Why We Were Chosen

Why We Were Chosen Group

Sometime in the 1980s, a meeting chairman in San Francisco gave me a wallet-sized card engraved with a portion of the text from “WHY WE WERE CHOSEN,” an eponymous speech given by Judge John T. on the fourth anniversary of Chicago’s first AA club in 1943. He said that, although GSO Conference had declined to approve the text as AA literature, the San Francisco groups had thought it such an important message that they handed it out to newcomers and visitors.

“WHY WE WERE CHOSEN” talks about drunks as prophets and saints, and places AA as a movement as important as Christianity. It’s both grandiose and inane at the same time and a real Christian might find it offensive, as Dr. Arthur H. Cain did when he called it “idolatry” in his Saturday Evening Post article. You can read both the tract and Cain’s response on Orange’s blog: http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-Why_We_Were_Chosen.html

By the time I first saw the tract, I had already heard all kinds of BS, from an aging hippie explaining that Bill Wilson’s birth was the “dawning of the Age of Aquarius,” to how AA was so “cutting edge that science was trying to catch up with it.” I considered most “Meaning of AA” proclamations as either psychobabble or Godbabble, and I thought it was harmless drivel. But, twenty years later, I got to see harmless drivel in action.

A friend asked me to speak at a “Chicago” Group here in my home state. She explained that Chicago Groups follow the 90 minute format of the groups in that city using a speaker who introduced the topic, and a chairman who “calls up” responses from the group. She didn’t particularly like the group format, because she thought the men used it to exclude women. She had been going simply because her daughter attended, and now she hoped to change the group by bringing in women speakers. She wanted me to be her first speaker, even though she wouldn’t be able to be there that night. I didn’t know what a Chicago Group was, but I liked her and I thought it would be fun. I also wanted to encourage young women.

On the day of the meeting, I got a call from a man who introduced himself as the Powerfully Recovered Alcoholic who would give me the Chicago Group speaking rules. I needed to wear a “modest” dress and make-up, to introduce myself as a “Recovered” Alcoholic, to give both my sobriety date and sponsor’s name, to not use curse words, and to limit quotations either to the first 164 pages of the Big Book or to the “Other” Big Book.

Well, okay.

When I got to the clubhouse, a young woman wearing a flowered Sister Wife dress opened the door. She was in the middle of introducing me to the other similarly dressed Sister Wives when I realized she was the daughter of my friend. Her Andrea Yates thousand-mile stare had been so flat that I hadn’t recognized her. She handed me to a faded young man in a baggy suit, unpressed tie and scuffed shoes, and then she faded into the wall.

The young man was the Powerfully Recovered chairperson. He showed me to my seat, and began to read “WHY WE WERE CHOSEN” from the podium. He was near the end of the tract when I noticed that everyone wore oversized clothes.

I picked an innocuous topic and I told the usual jokes, but I just couldn’t connect with anyone. I was the only person wearing the right size and a smile in the room. I realized that looking like a normal person might very well constitute immodesty in this crowd.

After I spoke, the Powerfully Recovered chairperson began choosing men (not women) from the audience to give short responses. The gloomy men spoke about duty and privilege, and the (nearly) cheerful men talked about their new lives. They inserted “Praise God” an average of once every 90 seconds, and thanked their tireless sponsor, who was the Powerfully Recovered chairperson.

I was glad when the meeting was over and, for the first time in AA, I did not stay and talk to the crowd. I never went back.

My friend later told me that she had gotten her daughter into therapy and that the therapy had caused her daughter to leave the group. The daughter had the divorced her husband, mainly because he lost his job because he was missing work to be at the group. He then left the group and moved back to Iowa to live with his parents. Both of them blamed the group for destroying their marriage.

The Powerfully Recovered chairperson admitted that he has twice been hospitalized for depression, and he has left the group, which shrunk from a club house to a weekly meeting.

  • FKABB

    Thanks for the story. That group is (was) certainly sicker than others, but does fit in the the back to basics, etc. groups. The need to praise AA and/or God seems to be so fundamental to these people, that I suppose is the 12th step in action for them. I find these types extremely sad. They will attract others of the same kind, and ,unfortunately, delude others into their warped thinking.

  • causeandeffect

    I almost hurt myself laughing at AA was so “cutting edge that science was trying to catch up with it.” And the group seems really creepy.

    I had tried to read the “Why We Were Chosen” speech in the Orange Papers but I couldn’t stomach it. Even though it may not be conference approved, it’s an attitude that is expressed in the literature and certainly expressed in the roomz. Hearing someone say with a starry eyed, dreamy look on her face “I’m gawd’s favorite” or someone sharing how they told a priest how, as a member of AA, they had a “special connection with gawd” he just couldn’t understand, etc used to disgust me. That (among other things) would leave me stunned for many days afterward, thinking there was something wrong with me because I just couldn’t make sense of it. It’s the same type of extremely arrogant “We’re gawd’s chosen people and everybody else is going to hell” attitude that made me reject the church and it’s teachings at a very early age in the first place.

    Unfortunately, there is someone very close to me, maybe even two people, who it seems has fallen for exactly that kind of crap and I don’t know exactly what to do about it.

  • Omg what a horror story thanks for telling us this story Lucy!
    That is a clone of Clancy
    pacific group Los Angeles it is despicable how he spread his formula cult
    Can we protest with sinage together at one
    Of these nutjob meetings!!!

  • I wish that Lucy had a blog. Though I was laughing through this, mostly b/c Lucy is completely hilarious, it scared the shit outta me, too. I went to a group that was similar to this once or twice in Mass. called “The Little Peabody Group.” I actually remembered women being prominent in this group; however, they were just controlling everyone. And, and please get that I cannot wear my bikini this summer, nor could I last summer, but these women were huge. They were busy “feeding their diseases” that acted up when they were hungry. They shared a lot about this. The talked a lot about the Blessed Transmission Line. This referred to their sponsor and sponsee and how all were linked to God. There were few other thins they said and they would say them at other meetings. So, at other meetings you knew they were from this group. I cannot remember what they were, I wish I could. People would drive far to get to this meeting; it was pretty culty. God Lord am I glad to be out of AA.

  • massive, or any of you, if you every are in new england (not ct.; i hate ct.), i will leaflet with you. i dunno about a sign. (too chicken.)

  • I still like the idea of a billboard advertising a “Door Knob” right next to an AA clubhouse.

    (DISCLAIMER: Not a paid spokesmen for the Harris Spiritual Door Knob Manufacturing Association.)

  • causeandeffect

    Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the main thing that really drove me to mental paralysis was the whole gawd’s will concept. I had always believed people who claim to know gawd’s will to be dangerous. I could never reconcile this in my mind. I always wondered if these people were faking it til they made it or if they were actually delusional enough to really believe they knew what gawd’s will was. Can anybody please shed a light on this for me? I was always too afraid to ask while I was in AA.

  • I asked about it ALL the time and got the reputation as an intellectualizer and a questioner. And I was told to um, yeah, fake it till I made it. Generally, I was told this in a pretty condescending tone. NObody admitted to me that they were bullshitting though; that is for sure.

  • FKABB

    C&E
    I suppose there are some nutters in AA that actually think they hear gawd’s voice, but mostly I think they take common polite things, such as opening a door for a handicapped person, ceding a space in line at the supermarket, dropping a dollar in the Salvation Army basket, and interpreting those actions as gawd’s will. Need I mention that step 12 would fall into that category?
    Bill W wrote about the difficulty of determining that will, and suggested using someone with a more refined, tuned ability to help them unravel the gobbly gook they might be receiving. Of course, who better than a sponsor? We are all aware that sponsors are spiritual giants, possessing that all important quality, TIME.

