Alcoholics Anonymous as a Cult
Scorecard, Answers 11 to 20.

(To go back and forth between the questions and the answers for Alcoholics Anonymous, click on the numbers of the questions and answers.)

11. Insistence that the group is THE ONLY WAY.
A.A. scores a 10.

"My sponsor told me this was a spiritual program so I tried est and yoga and Zen; I tried Catholicism and incense sticks and meditation. The only place I ever found God was here — in your faces, and the way you talked."
— Sally B., at an A.A. meeting
Getting Better Inside Alcoholics Anonymous, Nan Robertson, page 138.

Alcoholics Anonymous undoubtedly declares that it is the only way. A.A. believes that there is no other possible way to recover from alcoholism, period, so there is no point in even looking for another way, or studying alternative treatment methods. Alcoholism can only be cured, or not cured, but "treated", by "one drunk talking to another". Only an A.A. member can help an alcoholic. To send an alcoholic to any other treatment program is to subject him to a death sentence, they say.

The A.A. literature says:

  • ... you may be suffering from an illness which only a spiritual experience will conquer.     ...
    At first some of us tried to avoid the issue, hoping against hope we were not true alcoholics. But after a while we had to face the fact that we must find a spiritual basis of life — or else.

    The Big Book, 3rd Edition, page 44.
  • ...he was insisting that he had found the only cure.
    The Big Book, 3rd Edition, page 257.
  • ...they had found the only remedy...
    The Big Book, 3rd Edition, page 259.
  • Any willing newcomer feels sure A.A. is the only safe harbor for the foundering vessel he has become.
    Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William Wilson, page 35.
  • "None of us in Alcoholics Anonymous is normal. Our abnormality compels us to go to AA... We all go because we need to. Because the alternative is drastic, either A.A. or death."
    Delirium Tremens, Stories of Suffering and Transcendence, Ignacio Solares, Hazelden, 2000, page 27.
  • 'Says an Atlanta executive who has been a member for 25 years: "I am deeply convinced that AA. is the only way."'
    TIME, April 22, 1974

Popular A.A. slogans say:

  • "A.A. is the last house on the street."
  • "Without A.A., it's Amen."
  • "A.A. is the last stop on the train."
  • "A.A. is the Last Stop on the Track."
  • "I tried everything before A.A."
  • "Only another alcoholic will understand."
  • "Only in giving do we receive in full measure."
  • "You are not required to like it, you're only required to DO it."
  • "It's Our Way or the Die Way."
  • "Work The Steps, Or Die!"
  • If you don't Work The Program, then your fate will be "Jails, Institutions, Or Death".

Here, Bill talks about prospects who are invited to join A.A.:

Some of them may sink and perhaps never get up, but if our experience is a criterion, more than half of those approached will become fellows of Alcoholics Anonymous.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, page 163.

Note that there is no third choice: either sink or join Alcoholics Anonymous. (That is an example of the Either-Or Propaganda Technique.) Recovery without A.A. is not considered possible. According to Bill, nothing else, like do-it-yourself, works. No other program works. There are no other choices than join A.A. or die.

Also note that the recruiting rate that Bill claimed — "more than half" — is totally untrue. Bill was just lying about the A.A. recruiting rate again, trying to make A.A. look like a big success.


The final decision came when my daughter, following a drunk which ruined my wife's birthday, said, "It's Alcoholics Anonymous — or else!"
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, page 378.

Bill Wilson even declared that failure to follow his directions would result in death:

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 [superstitions].
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William Wilson, page 174.

Bill Wilson's delusions of grandeur are showing here: if you don't do his Twelve Steps, then you are guilty of "personal disobedience to spiritual principles." Mr. Wilson seems to believe that only he knows and has written down The Real Spiritual Rules of God, and they are embodied in The Twelve Steps. No other church is valid — their spiritual principles are worthless, and practicing them will not save you from a fate worse than death. Either do it Bill's way, or you are disobeying The Real Spiritual Principles of God, and you will pay for your disobedience with your life.

Bill Wilson declared (in so many words):

I am the Recovery Program, thy Recovery Program. Thou shalt have no other Recovery Programs before Me, for thy Recovery Program is a jealous Recovery Program, and It wants your whole life.

In addition, A.A. boosters also constantly repeat the Big Lie that A.A. works, and A.A. with its Twelve Steps is the way that everybody recovers — It's the only way that works:

One way or another Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or a similar Twelve-Step program is an integral part of almost all successful recoveries from alcohol or drug abuse. In fact, it is widely believed that not including a Twelve-Step program in a treatment plan can put a recovering addict on the road to relapse. For some people, regular participation in such a mutual self-help group is all that is needed to become and remain sober.
The Recovery Book, Al J. Mooney M.D., Arlene Eisenberg, and Howard Eisenberg, pages 40-41.

All three of those sentences are untrue.

  • Notice the propaganda technique of "everybody's doing it": "AA or a similar Twelve-Step program is an integral part of almost all successful recoveries".
    That is a complete falsehood. The good, unbiased, scientific research shows just the opposite. So do the surveys of successful quitters. Most people who recover do it without any 12-step "treatment".
  • Notice the propaganda technique of vague suggestions and use of the passive voice:
    "It is widely believed that not including a Twelve-Step program in a treatment plan can put a recovering addict on the road to relapse."
    It is widely believed by whom, besides a few true-believer A.A. and N.A. members? When did mainstream medicine decide that confessing your sins and admitting powerlessness over drugs and alcohol was necessary for recovery from drug addiction and alcohol abuse?
  • Notice the propaganda technique of fear-mongering: you will be "on the road to relapse" unless you do Bill Wilson's Twelve Steps.
  • Notice the Pollyanna attitude: just going to the wonderful A.A. meetings is all that is needed to fix some alcoholics.

The truth is just the opposite of what they are claiming: The vast majority of the people who do successfully recover from drug or alcohol addictions (like 75% or 80% of them), including the former President of the United States, George W. Bush, actually do it without any Twelve-Step program, or even any recovery group of any kind. Contrary to everything you have ever been told by 12-step enthusiasts, going it alone is actually the "time-tested, proven, method that really works." The 12-step method works for very few people.

Meanwhile, another professional paper from the A.A. pushers, one that taught "counselors" how to shove A.A. on the patients in Project MATCH, stated:



  • Acceptance by patients that they suffer from the chronic and progressive illness of alcoholism

  • Acceptance by patients that they have lost the ability to control their drinking

  • Acceptance by patients that because there is no effective cure for alcoholism, the only viable alternative is complete abstinence from the use of alcohol


  • Acknowledgment on the part of the patient that hope for recovery (i.e., sustained sobriety) exists, but only by accepting the reality of loss of control and by having faith that some higher power can help the patient, whose own willpower has been defeated by alcoholism

  • Acknowledgment by the patient that the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has helped millions of alcoholics sustain their sobriety and that the patient's best chances for success are to follow the AA path

NOWINSKI, J.; BAKER, S.; AND CARROLL, K. Twelve-Step Facilitation Therapy Manual: A Clinical Research Guide for Therapists Treating Individuals With Alcohol Abuse and Dependence. Project MATCH Monograph Series Vol. 1. DHHS Publication No. (ADM)92-1893. Bethesda, MD: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 1992.

And there it is: in order to "recover" from alcoholism, the patient must believe that A.A. is the only way, and the patient must surrender to Alcoholics Anonymous.
(But then the patients don't ever recover — they don't ever get cured — they are supposed to just remain "in treatment" and "in recovery" for the rest of their lives.)

The Alcoholics Anonymous propaganda mill never sleeps.

An A.A. true believer "shared" this story:

Friday, January 20th 2006

WOW* Carrying The Message. I went to my regular Wednesday night meeting yesterday. Since I got to this city a year ago, the meeting has always been run by newcomers, Salvation Army dudes and people trying to recover in rehabs and "other programs." Before the meeting started, I had been sharing my dismay at the fact that we never get to hear any AA in that meeting. When it came time for the leader to lead the meeting and open up with a topic...he called on me instead. YIKES! I was already fired up, having been thinking about "things" all week long. I opened up with both barrels! I got really passionate about what I was saying and my voice got louder and faster, BUT...even though there was anger in my was ALL out of our Big Book. I shared that I was tired of hearing everything BUT AA in this meeting, that I didn't care WHAT OTHER PROGRAM you got here, WHAT your Higher Power's first name is, or HOW MANY TRUE & FALSE or MULTIPLE CHOICE questions your "sponsor" made you FILL OUT on your 4th Step! I also shared that IF YOU DO WHAT WE DO...YOU JUST MIGHT GET A LITTLE SOBER TIME AROUND HERE! A few of the guys from the Salvation Army were laughing at me and I suggested to them that they could laugh all they wanted. They could also go out and try to stay sober using just the Salvation Army and Jesus Christ and that we would save them a seat in AA IF they make it back!! After all, WHY do they think those "other programs" send them to AA anyway? THIS is the easier softer way people! If it could have been any easier to do...Bill W. would have incorporated it into our book! Gratefully...a few people with quite a bit of sober time, shared after I did. They said the same things I did, only perhaps a little more
== See the article "Morning Meds" in the newsgroup alt.recovery.aa, 19 Jan 2006.;=1

Notice the criticism of faith in Jesus Christ there. This A.A. true believer says that a program based on Jesus won't work, and you will be lucky to survive it. But he will save a seat for you at the A.A. meeting, if you live long enough to make it back to a meeting. Only the A.A. program works. So much for the hypocritical A.A. claims that "There is no friction among us over such matters". (The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 2, There Is A Solution, page 28.)

If you take A.A. and throw away the Twelve Steps, the Buchmanite religion, and the rest of Bill Wilson's fanatical religious preachings, then you just might end up with what A.A. claims to be: a wonderful self-help fellowship of alcoholics just trying to help each other live.

In truth, some of this exists at all times. There are always some members who are at the meetings to share their experience, their strength, and their hopes, hoping to help both others and themselves. Some of those people may not even believe in or practice the Twelve Steps; they just like the fellowship part of A.A..

Alas, there are also always some preachers who are there in the rooms to deliver their standard sermons about how A.A. and the Twelve Steps are the only way to achieve and maintain sobriety. Such people are sharing only their uninformed fanatical opinions — they would have had to have tried every quit-drinking program in the world, and to have failed with all of the others, and to have succeeded only with A.A. and the Twelve Steps — not just with A.A., but only with both A.A. AND the Twelve Steps, for their statements to be true experience.

I never heard of anyone who really performed that experiment. I've heard of a few people who tried two other programs, like the Veterans' Administration program, and a Christian Brotherhood program, or the Salvation Army and the Catholic DePaul program, in addition to A.A., but that sure isn't all of the programs in the world.

In addition, the order in which someone conducts the experiments matters. If someone tries the A.A. program and succeeds in quitting drinking, then he should still continue the experiment: Return to drinking, and then find out whether the V.A. program or the Christian program or the Salvation Army or the DePaul program also works for quitting drinking at that point. Most people stop testing programs just as soon as something works — just as soon as they quit drinking. They just stick with whichever program they happen to be in when they quit, and insist that It is the good one. That is bad science. A man cannot then say that A.A. is the only thing that works for causing or maintaining sobriety, if he fails to test and re-test all of the other programs.

