Archive for 15 February 2010

AAmwaying the Alcoholic

Yesterday, one our readers wrote:

“As to “corporate AA”, I think it would be hard for me to care less than I do. I tried Amway about 15 years ago and ditched it when it became apparent that it wasn’t about selling soap; it’s about getting other people to sell soap for you. The analogy breaks down at that point because I don’t see a significant money trail in AA, but again, I don’t really care. The only money I’m expected to put into AA is the 50 cents in the piggy bank if I want a cup of coffee.

In my experience, AA meetings are a place where I can be with people who used to be desperately sad, hope-less drinkers who couldn’t stop their self-destructive behavior. And now we aren’t like that any more. And some poor schlub who is *now* where I was *then* might ask me how I got from there to here, and I can tell him.”

We appreciate the comment, and sincerity and thoughtfulness with which it was written. I wanted to highlight it, because I know that Amway has been compared to a cult, much like with AA. Cult expert Steve Hassan does not have Amway categorized as a cult (nor does he label AA a cult), but he does believe there are disturbing practices, and he shows how it fits into his BITE model. Like AA, it doesn’t meet all of the criteria, but it does meet most. Read through Hassan’s description of Amway, and see if you find any similarities.

I thought it would be interesting to compare Amway to AA, and in the process I found this analysis of Amway as a cult, written by a former Amway distributor. This person uses the criteria of a destructive cult, set by Robert Lifton. It is plain scary how similar the groups are to one another. Below I’ve taken some relevant parts of this analysis to compare to the AA experience: Continue reading AAmwaying the Alcoholic

Quote of the Day

“I gave up drinking for good on 12  September 2002. The earth did not crack open and give forth fire-breathing three-headed dogs, no trumpets sounded in the sky, and I didn’t get a telegram from the Queen. I tried Alcoholics Anonymous because lots of people said I should, but it didn’t work out. Disturbingly, a well-known media figure, who is a recovering alcoholic, refused to give a cover quote for this book, not because they thought it was bad (they didn’t, apparently), but they felt it was critical of AA. This appalled me. That kind of collusion, that kind of self-censorship, is simply wrong, and no one can persuade me otherwise.

For the record, AA has helped many, but it was not for me. I had work to do on myself. When I was newly sober, I wasn’t interested in anyone else’s problems. I had basic survival to think about. And there was too much tormented male sexual energy in the counselling rooms that I saw to be any kind of a safe space, especially for a woman. The 12 Steps in themselves are useful, and can be applied to almost any situation in life, but you don’t have to be “in the programme” to do them. I’m aware that what I’m saying is terrible heresy. But I’m disturbed by the fact that some long-term members take on a faintly creepy mantle of priesthood that is intolerable to be around; the same kind of people who told me that my sobriety “wasn’t real” because I hadn’t been going to meetings.”

– Tania Glyde, author of the book Cleaning Up: How I Gave Up Drinking and Lived, from this piece in The Independent.