Letters, We Get Mail, II
by A. Orange



> Hey Orange!
> 
> How ya doin?
> I love all the hard work you have put into your site.
> Finally it seems someone has done all the needed homework to tell
> the truth!!
> "The truth will set you Free"  Oh shit- an AA slogan!!  opps  sorry
> 
> I take cheap shots at some AA'ers I know.

I have the same problem myself. I really have to strain to avoid doing it... Sometimes, it's so much fun. :-)

> I have some friends who are meeting junkies and it's such a hoot
> to see them look so threatened when I say some good anti AA stuff
> to them. They actually freak and storm off to pout. It's a riot.
> I should get my camcorder next time....
> 
> I have coined a new slogan here in Utah- at the Alano club   —
> 
> "P 33's"    Referring to the statement about the potential Alcohol
> women found on page 33 of the Big Book...

I don't have my book handy at this minute. I'll check it when I get home.

Okay, it says:

To be gravely affected, one does not necessarily have to drink a long time nor take the quantities some of us have. This is particularly true of women. Potential female alcoholics often turn into the real thing and are gone beyond recall in a few years.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Page 33.

> So a lot of my friends have started to use that to describe the
> women they know in AA or for that matter married to.  
> Jesus- you should see one of those women when they find out what
> "P33" means!!
> Total meltdown. Freaked completely!!!!  Well- it IS true!!!
> Hilarious!!  but true...
> 
> Have you read the 4th printing of the Big Book yet??  It would
> probably give you more chills with the NEW stuff that I have heard
> was in the story section.  I won't read that!!  That's for sure!

Haven't gotten a copy yet. I do have to get A Round Tuit.

> 
> Have you seen "The Mummy"?  The crowd was chanting "Im-Ho-Tep",
> Im-Ho-Tep"...
> in 1 scene. Sound like AA's "Bill-Wil-Son"; Bill-Wil-Son" chant..
> hahaha
> 
> God I hate those f**king people!!!!!  Most of them anyway.....
> 
> Keep up the great work!!
> 
> You should see the anti AA T-shirts I make...  Wow- 
> 
> Bob

Thanks for the letter. I need a good laugh now and then. Like Jimmy Buffet sings, "If we couldn't laugh, we would all go insane."

— Agent Orange





Dear secret agent:

Thanks for putting these great articles on your site. You've covered an amazingly large number of AA misrepresentations, more than anyone has. My favorite area is the claim that James and Jung were "founders" of AA. The idea seems to be that if from the very beginning these exalted men of science were endorsing the spiritual approach, no one else should quibble. I've even seen people writing about Jung (not just steppers) who quote Bill Wilson's fake conversation between Rowland and Jung, for all the world as though it were a quote from Jung. This is done even by people who ought to know that those expressions were uncharacteristic of Jung.

Another "irony": the implication that James was a hard-headed sceptical pragmatist who was, against his intellectual instincts, won over to the spiritual point of view. In fact, Varieties of Religious Experience had very little to do with his psychological writings. James merely recycled Scheiermacher's theology, blending it with pragmatic philosophy. Nothing wrong with a psychologist choosing to write something in the field of religion, but it is certainly dishonest of later writers to imply that this is the judgement of science.

I suppose you are aware that the Rowland Hazard/Carl Jung story has largely fallen apart. Hazard's papers left with the Rhode Island historical society are quite detailed about his activities during those years and he was not in Zurich. He was in therapy with Courtenay Baylor in Boston, however, and Baylor's mentor Elwood Worcester seems to have quoted Jung frequently. Maybe that was the "connection".

What a fascinating body of mythology. If only more people realized that that's what it is.

Laura N.


Hi. Thanks for the letter. The truth is, lots of that is all news to me. More grist for the mill. I'll have to check out those references.
Have a good day.


Later:
I ran into one interesting tidbit while trying to answer that question:

Excerpt from THE FORERUNNER - ROWLAND
By: Ron Ray yarnor@msn.com
140 Dove Trail Bowling Green, KY 42101

We know from Bill's letter of January 23, 1961, to Dr. Jung that Rowland was under Dr. Jung's care in Zurich, Switzerland in 1931. On page 26 of the Big Book we find more insight into Rowland's battle with alcohol: "For years he had floundered from one sanitarium to another. He had consulted the best known American psychiatrists." This short statement leads us to believe that several years prior to 1931 Rowland and his family sought solutions to his problem with alcohol. Ebby Thacher who carried the message to Bill had this to say about Rowland: "I was very much impressed by his drinking career, which consisted of prolonged sprees where he traveled all over the country." The 1927-35 period is vague and sketchy. In published accounts of Rowland's life (Yale Class Reunion Books and obituaries) one is left with the feeling he and the family went to great effort to explain his absence from the business world.

According to published accounts, the eight-year period was a mixture of health problems and private ventures away from Peace Dale and New York City. While in Africa the reports say he contracted a tropical disease, and in 1928 he traveled to the Pacific Coast for his health. In 1929 he bought a ranch in New Mexico. Upon discovery of high-grade clay on the ranch, he organized in 1931-32 the La Luz Clay Products Company to produce floor and roof tile. In 1932 he took up residence in Vermont. Between 1932 and 1936 he divided much of his time between Vermont and New Mexico. There is never any mention of Rowland's travel to Zurich in 1931 nor the "about one year" spent in Dr. Jung's care. (Mentioned in Bill's January 23, 1961 letter to Dr. Jung.) In the letter to Dr. Jung, Bill writes, "Mr. Hazard joined the Oxford Groups, an evangelical movement then at the height of its success in Europe... Returning to New York he became very active with "O.G." here, then led by an Episcopal Clergyman, Dr. Samuel Shoemaker." August 1934 Rowland was at his home in Shaftsbury, Vt., 15 miles south of Manchester. It was during this stay in Shaftsbury that he learned through two Groupers of Ebby Thacher's possible six-month sentence to Windsor Prison for repeated drunkenness. The Groupers were Shep Cornell and Cebra Graves. Cebra's uncle was Judge Graves before whom Ebby was to appear in Bennington, Vt. Rowland and Cebra intervened at the hearing and asked to have Ebby be bound over to Rowland who would take him to New York. Judge Graves agreed and Rowland took Ebby to his home in Shaftsbury.
...
It was reported to me that Helen and Rowland were divorced for short period circa 1929/31. I have no hard evidence to this claim, but it would fit in to the chain of events around Rowland seeking help from Dr Jung.

[Or it could have provided the impetus to get therapy from the free-lance therapist Courtenay Baylor in Boston.]

La Luz, New Mexico certainly does exist. My geolocator says:

La Luz, N.M. = 105.953397 W. Longitude, 32.977449 N. Latitude
Albuquerque  = 106.550605               35.056116

so La Luz is way South and a bit East of Albuquerque, down in the really hot, flat, desolate area. It's highly believable that Rowland found clay down there. Half of New Mexico is just one giant adobe brick. Finding clay in New Mexico is sort of like finding water in the ocean.

It would seem that Rowland Hazard was very busy in 1931. He allegedly spent a year in Switzerland under the care of Carl Jung, and also spent time with Courtenay Baylor in Boston, and also spent at least the later part of the year in New Mexico setting up and running a clay products company, making floor and roof tile. I really wish I could be nearly that efficient in my utilization of my time...


UPDATE: (17 May 2006)
Another historian, Richmond Walker, wrote:

Courtenay Baylor began working with Father Worcester in 1912, focusing solely on those with alcohol problems, and became the other key leader in the [Emmanuel] movement in later years.

What was of special importance to A.A. was Baylor's influence on Rowland Hazard. Hazard may in fact have consulted with the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung for a short period in 1931 (although no longer than two months at most, based on the author's study of the Hazard family papers). But Hazard had to be hospitalized for his alcoholism in February and March of 1932, and then from January 1933 to October 1934 was again in bad shape and unable to carry on his business activities. If Jung had helped, it was certainly a much delayed reaction.

What seems to have been much more important is that Courtenay Baylor became Rowland Hazard's therapist in 1933, and continued to work with him through 1934. It is under the influence of Baylor's Emmanuel Movement therapy that Hazard actually began to recover. Hazard was also attending Oxford Group meetings, but his family was paying Baylor to be his regular therapist.

In August 1934, of course, Hazard helped rescue Ebby Thacher from being committed to the Brattleboro Asylum, and three months later, in November 1934, Ebby visited Bill Wilson in his kitchen, in the famous scene recorded in the first chapter of the Big Book.
Richmond Walker, The Emmanuel Movement and the Jacoby Club, http://hindsfoot.org/kDub2.html

UPDATE: 2011.05.25:
For more on Courtnay Baylor and Edward Worcester, see this document: remaking_a_man.pdf, "REMAKING A MAN; ONE SUCCESSFUL METHOD OF MENTAL REFITTING, BY COURTNAY BAYLOR OF THE EMMANUEL MOVEMENT, BOSTON, 1919"


UPDATE: (23 Feb 2003 and 17 August 2003)
In a footnote to his biography of Bill Wilson, Matthew J. Raphael wrote:

19. [William L.] White points out that a recent review of Rowland's papers "reveals no evidence that Rowland was treated by Jung and suggests that, if such treatment did occur between 1930--1934, it was for a much shorter period (a few weeks)" than the year or more stated in A.A. accounts. Slaying the Dragon, p. 128 n. 2. That Rowland really was treated by Jung seems not to be in doubt, as Jung himself later confirmed it in his correspondence with Bill Wilson.
Bill W. and Mr. Wilson — The Legend and Life of A.A.'s Cofounder, Matthew J. Raphael, pages 186-187.

Actually, it is very much in doubt. Jung never confirmed any treatment of Rowland in his famous letter to Bill Wilson. Jung ignored that point, and simply refrained from contradicting Bill when Bill declared, in his January 1963 letter to the doctor, that Rowland had been one of Jung's patients. Jung carefully avoided committing himself one way or the other on that point. Jung never said that Rowland Hazard had been one of his patients. Neither did he say that Rowland wasn't. He only confirmed that he had talked with Rowland at some time or other.

