Letters, We Get Mail, XIII
by A. Orange


[11 Nov 2003]

Dear Agent,

I just got through reading your online article "Alcoholics Anonymous as a Cult" and must commend your flair, style and research.

Much of what you say AA about has a basis in truth. I have been active in AA for over 7 years and a great deal of the "cult" side you document.

My mild rebuttal is that there is a quiet AA that is not apparent to cursory inspection. Today's AA has been impacted by the courts, insurance companies and related treatment centers as well as a general movement toward "self-help". A person honestly needs a scorecard to tell the players at an AA meeting, or the experience gained from long term attendance.

I can sit in a meeting of 30-40 people and there can be only 6 or 8 "quiet" members present trying to contribute to the fellowship which gave them freedom from alcohol. The rest of the bunch make a lot of noise and generally come and go after a few months or at best a couple of years, and yes there are a small handful of "zealots" with shallow lives that live up to every accusation you make for cultism.

People are driven to AA by courts, hospitals, spouses, jails-you name it-places that want somebody to shape up, put someplace, and don't really have a good place to send them. A lot of the people I meet sound as if they are going through a good old fashioned mid-life crisis. Many, most, some, of these people want the current quick fix-Ill take some of this, and some of that, and oh yes a little of that. Meaning some Prozac, group therapy, counselling and as long as we're at it throw in a little AA. Why not? They've seen AA in sit-coms and the counselor said we had to try it so why not?

You may not believe this, but it is actually very rarely that a person walks into an AA meeting with one singular monumental problem in life-alcoholism. And that's all AA really professes-to stop drinking and help others to recover from alcoholism. And when they do, I like to think myself, or one of my "quiet" AA friends are there to offer help.

Before AA I was dying of alcoholism. Afterwards no booze. I can't explain it, but it worked and the same goes for the "quiet" members I associate with. We are intelligent, rational, curious men and women who have had conversations raising the same concerns your article lists. Sure, some of the stuff is hokey and many of the points you raise are valid, but the fact that raises its head every time I get tempted to burn my membership card is that before AA-drunkenness, after AA-nondrunkenness.

Keep up the questions. Its good to raise questions!

Blade

Hi Blade,

Thanks for a thoughtful letter.

My first reaction is to your last paragraph. In the same vein, honestly, with no sarcasm, I have to answer,

Before I quit drinking and smoking, I was dying of alcoholism and lung problems. Afterwards, no booze or cigarettes. I can't explain it, but it worked...
I think you are giving credit where it is not due — confusing coincidence with causation. You did the quitting and somebody or something else got the credit for your work.

It is good to get some encouragement, moral support, and good advice from others while you are quitting, but that alone does not necessarily make an organization good or even necessarily helpful to most people. You can get the same fellowship, encouragement, and advice from other organizations like SMART, SOS, WFS, MFS, or LifeRing on the Internet — without being burdened with the irrational cult religion or misinformation about recovery.

I met my first helpful mentor in a homeless shelter. He had been in and out of A.A. for 30 years, so he knew a lot about it (and hated it), and he gave me all kinds of advice and stories, and even my first load of insider/oldtimer dirt on A.A.. And strange as it may seem, that's where I quit both drinking and smoking at the same time, because I simply decided that I was sick and tired of being so sick and tired, and I really didn't want to die that way. But I don't really recommend that everybody move into a homeless shelter in order to quit drinking and smoking, although I could say (tongue in cheek) that that's what worked for me.

Actually, as you can see, what really worked for me is to simply decide that I had 100% really totally had it with the sick and dying routine, and I just followed the simple rules of,
Just don't take that first drink, no matter what.
Just don't smoke that first cigarette, no matter what.

Read the other letters in this same file of letters. I just got a couple from other people who had very bad experiences with 12-step recovery groups. One of the biggest problems with A.A./N.A. is the fact that nobody is in charge. Any psychopath or sexual predator can set up a group and start victimizing sick people, and there is no board of certification to stop them.

Then the situation becomes outrageous and intolerable when the courts or recovery counselors shove or coerce more people into "the rooms", and into the hands of those monsters.

And the real kicker, the bottom line, is that A.A. doesn't work to increase sobriety. Far more people successfully quit without it, just like I did. A.A. causes more problems than it solves.

Oh well, have a good day anyway, and thanks for the input.

— Orange





[13 Nov 2003]

Hello Mr. Orange,

Congratulations on hosting your site at its own domain. Looks very professional. Any thoughts about "coming out of the closet" and revealing your real identity? Doing so might add to your credibility. Just a suggestion.

Hi Alex. I've thought about breaking my anonymity, and probably will, eventually, when I feel like it. But it probably wouldn't add much to my credibility for the simple reason that you wouldn't recognize my name anyway. I'm just another old baby boomer out of millions.

I write a blog about pseudoscience in the mental-health industry. Today's blog entry features a link to your site. You can view my blog here:

http://www.astrocyte-design.com/blog/index.html

I'm jealous that you get such good hate-mail. I skewer my share of sacred cows, but I hardly get any mail at all — hate, or otherwise.

Yes, that one is funny. I've wondered about that. You know, I've never received a single piece of hate mail from the Scientologists, or Moonies, or any of the other cults that I skewer in the Cult Test. But the 12-steppers pop their corks routinely.

What I suspect is: While A.A. Tradition Three declares that "The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking", that isn't really true. The real requirement for First Class membership in A.A. is that you spend 20 years rotting your brain with drugs or alcohol or both, in preparation for membership, so that you can later boastfully recite all of your great war stories and outrageous drunkalogues at the meetings. I suspect that the resulting brain damage has something to do with the quality of the hate mail.

On the other hand, I did get viciously flamed on alt.tv.er a few weeks ago, when I posted a message about a possible link between antidepressants and suicide (a character on the show "E.R" was taking Zoloft and ended up killing herself by setting herself on fire.) Being flamed is par for the course for the Internet, I suppose. If people suddenly stopped posting simply because they knew nothing of the subject at hand, then where would we be?

If people could only post informed opinions, most newsgroups would be as quiet as a mausoleum. Boring.

And funny that you should mention E.R.. I love the show, but I've got a big problem with the on-going endorsement of the A.A./N.A. "program", what with Dr. Carter having to go to 12-step meetings to "treat" his drug problem. — And his sometimes girlfriend and/or alcoholic sponsor Nurse Abby also having to go to A.A. meetings... The E.R. script writers treat 12-step meetings as if they actually worked and produced good results (thus repeating The Big Lie one more time). Every time either Carter or Abby slips or nearly lapses, the answer is, "Get to a meeting, quick!"

I imagine that one of the show's writers is probably another hidden A.A. member who is faithfully doing his "12th Step" recruiting, publicity, and promotion work — "carrying the message to those alcoholics (or addicts) who still suffer" while simultaneously breaking the Eleventh Tradition: "Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion".

I find it absurd to imagine that young doctors who just spent over $200,000 for their medical education would then choose cult religion, faith healing, and quack medicine to treat their own medical problems.

It's just like the Big Book story about an alcoholic doctor who went to his first A.A. meeting and saw the local butcher, baker, and carpenter there:

Here I am, a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, a Fellow of the International College of Surgeons, a diplomate of one of the great specialty boards in these United States, a member of the American Psychiatric Society, and I have to go to the butcher, the baker, and the carpenter to help make a man out of me!
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, page 348.

— As if the winos in the back alleys have medical secrets that you can't learn from the Harvard Medical School. (That's typical cult arrogance.)

(And, just out of curiousity, how did his drinking too much alcohol mean that the doctor wasn't really a man? Was the A.A. saint and co-founder Doctor Bob not really a man?)

Oh, and just for laughs, didn't anybody notice that Abby 13th-stepped her sponsee? Isn't that supposed to be against the rules? When Dr. Carter first asked Abby to be his sponsor, didn't she say that it was against the rules — that sponsors and sponsees were supposed to be the same sex in order to prevent sexual relationships from developing and interfering with the sponsor/sponsee relationship? But Abby and Carter did it all anyway. Oh well, I guess Carter recovered in spite of sex with his sponsor.

Anyway, keep up the good work. I've also promoted your site in the comments section at http://www.medrants.com/.

Regards,

Alex Chernavsky
http://www.astrocyte-design.com/

Okay. Thanks for all of the compliments. I'll have to go check out your references.

Have a good day.

— Orange





[14 Nov 2003]

I don't know who you are, but I was very impressed by what I saw concerning comparisons between cults and AA. I had done a search on my name (typical vainglorious thing to do late at night, wondering if anyone actually read my book), and I saw the citation. Anyway, now I'm going to rush back and read more! It looks fantastic.

One other thing. I saw you have a chapter on mass suicide. The Heaven's Gate suicides in 1997 disturbed me greatly, but when it happened I ran into immediate opposition within NA to automatically making these people out to be wrong.

"We don't know they didn't take the right path," one guy told me. On his arm was tattooed a self-immolating monk from the Vietnam protest. "It's wrong to judge."

"Okay," I replied. "I rather not call my pronouncements judgments. Let's just call them expressions of nervousness about mass suicide!"

But I have seen this hesitation elsewhere. One cult reacts with its own nervousness when a news story (like Jonestown) appears clearly demonstrating something wrong with any group in which members have given away all of their power; and the response is defensive.

Andrew Meacham

Hello Andrew,

Nice to hear from you. Thanks for all of the compliments. I love your book too. (Now we can have a mutual-admiration society.)
(To the readers: Andrew Meacham is the author of Selling Serenity: Life Among the Recovery Stars, which is a great read. It's on my personal Top 10 list.)

Your remarks about cult suicide are frightening, and yet, sound entirely believable. The cult mind-set is just such a strange beast.

Have a good day.

— Orange

P.S.: This is too much — I just ran across a reference to a book on treatment for Adult Grandchildren of Alcoholics. No joke. I saw an endorsement on the back of a Hazelden book about how to quit smoking with the twelve steps, and just had to check it out. It's Grandchildren of Alcoholics; Another Generation of Co-dependency by Ann W. Smith. Unbelievable.

It's just like what your chapter on co-dependency describes: invent a non-existent disease and then charge a fortune to treat it. Now you can seek "treatment" because Grandma was a wild fun-loving flapper who loved to party and drink bathtub gin and dance the Charleston.

This authoress even discusses (expensive) inpatient treatment for the condition of being an "ACoA/GCoA" (Adult Child of Alcoholics/ Grand Child of Alcoholics). (See pages 108-114.) The back cover of the book tells us that the authoress "designed one of the first programs in the United States to treat ACoAs on an in-patient basis. This five-day program currently serves as a model for other such programs evolving across the country."

