the Twelve-Step Religion, and call that "helping others selflessly."

Now the authors just rehash the baloney that they shoved on us earlier, telling us the same falsehoods all over again:

As recovering alcoholics "work the steps" of the AA program, guided by their sponsors in the supportive family environment, they begin to develop positive spirituality. This is reflected in blossoming attitudes of unconditional love, acceptance, and trust in relationships with themselves, others, the world, life, and the God of their understanding. They come to believe that they are fundamentally okay even if their behaviors sometimes are not. They begin to love, accept, and trust themselves.

This is just impossibly Pollyanna-ish. Everything is just so wonderful. Doesn't it just make you feel incredibly lucky to be an alcoholic? Why, without the A.A. program, we could never have achieved so much Heaven on Earth.

That is, of course, completely untrue. People go crazy as they "work the steps"; they don't enjoy "blossoming attitudes of unconditional love, acceptance, and trust".
And watch out for any cult that yammers about unconditional love: they are just setting you up for a fall by pushing a super-human standard of perfection on you, one that you can't possibly live up to.

I'm not going to continue to repeat myself, like the authors here will continue to do. Suffice it to say that we've been over all of this before.

Feeling more secure in themselves, they find the confidence to risk reaching out to others. They find that many other AA members are worthy of their trust and friendship and need not be manipulated to provide them with satisfying personal relationships. They come to believe that other human beings are fundamentally okay even if their behaviors sometimes are not. They begin to experience loving, accepting, and trusting relationships with others.

Pollyanna strikes again.

As they see others in AA succeeding in the world in ways that are satisfying to them, even if not necessarily valued by society at large, and as they find that they too are beginning to fulfill their potential for personal development, they come to believe that the world (nature, community, work, school) is generally a safe place for them to enjoy life and become all that they are capable of becoming or wish to become. Accordingly, they come to love, accept, and trust the world.

What does this fancy double-talk mean? "A.A. members succeed in the world, in ways that are satisfying to them, but in ways not valued by society at large"? Oops! Just what "not valued" ways is A.A. pushing? Being an unsold artist, or being a low-paid janitor for the rest of your life, or wasting your entire life going to A.A. meetings?

Or is it some really dark and evil stuff?
Satisfying oneself with little girls when the moon gets full?
Or satisfying oneself with cocaine and child pornography and pedophilia?
Meeting at a cross-roads at midnight, and drawing pentagrams on the ground, and doing Satan-worshipping rituals that are "not necessarily valued by society at large"?
It could be anything, couldn't it? The authors just leave the door wide open with their vague, grandiose psycho-babble.

As they begin to live life through satisfying relationships with themselves, with others, and with the world, they come to believe that life is okay. They no longer see it as a purely biological happenstance or some kind of cruel joke, but rather as a condition that has profound meaning and purpose for them. They come to love, accept, and trust life. For most members of AA, it is inconceivable that such life is not ordered and supported by a loving God. Accordingly, they come to love, accept, and trust God.

So they experience religious conversion, and embrace A.A. theology.
Notice how the authors parrot, once again, Bill Wilson's assertion that all "practicing alcoholics" are really atheists who believe that life is a random accident or a cruel joke. The authors don't even think about Catholic Priests who drink too much Communion wine, do they?

Those who achieve this level of spiritual development show the greatest happiness in recovery and seem to have the greatest sobriety. They seem to have a special presence about them, a kind of light in their eyes that draws newly recovering alcoholics to them like a magnet. They are the role models for all who are serious about their recovery. The most effective sponsors come from their ranks. They inspire all who are resolutely working the steps as well as those who have newly entered AA and have not yet committed themselves to its program.

This is really delusions of grandeur. They all become like unto reincarnations of Jesus Christ. They are all living saints, because they have experienced religious conversion through Bill Wilson's Twelve Steps.

Too bad this stuff doesn't really work. It would be wonderful if it did. We could force everybody through the program, and force everybody to become a saint. But, alas, most of the old Twelve-Steppers just finally flip out and relapse and die drunk. Twelve-Steppers are like time bombs, most of them will go off eventually. Really old old-timers are as rare as hen's teeth. Not one person in a thousand makes it in Alcoholics Anonymous for twenty years.

My doctor recently told me that late-stage alcoholism has the same fatality rate as cancer: fifty percent. Consider that Alcoholics Anonymous is THE leading alcoholism "treatment" program in the country, dominating 85% to 93% of all of the treatment facilities in the USA. So A.A.-member counselors and therapists give them "12-Step treatment", and then they die. That's the sad reality.

Unfortunately, many of the latter will find AA's spiritual focus a threat to the sick ego that is ruling their lives and will stop going to the meetings.

Or maybe they will come to their senses and decide that cult religion is not really their cup of tea.