  • There are a number of studies on “Delusional ideation and self-esteem in individuals with psychotic disorders” and “Delusional ideation in religious and psychotic populations” in both the US and UK. Unfortunately they look at people going to churches, synagogues, etc…. and do not count AA as a Religion. Since AA is “Spiritual and not Religious”. They do point to the facts that more religious people tend to have less legal and medical problems due to the self guided abstinence.

    They do not look at AA in these studies, but they do link Religious Ideation to psychosis.

  • SoberPJ

    Yeah, the whole gawd’s will thing is pretty out there. I mean really, my lawn chair has a will for me ? Uh huh. And precisely where are these “wills” stored ? A will is mostly just a choice. So, when I exert my will, I am making a decision/choice to do something. Coke, or Pepsi? I use my neurons and synapses to exert my will when I choose one or the other, or choose to mix them – never done that. So, gawd’s will must mean the choices are already made for me. Right? So, where are they stored once they’ve been made? When I make a choice, it happens in my brain and results in some kind of behavior. When gawd makes choices for me does it happen in real time or did it happen like last week and it got put on a cosmic shelf for later? If shelf, where shelf ? If gawd has all these choices for all these millions of people every second of every day, they must exist somewhere… or is it one of those mysterious situations again where gawd reaches into brains and rearranges neurons and synapses to cause the right synaptic firing to get folks to make the right choice – you know, the one he wants them to make? Gosh. Multiply that by millions of people with billions of synapses and now you have a feat of magic so unbelievable it baffles the mind. But that’s ok, I have a program that makes me special so I can intuitively know how to handle things that used to baffle me. Good thing I drank too much or I couldn’t have graduated to this special status. People with all their brain cells couldn’t possibly know how great it feels to be this special. I feel so sorry for all those people that aren’t as special as me and my sick friends. We are all special together. We have a book that tells us very special things that others can’t understand. It’s divine. Simply divine.

  • The studies I have looked at do say that Religion helps with psychosis (delusion, hearing voices, etc…), but the people they studied only went one day a week. I do not believe that they were surrounded by what could be considered a more “hardened” criminal element. That is not saying that everyone there has criminal infractions against them, but the percentage is higher in AA. I have never heard of anyone being mandated to morning Sunday mass by the courts.

    I do remember one person who had killed thier child in a drunken altercation with a gun, who spent many years in prison because of it and was let out because of his involvement with AA. Everyone wanted to hear his story and packed any meeting that he went to. They wanted to hear how the “program” had saved his life from the damage he had done.

    I have no words to describe this tragedy. I would want to support the family more than that person, but he was paraded around as a trophy instead?

  • Why the big clothes?

    • Jingles

      Sounds like horseshit, like the rest of her account. Also, be great to hear an update on some of the moaners, are they still sober? Who knows!

      • Ilse Thompson

        What do you mean by “sober,” Jingles?

        • Jingles

          Sober as in ” not tossing alcohol down their throats” 😉

  • c & e
    Here’s my take on it. I plant the seeds. God/Nature is the rain. I do plenty of the work. That is the more practical belief. Then there are those who say “everything is god’s will.” That really always makes me MAD. ( I think we have to remember that our country’s roots were based in Christianity and when The Native Americans connected to nature and their culture “they called them heathens and put them in white man’s clothing and made them learn their religion, their language etc! Even when that is against our Constitution. The Separation of Church and State, right? AA is based in this same kind of world. That’s why the Judges are sentencing people and still getting away with. It’s fucked up and needs to change.
    Now back to my rant…
    I have meditated for years, learned chakra balancing, I’ve done color healing, I have used sage, I do breathing, yoga sometimes but not enough and I have been developing my psychic ability. Two years ago I studied TM because I heard it’s good for the brain. Actually UCLA spent millions through the 70’s studying TM now called Quantum Meditation by George Quant who BTW I am going to have on my show. Imagine that.They spent Millions on TM but Zero on AA’s 12 steps.

    Imagine if the tobacco industry said we have never spent a dime on studies of smoking but we know it works and it’s good for you. That is how insane it is that AA from 1936 has never done any studies. I mean scientific studies or any studies.

    Another point. Mindfulness is now what they are studying… being present. Being in your body, sitting and just breathing , relaxing slowing down etc. So that Meditation can be used in a non religious way and there is scientific studies that are proving it helps many things. But here’s what I want to say in the end…

    Whether you are spiritual, which I am… or not. Whether I sit quietly breathing with or without burning scented candles or gong bowls that chime, with or without New Age music playing in the background, chanting or no chanting. If I am quiet for 15 minutes or so and I ask myself about the three top problems I need help with- to come to me in some way. It does. (It’s never a loud voice, unless, I am really going down the wrong road and I don’t see it coming which has happened to me sober. Being fucked over by someone in some way.)

    It comes from within me. It comes to me as an idea. Like when I talk to my hubbie, or some of my new friends on this blog or other friends I have here. With those conversations there are sparks of ideas, inspirations. To me that’s god.
    I rarely have heard a good meeting around this topic. Everyone says the same shit. Way back in the mid seventies people actually did fight about this “what is God’s will topic” in meetings. And there were lot’s of different views back then. Thats not true anymore. They all chant the same thing.

    It comes to me in dreams sometimes as a guide post because I ask. If I don’t ask then I am not in tune with me. It comes in subtle nudges. My Concept of God has really changed. I actually said in meetings when I was six months sober “God spoke to me”. I was kinda crazy in a happy teenage way. “I was on a PINK CLOUD” they said as they made fun of me. Fuck them and the horse they road in on… Anyway I was on a natural high in the beginning. Today for me it’s just more simple and I am more grounded.

    I do believe in the spirit world and I am not an atheist. But I think when it comes to most AA people’s rhetoric around this …I think they are completely INSANE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    c & e I’ll send you my letter to GSO-NY to give to those 2 people you are talking about. Let’s shed a little light on the cockroaches for them.

  • MikeAugustine

    Another point. Mindfulness is now what they are studying… being present. Being in your body, sitting and just breathing , relaxing slowing down etc. So that Meditation can be used in a non religious way and there is scientific studies that are proving it helps many things.

    Ok, I see what you’re saying about mindfulness but I have a bit of experience with that and can tell you that the religious bait and switch is as alive in that movement as it is in AA. If you are itching to get converted to Buddhism and take up left wing political activism in a Unitarian setting then by all means attend a mindfulness meditation group. In contrast to the the overweight, chain smoking, coffee guzzling nut jobs you find in AA you will get to meet undernourished, tofu chomping, nut job academics. And if you think that milieu control in AA was bad get ready for the “don’t think and just breath” movement.

    I personally avoid any group setting related to behavioral changes and rely on myself and what I learned from a couple of CBT books. If I fail I have only myself to blame.

  • Rick045

    SoberPJ wrote, “I feel so sorry for all those people that aren’t as special as me and my sick friends. We are all special together.”

    I remember a lot of those meeting-after-the-meeting gossip fests with my sponsor and others where we would talk about those who thought they were “chosen”. If we weren’t talking about them, we might discuss who was or wasn’t a “real alcoholic”. There was always someone’s inventory to take or some other unfortunate to compare ourselves to, (always with a healthy dose of feigned empathy of course). We were special because we could laugh at our wretched defectiveness. When steppers say that you shouldn’t take someone else’s inventory, they really mean that you should just wait until after the meeting to do it. The longer I stayed, the emptier I felt after every one of those conversations. I guess my self-will was running riot because I developed that nasty sense (sin) of self-awareness that led me to wonder why we always had to compare ourselves to someone else to convince ourselves just how special we were.

  • DeConstructor

    I think this dude really puts the AA ‘disease’ theory thing in perspective.

  • “Taking someone’s inventory” is what AA is all about. They try and do it in a “politically correct” manner, but that is what they are doing. I am sure we have all been in meetings where the entire group in unison is nodding thier heads in approval because the victim speaking is repenting thier sins to the group. This scenario changes rather quickly to silence and “furtive glances” to other members, if anything being said that is deemed not to be in the in the spirit of the prophet Bill Wilson and corporate AA policy.