But she also recommends "long term" 28-day inpatient treatment for being the child or grandchild of an alcoholic. One of the advantages: Health insurance companies are more likely to pay for long-term treatment, even when they won't cover short-term treatment. (Page 109.) How convenient for the stepper "counselors" who make a living by selling this quack medicine.

Then we learn that the expensive inpatient treatment doesn't exactly work; it doesn't really fix the problem. In fact, you might end up far worse:

"Aftercare is more than essential; it is the key to the success of any inpatient program, and must be emphasized from beginning to end. Without adequate follow-up, the individual will be left feeling abandoned and unable to function in the real world."
(Page 113.)

So the patients are left addicted to the "treatment", and unable to function "in the real world" if they don't get their fix. (Just where else is there to function, besides in the real world? La-La-Land?)

And of course the authoress recommends that you continue going to your 12-step group (or groups) both before and after treatment. In fact,

"There is no better means to discovery of a Higher Power than within a 12-step program."
(Page 125.)

(I wonder what the Pope would say about that... Or the Southern Baptist Conference...)

For me, the real kicker was this story:

      Don S., age 47, is an Adult Child who was showing signs of a co-dependent crisis on the job, with his health and at home. He was progressively becoming more short-tempered and suffered from chronic headaches which caused him to miss a great deal of work. When he did work, Don put in 10-to-12-hour days and looked exhausted. At home, Don was losing interest in his children, and his relationship with his wife was distant and angry.
      Don's denial was such that he was unable to see the reality of his situation and seek help. Fortunately, his wife, also an ACoA, but in recovery, was able to see the signs and contacted the Employee Assistance person at his place of employment. She had tried unsuccessfully before this to convince Don to go to a counselor with her.
      Her only alternative was to watch her husband die emotionally, possibly even physically, or seek professional help to do a formal intervention. After several weeks of preparation, and with the assistance of Don's co-workers and another friend, Don agreed to accept treatment in an inpatient co-dependency program.
(Page 95.)

Notice how nobody seems to have even considered asking an actual medical doctor or psychiatrist to see what the guy's problem might be. The authoress just talks about getting the guy to a "counselor", even though the guy's life is supposedly in danger. Apparently, the authoress considers the eight years of medical school and two or three years of internship that real doctors go through to be useless and irrelevant (perhaps because few real doctors parrot the co-dependency party line — neither the American Medical association nor the American Psychiatric Association recognize the existence of any such "spiritual disease" as co-dependency). The guy's 12-stepper ACoA wife just decided that, since she wasn't "in denial", she was qualified to single-handedly diagnose his problem as "a co-dependency crisis" and arrange an "intervention" to force him into "inpatient co-dependency treatment" at company expense.

Yes, Dorothy, I'm really sure that we aren't in Kansas any more.

The authoress of that book isn't a doctor either, by the way. Her alphabet soup is "M.S., C.A.C.". She is a certified addictions counselor with a masters degree, not a doctor, but she apparently considers herself qualified to diagnose a possible medical or psychiatric problem in a clean and sober non-addict as "a co-dependency crisis". What a great way to expand your practice, even if it is practicing medicine without a license.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

— Orange


[second letter from Andrew Meacham, February 16, 2004 ]

Read the letters part that got you kicked off Yahoo (or their complaints did). Typical. Any critic must produce an "alternative," or the criticism is invalid.

Actually, I think I do have an alternative program. It's called "Do It Yourself". It's the program that the vast majority of recovering people successfully use.

By the way, I hope I don't lose my charisma by saying this, but I go to AA. I simply picked a small group two minutes from home, then did my damndest to break everybody in and at least have a tolerant, easygoing group accepting of each others' differences.

Inspired by a woman who knits, I have developed a way of rating ideological zealousness: The Thumper Indicators instrument. I'll try it as an attachment.

No, you don't lose brownie points for going to A.A. meetings. I still drop in on A.A. and N.A. meetings once in a blue moon, if only to pick up coins and keytags. (I know it's irrational, but I still like the drunk junk. I think it gives me a feeling of accomplishment.) Besides, if nobody who is sane ever goes, who's going to talk sense to the newcomers?

— Orange


[third letter from Andrew Meacham, February 16, 2004 ]

P.S.: This is too much — I just ran across a reference to a book on treatment for Adult Grandchildren of Alcoholics. No joke. I saw an endorsement on the back of a Hazelden book about how to quit smoking with the twelve steps, and just had to check it out. It's Grandchildren of Alcoholics; Another Generation of Co-dependency by Ann W. Smith. Unbelievable.

Health Communications published that book. I remember the discussions, and the general feeling among top leadership was that it was a hot concept.

The back cover of the book tells us that the authoress "designed one of the first programs in the United States to treat ACoAs on an in-patient basis.

Yes. She had a Ph.D in psychology, which gave her extra clout. She was also part of a group of professionals who [said] during codependency's heyday that the "whole family should be hospitalized."

Health insurance companies are more likely to pay for long-term treatment, even when they won't cover short-term treatment. (Page 109.)

Symptomatic of the larger problem: the treatment does not exist to fill an existing need; the treatment exists to tap existing money.

"There is no better means to discovery of a Higher Power than within a 12-step program." (Page 125.)
(I wonder what the Pope would say about that... Or the Southern Baptist Conference...)

Right. Normally, at least for when it comes to things being coerced or rammed down someone's throat, I am more sympathetic with the nonbelieving side of theology. But it is interesting to note the condescending relationship flowing downhill from AA members, who are "spiritual" in a fellowship not 70 years old, and institutions like the Roman Catholic Church, who are "religious" (but apparently not spiritual). The word "hubris" comes to mind.

...to watch her husband die emotionally, possibly even physically...

Uh-huh. Joseph Cruse, M.D., and his wife, Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse, were the main proponents for HCI of touting the medical disaster of codependency. As I mentioned in the book, Sharon once told a crowd of 700 that they were all suffering from a toxic brain disease. (I almost got fired for comparing her to Hitler as a result.) It was so unbelievable. You take any stress-related condition including heart attacks, call it the result of codependency, and now going to their little trauma recovery ranch in South Dakota is not just an option, it's a life-saving priority.

But sometimes I wonder if the culture has swung too far the other way. Guys like Bill O'Reilly opine on the air that addiction is weakness. I'll buy that in part. But that pronouncement negates decades of scientific effort by people who had no ax to grind.

Is it better to be too credulous or too disbelieving? I don't think HMOs have underwritten that kind of hospitalization lately for codependency. But you are right: The ideology that reinforced the cockiness to diagnose one's relatives also benefitted the treaters who were writing the books.

AM

Indeed. It's just too convenient that if the wife believes what's written in the book, the authoress' clinic makes more money from what might be just a mid-life crisis. And I can't help but notice that the authoress is trying to arrogate large sections of the field of psychiatry for herself. There certainly are such things as criminal child abuse and incestuous rape, and such resulting mental disorders as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but renaming it to co-dependency and asserting that any "co-dependency counselor" is qualified to treat it with a 12-step program strikes me as quackery and practicing medicine without a license.

I try to take the middle road too, when it comes to "too credulous or too disbelieving". Extremism either way seems to trap you in one viewpoint or one package of dogma. (Like when it comes to religious beliefs, I am neither an atheist nor a died-in-the-wool true believer who feels entitled to cram his religion down other people's throats.)

And when it comes to addiction, I'm with you. I don't think either extreme position is quite correct — we are neither completely powerless over alcohol or drugs, nor are we completely clear-headed and able to easily quit just by an act of will power. I don't think it is really either entirely a disease or entirely a choice. The truth seems to be somewhere in the middle.

And while, in the end, I did just quit drinking and smoking as a choice, and as an act of strong, stubborn will power, it took me many years of suffering to get sick enough to be absolutely determined to quit and stay quit rather than die.

I notice a problem with extremism where once people buy the idea of a panacea, or it's opposite, a universal bad cause of all ills, or any such package of extreme beliefs, it colors their vision, and they begin to see the whole world in terms of that one grand explanation or one giant conspiracy. It's almost a flavor of paranoia. (I called it "Seeing Through Tinted Lenses" in the Cult Test.)

  • To steppers, everything is sin, denial, alcoholic thinking, selfishness, defects of character, self-centeredness, etc...
  • Some born-again Christians see it all as a war between God and Satan, and they are sure that the end-of-the-world Biblical prophesies are going to come true Real Soon Now.
  • But to extreme leftists, everything is class warfare and the Tri-Lateral Commission planning the next war.
  • To the fascistically-inclined, it's all a conspiracy of Jewish bankers taking over the world.
  • Other people essentially live in the X-Files and they really are convinced that the government is hiding everything from UFOs to cold fusion and zero-point energy.
  • And here, obviously, we have the codependency crowd who see all of our ills as being caused by association with an alcoholic or a doper.

Once you start to see things in a certain way like that, everything starts to fit into the pattern like another piece of the puzzle, and the big conspiracy or explanation all makes sense, and it all becomes so obvious... (to anyone who is obsessed with that particular idea).

I know that part of the cause of that phenomenon is that people filter the incoming information stream constantly, and they tend to hear and see just what they wish to hear and see. Once they buy a particular viewpoint like that, they will tend to just see and hear things that support that viewpoint, so they will become more and more convinced of its correctness (so they become even quicker to reject and ignore contradictory information...).

There must be a good name for that phenomenon, but I don't know what it is... (And I'm also looking for a good word that is the opposite of a panacea — something that is allegedly the cause of all of our problems and ills.)

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

— Orange

— Oh, by the way, I worked up a section on Ann Smith's Grandparents of Alcoholics book over in the web page on Snake Oil.

UPDATE: 2009.11.26:
A reader sent in the word. It is "apophenia". Thanks to UndeRnetJunKie. Look here.

And I made up a word that is the opposite of panacea: "panmalefic".





[Nov. 15, 2003]

Hi Agent,

I have been reading through your site for a while now. I am THOROUGHLY impressed with your research. I am a 38 year old woman who was put into the most notorious concentration camp.... Straight, Inc. back in 1982. I was there for 23 torturous months. That place did more damage to me than I have EVER done to myself with alcohol or drugs. In the first place, when I was a teen I was doing the normal rebellious things that teens do. I drank some, smoked pot some but that was about it. Yes, there were some frightening moments, but nothing so out of the ordinary that it would justify what happened to me. This was at the beginning of everyone jumping on the addiction/drug war bandwagon and good ole Miller Newton knew just how to play parents. They scared the hell out of them with horrible stories about how if they didn't put me in the program I was going to DIE!! (Funny how ALL the other kids I was hanging out with were doing MUCH more than me and now the majority, certainly all my close friends, are all successful adults who grew out of their "druggie" behavior.) The abuses that we were subjected to in there were beyond belief. Starvation, beatings, sleep deprivation on a DAILY basis, kids being punished with "peanut butter diets" where they got bread with peanut butter on it 3 times a day with a dixie cup full of water.