They may continue to destroy themselves through alcohol abuse, or they may find other solutions that are less ego threatening but probably also less spiritually satisfying.

Yes, they may continue to destroy themselves through alcohol abuse, or they may quit drinking. They might quit alone, as a successful do-it-yourself project, or they may go to some secular group, like SMART, WFS, MFS, or SOS.

Admittedly, those secular meetings won't give you the same smug, sanctimonious, conceited feelings, or tell you that you are one of the chosen children of God, busy seeking and doing the will of God.
You won't be able to pretend that you are a living saint, on a mission from God, just because you have abstained from drink for a while.
You won't be able to claim that you are on the Broad Highway, walking hand in hand with the Spirit of the Universe, like Bill Wilson did...

You won't get any of those extreme ego trips out of the secular groups. In comparison to A.A., secular meetings may seem downright boring, and definitely not so "spiritually satisfying" to a grandiose ego.

A secure and joyful recovery will likely elude them until they reach out in desperation and surrender their will to the spiritual renewal inherent in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. Once they do, they will no longer need mood-altering chemicals to feel good about their lives.

Yes, usually, people won't surrender to a mind-controlling cult until they hit bottom and are desperately trying to save their own lives. Then they behave like drowning men grabbing at any straw, seeking something to hold onto. They will do anything to save their lives, even surrender their minds and their wills to a crazy cult religion.

And the claim that "they will no longer need mood-altering chemicals to feel good" is also false. A.A. members relapse all of the time. The authors of this very article began by saying that, loud and clear. And then the authors simply refused to admit that 85% to 93% of all treatment programs in the USA are based on the Twelve Steps, so it is the allegedly "spiritual" Twelve-Step programs that are failing constantly. So, apparently, the A.A. members DO need mood-altering chemicals to feel good.


Alcoholism is a psychological illness (American Psychiatric Association, 1987). Observation of alcoholics and the process of alcoholism suggests that this illness is essentially cognitive (what AA members call "stinking thinking"), behavioral (habitual and dysfunctional actions), and spiritual (relationship-centered) in nature.

Now the authors carefully tap-dance around the A.A. "spiritual illness" definition of alcoholism. They deliberately misquote The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Third Edition Revised, 1987 (DSM-III-R), which called Alcohol Dependency and Alcohol Abuse mental disorders. The American Psychiatric Association did not use the word "alcoholism", or recognize it as a disease, anywhere in that book. And the A.P.A. did not even hint that alcoholism might be a "spiritual disease." One of the two authors of this so-called "study" is the chairman of the Department of Psychology at Central Connecticut State University, so he should know how to read and correctly quote the bible of the American Psychiatric Association. So why doesn't he?

Then the authors give us another totally unsubstantiated report, claiming that "Observation of alcoholics ... suggests that this illness is essentially cognitive, behavioral, and spiritual." Who observed what? When? What facts suggested anything? It certainly wasn't the American Psychiatric Association that "observed" or "suggested" something, like that deceptive misquote tries to fool us into believing.

No real studies or scientific observations have suggested that the "disease" of "alcoholism" is spiritual in nature, or that there even is a "disease" called alcoholism, or that there is such a thing as a "spiritual disease". That is all simply part of A.A.'s religious dogma, a superstitious belief that Bill Wilson wrote in the Big Book (page 64), and which is accepted as unquestionable fact by all of the true believers of the Alcoholics Anonymous cult.

It could be argued that a resolution of the spiritual problem would ultimately resolve the other two. But any attempt to achieve or influence wellness in the short run must involve all three components. Most treatment programs focus heavily on cognitive and behavioral change and pay little more than lip service to the spiritual component. Recovery is thus jeopardized. The rehabilitation program of Alcoholics Anonymous incorporates all three components, assuring recovery if its "simple" (not necessarily easy) program is thoroughly followed (AA World Services, 1976).

Now the authors are really feeding us the religion and voodoo medicine. We must, through non-logical, irrational, magical practices — specifically Bill Wilson's Twelve Steps — fix the "spiritual" component of our "illness" if we really wish to recover. The authors claim that "Most treatment programs focus heavily on cognitive and behavioral change and pay little more than lip service to the spiritual component." That is really a strange accusation, considering that 93% of all of the alcoholism treatment programs in the USA are based on the Twelve Steps, and are run by Twelve-Step true believers. From which planet do the authors get the idea that "Most treatment programs focus heavily on cognitive and behavioral change and pay little more than lip service to the spiritual component"?

Then the authors claim that A.A. 'assures recovery if its "simple" (not necessarily easy) program is thoroughly followed', and they have the gall to cite the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book — "AA World Services, 1976" — as "proof" that the Steps work. That's a tautology. They cite the cult's own book as "proof" that the organization is good. They say that the 12-Step program works great because the founder William Wilson wrote some grandiose lies in the Big Book where he bragged that the 12-Step routine worked great (which it didn't).