So someone who says that A.A. is the only thing that works is just blowing hot air, voicing his uninformed opinion. The A.A. traditions say that we are supposed to share our "strengths, hopes, and experience", not our uninformed opinions on subjects about which we actually know very little.

Ordinarily, I would say that the stupid fools at the meetings don't matter. They can be ignored. But in this case, I can't escape the feeling that the fanatics are driving many people away, people who came seeking help, and that without that help, some of those people will get into worse trouble, and maybe even die.

Not good.

12. The group and its members are special.
A.A. scores a 10.

The A.A. members unquestionably feel that they are special, and different from other people.

Some of that feeling may be justified, because they are alcoholics, and they are the survivors of some very bad times that other alcoholics didn't survive. Still, they don't hesitate to declare themselves special: "Us stupid drunks, we are different."

Alcoholics Anonymous members often have the attitude that their suffering was special and of greater significance and poignancy than ordinary peoples' suffering. Ordinary people may suffer from terrible diseases and die of cancer; they may lose loved ones; they may lose everything they own; they may lose whole families in disasters; but still, the alcoholics supposedly suffer more. In fact, the alcoholics' suffering was supposedly so much greater than that of normal people that the normal people cannot even understand the terrible special suffering of an alcoholic. That is an elitist attitude.

Likewise, the popular A.A. slogan "Religion is for people who are afraid of going to Hell, Spirituality is for people who've been there" is how they attempt to distinguish their "spiritual" program from a religion, which implies that A.A. people are superior to ordinary religious people, because A.A. people aren't afraid of going to Hell anymore, not like "normies" (normal people) are. That is just an arrogant ego game of spiritual one-up-manship.

A.A. uses membership in A.A. itself as a granfalloon. Those who do The Twelve Steps are "one of us", members of the right religion, "The Friends of Bill"; while those who don't do The Steps are the other people, "normies" or "dry drunks" who aren't our friends and who cannot be trusted. Non-AA-member ex-drinkers are allegedly all insane and "thinking alcoholically", and they are not qualified to judge Alcoholics Anonymous.

In the Big Book, an A.A. member says of a non-member:

"You poor guy. I feel so sorry for you. You're not an alcoholic. You can never know the pure joy of recovering within the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous."
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, page 334.

That is, of course, just incredibly outrageous self-congratulatory bull. No one is lucky to be an alcoholic and be forced to join A.A. or any other cult.

The Big Book contains more of the same We Are Special hype:

I saw in these people a quality of peace and serenity that I knew I must have for myself.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, page 310.

They had that certain something that seemed to glow, a peace and a serenity combined with happiness.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, page 290.

Bill Wilson also wrote:

Truly did a clergyman say to me, "Your misfortune has become your good fortune. You A.A.'s are a privileged people."
As Bill Sees It; The A.A. Way of Life... selected writings of A.A.'s co-founder, A.A.W.S., page 133.

And an A.A. book of daily readings teaches:

He cannot picture life without alcohol. Some day he will be unable to imagine life either with alcohol or without it. Then he will know loneliness such as few do. He will be at the jumping-off place. He will wish for the end.

Only an alcoholic can understand the exact meaning of a statement like this.
Daily Reflections; A Book of Reflections by A.A. members for A.A. members, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1990, page 13, January 5.

In his own story of alcoholism and joining A.A., Paul Molloy gave us this bombastic, grandiose garbage, supposedly from a non-alcoholic who is envious of those lucky alcoholics:

"... there are times, oh so many times, when I wish I had been an alcoholic. The reason is that I consider the AA people to be the most charming in the world.   ...
      "I asked myself why I consider so charming these alcoholic caterpillars who have found their butterfly wings in AA. I can name a few reasons. The AA people are what they are, and they were what they were, because they are sensitive, imaginative, possessed of a sense of humor and an awareness of universal truth.
      They are sensitive, which means they hurt easily, and that helped them become alcoholics. But when they have found their restoration, they are still as sensitive as ever — responsive to beauty and truth, and eager about the intangible glories of this life. That makes them charming companions. And they are possessed of a sense of universal truth that is often a new thing in their hearts. The fact that this at-one feeling with God's universe had never been awakened in them is sometimes the reason why they drank.
      "The fact that it was at last awakened is almost always the reason why they were restored to the good and simple ways of life. Stand with them when the meeting is over, and listen as they say the 'Our Father.'
      They have found a power greater than themselves which they serve diligently. And that gives them a charm that never was elsewhere on land and sea. It makes you know that God Himself is really charming, because the AA people reflect His mercy and His forgiveness.
      "They are imaginative, and that helped to make them alcoholics. Some of them drank to flog their imaginations on to greater things. Others guzzled only to black out unendurable visions that rose in their imaginations. But when they have found their restoration, their imagination is responsive to new thinking, and their talk abounds with color and light. And that, too, makes them charming companions.
      "They are possessed of a sense of humor. Even in their cups they have been known to say damnably funny things. Often, it was being forced to take seriously the little and mean things of life that made them seek escape in the bottle. But when they have found their restoration, their sense of humor finds a blessed freedom, and they are able to reach a god-like state, where they can laugh at themselves — at the very height of self-conquest. Go to meetings, and listen to their laughter. What are they laughing at? At ghoulish memories over which weaker souls would cringe in useless remorse. And that makes them wonderful people to be with by candle-light.
      "AA can, and does, show these people a solution to their problem, and its greatest recommendation is — it works!"
Where Did Everybody Go?, Paul Molloy, pages 187-189.

Wow. That is all so wonderful that we really should put whiskey in our children's baby bottles, so that we can give them an early start on the road to alcoholism and sainthood, where they will "reach a god-like state".

Also notice how the author gave us a huge load of Pollyanna's fluff, and then he suddenly declared that A.A. works, based on absolutely no evidence whatsoever. The Big Lie strikes again.

Some A.A. members love to brag that A.A. can cure cases of alcoholism that baffle even the most learned and distinguished of the real "doctors and priests and ministers and psychiatrists" — mostly because A.A. has God and Bill Wilson and the Big Book on its side, and A.A. can perform miracles.

Here was a book that said I could do something that all these doctors and priests and ministers and psychiatrists that I'd been going to for years couldn't do!
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, page 473.

Yes, Bill Wilson hand-picked stories for the Big Book that said that he was such a great genius that his teachings were better than all of the doctors and priests and ministers and psychiatrists in the whole world, and Bill didn't even suffer from delusions of grandeur at all, not the least little bit...

One of the favorite A.A. slogans is "We are the experts on addiction." The horrendous failure rate of A.A. clearly shows that they are not, but they don't want to hear that...

Another popular myth is "God blessed the alcoholics. Only unto them did He give the precious gift of being able to help other alcoholics." Even worse, some A.A. members insist that they were "Chosen By God", that their period of drinking was just God's way of preparing them for the Great Work for which God had chosen them. Now, those A.A. members are God's Chosen People On Earth, doing the Will of God, while, presumably, the rest of us aren't. To hear those nuts tell it, people who didn't try to drink themselves to death have missed out on all of the good stuff in life, and have missed out on their ticket to Heaven.
(Too bad. But maybe, just maybe, if we promise to drink at least two whole fifths of cheap rotgut whiskey every single day for the next five years, maybe we too can become some of God's Chosen People...?)

Dr. Arthur H. Cain wrote that one example of this "Chosen" theme was a booklet titled "Around the Clock With A.A.", published by an A.A. group in California, where one passage declared:

God in His wisdom selected this group of men and women to be the purveyors of His goodness... He went right to the drunkard, the so-called weakling of the world. Well might He have said to us: "Unto your weak and feeble hands I have entrusted power beyond estimate. To you has been given that which has been denied the most learned of your fellows. Not to scientists or statesmen, not to wives or mothers, not even to my priests or ministers have I given this gift of helping other alcoholics which I entrust to you."
from: Dr. Arthur H. Cain's Saturday Evening Post article

Dr. Cain commented, "Such idolatry causes the believer to see himself as all-knowing, and turns the missionary into the zealot."

(It turns out that the text is much older and more widely distributed than Dr. Cain realized. Dr. Cain found it in California in the nineteen-sixties, but it is actually from an address, Why We Were Chosen, given by Judge John T., at the 4th Anniversary of the Chicago Group, on October 5, 1943.)

The Little Red Book of Hazelden parrots the same grandiose nonsense:

God has entrusted recovering alcoholics with a special gift of healing alcoholics who still suffer. This gift was not given to educators, doctors, or clergy members; it was granted to us so we might justify our right to live sober, normal lives by helping other alcoholics recover from their illness.
The Little Red Book, Hazelden, page 126.

This whole "Chosen People" routine has a big logical flaw: First, God gives a bunch of people the gene for alcoholism, to make them alcoholics. Then God gives more people the alcoholism gene so that they can become recovering alcoholics, and go save the first group of alcoholics. If God really doesn't want all of those people to die of alcoholism, why not just give none of them the gene for alcoholism, and solve the whole problem before it even starts?

Bill Wilson's answer to that question is, "The real purpose of A.A. is not to get people to quit drinking, or to save people from alcoholism":

"At the moment we are trying to put our lives in order. But this is not an end in itself. Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God..."
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, page 77.
So giving you the alcoholism gene was just God's way of forcing you to join the right religion — Bill Wilson's church. Neat, huh?

Bill even went on to declare that those alcoholics whose brains were destroyed by alcohol were lucky:

"... The philosophy of self-sufficiency is not paying off. Plainly enough, it is a bone-crushing juggernaut whose final achievement is ruin.
      "Therefore, we who are alcoholics can consider ourselves fortunate indeed."
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William Wilson, page 37.

Does that mean that we alcoholics are fortunate to be God's Chosen People, fortunate to be forced by brain damage to spend the rest of our lives in Alcoholics Anonymous, Seeking And Doing The Will Of God — or the will of our sponsors? Bill Wilson thought so.
Umm, sorry, but that theology is just a little too twisty for me.

In addition, it just seems to be a common human trait that people wish to feel that their suffering was for some higher purpose. It is a lot easier for people to believe that they went through Hell so that they would be prepared to help others, than to believe that they went through Hell solely because they made some foolish choices.

Other examples of how A.A. members think they are special:

  • "Ordinary people just don't know what it's like. They don't really understand us at all. They don't even know when to laugh at the punch lines of the jokes."
  • "They just don't understand."
  • "Earth people, or Normies, just don't understand."
  • "Most people can't get honest. We are the lucky ones."
  • "When we reached A.A., and for the first time in our lives stood among people who seemed to understand, the sense of belonging was tremendously exciting."     Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William Wilson, page 57.

One of the reasons that the ordinary people don't understand is because they aren't trained in the language. They don't know all of the buzz-words and code phrases; they don't know the new definitions of the redefined words in the "loaded language".