We were completely isolated from the outside world. We were not allowed to read anything except the Bible, no TV, radio, magazines, newspapers.... NOTHING. I sit and watch VH1 series "I Love the 80s Strikes Back" and I STILL discover all the news events or pop culture happenings or movies or songs and everything else that I missed during those two years. The emotional abuse was the worst part for me. The whole thing of 'breaking them down and building them back up' was one of the most depraved undertakings that I have come across. The girls were all called sluts, whores, bitches and more... never mind that some of them were 12 or 13 and VIRGINS. There were quite a few of us in there who had been sexually abused as young children and when we tried to talk about it we were told to "focus on yourself and where YOUR responsibility was... WHAT THE FUCK.... sorry but that one hits a nerve with me. I was 7... how in the HELL does ANYONE come up with a 7 year old having ANY responsibility for something like that? We were also told to "focus on our drug problem" because that was the main issue, not the sexual abuse.

HELLO, EVER WONDER WHY THERE WAS A NEED TO ESCAPE?

The "raps" were ALL DAY... and I mean ALL DAY. We would arrive at the building at 7:00 am and not leave until 9:00 pm on regular days and twice a week there were 'open meetings' where the parents were at the building but allowed no contact with their kids other than to stand up and say a few sentences to them over a microphone from across the room. The raps mostly consisted of a witch hunt to find out who was ''not being honest' (I put our program-speak in quotes... I still hate it to this day). We all lived in host homes and some were an hour away. Finish open meeting at 11:00 pm, do open meeting review (rap) for about 2 more hours, spend another hour getting 350 lined up and ready to leave (newcomers were literally held onto by the beltloops EVERYWHERE) and then spend another hour driving home. Then write our "moral inventories", shower, eat and sleep for about an hour MAYBE two, then get up and start all over again. Imagine what this does to the physical body of a growing teenager. Substandard food even on good days, but peanut butter diets?!?!?!?!?!?!! Sometimes this would go on for weeks on end. Insufficient diet, incredibly sleep deprived, emotionally beaten, physically beaten and sat on..... WHAT IS THIS GOING TO DO TO A CHILD?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! One of their "symptoms" of dishonesty was if we fell asleep in group. This happened to EVERYONE. It was never attributed to sleep deprivation, NO... YOU'RE NOT BEING HONEST, THAT'S WHY YOU'VE GOT DARK CIRCLES UNDER YOUR EYES AND YOU'RE FALLING ASLEEP.

I have two kids now, girls 18 and 16. Both have experimented with drugs/alcohol (one of them did much more than I dreamed of as a teen) but both are now doing very well and have NEVER been in treatment or AA or NA or anything else. My oldest graduated high school last year and is starting nursing school in the spring and my youngest is taking dual enrollment courses as a sophomore so that she can have a year of college done before she graduates high school. I talked to them about what drugs did to me AFTER I got out of Straight. I talked to them in REAL terms, set REAL expectations and allowed them the freedom to make some mistakes on their own and I helped to GUIDE them through those times. They know all about Straight and what it did to us. Their dad and I met there although we are now divorced, my dad married another parent from the program so my stepsister and stepbrother were also there, one of my best friends. My oldest and I were talking about it one day and she brought up a great point.... All of those people I just mentioned, and more, were all in Straight and ALL of us either are or were really screwed up in a couple of different ways. If I rattled off the ways in which we are screwed up the first thing that would pop to your mind is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The majority of the survivors that I have spoken with have PTSD to some degree. It effects EVERY portion of your life. Here it is 21 years later and I AND my kids are still suffering the repercussions. In fact, my oldest has started to write about how it indirectly has an effect on the children of the children who were subjected to these nutcases (the staff). I could go on for months about Miller Newton. The single most dangerous and sadistic person I have ever met!!!!!! I watched him pick up a 12 year old girl by the hair one day and drag her all the way across the warehouse that we were in.... that's NOT a euphemism, we were kept in a WAREHOUSE all that time. Look up Narcissism in Webster's and you'll find his pic. That was a joke, but this is not.... look him up on the website that identifies abusive priests and his name is there. Sorry, I don't have the address but I'm sure it's on Wes' site at www.thestraights.com. That site is a MUST READ for anyone remotely interested in this or, more especially for parents contemplating sending their kids to one of these programs!!!!!!!!!

Sorry, didn't mean to ramble but it's hard to stop once I get started. I could go on and on but I'm sure you're familiar with it all unfortunately. The main reason for me writing is to say thanks. There is a whole group of survivors out there trying to shut down the programs that are left under a different name or that are copies of Straight/Seed/Synanon etc. and we're out here still suffering from the aftershock. The more people throw light on the issues that gave rise to the whole 'drug war bandwagon' thing, the sooner it can stop.

Please don't publish my name or email address.

Thanks again,
[name withheld by request]
Straight, Inc. St. Pete 82 - 84

Hello. Thanks for a great letter. It's just staggering what kind of cruel abuse of children is passed off as the "War On Drugs", which is of course really a war on people.

And it is incredible that Miller Newton never went to prison for his crimes. And now he's a priest?!! "Father Cassian" Newton? Is the Church so desperate for replacement priests that they will take just anything or anybody?

And Melvin and Betty Sembler are now enjoying an ambassadorship to Italy as their reward for Straight child abuse and Republican fund-raising. Thank you, George Bushes (both) and the Republican National Committee.

Oh well, have a good day, anyway, now that you can... maybe...

— Orange


Later: You piqued my interest, so I checked out a book by Miller Newton on how to counsel children — a manual for other counselors. What a fright. He actually dared to dispense more advice on how to treat children, after he was sued and shut down. More about that here.





[17 November 2003]

You are a nut. Have you ever sat in a meeting of AA. It's not about not taking a drink, its about changing your attitude and bad behaviors and life style. So maybe if you sit and listen and put cotton in YOUR self centered, angry, judgemental mouth of yours you may be able to see this. And opinions are like assholes everyone has one.

Ms. Neff

Hi Ms. Neff,

Yes, everybody has an opinion, but some people have educated opinions backed up by facts, and some people have ignorant or superstitious opinions backed up by nothing but prejudice, hearsay and wishful thinking.

Do you have any actual facts to support your opinions? I have plenty of facts to back up mine.

And how did you get your opinion of Alcoholics Anonymous?

  • By careful examination of all of the evidence — pro and con — looking at the facts, trying to figure out what was really true?
  • Or by just swallowing a package of illogical and unrealistic beliefs that somebody shoved on you?

For your information, I have sat through more A.A. meetings than I can count. Read the introduction to the web site. And remember that I started off with a positive opinion of Alcoholics Anonymous. I thought it was the biggest and best self-help organization in the country. —Back when I didn't really know much about A.A., that is.

You say of A.A. that "it's not about taking a drink..."
Well, it had better be about taking a drink, or the whole program is a deception and a hoax. A.A. is advertised to the public as being about quitting drinking and staying quit. That means that it is supposed to be about whether you take a drink. Those late-night TV commercials that A.A. is running don't say, "Join our church and discover a Higher Power", they tell you that A.A. will help you with a drinking problem.

What you are describing is yet another bait and switch stunt — First, A.A. is about quitting drinking and staying sober, and then it isn't — then it's really about something else, like learning to live and think the A.A. way, and Coming To Believe in Bill Wilson's Higher Power. In other words, it's about getting converted to the A.A. religion.

Oh, by the way, the "cotton in the mouth" slogan is a nice touch. So is the opinions slogan, and you also alluded to the thinking problem slogan "You have a thinking problem, not a drinking problem". They reveal that every word you spouted is just more parrotting of the standard A.A. cult dogma. There isn't an original thought in there anywhere.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

— Orange





[17 November 2003]

I think its great that you provide this info as i have been going for year to AA and have no sponsor because I am not looking to be converted my parents tried with another book and my life became hell. I have one Defect lack of faith in self not god and if I create one then its all always been me.

I would like to have some contact with you via e-mail as I see the cult of guilt and shame in aa and humanity in general and above the real cult of acceptance one day in the I hope to help people understand that we as humanity have created all are woes and only we can help each other not control each other thank you

Rob

Hi Rob,

Thanks for the input. I have to agree. Have a good day. And feel free to write again.

— Orange





[17 November 2003]

Dear A.,

Around two months ago, I went to my first AA meeting, in such a despair state I felt I had to do something with my trouble.

I was very surprised at first by the atmosphere in the meeting and all the God-stuff there was about. I always had heard that it was affiliated to no religion, but nonetheless, there it was: serenity prayer, God in almost every step of their recovery programme. When I asked about what God had to do with it, they gently explained me "It's not God, it's just your higher power, something bigger than you that can help you cope with alcohol". Vaguely reassured, I kept on going to the meetings. I must confess that it felt quite good. People were listening to my problems and seem to understand them. I was in such a mental devastation condition that it felt all right at this time, and I felt I could use any help they would give me.

Then, they asked me to read the big book, which I did. And, that was when the doubt started to invade me. What was this all about? It was so stupid, so fascistic, so untolerant, so childish. I discovered that I was not an atheist, but that I thought I was an atheist. I discovered that I had to pretend I believe in God in order to believe, some day, for true. I discovered that if I stopped going to meetings and if I did not start believing, I would drop dead some day or would agonize alone in a hospital. It really started to get weird. When I asked people from my group after, it was just "It's not about God, it's about believing in something, it can be just enjoying a cigarette with a coffee". But that was not what it was about, it was about a Creator God, a Salvation God, a Loving God and all that rubbish.

And in my mind, AA was really beginning to feel like a sect. If I did not show up for two days, I was harassed by phone calls "You need to come, otherwise, you'll get into trouble, and you will start drinking again". Now that I don't feel so lost in my mind, I realize how dangerous this group is.

I am abroad at the moment and will go back to France within a few months, and they already gave me the names of the people I should contact when I get back to Paris. But I have known for a while I would not go back to the meetings when back home.

Reading all the information on your webpage was very useful, since a lot of stuff I have been thinking myself. And I learnt much more about Bill W. and Dr. Bob, that was quite interesting to know and that fit perfectly with all the crap the big book is filled with.

So, yeah, that's it basically, I could not prevent myself from thinking that abusing poor alcoholics in a state of mental weakness and frailty was quite scary and unfair, and I wanted to tell you that your page was quite interesting to read and very well documented. I do not know if all of this is true but nonetheless, I felt it very informative.