And, one more time, they plant that little hint of "blame the victim for the failures": they say that the program is "simple, but not necessarily easy to thoroughly follow."

Alcoholics Anonymous provides alcoholics with both a fellowship and a program of rehabilitation. The fellowship supports the program by creating a safe and supportive environment that allows for building the trust necessary to work the program and overcome negative spirituality.

We have gone over all of this before. The 12-Step program is cult religion, not rehabilitation. A room that is frequented by sexual predators, neurotic power-trippers, child pornographers, and crazy cult true-believers is not "safe." There is no such thing as this imaginary hocus-pocus "negative spirituality" disorder.

Contrary to the belief of many, it is not a program of conversion to religion, although a religious conversion is probably unavoidable as one becomes positively spiritual.

Don't you just love the double-talk? They claim that conversion to their religion is not the goal. It will just accidentally "probably unavoidably" happen if you "work the Twelve Steps" properly.
Talk about somebody being in denial...
(Denial isn't just a river in Egypt.)
Talk about somebody looking you straight in the eye, and lying to your face.

Religious conversion is of course the goal of the A.A. program, and Bill Wilson said so repeatedly:

William G. Wilson

  • At the moment we are trying to put our lives in order. But this is not an end in itself. Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God...
    The Big Book, 3rd and 4th Editions, William Wilson, Into Action, page 77.

  • "Of course we speak little of conversion nowadays because so many people really dread being God-bitten. But conversion, as broadly described by [William] James, does seem to be our basic process; all other devices are but the foundation."
    == Bill Wilson's statements to the American Psychiatric Association 105th Annual Meeting, Montreal, Quebec, May 1949

  • Bill Wilson devoted a whole chapter of the Big Book, Chapter Four — "We Agnostics" — to describing how all atheists and agnostics must be converted into true believers, and how we must all abandon 'Reason' and human intelligence, and just "have faith".

  • And then, in Chapter Seven — Working With Others — which is the recruiting manual of A.A., Wilson taught recruiters how to tell people that their own religious beliefs and practices were inferior to those of A.A., because their own religion had not kept them from drinking.

  • Finally, in Bill Wilson's second book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, he wrote about indoctrinating and converting newcomers:

    Looking at those who were only beginning and still doubting themselves, the rest of us were able to see the change setting in. From great numbers of such experiences, we could predict that the doubter who still claimed that he hadn't got the "spiritual angle," and who still considered his well-loved A.A. group the higher power, would presently love God and call Him by name.
    Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, pages 108-109.

    So, the real goal, and the real effect, of the Twelve-Step program is to get everyone to "love God and call Him by name."
    And while the beginners may not be able to see how the A.A. brainwashing program is affecting their minds and changing their beliefs, the old-timers can see it... Bill Wilson says so.

  • In that book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, Bill Wilson also told the story of a man called 'Ed' who refused religious conversion, and refused to believe in God like the "the elders" (Bill Wilson and the other old-timers) wanted. Ed said that the religiosity of A.A. — all of the "God nonsense" — was unnecessary for sobriety. "The elders" told Ed that he couldn't talk like that, or he would have to leave. They ostracized him and hoped that he would relapse. And then, when he finally did relapse, months later, they wouldn't help him. They abandoned him to an alcoholic death. They didn't accept him back into A.A. until alcohol had beaten him into such a state of submission that he was willing to believe in God just like Bill Wilson dictated. And then Mr. Wilson rationalized the whole story by saying that if they had just kicked him out in the beginning, when he refused religious conversion, that the man would never have come to God, so deal with such guys the way that this story teaches us.

  • Likewise, the Big Book also contains the story of a non-believer whom 'the elders' conspired to kick out for refusing religious conversion:

    At our weekly meeting I was a menace to serenity those first few months, for I took every opportunity to lambaste that "spiritual angle" as we called it, or anything else that had any tinge of theology. Much later I discovered the elders held many prayer meetings hoping to find a way to give me the heave-ho, but at the same time stay tolerant and spiritual.
    The Big Book, in the story "The Vicious Cycle", 3rd Edition pages 246-247 and 4th Edition pages 227-228.

And still, the authors of this article actually have the gall to lie to us and say that religious conversion is not the goal of the Alcoholics Anonymous program "...although a religious conversion is probably unavoidable..."

It is, rather, a sophisticated process of rehabilitative personality development. The twelve steps are designed to confront a diseased ego and promote its transcendence through creation and maintenance of positive spirituality, shown by loving, accepting, and trusting relationships with the self, others, the world, life, and ultimately, with God, as one understands God.