  • Those ignorant fools (ordinary people, "normies") still think that sobriety means "not drinking alcohol" and that recovery means "rebuilding your health and your life while not drinking alcohol".
  • They don't understand how A.A. membership and the Twelve Steps are required for both of those things.
  • They don't understand that people who quit drinking without doing Bill's wonderful Twelve Steps are just immoral "dry drunks" who are "only abstaining from alcohol".

And "ordinary people" are bad for another reason: They are not as understanding and tolerant as A.A. members are, and might criticize you, or disapprove, or look down on you, or misunderstand, if you reveal the fact that you are an alcoholic. So the only safe thing to do is only associate with other A.A. members, who can be counted on to be accepting and approving and understanding.

Possibly the most outrageous way that A.A. members imagine themselves to be special is that they think they get miracles on demand, and ordinary people don't. A.A. members think that they have God constantly removing their moral shortcomings and defects of character, and working for them every day, taking care of their wills and their lives for them, and constantly re-arranging the world to make life more comfortable for them. A.A. believers imagine that God is doing such favors for A.A. members, but not for 'normal' people, because A.A. members are doing Bill Wilson's Twelve Steps, and they have surrendered to the right God, and are doing the Will of God, while 'normal' people have not:

Step Three: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

— And that is yet another way that A.A. members think they are special, and different. That is very similar to Frank Buchman's claims that only Frank and his boys were "sane" and doing the Will of God, while everyone else in the world was insane and wallowing in sin because they had not joined Buchman's cult and properly surrendered to God's Guidance and surrendered to "God-control." (Read: surrendered to "Frank-control".)

There is another huge assumption there: That God is more than happy to answer the prayers of A.A. members; that, in fact, God doesn't seem to really have anything better to do with His spare time than attend A.A. meetings and wait on alcoholics. Frank Buchman, the leader of the Oxford Group cult, declared that God would reveal himself to us if we asked Him to — "When man listens, God speaks" — and Bill Wilson believed it and incorporated that idea into the theology of Alcoholics Anonymous.

When we drew near to Him He disclosed Himself to us!"
(The Big Book, William G. Wilson, page 57.)

But somehow, the idea that "God will disclose Himself" got changed into "God will grant all of our wishes" and "God will work for us, and give us miracles on demand."

The A.A. believers do not seem to bother asking why God so obviously fails to answer the prayers of a lot of other people. No matter whether it is the Jews in Auschwitz, the Tutsis in Africa, the children in Biafra, Ethiopia, or Bengladesh, the AIDS victims in Africa, or the 60,000 people who starve to death on Earth every day, the A.A. believers seem to happily ignore the painfully obvious fact that God isn't answering those other people's prayers. God just lets those other people die.

The A.A. members must figure that they are really special, and that God really likes them better, because He will always answer their prayers, even if everybody else can just drop dead and go to Hell. God is supposedly always more than happy to make all of the A.A. members quit drinking, and God is constantly playing Santa Claus for them, removing their defects of character and their moral shortcomings in Step Seven, and then working all day long for them, telling them what to do in Step Eleven, and taking care of their wills and their lives for them in Step Three, even if He obviously doesn't care much about whether the children in foreign countries die of hunger and diseases...

So what makes the A.A. members so ultra-special and so privileged?

It looks like a lot of A.A. members are doing just what Bill Wilson said they were doing: "playing spiritual make-believe." (The Big Book, 3rd edition, Chapter 9, page 130.)

And there is still another aspect to this "We Are Special" ego game: "I am special because I quit drinking. I am far more spiritual than those ordinary people who are still guzzling their beers on Friday night, because I quit drinking and now I spend my days working for God."

Likewise, the old-timers fancy themselves wiser and more spiritual than the newcomers, but they hold out the hope to newcomers that they too can make the grade if they Keep Coming Back for enough years, and Work A Strong Program.

Institutional A.A. thinks members are special, too: They believe that only people who are steeped in A.A. dogma are qualified to work in treatment facilities. Most of the residential and outpatient treatment facilities in this country are dominated by A.A. and N.A. members, who will not hire anyone who is not another A.A./N.A. member. This also means that institutional A.A. and N.A. think that only people who have been alcoholics or drug addicts are qualified to help someone else overcome the problem. According to them, ordinary, sane, well-balanced people who aren't addicted to 12-step meetings are not qualified to talk about strategies for being normal, and living healthy, successful lives. They supposedly wouldn't know anything about that...

13. Induction of guilt, and the use of guilt to manipulate members.
A.A. scores a 10.

A.A. is so bad about guilt induction that it scores right up there with the worst of the authoritarian cult religions.

The Twelve Steps are great for making people muck-rake their own lives, "fearlessly" searching for things to feel guilty about, performing endless "searching and fearless moral inventories" to find wrongs, defects of character, and shortcomings, and admitting "to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs."

More than half of the Twelve Steps — seven of them to be exact, Steps Four through Ten — induce guilt by dwelling on your past sins, moral shortcomings, defects of character, the exact nature of your wrongs, and all of your offenses to others. Such guilt makes it easier to manipulate your mind.

You must also admit in Step one that you are helpless — "powerless over alcohol" — and have no control over your problem.

In Step Two you come to believe that you are insane, and that only "Something" or "Someone Else", some undefined "Power greater than yourself", can fix you — "restore you to sanity."

Then, in Step Three, you must surrender your mind, your will, and your life to God or the group or your sponsor, and let that "Something" or "Somebody Else" do your thinking for you.

Then you make endless lists of all of your sins, and wrongs, and everyone you have ever harmed or offended, and confess it all to somebody. Then Step Ten tells you to repeat that guilt-inducing routine forever, and promptly admit when you are wrong again.

You never make any lists of your good characteristics.

Then they hit you with the thought-stopping cliché "Your best thinking got you here", a little something designed to stop your critical thinking by inducing guilt about your past performance...

Then A.A. literature — all Bill Wilson's insane ravings — really lays on the big guilt trip:

  • The head of the house ought to remember that he is mainly to blame for what befell his home. He can scarcely square the account in his lifetime.
    The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William Wilson, Chapter 9, The Family Afterward, page 127.

    First, Bill Wilson told you, in Step One, that you were powerless over alcohol, so you weren't responsible for your actions. And now he pulls a bait-and-switch stunt on you, and tells you that it's all your fault, and you have been so bad that you can scarcely make amends, even if you try for the rest of your life. Are you starting to feel guilty?

  • But in A.A. we slowly learned that something had to be done about our vengeful resentments, self-pity, and unwarranted pride.
    Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William Wilson, page 47.

    Bill Wilson was practicing psychological projection, again. He was the one with Paranoid Delusions of Grandeur and a Narcissistic Personality Disorder, not all of the other alcoholics.

  • Now let's ponder the need for a list of the more glaring personality defects all of us have in varying degrees. To those who have religious training, such a list would set forth serious violations of moral principles.
    But all who are in the least reasonable will agree upon one point: that there is plenty wrong with us alcoholics...
    Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William Wilson, page 47.

  • Since Step Four is but the beginning of a lifetime practice, it can be suggested that he first look at those personal flaws which are acutely troublesome and fairly obvious.
    When, and how, and in just what instances did my selfish pursuit of the sex relation damage other people and me?
    Did I overvalue myself and play the big shot? Did I have such unprincipled ambition that I double-crossed and undercut my associates? [Henry Parkhurst]
    What about the "quick money" deals, the stock market, and the races?
    Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William Wilson, pages 50-51.

    This is very autobiographical. I don't know about the races, but all of the rest was true of Bill Wilson. Wilson was indulging in psychological projection again.

    • Bill Wilson was notorious for philandering and 13th-stepping the pretty women who came to A.A. seeking help for alcoholism.
    • And Bill Wilson was a "stock analyst" and a stock touter, and played the stock market. That's quick money games to the max.
    • And it was Bill Wilson who stole the Big Book copyright and the Big Book publishing fund, thus double-crossing and under-cutting the other early A.A. members, especially Henry Parkhurst. Bill Wilson took all of the credit for writing "the first 164 pages" of the Big Book, but Henry Parkhurst actually wrote the outline for the whole book, as well as Chapter 11, To Employers and his own autobiographical story The Unbeliever, and contributed to the writing of the rest of the "first 164 pages".
      Bill refused to give Hank any credit for his work. Then Bill stole the copyright, and refused to give anybody but himself and Doctor Bob any share of the royalties. Then Bill conned Henry Parkhurst out of his shares in the A.A. book publishing company, and left Hank to die drunk and broke. That's double-crossing and undercutting an associate.

  • But it is from our twisted relations with family, friends, and society at large that many of us have suffered the most. We have been especially stupid and stubborn about them. The primary fact that we fail to recognize is our total inability to form a true partnership with another human being. Our egomania digs two disastrous pitfalls. ...
    Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William Wilson, page 53.

    So Bill Wilson admitted that he suffered from egomania, and again practiced psychological projection, claiming that everybody else had his mental problems. And the "inability to form a true partnership" is another symptom of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The outcome of Bill Wilson's "partnership" with Henry Parkhurst when they co-wrote the Big Book was that Bill Wilson died rich from the book, and "Hank" died dead broke.

  • What we must recognize now is that we exult in some of our defects. We really love them. Who, for example, doesn't like to feel just a little superior to the next fellow, or even quite a lot superior? Isn't it true that we like to let greed masquerade as ambition? To think of liking lust seems impossible. But how many men and women speak love with their lips, and believe what they say, so that they can hide lust in a dark corner of their minds? And even while staying within conventional bounds, many people have to admit that their imaginary sex excursions are apt to be all dressed up as dreams of romance.
          Self-righteous anger can also be very enjoyable.   ...
          When gluttony is less than ruinous, we have a milder word for that, too; we call it "taking our comfort." We live in a world riddled with envy. To a greater or lesser degree, everybody is infected with it. From this defect we must surely get a warped yet definite satisfaction. ... And how often we work hard with no better motive than to be secure and slothful later on — only we call it "retiring."
    Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William Wilson, pages 66-67.

    So, working hard now, so that we can retire later, in our old age, with some financial security, is contemptible "slothful" behavior, is it? Is there anything more ridiculous that Deacon Wilson could possibly try to make us feel guilty about? Poor old Bill Wilson really was a raving lunatic, wasn't he?

  • A.A. also induces guilt by holding up an ahuman, impossibly lofty standard for the perfect member. The members can't ever live up to the standard, so they always feel guilty and inadequate.