Best regards,
Alain
France

Hi Alain,

Thanks for the letter. You have expressed a lot of my feelings too.

And I hope everything on my web site is accurate and correct. I try hard to make sure that it is all true.

Have a good day.

— Orange





[18 November 2003]

Dear sir,

I just finished reading your essay on the "Rat Park".
I want to thank you, and thank you again.
I needed validation and I found it in your beautiful, funny (I like: "the rats have their own agenda") and informed essay.
I've been through hell in an Al-Anon Italian group, for a year.
Since I left, I have read Ken Ragge's pamphlet, but what I found in yours impressed me much, as I could deeply relate. It is about the child abuse background shared by all participants in 12 steps, and the impact of Bill's shame-based philosophy. I saw it in my group, I saw how they made you believe that though you had been beaten, raped or neglected by your parents (and ALL OF US had been), you basically had to forget and forgive. They really were into this forget-and-forgive thing. Also, they would brainwash you into believing your parents were not to be held responsible for anything they did, (they did their best, they did all they could), and that you were the one and only cause of your misery. You basically "chose" to feel miserable because you were a dirty, whining, lying bastard. Alcoholics (the ones in the meeting next door) drank because they had a disease. So their parents were off the hook as well. (I hope my english makes sense) Alcoholism is like cancer or diabetes, they say, so who cares about how you grew up or what you had to survive? Do program and forget and forgive. Really sounds like a cult. Facts, reality, science - they are a nuisance, for them. They feel threatened by memory, also. I guess this is because memory is connected to identity. And identity can be a nuisance too, in mind control. I wonder if you read any of Alice Miller's books, as she is also pointing out what you say.

Sorry for taking your time.
And thanks again.
Diana C.
Rome, Italy

Hi Diana,

Thanks for a great letter, and please don't apologize for taking up my time. (Now the hate-mongers can apologize, but you I like...)

Yes, I've read some of Alice Miller's stuff, and it had an influence on my thinking. It must be about 15 or 20 years ago that Omni magazine did an interview with her that really was a revelation, like a breath of fresh air. I still have to get around to reading more of her books all of the way through. (I've read several in part.) Her basic ideas make a lot of sense to me.

I am also into forgiving my parents, but not into blaming myself or wallowing in self-criticism. And I don't think that the "forgive and forget" thing is even possible. How can you forget? But I think that somehow we have to eventually get over being angry because that just makes us miserable.

The only way I can forgive my parents is by realizing that it was done to them first. My father, for instance, was raised by his strict, up-tight old grandfather because his own father was killed in a car accident when my father was just a baby. My great grandfather was so crazy that he would beat my father with a cane for playing with the garbage man's children. "Our class of people does not associate with that kind of people." Really. It was like something out of a Charles Dickens novel. My poor father was insane before he ever started drinking alcohol.

In a way, I have to feel sorry for him because he never had a chance. He was born in the wrong time and place for my opportunities to change to be available to him.

I tried do-it-yourself brain surgery with LSD, and I had a chance to change myself. So I did. So I didn't beat my kid. I may have been all kinds of things in my life, a goof-off bum, a doper, and an alcoholic, but I was never a child abuser. It's just plain nice that my son does not fear or hate me.

(Now I'm not recommending that everybody just load up on acid — it isn't necessary now, because a lot of what we learned has permeated society and our children got some of the benefits without the drugs. Besides, I'm not even sure that what is passed off as acid really is, anymore. I don't know if anybody is really making acid today. Whatever they are making, it sure ain't Owsley.)

Also, there was just something in the culture by then (the sixties), ideas of working on yourself and getting your head straight. It was okay to try some do-it-yourself psychotherapy, and work on your mind and your thinking. My parents, on the other hand, lived in fear that they might not be "normal". That was the big thing back then in their culture — everybody was just supposed to be "normal", which I think actually discouraged people from changing themselves. (If you go changing your own mind, you might get it wrong, and then you wouldn't be normal, would you?)

Thanks again for the letter. Have a good day.

— Orange


[12 Dec 2003, 2nd letter from Diana in Rome]

Dear Agent Orange,

I kept reading your articles. You stick to the facts - this is something I value very much because I resent the twisting of truth.

I liked it when you wrote that there are many AAs. The social club, the self-help group, the cult, etc.... I've made friends with some of the people in the self-help Al-Anon group, and I still see them and call them from time to time, though I left the cult Al-Anon. They are nice and compassionate people.

I didn't know about bootcamps for children. In Italy we don't have them — yet. It is appalling.

About my previous mail on the "forget and forgive" commandment in 12 steps, I thought you might be interested in this article by Alice Miller, that you will find at the bottom of the mail.

I'm currently trying to get permission to reprint that.

I believe AA program is all about what she calls "poisonous pedagogy", which is what hurt me most in my Al-Anon group. If you were a holocaust survivor dealing with issues related to concentration camp trauma, and someone came and told you that you suffer because you want to, because you refuse to forget and forgive and do program, you would be outraged. We would all be. Yet, this is what happens to all adults abused as children when they get to AA. Funny: this is exactly what your parents tried to make you believe, no matter how they neglected or abuse you. That it was your problem. That you were your problem.

Yes. Good point. And that poisonous pedagogy is so harmful that it seems to drive some people to suicide, or drinking themselves to death. That's probably why A.A. has such a high death rate, higher than any other "treatment".

Maybe Bill W. needed to believe this, he didn't know any better. But then his drinking problems, his health problems, his pain and fears kept haunting him, so he needed a constant reminder to forget and forgive, to keep it all bottled up, pressed inside. The 12 steps. His constant relapses and subsequent death should remind all 12steppers about a little nuisance called science (or facts): as researchers have recently showed, trauma is stored in your body as well as in your mind, and you cannot simply decide to forget it. You may have to confront it.

I've found — in my personal experience — that the "forget and forgive" cult is a very powerful one, even among therapists (I've met quite a few) and teachers and whoever is dealing with people in pain, people suffering from any kind of addiction or issue. Yet, there is no scientific evidence that forgetting and forgiving are in any way related to one's recovery and healing.

Hope all this wasn't inappropriate, and I thank you again for all the work you have done and for being so brave and honest.

Best,
Diana
Rome, Italy

Not at all inappropriate. Thanks for the letter.

— Orange


[23 Dec 2003, third letter from Diana]

Happy Christmas, Agent Orange!

You and your site are like an old friend I can visit whenever I need validation and support.

Buon Natale, Arancio!

Diana from Rome, Italy

Thanks, Diana, you're too sweet.





[23 November 2003]

Greetings:

Great job! As an ex-cult member I can say it is wonderful to see others who know about the lie. I was deprogrammed very quickly by Jack Trimpey of Rational Recovery and have experienced a freedom like I never imagined. Which, for the record, he did for free. Although, I did buy the book and read later. Not only freedom from alcohol addiction but a spiritual freedom. AA destroyed my faith, my self confidence and almost killed me. Even before I ever walked into the doors, they had harmed me. I was programmed, like most Americans that addicts are diseased. It is cunning, baffling, powerful! Do they know what IT actually is? Nope. I now study the occult and see clearly what the 12 steps cults are doing. They are power stealers, psychic vampires and the ones inside who KNOW are vicious criminals. In my totally correct opinion.

AA is an insult to intelligence and God! I know I'm rather dramatic but I consider AA/NA mass genocide. Convert or die! Instead of gas chambers they use psychic warfare for MONEY! Preying upon the desperate looking for a solution for their personal addictions. Instead of educating, they dumb down. It is not only alcohol and drug addicts affected. Most people will say AA/NA is the way to stop the phantom disease. I've even thought of doing a poll in my city just to see how many people will say AA is the way to go.

It is my belief that the few higher ups know exactly what is going on but most all AA members and nonmembers have no clue. I was conversing with a friend about how there are all these crazy conspiracy sites but very few mention anything about the AA/12-Step/Oxford Group/NAZI connection. He is very interested in such paranoia and quickly did a search. You popped up and I am so glad. I've wanted to find more information for quite sometime now.

I consider myself blessed to have escaped their way of thinking. As soon as I read your lizard brain pages I laughed my rear off. You are in the know! There are some people that have taken this theory and have turned it into shapeshifting reptile people. It is amazing what people will believe. My *LizardBeastShapeshifter* (haha) is very quiet these days. It only pops up once and a while. I'm able to laugh at myself and move on without any question. Great thing is, even when it does pop into my head it isn't nearly are bad as I thought. I was expecting a major battle between myself and my personal addiction when I realized what RR was saying. Once I listened to myself, I found it easy and began believing in my personal POWER.

The trick for me was to understand that I may have quit drinking but my brain had to heal. I did experience many mental conditions due to drinking every night for 5 years. Depression and panic attacks were one thing I believe kept me in the cycle of drinking and believing AA was right. I would quit drinking and still feel bad. They were right, I thought. I was one of the unfortunates. Forgotten by God because I could not *get it*.

Now, I feel God did not forget me. God, who or whatever it is, lead me out of the cult because I do have a purpose and an AA cult member was not it! The universe does not want to waste me on such people. There was a time my heart was so broken by the cult that I really felt if there were a God he/SHE/it hated me. Now I LOVE MYSELF! And don't need a stinking meeting to have this love.

Do I hate AA? YES! Do I hate the members? No. Although, I don't feel sorry for them. If it takes power stealing and psychic vampirism to keep them sober, I do wish them well when and if they have to look into the mirror and see the TRUE GOD/ESS! So scary! I'm SO glad I'll never have to be in this situation. See, God does love me very much. I could not get it because I was TOO SMART! I'm not trapped like they are. Wow, what a horrible feeling it would be to realize you have sent people to their DEATH through a one of the biggest SCAMS ever (not) known. To be deeply inside the cult one would honestly have to avoid looking inward. The voice of GOD is YOU? Or was that your BEAST? I do feel sorry for the people they have murdered though. May their revenge be GREAT!

In Chapter 21 of Magick in Theory and Practice, [Samuel Weiser, Inc., NY, 1973 E.V.], entitled "Of Black Magic...", on the subject of necromancy, Crowley wrote the following:

      "All spiritists ... feel dirty even across the street; their auras are ragged, muddy and malodorous; they ooze the slime of purtrefying corpses.
      No spiritist, once he is wholly enmeshed in sentimentality and Freudian fear-phantasms, is capable of concentrated thought, of persistent will, or of moral character.
      Devoid of every spark of the divine light which was his birthright, a prey before death to the ghastly tenants of the grave, the wretch, like the mesmerized and living corpse of Poe's Monsieur Valdemar, is a 'nearly liquid mass of loathsome, of detestable putrescence.'
      The student of this Holy Magick is most earnestly warned against frequenting their séances, or even admitting them to his presence.
      They are contagious as Syphilis, and more deadly and disgusting.
      Unless your aura is strong enough to inhibit any manifestation of the loathly larvae that have taken up their habitation in them, shun them as you need not mere lepers!"