It is a sophisticated process of CULT personality development, one that resembles the Red Chinese brainwashing used during the Korean War. The goal is to destroy your old ego, and give you a new cult-member personality, and turn you into a true-believer cult member:

All Twelve Steps of A.A. are designed to kill the old self (deflate the old ego) and build a new, free self.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, page 459.

In A.A., I have had to be torn down and then put back together differently.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, page 420, in the story titled "Growing Up All Over Again":

They want to create more members who feel completely justified in practicing deceptive recruiting, and who feel comfortable with lying to other people whenever they think it will further their cultish goals, just like the authors of this article have repeatedly done to us (in the DSM-III-R quote above, and in the "no religious conversion" statement, just for starters). They want to create more cult members who think that addiction to cult religion is "freedom".

By the way, there is no such thing as a "diseased ego". The authors wrote:
        The twelve steps are designed to confront a diseased ego and promote its transcendence ...
That is pseudo-scientific bunkum, just more psycho-babble. Your ego is your self-image, your concept of who and what you are. Concepts don't catch spiritual diseases. That's a bunch of nonsense.

The alcoholic personality is grounded in a destructive negative spirituality.

Yeh, he drinks with Darth Vader, in a bar called The Dark Side. And I'll bet he has cooties, too.

Actually, they are again trying to foist that stereotype of The Alcoholic on us. The truth is, some people who drink too much have very negative outlooks on life, very negative personalities. And some don't. Some are actually very cheerful and happy when drunk. Some are mentally ill, like Bill Wilson was, and some aren't. Some have other problems, serious medical or psychiatric problems, things that they have been trying to fix by self-medicating with drugs or alcohol. And some people don't have those problems. Some alcoholics are criminals, like Bill Wilson was, and some aren't. Some alcoholics are full of bitterness, anger, resentment, and hatred, like Bill Wilson was, and some are not. Some alcoholics are in pain, and are just trying to kill their pain. And some aren't.

Simplistic stereotypes just do not work. People are all different, and a one-size-fits-all treatment program is very bad medicine.

And the phrase "destructive negative spirituality" is just some more undefined psycho-babble.

The AA program reverses that negative spirituality and provides the conditions necessary for a higher level of personality development to help recovering alcoholics satisfy their basic needs without alcohol and achieve a sense of well-being in their lives. If that development ultimately includes a joyful dependence on God, it seems far preferable to a destructive dependence on alcohol.

More cult propaganda: "The AA program reverses that negative spirituality..." That sounds like some really neat technology. Is it patented? It sounds a lot like the innermost secrets of The Church of Scientology, "LRH tech"...

Or Star Trek:
Kirk: Scottie, energize the flux capacitors, and engage the negative spirituality reversers, and get us out of here!
Scottie: Captain, I cannah do it. She's givin' all she can. She's gonna blow!

And once again, the authors rationalize the resulting religious conversion that this "spiritual, not religious" program isn't supposed to cause. "If that development ultimately includes a joyful dependence on God, it seems far preferable to a destructive dependence on alcohol." They claim that addiction to cult religion is superior to addiction to drinking. That is really debateable, actually. Addiction to alcohol is really bad, horrible, a genuine nightmare, but cult religions are an evil cancer too. And what about the suicides that A.A. and the Twelve Steps have caused? Those people are not better off. What about the people who died because their sponsors ordered them to quit taking their medications?

The spiritual component essential to rehabilitation continues to be misunderstood and misapplied.

No surprise there, considering that they still haven't even defined spirituality. The authors do not seem to understand spirituality themselves. They just implied that negative emotions are negative spirituality, and that belief in a Higher Power and having a positive slant on life is positive spirituality.

They stated that "Spirituality is concerned with whomever or whatever is most important in a person's life."

And then they said that "Essentially, spirituality involves attitudes that are based on beliefs about our relationships with our self, with other human beings, with our world (including our physical and social environments), with life (as to its meaning and purpose), and ultimately, with God, a Higher Power, or 'Universal Consciousness'."

— All of which gives us a vague feeling about what they think spirituality is, but they were never any more specific than that. Their incomplete definition really just tells us that their idea of spirituality is "attitudes based on beliefs about relationships", and "concerns about what is important to us." That is just simple psychology. That isn't really spirituality.

In fact, in the final analysis, that "spirituality" is just people's opinions of things. And you know the old saying about opinions: "Opinions are like ass-holes — everybody's got one."

Those opinions, attitudes, beliefs, and concerns actually have little or nothing to do with God or any friendly supernatural Higher Power, or experiencing higher planes of existence, or developing your mental powers, or purifying your heart and your mind, or filling your heart with love, or any of the other things that knowledgeable priests, ministers, and other spiritual teachers are talking about when they talk about "spirituality." Opinions are just opinions. Bill Wilson would not have known spirituality if it had walked up to him and bitten him. And his followers don't seem to know anything more about it than he did, either. They just love to yammer "spirituality" because it really sounds Holy and religious, and it inflates their egos and makes them feel good. They have a lot of fun playing spiritual make-believe. (Which is typical of cults.)