    ...drinkers would not take pressure in any form, excepting from John Barleycorn himself. They always had to be led, not pushed. They would not stand for the rather aggressive evangelism of the Oxford Group. And they would not accept the principle of "team guidance" for their own personal lives. It was too authoritarian for them. In other respects, too, we found we had to make haste slowly. When first contacted, most alcoholics just wanted to find sobriety, nothing else. They clung to their other defects, letting go only little by little. They simply did not want to get "too good too soon." The Oxford Groups' absolute concepts — absolute purity, absolute honesty, absolute unselfishness, and absolute love — were frequently too much for the drunks. These ideas had to be fed with teaspoons rather than by buckets.
          Besides, the Oxford Groups' "absolutes" were expressions peculiar to them. This was a terminology which might continue to identify us in the public mind with the Oxford Groupers, even though we had completely withdrawn from their fellowship.
    Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age, William G. Wilson, pages 74-75.
    Not-God, Ernest Kurtz, page 46,

    • Both Frank Buchman and Bill Wilson held up "An Impossible Superhuman Model of Perfection" — "The Four Absolutes" — for people to follow. (Absolute Purity, Absolute Honesty, Absolute Love, and Absolute Unselfishness.) That is yet another standard cult characteristic. They make you feel guilty and inadequate because you can't live up to their super-human standards of perfection.

    • Note the deception inherent in that program. Bill Wilson hid the Oxford Group origins of Alcoholics Anonymous, and masked its religious doctrines. Newcomers who only want to quit drinking, not join a religion, will find out the real truth about the program only a tiny bit at a time, "by teaspoons, not buckets." They won't find out what membership in the group really entails until later, after they have become committed, well-indoctrinated, members. That is deceptive recruiting, another standard cult characteristic.

    • And notice how Wilson criticized the alcoholics for not liking the fascism inherent in Frank Buchman's Hitler-praising Oxford Groups cult religion —
      "It was too authoritarian for them."
      "They wanted to cling to their other defects"
      "They didn't want to get too good too soon."
      According to Bill Wilson, you should even feel guilty and inadequate for not liking authoritarian fascism — you wish to "cling to your defects."

    • And Bill Wilson was certainly arrogant enough — in his opinion, he was moral and spiritual enough to handle lofty "spiritual concepts" like the Four Absolutes, even if the other drunks could not, and he was qualified to teach the Four Absolutes to others.

Another relevant practice of A.A., in addition to the induction of guilt, is the induction of fear and the use of fear to manipulate members' minds. See The Group Implants Phobias.

14. Unquestionable Dogma, Sacred Science, and Infallible Ideology
A.A. scores a 10.

They've got plenty of dogma and ideology: the Twelve Steps, the Twelve Traditions, the Big Book, and several other publications. And it is all true, always. If Bill Wilson wrote something in the Big Book, then it is automatically, indisputably true. The true-believer old-timers may often be heard advising newcomers that everything one needs to know is within the first 164 pages of the Big Book (which Bill Wilson either wrote or co-wrote). In fact, the first 164 pages of the Big Book are considered to be so sacred that those pages cannot be changed, corrected, or updated even one little bit. The fourth edition was just published, and they didn't fix a thing in the first 164 pages, and they won't change anything in future editions, either.

Like most cult religions, A.A. practices "Group-Think", and forbids any criticism of "the program." Like most cults, A.A. believes that it has unquestionable truths, even God-given truths, so it considers any criticism of its founders, their teachings, the organization or "the program" to be invalid — automatically invalid and untrue, even evil, because it is against the Will of God who dictated that infallible wisdom. Thus A.A. members call critics "AA-bashers" and imagine that everything that "AA-bashers" say is always wrong, and can be dismissed out-of-hand, just because they are AA-bashers. By this circular logic, A.A. can never be wrong, and criticism of A.A. can never be correct. And the true believers can avoid ever having to take any criticism of A.A. seriously, or honestly reflect on what the critics are saying.

A.A. members say, "If you criticize the program, you will cause people to relapse and die drunk, and it will all be your fault." That's exactly the same argument as the Church in Rome used during the Middle Ages to explain why you couldn't tell the truth about all of the crimes and sins of the Church — burning millions of women and girls as witches, molesting the alter boys, selling everything from indulgences to Bishop's offices, and using the Grand Inquisition and heresy trials to silence critics — "You can't criticize the Church, because if you do, it will destroy the faith of the weak people, and then they won't be able to get into Heaven."

Likewise, A.A. says, You can't criticize wonderful Alcoholics Anonymous:

  • You will kill countless alcoholics if you do.
  • The weak alcoholics will relapse and die drunk if they hear bad things about A.A..
  • You will drive away those who "might have been helped".
  • You will be 'doing an immense disservice to those who are trying to achieve sobriety'.
  • Alcoholics Anonymous won't work if you say that it doesn't work. [Because, they say, it depends on a placebo effect.]

Likewise, A.A. members routinely denounce critics with ad hominems like:

  • "You're just a big drunk who is afraid to sober up."
  • "You don't know because you don't work the Steps."
  • "You are insane."
  • "You are just an atheist."
  • "You are just nursing a resentment."
  • "You're just in it for the money."
  • "You don't care how many alcoholics you kill by criticizing Alcoholics Anonymous."
Thus, many A.A. members automatically dismiss all criticism of A.A. without even thinking about it.

A.A. deserves and gets the 10 for the many grossly wrong or blatantly dishonest statements in their literature, which is one of the big differences between information and dogma. (Refusal to correct errors being another).

And A.A. also deserves the 10 for the gross irrationality and sheer insanity of the dogma, tenets, and beliefs, and the members' fanatical dedication to that dogma and those beliefs.

The list of A.A.'s religious tenets includes:

  • A.A. works great and has saved millions of lives.
    (Just stubbornly ignore the annoying facts like that A.A. has a drop-out rate greater than 95% in the first year alone, and that A.A. actually raises the death rate in alcoholics.)

  • Nobody can quit drinking without Alcoholics Anonymous. People who try to quit drinking by using their own intelligence and will power die drunk in a gutter.
    (Just ignore the fact that the vast majority of alcoholics who successfully quit drinking do it without Alcoholics Anonymous.)

  • Bill Wilson was Guided by God when he wrote The Twelve Steps.

  • The Twelve Steps really do work for quitting drinking — the Twelve Steps are not really a formula for building a cult religion.

  • RARELY HAVE we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path (except for 99% of those people who try it).

  • Step One: You are powerless over alcohol, and your life is unmanageable. You are not only powerless over alcohol, you are also powerless over everything else, too. Powerlessness and helplessness are raised to the level of a virtue. You proudly declare that you are incapable of running your own life, and must be guided by something outside of yourself, like a Higher Power, or your sponsor, or the A.A. group.

  • Step Two: You are insane and crazy, and cannot trust your own "alcoholic" thinking. Your thinking must be done for you by someone else, like your sponsor or another old-timer. (Oh, and the sponsors are all wise and noble selfless spiritual teachers, too.)

  • Step Three: You are incapable of doing a good job of running your own life — your drinking history proves it — "Your Best Thinking Got You Here!" they gleefully announce — so you must turn your will and your life over to "the care of" (the control of) someone or something else called your "Higher Power"... or the A.A. group, or your sponsor....

  • Religious "enthusiasm" (mania, fanaticism) is the best cure for alcoholism.

  • A.A. is a program of rigorous honesty. We must be rigorously honest while discussing our own personal faults, sins, and moral shortcomings.
    (And we must be rigorously dishonest when it comes to discussing the obvious faults, sins, and moral shortcomings of the Alcoholics Anonymous organization, its current leaders, its teachings, or its founders.)

  • Unconfessed sins and unrevealed personal secrets cause people to drink alcohol. "You're Only As Sick As Your Secrets!" The cure for alcoholism is to confess every dirty little secret to another person, leaving nothing out, holding nothing back.

  • Amateur medicine is much better than professional medicine. Some ex-drunks who have no medical training, not even any basic scientific knowledge, who have nothing but some blind religious faith in A.A. and the Twelve Steps, can fix problems that baffle even the most learned and distinguished of the real "doctors and priests and ministers and psychiatrists". (The Big Book, 3rd Edition, page 473.)

  • The amateur doctors of A.A. are qualified to decide which prescription medicines the newcomers should take or stop taking. It is perfectly proper for sponsors to tell their sponsees to stop taking the pills that the real doctor gave them, because "You have to stop taking all medications if you want to really be in recovery."

  • Sober TIME equals wisdom and knowledge. The words of someone with six years of sobriety are twice as true and important as the words of someone with three years. And someone who has twenty years of sobriety is like unto a saint, and he can hardly ever be wrong about anything.

  • Confession is necessary for spiritual progress.

  • Prayer is necessary for recovery from alcoholism.

  • You must have Blind Faith, like a small child, if you want to quit drinking.

  • You must surrender your mind, your will, and your life to God and A.A..

  • You can give away and take back your will, as if it were a coin or a token. You can willfully take your will back even when you don't have a will (because you gave it away).

  • You have numerous "defects of character" (a.k.a. sins) and "moral shortcomings" which you must beg God to remove.

  • Alcoholics are "born that way", and have "character defects" like "alcoholic thinking" and "reacting wrong" that can be traced back to early childhood, even to a time before the alcoholic ever had his or her first drink.
    " wasn't because my wife left me that I started to drink, or because my mother didn't love me. It was because I have always been a potential alcoholic."
    Delirium Tremens, Stories of Suffering and Transcendence, Ignacio Solares, Hazelden, 2000, page 29.

    (Fact: I've also always been a potential astronaut, and a potential Nobel Prize winner, and a potential rock and roll star, and a potential saint, too, but it never happened. I certainly was not doomed to those fates, without any choice in the matter. So what was the real reason that guy became an alcoholic? How about, he felt bad, and wanted to feel good? How about, he was an abused child growing up in a dysfunctional family, and that's why he was always different, and felt different, even from early childhood?)

  • "None of us in Alcoholics Anonymous is normal. Our abnormality compels us to go to AA... We all go because we need to. Because the alternative is drastic, either A.A. or death."
    Delirium Tremens, Stories of Suffering and Transcendence, Ignacio Solares, Hazelden, 2000, page 27.

  • You didn't drink just because you wanted to feel good. You drank because you have a huge, inflated, strutting-peacock ego that thinks it is the center of the Universe and thinks it is too big and too good to need God.

  • Every alcoholic in the world is just the same as Bill Wilson was, and suffers from the same bad character defects as he had, and alcoholics must all be "cured" — or not cured, but "treated" — in the same way as Bill was. Thus, all alcoholics are immensely egotistical, and suffer from paranoid delusions of grandeur and a narcissistic personality disorder, and are resentful, angry, manipulative, dishonest, thieving, deceptive, evasive, selfish, grandiose, and unfaithful to their wives, just like Bill Wilson was, and must be treated as such.

  • A.A. has some vague "spirituality" which is different from, and superior to, mere religious beliefs. A.A. is "spiritual", not "religious".

  • Alcoholics are suffering from a disease which only a "spiritual experience" can conquer.

  • Reason isn't everything. Neither is reason, as most of us use it, entirely dependable, though it emanate from our best minds. (The Big Book, 3rd Edition, pages 54-55.) Blind faith is superior to reason or logic. So, the proper thing for a faithful believer to do is to turn off his reasoning mind, and overlook and ignore any and all blatant falsehoods, errors, contradictions, and inconsistencies in A.A. dogma.

  • Becoming a mindless religious fanatic and a giggling true believer is okay; it's called "spiritual intoxication". (The Big Book, 3rd Edition, page 128.)