Bill Wilson was a necromancer and held séances! What is a *good* Christian to do? I'll tell ya! Get Bill Wilson's AA OUT of the churches and our justice system. Unless you can over look this MAJOR character full of DEFECTS!

At the end of the meeting we shall pray, Our Father who art in heaven...........
Suddenly a voice came thundering down inside the room!

Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? I'm so getting tired of all this whining. Find your own power already! Ye leeches! Ye BEAST worshippers!

Sorry there for a second I relapsed and listened to a voice inside my head!

hahahahahaaaaaa!
I do so amuse myself!

Agape
Mari

Hi Mari,

Thanks for a good, and amusing, letter. I never cease to be amazed at how the churches just stubbornly refuse to see the occult and heretical side of A.A., and don't give a second thought to having it meet in their basements.

Now I'm getting weird thoughts. Do you suppose we could organize a 12-step group called Satanists for Sobriety, and still meet in their church basements? Would they allow even that?

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

— Orange





[26 Nov 2003]

Hello Mr. Orange:

I was reading some of your history of the *dysfunctional* Dr. Robert H. Smith family. I've never read Children Of The Healer, but it is certainly on my list now.

I don't know if the book discusses this, but apparently Bob, Jr., was an active member of Al-Anon for many years. Not only was his old man an alcoholic, but Junior also managed to marry a rip-roaring drunk and didn't know what to do about it. I heard him discussing this on an Al-Anon "speaker tape" that I bought early in my sobriety. (I've never really understood the concept of 12-step "speakers" who make it their business to tour around the country speaking at AA/Al-Anon conventions. Whatever happened to "principles before personalities"?)

Anyway, on this same tape Bob, Jr., told the story of his son (Dr. Bob's grandson) killing himself! The grandson was evidently a successful car salesman in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but all was not well and he ended up a suicide! Knowing this and then reading on your website about the similar fate that befell Sue and Ernie's daughter, I would have to conclude that when you say, "Neurosis and insanity ran rampant in the Smith family", you are being far too generous.

Thanks for your efforts to rebut the 12-Step Establishment's incessant, annoying, nonsensical dogma.

—PFB

Hi, PFB,

Wow, one of Smitty's sons suicided out too? I didn't know that. I'll have to check that out. What a tragedy that whole mess was.

Thanks for the letter, and have a good day.

— Orange





[28 Nov 2003]

Hello Mr Orange.

I do hope you will take time out to read this letter as I have been researching the domain of 12-step groups in trying to compile reflective evidence in bringing to light that they do not work.

When I found your web site, to which the contents I found very thought provoking and quite emotive I just had to tell you of my experience with a 12-step group known as Narcotics Anonymous. The principles are a basic derivative from the AA approach as I am sure know, and mirror the same, if not more intensified, applications of recruiting the unaware "newcomer", albeit, mind-bending and manipulative.

I used drugs for nine years until I was given the opportunity to go into a rehabilitation centre. It just so happened to be a 12-step approach towards addiction to which I found very uncomfortable. Nevertheless, at this stage in my life I was very vulnerable and sensitive but I was also naïve in the thought that these so called "treatment professions" were telling me that I was diseased. This surmise was not, in any way, backed up with any medical or biochemical insight on the inner workings of the brain. I was indoctrinated at just the perfect time and in just the perfect environment for me to come to believe this stupid barbaric approach, that I was actually diseased. I felt like I was going absolutely crazy. Trying to come to terms with this fabricated disease concept (and not to mention the wealth of other negative attributes they were thrusting upon me) with all my other problems was too much for me to handle. I had just managed to climb free of a nervous breakdown prior to this. I may sound rather forthright in my wording however I believe I am fully justifiable in exercising my anger and I am somewhat relieved that my primary perception of this 12-step group was that I saw the signs of manipulation and mind-numbing yet chose to "fake it to make it".

What I am trying to say is that I had the fear of death instilled into me just at the time of exiting a nervous breakdown. What gives these people the right to practise medical direction in such a dangerous way contrary to the integrity of empirical evidence? Which, might I add, strongly and tangibly states that this approach to addiction is all but counter-productive.

I am so relieved I have found this site and I will keep up continual visitations with hope of observing the statistics on the mentally disturbed. It is a little funny really!

In reference to the survey carried at by Michael Lemanski could you tell me the date in which this was carried out?

And also if you could supply me with any other documentation/statistics on 12-step groups (more notably, Narcotics Anonymous) then I would be really happy.

Markie

Hi, Markie,

Sorry to hear about the suffering you went through. And you aren't the only one, not at all. The whole cultish approach to recovery is just such a monstrous mistake.

Last item first:
I'm not quite sure which studies you are referring to. Two come to mind. Michael Lemanski didn't conduct the studies; he summarized them in his book. In the first case, talking about the A.A. death rate, Lemanski was referring to three studies that were published in 1977, 1985, and 1991. The studies were probably done in the same or previous years.

In the second case, a study of mental illness in A.A. members, Lemanski was referring to a study published in 1962.

I haven't seen any good information on the success rates or death rates in N.A., but I'm still looking. I'll post anything that I find. But alas, I'm not holding my breath. None of the 12-step recovery organizations seem to be conducting any more surveys of their member's success rates, or anything like that, because the results are so embarrassing. A.A. seems to have stopped doing their triennial surveys since Charles Bufe revealed that they were showing A.A. to have a terrible dropout problem.

Have a good day.

— Orange

CORRECTION (6 Feb 2005):
They are still doing Triennial Surveys, but they are not asking the tough and embarassing questions about the drop-out rates or success rates any more. But even the questions that they are asking reveal some very interesting things, like that the majority of the current members were pressured or coerced to join A.A. by treatment centers, criminal courts, and prisons. See a summary here.





[30 Nov 2003]

I would like to get more real info on the actual writing of the twelve steps. do you have links to this info? also, besides the books you mention is there a definitive corrective history of the AA movement available? I am a psychologist and have worked with people involved in AA for 30 years. I came upon your site because I am working on an expose of AA that covers the psychological components that make it so resilient.

paula

Hi Paula,

I guess that you have probably already looked at The Religious Roots of the Twelve Steps I just haven't seen any more important facts about the actual writing of the steps than I've already put in that web page. (And if I do find any more, I'll stick them in there too.)

The bibliography of that web page lists all of the books about the origin of the 12 steps (and the early days of A.A.) that I know of. A lot of the information is unfortunately pretty thin. Lois Wilson's book, for instance, Lois Remembers, says little more about the actual writing of the steps than that Bill wasn't feeling well so he took a notepad to bed and proceeded to write the steps as a more definitive restatement of the Oxford Group "principles" (really, practices).

The two standard official A.A. histories of A.A. are:
PASS IT ON; The story of Bill Wilson and how the A.A. message reached the world, by the A.A. headquarters staff, and
Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age by Bill Wilson (occasionally deceptive and inaccurate).

Robert Thomsen's book Bill W. is bearable, although it suffers from being a restatement of Bill Wilson's stories on his autobiographical tape recordings. Hence the truthfulness or accuracy of some things is questionable.

Ernest Kurtz's book Not God suffers from the same ailment. And Kurtz is a true believer in the A.A. dogma who doesn't criticize A.A. or Bill Wilson.

What is it they say about television? It's a vast wasteland out there...
I don't think a real true honest and complete history of A.A. has ever been written. And the A.A. headquarters keeps the archives locked and sealed so that such a book will not be written.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

— Orange





[2 Dec 2003]

You must be on some kind of medication.

Be honest and get some help. Your site has gotten worse and worse. The site was decent when you started but has continually gone downhill. Your anger at forced treatment is fradulent.

Treatment is a voluntary alternative to jail. Society cannot be blamed for our alcoholism.

Yeah, treatment for me with my deferred prosecution sucked big time. I played the game to keep my license and insurance.

Piss tests and potential jail time helped get me sober. You have refused to say if you work a real job and share how you support yourself Mr. Orange.

I suffered as a drafted soldier during the Viet Nam era because of angry pissed off people like you that were looking for something to identify with. It is said that alcoholism is just a symtom of deeper issues and your mouthy anger convinces me of that completely.

Get real.

Tom H.

Hello again, Tom,

You know, some of your remarks are pretty funny. You say now that my site was pretty decent "when I started", but you hated it in the beginning too. You've been writing to me for years now, always saying the same things as now. You never liked my web site or anything that I've had to say, but you keep writing letters that say that I have now lost your approval.

Your best line is, "Treatment is a voluntary alternative to jail."
You apparently do not understand what the word "voluntary" means.
If someone sticks a gun into your ribs and says, "Either voluntarily give me your wallet, or I'll shoot you," then that is not voluntary. That is coerced.
When the judge says, "Ninety meetings or ninety days in jail," that is not voluntary attendance. That is coerced.
Going to A.A. under court-ordered conditions is no more voluntary or Constitutional than a sentence of "You must go to three Jehovah's Witness meetings per week or else you are going to jail."

As far as your remarks about Vietnam go, I was in the service then too. Furthermore, our hippy commune featured one Air Force and two Army veterans and even one Marine veteran who did *two* tours of 'Nam before he saw the light and turned against the war. We were never against the unfortunate guys who got drafted; heck, we were them.

Have a good day anyway.

— Orange





[7 Dec 2003]

Dear agent orange

excellent work. I have enjoyed reading everything. I now have two months sober. I quit going to meetings a week ago. I still want to get the coins though. I figure I will go to the alono club and buy them.

I was wondering if you might have some information on the watchtower society. The jehovahs witnesses. I got caught up with them as well. I was never a member because of my substance abuse, but they stole my mind for nearly fifteen years. You seem like a pretty smart guy, so I would like to hear what you think about them.

If you have the time. Anyway keep up the good work, And by the way I am ponderman on beliefnet, in case you already have not gathered that. I am still reading everthing I can find that you have put on the net. Thank you for freeing my mind.

Dave F.

Hi Dave,

Gee, thanks for all of the compliments. I didn't think I was doing that good.

About the Jehovah's Witnesses, I've heard some pretty disturbing things about them too. They sound very much like a harmful cult. (I have no personal experience with them.) I adopted one page that uses them as an example of cult tactics. See: Totalism in Today's Cults by Jan Groenveld.

I also like, "Debating with Jehovah's Witnesses", by Timothy Campbell,
http://members.aol.com/beyondjw/dwjw.htm

Have a good day.