  • mikeblamedenial

    Here is a Cleveland pamphlet, still in distribution, which comes from the same era as the Chosen tract. It helps the special people of AA keep it all in never-good-enough, ego-deflating perspective.
    http://www.justloveaudio.com/resources/12_Steps_Recovery/Step_4/Step_4_Four_Absolutes_Inventory.pdf

  • MBD – the worst part of that pamphlet is “Too many (and we plead guilty) simply turn over a new leaf and relax. That is wrong.” on page 2. In essence they saying it is wrong to just change and get on with your life.

  • Ooops… “they are saying”

  • mikeblamedenial

    Sure, JR, it isn’t enough that we quit sinning and become nice people-we must forever strive to convince others to quit sinning and become good people. That is what makes Alcoholics Anonymous an evangelical movement rather than a mutual support group.

  • SoberPJ

    ” We must forever strive to convince others to quit sinning and become good people.” I would add, even if we have to do it in deceitful and manipulative ways.

    The whole thing is so screwed up. Fake honesty. Crypto religion. Built-in arrogance while supposedly striving for humility. No positive statistical track record ( for 75 years). A directly negative track record – binge drinking, re-arrests, etc. Blatant promotion while claiming attraction only. An entitlement to anonymity where no legal right exists. Court and legal encroachment. Religious heresy. Predatory issues. etc.etc. The list is probably very long.

    Any other corporate organization with that much bullshit would be stamped out of society in short order. It amazes me that they get away with it and how few people call them on their shit.

  • causeandeffect

    massive, i have good reason to believe that the religious indoctrination is more important to them then my well-being or even my life. I don’t think a list of rapes a mile long would make a difference since I have to trust gawd. I could be wrong but that’s what I’ve gathered from their attitudes so far. I bet your list is a mile long by now. It was quite long the last time you sent it to me. I’ll let you know it I need it.

  • causeandeffect

    SPJ, speaking of lists a mile long, yep. It amazes me too. Simply dumbfounded. It seems that it’s AA that’s cunning, baffling and powerful.

  • Mike A -I agree. I am not in any group like that. I have a daily practice…and I am not a new ager either. I am not into made up religions that are 30 years old, ten years old or AA which is 75 years old. Nope I might have investigated that path a long time ago but I want to Study real history and real things that work now.

    I am not airy fairy but I do like Alternative Healing and if any one messes with me about that …I DONT care. I have done the work and I have experienced the healing. You as well can judge me all you want. I’m not directing this to you Mike A, I am speaking in general now. That I am not going to immerse myself in any religion. Not after 36 years in AA. Good God, even in a Buddhist thing I am studying I could see some culty things… They are human. They are nicer then AA but I stepped way back when I saw some similarities with AA. After all I can see it coming now. And even though I like some aspects of Buddhism there are aspects I don’t agree with either.

    I was raised in a serious NY Irish Catholic part of Manhattan. A Blue collar white neighborhood with a mix of Jewish survivors of the holocaust. I kid you not. We had great food in my neighborhood! Loved the Jweish Bakeries too! But as a little girl I loved prayer and incense and dressing up for Mass. Well, by the time I was a teen, I was not Catholic any more. I would guess there are a lot of atheists here. Am I wrong? Oh forget it …let’s not go down that path. It will create lots of fighting Right? LOL.

  • c & e .Yes it’s longer but I am trying to condense it and make it better so that the letter can be used as a tool for anyone who wants to send it out to Lay person, and Professionals.
    It was way too long and I just want to put the top 8-10 worst stories in it.
    I agree with you on all other points. I actually had nightmare about being at a PG meeting last night. WTF btw I was never a member of that group. Yuck!

  • causeandeffect

    Oh, massive, I had AA nightmares for the longest. I’m just now getting over it a bit. I would wake up with no real memory, just the vague realization that I had an AA nightmare. Once, though, I woke up remembering a dream where we on this blog had uncovered the one irrefutable truth about AA that would change the world’s perception forever. I think for me that one irrefutable truth is that bill wilson, the creator of all this never became a decent human being. He was always a liar, cheat and thief, even in sobriety. Even after working the steps he stole from the oxford group who were religious liars, cheats and thieves to the rich themselves. It always makes me think of jim baker and tammy fay baker.

  • causeandeffect

    Oh, and massive, I think you should have a really hard core short version of your letter, but also a long version to show how wide spread the issue it really is. They love to pretend that these are isolated incidents.

  • It really strikes me hard when I go to someones house or a Church basement and see a picture of the prophet Bill Wilson hanging on a wall proudly displayed next to a cross. They do not realize who they are chanting “Spirituality” too. A short video of an AA group chanting the 12 Steps at the beginning of a meeting, with flashbacks to the reality of what they actually are thinking would have a very big impact on the perception that people have about AA.

    It would make people realize that this chanting goes on and the truth behind it. You will notice that when cults are exposed, they usually show this ritual and they can relate to the dangers. The videos about the AA I have seen may talk about the steps, but they never show the ritual, they only show “drunkalogs”, which are designed to only show success in AA, by telling what it was like before and what it is like now (which are usually just lies to fit in). The average person knows nothing about this chanting unless they have gone to a meeting.

  • Lucy

    Hyacinth – The big clothes were to cover their bodies so that they were “modest.”

    Massive – These people thought Clancy had become too liberal.

    I don’t like the word “spiritual’ because I heard it so often in AA that it began to sound like gibberish, like saying “toy boat” 5 times.

    Groups like this one are all over the US. They start when a really crazy person (like Clancy in LA or David A here) decides that they want their vision of AA to dominate the others and find willing apostles to do the dirty work. They explode when the nutjob is at his most opinionated because they know how to prey on unspoken fear and shame. They fall apart when he dies because the next in line lacks either the founder’s free time or desire to run everyone’s lives.

    But you can hear traces of the nutjob long after they are gone, which is why they still read the Bible in some Akron groups, why an idiot group like this one would use Why We Were Chosen and why Clancy still talks about Chuck C’s New Pair of Glasses.

  • DeConstructor

    C and e- the jury is still out whether bill wilson actually quit drinking-but dont tell the aa faithful

  • Lucy – I am interested in the “introduce myself as a “Recovered” Alcoholic, to give both my sobriety date and sponsor’s name” part of this story. I have never heard of this before. Is this a “signature” of a radical AA “back to basics” group?

    It would be nice to be able to classify the different variants of Steppism for further research.

  • Lucy

    JR – Yes, it comes from the Big Book Awakening or Big Book Experience step studies –

    http://bigbookawakening.com/

    People pay a “facilitator ” (there are about 10 of them in the US) to taken them through the Big Book word by word so that they can see the sacred and special meanings on each page. They happen at weekend “retreats” and the faciltator challenges the studiers to talk about new “awakenings” they have into their “resistance” to the truth of the Book and their alcoholism.

    They call themselves “recovered” because the Book says ” we are men and women who have recovered…” and they consider it as an event (not a process of not drinking) in which God reached into their lives and “separated them from alcoholism.” “Recovered” means that you are one of the men and women that was the recipient of this spontaneous undeserved miracle and that you will never drink again because you have done “The Work.”

    The rules seem to be;

    1) You are different after you pay for The Work because you know more than other AAs do.
    2) Those AAs who won’t pay to do The Work are afraid of what they might find out about themselves and are disobeying God’s plan.
    3) The Work is what every AA should do, and the Recovered ones make fun of those that don’t.
    4) Not finding special meaning means that you are not alcoholic and should leave AA because you are polluting it.
    5) You should only be sponsored by people who have done The Work, and you need to say who that is.

    If you want to see how crazy this really is, spend the $7 and order the workbook or get the Joe Hawks (of Joe and Charlie, who started this) tape.