Something that religious fanatics don't seem to be able to understand is the fact that making people into religious converts does not make those people any more holy. Getting people to parrot all of the teachings and beliefs of a religion just makes them into jabbering parrots. The true believers in the religion may get a lot of satisfaction out of being surrounded by parrots who say what the true believers want to hear, but that doesn't help the converts any. Real virtue, real holiness, and real religion are something else.

Ask yourself,

This article will have served its purpose if it stimulates further inquiry into the nature and impact of spirituality in recovery from alcoholism, and perhaps other addictions as well.

Gee, and I thought their purpose was to push A.A. and the Twelve Steps on us. Undoubtedly, they will be delighted with my further inquiry here...

Nevertheless, there exists a need for measures that will demonstrate the therapeutic effectiveness of positive spirituality in the twelve step rehabilitation program of Alcoholics Anonymous. Such measures should include a questionnaire to determine the effectiveness of positive spiritual attitudes in achieving a sense of wellness that precludes the use of mood altering chemicals and other instruments designed to assess the development and rehabilitative effectiveness of positive spirituality in the twelve step program.

"There exists a need for measures that will demonstrate the therapeutic effectiveness..." of A.A.?
Say what?! That is wishful thinking. It is also the propaganda trick of Assume the Major Premise.

There is a need for some more real clinical tests and medical studies of the effectiveness of A.A.-based therapy, but it is highly unlikely that such tests will show good results for 12-Step treatment. None of the previous ones did.

The few proper scientific studies of Alcoholics Anonymous that have been done so far show that A.A. is no better than no treatment at all for treating alcoholism. Other studies have shown that A.A. is actually far worse than no treatment. In Dr. Jeffrey Brandsma's 5-year-long test, the people who received A.A. training did five times as much binge drinking after they were taught that they were "powerless over alcohol" in A.A. Step One. And the A.A. group did nine times as much binge drinking as another group of alcoholics who got Rational Behavior Therapy (something very similar to SMART).

And again, Professor George Vaillant, Trustee of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., got no such good results from his 8-year-long test of A.A.-based treatment of alcoholics. He found that the biggest effect of A.A.-based treatment was that it raised the death rate of the patients.

And I *really* want to see that questionnaire which is supposed to "determine the effectiveness of positive spiritual attitudes..." Just how shall we measure

  • "spirituality",
  • "positive spirituality",
  • "negative spirituality",
  • "faith",
  • or "belief in God"?

How do we measure the "effectiveness" of those things? Effect on what? That will be a very interesting study.

But it really would be interesting to see a good, large, long, controlled study of the "increased spirituality" that is supposedly caused by practicing the Twelve Steps. And let's also measure the success rate in actually quitting drinking and staying quit while we are at it. (Remember that quitting drinking is what Alcoholics Anonymous was supposed to be about. But the authors here are now telling us that A.A. is about "the therapeutic effectiveness of positive spirituality".)

While we are doing that big clinical study, I'd like to see these things measured or counted, too:

  • economic improvement or decline
  • mental health
  • physical health
  • leaving Alcoholics Anonymous
  • total abstinence from alcohol and drugs
  • relapse
  • moderate, controlled drinking
  • binge drinking
  • drunk-driving arrests
  • other arrests
  • imprisonment
  • child abuse and molestation
  • 13th-Stepping of A.A. newcomers
  • people being told to not take their doctor-prescribed medications
  • hospitalization
  • divorce
  • neurosis
  • psychosis
  • suicide
  • and other deaths

All of those things should be measured or counted often, at the same time, over a period of many years, like 10 or 20 years, to see how those things really correlate with the practice of the Twelve Steps and A.A.'s "positive spirituality". And those patients who stop going to A.A. should still be included in the study, to track what happens with the A.A. drop-outs.

And all such studies or experiments must have control groups, of course.
That means, you have another group that gets no treatment, so that you can do a side-by-side comparison between the treated group and the untreated group, to see what effect the treatment really has.

The hope of the authors is that more reliable scientific proofs will be accumulated to buttress the voluminous anecdotal and heuristic evidence already documenting the central role of spirituality in treating alcoholism.

More reliable? There haven't been any yet, so we don't just need "more reliable" scientific proofs, or more "reliable" scientific proofs, either. As the authors admit in that sentence, all that exists is rumor, anecdotal stories, and cult belief in the program. But I'm all for us conducting a bunch of valid medical studies, to show everyone what the real truth is. Just make sure that they are real studies, honest and fair studies, not some faked, fudged studies like Project MATCH...
And make sure that those studies have control groups, something that Project MATCH failed to do.

