Posts tagged religion

Carl Jung, AA & Conversion

From Part 7 of The Guardian‘s series on Carl Jung
Carl Jung: The Power of Acceptance

Like the AA movement, Jung believed that acceptance and spiritual interconnectedness were crucial to a person’s recovery

But ever the experimenter, Jung had an idea.

Roland should join the Oxford Group, an evangelical Christian movement that stressed the necessity of total surrender to God. Jung hoped that his patient might undergo a conversion experience, which, as his friend William James had realised, is a transformative change at depth, brought about by the location of an entirely new source of energy within the unconscious. That might tame the craving.

It worked. Roland told another apparently hopeless alcoholic, Bill W, about the experience. Bill too was converted, and had a vision of groups of alcoholics inspiring each other to quit. The Society of Alcoholics Anonymous was formed. Today it has more than 2 million members in 150 countries.

I spoke to a friend of mine who attends meetings of Narcotics Anonymous to understand more about the element of conversion. “It’s hugely important,” he said.

His addictions had been fuelled by a surface obsession with career and money, and a deeper anxiety that nothing was right. “It’s the first time I’d been prompted seriously to consider something bigger than myself.”

Read all…


(Thank you humanspirit and Watch Surviving Straight, Inc.!)


Why AA Is Not A Valid Treatment Approach, And Why We Aren’t Obligated To Treat It As Such


“The irrationality of a thing is not an argument against its existence, rather, a condition of it”

– Frederich Nietzsche

I had a teammate on my college baseball team named Jake who wore an unwashed Billy Squire concert t-shirt under his uniform for the better part of thirty games. Our uniforms, including what we wore underneath them, were standard issue. One particularly cold Saturday, while getting dressed in our hotel room prior to boarding our bus to a double-header, he had discovered that he had failed to pack a long-sleeved undershirt – so he slapped on the Billy Squire shirt, because the black sleeves matched the colors of our team. The rest of the shirt was hidden by the uniform. That day, both a hit streak and a superstition were born.

He first wore the shirt in mid-March, and by early April, that shirt was a most odor-ridden, offensive piece of cloth. He even packed it for road games a separate plastic bag, so it wouldn’t compromise his other clothes. By the time May rolled around, we were hesitant to sit next to him on the bench. It became a running joke. We may have questioned his hygiene, but nobody questioned his belief that the smelly undershirt somehow made him play better.

Athletes and coaches are notorious for their superstitions. Bill Parcells, the onetime coach of the New York Giants football team, arranged for an airline pilot to come out of retirement and fly his team to the Super Bowl, because he was the same guy who had flown them to the championship game a few years earlier. A game that they had won. Wade Boggs, a baseball player, ate chicken before every game. Their beliefs were proven true. Parcells’ Giants won that second Super Bowl, and Wade Boggs is sitting in the Hall of Fame. I wouldn’t question these guys, any more than I (or any of my teammates) would have questioned Jake. We knew as an undisputed fact that it did work for him, because we saw it first hand. It worked, because he believed it worked — and if he believed it worked, we all believed it.

I’m a big sports fan, and I even have a few superstitions myself. Still, if I were a coach or a hitting instructor, I wouldn’t teach that a player should always eat chicken before a ballgame, or go weeks without washing his clothes. No rational person would, because we know it’s really just bullshit. It’s just something that helps make sports fun, and when superstitions are applied in the right way, they don’t harm anyone.

Of course, sports is not real life. Continue reading Why AA Is Not A Valid Treatment Approach, And Why We Aren’t Obligated To Treat It As Such

Trolling for Pigeons

A couple of years ago, Dexter Parker found himself in a bit of pickle. He was arrested for assault; or, as he put it, “I got into a little trouble with an ex-girlfriend.” I’m not sure if his girlfriend would characterize the incident in the same way, and I’m fairly certain she would not refer to it as “a blessing”, as did the author of this puff piece from the Lufkin Daily News in Texas.

