Archive for the Gaslighting Category

Amends to Abusers?

A question posted on PhillyBurbs:

In all the 12-step groups I’ve been in, I’ve known few people who haven’t been abused at some point in their lives. Yes, there are a few of us who come from shining, loving households, who have been loved to death by our families. But most of us have much darker tales.

I met a woman recently, with one of those darker tales, who hasn’t yet begun her steps. While talking with her one day, she told me about her father, who was terribly physically abusive to both herself and her mother. The wearing-long-sleeves-in-summer kind of abuser. Even held a gun to his little girl’s head once.

Now, most sponsors tell their sponsees that they have to make amends to everyone in their lives. I personally have a father who was very minor-league, barely abusive compared to this friend’s story.

My sponsor has always insisted I have to forgive him and apologize to him. Ask him how I can make it up to him, for all the damage my being an alcoholic has done to him.

I think this is bull. And I think it would be insane for my friend to make an amend to this man. She was an innocent, helpless child, and the person who was supposed to protect her harmed her in ways unimaginable to any sane person. What could she possibly owe him?

Now I know I’m still considered quite new to recovery by many, I know this goes completely against my sponsor’s teachings, and I know I’ll probably think this very foolish one day.

But I also know I can’t be the only angry soul out there thinking this way.

Does anyone agree with me on this?

No responses so far.

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:

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.

Recovery Thought Police

Wyoming Supreme Court: Sentence Unusual But Not Illegal

CHEYENNE — The sentence of a Campbell County man convicted of aggravated assault and battery was unusual but not illegal, the Wyoming Supreme Court ruled Wednesday in a split decision.

Willis Center Sr. pleaded no contest to the charge and was sentenced by District Judge John Perry in November 2008 to 36 to 80 months in prison. But the judge stayed the sentence and granted Center a furlough so he could enter an alcohol rehabilitation treatment program.

Center failed the program primarily because he refused to complete the written first step of the 12-step Alcoholics Anonymous program in use at the WYSTAR center.

He was then sent to the state penitentiary.

On appeal, Center claimed the sentence was illegal and his right to due process was violated in the way his placement was revoked.

The supreme court majority, in an opinion written by Justice William Hill and including Chief Justice Marilyn Kite and Justice Michael Golden, said that while the sentence was “unusual and perhaps ill-advised,” it was not illegal.

Read the rest…

First, the judge diagnosis Center’s real problem as alcoholism, not violence, and sends him to an alcohol rehab program, which turns out to be nothing more than AA. Center cannot bring himself to admit he’s powerless over alcohol, so they “fail” him and send him to the pen.  I think the state has put itself in the position of having to prove that the 12 steps are effective and necessary for the treatment of alcoholism.

Maybe he should have gone to the pen in the first place for whatever violence he comitted, but now he’s being sent there for not taking the First Step, which is nothing more than a statement of belief. Insane.

Yeah, that’s why.

Lucy just posted this link in the comments, but it is begging for a thread crashing. It is such a nasty piece of passive aggressive, sanctimonious AA gaslighting that I think I should issue a trigger alert for people who are still untangling their minds.

7 Reasons Charlie Sheen May Hate AA So Much

In one of the myriad interviews he gave over the last week, Charlie Sheen said clearly that he hates AA.

A lot of people have trouble with Alcoholics Anonymous. AA is full of people and people can be messy and flawed.

The human train wreck formally known as Charlie Sheen is a common sight in the AA meeting halls. The only difference between Mr. Sheen and other self-absorbed, delusional, frantic addicts is the size of the audience to which they rant. These people do not last long in AA. They mock the Fellowship and the 12 Steps (PDF) as too religious or simplistic. AA is beneath them.

Here are a few possible reasons why Charlie Sheen might hate AA so much.

Reasons Why Charlie Sheen May Hate AA

  1. He would have to admit he is powerless.
  2. He would need to embrace Humility.
  3. Deep tissue Change would be required.
  4. He would have to be Anonymous!
  5. His Higher Power could not be Charlie Sheen.
  6. He couldn’t blame anyone else for his troubles.
  7. He would need to learn to be Grateful.

This article offers one really sound reason why anyone might hate AA.

Still Sober

What are your qualifications again?