Perhaps then, the concept of spiritual awakening promised by Alcoholics Anonymous and other similar twelve step programs will be better understood, accepted, and effectively applied by addiction sufferers as well as those who would aid in their recovery.

And then again, maybe people will start to believe that the Moon really is made of blue cheese.


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AA World Services, Inc. (1976). Alcoholics Anonymous: The story of how many thousands of men and women have recovered from alcoholism (3rd ed.). New York: Author.

American Psychiatric Association (1987). Diagnostic and statistic manual of mental disorders (3rd ed. rev.). Washington, DC: Author.

Blum, K., in collaboration with Payne, J. E. (1991). Alcohol and the addictive brain: New hope for alcoholics from biogenic research. New York: Free Press.

Booth, L. (1984a). The gauntlet of spirituality. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, 1(1), 139-141.

Booth, L. (1984b). Aspects of spirituality in San Pedro Peninsula Hospital. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, 1(2), 121-123.

Bradley, A. M. (1988). Keep coming back: The case for a valuation of Alcoholics Anonymous. Alcohol Health & Research World, 12, 192-199.

Chandler, C. K., Holden, J. M., & Kolander, C. A. (1992). Counseling for spiritual wellness: Theory and practice. Journal of Counseling & Development, 71, 168-175.

Cook, C. C. H. (1988). The Minnesota model in the management of drug and alcohol dependency: Miracle, method or myth? Part II. Evidence and conclusions. British Journal of Addiction, 83, 735-748.

Emerick, C. D. (1987). Alcoholics Anonymous: Affiliation process and effectiveness as treatment. In M. Galanter (Ed.), Recent developments in alcoholism (Vol. 7, pp. 37-53). New York: Plenum.

George, R. L. (1990). Counseling the chemically dependent. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Gorski, T. T., & Miller, M. (1986). Staying sober: A guide for relapse prevention. Independence, MO: Herald House/Independence.

Glasser, W. (1984). Control theory: A new explanation of how we control our lives. New York: Harper & Row.

Hoffmann, N. G., Harrison, P. A., & Belille, C. A. (1983). Alcoholics Anonymous after treatment: Attendance and abstinence. International Journal of the Addictions, 18, 311-318.

Khantzian, E. J., & Mack, J. E. (1989). Alcoholics Anonymous and contemporary psychodynamic theory. In M. Galanter (Ed.), Recent developments in alcoholism (Vol. 7, pp. 67-89). New York: Plenum.

Kohn, G. F. (1984). Toward a model for spirituality and alcoholism. Journal of Religion and Health, 23, 250-259.

Kurtz, E. (1979). Not-God: A history of Alcoholics Anonymous. Center City, Minnesota: Hazelden.

Maslow, A. H. (1954). Motivation and personality. New York: Harper.

May, G. G. (1988), Addiction and grace. San Francisco: Harper & Row.

McLatchie, B. H., & Lomp, K. G. E. (1988). Alcoholics Anonymous affiliation and treatment outcome among a clinical sample of problem drinkers. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 14, 309-324.

Moore, T. (1992). Care of the soul: A guide for cultivating depth and sacredness in everyday life. New York: HarperCollins.

Prezioso, F. A. (1987). Spirituality in the recovery process. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 4, 233-238.

Shereen, M. (1988). The relationship between relapse and involvement in Alcoholics Anonymous. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 49, 104-106.

Sikorsky, I. I., Jr. (1990). AA' s godparents: Three early influences on Alcoholics Anonymous and its foundation, Carl Jung, Emmett Fox, Jack Alexander. Minneapolis, MN: CompCare.

Thurstin, A. H., Alfano, A. M., & Nerviano, V. J. (1987). The efficacy of AA attendance for aftercare of inpatient alcoholics: Some follow-up data. The International Journal of the Addictions, 22, 1083-1090.

Wegscheider, S. (1981). Another chance: Hope & health for the alcoholic family. Palo Alto, CA: Science and Behavior.

Whitfield, C. L. (1984a). Stress management and spirituality during recovery: A transpersonal approach. Part 1: Becoming. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, 1(1), 43-54.

Whitfield, C. L. (1984b). Stress management and spirituality during recovery: A transpersonal approach. Part II: Being. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, 1(2), 1-50.

Whitfield, C. L. (1984c). Stress management and spirituality during recovery: A transpersonal approach. Part III: Transforming. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, 1(4), 1-54.

Whitfield, C. L. (1989). Co-dependence: Our most common addiction--Some physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual perspectives. In B. Carruth & W. Mendenhall (Eds.), Co-dependency: Issues in treatment and recovery. New York: Haworth.

Witmer, J. M., & Sweeney, T. J. (1992). A holistic model for wellness and prevention over the life span. Journal of Counseling & Development, 71, 140--148.