    The original actually tells you what to write in the margins of the book so that you know you are doing it correctly. It also tells you to form “Accountabilty Groups” where you continue the process every day/

    My sponsor, whom I have known nearly 30 years, got involved with the stuff back in the 90s and became a facilitator. She began doing written “work” every day and stopped talking to people other than those in her Accountability Group because those people weren’t “Godly.” She got so crazy that I couldn’t be around her.

    Some of the AA groups here have banned the Accountability Groups because the people who are in them try to change the group. That is why I believe things like The Chicago Group start.

    I want to stress that these are way beyond Primary Purpose of Back to Basics Groups, with which I am very familiar.. These are like therapy cults – the kind that tear apart families and cause divorces and suicides.

  • Lucy

    Here is a site with more links for the ongoing “inventory” in areas of the person’s like –

    http://www.thejaywalker.com/index.html

    If you do everything that being Recovered demands and then meet to talk about it in an Accountability Group while going to a regular schedule of meetings, there is no time for family or friends. But you believe you have to do it to stay Recovered and superior to everyone else.

    What reallu happens is that you become anxious because you are constantly doubting your behavior and need constant reinforcement that you are doing the right thing.

  • Jonny Quest

    Oh, yes, I had forgotten about Big Book Awakening. They really do certainly think they are more enlightened. Fun to debate them on Internet boards, though.

    So, yeah, you basically have (in order of increasing craziness):

    Regular AA, which has NY and Akron variants
    Primary Purpose AA
    Back to Basics AA (I consider this crazier than PP because of the Guidance meetings)
    Big Book Awakening AA

  • Lucy

    JQ – Also, “Special Tradition” AA where they all talk about how the Steps aren’t important but the Traditions are. I could write a book about those guys/

  • causeandeffect

    Wow. That’s crazy. Lucy, do they do anything similar with the most vile book I’ve ever read, the 12&12?

  • Pogue Mahone

    Funny they call it the Chicago group. Here in Chicago it’s called the California Group and the Pacific Group. Both are modeled after the west coast groups from my understanding and they are all Clancy fans. They have the same format Lucy spoke about and are very large meetings. They have a no hat rule for the men and if you are speaking at the meeting the men have to wear a tie “shows respect for AA.” They encouraged us to come sit up front where the “winners” are and called us common folk who sat in back “relapse row.” They also have several new comers sit by the front door to greet people coming in and after the meeting everyone stands in a long line to shake the speakers hand…It’s a real creepy scene and I hated those assholes!!

  • Lucy

    C&E – These people don’t think that the 12×12 is “real” AA. They consider the Big Book as divinely inspired and the 12 x 12 as a vanity piece by Bill. They will often say things like, “I’m a lot more like Bob than Bill. I like to concentrate on the right way to do things.”

  • Lucy

    Pogue – Yes, Clancy is a household God at the Chicago Group, but only Bill and Bob sit up there with Jesus.

  • mikeblamedenial

    Jonny, I have talked extensively with a member who has been around Ohio AA since 1948. She maintains that Akron and Cleveland were the well-springs of AA, each with fundamental differences, and the New York AA was more of a hanger-on. If on looks at the growth of early AA, this seems accurate. Bill and a few other guys, (Fitz, Hank P., and Jim B.) were about it in New York, while Bob in Akron and Clarence in Cleveland were attracting newcomers in droves. Bill and Hank were the promoters of the book and treatment centers, and after Wilson hijacked the copyright, AA New York came into play.

  • mikeblamedenial

    We also have a Joe and Charlie group here locally. About a dozen members, very secretive. They are invitation-only, and do not announce their meetings to the general membership. “Recovered alcoholic” is their shibboleth.

  • MA

    Would someone please email the categories and sub-categories of the AA variants? I’d like to get these categories up here on the blog, so we can have a common point of reference. Thanks.

    Lucy, what is “special tradition AA”?

  • There have been studies at the University level on the classification of group members and the way they interact with the group. It is quite extensive. There are 15 Groups and instructions on how to classify them. Some examples taken from “GROUP EFFECTIVENESS: UNDERSTANDING GROUP MEMBER ROLES ” that we may be interested in:

    Model Member:
    As a model member of a discussion group, you consider the needs of the group and its goal; you make every effort to help the group reach the goal. Your contributions are candid and brief. You make sure that others understand your ideas, and you try to understand theirs. You provide leadership services when you can and you do so most appropriately. You are aware of other members, and you try to help them make their greatest contributions to the group.

    Conformist:
    You agree with everything that is said. You make contributions and you think everyone else’s remarks are very good. Because you wish to please everyone, you try to avoid disagreements; therefore, you are not at all critical of contributions. If you are asked, you think that the group is “just splendid.”

    Special Pleader:
    You attend discussions because you have a stake in the outcome of the deliberations. You go, not to help the group to solve a problem, but to protect your interests.
    Discussion is a platform from which you can air your rights and wishes. You are there to protect special interests- -yours or someone else’s– and you are willing
    to fight for your causes.

    Blocker:
    You attend a discussion meeting in order to prevent a dangerous act from occurring. You believe that the group is irresponsible and stupid; if it is turned lose, there is no telling what it may do. Because you believe that the group cannot possibly make an intelligent decision, you seek to prevent the group from doing anything.

    Suspicious One:
    You can’t believe that anyone’s contributions are honest. You suspect that people cover up their real beliefs. You think that everyone is motivated by selfish interests and will agree only on points through which they profit personally. During discussion, you try to psycho -analyze and unveil each member of the group.

    The followers of the prophet Bill Wilson can be categorized by the following 15 group classifications:

    Brilliant One
    Model Member
    Emotional One
    Eager Beaver
    Silent One
    Talker
    Conformist
    Recognition Seeker
    Playboy, Playgirl
    Debunker
    Suspicious One
    Special Pleader
    Challenger
    Blocker

    Source Document: http://web1.msue.msu.edu/msue/imp/modii/ii719202.html

  • Lucy

    MA – Special traditions group members usually use the original Preamble and the original How It Works from the unpublished first edition of the Big Book. ( For example, “rarely have we seen a person fail” is “never have we seen a person fail.”) An alcoholic has to say he or she “qualifies for membership by the Third Tradition” and they use a version of the Traditions Check list for meetings topics.

    http://www.silkworth.net/aa/traditions_checklist.html

    The often have husband and wife “Chapter 9″ special studies using the Traditions Checklist for Relationships. Here is one done by Dave and Polly, who have practically made a living of it”

    http://www.upperroomcomm.com/insights/traditions.shtml

    Tradtions groups are almost always done by an AA pair or an AA husband and an Al-Anon wife.

    These people are all about the Traditions, which they consider a function of grown up AA in a world of immature AA children. They refer to this within the context of the traditions. A doctors AA group becomes a Tradition 8 group. Prayer groups are call Tradition 2 groups, etc.

    These groups are almost always run by very affluent people with lots if time and psychobabble on their hands.

  • @ mikeaug, I feel this same, same way. For so many years I think I was starving to fit in somewhere spiritually/religiously (much of this was due to feeling pressure to believe from AA–the whole AS LONG AS IT IS NOT YOU idea hit me hard), but I have finally recognized that yeah, many ppl who go all out in anything spirtual/religious/atheist/whatever seem nuts. I really am creeped out by the UU church, though on paper it seems really, really awesome. It is the worst in truth. And I have tried several UU churches, ick. I would rather go to frickin’ confession in a Catholic church. Really. My answer is to have safe friends who I might not be really, really close to, but it is sane and low key. It is my way of connecting. And I try to do the right thing. Above (or on another thread–recently–someone jokingly made refernce to letting someone old go ahead of me, etc. and how ppl in AA call this frickin’ spiritual. For me it is not, but I try to do it. For me, trying to be “good” is just making the wolrd a cooler place to live in. It has little to do with GOd. And I try to behave how I would want my son or students to behave.

