Archive for the Quackery Category


A new comment left on a 2009 Psychology Today blog post by Stanton Peele:

Psychologist / Alcoholic / Addict / AA Member

Submitted by Anonymous on September 18, 2011 – 6:52pm.

I am a psychologist who is clean and sober 17 years. I owe my sobriety to the fellowship (the group of fellow recovering alcoholics) and the program (12 step) of AA. That’s the plain and simple truth.

It amazes me how fellow psychologists who are not alcoholics (or who are but drink their 2-3 cocktails every day freely, denying that they might have a problem) speak against the ONLY “treatment” for alcoholism that works for EVERYONE. Yes, you heard me correctly. AA has a 100% success rate for those who remain in the program long enough to 1) lose the obsession and 2) go through the full 12-step process as it outlined in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Peele responds appropriately:

You should [lose] your license,

Submitted by Stanton Peele on September 18, 2011 – 6:57pm.

you nut.

I wonder if this psychologist thinks you have to be schizophrenic to treat schizophrenics. Maybe you have to have Alzheimer’s in order to treat other Alzheimer’s patients.

What Makes AA Work?

You mean it’s not God?

From the Harvard Gazette:

Among the many ways that participation in Alcoholics Anonymous(AA) helps its members stay sober, two appear to be most important — spending more time with individuals who support efforts toward sobriety and increased confidence in the ability to maintain abstinence in social situations. In a paper that will appear in the journalAddiction and has been released online, researchers report the first study to examine the relative importance to successful recovery of the behavior changes associated with participation in AA.

“AA is the most commonly sought source of help for alcohol addiction and alcohol-related problems in the United States and has been shown to help people attain and maintain long-term recovery,” says study leader John F. Kelly, associate director of the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Center for Addiction Medicine, a Harvard affiliate. “This study is the first to investigate exactly how AA helps individuals recover by examining the independent effects of several mechanisms simultaneously.”

Read the rest…

Essential Reading from Maia Szalavitz

Why Tough-Love Rehab Won’t Die

Despite decades of research showing the harmfulness of coercive rehab for addiction, these abusive, tough-love programs refuse to go away.

On Wednesday, reported on the phenomenon of “blood cashews,” nuts produced for export in Vietnamese drug-rehabilitation programs where addicts are forced to perform “labor therapy,” such as sewing clothes, making bricks or, most commonly, shelling cashews.

Last Sunday, the New York Timesdescribed Russia’s harsh new treatment camps, where addicts are locked up for as long as a month in “quarantine rooms” to endure withdrawal.

And last week a lawsuit was refiled against a Utah-based school for teens with drug or behavioral problems, with 350 former students alleging that the school engaged in abusive disciplinary tactics like locking students in outdoor dog cages overnight.

Yet, to date, there has been no evidence that the use of forced labor, public humiliation or generally brutal confrontation has ever been effective in rehabilitating people with drug problems — or any other kind of problem, for that matter. What’s more, when tough-love approaches are compared directly with kinder treatment alternatives for addiction, the studies find that compassionate strategies win by a large margin.

Read the whole thing…




Invasion of the Body Snatchers: Pods Win

Stanton Peele gave Stinkin’ Thinkin’ a little plug in his Psychology Today post about the Pod People bringing 12-Step recovery to college campuses, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers: Pods Win“:

Ever see the 1956 Don Siegel cult classic, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, where hero Kevin McCarthy discovers pod people are taking over the identities of everyone in town — including his girlfriend? (I hate when that happens.) I know this disclosure is obvious: when I saw the movie at age 10, I totally identifed with McCarthy (who died in 2010 at age 96).

The same thing is happening again, only for real, as illustrated on Sunday by NBC’s The TODAY show. Today featured a segment on the growing phenomenon of on-campus Recovery Communities, where 18- to 22-year-olds declare themselves alcoholics, turn themselves over to recovery gurus, and vow forevermore to be alcoholic pods. They don’t interact with the rest of the drunken student body (I personally didn’t get drunk the entire time I was at college — okay, I smoked a little pot), busy themselves in sober activities, and surround themselves with fellow recovery acolytes.

Read the rest…

And then check out some of the comments from the Pod People:


Seems to be a lack of understanding here

Submitted by Dorri Olds on August 23, 2011 – 3:17pm.

Alcoholism is a disease. That’s why insurance companies pay for treatment. You better believe insurance companies wouldn’t pay a dime if it was just some silly coming of age thing. There are so many teenage alcoholics/drug addicts and plenty in their 20s. It is a mental disorder. The way to get help is to admit there is a problem. Why on earth should it bother somebody else why a young person seeks help with drinking. People should be cheering them on, not mocking the help that is available to them.

Most people who have never been addicted to alcohol or drugs do not have any idea what it feels like to have a compulsion to do something that could kill you or make you go crazy. People who are allergic to strawberries just quit strawberries. They are not encouraged to continue to eat strawberries.


I would be interested…

Submitted by Dash Stryker on August 24, 2011 – 1:23am.

in learning more about the study you cite. Do the researchers understand, as you seem not to, the burgeoning understanding of the difference between substance abuse and addiction?

Lots of people are substance abusers without becoming addicted. Lots of people are physically dependent upon certain drugs without developing the alterations in neurochemistry that correspond with addiction.

(I’m also curious to know what you think of the research suggesting those alterations in neurochemistry.)

Is it so bad, if some substance abusers who probably could have managed to learn to drink responsibly find themselves in AA instead, completely abstinent? Without setting up a false dichotomy, I think such people are better off than the ones who are truly addicted and never find a pathway to abstinence. Those are sort of the two ways to err, here. So there’s a program that helps a bunch of young people, but there’s some error involved. If the error’s that people who don’t need AA get involved with it anyway, I’m fine with it; I’m not clear on why you’re not.

And yeah, I’ve been a ‘pod person’ for a while now – and yet, I find it a simple matter to interact and form meaningful bonds with non-Pods.

I meant to post this story yesterday, but this seems like a good spot for it:


We’re Saving Lives Here

(via a.v. club)