Robert D. Warfield is director of Addiction Services Programs at Stanley J. Radgowski Correctional Institution in Montville, Connecticut. Marc B. Goldstein is chairman of the Department of Psychology at Central Connecticut State University. Correspondence regarding this article should be addressed to Marc B. Goldstein, Department of Psychology, Central Connecticut State University, 1615 Stanley Street, New Britain, CT 06050.

— End of article —

The copyright of the magazine Counseling & Values is the property of American Counseling Association.

Material used here is excerpted under the Fair Use clause of the Copyright Act.


1): Bill Wilson's first intoxication, when he was a young Army lieutenant in his early twenties, is described on pages 106 to 108 of the book Bill W., by Robert Thomsen.

2): Alcohol Treatment: When Faith-based Options Aren't Enough, By: Fletcher, Anne M., Humanist, 00187399, November-December 2001, Vol. 61, Issue 6.
Also see: National Treatment Center Study Report by Paul Roman and Terry Blum, Institute for Behavioral Research, Athens, Georgia, 1997.
They found that 93.1% of all treatment centers in the U.S.A. used the 12-Step approach to treating alcoholism and drug addictions.

UPDATE: 2012.08.28: For many years now, I have been quoting the National Treatment Center in Atlanta, Georgia, which found in 1996 that 93% of the treatment centers in the country used the 12-Step model. Well, it turns out that they did another study in 2005, and found that only 75% of the treatment centers are now using the 12-Step model. That is a big drop.

1996 Study:

2005 Study:


DSM-III-R == Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Third Edition Revised.
Published by the American Psychiatric Association, Washington, DC. 1987.
ISBN: 0-521-34509-X (casebound); ISBN: 0-521-36755-6 (soft cover).
Dewey: 616.89 D536 1987

DSM-IV == Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition.
Published by the American Psychiatric Association, Washington, DC. 1994.
ISBN: 0-89042-061-0 (casebound); ISBN: 0-89042-062-9 (soft cover).
Dewey: 616.89 D536 1994

The Clinical Interview Using DSM-IV     Ekkehard Othmer, M.D., Ph.D. and Sieglinde C. Othmer, Ph.D.
American Psychiatric Press, Inc., 1994.
ISBN: 0-88048-541-8
Dewey: 616.8914 O87c 1994

Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions
(written by William G. Wilson and Tom P., published as 'anonymous'.)
Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. New York, NY, 2000.
ISBN: 0-916856-06-2 (smaller hard cover edition, 2000)
ISBN: 0-916856-01-1 (larger hard cover edition, 1984)
Library of Congress catalog card number 53-5454
Dewey Dewey: 362.2928 T969 1965
This is one of the most insane and vicious books around. It is right down there with Mein Kampf as far as its ratio of lies to truth, and hate content, is concerned. It is ostensibly Bill Wilson's explanation of his Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, but it is really something quite dark and evil, Bill Wilson's poisonous contempt for human nature masquerading as spirituality. It was written while Wilson was in the middle of his eleven-year-long bout of deep clinical depression, and it shows. It is really a brutal, hateful assault on the character of people who happen to have a drinking problem. Bill Wilson hated himself and his own character flaws, so he projected all of his own weaknesses and character flaws onto the alcoholics around him, and also onto a mythical stereotypical alcoholic, and then said, "Look at him. Look at how disgusting he is. We are all like that." This whole book is non-stop guilt induction.

For the standard A.A. party line about everything, see the "Big Book", as it is nick-named.

  • Alcoholics Anonymous, Third Edition, 1976,     published as "anonymous", but really written by William G. Wilson, Henry Parkhurst, Joe Worth, and 31 or more other people.
    Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. New York, NY, 1976.
    ISBN: 0-916856-00-3
    Dewey: 362.29 A347 1976
  • Alcoholics Anonymous, Fourth Edition, 2001,     published as "anonymous", but really written by William G. Wilson, Henry Parkhurst, Joe Worth, and many other people.
    Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. New York, NY, 2001.
    ISBN: 1-893007-16-2
    Dewey: 362.29 A347 2001
  • Note that the earlier editions of the A.A. book are available for free on the Internet. It seems that somebody was too 'sober' to remember to renew the copyright (if the original copyright was even ever valid, which is highly unlikely, because Bill Wilson stole the copyright for himself when the book was really written by more than 30 people).

    The Alcoholics Anonymous web site is: www.alcoholics-anonymous.org

Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age     anonymous
Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. (AAWS), New York, 1957, 1986.
Harper, New York, 1957.
ISBN: 0-91-685602-X
LC: HV5278 .A78A4
Dewey: 178.1 A1c
This is Bill's history of Alcoholics Anonymous. It suspiciously differs from known history here and there.