Jung simply thanked and praised Bill Wilson for agreeing with his ideas of "spirituality".

Slaying The Dragon actually says:

A just-completed review (continuing Wally P.'s initial investigations) into the Rowland H. papers at the Rhode Island Historical Society reveals no evidence that Rowland was treated by Jung and suggests that, if such treatment did occur between 1930-1934, it was for a much shorter period (a few weeks). These same records do contain evidence that Rowland H. was treated twice for alcoholism at Doctor's Hospital in Yorkville, New York (February-March 1932; July, 1932) and that he was under the care of lay therapist Courtenay Baylor (see Chapter 12) between December, 1933 and October, 1934.
Slaying The Dragon: The History of Addiction Treatment and Recovery in America, by William L. White, 1998, footnote 2 on page 128.

In addition, the famous quote that Bill Wilson said Carl Jung spoke to Rowland Hazard — "The only radical cure for dipsomania is religiomania" — actually came from William James in Varieties of Religious Experience (footnote 1 on page 263):
'"The only radical remedy I know for dipsomania is religiomania," is a saying I have heard quoted from some medical man.'
William James published Varieties in 1902. Bill Pittman reported that Jung and James met in 1909, so William James probably didn't get it from Carl Jung.

For your education and enlightenment, here is Carl Jung's famous letter to Bill Wilson:

Dear Mr. W.
      Your letter has been very welcome indeed.
      I had no news from Roland H. anymore and often wondered what has been his fate. Our conversations which he has adequately reported to you had an aspect of which he did not know. The reason that I could not tell him everything was that those days I had to be exceedingly careful of what I said. I found out that I was misunderstood in every possible way. Thus I was careful when I talked to Roland H. But what I really thought about was the result of many experiences with men of his kind.
      His craving for alcohol was the equivalent, on a low level, of the spiritual thirst of our being for wholeness, expressed in medieval language: the union with God.*
      How could one formulate such an insight in a language that is not misunderstood in our days?
      The only right and legitimate way to such an experience is that it happens to you in reality and it can only happen to you when you walk on a path which leads you to higher understanding. You might be led to that goal by an act of grace or through a personal and honest contact with friends, or through a higher education of the mind beyond the confines of mere rationalism. I see from your letter that Roland H. has chosen the second way, which was, under the circumstances, obviously the best one.
      I am strongly convinced that the evil principle prevailing in this world leads the unrecognized spiritual need into perdition, if it is not counteracted either by a real religious insight or by the protective wall of human community. An ordinary man, not protected by an action from above and isolated in society, cannot resist the power of evil, which is called very aptly the Devil. But the use of such words arouses so many mistakes that one can only keep aloof from them as much as possible.
      These are the reasons why I could not give a full and sufficient explanation of Roland H., but I am risking it with you because I conclude from your very decent and honest letter that you have acquired a point of view above the misleading platitudes one usually hears about alcoholism.
      You see, "alcohol" in Latin is "spiritus" and you use the same word for the highest religious experience as well as for the most depraved poison. The helpful formula therefore is: spiritus contra spiritum.
      Thanking you again for your kind letter.

I remain
Yours sincerely
C. G. Jung


* "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God." (Psalms 42:1)

Bill W., Robert Thomsen, pages 362-363.

Note that Jung wrote of his conversations with Rowland as if they were interviews with a newspaper reporter — he couldn't tell Rowland the whole truth, he said, for fear that people would misunderstand his words. That does not sound like a doctor-patient relationship. It would certainly be a strange kind of malpractice to withhold information or treatment out of fear that some other people might misunderstand it. To me, it sounds like Rowland simply went to Jung to ask him about the treatment of alcoholism. Jung also said that Rowland had "adequately reported" those "conversations" to Wilson. But Wilson did not describe in detail a year of psychotherapy with Jung. He only repeated a few ideas about needing a religious mania to break the grip of alcoholism — the idea that "the only radical remedy for dipsomania is religiomania". What was "adequately reported" could have been said by Jung in a single hour.

Carl Jung had some very strange ideas about spirituality. He believed that
"the evil principle prevailing in this world leads the unrecognized spiritual need into perdition..."
and
"An ordinary man,   ...   cannot resist the power of evil, which is called very aptly the Devil."

There are those familiar old fascist "powerless over sin" and "defeated by sin" ideas of Frank Buchman, again. The reason that they are fascist is because Frank Buchman would then declare that because you are powerless over evil, and he isn't, you must let him run your life and boss you around and dictate every detail of your life, even what you will think. Jung also held "rationalism" in contempt, as did Buchman. Buchman's Oxford Group declared that the rational, thinking mind was just an illusion, a mistake that should be discarded. Buchman said, essentially, "Just stop thinking, and do whatever you are told", the same as the Nazis did.

Note how much of what Jung wrote was the kind of vague garbage that we would call "psycho-babble" today (popular psychology babble):

      The only right and legitimate way to such an experience is that it happens to you in reality and it can only happen to you when you walk on a path which leads you to higher understanding. You might be led to that goal by an act of grace or through a personal and honest contact with friends, or through a higher education of the mind beyond the confines of mere rationalism.

Just try to figure out, from reading that grand-sounding double-talk, just what you are really supposed to do to get a spiritual experience.

And Carl Jung certainly seems to have been powerless over evil. He cooperated with and praised the Nazis in the 1930s, and declared that he was unable to see what the rise of the "archetype" of Nazism represented. He declared that he could not foresee what future the Nazis would bring to the world. He participated in radio broadcasts where he praised the Nazis while declaring that women and Jews had "inferior spirituality".

And while Jung began his letter by saying that he had had to be "exceedingly careful" about what he said to Rowland, he had nothing to fear from the Nazis, because Carl Jung was Swiss, and beyond their reach. Besides, Carl Jung was collaborating with the Nazis and they loved him.

What Carl Jung really feared was people who strongly disagreed with his actual beliefs, and harshly condemned him for such fascist and racist beliefs.

In the nineteeen-thirties, Jung worked as the editor of the German psychology magazine Zentrallblat für Psychotherapie und ihre Grenzgebiete (Journal for Psychotherapy and Related Disciplines), which routinely printed Nazi propaganda and philosophy, including editorials by Matthias Heinrich Goering, the cousin of Hermann Goering. (See: Against Therapy; Emotional Tyranny and the Myth of Psychological Healing, by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, pages 94-123.))

When Jung took over the editorship, Matthias Heinrich Goering placed these instructions to writers in the magazine:

It is expected of all members of the Society who write articles that they will have read through with great scientific care the path-breaking book by Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, and will recognize it as essential [to their work].
Against Therapy; Emotional Tyranny and the Myth of Psychological Healing, Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, pages 95-96.

And Jung wrote an editorial that announced his new role as editor, which included the statement:

The differences which actually do exist between Germanic and Jewish psychology and which have long been known to every intelligent [insightful] person are no longer to be glossed over, and this can only be beneficial to science. [C.W., 10:533].

Against Therapy; Emotional Tyranny and the Myth of Psychological Healing, Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, page 96.
("C.W." is the Collected Works of Carl Jung.)

This is a sample of Jung's "spiritual" thinking, anti-Semitism, and praise for the Nazis:

The Jewish race as a whole — at least this is my experience — possesses an unconscious which can be compared with the Aryan only with reserve. Creative individuals apart, the average Jew is far too conscious and differentiated to go about pregnant with the tensions of unborn futures. The Aryan unconscious has a higher potential than the Jewish; that is both the advantage and disadvantage of a youthfulness not yet fully weaned from barbarism. . . . The Aryan unconscious . . . contains explosive forces and seeds of a future yet to be born. . . . The still youthful Germanic peoples are fully capable of creating new cultural forms that still lie dormant in the darkness of the unconscious of every individual — seeds bursting with energy and capable of mighty expansion. The Jew, who is something of a nomad, has never yet created a cultural form of his own and as far as we can see never will, since all his instincts and talents require a more or less civilized nation to act as host for their development... In my opinion it has been a grave error in medical psychology up till now to apply Jewish categories — which are not even binding on all Jews — indiscriminately to Germanic and Slavic Christendom. Because of this most precious secret of the Germanic peoples — their creative and intuitive depth of soul — has been explained as a morass of banal infantilism, while my own warning voice has for decades been suspected of anti-Semitism. This suspicion emanated from Freud. He did not understand the Germanic psyche any more than did his Germanic followers. Has the formidable phenomenon of National Socialism, on which the whole world gazes with astonished [awe-struck, admiring] eyes, taught them better? Where was that unparalleled tension and energy while as yet no National Socialism existed? Deep in the German psyche, in a pit that is anything but a garbage-bin of unrealizable infantile wishes and unresolved family resentments. A movement that grips a whole nation must have matured in every individual as well.
Carl G. Jung, Collected Works X, pages 165-166, and
Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, Against Therapy; Emotional Tyranny and the Myth of Psychological Healing, pages 100-101.

That is the man whom Bill Wilson declared to be one of the two "spiritual" or "philosophical" fathers of Alcoholics Anonymous (William James being the other).

Also see:

  • The Big Book, 3rd or 4th edition, page 26;
  • Robert Thomsen, Bill W., page 362;
  • William Wilson, Bill W., My First 40 Years, pages 123 to 126;
  • Matthew Raphael, Bill W. and Mr. Wilson, pages 74-75, 84, & 123; and
  • Francis Hartigan, Bill W., page 203.


And, as they say in the TV commercials, "But wait! There's more!"