    More on my current relationships: I do not tell people everything. I know peope in distant way. Even with my BF, I sort of proceed with caution. I have kind of chilled out in my connections to people and my “belief.” I thnk the best way I would describe my religious thinking now is a mix of aetheism, agnosticism, and absurdism. But I try not to label it and let myself change my mind. Sometimes I beleive in Karma and the like, but never too, too deeply.

  • *beleive* Violet. cannot. type.

    Jordan is completely awesome.

  • ^ Jim and Tammy Faye Baker = Bill W.

  • Jesus Mary and… I went to a chick meeting and we stated to listen to the Joe and Charlie tapes. After they started listening I stopped going. Those women were *so* limited and stupid, too. They really were. They had zero depth, even compared to other women in AA. I am glad I got stuck with them though b/c being stuck with a crowd that lame made me leavea lot earlier than I would’ve if I’d been in a more urban setting with more smart thinking people. Like if I’d been in meetings with say, Massive or whatever I would’ve wanted to say b/c at least I would be hearing a pulse.

    Also, I am wondering if Lucy’s mention of –the awakening–??– or whatever is linked to the infamous “Big Book Step Study” meetings that started to crop up in New Englad in the early nineties and are still going strong at least in Mass. and NH. I do remember those guys would talk about this infamous Joe. And I wonder if he’s Joe from Joe and Charlie. I dunno. In some ways these people had a stronger desire to “get better” and to um, do the work which seemed appealing to me. You got less red neck illiterates at these meeting. I felt like more people who were–i dunno–readers went to these meetings. But really, when I looked past this–these people were nuts, too. It was like walking from a stoopid born again church to a UU church. You know what I mean.

    I am bing kinda judgey. But man, AA, and its many layers of insanity no matter what the type of meeting, is so nuts. And the longer I stay engaged with this blog, the scarier the insanity seems.

  • Sorry, I am acting like this is my own personal Twitter account. But I was reading Lucy’s comment about ppl becoming exceedingly anxious. I saw this with Big Book Step Studyers. And really, I saw nothing good come of this. I also saw people let others treat them like douche because their fourth step inventories were so long and they were afraid to get upset about anything b/c they did not want to add this to their inventories…

  • MikeAugustine

    Joe & Charlie. Ugh. Some nitwits from my area started a group based on those two charlatans, and that ended up being one of the final nails in the coffin for me regarding all things AA. To actually sit there mesmerized listening to two half-baked, drawling idiots was more than unbearable, it was downright insane. Goebbels’ Endsieg talks were completely coherent in comparison.

  • The most dangers groups to belong to attract members who are classified as “Silent One” and “Conformist” while the speakers are classified as “Recognition Seeker” and “Aggressive One.” The “Silent One” and “Conformist” are docile and easily led by the “Recognition Seeker” and “Aggressive One.” They “Recognition Seeker” and “Aggressive One” classification always seek the largest groups possible. They also usually have a few closed meetings where they can train thier replacements that are not as large.

    Recognition Seeker:
    You are ambitious and capable. You like to have an audience, and you view discussion as an opportunity to become better known. Your remarks are intended not to advance the discussion, but to draw attention to yourself. You will think that discussion has been successful if you have met important people, been recognized by Mr. Big, or
    been elected chair for the next meeting.

    Aggressive One:
    More than anything else, you would like to be able to say that your ideas were accepted and your solution adopted. You regard discussion as a fight for your views. You are
    willing to use any tactics to fight. You think of yourself as “tough-minded,” one who demands results.

  • Lucy

    Violet and Mike Aug – Yes those are exactly what start groups within groups and I had the same experience with those tapes and studies that you did. I thought they were crazy, but then more and more people in meetings began to talk with those glassy stares and with that jargon. I hated their attitudes, which I found divisive and ugly.

    I thought it would pass, but it didn’t. I credit them and the Chicago Group with opening my eyes to how crazy AA was that they could be popular.

    Mark H, who has a ton of Big Book Study/Awakening tapes used to go to my home group, After he got involved as an Awakening speaker, he began to get rid of his belongings because he thought he would be less attached to materialism. He ended up in a psychiatric center and had shock therapy.

    After my husband had been diagnosed as bipolar, his co-facilitator on the Study called me to say she thought he would be a good person to “take my husband through The Work so that he could get rid of his medication.” She herself had “gotten rid:’ of her illness through The Work.

    About a week later, I said good-bye to AA. CRAZY

  • Lucy

    And JR – These people are exceedingly abusive to people who do not conform. You are absolutely right.

  • MikeAugustine

    My prayer for this evening is that the internet search engines bring more and more potential AA newcomers to this site. It can save them a ton of trouble.

  • Analyzing the “Group Dynamics” of AA is an extremely complicated process. I believe that the smaller the group the better. You do have to be careful with small groups though, because the extremely dangerous variants of Steppism meet in small groups to discuss how best to “spread the word” of the prophet Bill Wilson and then plan on how to infiltrate the larger groups. These small meetings are often by invitation only.

    The larger groups of around a 100 are usually controlled by 10 people. The bouncers of the group are well know and can be considered a “Spiritual Bully” and are being studied by various groups at this time.

  • Lucy, that is terrifying. I forgot (sorry) if your man got outta AA, or does he still go? I think he got out, too, right?

    JR are you paraphrasing or cut and pasting? where is this from?

  • Jonny Quest

    @lucy:

    Mark Houston and Chris Raymer, now those two are certifiable.

    Mark H. even started a recovery house, which Chris R. took over:

    http://www.markhoustonrecovery.com

    Good time to re-post this charming clip from Chris Raymer:

    • matal72

      what is the reason that either of those men are certifiable? just because you dont happen to agree with them.So everyone that you dont agree with is crazy,That in itself is a sign of insanity. lol

  • violet – my comments are my own research from University funded research and Government documents. The problem that I see with trying to make people aware of the inherent problems in the 12 Step Addiction Recovery lifestyle, is that no new research is being done on it. Research is being done on what is called “compliments” to all of the facets of this industry. When people search for answers online they include “Alcoholics”, “Alcoholism”, “12 Step”, or various other derivations. These studies will not show up on a search because of this. I search for original research to define what is happening.

  • ok. ^ thanks.

  • On joining a group the participant has two over-riding anxieties:
    Will I be accepted?
    Will I be good enough?
    Hence the newcomer’s otherwise inexplicable ability to swallow the illogic (in the case of corporate aa) and to strive to gain positive strokes from old-timers who dictate the group norms.
    Practically the only way to approach a group situation without getting drawn into these behaviours is to keep quiet until more familiar with the group norms. In the case of an AA meeting the newcomer is not really given the option of keeping quiet; if they don’t quickly admit that they have a fictional disease they will experience subtle, and then not so subtle shunning.

  • If they do admit that they have a fictional disease they are given exaggerated acceptance, which is what they are after, whether they really know it or not. I think this explains the fawning of some newcomers and also their enthusiasm to recruit. AA cashes in on this with the early admittance of being ‘an alcoholic’, an admission that is irreversible in terms of medical records. They tell the newcomer to tell everyone; family doctor, dentist (dentist?) family. They are praised for being brave when they fall into these irreversible traps.

  • The anxiety and stakes are higher in a ‘recovery’ (hollow laugh) group than a book group.

  • this stuff just keeps getting worse & worse doesn’t it?
    It’s depressing…:(

  • The funny thing is I knew it was insane for probably the first few month. Bt something –ok, there were many factors–kept calling me back. After a few months crazy didi not look as crazy. IT is sad to think of the fady intellect of a twenty-one year old in the middle of college. Man.

  • Rick045

    Hyacinth wrote – “If they do admit that they have a fictional disease they are given exaggerated acceptance, which is what they are after, whether they really know it or not. I think this explains the fawning of some newcomers and also their enthusiasm to recruit.”