In the two years since his arrest, Dexter has had trouble keeping his sobriety, so three and a half months ago, he entered a treatment program and joined AA. Now that he has been spiritually awakened, he has decided to  temporarily suspend his anonymity and the tradition of “attraction, not promotion”, so he could tout his own story, and use the local rag to troll for help in starting his own group.

You go, Dexter!

Angie the Anti-Theist on Al-Anon

Angie is writing a series on her experience in Al-Anon. Part 1. Part 2. Part 3.

Quote of the Day

”They taught me to smoke cigarettes, drink coffee and play spades.”

Deb H., an AA, in reference to what the old-timers taught her at age 15, when she joined Alcoholics Anonymous.

New from blamethenile

Thanking Alcoholics Anonymous

Quote of the Day

First off, if you don’t do the steps of course you go back out. Heck, if you don’t get a sponsor, and won’t do 90 in 90, and won’t do the steps, you were never in! How can you go back out? How can you relapse if you never attain?

When I was taken through the steps I was told that AA required constant and unending spiritual growth until I died. I was told that the character building never ends, and that I was responsible when a suffering alcoholic put out his hand for help. But much more than what I was told, it was what I was shown. My sponsor and his circle of friends were all in their late 60s, and they were 12 stepping machines. You could ask them any day what they were building in their character, and they could and did come right back with the answer of what they were working on.

My sponsor once drove through a hurricane to do a 12th step. Believe me, he wasn’t crazy, just willing. The person he went to told me that he arrived moments before the suicide. On the night he died my sponsor went out on a 12th step at 9pm, and died at 2pm. I might add that he died in his sleep, sober, serene, and loved by very many.

My sponsor was always taking people through the steps. When ever he made an assignment of any kind for a sponsee he went and did it again himself. He said he had seen too many old timers falling into telling people to do things they had long since stopped doing. This approach to serving and character building kept him constantly recycling the steps, and it caused him to apply AA principles in all his affairs.

To the best of my knowledge, all the people he sponsored are still sober. It is my intention to keep doing the actions he took, that kept him sober, and that gave him such a clean and serene end.

From a response posted yesterday on a year-old thread over at Friends of Bill called “relapse is ‘stinkin’-thinkin'”.

The original post is some bonus crazy:

We are speaking of those who are capable of being honest with themselves. Relapse is caused by a lack of spiritual development and we believe in a spiritual solution that recovery is completely and directly dependent on the integrity of the individuals spiritual program. It is not based on support groups from finite man, ((b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism..) but upon the individuals spiritual fitness- how well one “trust God, and cleans house”.

Back to Baclofen

Here is an article from The Guardian on Dr. Olivier Ameisen and baclofen: “The little pill that could cure alcoholism”. From the article:

“It’s not that there is much argument over how baclofen might work. Recent advances in brain imaging have increased knowledge of the function of the pleasure and reward systems, and suggested that addiction interferes with the balance of the neurotransmitters dopamine, glutamate and gamma- aminobutyric acid (GABA). “What baclofen does is stimulate the GABA-B receptors, and you see the release of dopamine and glutamate is slowed, so the reward system is normalised,” says Ameisen. It is even widely accepted that baclofen in low doses treats withdrawal from alcoholism, though no more effectively than several other medications. What proved more controversial was Ameisen’s theory of the “threshold dose”, which he says is “needed to break the cycle of addictive craving, preoccupation and obsessive thoughts” and which moves baclofen from treatment to cure.”

A couple of years ago, Scientific American ran a series of stories on “self-experimenters”, including this one on Dr. Ambeisen. There is good information in the story. We have also written here before about Dr. Ambeisen and his use of baclofen to treat himself. What is as interesting as the story itself, is the comment section. There are a couple of nice snippets of AA dogma, including this gem below, which I thought I would highlight for those in need of a daily chuckle:

“It is regretable [sic] that AA did not work for this man. From my experience, he could not get out of self long enough to let it. Ego is the main target of alcoholismn [sic] and and the only remeidy [sic] I have ever seen is true spiritualism. Unfortunately, you have to get out of self long enough to gain the proverbal [sic] high ground perspective of spiritual intervention. I guess this is the reason that AA is not for everyone. Some sorry souls are so wound up with self, they cannot alter their perspectives, even momentarily. I feel very sadened [sic] for this man and can only think of the quote, “heal thy self physician.” This must be true for anyone who will not let God do it.”