The following text is from the biography of Carl Jung by Richard Noll:

According to Jolande Jacobi, one of his closest disciples from the thirties on, "His idea [about the Nazi movement] was that chaos gives birth to good or to something valuable. So in the German movement he saw a chaotic (we could say) pre-condition for the birth of a new world." In response to a letter to him expressing her concerns about the dangers of Nazism, Jacobi said, "He answered me: 'Keep your eyes open. You can't reject the evil because the evil is the bringer of light.' Lucifer means light-bringer. He was convinced of this, you see. That shows that he didn't see and didn't understand the outer world. For him this [the Nazi movement] was an inner happening which had to be accepted as a psychological pre-condition for rebirth."30
      In the spring of 1936, Jung's famous essay on Wotan appeared.31 As Jung often claimed later in life, it was indeed the first time he expressed concern about the excesses of the Germans. However, at the same time, Jung confirmed his belief that Germany was possessed by Wotan, the true God of the German peoples, and that the only problem was that far too many of them were unconscious of this fact. Their unconsciousness of the reemergence of this pagan god in the twentieth century led to their "possession," he said. If only they would become conscious of their god, then the Germans would find their way to a true spiritual rebirth. Again, Jung simply psychologizes the political problem.
      On the issue of anti-Semitism, Jacobi herself presents conflicting opinions. On the one hand, she defends Jung from such charges, citing her long friendship with him and the innocence of his Volkish ideas about the differences between the civilized Jews and the barbarian Germans.   ...   On the other hand, Jacobi admitted that his opinions were sometimes crude. "But he also said one day... 'You know, I would never like to have children from a person who has Jewish blood.'"32
      In the early years of the Nazi Era, Jung at times expressed himself in ways that were consistent with anti-Semitic rhetoric, particularly when in the presence of non-Jewish people. On his way to meet Jung for the first time in 1933, Michael Fordham found himself in a third-class compartment with a Jewish man who told him he was leaving Germany because of the National Socialists.

When I arrived in Zurich the next day and met Jung I ... remarked about the Jew in the carriage coming out of Germany. To my astonishment this started Jung off and he went on and on and on. I was used to people talking like this for personal reasons so I just listened. He talked about the Jews at top speed for, I should think, three-quarters of an hour. What he said was very extensive but two points stood out in my memory. One was that he made a very strong point that Jews were different from other people and that they ought to be dressed up in different clothes because otherwise we mistook them for people like ourselves. I suppose he told me about their customs in the way he might usually do on other occasions. I think this difference of the Jews from others was the main point he made ... The second one ... was he asked me rhetorically what I thought the Jews were doing in the desert for forty years: eating sand? Of course they were, he said, feeding off other people's crops until they moved on.33


30. Jolande Jacobi interview, Dec. 26, 1969, JBA, 53.
31. C. G. Jung, "Wotan," Neue schweizer Rundshau 3 (March 1936): 657-69. See also CW 10.
32. Jolande Jacobi interview, Dec. 23, 1969. JBA, 24.
33. Michael Fordham interview, Feb. 1969, JBA, 1-2.
[      
JBA = C. G. Jung Biographical Archives, CLM
CLM = Rare Books Department, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, Harvard Medical Library, Boston, Massachusetts
CW = The Collected Works C. G. Jung, ed. Herbert Read, Michael Fordham, and Gerhard Adler; exec. ed., William McGuire; trans. R.F.C. Hull and others (Princeton: Princeton University Press). 20 vols. and supplements, 1953-1992.       ]

The Aryan Christ: The Secret Life of Carl Jung, Richard Noll, pages 274-275, and 320 (footnotes).

Carl Jung's racism was not restricted to Jews, either. Jung accused the blacks of corrupting the American whites:

The causes for the [sexual] repression can be found in the specific American Complex, namely in the living together with lower races, especially with Negroes. Living together with barbaric races exerts a suggestive effect on the laboriously tamed instinct of the white race and tends to pull it down.32

32 Quoted by Fredric Wertham in A Sign for Cain, 91.

Against Therapy; Emotional Tyranny and the Myth of Psychological Healing, Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, page 115.

Did you ever dream that the tree of modern psychology has its roots in such rich bullshit?

And Bill Wilson said that the roots of Alcoholics Anonymous trace from the same source.

The Jung debate continues here: http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters13.html#Rowland





Brad H. wrote:
> If you are in recovery I feel bad for the pathetic lack of
> graditude you have for the program that saved your life.  If you
> aren't in recovery the program wasn't written for you in the first
> place, so stay the hell out of it.
> 
"The program" did nothing for me,
so I have no need to feel any gratitude towards it.
I was forced into it by people with a mindset like yours.
That's why I ended up having to tell the truth about it.
Thank your true-believer bretheren who delight in shoving everybody into A.A. meetings.





--- Doug wrote:
>        I have been drifting around out here for years thinking my issues with 
> A.A. were my problems with me. It's comforting to find this site. I even have 
> my psychotherapist curious.
>        I am gathering thesis info for a college class I'm taking. I plan on 
> looking into the efficacy of different treatment programs including A.A. You 
> list some intriguing bibiliographic references, but few with web access. I 
> live up here in the sticks of Maine and have limited access to printed 
> research material. Can you give me any guidance? I agree with most all of 
> your writings, but until I can verify, I have to consider it anecdotal. 
> Thanks for your time & keep writing — it's a tonic I can handle!
>         Doug
Hi. Definitely go for the file on the effectiveness of the 12-step treatment. It is backed up with references to good studies all over the place. I like to do things like quote the Harvard Medical School for their numbers on self-quitters and spontaneous remission. And I quote A.A.'s own literature to get a 95% drop-out rate for A.A...
http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-effectiveness.html

Enjoy.





You may have already seen this... I never went to a Children's Boot Camp but I did spend most of my teenage years "in the system"... I went to a private, state-funded Partial Hospitalization program when I was twelve-thirteen. I still have terror dreams about it... the kind where I wake up screaming and I am afraid to go back to sleep. I wish I could say I have forgotten the dreams and the program; I haven't. I remember both in exquisite detail.

Does any of this look like anything unusual for a teenager? Anything on this list I mean? Is it just me? This stuff looks like stuff ordinary American teenagers do. One of the things they taught me at the one good institution I went to (even it wasn't perfect; its method of treating juvenile drug addicts was constant A.A. meetings... I think their intentions were good — I would have a hard time believing they weren't; I had been to a lot of really horrible places by the time I got there and I felt qualified to judge — but their therapy was not progressive — it was very middle of the road) was that I was not the whole problem; that a lot of gripes I had with my parents and family... i.e. that my family was unduly restrictive, that my Father, however much he loved his family, was still an anal retentive, neurotic, authoritarian person.... that both of my parents were hopeless workaholics.... that, despite their best efforts to prove otherwise, my parents did not know everything... these were all very liberating things for me to know.

I agree with everything you say, and your logic is impeccable so far as I can tell. The truth can be frightening... I have met many people who "blank out" when I try to "reason things out" with them.

Oh, incidentally, I was a member of a Twelve Step group, Debtor's Anonymous, for three years... I always felt like something was wrong, like I was somehow lying to myself about it... I left four or five years ago because I reached the same conclusions you did. I just never bothered to put them into words, other than the idea that kept running through my head that D.A. seemed very much like the cult I swore I would never join.

Well, I hope you are well... you can put this on your site... I started to write "you can use my name"... but I am afraid you can't... as paranoid as it seems, the psychopaths who ran the Partial Hospitalization program are still out there and still in this area (I run into one of them periodically — he always gives me a hard time in the guise of friendly razzing... one of these days he will regret it — I could make it happen, too... I am not a scared twelve year old anymore; I am a big guy, twenty seven years old, who works out and plans to begin taking karate) — I don't want them to know about the dreams... if these guys knew they were in my dreams it would be all over for me.

I hope you are well...

(name withheld by request)





Date: Thu, 24 Jan 2002
Pauly wrote:

You know, it's so funny, the things I noticed in your criticisms of AA there, Orangey. Like the fact that you mention "liking" an attractive newcomer girl who's a chronic relapser and chases the guys too hard? Like the creepy feeling one gets when reading your crappy prose full of defiant whining - like the author is telling us who he really is when he's judging the shit out of other people, like Bob and Bill. How long did you spend in the program, and did you ever really try to get out of yourself and help any newcomers, make them feel welcome or safe? From the absolute pile of malicious shit you've published on the internet, it sounds like you haven't had 10 seconds to think about anyone but yourself and your bullshit opinions. Stop whinging on about other people and the way they do things - If AA sucks so bad for YOU, why don't you move on to something that works for YOU. Get a spine, pusswad.

Pauly

You really are over-flowing with Serenity and Gratitude, aren't you?
If you don't like the message, change the channel.
Why does it kill you for someone to criticize your religion?

A. Orange


[second letter:]

Once again, the author says something he himself needs to hear — "If you don't like the message, change the channel." Hey dumbass, try listening to your own advice. Does it kill you to have someone criticize you and your lameass book? Oh, of course criticism hurts you. You're the pussy who wanted his sponsor to "cut him some slack."

Pauly

No, you are quite mistaken. Your raving hatred convinces me that my description of cult mentality is quite correct.

If you actually have any facts, real facts, to offer, rather than just your frustrated, pent-up anger and hatred, then let's hear them. I'm listening.

A. Orange


[third letter:]

Enjoy your next DUI, dork. Live in misery, it seems to suit you. By the way, your address is blocked now.

Pauly





PUMPJET wrote:

12-Step Program

  1. We admitted that we were powerless over seriousness — that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that only by lightening up could we achieve a state of non-seriousness.
  3. Made a decision to turn our constant self-criticism over to our sense of humor and learn to "lovingly and wholeheartedly" laugh at ourselves.
  4. Decided to give ourselves a break once in a while, instead of constantly doing searching and fearless moral inventories of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being that our wrongs were often in our heads.
  6. Were entirely ready to accept that our characters were as good as anybody else's and possibly better than most.
  7. Quit harping on our shortcomings.
  8. Made of list of all persons we thought we had harmed and saw that they'd forgotten all the crap we'd blown out of proportion.
  9. Quit making amends for breathing air and taking up a few square feet of the planet's surface.
  10. Resigned ourselves to the fact we were going to criticize ourselves at times, but would try to stick to our guns when we knew we were right.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to calm down and realize we're not responsible for everything.
  12. Having experienced immense relief from these steps, we would try to carry this message to other over-serious people and to practice these principles in all of our affairs.