    Yes, one of the biggest misconceptions that people have about AA is that it simply requires a person to admit they have a problem. In reality, it requires a person to become the problem. Everything about AA is designed to take advantage of desperation, and desperate people simply can’t see the deeper, long term consequences that come from uttering those words, “I am an alcoholic” within the confines of AA.
    I always kept quiet about my AA membership, but I could not have explained why at the time. I might have used the excuse of anonymity to explain it, but I think that I had a real sense of shame and even self-loathing about it at a deeper level. Certainly the longer I stayed, the more difficult and depressing it became to consider a future defining myself in AA’s wretched ‘lifelong, progressive and incurable’ terms. I had to get away completely before I could even begin to make sense out of the whole experience. The saddest thing in looking back is to consider how deceptive and completely unnecessary so much of the whole process was.

  • Lucy

    Yes JQ. That’s the guy.

  • AnnaZed

    @Rick045 [who says] ~ “…Yes, one of the biggest misconceptions that people have about AA is that it simply requires a person to admit they have a problem. In reality, it requires a person to become the problem….”

    Well put. I hadn’t quite thought about it that way, but it is true.

  • AS I have read this thread I can see that this problem is so wide reaching. It’s frightning and the stories of the “Big Love” type of woman is scary!!!I had no idea about Chicago’s problems.

    Me and another blogger are working on a letter that can go out to the public. She is a great writer & have needed someones help to make it more professional. Thanks Sally! We have it down to 4 pages. I will gladly share it with any one when it is done, interested in Activism. One idea Sally had was to add names -cities where we are from -not just mine. A little like a petition.
    massive-Los Angeles
    as an example

    or I can place the letter in a safe location and I can make it available to those who are really passionate about it. I do think their is a template to begin a petition. I’ll check into it.

    But this is a letter you could hand to a Judge, A Church, a Lawyer, A friend, A therapist. Even if we who are interested gave/sent the letter to a few people in our city It will begin to get the word out.
    Thoughts appreciated.

  • we should make a little dramatic short like this with a sponsor abusing a sonsee or 13 stepper getting it from a group of anti AA’ers LOL!!!!

  • Sally

    omg massive
    That reminds me of the story where the sponcee shot his sponsor because the sponsor told the group his secrets (what the sponcee shared with only him).

  • mikeblamedenial

    A few years ago, two of the letching grays (both well-past their contender years) here got into it over mutual accusations of preying on the new girls. It wound up in the parking lot of the noon meeting in fisticuffs. A year or so later, the winner of that bout confronted a new, young guy about his interest in one of the girls. That one wound up in the very same parking lot, with predator number one seeing his record convincingly slip to 1-1, and the new guy drunk again shortly thereafter. Since the police were called neither time, 1-1 has no court record of violence, and was later able to get his concealed carry permit without a hitch. He now runs the local alonaon from the building he owns.

  • mikeblamedenial

    Yeah, I am an abrasive sort who sometimes chafes the more sensitive types. I get that. But trying to pile on when someone previously not heard from comes at me with hateful, vulgar, vindictive, lengthy and unfounded accusations, is on you, not me. Rationalize it as you see fit.

  • I remember when I was wrapped up in all of that “God’s will” crap.
    For a while there I thought that AA was just a really nice character building program for drunks… I thought that it was exactly what I needed. I was one of those who became convinced that any of my own thoughts were somehow tainted by alcoholic sin. Every thought had to be challenged… I was evil through and through. I could never allow myself to be human.

    At the same time I was wondering why my depression was so bad. Could it be because I was crucifying myself intelectually for AA? I wish I had the words to express exactly what I’ve gone through at the hands of these religious fanatics. They robbed me of my very self. They had me on my knees on the dirty bathroom floor, at work, begging God to make my pain go away… begging God to make me more like AA wanted me to be and less like myself.

    G U Nthar2000

  • Rick045

    @Gunthar,
    The longer I stayed in AA, the more I developed this sense that I had something to be deeply ashamed of, and of course, that only exacerbated my depression. It was only through therapy that I began to understand my history of substance abuse as a behavioral problem that developed over time and had nothing to do with any inherent defectiveness. It certainly wasn’t something that needed to be harshly judged in moral or religious terms, which is exactly what AA taught me to do. The more I study this filthy organization, the more I realize just how shame-based its ideology actually is.

  • Lucy

    Gunthar – Rick really said it perfectly. And they confuse brain chemistry with sin because it makes them feel morally superior.

  • @Rick045,

    The shame and self-doubt were unbearable!

    I’ve been working at some serious intensive therapy for some time now through the VA.
    At first they tried to convince me that my issues with AA were a mental health issue that I needed to deal with. I thought that this had toned down a bit, but yesterday I took a good look at my treatment plan and it says something about my progress as far as accepting other people’s beliefs… I damn near hit the roof!

    It seems that disagreeing with AA is now in my medical records as an illness. I’m so frickin ed I could scream.

    Now that I’ve made it clear that I reject AA’s moral and religious terms, the VA has made it a mental health issue. All I want is to be left alone. I’ve made all kinds of plans with the VA and now I’m dumping them all. I wish I had never mentioned the fact that I used to drink too much to the VA.

    Ya know… It seems that everyone has bought the AA scam. They have a lock on it all… everything from detox to depression treatment… they’ve got their noses into it.

    Will I have to move to Siberia to get away from AA?

    @Lucy…

    All they have to do is learn a few slogans and they become gurus. The ones who assume positions of authority are the ones who are faking their asses off… The ones who actually try to make it work just sink deeper and deeper into guilt and shame.

    These religious freaks use our healthcare system as a cattle prod. They’ll do anything… lie any way they can… discredit any method that is not in alignment with their beliefs… They’ll even throw your ass in jail. They will use your mental health issues to try to convince you that the reason you suffer is because you refuse to completely submit to the will of God.

    G U Nthar2000

  • Rick045

    I’m sorry to hear that Gunthar. I’m not a veteran, so I really don’t know what it’s like to be caught up in that system. It was largely just a matter of luck that I found the therapist that proved to be the most helpful to me. As far as I know, he never reported anything related to substance abuse when filing insurance claims. I think everything he reported related strictly to depression. Fortunately, my treatment experience took place long before the electronic record keeping that is common today existed. I’ve always been cautious about giving any details about that part of my history. It sounds like the VA is completely infested with steppism. I hope that you can find some way to go outside the system if you feel that’s what you need to do. That particular therapist that I found most helpful even worked with me on costs during times when I had no insurance. I was very fortunate in that regard.

  • Lucy

    Gunthar, Don’t feel alone, I went to treatment in the early 1980s and unfortunately told the truth about it in all my insurance forms thereafter. I have to certify every year for my professional license that I am sober, although I obtained the license after treatment and have never had a DUI, a criminal conviction or anything other than a speeding ticket. I haven’t drunk in nearly 27 years.

    Unfortunately, I know a physician who was treated for alcoholism in the late 1970s. She realized her problem was bipolar disorder 30 years later and checked herself into the depression unit in a hospital . She told the admitting therapist that she was “alcoholic” because she was in AA, and they put “alcoholism” on her chart although she had been sober over 30 years. She was in the hospital less than a week and with her medication adjustment, she went back to work. A month later, the State board showed up and told her she would have to submit to weekly urinalysis checks to keep her license to practice.

    You are both right. Religious nuts and the government are scary things.

  • humanspirit

    @thar2000 says:

    “It seems that disagreeing with AA is now in my medical records as an illness. I’m so frickin ed I could scream.”

    Don’t blame you. Al this is so Kafkaesque it’s unbelievable. It really does remind me of what I know about China and the Soviet Union in the years when people opposed to the system were diagnosed with mental illnesses and incarcerated – or worse. (But wasn’t the “free western world” opposed to all that? And didn’t “we” feel superior to them because “we” weren’t like that?)