'PASS IT ON', The story of Bill Wilson and how the A.A. message reached the world     'anonymous'
Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. (AAWS), New York, 1984.
ISBN: 0-916856-12-7
LC: HV5032 .W19P37x 1984
LCCN: 84-072766
Dewey: 362.29/286/O92
This is the official, council-approved version of the history of A.A.. Strangely enough, there is some very interesting stuff in here, including chapter 16, which describes Bill's spook sessions and séances, talking with the spirits of the dead, and communicating with spirits through spirit rapping and the Ouija board. See pages 275 to 285.

Language Of The Heart     William G. Wilson
A.A. Grapevine, New York, 1988.
ISBN: 0-933-68516-5
LC: HV5278 .W15 1988
LCCN: 88-71930
This is a collection of Bill's writings, speeches, and letters, assembled after his death.

Bill W.     Robert Thomsen
Harper & Rowe, New York, 1975.
ISBN: 0-06-014267-7
Dewey: 362.29 W112t
This is a good biography of William G. Wilson, even if it is very positively slanted towards Mr. Wilson, because the author knew Mr. Wilson and worked beside him for the last 12 years of Mr. Wilson's life. And rumor has it that this book was prepared from autobiographical tapes that Bill Wilson made before he died. So expect it to praise Mr. Wilson a lot. Still, this book will also tell you about some of Bill Wilson's warts, his fat ego, his publicity-hound behavior, and his years-long "dry drunks"...

Bill W. My First 40 Years     'An Autobiography By The Cofounder of Alcoholics Anonymous'
(This is Bill Wilson's autobiography, supposedly published anonymously.)
Hazelden, Center City, Minnesota 55012-0176, 2000.
ISBN: 1-56838-373-8
Dewey: B W11w 2000
This book was reputedly assembled by ghost writers at Hazelden from the same autobiographical tapes of Bill Wilson that Robert Thomsen used for his book.

Bill W. A Biography of Alcoholics Anonymous Cofounder Bill Wilson     Francis Hartigan
Thomas Dunne Books, An imprint of St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010, 2000.
ISBN: 0-312-20056-0
Dewey: B W11h 2000
Francis Hartigan was the secretary of and confidant to Bill Wilson's wife Lois. This book is pretty much a white-wash and tells the whole story from Bill's point of view. But it does contain a few surprises, like the chapter "The Other Woman" which details Bill's love affair with Helen Wynn, and hints at all of his other affairs where he cheated on Lois, both before and after sobriety, all of his married life.

Bill W. and Mr. Wilson — The Legend and Life of A.A.'s Cofounder     Matthew J. Raphael
University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, Mass., 2000.
ISBN: 1-55849-245-3
Dewey: B W11r 2000
This book was written by another stepper — the name 'Matthew Raphael' is a pen name — and it generally praises Bill Wilson and recites the standard party line about most things, but it also contains a bunch of surprises, like detailing Bill's sexual infidelities, his and Bob's spook sessions — talking to the 'spirits' in séances through the use of Ouija boards, spirit rapping, clairvoyance, and channeling, LSD use, and publicity-hound megalomania.

The Akron Genesis of Alcoholics Anonymous     Dick B.
Paradise Research Publications, Inc., Box 959, Kihei, HI 96753-0959, 1992, 1998.
ISBN: 1-885803-17-6
Dewey: 362.2928 B111a 1998

The Soul of Sponsorship: The Friendship of Fr. Ed Dowling, S.J. and Bill Wilson in Letters     Robert Fitzgerald, S.J.
Hazelden Pittman Archives Press, Center City, MN, 1995.

Alcoholics Anonymous: Cult or Cure?     Charles Bufe
See Sharp Press, PO Box 1731, Tucson AZ 85702-1731, 1998.
ISBN: 1-884365-12-4
Dewey: 362.29286 B929a 1998
(This is the second edition; it has noticeably more information than the first edition. The first edition is: ISBN: 0-9613289-3-2, printed in 1991.)

More Revealed: A Critical Analysis of Alcoholics Anonymous and the Twelve Steps     Ken Ragge
ALERT! Publishing, P.O. Box 50233, Henderson, Nevada 89016-0233, 1992.

The first chapter of More Revealed, which specifically covers Frank Buchman and the earliest days of A.A., is available free on the Internet at

AA Horror Stories     Rebecca Fransway
See Sharp Press, PO Box 1731, Tucson AZ 85702-1731, 2000.
ISBN: 1-884365-24-8
Dewey: 362.2918 T971 2000
This book will curl your hair. One fair-minded 12-Stepper suggested that every new member should be issued copies of both the Big Book and this book when he or she walks in the door, to tell the newcomers about both the good and bad things that could happen to them in "the rooms." One of the most disturbing repeated themes is women who were the victims of rape or thirteenth-stepping being told to just shut up and find their part in it, and to not harbor any resentments against their attackers.

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