--- Donald wrote:

Thank you so much for the site on Frank Buchman and Oxford Groups, they began idolizing Buchman on the About.com alcoholism Forums. I am a non-observant Jew who spent many years in and out of AA, until I found Dual Recovery Anon. as I have mood disorder, had only heard about Buchman's anti-semitism. Thanks again; I put the site on my favorites.

Donald L.

Hi. Thanks for the thanks. We aim to please. And yes, it does amaze me how anyone can idolize Frank Buchman. And yet, they did. Heck, for that matter, a lot of people idolized Hitler, too. Oh well, have a good day anyway.





--- Tom wrote:
> Dear Mr. Orange,
> 
> I agree with so much of what you say about AA, but you do tend to
> test truth to its limits.  The people I truely feel sorry for are
> the ones who are FORCED to attend AA.  ( I was one of them)  Court
> ordered AA sucks.  Period.

I agree on that one totally. It is even a violation of Constitutional rights.

> But, folks that go to AA can leave the fellowship and DO all of the
> time.  And very few members say that AA is the ONLY way to get
> sober.  We dont really care if someone wants to keep drinking or
> not and hope they find some way to quit.

That's debateable. I have heard A.A. fanatics say things like,
"If you leave, you'll come back on your knees."
"A.A. is the last house on the street."

> AA gives us somewhere to go and hang out with others with the same
> problem.  If a person is broke and friendless, he or she usually
> doesnt have anywhere else to go and AA is everywhere and is free. 
> You really do test the limits of truth and accuracy in your papers.
> (your AA history is fairly accurate but your current attitudes
> and beliefs are not centered)

Yes, I listed the social club aspect as one of the good things about A.A. on the web page "What's Good about A.A.". Unfortunately, the harm seems to outweigh the good. At least, that's what all of the valid tests have shown. Read the file on "The Effectiveness of the Twelve-Step Treatment"

> You also have not been sober long enough to have a foundation
> worthy of long term soberity.

Now that remark is pure cult dogma. That's very standard A.A. condescension:
"Hasn't been around long enough to know."
"Is too young in his sobriety."

Several years of being brain-washed in cult religion does not make someone more sane, it makes them less sane.

Ask any survivor of the Heaven's Gate Cult, the People's Temple, Children of God, Scientology, etc. All of those cults have the same attitude towards newcomers:
"They haven't been around long enough to know."
"They haven't chanted enough, or prayed enough, or done enough yoga, or received the Master's Teachings enough..."

Oh, by the way, I'm coming up on my 2-year birthday in a couple of weeks. And all of this time is just repeat territory. I quit for 3 years a dozen years ago, also without A.A.. So I do have some experience with staying sober.

> AA did not kill your father.
> Alcoholism did.

Quite correct. And I never said that A.A. did. What I said was that neither the Veteran's Administration program, nor the Christian Brotherhood, nor A.A. worked. Basically, treatment just doesn't work. The only thing that works is:
SAVE YOUR OWN LIFE.
Quit imagining that somebody else will do it for you.

> Take care.
> Tom

Yes, and you take care and have a good day too.


2nd letter:

> Thanks for your reply.  Good job.  By the way, I have been sober in AA
> for quite some time now and am not a fanatic.  Matter of fact I am
> considered a full blown radical in the fellowship.  Yesterday a women
> with 15 years told off the "old timers" and did not back down.  I backed
> her publically at the meeting.  Most of what she was saying would fit
> right in with what you believe. (and I am not THAT far off from the way
> you feel either)

> Couple of quick points :  Usually AA IS the last house on the
> block.  If VA or Jesus freaks or SMART doesn't work then we are
> still there as a LAST resort.

There is that funny idea: that treatment can "work". That is one of the biggest misconceptions in the whole "recovery movement." Treatment does not work. Even A.A. says that there is no cure for alcoholism. All that you can do is quit drinking and stay quit, and if you don't, then you become a vital statistic.

It amazes me how people can pay Hazelden $15,000 for a 28-day stay where Hazelden is supposed to somehow "make people quit." But what it really means is that Hazelden is supposed to make people want to quit — want it so intensely that they will stay quit even after they leave Hazelden.

But why would anybody give $15,000 to Hazelden if they *didn't* already want to quit?

So people already want to quit. So just what is Hazelden treatment supposed to do, besides baby-sit people for 28 days, and give them a short vacation from temptation? (Well, besides the indoctrination into the 12 steps, etc....)

So just how is treatment, or A.A., or even SMART, supposed to "work"? (SMART doesn't "work", either, not in the sense that you mean. SMART won't *make* you quit. SMART is not a mind-control program that even could make you quit.)

> Coming up on 2 years is more time than I wrongly assumed.
> Apologies.  AA is simply a meeting place for "alcoholics" that aren't
> drinking.  I have never done the steps and laugh at the "Big Book".
> I have been sober for a long time.  The old original members are dying
> daily and the fellowship will change with current times.

Apologies accepted, but I still find that attitude disturbing. You now seem to feel that my words are more valuable, or more to be respected, because I have a couple of years of Time. That's still A.A. dogma. My slant on reality is: If someone says, "Two plus two equals four", that will be true no matter whether the speaker is drunk or is a life-long teetotaler. I don't believe that the truth changes, depending on who is speaking it, or how long the speaker has been sober. So whatever I say should be just as true, or just as false, no matter how much Time I have. And the same goes for you.

But lots of A.A. members do say things like,
"It's too early in your recovery for you to start being creative"
or,
"You also have not been sober long enough to have a foundation worthy of long term soberity."
— Which, near as I can figure out, means that I'm not entitled to have an opinion yet... Maybe someday, but not yet... That is the standard cult characteristic "Newcomers can't think right."

It's interesting to hear your view of how A.A. is evolving. Alas, I also get reports from other places that say that A.A. is going in the other direction, and become more cultish and dogmatic. I guess it could be both, different groups going in different directions.

You know, I hear you talking about telling off the dogmatic old-timers, and not doing the Twelve Steps, and not believing in the Big Book... Has it occurred to you that maybe you are not really a member of A.A.? You and your friends seem to be doing something other than following the standard A.A. program.

Now I know that part of the standard P.R. says that you can take what you want and leave the rest, but that's more P.R. than truth. If you can really make A.A. into anything that you want, then A.A. is nothing, really. That is, some program that is all things to all people is really nothing to nobody. If you can really change any characteristic of the program, then there is no program. I wonder if you haven't really created your own program.

Do you still start every meeting by reading the 12 Steps out loud? Why bother, if you don't believe in them and don't do them? Why recite a pack of lies to the newcomers at the start of every meeting, like:

  • "If you want what we have, then you are ready to take certain steps [The Twelve Steps]."
  • "RARELY HAVE we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves."
  • "At some of these [steps] we balked. We thought we could find a easier, softer way. But we could not."
  • "With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely."
  • "Remember that we are dealing with alcohol — cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power — that One is God. May you find Him now!"
  • "Half measures availed us nothing."
  • "Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery..."
    (The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, pages 58 and 59.)

Why continue to read that stuff out loud to newcomers when you know it isn't true and don't do the Steps yourself?

> Hang in there dude with whatever support program you utilize.
> All in all you probably got sober the same way I did and that is
> by not drinking for a considerable time until the addiction fades.
> You also got sober for three years at one time in your life prior to
> this sobriety.  I could never accomplish that.

The truth is, I don't really use a program, not even SMART. I go to SMART meetings now and then, but I don't "live the program", or even "work the program." (There is no N-steps program to work.) To give fair credit where credit is due, my one most important rule (2 variations) that I really do constantly live by came from a movie about A.A.:

Just don't take that first drink, no matter what.
Just don't smoke that first cigarette, no matter what.
As long as I follow those two rules, I don't need any Twelve Steps, or any program, either. It's amazing how much trouble you can avoid if you just follow that first rule...

I also have my own "Four Steps" which I think about now and then, especially the last one:

  • 1. I admit that drinking and smoking has gotten to be a real drag, and I am suffering so much that it isn't any fun any more.

  • 2. I quit, and I'm staying quit forever.

  • 3. Some of my friends may help me occasionally, but I'm mainly going to count on myself.

  • 4. Whenever I am tempted to relapse, I will think about step one again, and remember why I quit in the first place. I will also remember what happened the last time I relapsed.

I also use a slogan I learned in SMART:

Play the tape to the end.

Meaning:
Don't just think about how much fun life will be for the next couple of hours if you get drunk. Think about what it leads to, what life will be like tomorrow and next week and next month and next year. Remember what happened at the end of the last tape. So just don't take that first drink.

That does it for me.

> Bill Wilson today, if alive, would be a phony Televangalist healing
> people and making a shitpot of money doing it.  No debate on that
> issue.  On thing I must say is that he DID get most of the best
> looking ladies in bed in the fellowship.  So he wasn't completely
> crazy.  Hypocritical yes but not stupid.

You'll get no argument from me there.

> A little advice my friend....  If you tone down your site and papers to a
> mild roar where it doesnt appear that you are a AA hater FANATIC I think you
> may well be on the way to changing AA for the future and in a positive
> direction.  Alcoholism is a medical issue and NOT a  moral or spiritual
> shortcoming.

Believe it or not, I agree totally. I am constantly going back and toning down the rhetoric, and trying to not come across as a fanatic. The problem is, criticizing A.A. is a lot like criticizing the Catholic Church, or criticizing God, Country, Mom, and Apple Pie. It is easy to sound like a fanatic if you say something that is true and honest, like,
"A.A. doesn't actually work. It doesn't keep millions sober. All fair and honest testing that has ever been done shows it to be ineffective, and even downright harmful, even to the point of killing patients... A.A. is actually a cult religion."