    The real bummer this points up is that anyone with any problems with alcohol or addiction (or depression, etc.) would now be well advised to not admit this to their doctor. Which in turn means that they will will be denied a major source of help (and in fact be denied the help of those whose very profession is all about helping and advising them).

    So sorry to hear about this latest, Gunthar. Hope you can muster the strength to carry on resisting this insidious nonsense. Is it possible to convince anyone you’re involved with that your objections to AA are nothing to do with your attitudes toward booze or whatever? (Sorry if this is a dumb question – I guess not.)

  • Bobmack

    AA works for some people and not others. That’s the beauty. Yes we must conform, imitate, give up and just abandon our previous ways of thinking and acting. Again many of us needed the directions outlined in the program.You can’t deny it has help millions recover from a hopeless state and in many cases recreating a happy, loving family. What other means would you suggest? Like I said it’s great for some.

  • Swamibedpan

    @Bobmack
    Yes i am denying that it has helped millions recover from alcoholism because it does not work and lies a lot about this.
    It increases the divorce rate and destroys families and other relationships because not many people want to be around crazy steppers.
    I would suggest

  • Bobmack- huh? WTF WHat are you doing here. Sorry but we don’t drink the Kool Aid Anymore. Take your Bullshit back into the rooms to preach to innocent newcomers who are just trying to quit drinking.

  • I would suggest an alternative to the AA “simple program” of lies, manipulation and coercion that does not kill people that it does not work for. Of course it is hard to get the information about these deaths because of the anonymity that this program hides behind. Then of course there are the people who it does work for who claim it was the victims fault because they “didn’t work a good program” who are in “denial” that there is a problem with AA. These are usually the “worker bees” of the powerless hive mentality of the followers of Bill Wilson, who’s simple program could not save him from the Spiritual malady of being addicted to nicotine, which he died of.

  • OK, I have to ask, HOW do these buggers get their info and false DXes out to your doctors? My insurance company claims that any and all records are private and that there’s no legal way for any doctors’ offices to have found out about my having gone to rehab. Yet the offices all (and I mean ALL, I have NO health care access outside of really refined specialists within a 25 mile radius of my house!) know, know my dates of treatment and the facility and asked me all about it over the phone. Failing to admit their info. was correct was reason to dismiss me from the practice, they all said, though my admission of it was ALSO the justification for “firing” me.

    Is this common? It apparently is not on steady legal ground, but suing every general physician’s group within that 25 mile radius of my home is just rather unrealistic. It’s none of anyone’s business, especially since the diagnosis is a fake one!

    On the up side, this was one of the issues that made me not want to just “leave it all in the past”, seeing as these idiots won’t let me go.

    @Thar2000, “will I have to move to Siberia to get away from AA?”
    I have been asking myself the same question.

  • PersephoneInExile – (In case you don’t know the CFR42 release you signed is full of loopholes) the answer to your question of how the treatment facilities knew you were in other rehabs is contained in:

    [Code of Federal Regulations]
    [Title 42, Volume 1]
    [Revised as of October 1, 2002]
    From the U.S. Government Printing Office via GPO Access
    [CITE: 42CFR2.34]

    Subpart C–Disclosures With Patient’s Consent

    Sec. 2.34 Disclosures to prevent multiple enrollments in detoxification and maintenance treatment programs.

    (a) Definitions. For purposes of this section:
    Central registry means an organization which obtains from two or
    more member progams patient identifying information about individuals
    applying for maintenance treatment or detoxification treatment for the
    purpose of avoiding an individual’s concurrent enrollment in more than
    one program.
    Detoxification treatment means the dispensing of a narcotic drug in
    decreasing doses to an individual in order to reduce or eliminate
    adverse physiological or psychological effects incident to withdrawal
    from the sustained use of a narcotic drug.
    Maintenance treatment means the dispensing of a narcotic drug in the
    treatment of an individual for dependence upon heroin or other morphine-
    like drugs.
    Member program means a detoxification treatment or maintenance
    treatment program which reports patient identifying information to a
    central registry and which is in the same State as that central registry
    or is not more than 125 miles from any border of the State in which the
    central registry is located.
    (b) Restrictions on disclosure. A program may disclose patient
    records to a central registry or to any detoxification or maintenance
    treatment program not more than 200 miles away for the purpose of
    preventing the multiple enrollment of a patient only if:

    [[Page 20]]

    (1) The disclosure is made when:
    (i) The patient is accepted for treatment;
    (ii) The type or dosage of the drug is changed; or
    (iii) The treatment is interrupted, resumed or terminated.
    (2) The disclosure is limited to:
    (i) Patient identifying information;
    (ii) Type and dosage of the drug; and
    (iii) Relevant dates.
    (3) The disclosure is made with the patient’s written consent
    meeting the requirements of Sec. 2.31, except that:
    (i) The consent must list the name and address of each central
    registry and each known detoxification or maintenance treatment program
    to which a disclosure will be made; and
    (ii) The consent may authorize a disclosure to any detoxification or
    maintenance treatment program established within 200 miles of the
    program after the consent is given without naming any such program.
    (c) Use of information limited to prevention of multiple
    enrollments. A central registry and any detoxification or maintenance
    treatment program to which information is disclosed to prevent multiple
    enrollments may not redisclose or use patient identifying information
    for any purpose other than the prevention of multiple enrollments unless
    authorized by a court order under subpart E of these regulations.
    (d) Permitted disclosure by a central registry to prevent a multiple
    enrollment. When a member program asks a central registry if an
    identified patient is enrolled in another member program and the
    registry determines that the patient is so enrolled, the registry may
    disclose–
    (1) The name, address, and telephone number of the member program(s)
    in which the patient is already enrolled to the inquiring member
    program; and
    (2) The name, address, and telephone number of the inquiring member
    program to the member program(s) in which the patient is already
    enrolled. The member programs may communicate as necessary to verify
    that no error has been made and to prevent or eliminate any multiple
    enrollment.
    (e) Permitted disclosure by a detoxification or maintenance
    treatment program to prevent a multiple enrollment. A detoxification or
    maintenance treatment program which has received a disclosure under this
    section and has determined that the patient is already enrolled may
    communicate as necessary with the program making the disclosure to
    verify that no error has been made and to prevent or eliminate any
    multiple enrollment.

    Source: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/cfr_2002/octqtr/42cfr2.34.htm

  • humanspirit

    @Bobmack says: “Yes we must conform, imitate, give up and just abandon our previous ways of thinking and acting.”

    I’m interested in this statement, not least because words to this effect are often bandied about by steppers as absolute truth, when there is nothing that makes sense in them at all.

    “We must conform” – Conform to what? To the nonsensical religious ramblings of Bill Wilson, which do not give any advice whatsoever on how to overcome addiction? To the self-defeating evangelical rubbish and practices of the 12 steps? To the specific rules of the group you find yourself in? To the instructions of some unqualified “sponsor” who knows no more about quitting addiction than anyone else and may even give harmful advice?

    “Imitate” – Imitate whom? Imitate them in what way? I can’t think of any convinced stepper that any sane person would want to imitate. Adults do not feel the need to imitate others: this is what selfhood is all about, and we all have selfhood and are responsible for ourselves whether we like it or not.

    “Give up” – Give up what, exactly? The only thing an addict has to give up is the substance they are addicted to – and most people who go to AA, unless forced to, have already done that or have come to a point in their lives where they sincerely want to.

    “Abandon our previous ways of thinking and acting” – What particular “ways of thinking and acting” have to be abandoned? All of them? Even the good, intelligent ways of thinking and any previous good, loving, positive behavior?