  • Alcoholism is a progressive, incurable, spiritual disease. Because modern medicine has no cure for alcoholism, the only answer is to abandon yourself to God, and hope that He will fix you.

  • Your excessive drinking was caused by your disease, by your allergy to alcohol, over which you are powerless.
    No, wait, that isn't quite right; let me pull a bait-and-switch stunt on you:
    Your excessive drinking was caused by your past sins, and your selfishness, and your "moral shortcomings", and your "defects of character", and your "instincts running wild", and your evil natural desires, and "self-will run riot", all of which must be listed and confessed to man and God. Your problems were really of your own making.

  • Alcohol is cunning, baffling, and powerful, and has a clever brain that is hidden right behind its transparent... Ummm, it's hidden in there somewhere.

  • An alcoholic should not try to quit drinking by himself, or by his own efforts. He should join A.A., and just practice the Twelve Steps and wait for God to magically remove the desire to drink alcohol.

  • Someone who quits drinking alcohol and stays quit by his own efforts isn't really recovering from alcoholism, he is only abstaining, and he doesn't really qualify as "sober" or "dry".

  • Only the supernatural has enough power to defeat Demon Alcohol.

  • When someone quits drinking, and stays quit, it is to the credit of God, Who made it happen. When someone relapses, it is to the shame of the relapser, who did it. God had nothing to do with it.

  • Anyone who fails to conform to the group in either thought or deed is diseased and in denial.

  • You must be a savage atheist or a mushy-brained agnostic if you don't believe in Bill Wilson's wonderful spiritual program.

  • Only abandonment of the self and immersion in cult theology can open the door to the Divine Intervention necessary to the spiritual salvation of the addict.

  • Your ego and your mind must be torn apart and completely rebuilt by your sponsor and other group old-timers before you can be a good person. The Big Book, 3rd Edition, page 420: "In A.A., I have had to be torn down and then put back together differently." Page 459: "All Twelve Steps of A.A. are designed to kill the old self (deflate the old ego) and build a new, free self."

  • The way to overcome alcoholism is to spend the rest of your life being preoccupied with it, constantly attending meetings with other alcoholics, and talking about alcohol and alcoholism, and doing A.A. busywork, like the Twelve Steps and recruiting new members.

  • Someone who quits drinking alcohol all on his own, without the benefit of the Twelve Steps, will turn into a bitterly unhappy and immoral "dry drunk".

  • If you don't work the Twelve Steps, you will die drunk, soon. A man who fails to perform all of the suggested Steps to the best of his ability signs his own death warrant. (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, page 174.)

  • Alcoholics cannot bear the thought of really quitting drinking forever. They are so feeble-minded that they can only handle the thought of quitting drinking for just one day at a time.

  • Apparently, God is also just as feeble-minded, because He can't cure any alcoholics for more than just one day at a time, either. Every new day is another day when the alcoholic must strike a bargain with God, begging God to give him another 24-hour reprieve from his perpetual alcoholic death sentence in trade for doing God's will, or cult busywork, all day long.

  • The families of alcoholics suffer from a "spiritual disease" called "codependency" which is caused by being related to an alcoholic, and they must also join the Twelve-Step religion, and go to a branch of the church called "Al-Anon" to get "treatment" for their condition.

  • Resentments cause "spiritual" diseases. You cannot have any resentments at all, not against anyone, not even if someone robs, cheats, beats, or rapes you.

  • Strong emotions are bad. A good A.A. member must learn to "stuff his feelings" and always maintain an even emotional state characterized by Serenity and Gratitude.

  • Practicing the Twelve Steps makes you full of Serenity and Gratitude.

  • Going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings is spiritual growth.

  • Alcoholics absolutely must go to lots and lots of A.A. meetings, or else they will relapse and die drunk.

  • "Alcoholics Anonymous, as such, ought never be organized." That is "Tradition Nine".
    Please just ignore the fact that Alcoholics Anonymous is totally organized. It is legally incorported into three non-profit corporations: Alcoholics Anonymouus World Services, Inc., The General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous, and The Grapevine. A.A. has a national headquarters in New York, as well as state and city offices all over the world; it has a national council; it has executives and a board of trustees and a board of directors, and it has several million dollars in the bank.

  • Bill Wilson is better than Jesus Christ for saving your life from alcoholism.

  • When God gives people a will at birth, He also gives them an R.M.A. (Return Materials Authorization), so that they can send their wills back to the factory whenever they get tired of having them. (The same rule also applies to having a mind, or brains, or a life of your own.)

  • For every problem there is a simple one-line answer. All of life's problems, even the most complex problems, can be answered with simplistic slogans and thought-stopping clichés. Slogan-slinging is a good way to discuss the deadly condition called alcoholism.

  • There is a panacea. There is a simple, one-size-fits-all quick fix for alcoholism, and for all of the other big problems of life, too.

  • Words can mean whatever A.A. or Bill Wilson wants them to mean. Redefining words willy-nilly and loading the language is a perfectly good way to treat alcoholism.

  • The purpose of Alcoholics Anonymous is to help people quit drinking. But then again, no it isn't. Bill Wilson wrote in the Big Book, "At the moment we are trying to put our lives in order. But this is not an end in itself. Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God..." (Big Book, page 77.)

  • William Griffith Wilson was a brilliant spiritual man, inspired by God, not a mentally ill man who was a textbook case of "297.10 Delusional (Paranoid) Disorder, Grandiose Type" and "301.81 Narcissistic Personality Disorder".

  • And Doctor Robert Smith was a great and wise man, not a neurotic dogmatic religious fanatic whose brain was so wrecked by alcohol that he was incapable of supporting his wife while working as a doctor. Both Wilson and Smith didn't have to be supported by A.A. handouts for the rest of their lives.

  • The answer to everything is "Go to Meetings, Get a Sponsor, Do the Twelve Steps, and Read the Big Book."

  • It is proper behavior, and morally correct, to withhold the truth from newcomers, in order to avoid "confusing them" or "arousing their prejudices", while we keep them coming back for more indoctrination.

  • Alcoholics and addicts have "triggers", which are sights, sounds, or smells that they have associated with drinking or drugging. When an alcoholic or addict experiences one of these sensations, he immediately goes into ecstatic recall and is hit with an intense wave of craving that he cannot resist — because he is powerless, remember? — so he automatically relapses and gets happily stoned out of his gourd, and it is all somebody else's fault for putting the trigger in his path.

  • There is only one way to deal with life's ups and downs and hard knocks, and it is mandatory: "Get to a meeting as soon as possible."
    [In other words, reinforce the big lie — the lie that says "Because I am defective — because I have character defects which only God can remove, I am incapable of handling the stress of everyday life and must rely on others to do it for me."]

  • Alcoholics Anonymous and the Twelve Steps are the only way to recover from alcoholism. Nothing else works.

  • Even if the Twelve Steps turn out to be useless for treating alcoholism, they are still wonderful, and should be practiced by everyone, because they make people seek and do the Will of God. (Which makes A.A. and the Twelve Steps the right spiritual practices, and all of the other religions in the world wrong, because they don't seek and do the Will of God through the Twelve Steps.)

  • Thinking about all of this, and trying to understand it, is a bad thing. It is called "Stinkin' Thinkin'." What you should do is: "Utilize, Don't Analyze." "Keep It Simple, Stupid!"

  • Being intelligent, and able to think, is a bad thing. The slogan is, "Nobody is too stupid to get the program, but some people are too intelligent."

  • You can't survive without total faith in Alcoholics Anonymous. If you stop believing in Bill Wilson and the Twelve Steps, you will have to drink over it. You can't possibly abstain from drinking alcohol without believing in Bill Wilson and his version of God.

15. Indoctrination of members.
A.A. scores an 8.

You get indoctrinated at every meeting, and you must continue going to meetings for the rest of your life. You must also get a sponsor to personally supervise your indoctrination. You must absorb the Big Book and other A.A. literature. Then you can listen to motivational tapes in what little spare time you have left. The practice of the Twelve Steps itself is a kind of indoctrination: you come to believe what they say as you do them. And 90 meetings in 90 days is a fair attempt at deep immersion and rapid conversion.

16. Appeals to "holy" or "wise" authorities.
A.A. scores a 7.

This is a split decision; A.A. feels itself to be such a self-contained authority on everything, that it does not make a lot of appeals to any current outside authorities. However, the Big Book, A.A.'s own Bible, contains direct or indirect endorsements by Dr. William D. Silkworth, M.D., John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Dr. Carl Jung, Father Edward Dowling, S.J., Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick, as well as five other doctors in the Chapter "The Medical View on A.A.".

Alcoholics Anonymous claims to have a few standard outside endorsements, like Carl Jung and Aldous Huxley, but...

  • Carl Jung never really endorsed A.A.; A.A. just likes to claim that they implemented some of Jung's ideas, which is not true.
  • A.A. promoters often mention TIME magazine, which declared that Bill Wilson was one of the 100 most influential people of the Twentieth Century. But so was Adolf Hitler.
  • Bill Wilson claimed that Aldous Huxley once commented that he thought Bill Wilson was "the greatest social engineer of the Twentieth Century." But that boast has never been verified. Nowhere in Huxley's books or papers is there any such praise of Bill Wilson or Alcoholics Anonymous. And there is no other source of Bill's claim than Bill's own bragging.

    • You would think that "the greatest social engineer of the Twentieth Century" should have rated at least a small paragraph in something or other that Huxley wrote. (How about some A.A. meetings on Island? No, but they did have psychedelic sessions and sex lessons there. Apparently Huxley did not consider A.A. to be part of his ideal Utopian society.)
    • Bill may have been spinning yarns and telling more of his grandiose tall tales again.
    • It isn't entirely clear in just what sense Huxley might have meant that, if he did say something like that. Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Chairman Mao Tse Tung could also be considered contenders for that title of "Social Engineer". They were also good at manipulating people.
    • Also, Huxley wasn't above examining and testing anything, but that doesn't mean that he was endorsing or recommending it. Huxley was also one of the first investigators of Scientology in England, and was one of the first "clears". But Scientology doesn't talk about that any more, because Huxley went on to criticize Scientology.

At A.A. meetings, there are always lots of appeals to the Big Book and other A.A. publications, especially the writings of Bill Wilson like Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, and As Bill Sees It. At almost every meeting, someone is reading from those "holy scriptures", and delivering a sermon on the subject.

Institutional A.A. often points to "scholarly" or "scientific" articles that support the twelve-step treatment program as good medicine. What they don't tell you is that most all of those articles were written by other hidden A.A. members who were anything but scientific in their analysis and conclusions. Likewise, A.A. boosters also often cite pro-A.A. pseudo-scientific statements from A.A.'s own front groups like ASAM (the American Society of Addiction Medicine), NCADD (the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence), and NAADAC (the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors).

As is common in many cults, those self-proclaimed "authorities" often cite each other as experts who agree that Alcoholics Anonymous is wonderful. It is a mutual admiration society of circular references. "Keith is right because Rudolf says that he is right, and Rudolf is right because Keith says that he is right".