Well, that sounds radical, because

  • *Everybody knows* that A.A. keeps millions sober.
  • *Everybody knows* that A.A. is a wonderful self-help organization.
  • *Everybody knows* that A.A. has helped millions of people to quit drinking.
  • *Everybody knows* that A.A. is the best, most successful quit-drinking program in the world.
  • *Everybody knows* that A.A. members are the experts on addiction.
  • *Everybody knows* that A.A. has a program that really works.
  • *Everybody knows* that A.A. is your last, best hope.

Unfortunately, all that stuff is just as true as Hitler's Big Lie about Jews. (Meaning: not true.) Back in 1936 in Berlin, we would have sounded radical, even insane, if we had publicly disputed what *Everybody knows* and said some good things about the Jews. Why, it would go against common sense.

The current "recovery movement" has the same problem. What *Everybody knows* to be true, isn't. What *Everybody knows* to be the best program, isn't. And one does tend to sound like a radical when one attacks what *Everybody knows* is a wonderful program that has saved millions... And one really sounds like a radical if one says that Alcoholics Anonymous kills as many people as it saves, but that's what the good, unbiased, scientific studies reveal.

Undoubtedly, Public Relations is one of the areas of A.A.'s greatest success. It may not keep 'em sober, but it sure is good at making everybody else think that it's doing it.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.





--- Sam  wrote:
> Just one question agent orange. If A.A. is such a cult then why the
> fuck does it work so well? You know if you can come up with a way
> that works better than AA  have at it. But if all you can do is
> fire psuedo intellectual bullshit at AA then go ahead and be that
> voice in the wilderness (you & a few dozen others). At last count
> AA has over 3 million people in it and I personally have seen
> bottom feeders turn thier lives around completely thanks to both AA
> and NA. Which I might point out are completely seperate from each
> other. I'd tell you more but I have a meeting to go to. P.S. I'm
> pretty sure all of this is has gone right over your head

It doesn't work. It is a popular cult, that's all. Have you read the file on the effectiveness of the 12 steps?
http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-effectiveness.html

I remain unimpressed by the claims of having a bunch of members. Scientology and the Moonies say the same things, too. So what? That doesn't make them good organizations.
And your 3 million number is way too high.

And what you have seen is just what you say: "People turning their lives around."
That is, they turn their lives around. The evidence is that their recovery is NOT caused by AA or NA. Often, the situation is the opposite of what you are thinking:

  1. People decide to quit drinking or doping and save their own lives.
  2. They do.
  3. People go to A.A. or N.A. to get some helpful advice.
  4. People get fed a bunch of cult religion nonsense and get fooled into thinking that it is necessary for recovery.
  5. People waste years doing worthless cult busy-work and going to pointless meetings.
  6. People come to their senses and go do something else with their lives.

And guess what program really works as well as, or even better than, A.A.?

No program at all. No treatment. Going it alone.
That's how most people succeed.

Read the file.

(Oh, by the way, your Biblical allusion, "A voice in the wilderness", is funny. The voice in the wilderness was John the Baptist, and he was right when he foretold the coming of Christ. He was right when he recognized Jesus as the Christ and baptised him. You are not hurting my feelings by calling me a voice in the wilderness. It's very flattering, really, even if it does mean that I'd better watch out for vindictive queens and pretty dancing girls.)





--- Alex Chernavsky  wrote:
> Dear Mr. Orange,
> 
> You did a great job with your on-line book about Alcoholics Anonymous.  I've
> linked to your site from my "Pseudoscience in Psych" page:
> 
> http://www.astrocyte-design.com/pseudoscience/
> 
> Any plans on publishing your treatise in conventional book format?  About a
> year ago, I read "The Real AA", by Ken Ragge, and I was disappointed with
> it.  I think there's a need for a book like yours.
> 
> Sincerely,
> 
> Alex Chernavsky
> Rochester, NY
> http://www.astrocyte-design.com/

Hi. Thanks for the compliments. I have no current plans to publish it in book form. I just tell people to load a ton of paper into their line printers, and hit "print", and go on a very long coffee break. (Like maybe go to Brazil and plant the coffee trees.)





--- Wallace Von Arx  wrote:
> I am Wallace C. von Arx III.  My grandfather was Wallace C. von Arx, a
> banker in New York with Marine Midland.  He died around 1962 in Miami
> Fl.  As I was born in 1958 (New Brunswick, N.J.) I never knew him, but
> was told by my father that he was an alcoholic.  My family lived in N.J.
> until 1970.  I have no information or knowledge of the $635.00 mentioned
> in the article, but I would not be surprised if he was associated with
> A.A. in New York.  In any event, there really was a Wallace C. von Arx
> in New York around the time mentioned in the article.
>                                          Wally von Arx

Hi. Thanks for the note. I love to get obscure little factoids like that. So that's one more question answered, that there really was such a von Arx guy, who almost certainly then did invest some money in the book. And it looks like somebody, either Bill Wilson or Henry Parkhurst, forgot or neglected to record the income when it came in. But they knew that they owed it to him.

Thanks for the letter.
Have a good day.





> What is the explanation for people who are not
> drinking in AA for 10 or 20 years? Are they being
> played as fools by a temporal god of Buchmanism?

If I understand the question, I think it is, "What about the old-timers? Are they not drinking because of A.A., or something else? Are they victims of the cult, or the bosses of the cult?"

Well, with any given individual, I really cannot say, without really studying and psychoanalyzing the guy, and I'm not really a psychiatrist. In general, it seems that people spontaneously quit drinking when they get sick and tired of being sick and tired, period. When they finally really become 100% convinced that they just cannot play that game and win, that they cannot even "just have one", then they won't relapse any more.

Cult membership seems irrelevant. I think a lot of people stay sober simply because they decide they prefer their new healthy lifestyle to suffering and dying, and A.A. really doesn't have much to do with it. (That's certainly my attitude.)

On the other hand, some people really do love cults. Some people are in love with Alcoholics Anonymous even without having an alcohol problem. Look at characters like Professor George Vaillant, who never was a drinker, but he is a hard-core true-believer cult member, and even a member of the Board of Trustees of AAWS.

See: http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-effectiveness.html#Vaillant

And Dr. Harry Tiebout was the same way. And so was Jack Alexander. Both of them also became non-alcoholic members of the Board of Trustees of A.A.W.S.

It's an open question whether after 10 or 20 years, the cult is taking advantage of the old-timers, or whether they just like the cult and stay in because they wish to. When you think about all of the accumulated status that they have, you can see why they might be reluctant to give it up. On the other hand, A.A. is always inducing phobias, saying that you will relapse and die drunk in a gutter if you leave, and I'm sure that some of the old-timers really believe it. So fear keeps them in.

And then some other old-timers say things like, "I refuse to believe that I wasted 12 years of my life on a cult."

Carl Sagan, in his book The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, told the story of how the TV program 60 Minutes in Australia performed a funny candid-camera kind of experiment where they manufactured a phony guru and then foisted him on the public for a few weeks, to see how gullible the public was. The experiment was a great success (if you look at it that way) because nobody, not even the press or other TV news organizations, even bothered to check out the charlatan's false credentials and fake credits. Everybody just swallowed it all, hook, line, and sinker. And the most outrageous part was the fact that, after 60 Minutes and even the phony guru himself explained to the public that it had all been a hoax, just a test of gullibility, some people still said to the phony guru, "We don't care what they say about you. We still believe in you." Some people will do just about anything to avoid admitting that they have been fooled — even continue to be fooled. It seems like, once you get those people committed to the hoax, you've really got them.

One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we've been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. The bamboozle has captured us. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.
== Carl Sagan

In his classic study of con men, David Maurer tells us the same thing:

A mark, once hooked, is often most difficult to "unhook." If the operators once get his confidence completely, he is so sure of the deal in which he is involved that he will not listen to reasonable advice even if it is given to him.
The Big Con: The Story of the Con Man, David W. Maurer, page 128.

> Once again, thank you for permission. The URL will
> be http://www.theturningpoint.info. It is not online
> yet because I am in the process of registering it.
> 
> Best regards,
> Charles Kurek
> kurek@bellsouth.net

Yeh, good luck on your site.





--- Kris wrote:

Hello, I LOVE your site. I have been going to psychotherapy for about 1 year, due to severe depression and suicidal tendencies. I was physically and emotionally abused as a kid, and you're not kidding about the guilt and lack of self-esteem that could occur if folks like me actually worked those fucked up steps.

Up until about 5 months ago, I used to drink a hell of a lot, too. Well, in early August, I got really drunk. My therapist told me to go to AA twice a week for two months or she would stop seeing me. Since I've been suicidal before, I thought that probably wasn't a good idea, so I agreed to go. (She really is a good therapist, is not an alcoholic or drug addict, so not an AAer) and I have been, I hope, teaching her a lot from sites like yours.

As soon as I went I thought is was a little creepy. Then I started reading your site and the AADeprogramming site and definitely saw it was a cult. I already had a sponsor, so I couldn't escape that crap of sponsorhood. I still go to AA 3 times a week (I go more often than I am required, not to get their "program," but to remind myself of why I have to stop drinking on my own or I will turn out like the crazed cult members in the church basement.) I also go to get more evidence of just how much it is not for me, and is a cult. My sponsor is a total cult head. I don't lie to him, but I sure don't say much to him. I don't want any personal connection to exist between me and him — I don't want his claws in me. I just listen and politely nod my head. I never "share" at meetings — again, I want no one to know much about me, because I dont want them knocking on my door when I leave in early October.

Anyway, I am still reading your site. I read it every night. It actually helps keep me sober by keeping in my head just how much I don't want to be like them. Thanks, and please keep it up. Your research capabilities are excellent.

Kris

You know Kris, you just really brightened my day. It's people like you who make it all worth while.

Good luck and take care.