— Orange





[8 Dec 2003]

I am amazed at how comprehensive and exhaustive your material is. I enjoy your sense of humor also.

I have a question for you and would be most appreciative if you could respond. Do you believe in the God of the bible?

Thank You!

Diane C.

Hi Diane,

Thanks for the compliments.

Now the big question, the God of the Bible...

I don't think you intended to ask a trick question, but that actually is one. There isn't really any one God of the Bible. There are many different versions of God described in the Bible.

  • First off, in Genesis, we get a strange tyrant who wanted his creations to remain stupid children forever. Then he rigs the game so that they will be able to displease him by eating an apple from a forbidden fruit tree. Why didn't he just put the tree some place else, out of reach, like we do with poisonous chemicals that we don't want our children to eat? And why didn't He lock that snake up in a zoo? Dumb.

  • Then the God of Moses was a real monster. Moses was always hearing orders from God to go raid the next city, town or village and steal all of their stuff and murder everybody there, even the children and babies, because they were the wrong race or religion. (Except for the virgin girls, whom Moses' army kept for their sex slaves.)
    I already listed some of the most obnoxious Biblical quotes in the web page on propaganda techniques.
    No, I don't believe in the God of Moses.

  • And then there is the story of Job. Job was a good, righteous man who always did everything right and was pleasing in the sight of God. So the Devil came along and told God that he was sure that he could make Job turn away from God — that Job wasn't really all that good. So the Lord agreed to let the Devil torment Job, with the only limitation being that the Devil couldn't touch or hurt Job himself. So the Devil destroyed everything that Job had, and then all of his children, and reduced him to poverty:
    1. Sabeans took the oxen and the asses and killed with swords the servants who had been tending them.
    2. Fire burned the sheep and the servants who were tending them.
    3. Chaldeans stole the camels and killed the servants with swords.
    4. Wind collapsed a house and kill all of Job's seven sons and three daughters who were partying within.
    But still Job didn't curse the name of the Lord. So the God of Job relaxed his restriction, and told the Devil that he could attack the body of Job, just as long as he didn't kill him. So the Devil afflicted Job with boils from head to foot, and reduced him to sitting in pain on an ash heap....

    Perhaps you saw the comedy "Trading Places", starring Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd. The story is, there were a couple of rich old codgers whose idea of fun was betting each other one dollar on a whole slew of crazy bets. Well one day, they got into the old nature/nurture debate. Is the character of a man determined by his environment and upbringing, or inner nature? So they bet a dollar that they could take their prosperous, properly-behaved young nephew, Dan Aykroyd, and bankrupt him and discredit him and ruin him and reduce him to a street bum, and then... would he turn bad, or not? That was the test. At the same time, they would take a street hustler, Eddie Murphy, and make him a rich young man living in comfort. Would he turn good? That was the test.

    In the movie, Murphy and Aykroyd ended up meeting and comparing notes and realizing that they were being used as playthings in a game, so they plotted their revenge. They bet each other a dollar that they could financially ruin the rich old codgers. And they did.

    That movie reminds me of the book of Job. The big difference is that Job never had a chance to get even with God and the Devil. Job had to just take all of the abuse without complaint. The story of Job ends with God saying that He will give Job back double everything that Job lost because Job didn't turn against God. But then God didn't even come through on that promise. Job got back twice as many oxen, camels, donkeys, sheep and servants as he had before, but not twice as many children. Job just got another 7 sons and 3 daughters, the same as he had before.

    No, I don't believe in any capricious, heartless character like the God of Job who would so callously torture somebody (or let him be tortured) for a bet or a dare.

  • Then we run into a character named Jesus who said that God loves you more than a mother loves her baby, and Blessed are the Peacemakers, For they shall be known as the Children of God. Now that guy I like.

  • But that didn't last long, because along came a professional Christian-killer named Saul of Tarsus who was a paranoid schizophrenic and an epileptic and a real wierdo too. While traveling to Damascus to kill some more Christians, he went into an epileptic fit and fell off of his horse and thought he saw God and got a thorn stuck in his side. Then he went and took over the Christian church, which he could do easily because the early Christians didn't know much about modern medicine. They didn't know that when paranoid schizophrenics with epilepsy flop around on the floor and see God, that it doesn't really prove that they are holy men... (See the Monty Python movie, "The Life of Bryan" for a satire of that.) Saul quickly ruined the early Christian church. He changed the loving God of Jesus Christ into a God who doesn't like you because you are so sinful and disgusting.

    And then Saul (who changed his name to Paul) said that he didn't like women, or sex, or life, or anything. And that's why priests can't marry today, and why the European Christians (especially Grand Inquisitor Torquemada) killed millions of women and girls and even baby girls as witches during the middle ages.

    No thanks. Count me out on that guy.

Well, have I answered your question? (Now that I've guaranteed myself some more angry mail because I'm sure to have pissed off somebody.)

Oh well, so it goes. Have a good day anyway.

— Orange





[9 Dec 2003]

I absolutely -love- your http://www.orange-papers.org/ site!
Even though it is some serious stuff, it's got me rollin' on the floor.
I love the parts about the wife being a nag because she asks the 'ol man' to shape up.
I have only just started to read it. It will take some time. It is quite extensive.

Suzanne
and oh, Secret Agent Orange-love it!

Hi Suzanne,

Thanks. Enjoy, and have a good day.

— Orange





[11 Dec 2003]

Agent Orange,

I find your vast study of the Alcoholics Anonymous program to be enlightening. If it weren't for the teachings of AA I would have never been open minded enough to read your work in the first place. My favorite AA solgan is "Take what you want and leave the rest", and yes that is quite contradictory to many other things in the program. I will agree that the program itself is quite flawed. Many of its members tend to bend and twist the meanings to suit there own definitions. I won't rule myself out.

I currently consider myself a member of AA. I am also studying in the field of psychology and behavioral therapy. I do these things because my experience with them has been a positive one. My ability to deal with reality has increased remarkably.

I am writing to thank you for exposing Bill Wilson for what he truly is. That being a liar, thief, cheat, a con, selfish, self-centered, ego maniac. Seems to me that Bill W. died an alcoholic death. Never actually embracing the twelve steps he 'preached' helped him to live a 'sober' life. He was a hypocrite (and yes I am taking his inventory God forbid). Too bad there are so many people willing to keep him on a pedistle.

What I have learned from attending AA is the value behind the honesty, open mindedness, acceptance, powerlessness, willingness, integrity, humility and a genuine caring concern for misguided individuals who rely on external control psychology to manipulate the world around them to suit there own selfish desires.

In closing, I would like to say, I have looked into a few different religions and quickly tired of trying to figure out who may be right and was delighted to find a group who encouraged me to seek 'GOD', who would help me to do what I couldn't do for myself. Nobody in AA has ever tried to force 'their' conception of 'GOD' on me. However a few crackpots shared in meetings I could use a doorknob or the group. There are a lot of unanswered questions in this world and I think it is wonderful that you are providing a different perspective for people to consider.

Sincerely,

Gary

Hi Gary,

Thanks for a very interesting letter, and the complements.

If you are enjoying A.A., then great. But what puzzles me is that someone who is as capable of standing on his own two feet as you are, and as capable of thinking for himself as you are, would need a group to tell him to believe in God or to "help me to do what I couldn't do for myself." It sounds like they need you much more than you need them.

Oh well, whatever. Have a good day anyway.

— Orange





[12 Dec 2003]

Orange,

I thought we had lost you forever! I was reading Jack Trimpeys BBS and one of the posters mentioned you were back at your new website.

Hi Mickey,
Not lost, just moved to a better home. Now I don't have to fight with monthly bandwidth limits or Yahoo's censorship...

It is no exaggeration to say that Rational Recovery, AA Deprogramming and The Orange Papers saved my sanity and passed me from darkness into light.

Although by the time I found the above sites I had been happily and contentedly abstinent for 14 years (I found the sites 2 years ago) I had been wrestling for years with all the stuff in Bill Wilsons Big Book and 12 x 12, going to thousands of AA meetings hearing most of the folks who attend these meetings describe what I can only call "Hell on Earth" sobriety yet forever extolling the virtues of the Big Book and "The Programme"... you know the types... right as rain at meetings on Monday, heads in bits on Wednesday, only to describe some kind of personal Calvary on Friday then back to "Serenity" on Saturday!

Once I had De-toxed in Hospital I went back to AA with some semblance of clarity, bearing in mind I had drank 24/7 and had experienced Alcoholic Fits for 14 years, it was obvious to me that the "programme" on offer (thrust) was intensely religious and was Evangelical in nature and I could see that it had nothing to do at all with drinking or not drinking.

The Disease theory, well I dismissed out of hand, an obvious none starter. Addiction-yes, Disease-No. Day at a time? I thought, and indeed said, "you have just told a horrific story of Alcoholic dissipation, damage to yourself and others, and you don't know whether you will repeat it all again?" There was lots and lots of stuff which I could not stack up at all.

Yes, now that's funny. "I don't know if I want to torture myself some more."
And if you ask, "What? Are you nuts?", they might answer,
"Yes, that's why I need my sponsor to think for me..."

Why did I keep coming back? Feeling like the loneliest man on the Planet I had now found people who had time for me, also I found people who had been Abstinent for decades.... so straight away I found the power of example. The difference between quality and quantity did not impinge upon me for quite a few years.

Yes, the loneliness is a standard hook that cults use to pull people in. Now there is nothing wrong with being lonely or wanting to find some people so that you aren't lonely — in fact it is human nature to flock together — but it can be used to suck people into cults.

Almost immediately upon becoming abstinent I started to pray and attend Church. I must emphasise that my praying and attending Church had NOTHING to do with whether I stayed abstinent or returned to drinking. I KNEW further drinking would be down to making the choice MYSELF. I prayed solely for some semblance of peace to come into my life. It seemed to work for me. I have never thrust my beliefs upon others.

What went wrong? Having tried in vain to make myself fit into Bill Wilsons template of the Alcoholic via multiple readings of his Big Book and 12 x 12 I happened upon a little line from one of them (not sure which one) that went some way to setting me free.

I must be the only person to find a positive out of a statement which was meant to have an intended negative effect. Here it is.... "some of us had moral and philosophical convictions galore.... some good they did us" (I paraphrase here.... my head is pretty much emptied of all this claptrap). Straight away it dawned upon me that yes, I had all the above convictions, my conscience used to crucify me the morning after a debauch knowing I had let all my moral convictions go out the window. Being abstinent it was now quite easy to employ these convictions to my daily life and listen to my conscience. Lo and behold I became a decent viable Human Being.... no Billspeak, no gloom and depression causing Steps. And guess what, I was too scared to upset the status quo in meetings to describe how I had gotten well, apart from the old chestnuts of "stay away from the first drink" and more commonsense stuff. UNTIL. I found Jack Trimpeys Rational Recovery site then found AA Deprogramming and the Orange Papers. WOW!