17. Instant Community.
A.A. scores a 4.

By joining A.A., you get a new social circle, and a sponsor, and you become a member of a nation-wide organization that has meetings everywhere. But you don't get the total immersion experience, and you can't move in with them even if you want to (unless you have been committed to an institution).

18. Instant Intimacy.
A.A. scores a 7.

A.A. promises you confidentiality, and invites you to confess all and tell all, even to a roomful of complete strangers, even at the very first meeting. You are supposed to feel comfortable revealing your innermost shameful secrets to the A.A. group, because it's all just one big happy family — the Friends Of Bill. But they don't force intimacy on you. (Except for institutional A.A., where I am hearing about just that: enforced confession sessions.)

  • "You're only as sick as your secrets."
    — A.A. slogan.

  • "My burdens are only as heavy as the secrets I hang on to."
    — September 18, The Promise of a New Day: A Book of Daily Meditations, Karen Casey and Martha Vanceburg, Hazelden.

  • "Intimacy is the gift that bonds us one to another.  ...
          Becoming intimate with someone else unites us, enlarges our capacities to nurture the people in our lives. Our emotional growth is proportionate to our attempts at intimacy.
          Only the experience of self-revelation can assure us that others won't think less of us. Our unity with another is possible only if we share the person who lives within."
    "I must find unity with others if I am to have the strength to withstand whatever befalls me. The people around me can be trusted with knowledge of my inner self. I'll reach out today."

    — August 27, The Promise of a New Day: A Book of Daily Meditations, Karen Casey and Martha Vanceburg, Hazelden.

  • "I may be tempted to keep some secrets today. I will remember that sharing them will relieve me of a burden that weighs me down."
    — March 26, The Promise of a New Day: A Book of Daily Meditations, Karen Casey and Martha Vanceburg, Hazelden.

19. Surrender To The Cult.
A.A. scores a 10, and deserves about a 50.

A.A. blatantly demands that members surrender to the cult. Step Three explicitly instructs members to turn their wills and their lives over to "the care of God":

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

The Big Book also says,

Abandon yourself to God as you understand God.
The Big Book, 3rd & 4th editions, William Wilson, Chapter 11, A Vision For You, page 164.

And Bill Wilson's Third Step prayer declares,

"God, I offer myself to Thee — to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will.   ...   May I do Thy will always!" We thought well before taking this step making sure we were ready; that we could at last abandon ourselves utterly to Him.
The Big Book, 3rd edition, William G. Wilson, page 63.

A.A. uses the threat of death by alcoholism to blackmail people into submitting and surrendering to the cult. The Big Book asks,

"Will he take every necessary step, submit to anything to get well, to stop drinking forever?" (Page 142.)

Submit to anything?

And the Big Book says:

Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely.
The Big Book, 3rd & 4th editions, William Wilson, Chapter 5, How It Works, page 58.

Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program...
The Big Book, 3rd & 4th editions, William Wilson, Chapter 5, How It Works, page 58.

Completely give themselves?

That is a standard refrain of the 12-Step cheer-leaders: "You must be willing to do anything — anything — for your recovery. — Go to go to any length. — Believe anything."
And that definitely includes submission and surrender, and "completely giving yourself", even to things that don't quite feel right or sound right.

If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it — then you are ready to take certain steps.
        At some of these we balked. We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not.
The Big Book, 3rd edition, William G. Wilson, page 58.

And the Big Book says,

It was at that point that I reached surrender. I heard one very ill woman say that she didn't believe in the surrender part of the A.A. program. My heavens! Surrender to me has meant the ability to run my home, to face my responsibilities as they should be faced, to take life as it comes to me day by day and work my problems out. That's what surrender has meant to me. I surrendered once to the bottle, and I couldn't do these things. Since I gave my will over to A.A., whatever A.A. has wanted of me I've tried to do to the best of my ability.
The Big Book, the story "The Housewife Who Drank At Home", 3rd Edition page 340 and 4th Edition page 300.

Yes, My Heavens! You are an appalling mess, a real sicko, if you won't surrender your will and your life to Alcoholics Anonymous!

The new member will ostensibly turn control of his will and his life over to "God" or some other "Higher Power as you understand Him", but Bill Wilson also declared that newcomers could not trust their own minds or their own ability to receive guidance from God, so they must really turn to the group elders for guidance, not God:

If all our lives we had more or less fooled ourselves, how could we now be so sure that we weren't still self-deceived?   ...  
      ... what comes to us alone may be garbled by our own rationalization and wishful thinking.   ...   Going it alone in spiritual matters is dangerous. How many times have we heard well-intentioned people claim the guidance of God when it was all too plain that they were sorely mistaken?   ...   Surely then, a novice ought not lay himself open to the chance of making foolish, perhaps tragic, blunders in this fashion. While the comment or advice of others may be by no means infallible, it is likely to be far more specific than any direct guidance we may receive while we are still so inexperienced in establishing contact with a Power greater than ourselves.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, pages 59-60.

So, even while the newcomers are saying that they are surrendering to God, they are really submitting to the control of the group's old-timers. The group elders get to declare what God really says.

Bill Wilson often declared that people could use the A.A. group itself as their Higher Power if they felt reluctant to use a supernatural deity. ("GOD" = a "Group Of Drunks".)
They turn their will and their lives over to the care of the group?
That is surrender to the cult, pure and simple.

"I must quickly assure you that A.A.'s tread innumerable paths in their quest for faith. ... You can, if you wish, make A.A. itself your 'higher power.' Here's a very large group of people who have solved their alcohol problem. In this respect they are certainly a power greater than you, who have not even come close to a solution. Surely you can have faith in them. Even this minimum of faith will be enough. You will find many members who have crossed the threshold just this way. All of them will tell you that, once across, their faith broadened and deepened. Relieved of the alcohol obsession, their lives unaccountably transformed, they came to believe in a Higher Power, and most of them began to talk of God."
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William Wilson, pages 27-28.

(Note how Bill Wilson pulled a bait-and-switch stunt there — He just changed the goal of the Alcoholics Anonymous program from quitting drinking to "a quest for faith", and "crossing the threshold", and "coming to believe" and having "faith" in Bill Wilson's 12-Step religion.)

A.A. founder Bill Wilson also wrote this piece of twisted illogic:

Every man and woman who has joined A.A. and intends to stick has, without realizing it, made a beginning on Step Three. Isn't it true that, in all matters touching upon alcohol, each of them has decided to turn his or her life over to the care, protection, and guidance of A.A.?
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, page 35.
As Bill Sees It, A.A.W.S. staff, page 328.

Actually, the answer to Bill's question is "No. That is not true — not true at all. Someone who has come to A.A. to get some help and advice for quitting drinking is not at all the same thing as someone who has decided to surrender control of his entire life to a cult."

Bill was just trying to fool people with two propaganda tricks: False Equality — assert that two different things are the same thing — and Sly Suggestions — just suggest that something might be true... (and then later start assuming that it is of course unquestionably true...)

Bill continued, and rationalized that surrender to the cult, and dependence on the cult, was not psychologically harmful:

      We realize that the word "dependence" is as distasteful to many psychiatrists and psychologists as it is to alcoholics. Like our professional friends, we, too, are aware that there are wrong forms of dependence. ... But dependence upon an A.A. group or upon a Higher Power hasn't produced any baleful results.
      So how, exactly, can the willing person continue to turn his will and his life over to the Higher Power? ... His lone courage and unaided will cannot do it. Surely he must now depend on Somebody or Something else.
      At first that "somebody" is likely to be his closest A.A. friend. ... Of course the sponsor points out that our friend's life is still unmanageable even though he is sober, that after all, only a bare start on A.A.'s program has been made.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William Wilson, pages 38-39.

(What Bill Wilson neglected to tell his readers is that when he wrote those words, he was in the middle of an 11-year-long bout of deep crippling clinical depression. He was so sick that he was completely non-functional, totally disabled, and under the care of two psychiatrists, Dr. Harry Tiebout and Dr. Frances Weeks, for more than 11 years.2 All that Bill Wilson could do was lay in bed and stare at the ceiling all day long, or go to his A.A. office and hold his head in his hands all day long. And yet Bill Wilson still cranked out this cheery propaganda about how 16 years of Working The Steps and being dependent on Alcoholics Anonymous "hasn't produced any baleful results." Bill Wilson was obviously lying like a rug to his readers.)

Even today, the official Alcoholics Anonymous literature exhorts us to surrender to the cult ("spiritual army") and just obey orders:

"I will center my thoughts on a Higher Power. I will surrender all to his power within me. I will become a soldier for this power, feeling the might of the spiritual army as it exists in my life today. I will allow a wave of spiritual union to connect me through my gratitude, obedience, and discipline to this Higher Power. Let me allow this power to lead me through the orders of the day."
Daily Reflections; A Book of Reflections by A.A. members for A.A. members, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1990, August 27, page 248.

Sieg Heil, mein Führer!

Surrender is not just physical. It isn't just a matter of obedience to the leaders or elders or founders' commandments . There are also appeals for intellectual surrender, where people stop thinking and stop asking critical questions. C. Thomas Anderson wrote in his piece of obnoxious A.A.-promoting propaganda that medical doctors should simply stop thinking scientifically:

Says Dr. Earle: "Our scientific training makes us want to know the reason for everything. Once you don't have to know the reason for everything, you're coming home, baby, you're really coming home."
Doctors in A.A.; the profession's skepticism persists, but MDs in Alcoholics Anonymous say the 12-step program could benefit all physicians, C. Thomas Anderson, American Medical News, Jan 12, 1990 v33 n2 p33(2)

"I attended a long-term, residential treatment program for clergy. We theologized ourselves into a stupor trying to figure out the surrender thing. What finally got the idea across to me was a simple drawing on a small Hazelden pamphlet called Surrender. It was of a guy holding his nose, waving a white flag and jumping in the water. That cartoon helped me understand that surrender is something you do, not something you theorize."
— a Hazelden counselor;=t&page;_id=29819

A currently-popular A.A. booster, Wayne B., declares:

Our Philosophy: We Friends of Step'n Ahead believe many alcoholics of our type...
...will surrender to the AA way of life without reservation if they are convinced of the fatal nature of their spiritual maladjustment...

Likewise, an Al-Anon book of daily meditations teaches the wives and children of alcoholics how to mindlessly "free-fall" — to surrender their whole lives — everything — to the cult, and live lives that are "truly powerless":

      Steps One, Two and Three opened doors to profound and meaningful changes. The effects of being raised in an alcoholic family seemed as fixed in me as my eye color. Two traits come to mind — turning to emotionally unavailable people for support, and engaging in self-doubt and self-hate. With the help of my sponsor, I now see that these and other traits, not other people, are the source of my anguish.
      That insight, however, was only the beginning. The real freedom came when I finally admitted I couldn't get better on my own, which lifted my denial. My powerlessness filled my lungs, brushed my skin, beat in tandem with my heart. I stood at the edge of acceptance, took a step, and free-fell into Step One. I realized that if only I could remember I was truly powerless over these effects and not try to pretend otherwise, I would be fine. Why? Because of Step Two. A Power greater than myself can help me.