And you know what? It's a beautiful day anyway. Enjoy.





--- Diane wrote:
> Finally, there is someone who can see through all this deceiving
> crap from AA!  It was so theraputic to read this, as I can relate
> to a lot of it and been really screwed up over it.  I have been
> bouncing in and out of 12-step programs, many treatment centres,
> (which all focus on 12-steps in Canada as well) because of a lot of
> this same bullshit for over at least 15 years and I was even trying
> to get it!!!!!!  
> 
> I appreciate your courage to go against the grain of what is
> supposed to be considered the world's largest organization for
> recovery (as well as NA, CA, etc.) and having the
> reference/knowledge to prove it.
> 
> So my hat is off to you!  
> I finally now have a peace of mind about it all.  
> 
> (just got to get my life back together again though  :-)        
>                                                                
>                                                                    
>   Diane
> Keep up the good work!

Hi. Thanks for the compliments. Glad to hear that somebody benefits from all of those pages now and then.

Take care, and good health on getting your life back together. (I was about to say "good luck", but I don't think luck has anything to do with it.)





Where can one have a room of people listen uninteruptedly to one's ramblings? Where can the "dregs" of society show up and be tolerated if not always accepted. A little milk of human kindness why don't we? You know the program sufficiently well to possibly identify yourself as one who did not succeed in benefitting from AA, a bitterness perhaps explained by your mail name-a 'Nam vet possibly? Just a stab from one who is deep in debt to an organization that did not end my booze and drug habits but certainly has helped to keep me sober and reasonably sane for near 8 years. Constructive alternatives will be much better received than bitter complaint

So what is so wonderful about having a room full of people listening to someone's ramblings?

There are lots of other social clubs which offer much of what you talk about — like maybe the Elk's Clubs, the Rotary Clubs, the Shriners, and on and on. But I don't write web pages criticizing them. Why not? Well, how about because they do not leave their meetings and go to their jobs as parole officers, judges, therapists, or counselors, and abuse the power of their offices by forcing people to join a secret religious club. (And their clubs aren't anonymous or secret, either.) Using the law to force people to join your (or any) religious or so-called "spiritual" group is illegal, immoral, and un-Constitutional. But hidden A.A. members continue to do it every day.

In addition, the Elks, Rotaries, and Shriners do not use their clubs to foist voodoo medicine on people as the best or only cure for a deadly illness. They don't kill people with ineffective quack medicine. (My idea of "the milk of human kindness" starts with "don't kill people".) In fact, the Shriners are paying for the hospitalization and life-long medical treatment of a friend's child who got horribly burned. You will never see A.A. doing something like that for somebody, will you? Why not?

The answer to those unanswered questions is, "Because A.A. is a cult religion, not a wonderful, beneficial social club or a helpful quit-drinking program." And that is why I feel compelled to criticize it.

You state that A.A. did not actually work to get you off of drugs or alcohol; it just gave you some moral support. Okay. Do you realize how rare it is to hear that? Few true believers will ever admit something like that. They recite to all of the newcomers, "RARELY HAVE we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path..." which is a total lie. (See the Big Book, page 58.)

You describe me as "one who did not succeed in benefitting from AA". Excuse me, but you misunderstand the situation. I found out fairly quickly that it was a cult, and quit going. And even while I was going, I did not try to benefit from surrendering my mind, my will, or my life, to a cult religion. (Step Three.) And before you ask, "Well, if you never tried to work the 12-step program, how do you know it wouldn't help you?" I must warn you that I simply answer that question with, "How do you know that Reverend Jim Jones' cyanide kool-aid is bad for your health if you have never tried it?" (Hint: Other people tried it, and we saw what happened.)

I feel like I learned a lot from going to A.A. though, and did benefit in some ways: I learned a lot about A.A. and what it really is, and got a refresher course in how cults work, and saw once again just how crazy people can be.

As far as the "Agent Orange" name goes, it started because the woman who runs the www.aadeprogramming.com web site likes to use the name "Apple" because she has a Macintosh computer. Well, I prefer Sun Microsystems and Unix, so I chose the name "Orange", so that we could joke about mixing apples and oranges. (It's an old joke — computer magazines have had articles talking about the difficulties encountered in networking Apples and Suns called "Getting Apples to Talk to Oranges".) Then "Orange" morphed into "Secret Agent Orange" because I chose to stay anonymous.

I am also very aware of the Vietnam allusions in the name "Agent Orange". I remember a fair bit about that strange deadly mixture of 2,4-D (Round-Up®) and 2,4,5-T herbicides with its traces of Dioxin, because I worked on the protest project in the seventies to keep the 2.75 million gallons of surplus, left-over, Agent Orange from being dumped in the USA, which would have poisoned a lot of people's drinking water.

Amazingly, we actually won that one.
They finally burned it in a special incinerator ship out in the middle of the Pacific, near Johnson Island.
Unfortunately, that still does nothing to repair the ecology of Vietnam, which had 23.5 million gallons of that poison sprayed on it by the lunatics who brought us the War in Vietnam. (To try to visualize a number that big, consider that it was more than 427,000 55-gallon drums of the toxic, non-biodegradeable, poison.)

Now let's see if we can win the A.A. one, too.

Lastly, you say that I should offer something better than A.A. if I wish to criticize. That's the common cult complaint, "You can't criticize our program unless you have a perfect program of your own to offer as an alternative." That is bogus logic. If someone is selling witchcraft as a cure for AIDS, I can and should criticize him and his potentially-fatal quack medicine, without having to have a working cure for AIDS to offer as an alternative to the witchcraft.

And there really is a good, simple, alternative to Alcoholics Anonymous: Nothing. No treatment at all. The Harvard Medical school found that 80% of those alcoholics who successfully quit for a year or more do it alone, without any treatment program. So the cult religion and voodoo medicine is quite unnecessary, and is in fact hurting people by giving them a lot of false information about alcoholism.

If you want a program that is better than A.A., there are lots: try SMART, SOS, WFS, or MFS. (That's "Self-Management and Recovery Training" "Secular Organizations for Sobriety", also nick-named "Save Our Selves", "Women For Sobriety" and "Men for Sobriety".) There is also LifeRing on the Internet.

— Good luck on your own sobriety, and have a good day.

Agent Orange





Hi There...

I just finished reading your pages on the net regarding AA. I found them very interesting and even though I may not agree with all that you have written I do defend your right to voice your opinions. Some of the comparisons appear somewhat far fetched and your anger is quite apparent. I too have made some angry statements regarding AAHQ and their handling of legal matters but rather than attempt to destroy AA, hearing about many views on all aspects is quite necessary in order to make an informed decision. AA isn't for everyone and it isn't the only path to recovery. Rather than being harmful to my own life, I found following a way of life learned through my association with AA quite rewarding. One of my favorite Bill W. quotes is that "AA is a sort of kindergarten we go through to a better way of life and wider usefulness." AA isn't my life nor was it meant to be. I also found it rather amusing that you singled out a photo of Bill taken right after Dr. Bob's funeral where he was tired and in mourning to accompany the caption you gave to it. While I consider myself somewhat intelligent and open-minded, I found some of the angry diatribe more of a turn off rather than eliciting a desire to learn more about your point of view. You may win more people over to that view if you reduce the anger and just state the facts as you see them. The anger and sarcasm detract from some valid points you make. The more points of view expressed from differing sources help in affording those seeking recovery to make an informed decision. Thank you for your efforts and adding to the wealth of information out there regarding AA, informed choice and enlightening those who are on a search, not comfortable with the choice they have made or just seeking information.

Mitchell K.

PS: Much of the information found on the aa public controversy site as well as others regarding Clarence, Henrietta, etc. came from me. You see, I am not afraid of anyone, especially AA members from seeing the truth, perceptions of the truth, etc. in order for them to make an informed choice.


Hello Mitchell K.,

It is good to hear from you. I've enjoyed reading your articles on the Internet, especially the ones on about.alcoholism.com. [Dead Link. See this local copy: blmitch12.htm.]
You strike me as being one of the few A.A. members out there who is actually really interested in the truth, and who will tell the truth, loudly even, and you get a lot of respect from me for that. Thanks.

You mention that I am angry. Yes, I am. And I don't think there is anything wrong with it. I believe that anger is a proper, natural reaction to some things. I don't believe in Bill Wilson's ridiculous, crippling, injunction against feeling your anger:

It is a spiritual axiom that every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us. If somebody hurts us and we are sore, we are in the wrong also. But are there no exceptions to this rule? What about 'justifiable' anger? If somebody cheats us, aren't we entitled to be mad? Can't we be properly angry with self-righteous folk? For us in A.A. these are dangerous exceptions. We have found that justified anger ought to be left to those better qualified to handle it.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, page 90.

At the same time, I try to keep that anger down to a dull roar. I am constantly going back and rewriting things, and trying to tone down the rhetoric a little, and minimize the invective, without losing the point.

Speaking of which, you didn't mention where you were reading my pages. The ones on AAdeprogramming.com are very old now, and I can't fix or update them. The new versions of everything are on:

http://www.orange-papers.org/index.html

And why do I feel that anger is justified? Well, consider this:

Imagine that you or your wife or some close friends came down with cancer. When you went to the cancer clinic, you found that it had been taken over by a faith-healing religion that believed that the best treatment for cancer was to pray to the voodoo gods of Legba, Damballah, and Bon Dieu, and to stick acupuncture needles into voodoo dolls. They explained that cancer was really a "spiritual disease", and that you would recover from cancer if you would confess all of your sins and spend your life "following the dictates of a Higher Power."