This appeared on Yahoo Questions about a year ago (you’ll notice that our friend raysny was on the spot).  I was relieved to see that most of the responses to this woman were from rational people. What’s of interest to me, though, is this peek into the demented mind of a sponsor who actively guides vulnerable people in AA, and is probably gaslighting her pigeons and micromanaging someone else’s day for them as we speak.

Are the ego deflating steps in Alcoholics anonymous useful for someone with severe low self esteem?

My aunt is a sponser for AA, (which is scary for me since she has a very narcissictic and controlling, abusive personality). She told me to try working the 12 steps to help me get over my rape and captivity as a child.
(I don’t drink BTW)
But I don’t see how deflating my ego and dwelling on all my faults is helpful in recovering from this?
I mean, I do that everyday anyways and its a pattern I’m trying to break, it just doesn’t make sense to me.
This seems like a good place to repost this:

Spiritual Brutality

Speaking of the recovery crackpots over on the Huffington Post, I landed on a particularly crazy one that, I believe, is a prime example of the type of mind-fucking, boundary-crossing, passive-aggressive, vicious emotional abuse that passes for rigorous honesty and spiritual awakening in the 12-Step culture.

The author, an addictions counselor, has written an article about her daughter’s relapse — barely containing her obvious sense of personal betrayal. In the name of “sharing” with her readers, she exposes her daughter to the scrutiny of millions of strangers. Irresponsibly, she takes advantage of her public venue to publicly shame her kid:

However, this beautiful young lady is covered with tattoos scattered about her body with little or no thought as to what she is permanently inking. One looks like a car engine and is supposed to be a music box; another is a musician that I don’t think she has ever heard of and whose hair covers most of his face. Her ear lobes sport gauges that are so big, the middle part of a sugar ice cream cone would fit comfortably through it.

Though I’m not thrilled that Lucy has decided to permanently use her body as a grease board, it does not make me love her any less.

Her tone is bitter, and her descriptions of her daughter are unkind and unloving — resentful, if you will:

Lucy became a garbage pail for any drug from acid to mushrooms to heroin. Cutting and anorexic behavior became the norm as well.

Lucy made it clear that she had no interest in considering any of my suggestions for continued education or career choices.

Lately when I see her, she is unfocused, easily agitated, defensive and dirty. This last week, a planned family dinner witnessed Lucy making several trips to the bathroom. Was she throwing up her dinner, and back to the days of bingeing [sic] and purging, getting high or both? Regardless, it was clear that her clean and sober days were over.

Bennett claims to be writing in the interest of simply connecting with her dear, dear readers — because she just knows that they are like family — but her saccharine tone is a thin veneer over what is clearly a roiling bitterness.  I find that disguising her daughter’s name is a bad faith move, considering that her own name and contact information are at the top of the page. There is nothing compassionate about the way she portrays her daughter, and in fact, her choice of words are the kind that will do deep emotional damage coming from a mother’s mouth.

After reading this, I thought, “How dare she?” And how has she dared to speak to her daughter when no one is looking?

More Gaslighting

I’ve written about this subject before, but if you’re not familiar with it, gaslighting is just exactly like mindfucking. The difference between gaslighting and mindfucking, though, is that gaslighting is methodical and its intention is to utterly undermine the victim’s sense of reality so that they lose their ability to trust what they see with their own eyes and to function on their own.  It’s aim is to destroy someone, not just toy with them.

Think, just for instance, of the classic case of marital infidelity, where a cheating spouse will deny facts that the betrayed spouse can plainly see, and will, further, cause the betrayed spouse to believe that he or she is the one with the problem (insane jealousy “What? I can’t have friends now?”; ungratefulness, “I work my ass off till all hours of the night, to support you, and have to come home to your accusations?”; undesirability, “This is why I’d rather hang out with my friends than with you.”; insanity or paranoia, “What are you? Crazy? Of course I don’t smell like perfume,” or “That bra you found in the glovebox is yours! Don’t you remember I bought that for you?”).

Gaslighting is not messing around; it’s systematic psychic abuse, and a very effective way of preventing someone from making decisions for themselves.