What that Power is and how it can help me doesn't matter. It is only important that I can place my restless hope in this Power. In Step Three I then surrender my thoughts, feelings, actions, needs — my whole life — to the care of this Power.   ...

"The more I feel my smallness and powerlessness, the more I grow in spirituality."
Having Had A Spiritual Awakening..., p. 159
Hope for Today, published by Al-Anon Family Groups, page 233.

So the women and children surrender their wills, their minds, and their whole lives to 'something' — some unidentified "Higher Power" — and it supposedly does not even matter who or what that 'something' is or how it can help...?

("God, Jesus, the Devil, or a Golden Calf... Heck, what's the difference? Who cares? One 'Higher Power' is just as good as another, isn't it?")

Also notice the goofy logic:
"Why? Because of Step Two. A Power greater than myself can help me."

But Step Two is just a warped piece of fiction that Bill Wilson swiped from Frank Buchman:
"2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity."

It does not matter what they "came to believe". That's irrelevant. Step Two does not force any "Higher Power" or "God" to do anything for A.A. members or their wives.

"God" or "Higher Power" does not have to work for A.A. and Al-Anon members and perform miracles for them and "restore them to sanity" and take care of their wills and their lives for them just because Bill Wilson wrote Step Two.

(Ah, but if you surrender your logical mind and stop thinking, then that idea won't occur to you, will it?)

  • The first of the Twelve Steps starts the process of destroying your independence: you must admit that you are "powerless", and that your life is "unmanageable" — that you cannot manage your own life, and you need someone else to run it for you.

  • In Step 2 you "come to believe" that you are "insane" and need to be restored to sanity, and that only a "Power greater than yourself" can do it.

  • Then, in Step 3, you must surrender your will and your life to "God as you understand Him" or the A.A. group, and let "Something" or "Somebody Else" (like your sponsor) do your thinking for you, and run your life for you.

Bill Wilson insisted that the surrender to "Higher Power" must be total:

Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked his protection and care with complete abandon.
The Big Book, 3rd edition, William G. Wilson, page 59.

Bill's Third Step prayer is:

We were now at Step Three. Many of us said to our Maker, as we understood Him: "God, I offer myself to Thee — to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!" We thought well before taking this step making sure we were ready; that we could at last abandon ourselves utterly to Him.
The Big Book, 3rd edition, William G. Wilson, page 58.

And Ethel M.'s story in the Big Book says:

In the spiritual strength I had found, because of A.A., I felt that I had made a complete surrender, that I had really turned my life over that summer. I thought I had done that until Russ' second collapse, and the doctor told me very candidly that he wasn't long for this world. I knew then that I hadn't made a complete surrender, because I tried to bargain with the God I had found, and I said, "Anything but that! Don't do that to me!"
The A.A. Big Book, 3rd Edition, Ethel M., From Farm To City, pages 271-272.

So, you should just passively accept absolutely anything, even God killing your spouse, or else it means that you have not "made a complete surrender".

"Surrender" is so ballyhooed that it is a key term in A.A. jargon. (Lots of A.A. meetings are named things like "Surrender at Noon.") The believers brag about surrendering. The new inductees simply must surrender. This is stated again and again:

Dr. Robert Smith

Impressed by those who visited him in the hospital, he capitulated entirely when, later, in an upper room of this house, he heard the story of some man who experience closely tallied with his own.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 11, A Vision For You, page 160.

The "upper room" mentioned here is in Doctor Robert Smith's house in Akron, Ohio, or in the large Westfield home of T. Henry and Clarace Williams, where the original Akron Oxford Group "Alcoholic Squadron" meetings were held. Doctor Bob and T. Henry were such a crazy religious fanatics that they kept special rooms in their houses ready for people to surrender in. Everyone had to go upstairs and surrender, on their knees before Dr. Bob, if they had not already gotten on their knees and surrendered to him in the hospital. People were not even allowed to attend the Wednesday night meetings unless they had first surrendered:

Surrenders were a critical part of the meeting structure. As oldtimers pointed out, no one was allowed to participate in the Wednesday night meetings without having made surrender.
The Akron Genesis of Alcoholics Anonymous, Dick B., page 192.

Wally G. also explained that surrenders were a prerequisite to full participation:

On the business of surrender which I think was probably the most important part of this whole thing, Dr. Smith took my surrender the morning of the day that I left the hospital. At that time it was the only way you became a member — you became a member by a definite act or prayer and surrender, just as they did in the [Oxford] Group. I'm sorry it has fallen by the wayside. Getting back to the business of how the thing operated: We took the "Upper Room" seriously. We took the meetings seriously, and we very seldom missed a set-up meeting.15

15 Transcript of Wally G.-Bill Wilson interview. Wally's story, "Fired Again", is in the first edition of the Big Book, at pages 325 to 331.

The Akron Genesis of Alcoholics Anonymous, Dick B., page 197.

The same thing was going on over at T. Henry's house. (T. Henry was another member of the Akron chapter of The Oxford Group, to which Dr. Bob belonged.)

We might take the new man upstairs, and a group of men would ask him to surrender his life to God and start in to really live up to the four absolutes and also to go out and help other men who needed it. This was in the form of a prayer group. Several of the boys would pray together, and the new man would make his own prayer, asking God to take alcohol out of his life, and when he was through, he would say, "Thank you, God, for taking it out of my life." During the prayer, he usually made a declaration of his willingness to turn his life over to God.48

48 See DR. BOB, pp. 139-141.

The Akron Genesis of Alcoholics Anonymous, Dick B., page 197.

Such prayer was always done in a circle, with everyone on their knees.

Ernie Galbraith, Dr. Bob's son-in-law, A.A. Number 4, and author of the Big Book first edition story The Seven-Month Slip, described the early meetings at T. Henry's house this way:

"... we were taking them upstairs and getting them on their knees to surrender, which I felt was a very important part."
      The surrender was more than important; it was a must. Bob E., who came into A.A. in February 1937, recalled that after five or six days in the hospital, "when you had indicated that you were serious, they told you to get down on your knees by the bed and say a prayer to God admitting you were powerless over alcohol and your life was unmanageable. Furthermore, you had to state that you believed in a Higher Power who would return you to sanity.
      "There you can see the beginning of the Twelve Steps," he said. "We called that the surrender. They demanded it. You couldn't go to a meeting until you did it. If by accident you didn't make it in the hospital, you had to make it in the upstairs bedroom over at the Williamses' house."
      Dorothy S. M. recalled the 1937 meetings when "the men would all disappear upstairs and all of us women would be nervous and worried about what was going on. After about half an hour or so, down would come the new man, shaking, white, serious, and grim. And all the people who were already in A.A. would come trooping down after him. They were pretty reluctant to talk about what had happened, but after a while, they would tell us they had had a real surrender.
      "I often wonder how many people that come in now would survive an experience like that — a regular old-fashioned prayer meeting," said Dorothy, who was then married to an A.A. member, Clarence S., and later came into A.A. herself.
Doctor Bob and the Good Old-Timers, "anonymous" (really written by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. staff), page 101.

Likewise, Ernest Kurtz reported:

The formal "meetings" continued to be held each Wednesday evening at the large Westfield home of T. Henry and Clarace Williams, the alcoholics at times making up almost half of the group as the year 1937 drew to a close. The sober alcoholics referred to themselves as "the alcoholic squadron of the Oxford Group." ... The expression furnished an important group identity. It was "the meeting" to which new prospects could be brought after they had "made surrender" (or even at times to "make surrender" in a small basement room before the meeting began)...
Not-God, Ernest Kurtz, page 56.

At this point, you might be wondering, "What kind of nuts were these people? Did they all keep some special room upstairs, or in the basement, just for people to surrender in?" The answer is, "Yes, they were really some seriously twisted hard-core religious fanatics."

Bill Wilson described more surrenders to the cult at T. Henry's house this way:

Many a man, yet dazed from his hospital experience, has stepped over the threshold of that home into freedom. Many an alcoholic who entered there came away with an answer. He succumbed to that gay crowd inside, who laughed at their own misfortunes and understood his. Impressed by those who visited him at the hospital, he capitulated entirely when, later, in an upper room of this house, he heard the story of some man whose experience closely tallied with his own.
A.A. Big Book, William G. Wilson, Chapter 11, A Vision For You, page 160.

Since when do you "succumb" and "capitulate" to a cure for a disease? (You don't.)

Ernest Kurtz also reported:

Bob E.'s last act before leaving the hospital was straight out of Oxford Group practice: he "made a surrender." On his knees at his bedside, Dr. Smith standing over him, Bob "shared completely — it [has] to be done with another person. Pray and share out loud. The act of surrender ... You couldn't attend a meeting unless you had gone through that. You couldn't just go to a meeting — you had to go through the program of surrender."
Not-God, Ernest Kurtz, page 54.

This was "Doctor Bob" Smith's method of handling alcoholics:

Often, wives would call. The alcoholic squad would find out about the prospect, his family situation, his job situation, and the nature of his drinking. Then the prospect himself would be approached; and there was a sharing of experience — just as Bill did with Dr. Bob and Ebby did with Bill. Following this preliminary questioning, the new prospect would be hospitalized and "defogged" for five to ten days — often with substantial doses of paraldehyde. Patients were given only a Bible as reading material. They would then be visited by several alcoholics who shared their experience. Dr. Bob emphasized hospitalization. He was hospitalization-oriented, and believed alcoholism to be a disease. The recovered alcoholics who visited the new person had a captive audience. Dr. Bob would often visit; and his part centered around three items:
  • a) He would explain the medical and disease aspects to the new person.
  • b) He would inquire about the person's belief in God — a God of love.
  • c) He usually asked the newcomer to make a decision. If the newcomer agreed to go along, he was required to admit that he was powerless over alcohol and then to surrender his will to God — on his knees — with prayer — in the presence of one or more of the alcoholic squad.55

55 See DR. BOB, pp. 109-11, 113, 118, 142-44, 146, 101-05, 81-87; Big Book, pp. 289-91.

The Akron Genesis of Alcoholics Anonymous, Dick B., page 200.

It's interesting that no one seems to have been bothered by the obvious contradiction: alcoholism is a disease that requires hospitalization, but the cure is not medicine, it is to get on your knees and pray to God in the hospital?

Besides detoxing or "defogging" the alcoholics, another purpose of such hospitalizations was simply to isolate the patient and turn him into a captive audience. Total immersion and total isolation is a standard mind-control technique that cults use to convert newcomers. The hospitalized patient was allowed no reading material but the Bible. The Oxford Group practice was to allow no visitors but Oxford Group members. The text here does not make it clear whether any non-A.A. visitors were allowed, but obviously, the patient was overwhelmed with "alcoholic squad" visitors whose purpose was to indoctrinate and convert him. They worked on him in shifts until he capitulated and surrendered to Dr. Bob on his knees.