The believers in this faith-healing religion insisted that their treatment program was fool-proof — "The program never fails anyone; it is just some patients who fail the program" — in spite of the fact that the program had a 95% dropout/failure rate. The extreme true believers even insisted that all new patients must stop taking the medications that doctors prescribed, and just trust the spirituality of the program to heal them. When a patient died, which they almost all did, the cult members would cluck and say, "He always was such a fool. He never did learn how to poke the needles right. He probably held some back, too." Then they began every therapy session by chanting, "RARELY HAVE we seen a person fail, who has thoroughly followed our path..." When a rare lucky patient went into spontaneous remission and recovered from his cancer, the true believers all cheered and said, "See! It works! That proves it! Keep Coming Back, It Works!"

Then, the practitioners of this religion actually managed to charge your city and state and your health insurance plan for "cancer treatment" when they stuck the needles into the dolls.

Then, you discovered that the founder of this religion was actually a mentally-ill, felonious, lying, philandering con artist, not a saint, and that the theology of the religion was really the bizarre irrational ravings of a certified lunatic.

Most outrageous of all, you found that many earlier converts to this voodoo cult religion were working as counselors, therapists, doctors, judges, and parole officers who were abusing the power of their offices and using any flimsy excuse they could find to force more people to go to the clinic to learn to "stop sinning, and live a spiritual way of life." That is, to become new converts of the voodoo religion.

If you actually found yourself or your loved ones in such a clinic, in the care of such quack doctors, would you talk about the need to merely "reform" the clinic, to eliminate the "few bad apples"? Would you say that the clinic was basically good because they prayed a lot, and that the clinic really just needed a change in leadership?

Or would you demand that the clinic be shut down and the pushers of that cult religion be prosecuted for criminal fraud and manslaughter?


As far as that picture of Bill Wilson goes, I have thought about that a lot, and whether it is unfair to caption it so. (By the way, another web site has it labeled as happening after the funeral of a friend of Henrietta Seiberling, perhaps a Helen S. or Anne S., or something. I'll have to double-check that name, but I'm sure it wasn't Dr. Bob because I would have remembered that. Are you sure that it was after Dr. Bob's funeral?)

What I really wanted was a picture of Bill Wilson taken around 1950 or 1951, showing him in the middle of his 11 years of deep crippling clinical depression, just sitting holding his head in his hands all day long, or just laying in bed staring at the ceiling all day. The reason I want 1950 or 1951 is:

  1. Because by then, Bill Wilson had been living the A.A. life, and working the Steps, for 15 or 16 years.

  2. Because that's when he was writing his second book (with the help of Tom P.), which he said was a book that would teach you how to be happy:

    "A.A.'s Twelve Steps are a group of principles, spiritual in their nature, which if practiced as a way of life, can expel the obsession to drink and enable the sufferer to become happily and usefully whole.
      ...
    "Many people, nonalcoholics, report that as a result of the practice of A.A.'s Twelve Steps, they have been able to meet other difficulties in life. They think that the Twelve Steps can mean more than sobriety for problem drinkers. They see in them a way to happy and effective living for many, alcoholic or not."
    Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, pages 15-16, in the Foreword.

  3. Because that's when Bill should have been exhibiting the beneficial effects of 15 or 16 years of practicing the Twelve Steps, but wasn't.

  4. And that's when Wilson claimed that A.A. had been good for him:

    But dependence upon an A.A. group or Higher Power hasn't produced any baleful results.
    Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, page 38.

It was typical of Bill Wilson's "spirituality" and "rigorous honesty" that he didn't bother to mention the fact that he was so chronically depressed that he was under the care of a psychiatrist (Dr. Harry Tiebout), or that he was so mentally ill that he was a basket case, completely crippled and non-functional, when he wrote those words in 12x12.

So much for a life that is "happily and usefully whole".
So much for "rigorous honesty". (See the Big Book, page 58.)
So much for "no baleful results".

It also seems typical of Bill Wilson that he would say something like

"AA is a sort of kindergarten we go through to a better way of life and wider usefulness."

But Bill Wilson also wrote many, many times, including in the quotes just above, that A.A. *was* a complete "way of life" for both alcoholics and non-alcoholics, and that you can't ever leave A.A., or else. Wilson contradicted himself constantly by making statements on both sides of many issues. Which statements should we believe he really meant?

We think this account of our experiences will help everyone to better understand the alcoholic. Many do not comprehend that the alcoholic is a very sick person. And besides, we are sure that our way of living has its advantages for all.
The Big Book, William G. Wilson, the Foreword to the First Edition, page xiii of the 3rd edition.

Though an alcoholic does not respond, there is no reason why you should neglect his family. You should continue to be friendly to them. The family should be offered your way of life. Should they accept and practice spiritual principles, there is a much better chance that the head of the family will recover. And even though he continues to drink, the family will find life more bearable.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 7, Working With Others, page 97.

If there be divorce or separation, there should be no undue haste for the couple to get together. The man should be sure of his recovery. The wife should fully understand his new way of life.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 7, Working With Others, page 99.

But sometimes you must start life anew. We know women who have done it. If such women adopt a spiritual way of life their road will be smoother.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 8, To Wives, page 114.

One more suggestion: Whether the family has spiritual convictions or not, they may do well to examine the principles by which the alcoholic member is trying to live. They can hardly fail to approve these simple principles, though the head of the house still fails somewhat in practicing them. Nothing will help the man who is off on a spiritual tangent so much as the wife who adopts a sane spiritual program, making a better use of it.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 9, The Family Afterward, page 130.

Father feels he has struck something better than gold. For a time he may try to hug the new treasure to himself. He may not see at once that he has barely scratched a limitless lode which will pay dividends only if he mines it for the rest of his life and insists on giving away the entire product.
A.A. Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 9, The Family Afterward, pages 128-129.

In conclusion, I can only say that whatever growth or understanding has come to me, I have no wish to graduate. Very rarely do I miss the meetings of my neighborhood A.A. group, and my average has never been less than two meetings a week.
... our one desire is to stay in A.A. ...
A.A. Big Book, 3rd Edition, Jim Burwell, The Vicious Cycle, pages 249-250.

Unless each A.A. member follows to the best of his ability our suggested [my required] Twelve Steps to recovery, he almost certainly signs his own death warrant. His drunkenness and dissolution are not penalties inflicted by people in authority; they result from his personal disobedience to [my] spiritual principles.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William Wilson, page 174.

Oh well, have a good day anyway, and thanks for the material you contributed to the "AA Public Controversy" web site.

— Orange


[response:]

Hi There...

Far be it from me to tell anyone that they shouldn't feel or express anger. If someone says they never get, or express anger, they are either lying or on such heavy doses of medication that they couldn't tell if they were angry or not. It wasn't meant as an attack but merely an observation. I know several people who have been hurt by other AA members.

The original photograph had written on the back that it was taken after Dr. Bob's funeral. I'm not sure if Bill had attended Henrietta's funeral. Either way, I thought the look on his face was not one most AA's had ever seen as AA tends to use more flattering photos.

I don't think I saw your writing on the deprogramming site. I believe it was the agentorange one.

As a student of AA history and literature I am well aware of the quotes you use. I too have found many discrepancies in the literature and actual practice. Deception is a human trait, especially in those who have their own agendas to promote. Many in AA (from the newcomer to those at AA HQ and so-called long-term members) have no clue as to what the founding members intended. Riches have clouded the memories of those who now run the "empire."

I'm not your typical AA member - I believe in freedom of choice, informed decisions and the right (and obligation) to disagree. Since you've read my articles you know that I have and will continue to voice my disagreement openly. This has made me somewhat of an outcast in some AA circles but... who cares.

I don't really go to AA meetings anymore (maybe one a year if that). My recovery is not contingent upon being addicted to the rooms of AA or living out of fear that if I don't go I'll get drunk. My membership now is more of an elder statesman and historian.

Again, I want to thank you for the service YOU are doing for the AA community at large and for those who feel they don't have a choice or alternative.

A fellow comrade in arms...
Mitchell





HI, I'M HOLLEY
AND I'M A RECOVERING ADDICT, AND I WENT THRU A 12STEP, PROGRAM, AND NO IT'S NOT THERE TO KEEP YOU CLEAN AND SOBER, BUT ONE THING FOR SURE THAT WILL HELP YOU IN THE 12STEP, PROGRAM IS TO BUILD YOU A FOUNDATION TO STAND ON, FOR YOU. FIRST OF ALL, GOD OF YOUR OWN UNDERSTANDING IS YOUR ONLY HELP.

Excuse me, but I have to disagree. I am not an atheist, and I don't want to minimize God, but I still have to say that "God as I understand Him" is most assuredly NOT my ONLY help. I can also learn to depend on myself, and take care of myself. I can also sometimes get help, advice, or moral support from friends, and also give it to them.

SEE, DRUGS IS JUST A SYMPTOM. MOST ADDICTS PROBLEM IS, DENIAL, AND LACK OF KNOWLEDGE, SO WHEN YOU HEAR SOMEONE SAY THAT THE 12STEP PROGRAM DON'T WORK, THAT CAUSE IT DIDN'T WORK FOR THEM,OK.

That is an over-simplification, just more of the stereotype about alcoholics or addicts. There is a lot more to the minds of alcoholics and addicts than just "denial" or "lack of knowledge". The use of drugs and alcohol often *is* a "symptom" (really, a "sign") of an underlying problem, but the problem is often something like child abuse, slum environments, poverty and hopelessness, or physical or mental illness, not the "moral shortcomings" that Bill Wilson liked to harp on.

If someone says that the 12-step program didn't work for him, the reason is probably because the 12-step program doesn't work. It has a failure rate that is between 95% and 100%, depending on how you like to measure and count things. Those few people who appear to recover because of the 12 steps are really just cases of spontaneous remission — they would have quit anyway because they were getting sick and tired of being sick and tired.

IN MOST, 12STEP PROGRAMS YOU FINE PEOPLE WITH EITHER, THE SAME TYPE OF ADDICTION, WITH THE SAME KIND OF PROBLEM OR ISSUES, OR YOU WILL HEAR SOMETHING, OR SOMETHINGS INSIDE THOSE MEETINGS THAT CAN AND WILL HIT YOU AND, OR YOUR ISSUES, OR PROBLEMS ON THE HEAD.