We are often asked to post alternatives to AA, or what our opinion is in terms of treating  addiction, beyond simply quitting. My opinion of using baclofen to treat alcohol addiction is no different than it is of naltrexone, campral,  CBT or any other treatment option. Subject it to proper, scientific, peer reviewed research – and if it shows to be effective in treating addiction, it should be looked at as a possibility for treatment. If it is unwilling to subject itself to the scientific method, and is unwilling to change or improve upon itself (as is the case with AA); or, if it has shown itself to be ineffective by objective research (also AA and Twelve Step Facilitation) – then it is most likely snake oil.

I have no idea whether or not baclofen is an effective treatment for alcoholism. I read Dr. Ambeisen’s book, and would recommend it to anyone interested in the subject of addiction recovery. My guess is that it most likely is effective, but my opinion is not what matters, which is the beauty of science. What does matter is what the science says, and there is currently research being done on the effectiveness of baclofen, including a study at the University of North Carolina on the use of baclofen in conjunction with naltrexone. These are controlled, double-blind studies on which science thrives, and AA avoids like the plague.

A New Civil Rights Case

Judge: Atheist’s Rights Violated

State parole officers violated a Redding atheist’s rights when they imprisoned him for refusing to participate in a religious drug treatment program, a federal judge has ruled.

Barry Hazle Jr., a 40-year-old computer services specialist, has sued his parole officer and nearly a dozen others in connection with his 125-day imprisonment in 2007 after he declined to participate in a 12-step treatment program at Empire Recovery Center. In his recent ruling, the judge dropped Empire Recovery Center from the suit, which is scheduled for trial in late June.

Read the whole story.

The Three Most Toxic Aspects Of The 12-step Movement by mikeblamedenial

The Three Most Toxic Aspects Of The 12-step Movement

by mikeblamedenial

Much has been said about all the unhealthy aspects of steppism–  its bad psychology; thought-stopping slogans; parroted gibberish; disengagement with the real world and real problems, etc, etc. While all valid, and certainly worthy of discussion and consideration,  the qualities I find most toxic about steppism are these:

1) Its self-denying religiosity, based solely upon its need for coercion  from  the legal, medical, and human services industries to maintain a fresh supply of potential indoctrinees;

2) The diseasing of its membership, first contrived by Marty Mann, to legitimize that coercion and referrals from those industries;

3) Its false doctrine of powerlessness, designed to foster a sense of dependency on the movement, and to make the commitment to steppism by its practitioners life-long, and deeply ingrained.

Without referrals/coercion from outside agencies, AA membership would likely have flat-lined, then began to diminish, in the 1970s. The Hughes Act made the addiction industry profitable. The war on drugs began over-taxing the judicial and prison systems, and made the options of treatment in lieu of, and sentencing of offenders to AA more and more attractive.  A “religious” label on the 12-step movement would remove these sources of new members.

The “addiction is a disease” ruse further legitimizes the addictions industry, and gives AA a nearly-endless source of new and recycled chair-warmers in its never-ending cycle of short-lived individual memberships. With the typical referral staying in the rooms for less than one month, the need for fresh court slips and half-way house vans in the parking lot is never-ending.

Powerlessness  is, of course, the biggest hammer in the 12-step tool-box. Without it, who would want to stick around the rooms very long?  Sadly, along with powerlessness comes the sense of disempowerment, and a very real dependence  upon a model which does little to serve as an inspiration for self-empowerment, self-improvement, or much else beyond the admiration of one’s co-indoctrinees. Powerlessness is right beside hopelessness in the catalogue of delibilitating emotions, and AA has staked its very essence upon instilling it in its practitioners. Toxic, untheraputic, and unhelpful as it is, it is the very core of steppism.