All the negative and nonsensical stuff I had read and heard which had made an impact upon me but could never articulate became clear in a flash. Darkness into Light!!!

Just because I found these sites and read (and still read) what was on them I have become indescribably confident in what I have been doing for the past 16 years and thank my God that I did not become totally brainwashed and utterly devoid of some independent thought.

Thanks for saving my Bacon (as we say in the UK)

Mickey

Hi Mickey,

Wow. Far out. Glad to hear that you are doing well.

Have a good day.

— Orange


[2nd letter from Mickey, 10 February 2004]

Hi Orange,

Many thanks for the personal reply. What started out as a conglatulatory letter to you somehow segued into some kind of AA/Cult style "share" unfortunately. For any fellow AA escapees perhaps the following could be of greater interest.

I initially de-toxed in Hospital where I was advised to attend meetings of AA. This I duly did and was to do for many years. Whilst attending AA I was to meet a few people who appeared to have found an answer to their drink problem. Although myself disagreeing (unvoiced) with the Disease, Powerlessness, Day at a time and 12 Step doctrines, I had found a bunch of people who appeared to be friendly and helpful. At that time I was very persona non grata outside the rooms of AA and found the attention to be a great help with my loneliness. It also kept me out of Bars and drinking dens. Maybe here I am agreeing with some of the things you describe in your "Whats good about AA " piece.

As a little time passed I was to become aware of little sneaky feelings of something not being quite right with the whole AA thing. Not least of which was noticing newcomers attending their first AA meeting and never returning. If this AA was so good and was the best and most effective answer to alcoholism as all the members were saying at every opportunity and all AA literature was pointing to this "fact", why were new people passing up on this? More worryingly I was to notice the very few newcomers who decided to stay would before very long find a million and one problems in their lives which they never had before joining AA. I now know this was due to "The Programme".

One of the oft quoted parrot cries of AA members is "Its a bridge to normal living". I was soon to find out most AA members virtually lived within the rooms of AA and very often referred to the other people we have to share the Planet with as "Them out there" or "Earth people". This struck me as not very normal and indeed smacked of elitism (What? ex shitty assed drunks much better than the people living in the real world?).

Anyhow, I still stuck around. When you are in rooms full of people swearing black is white one tends to doubt the true reality of the situation and even become to doubt your own gut feelings and intuitions. I did. Even to the extent of appearing to be a highpowered car salesperson endeavouring to sell a car which appeared to me to have round wheels but in the eyes of the prospective buyer had in fact square ones. The buyer being the newcomer! Thankfully I stopped the hard sell many years ago, there were no takers.

I was to experience further intense feelings of things not being quite right but was unable to crystallize them or articulate them. Tapping around on my PC 2 years ago I happened upon the Rational Recovery website and through that to AA deprogramming and the Orange Papers. Quick as a flash I experienced the gutwrenchingly awful feeling that I had been duped and had been given information concerning Alcoholism and Addiction that was wrong as wrong could be. I shall never again doubt my gut feelings and intuitions when confronted with something as dodgy and off the wall as AA. Even the Jehovahs Witnesses go from your front door when you decline what they offer, but funnily enough THEY never make threats of insanity or death on declining them!

Without a doubt I had well and truly bought into the AA surface message which appears to be so good.

I have come to believe the truth of the maxim "To live is to learn". It is just a pity I had to learn it the hard way. What glistens is not always gold?

Mickey

PS Orange, if all of the above is a load c--p and unuseable I shall not be offended as you have more than likely touched all bases with your research and insights on the subject. To paraphrase....... a good day have! lol

Hi again, Mickey. Thanks for writing. And I don't consider your writings to be garbage. Your story feels so classic, so quintessentially the A.A. experience that so many people encounter.

And congratulations on getting out into the light and trusting your gut feelings. It's funny how sometimes your stomach is smarter than your head.

Have a good day.

— Orange





[14 Dec 2003]

Hello AO,

I wrote to you over the summer and received such thoughtful responses back. I know you must get many an email, but I still wanted to give you an update. I've cut back on my meetings significantly and darned if I don't think I feel better. It has been a rather sad eye opener for me to see that as I've cut out meetings, no one — not even my sponsor — has any interest in seeing me or talking to me. In all honesty, that has been a bitter pill to swallow, and it hurt my feelings... ooops, that must be my disease talking! (It bugs me that any disagreement with AA is labeled as a disease). But, at the same time, I've been thrilled with how much I've been enjoying the friendships outside of the "program." I suppose that is where I will be putting my energies now. I just find it hard to believe how draining it has been to try to get out.

Anyway, thanks for your site.

Elly

Hi Elly,

Thanks for a very nice letter. And while it hurts that the steppers just dumped you when they saw that you weren't going to be a good cult member, remember that you are free and moving up and onwards, while they are still trapped in the darkness.

Getting rejected by them is actually a compliment. It's sort of like some little devils and demons kicking you out of Hell because you are too good for their liking.

Have a good day.

— Orange





[14 Dec 2003]

Dear Agent,

Thanks for the careful treatment of AA history on your site. I do have one suggestion about your treatment of the Rowland Hazard issue. It is not necessary to assume that Jung actually spoke to Hazard, although of course the possibility cannot be excluded. There are 2 reasons that Jung's reply doesn't mean he once spoke to Hazard. First, Wilson referred to the patient as "a friend of ours I will refer to only as Roland H." or something to that effect. As far as Jung knew, the patient could have had an entirely different name (think of Dear Abby letters — the names are imaginary).

Another thing to keep in mind: Jung was not really handling his own correspondence at that point, in the sense of letters being formally dictated. Aniella Jaffe, his secretary at the end of his life, has said that he became reluctant to spend much time on letters and that she composed a good part of the replies. She wasn't being dishonest, of course, and in the case of that letter it would be safe to assume that the body of the letter represents Jung's thinking. But the "I had not heard from Roland H. for a while", implying that he could actually remember the patient, was probably a polite introduction composed by Jaffe.

It is my view that there really was a patient on whom the Roland character was based. I just don't think it was the actual Rowland Hazard. Wilson, consciously or unconsciously, morphed a person he knew with a similar-sounding person he had heard about, to produce the Roland character. I could easily be wrong about this, though.

The main reason I'm writing today is an interesting passage I found while trying to find the context of Aldous Huxley's remark that Wilson was "the greatest social architect of the century." I concluded, BTW, that the phrase must have been in a private communication to Wilson, if indeed Huxley said it all, because there is no evidence of it in anything published.

Along the way, this paragraph turned up in a letter Huxley wrote to Humphry Osmond. Osmond, you will recall, was the researcher who supplied Wilson with LSD. The date was September 16, 1960.

"Yesterday I lunched with Bill Wilson who spoke enthusiastically of his own experiences with leuco-adrenochrome and of the successful use of it on his ex-alcoholic neurotics. This really sounds like a break-through and I hope you are going ahead with clinical testing. Do you have any of the stuff to spare? If so, I'd be most grateful for a sample. It might relieve my tension-pains in the lower back, as it relieved Bill's aches and those of some of his friends. I would like too to be able to send a few pills to Laura, who has some of Bill's symptoms — tension, then exhaustion, and then tremendous drive to overcome the exhaustion."

The letter appears in "Letters of Aldous Huxley" edited by Grover Smith. Laura was Huxley's wife.

I had never heard of adrenochrome but apparently it is still around as a "designer drug", not illegal but abuseable. It is an epinephrine derivative with hallucinogenic properties. So it wasn't just LSD Wilson was fooling around with.

Thanks for your good work on the site and let me know if there is anything I can look up for you.

Laura

Hi Laura,

Wow, fascinating stuff. It makes sense. And thanks for all of the compliments.

What strikes me as really funny is how the whole lot of them were messing around with chemicals for this reason and that. They remind me of the hippies who would come along a generation later and steal Monsanto's advertising slogan "Better Living Through Chemistry".

Have a good day.

— Orange

UPDATE: A PDF file of that letter is here: orange-Huxley_letter.pdf

The Jung debate continues here: http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters16.html#Rowland





[14 Dec 2003]

Dear agent orange

I just read all twelve of your letters files. Funny how they ended with twelve. That is horrible how some of the steppers have responded back and telling you to drink and use. It sure makes them look bad. I can hear those same people talking in meetings and saying god this and god that.

Yeh, it really blows holes in the talk about how they live to help others quit drinking.

Anyway I have had a few questions along the way. By some of your writings I can tell you get the same feeling as I do when you drink just one beer. By the way I agree 100% that AA does not work. I only go now to get the coins and key chains.

Anyway I was saying. When I get that feeling I usually want to drink many more. I have always explained to my nonalcoholic friends,that I can drink one beer, But it is certainly not a comfortable feeling. So it is best that I stay away from it completely. That is why I believed in the disease concept. Now I am confused. I read your lizardbrain file. I am not sure if I read the whole thing though. I am going to reread it. If it is simply a behavior issue wouldn't we be seeing a lot of people who used to be problem drinkers and now they are not.

I think that all of the people who do just successfully quit one day tend to show that it isn't an incurable disease. And then there are the people who manage to moderate their drinking, and just back off from self-destructive drinking without total abstinence.

But note that I'm not recommending controlled drinking as a cure for a lot of alcoholics. I for one cannot do that at all. It just doesn't work for me. I'm what you call a genetic alcoholic. I inherited the gene from my father who got it from his mother, who got it from somewhere... Genetic alcoholics can't drink moderately — it's just totally taboo — is what Dr. Kenneth Blum says, and I believe him. (He's the guy who discovered the first gene for alcoholism.)

I mean if I went and robbed a convenient store and they sent me to prison to change my behavior I might not do it again. I have had probably at least a hundred hangovers. And I can't say that has ever slowed me down. My girlfriend says that is what did it for her.

Ah, but if you were a bank robber who really believed that you could heist another bag of money with impunity, and just not get caught, and not suffer any consequences, then you would be very likely to make a grab for it.

That's the thing with relapses. The little voice is always yammering, "One won't hurt. One will be okay. We can handle it. It's been so long since we've had one that it's okay to do just one now... We've got it under control now." If you believe that little voice, then you can get sucked back into doing it all again.

At the moment that you are contemplating grabbing a drink, you aren't thinking about the hangover; you are thinking about the pleasure to come.

