OK, so why the anger towards the institution of Alcoholics Anonymous? Please keep in mind that it is the institution itself and not the members themselves, for the most part, for whom the following scathing review applies. It's not their fault that they were converted and spawned into sheeple.
Let’s start with the “AA Literature” which is regarded with the same unquestionable dogmatic belief as is the Bible for Christians. The 2 sacred texts are the Big Book (1939) and the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions (Referred to simply as “The 12&12”-written in 1952). The absolute conviction that what is contained in them are eternal truths is rather over the top when you consider that they are, as you like to point out, simply one man’s opinions. If you ever try and present opinions or ideas from any other sources (Say a relevant scientific or psychological article from the 21st century for example, you will be immediately silenced in an almost condescending and dismissive manner)
I’m not going to give you a whole history lesson on Bill Wilson but in short, he was a narcissist to the extreme. He suffered from extreme bouts of depression his entire adult life with episodes (after the formation of AA) lasting periods of up to 10 YEARS.
His “White Light” moment when “God” spoke to him occurred while he was in a detox ward of the hospital and was under the influence of both sedatives and belladonna which is a highly hallucinatory plant extract.
The fact that he was a lifetime adulterer having had a decades long affair with his secretary and one night stands with a plethora of AA 13th step victims is arguably irrelevant but I think it’s just another indicator of the moral fiber of this highly revered to the point of saintliness, man.
He was also a LAZY SOB who never held a real job for more than months at a time. He had a short period of success as a provider of information as an inside trader (illegal by today’s standards). But for the most part, until he formed his cash cow of AA, he was chronically unemployed and his wife Lois was forced to work horrific hours in retail and other vocations just so they could afford to move out of her parents’ house. Even then, they were forced to move back in with them until eventually Bill managed to coerce the deed to an
AA member’s home in Westchester, NY where he lived for free until his death.
He believed that he could channel the dead and much of the 12&12 was inspired by conversations that he supposedly had with “ghosts”. He utilized Ouija boards and séances to try and summon the dead for more inspiration.
The bulk of his “revolutionary” 12 Steps were inspired by a fringe Christian organization known as The Oxford Group, whose ideas were so bizarre that I don’t have the time or space to summarize them here. Suffice it to say that one of its biggest supporters was Adolph Hitler’s right hand man, Heinrich Himmler.
Google Oxford if you want to know about this bizarre cult-like organization. So while none of this stuff is all that important in and of itself (well in kind of is), it just gives you an idea of the mind of the architect of this whole strange religion.
Just as a side note, Bill had no education whatsoever in the areas of human behavior (psychology), science or medicine. The whole basis for his movement were simply his strange ideas morphed together from the Oxford group, God supposedly and a few other “interesting” fellows.
So what’s wrong with the 12-Step Religion and its “suggestions”?
Plenty. Besides preaching the ideas of “powerlessness” and “surrender” which quite frankly are counter intuitive for people whose egos and feelings of self-worth are already in the basement, some of the passages contained in these “sacred” text are just out and out lies and are disempowering to the umpteenth degree.
Most AA meetings begin with a few readings from these texts and I’ll quote from the most popular one here.
This is from “How it works”;
“Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average. There are those
too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them to recover if they have the capacity to be honest.”
If that passage doesn’t disturb you on some fundamental level, then I’m really at a loss.
But let’s take this passage, from the 12&12. Yes, I’ve posted it already but maybe you’re just not seeing how WRONG this is.
“Unless each AA member follows to the best of his ability our suggested Twelve Steps to recovery, he almost certainly signs his own death warrant”
There are literally 100’s of these kinds of disempowering and fear inducing, threatening kinds of messages in “their literature” and that are also bantered about in every meeting you go to.
They actually have “Big Book” and “12&12” meetings which are akin to Bible study where they pound these messages into your head.
So what’s wrong with this?
People become brain washed to the point that they actually believe that if they don’t “get” AA’s philosophy, that there is something fundamentally WRONG with them. The results from this baseless belief manifest in several ways. These are REAL and I have personally witnessed them and have received 100’s of emails from people who were either witness to or personally suffered these consequences.
1-Because they “can’t get with the program” because it just feels wrong (as it should), they see themselves as a failure. After all, “they are Incapable of being honest with themselves, they are such unfortunates”.
They buy into this lie and once they leave because they can’t take it anymore, they go “out” and drink
themselves silly because they believe that if you can’t make it in AA, then you are beyond hope. So the F it attitude takes over and they give up. HAPPENS ALL THE TIME.
2-At its extreme, some people become so hopeless, that they take their own lives as a result. I’m not making this up, I’ve seen it more than once.
Lastly, by AA’s own research, they have no more than a 5% “success” rate, if you can call lifetime recovery any kind of success. The natural remission rate for overcoming alcohol dependency has also been shown to be about 5%. You could very justifiably argue that those 5% of people in AA that manage to maintain their sobriety would have done so whether they joined AA or not, just because they were simply ready to make that CHOICE!
So in conclusion, why should a “program” with a 95% failure rate that induces people by its high and mighty approach to in some cases go back out and drink more than ever and in still others, causes them to kill themselves, still be accepted as the go-to method for overcoming alcohol/drug dependency? Because
it was here first? I don’t think so. Look nobody is going to take AA away from them. We have religious freedom so that won’t happen.
But why do I hate the institution of AA? Because it’s a fail on way too many levels, that’s why.
The first response I got was that one of the sentences should have read "which quite frankly are counter productive instead of intuitive.
To which I replied;
Good point but I believe it is also counter intuitive. I think most people, on a gut level someplace, feel the wrongness of it but don't act on it for several reasons.
1-Group think and judgment
2-They are desperate, in pain
3-They have been mandated to go there either by the courts,
their jobs or their families
4-Immediate brainwashing through the posters on
the walls, "How it works", etc....
Lots of reasons.
Then I thought about it a bit more and added;
I also think....
Not only do most people feel at least a little bit weirded out by their "first encounter" of the cultish kind, they are also left with unanswered questions which is why AA, in it's infinite wisdom, came up with the "Keep
coming back" line. It buys them time to brainwash and indoctrinate you. In my case, I was more than just a bit weirded out, it absolutely freaked me out and made me practically nauseous.