humanspirit sends this odd article from another author who’s critical of AA. She seems more critical of AA’s group atmosphere (she doesn’t want to hear about other people’s problems), but doesn’t seem to be critical of the 12-Step mythology, like the notion that you’re powerless or have to hit “rock bottom” — which leads to some contradiction. For instance, she calls willpower “nonsense,” but then goes on to say that she just quit drinking on her own. But, I’m still glad that people are beginning to talk…

“I Survived: The Alcoholic Who Healed Herself”

I was aware that something had to shift, but felt powerless to change. It is nonsense to think that willpower alone will get you through; it’s like trying to climb a mountain in one day with no previous experience.

I am currently training to be a psychotherapist and one of the most important things you learn very early on is that therapy is not going to work for anyone unless they want it to work. That is the magic that you can’t teach anyone to have; it is like a switch in the head. I had a switch in the head but I had to hit rock bottom before I found it.


[In AA] I’d spent hours on end listening to other people’s problems but felt no one was really listening to mine. I’d had it with other people’s problems, but that’s what AA is all about.

So I went off and did things my own way one step at a time. First I stopped drinking at home, and then one night – 12 September 2002, a date I will never forget – I thought, ‘I am going out sober.’

Read it all.


Truthiness is a “truth” that a person claims to know intuitively “from the gut” without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts.
  • chris

    thats a good one, sh`es going to be a pychotherapist who DOESNT WANT TO HEAR OTHER peoples problems, terrific.

  • This is a great article to effect policy change on AA in the UK. Have many UK based blogs on AA been informed of this article? Is it well known by the internet world in the UK?

  • Lucy

    not hard to understand why a self-centered narcissist wouldn’t want to listen to other self-centered narcissists unless she got paid for it

  • AndyM

    Four statements or implications I strongly disagree with there:
    1) That an “addict” or “alcoholic has to hit rock bottom
    2) That willpower is not sufficient to overcome an addiction
    3) That one “addict” can’t have a meaningful relationship with another
    4) That someone who overcomes an addiction is condemned to becoming one of life’s “lightweights.
    Those four points make her a moral coward in my book. In my opinion she has no business claiming to have what it takes to counsel anyone.

  • chris

    i dont how many times i heard someone from THE ROOMS, that was gonna go to school to become a counselor. i think they do it to figure their own stuff out, not necassarilly to help other people.

  • AndyM

    And maybe because they’re unemployable in any other capacity. I’m officially considered unemployable myself, which is why I’m on log-term lunatic benefit (with unemployability supplement) but at least I know it.

  • chris

    i went to an AA counselor guy, at a mental health clinic. i didnt know he was in AA till later, but, he was playing air drums to Van Halens- Fair Warning WHILE i was TRYING to talk to him. i didnt go back.

  • Chris, that scenario should be made into a skit. It must have sucked, but it’s really incredibly funny.

    I looked up some programs for drug and alcohol counseling certificates, and found it’s easy enough to find programs that take about six months and are just 12-step training. (Which, JRH, you might want to include in your follow the money investigation).

    I was checking these programs out because the Army (or Navy?) was advertising for drug and alcohol counselor positions. The job requirements were one of these silly certificates and a BA or Associates degree in just about anything.

  • chris

    yes, i was sittin there, in distress. trying to talk to the dude. and as hes drumming away he asked if i liked this particular song. i remember thinking, wtf.

  • raysny

    I read that article, I got the impression that AA made her uncomfortable, but she didn’t quite know why and latched onto the idea that it was the stories, the whining that made her uncomfortable. She probably doesn’t know about cognitive dissonance.

    Before I found other AA-critical people online, the only thing I could place my finger on was the blatant religiosity and how they couldn’t see it, how they told me that if I left I would die which made me think of brainwashing and a cult. Other things creeped me out, but I didn’t quite understand why.

  • hulahoop

    raysny says Before I found other AA-critical people online, the only thing I could place my finger on was the blatant religiosity and how they couldn’t see it, how they told me that if I left I would die which made me think of brainwashing and a cult. Other things creeped me out, but I didn’t quite understand why.

    I felt the same way. Especially about how other people couldn’t see it. I never could accept nor get over “How It Works.” It offended me a little more each time I heard it. I remember being scared to death to miss a meeting or thinking I needed a meeting. Sometimes I would be so tired after work that I wouldn’t feel like doing anything except showering and going to bed. I would force myself to go even though I was tired because I didn’t know if I was really tired or if it was my alcoholic mind playing a trick on me.

  • hulahoop

    Sorry – hit send too soon.

    The screwed up part for me was I having all of those doubts and bad feelings but continued to go. I kept trying to buy in to it and just couldn’t.

  • chris

    me too hh, if the WHOLE planet endorses, advocates it. counselors, the courts, it MUST BE RIGHT, right?, WRONG, VERY WRONG. it just took us FOREVER to figure it out and be ok with ourselves. im much better off now, not just the fact that im not going, but, not beleiving it, because its just ABSOLUTELY WRONG. thats where im at.

  • AndyM

    Though I couldn’t really think it through properly, still less articulate it, something always rang an alarm bell in the back of my mind when I heard those convoluted descriptions of how aa was constituted read out at meetings. I brushed it off at the time, telling myself that I just wasn’t used to participating in organisations that held meetings.

  • Rick045

    I think she inadvertently makes a good point about the shortage of good listeners in AA. Many in the rooms are too busy thinking about how they are going to answer rather than simply listening. I became a better observer over time, and once I quit caring whether I ‘fit in’ or had anything to contribute was when everything began to fall apart. I grew more frustrated as I realized that the constant gaslighting took precedence over any serious approach to problems. I wasn’t familiar with the term at the time, but that’s exactly what it was. The more they talked about “living in the solution”, the more it seemed that they really had no interest in that. The priority was always on reminding each other how diseased and defective they were, and if the solution wasn’t in the program, then there wasn’t one.