    The only thing an addict has to change his/her thinking about is the idea that drinking/using again is somehow going to be beneficial to them. There is no reason for them to change their thinking about anything else. Ditto with “ways of acting” – obviously people who are drunk often behave badly, stupidly, or self-destructively, but the only “way of acting” that they need to change in this context is to stop getting drunk or getting off their heads on drugs. Whether an individual continues to behave badly or continues to be a saint after they have got sober or clean is absolutely none of anyone else’s business, least of all the business of any random AA member. (And there is clearly no indication that people who are “sober in AA” necessarily stop behaving badly either, as many of the posts and commentators on this blog bear true witness to.)

    That you should “abandon [your] previous ways of thinking” is the most insidious aspect of AA indoctrination. It really does bring to mind the brainwashing, self-denying, self-obliterating, and fear-inducing techniques of the Cultural Revolution in China. The 12-step philosophy preaches that anyone who gets addicted to a chemical substance (apart from nicotine of course) is a fundamentally flawed human being and always has been, and the only way of overcoming this, even when abstinent, is to stop trusting their own mind, to buy into the complete crap that is the AA religion, find the AA god™, and sit in dreary meetings for the rest of their lives rehashing over and over again all the bad things they did when they were drunk, even if those days are way back in the past.

    It is no wonder AA has such an appalling failure rate (where exactly are all these mythical “millions” that is has worked for?). So thanks, @Bobmack, for giving us a salutary reminder of what is so wrong with the whole thing – sometimes even I forget and start kidding myself that it really isn’t that bad.

  • Swamibedpan

    @humanspirit
    Thank you for that.

  • @humanspirit That you should “abandon [your] previous ways of thinking” is the most insidious aspect of AA indoctrination. It really does bring to mind the brainwashing, self-denying, self-obliterating, and fear-inducing techniques of the Cultural Revolution in China. The 12-step philosophy preaches that anyone who gets addicted to a chemical substance (apart from nicotine of course) is a fundamentally flawed human being and always has been, and the only way of overcoming this, even when abstinent, is to stop trusting their own mind, to buy into the complete crap that is the AA religion, find the AA god™, and sit in dreary meetings for the rest of their lives rehashing over and over again all the bad things they did when they were drunk, even if those days are way back in the past.

    Right on! Awesome post!!!

  • causeandeffect

    “Abandon our previous ways of thinking and acting” – What particular “ways of thinking and acting” have to be abandoned? All of them? Even the good, intelligent ways of thinking and any previous good, loving, positive behavior?”

    As always humanspirit, you rock! I’d hate to see what I’d turn out to be if I were to “change everything about myself.”

  • humanspirit

    Thanks Swami, Massive and C&E for your comments. I just feel that steppers so often come out with this stuff, but never ever bother to elucidate or detail what it actually means in reality (have they even thought it through themselves?). The huge irony about all of the 12-step nonsense and its surrounding culture is that it is only inflicted *after* people are self-motivated enough to try to quit or when they already have quit. It is only then that they are told what worthless piles of scum they are, always have been, and always will be unless they convert to the Wilsonite religion and practice it for life.

    Yes, C&E, the AA philosophy refuses to recognize – or won’t admit – that addiction can afflict good and bad people alike. IMHO, the reason most people try to quit addictions is so that they can get back to their “real” selves, regain control of their own lives, and rediscover their own innate good sense, values, and thinking. To tell anyone that their basic self and their basic thinking – even after they have quit, and even previous to their getting addicted – are and always have been defective and inevitably need “changing” is quite horrendous in any circumstances. To tell them that the only possible way of “changing” is to accept 12-step nonsense whether they like it or not is just a cruel and cynical deception. And what human being alive, least of all some deluded stepper, has the authority or right to pronounce this kind of judgment on another person anyway?

  • Jonny Quest

    If you really want to grasp how AA is indeed a cult, you need to read “Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism: A Study of Brainwashing in China” by Robert Jay Lifton, followed by a chaser of “Combatting Cult Mind Control” by Steven Hassan.

    “Why We Were Chosen” makes a very good case, though. What drivel !

  • causeandeffect

    humanspirit, one of the nicest, kindest, gentlest, most considerate men I have ever known is what I’d consider to be an alcoholic. He had always been loyal and faithful to his wife and family and I would hate for him to go to AA and be told otherwise. His wife, on the other hand is one of the most selfish, conceited, narcissistic, loud, annoying bitches you might ever meet. No wonder he drank. She cheated on him with every man she could. She preferred married men (with children all the better) because she was so convinced these men would dump their wives for her. And all that would prove how “hot” she was. She had no addictions whatsoever, despite engaging in addictive substances on many, many occasions,

  • humanspirit

    Yes, I can well believe it, C&E, and I’m sure most of us can think of examples like this. It just goes to show what complete nonsense the AA theory about the character of “alcoholics” is. Why is the character of someone who gets addicted (and who is trying to do something about it) seen to be irredeemably defective, whereas another person who drinks or takes drugs but never gets addicted, however badly behaved or immoral they are, isn’t viewed in this way? Ditto with any kind of bastard who is completely abstinent (Osama Bin Laden didn’t drink or take drugs as far as I know, and was also a convinced religious believer). It goes against any kind of reason, and against anything we all know from our own experience of other people.

    I don’t know why some people get addicted and others don’t – it’s probably down to a variety of factors in each individual case. But what I’m absolutely convinced of is that it has nothing to do with whether that person is fundamentally “good” or “bad”.

  • Bobmack

    @humanspirit Well said. I see your point and understand, I think a little, your logic. I really do agree with many of your observations and heart felt comments but it is difficult for me. Difficult only because their way of life has produced something I don’t believe I could have ever mustered up. I guess I could have paid one of the advertisers here to get sober but I got lucky. It’s also difficult when I work with men who are basically dead men walking who do come back to life once a little love and compassion is applied using the AA principles. Once sober tell their family AA is a POS. Sorry don’t work. Yes true the failure rate is high and hopefully they get the help somewhere and somehow. Well thanks for your point of view it’s
    opened my eyes on the subject. Just glad something was there when I needed help. ok ready to get beat on let me have it. Conform me.

  • Amy

    Bobmack,
    Do you think AA is the only sollution for a person with a drinking problem.
    Do you think that Bill Willson intended for an Alcoholic to be a member for life.
    How do you feel about people who leave AA and are leading happy, sober lives?

  • Amy

    Dont know where your at but its late here at have to sign off for the night. Check for your answer tomorrow. Thanks

  • Swamibedpan

    @Bobmack
    I went to aa for only 4 years. During sober periods I never believed the programme was keeping me sober, I was doing it myself. Since leaving aa My experience has confirmed that I was right, in addition I have the added bonus of no longer being exposed to the many harmful effects of believing and practicing the ideology and attending meetings.
    I too experienced ‘opening my eyes on the subject’. People have always been able to quit drinking by themselves and enjoy the benefits thereof, it is called getting a grip. But you can’t create an industry or a cult if you tell them that.

  • Bobmack

    @Amy I honesty don’t have any experience with any other solution but am ready to listen and learn. I’d be totally ignorant to think AA is the only way to sober but again educate me. I think the principles are intended to be practiced for life but then again that’s what I’ve be taught. My experience with your last question: got sober in ’86 stayed for 10 years left for ten years to that wonderful sober life to raise my 5 kids with my wife. I’ve been back for 5+ years with a new outlook and perspective. So to answer your question, hell yes you can leave AA and life a very happy life. If I can learn from this group to carry a new message of recovery I’m all ears. Remember what Herbert Spencer says.

  • lucy – this piece is so well written! Made me laugh out loud. 🙂

  • violet-Like if I’d been in meetings with say, Massive or whatever I would’ve wanted to say b/c at least I would be hearing a pulse.
    Crack me up. I guess you were lucky to get out so soon. My kids have been making fun of me lately what a cult- koolaid drinking AA I was for too long. IN a sweet way. Not mean.

    They have just seen a huge shift in the past three years. I know you have a kid. He is lucky you are long gone from AA as well.