Now I can agree with that. Talking with other recovering alcoholics and addicts can sometimes be great. Sometimes, they give you really good advice. Unfortunately, I've also gotten very bad advice and misinformation there too, and sometimes it took years (including a long relapse) to sort out which was which.

IF YOU ARE WILLING TO CHANGE YOUR WAY, OR WAYS OF LIVING, WILLING TO TAKE A LOOK AT YOU, AND BE WILLING TO CHANGE AS THE BIG BOOK SAY PEOPLE, PLACES AND THINGS, THEN IN THOSE ROOMS YOU WILL BE ABLE TO FINE A NEW WAY OF LIVING, AND THATS A START.

When you add the qualifier, "IF YOU ARE WILLING TO CHANGE", what that really means is, "The program doesn't work, and you won't quit unless you really want to, and do it yourself."

NOT TO FORGET GETTING A SPONSOR THAT IS WILLING TO HELP YOU UNDERSTAND THE STEPS IN THE 12STEPS.

Please, I have no desire for a personal supervisor to misinterpret the 12 steps for me and brainwash me. I know exactly what the 12 steps mean, and it isn't good.

YOU KNOW WE ALL HAVE CHOICES TO MAKE IN OUR LIVES, AND IT'S UP TO US TO CHANGE HOW WE HAVE LIVED IN THE PAST...

Now I agree with that. But what you are really saying is, "The 12 steps don't really work; you have to make it happen for yourself."

I SURELY HOPED THIS WILL GIVE YOU ENCOURAGEMENT, TO JUST STEP OUT ON FAITH AND GIVE YOURSELF A CHANCE TO LIVE DRUG AND CRIME FREE....
LOVE HOLLEY

I am already living drug and crime free, I'm happy to say. I have two years clean and sober now. And I did it with faith in myself, not faith in the teachings of a couple of charlatans like Dr. Frank Nathan Daniel Buchman or William Griffith Wilson.

Well, good luck on your sobriety. I really mean that. Have a good day.

— Orange





Dear Agent orange,

I was convinced by my husband to attend AA meetings due to my off and on relapses for the past 3 years. I want to add my relapses were from 4mo to 6 months apart and for that one day only, then the next day re-continuing my sobriety.

Getting to the point, I have been going to some AA meetings for about 3 weeks now and I do feel uneasy about some of their beliefs like you said it feels like a cult. Like if you are sick with a cold and miss a meeting one time or "OH" God forbid, two, they look at you and give you the vibes that they think you have relapsed. The leader asked me, "are you OK" I stated I had been sick and he acted like he did not believe me and cut me off real quick. I thought "You Jerk! You just want to hear all the stories of alcohol, or me working those stupid 12 steps that I do not even agree with." I enjoy the therapy of releasing myself through talking out my problems that alcohol created in my life, but that is it!! To me it is a free therapy session and I throw a dollar in the plate at the end. I do believe in God and I also believe it goes beyond that type of help to refrain from drinking, like your article said The devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other, right & wrong is the choice it is that simple! You don't need this 12 step crap to figure out the HELL you are going to place on yourself and others if you make the wrong choice.

You see I have a Life, unlike these people in these meetings. I have a husband, I do not smoke, I am very athletic, I enjoy being at home after work and spending quality time with my cat. I do not relate to many of these people at all and not just because I am much younger (29). Because I feel like I am a different alcoholic, I have already passed a lot of the difficulties of staying sober, the only time I have wanted a drink and relapsed was when I was going to a social gathering (party, Christmas party) which are far and few between for me. I am past the phase of thinking about it every day after work, or when I get really angry or have had a bad day. I don't relate to people in the meetings saying they spent all their money on it and got into financial trouble because of it? I always maintained an A /B average in college held a job and knew that if my money was tight then no drinking for me. This whole AA seems a bit too much for me I guess in some ways I feel above this program because I am further ahead in my progress mentally and emotionally. I just attended a wedding last weekend and I had The Best Time Of My Life because I did not drink, I was so happy I could not stop smiling, when I got home and I told my husband what a wonderful time I had I cried tears of joy and I have not felt that good about myself in a long time. I want to feel that proud of my accomplishment everyday that I do not drink and I do now.

I am sorry for rambling on and on, but I really agree with every word you said and now I don't feel so bad about my negative thoughts of aa. Thank You so much, I hope you have a Great Day!

Michelle C.

Hello, Michelle,

Thanks for all of the compliments, and rambling is okay.

One thing that hit me right away was your description of relapses. Over in SMART, they call those things "lapses". A relapse is like if you go to a friend's birthday party, and have your first and only beer after 3 years of total sobriety, and love that beer so much that you drink for another 9 years after that, until your doctor tells you to quit drinking or you're going to die. (That's what happened to me.) Now that's a relapse. A lapse is like you have a few at a party, or just get drunk one night, and then you climb back onto the sobriety bandwagon. You don't just totally lose control when you have a lapse (but some people do when they relapse).

Now I hesitate to give advice here because I don't really know you, and I don't know your biochemistry or your personality, or how you react to alcohol. But what you are describing are lapses, not relapses.

And I don't agree with the A.A. idea that if you have one drink, you lose all of your sober time, or all of the benefits of your sober time. I'm alive, with a functioning liver, just because of my 3 years of sobriety a dozen years ago. My doctor was very pleasantly surprised to see the condition my liver is actually in (okay). I have no doubts whatsoever that those 3 years saved my life by giving my liver time to repair the damage and get ready for the next onslaught of alcohol. If my liver had been 3 years further down the alcoholism road, then it really would have been badly messed up (because the damage escalates, and grows exponentially, at the end).

So, to my way of thinking, you don't just lose all of your sober time just because you get drunk one night. All of the time, sober or drunk, counts, and adds up over the long haul.

For another example, there is obviously an immense difference between someone who has a habit of regularly lapsing every fourth weekend, so he has just one month of sober time now, and someone who has one month of sobriety because he just quit after 20 years of steady, hard, drinking. Obviously, the second guy has accumulated a lot more damage, and is in much worse shape now. I guess I'm just saying that simplistic stereotypes don't work.

Now please don't misunderstand me — I don't want to encourage anyone to drink. I just think that you don't need to beat up on yourself and think that you are losing everything because you lapse now and then. It doesn't sound all that bad to me. Since you are 29 years old, you don't sound like you are a candidate for cirrhosis of the liver or Wernicke Korsakoff Syndrome just yet.

But do watch out. Alcoholism does tend to be progressive. What was just a minor problem can grow into a total disaster 20 years later. And much of the damage, especially to the brain, is irreversible. (Just one single drunken binge can kill 100,000 brain cells. That, in and of itself, isn't so bad, because you have billions of them. But after 20 years, you start to run out of brain cells and you start to have serious memory loss problems, among other things.) And you can't get the wasted years back, either.

If you are seeing signs of alcoholism now, then quitting and staying quit is by far and away the safest bet. And it sounds like that is what you are doing.

It would have saved me from a lot of grief if I had done that a long time ago. How I wish I had been smart enough to heed the warning signs in the beginning, and quit and stay quit early in the game.
But I thought I was different from my father, and that it would never get me like it got him... (Famous Last Words.)
I didn't think I was a real alcoholic because it wasn't that bad (yet). (That's more Famous Last Words.)
I thought that because I could quit and stay quit for three years that I had it under control, and could drink a little. (Wrong. It's just like the old Lays potato chip commercials: "I bet you can't eat just one." But that's my personal problem, and it doesn't sound like it is yours. People are different; stereotypes don't work.)

And your addictive mind will play games on your head and rationalize a lot of things, and tell you that you can drink, that it's okay to drink, because you can handle it, and quit whenever you want, etc... It sounds like you already saw the web page on the Addiction Monster, with the angelic Donald Duck on one shoulder, and the devil Donald on the other, whispering, "Drink! Smoke! It will be fun!" Recognizing that situation, and being aware of what's going on has been a very big part of the victory for me. Staying quit is tough when that fool little lizard brain keeps whispering in your ear that you can smoke and drink after all... ("It'll be okay because you're strong, and you have it under control...") But understanding what it is doing has been a life-saver for me.

I agree with your statement about being "a different kind of alcoholic". Stereotypes don't work. I'm also different, in another way. The following two letters came the same day as yours, and in the second one, Ken H. accuses me of not even being a real alcoholic because I was able to quit without A.A. and doing the 12 steps. (I wish, oh how I wish I weren't an alcoholic...) It's a stupid stereotype to say that all alcoholics are totally out of control and can only live if they make A.A. their whole life. That's a cult all right.

One of the ways that I am "a non-standard alcoholic" (in A.A. terms) is that I can quit and stay quit for years at a time (when I finally get it together to really do it). A.A. keeps saying that is impossible, because you are "powerless over alcohol." Well I'm not powerless, but yes, I am a real alcoholic. And obviously, I am also not "in denial", either, like the stereotype says I should be.

My doctor explained it far better than A.A. ever did. He said that alcoholics can have great control over their sobriety — they can stay sober for years at a time. They just don't have any control over their drinking — their drinking will spin out of control very rapidly. That explained a lot for me, because I knew I wasn't "powerless". I just go nonlinear and want to drink myself into Heaven after I get several beers in me.

Oh, and while I'm really not on a campaign to sell the SMART program to everybody, I would suggest that going to SMART might be a good compromise that would make your husband happy. SMART is pretty easy-going, and even gives good information, rather than cult dogma. You will meet lots of refugees from A.A. there — other people who also couldn't stomache A.A.. And if you don't find a SMART meeting around, you could also check out WFS (Women For Sobriety) or SOS (Secular Organizations for Sobriety). But SMART seems to be the most common and wide-spread right now.

The SMART web site is:
http://www.smartrecovery.org/

You can find meeting schedules, or a phone number to get a schedule, there.

Good luck, and have a good day.

— Orange



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