Now, I’m struggling with this post, because the inspiration comes from a thread (the thread has been removed) I looked in on at Sober Recovery. I had googled something, and landed there, and clicked on a random thread at the top of the page, and found myself reading through a classic demonstration of gaslighting. Continue reading More Gaslighting

Welcome to Stinkin Thinkin, McGowdog!

We are so glad to have you!  Since you have put so much careful time into deconstructing MA’s “Fun with the Wackos” post, we’re going to respond to you properly, here on the main page. It seems such a waste to bury your comments at the bottom of an old post. You’ve really given us a lot to chew on, and our work is definitely cut out for us! We’re game.

Just to be clear, we don’t argue with AAs, especially not in an attempt to change their minds about AA. It’s pointless to argue people out of their faith. However, we do feel duty-bound to offer up the facts for those who are questioning AA, in the process of deprogramming, and for people who are exploring alternative addiction recovery programs.

So, I’m going to start at the beginning, with your first comment:

What’s up, MA?

Glad we could be of service to you.

If you haven’t noticed, I am pro-AA. I do think there’s a difference between actually working the steps and just paying lip service to it. I can’t describe in words why that is other than… I’ve just seen the results in it and it’s helped people get back on their feet and get lives again. Some people are too lazy and are socialized in AA.

What’s so hard to believe about that? Oh, and tell me how AA works in affiliation with the courts? Does AA demand the judge to send potential alkies to AA or does AA put the finger on them to do so?

And, since you address the court connection again in a more recent comment, I’ll just add that in as well:

AA doesn’t have much to do with the sentencing of drunk drivers. In fact, they have absolutely nothing to do with it. The harder somebody tries to control the drunk, the worse they seem to fail.

Now, you kick off your fillibuster with a strawman “Oh, and tell me how AA works in affiliation with the courts? Does AA demand the judge to send potential alkies to AA or does AA put the finger on them to do so?” Do you know what a strawman is? It’s when you pretend someone said something they didn’t say, and then argue your point based on that pretend premise. This is a perfect example: we say “AA has an affiliation with the court system” and you turn that into a “AA demands the judge…”

If you’re trying to set the record straight about AA, then kicking off your argument with such intellectual dishonesty is no way to do that. Plus, it simply underscores our position that AA members employ gaslighting tactics, which may work very well for you in the rooms, but not so well among the reality-based population.

And yes, AA does actively pursue an affiliation with the court system. It’s called 12-Stepping, and you can read about it here, from the A.A. Guidelines: Cooperating with Court, D.W.I and Similar Programs, published by the G.S.O.

In 1942, members from San Francisco brought the first A.A. meeting into San Quentin Prison at the request of Warden Clinton T. Duffy. This example led to A.A.’s cooperation with court systems, including direct communication with judges and parole and probation officials. The sole purpose of this Twelfth Step work, then and now, was to carry A.A.’s message to the still-suffering alcoholic. To fulfill that purpose, A.A.s have learned how to share A.A. information within court systems.

Here’s more:

Many A.A. members are not aware that this kind of Twelfth Step work is available and that they can participate in it.
In some locales, this service is coordinated by the Committee on Cooperation with the Professional Community (C.P.C.). Often ongoing Twelfth Step work within the court system leads to a subcommittee connected to the district or central office/intergroup.

Once again, we welcome you and look forward to addressing your points.


Dry Drunk

Dry Drunk

I recently read an article on someone’s website – please forgive me for not citing, but I can’t remember on whose site I found the piece; if it’s yours (or if you know whose it is), please let me know so that I can credit and link properly – about the Seven Deadly Sins and A.A. I wish I could remember where I found it, so that I could refer back to it, because I’ve been turning it over in my mind since I read it.

The gist of this article is that the Seven Deadly Sins – as an outdated, religious, aphoristic  construct – has no place in an addictions recovery program. It is the foundation for the the fearless moral inventory in A.A.’s Step 4 work, rooting out character defects and evoking shame for emotions that are not only natural, but essential to our survival as a species. Like lust? (Holyhell, I listened to a religious A.A. radio show last week where the pastor told a story about how some porn popped up in a window, while he was innocently doing motorcycle business on ebay, and he couldn’t get the lewd image out of his mind, so he asked his wife to pray for him – to make God help him stop thinking about it. Hallelujah!) Anyway, the article is the inspiration for this rant. Continue reading Anger