Nan Robertson gave a similar description of Doctor Bob's method of treating new alcoholics:

Hospitalization was considered to be a must. Bob would circumvent hospital rules against putting alcoholics in private rooms by concocting another diagnosis and smuggling them in so that he could work on likely prospects without distractions.
      The doctor and his recovering alcoholic friends would pay frequent visits to the bedside. They told their drinking stories. Patients would reply, as one of them reported, "That's me. That's me. I drink like that." Usually the sick man would spend five or six days in the hospital being detoxified (medically withdrawn from alcohol). In the final days his visitors would ask the prospect to give over his life "to the care and direction of the Creator." Then the man would get down on his knees. When he "surrendered to God," he was considered a member. Those who did not "make their surrender" in the hospital did it soon afterward at an Oxford Group meeting, usually in the home of T. Henry and Clarace Williams.
      The Williamses were an Akron couple — generous and "a bit churchy," Dorothy Seiberling said — who opened their house every Wednesday night to the Oxford Group and its growing band of alcoholics. Young Bob [Dr. Bob's son], in frequent attendance, described the scene:
They'd take the guy upstairs and bore in on him. The Catholics in the group didn't like that kind of open confession. Then after a while the new member, looking shaken, would come down to the living room where the wives and us kids were waiting. We'd all sit around on chairs and the members would share and we'd all pray. It was kind of like an old-fashioned revival meeting.
Getting Better Inside Alcoholics Anonymous, Nan Robertson, pages 62-63.

And yet, they still insist that Alcoholics Anonymous is not a religion.

20. Giggly wonderfulness and starry-eyed faith.
A.A. scores a 7.

Regularly, you get someone yammering about how wonderful it is that their Higher Power is taking such good care of them and making everything so wonderful, but giggling seems to be held to a minimum.

One A.A. member happily bubbled:

I am very grateful that my Higher Power has given me a second chance to live a worthwhile life. Through Alcoholics Anonymous, I have been restored to sanity. The promises are being fulfilled in my life. I am grateful to be free from the slavery of alcohol. I am grateful for peace of mind and the opportunity to grow...
readandpostrosie, alt.recovery.aa, 24 May 2006.

And isn't it especially fortunate that Higher Power is busy saving the lives of white American members of Alcoholics Anonymous, rather than wasting His time on sick and starving brown and black children on the other side of the world, who apparently don't get a second chance?

And then there are the people who are so in love with Alcoholics Anonymous that they proclaim in meetings that they are so grateful for being addicts that they wouldn't take a pill to reverse the condition even if one was available.

There is always someone raving about how it's a Miracle that he is there, at the meeting, sober, against all odds, and isn't God wonderful to have done that? It seems like nobody ever says that it was inevitable that he would quit drinking, because he was just so sick and tired of being sick and tired; it is always a "Miracle" when somebody manages to stay sober for a while:

  • "Did U See A Miracle Of Recovery Take Place At One Of Ur Favorite Meeting Rooms?"
  • "I love this program and what it can do for those willing to do whatever it takes!"
  • "Yes, we don't have to go very far to see miracles working in all lives around us."
  • "GOD, I am a very very grateful drunk."
  • "Because of the wonderful fellowship of AA, the twelve steps, and a God that does for me what I can't do for myself, I found the courage..."
  • "Wow, that is soo awesome!!! What a miracle started that day!"

The biggest giggler of them all, the one who really suffered from mindless giggly wonderfulness, was actually the founder William G. Wilson himself:

When we reached A.A., and for the first time in our lives stood among people who seemed to understand, the sense of belonging was tremendously exciting.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William Wilson, page 57.

Wilson described "Father's" conversion to A.A. membership this way:

Assume on the other hand that father has, at the outset, a stirring spiritual experience. Overnight, as it were, he is a different man. He becomes a religious enthusiast. He is unable to focus on anything else. As soon as his sobriety begins to be taken as a matter of course, the family may look at their strange new dad with apprehension, then with irritation. There is talk about spiritual matters morning, noon and night. He may demand that the family find God in a hurry, or exhibit amazing indifference to them and say he is above worldly considerations. He may tell mother, who has been religious all her life, that she doesn't know what it's all about, and that she had better get his brand of spirituality while there is yet time.
      When father takes this tack, the family may react unfavorably.   ...   They suspect father is a bit balmy!
      He is not so unbalanced as they might think. Many of us have experienced dad's elation. We have indulged in spiritual intoxication.
The Big Book, 3rd edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 9, pages 127-8.

Bill Wilson called it "spiritual intoxication", but it was really something else, like a mania — a giggling, laughing, hysterical insanity. The poor guy is obviously going insane with a monomaniacal obsession, and that isn't wonderful.

Bill continued, enthusiastically raving about spiritual experiences and all of the wonderful ways that God would solve all of our problems and magically make "the drink problem" just disappear without any thought or effort on our part.

We will seldom be interested in liquor.   ...
We will see that our new attitude toward liquor has been given to us without any thought or effort on our part. It just comes! That is the miracle of it.
The Big Book, 3rd edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 3, More About Alcoholism, pages 84-85.

Life will take on new meaning. To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends — this is an experience you must not miss.
The Big Book, 3rd edition, William G. Wilson, page 89.

The age of miracles is still with us. Our own recovery proves that!
The Big Book, 3rd edition, William G. Wilson, page 153.

"Quite as important was the discovery that spiritual principles would solve all my problems."
The Big Book, 3rd edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 3, More About Alcoholism, page 42.

Notice how this mindless enthusiasm goes along with another common cult characteristic — "We have the answer. We have the panacea."

In the same vein, other A.A. members added:

...we know we have an answer for you. It never fails...
Your Heavenly Father will never let you down!
— A.A. co-founder Doctor Robert Smith, writing in The Big Book, 3rd Edition, Doctor Bob's Nightmare, page 181.

This wasn't "religion" — this was freedom! Freedom from anger and fear, freedom to know happiness and love.
      ... I found I had come home at last, to my own kind.
— Marty Mann, in the story Women Suffer Too, in The Big Book, 3rd edition, page 228.

In the Big Book, an A.A. member says of a non-member:

"You poor guy. I feel so sorry for you. You're not an alcoholic. You can never know the pure joy of recovering within the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous."
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, page 334.

Other A.A. boosters proclaim:

"It's a spiritual experience to be able to go one day without a drink... It's a miracle! Early in my recovery I was leery about talking about God and thought AA was a religious cult, but I don't worry about that now." (RN, age 67).
Drug-Impaired Professionals, Robert Holman Coombs, page 154.

"I've attended AA meetings all over the world," a pilot (age 54) reported:
It's very stimulating. I've met in Rome and even in a bomb shelter in Tel Aviv! Even when they speak in French, Korean, or whatever, there's still an aura that's the same everywhere — a feeling of camaraderie. Though the format may be a little different, the meetings themselves are extremely similar. I was at an AA meeting in Paris one day with a television personality and discovered we were on the same flight going back to New York. It was great fun when I got on the plane in my captain's uniform. He was excited when he saw me and said, "Wonderful!"
Drug-Impaired Professionals, Robert Holman Coombs, page 214.

This recent exchange of messages in an Internet newsgroup is just so typical of mass giggly wonderfulness:

I don't know if this frail human body and spirit can handle the awesome power of this program. Talk about a spiritual awakening. I've been kind of sitting on the 6th and 7th steps, as well as the 1st part of the 5th, primarily because they are so intangible. Our last Saturday's meeting was on the 6th and I came away feeling I had almost worked through that one, but maybe not just quite.

From the opening chord on the organ for the prelude the Ash Wednesday service yesterday was so intense for me I almost could not perform my part as a member of the choir in the service. Everything just seemed to come together. It is impossible to put in words what the music was and did ... and, even stranger yet, I found at the end that it was completely improvised by the organist and would be impossible ever to hear again! Almost immediately after the prelude was a set of confessional prayers — by the time we were half way through them I realized I was doing those 5th, 6th, and 7th steps then and there and I still choke up as I write this with how I felt. And the feeling continued throughout the service; even the short sermon, about which I can remember very little, seemed aimed directly at me and where I was in the AA program. As I recall, I could find all of the 12 steps, each in its own way, somewhere in that single service — quite unintentionally, but also so natural and powerfully.

Again, Wow!

Thanks to all of you for being here, may you all find something similar.

First answer:

Big happy ((((((((((((((((((((((T)))))))))))))))))) for you! I never never know when my PGTS (power greater than self) will light my path. I am just glad it happens.

Second answer:

And the light came on. I'm really happy for you, Ted. That's the way it happens sometimes.
I use [sic., sp.] to hate the saying, "If you don't know there's no explination [sic., sp.] possible, and when you do know, no explination [sic., sp.] is necessary." Until what happened to you, happened to me, and then I understood. It's like I tell the ladies I sponsor. My job is to keep them entertained until the miracle happens.

Third answer:

Yeah! Cool program, ain't it?

Fourth answer:

I loved your post. I do believe that
if I am _willing_ to stay sober,
as _honest_ as I can be
and if I keep an _open mind_,
the steps will work _me_,
not the other way around.1

I think this is where men generally have a harder time with the program than women (he said, slightly taken aback by his willingness to make so broad a generalization in public): I think men have a tougher time feeling their intuitions and trusting them, but I think this is where one is led eventually via the 10th, 11th and 12th steps.

And one doesn't even have to be in church for it to happen — it's spiritual, not religious!

But wouldn't you just know it? There's always one character out there who won't play along in the fantasy...

This is exactly how I feel with my friends Max and Hiram at three A.M. in a cow pasture huddled up under a canopy of BLAZING stars at a bluegrass festival in south Georgia or Alabama, singing
In childhood I heard of a heaven,
I wondered if it could be real,
that there were sweet mansions eternal,
way off, out there beyond the blue...
in absolutely stirring, hair-raising beautiful three part harmony.
And then Max and Hiram drink some more beer and I pop another diet coke, and we do another one.
And you know, it's so cool, the way God loves to listen to drunks sing just as much as he loves organs on ash wednesday....

And lest you think I am unfairly picking on A.A., let me assure you that I've heard the same stuff around every cult that I've ever checked out: the Scientologists, the Nichiren Shoshu Buddhists, 3HO, the Jesus freaks, Amway, Alcoholics Anonymous... They all sound just the same.

to answers 21 to 30.


1) Note that the writer claims that you must quit drinking in order to make the 12 Steps work, not that the 12 Steps will make you quit drinking. Why bother with "Working The Steps" if they won't help you to quit drinking, and they won't even work until after you have quit drinking?

2) 'PASS IT ON' The story of Bill Wilson and how the A.A. message reached the world, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., pages 293-294, and
A History of Addiction & Recovery in the United States, Michael Lemanski, page 59.
Bill's 11-year long fit of deep, crippling, chronic depression lasted from 1944 to 1955.
Also see: Nan Robertson, Getting Better Inside Alcoholics Anonymous, page 80.
Also see: Francis Hartigan, Bill W., page 166: "By 1945, Bill [Wilson] was in treatment with another psychotherapist, Dr. Frances Weeks, a Jungian."

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Last updated 9 December 2014.
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