When you will quit and really stay quit forever is when you decide that you just really can't win the game, so you stop playing it. When you decide that you always end up getting more pain than pleasure out of drinking or doping, then you will quit and not be so tempted to relapse. As long as you think that you can get pleasure out of it — or feel like you can get pleasure out of it — you'll still want to do it.

As far as the whole debate about whether it is a disease goes, I feel like it is pointless. The easiest thing to do is just avoid the argument. The two camps, disease or non-disease, don't even agree on the definition of the word "disease" anyway, so people are talking at cross purposes. I prefer to call addiction a "condition", and alcoholism a "syndrome". That kind of defuses the words.

It struck me in some of the letters that you said that for some people it is they just can't seem to be happy. I believe that to be me. I just sometimes don't feel happiness from within without the aid of chemicals.

Yeh, me too. That's the story of my life. Now lately, like for the last three years, since I quit smoking and drinking for the last time, I've felt different. I think maybe it is just aging, or maturing out of something. (I'm 57 now.)

But before that, I had the Winnie the Pooh syndrome bad ("I just need a little something..." said Pooh-bear, as he rubbed his belly and eyed a jar of honey.)

I'm convinced that it is a big part of the whole problem. The two biggest causes seem to be 1) a broken gene, and 2) child abuse causing brain changes.

Anyway also I believe some kind of treatment early on is a good thing. I am not saying twelve step treatment either. I believe that it did me good to take a vacation from work and home and to try to figure out why I do it in the first place. I almost have three months now and I feel pretty good.

Congratulations. Hang in there.

I guess you could say that I was going to quit anyway but I believe it helped me. Also I believe that a social club for exdrinkers is not a bad idea either. Most people in my lifetime that don't have the problem simply just cant understand. I believe they can be sympathetic, But it is just not the same as talking with someone who is going through the same thing. I can tell by your writings that you know what I am talking about. So I feel a little bond with you.

Yes, the social club can be very helpful. Just some moral support and encouragement, so that you don't feel totally alone in recovery. It's pretty inevitable that you will lose all of your old drinking buddies, so a new circle of non-drinking friends can help. That's why I keep mentioning SMART, SOS, WFS, MFS, or LifeRing.

I was shocked what you were saying about president bush. His little homeland security thing would go along with what you said. Maybe he is an oxford groupie. I asked in another letter about how you felt about the jehovahs witnesses.

Yeh, I just answered it above. I've been moving real slow, between flu shot (which didn't work), Christmas, and the flu. But I'm finally getting caught up on my email.

I really think you could write a book and make millions. Can I be your limo driver if that happens. I used to drive taxi.

Keep up the good work, And OH WELL HAVE A GOOD DAY ANYWAY. lol.

Dave F

Thanks for the letter. I don't really think I'll get rich off of a book though. I've thought of printing it on paper, and another friend has been suggesting it, but the problem with paper is that it is so static. All of the links are lost, and you can't cross-reference stuff like I do with web pages. And you can't do updates. I am constantly learning more, and tweaking and adding stuff here and there. I don't know when, if ever, this will really be finished.

Oh well, have a good day.

— Orange


[14 Dec 2003, another letter from Dave F.]

Dear Agent Orange

I just finished reading the addiction monster. I fully understand the causes of my addiction. I mean everything on that file I can relate to. My monster is constantly talking to me. Begging me pleading with me and so forth. What I don't understand is why me. There are lots of people my age that have done the drugs I have done and have gotten drunk a few times. Why did I and people like me decide to make a career out of it. Are we just plain inferior or are we really spiritually sick.

Neither. It isn't anything like spiritual sickness, and you aren't inferior either. You just want to feel good. There is nothing wrong with that. But some of us are cursed with broken genes or shriveled up cerebellar vermises or some such problem that makes it nearly impossible to really feel right, so we try to fix things by whatever means are available. The big problem is that there just aren't any really good means available.

Drugs and alcohol actually really suck, because they don't work as good as we would like. They have all kinds of toxic side effects and wreck our bodies, and then we build up tolerances and they stop working and we are left with nothing but an addiction and the same old pain as we started with. That sucks.

By the way, did you know that the whole "spiritual disease" idea was just an off-handed remark that Bill Wilson only said just once, while lecturing people about resentments?

'Resentment is the "number one" offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else. From it stem all forms of spiritual disease...'
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 5, How It Works, page 64.

Bill Wilson never mentioned spiritual diseases again. He never elaborated, or bothered to tell us what all of the forms of spiritual disease were. Later, he was sorry that he ever said it, because he felt that people could use the disease idea to not feel guilty about being alcoholics. Bill Wilson didn't even like the disease word — the disease concept was Dr. William D. Silkworth's idea, not Bill's.

Wilson later had to reassure Father Edward Dowling that even though A.A. members were yammering about alcoholism being a disease, it still didn't let them get out of the self-blame and guilt game. (That's in The Soul of Sponsorship, the collected letters between Bill Wilson and Father Dowling.)

I am 38 years old and have been smoking pot and drinking beer since I was fourteen years old. From the very beginning I was overdoing it. There no was building up point or trying to control. I figured early on I was an alcoholic.

I would actually dispute the word "alcoholic". You were somebody who just really wanted to go for it, to really get there, to feel good. You didn't care which drug you used, as long as it worked.

Along side me there have been people who I got stoned with and drank with that didn't take the road I did. What do they have that I don't. I don't think it is discipline.

Right. Not really discipline. They didn't have the problem that you and I have. They could have a few and feel satiated and say, "Okay, that's enough. I'm done." We can't, because we can't feel satiated. It's never quite enough. It's always just almost enough; it's always teasing us — "It's almost enough; if I just have one or two more it might be enough... I might finally get there... Then I'll feel alright."

I can be so drunk that I'm having trouble lifting another beer to my mouth and I'm still thinking, "If I just have another one, just a little more, then I'll feel alright." I can count on my fingers the number of times in my life when I felt like I had really got there, that it was enough, that I was where I wanted to be. And I got that feeling from some other drug than alcohol.

I have always had a job always done my laundry and other things these other people do. It just racks my brain that I cant figure it out. I am convinced at this point in my life that I should just refrain from it completely.

Yeh, that's the only thing that works for me. I can totally abstain for years, but I can't be moderate with even one six pack, not even after 3 years of total sobriety. —That's how I relapsed 12 years ago. You would think that you should accumulate brownie points from years of sobriety, and be able to keep it under control, at least for just one night, but it doesn't work that way.

But I just hate the idea of being inferior or less responsible. Thinking it was a disease was acceptable to me because I know that no matter how much I try I won't be able to drink or use moderately. I don't mean powerless to pick up a drink or light up a joint.

You aren't inferior. Dump that word. I wouldn't exactly call it less responsible either. Now we could get into a long debate on that word, but let's not.

And things will certainly be less confusing if we dump the disease word too. Let's call it a condition. If you inherited a gene, or grew up abused and your brain grew differently, then you have a condition that makes you feel less good than you should. Or maybe something else that we don't even know about yet happened and your brain's pleasure circuitry didn't grow quite right.

So you keep grabbing for the brass ring, trying to win the big prize, trying to set things right and feel good. There is nothing wrong with that. The killer problem is simply that drugs and alcohol are toxic as all get-out and will eventually kill you. Worse yet, they stop working so you won't even feel good while you are dying.

Is there something I have missed in your writings. I like to think of myself as a logical and rational thinking person. In fact my girlfriend says I think too much. I think a guy like you could explain what I need to know. Unless you don't know.

Yeh, I think I know. I think I just explained it above. But it definitely isn't logical. The desire to feel good is really basic gut-level life stuff, just like the drive to get food or have sex. Now there is nothing wrong with that, but it still isn't logical. Life just says, "Live and reproduce. Never mind why, just do it." The drive to feel good is the same thing.

In which case I will just accept my shortcomings and quit looking for answers I wont find out.

You don't have any shortcomings. It isn't shortcomings.

I go through this same stuff with religion, I seriously frustrate people who are trying to save my soul. Hope to hear from you. Have a great day

Dave F

I sincerely hope I also frustrate people who are trying to save my soul, just for the fun of it.

Hang in there. It will get better.

— Orange





[14 December 2003]

Hi Mr Warner,

I guess your based in the US. I'm mailing you from the UK. A week ago my partner Jo was admitted (of her own free will) to a private hospital (paid for by her employers health insurance). Her problem being cannabis addiction (she used to smoke 2-3 joints a night) which they are treating with the "A A" twelve steps program. She is now displaying a completely changed personality. She has ignored her previously good friends (even those who never smoked cannabis) and is rapidly changing her attitude towards me (prior to admission we were engaged to be married and looking towards the future with excitement). She originally was refered to the hospital by her doctor with suspected depression and anger management problems. I feel that the twelve steps program will be of no benefit to her, will only cause her problems, split up our relationship and alienate her from the people she used to really care about. She is still in the first stage (step 1) but I feel that if I don't some how make her aware of the flaws in this program (they even tried to get me to join a twelve step program for family members) it will soon be to late as she can be easily led and is very vulnerable at the moment (her mother and step father have recently moved to Canada) please could you give me any ideas how to resolve this problem as I am at my wits end.

Simon

Hi, Simon,

I'm not Robert Warner. He is a guy who is famous for having fought and won one of the first big court cases that got A.A. declared to be a religious program by a federal court in the USA. I just reprinted one of his essays.

About your friend, that sounds bad. Obviously, the first thing to do is to get her out of there. Now that may be very tough because it sounds like they are indoctrinating her and converting her beliefs fast. Perhaps some of the material you find in my web site can help to open her eyes to what they are selling her.

You mentioned her doctor. He should know that a 12-step program can't fix depression, and the only way that it can manage anger is to turn someone into a submissive slave. The heavy use of marijuana indicates that she had an underlying emotional problem to start with, something that she was trying to fix by self-medicating. The doctor should be able to come up with a better program than a 12-step program.

Speaking of doctors, you should mention to your friend that those "experts on addiction" who are teaching her the 12 steps failed to graduate from medical school.

I would suggest SMART or WFS, but I don't think they exist in the U.K.. But LifeRing on the Internet is available, and so is SOS. See if you can get some help and advice from them, too.

I don't know how you would do it, but ask around for other ex-members who can talk to her and tell her what she is getting into. Face to face would be best, but perhaps you could use the Internet to locate them.
One thing that comes to mind is asking in a group like 12-step-free on yahoo http://groups.yahoo.com/
But better would be to find a similar group on the U.K. version of Yahoo.

The newsgroup alt.recovery.from-12-steps might help, although the traffic there is low, and you would probably get better results using a local UK newsgroup.

Oh, and, if nothing else, have her read this horror story that just came in.

Good luck.

— Orange





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