Friday, December 28, 2007

Original closing of How It Works

You can find a transcription of the original manuscript here or here. You can see a copy of some of the original pages here.

How It Works originally offered people the choice of completely ignoring the steps and the Big Book. This was obviously not a good idea for an ambitious, fledgling alcoholic cult. But it does show that a certain free spiritedness and enlightened secularism were present in early AA. How It Works originally ended with these words:
Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventures before and after, have been designed to sell you three pertinent ideas:
(a) That you are alcoholic and cannot manage your own life.
(b) That probably no human power can relieve your alcoholism.
(c) That God can and will.
If you are not convinced on these vital issues, you ought to re-read the book to this point or else throw it away! [Emphasis added.]
Well said, Mr William Griffith Wilson!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Another thoughtful review of Bufe's AA: Cult or Cure - A MUST READ!

Marty N of LifeRing Secular Recovery wrote a very insightful review of Charles Bufe's AA: Cult or Cure? To read Marty N's must-read review, click here. To read Bufe's book, click here.

Marty N reminds me of earlier remarks I have made on this blog concerning AA's pretension to practice medicine. He states:
It seems to me that AA’s attachment to the disease theory is skin-deep and purely opportunistic. The disease theory serves as a psychological hammer with which to crack the tough egos of certain types of alcoholics and open them up for religious indoctrination. It serves as respectable, scientific windowdressing for AA’s evangelical religious program, much like the "Science" in "Scientology" and in "Christian Science," which AA most resembles. It serves as political camouflage for the maneuvers of the invisible AA to channel public funds into AA pockets. It is the sheep’s cloak on the Buchmanite wolf.

Instead of peremptorily dismissing the disease theory, as Bufe does, it would be sounder strategy to hold AA to its claims and to demand from it the same accountability that is applied to other medical and quasi-medical efforts. Since alcoholism is a disease, those who purport to dispense advice about it to sufferers, e.g. AA sponsors, should be examined for basic medical competency and either licensed and bonded or prosecuted. Since alcoholism is a disease, accurate epidemiological and outcome statistics should be required of all entities that benefit from public funds related to its treatment. Refusal of an entity to submit to controlled double-blind efficacy studies using standard sociometric techniques should be immediate ground for termination of funding. Since alcoholism is a disease, there should be no less openness toward alternative treatment modalities than in treatment of other diseases. Since alcoholism is a disease, an approach that relies primarily on religious conversion should get the same short shrift as such methods receive in the medical treatment of diabetes, allergies, and other diseases with which alcoholism is often compared. The disease theory, if really taken seriously and applied consistently, is the burial shroud for the whole legacy of Buchmanite "soul surgery" in AA.
I'm beginning to feel less alone and more convinced in my criticisms. Thanks, Marty N of LifeRing Secular Recovery!

To become the person you want to be...

you have to give up the person you are.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

AA: Cult or Cure? Posted at Briggsmore Beach

I've just posted Chaz Bufe's AA: Cult or Cure? in the Briggsmore Beach online library. To access the library, click here. The following are excerpts from Dr Stanton Peele's review of the book:
In conducting this evaluation, the reader feels Chaz is not an ideologue. He gives credit where credit is due, acknowledging the brilliant insights of AA-founder Bill W., represented particularly in the 12 Traditions that Bill authored for AA. Chaz sees in these a successful blueprint for ensuring the democracy of AA as an organization not beholden to commercial, political, or intellectual interests.
* * *
Unfortunately, this strength is vitiated ... by the tyranny of the group and AA philosophy over the individual. There is little room for individual variation and none for individual questioning of AA. The AA attendee does not speculate that he or she may not be an alcoholic, or question any of the 12 steps — for example, the need to turn oneself over to a "higher power."
* * *
Chaz also shows — often through analysis of original data sources — that AA succeeds with relatively few (5% at most) of the massive numbers of alcoholics who wander through its meetings. The data which show this are general population surveys, AA's own membership studies, and research on outcomes of AA and other 12-step treatment (which forms the overwhelming majority of treatment programs in the U.S.). But AA is not concerned with data about its effectiveness or the numbers of people it leaves out in the cold. The fundamental goal of AA is to propagate the 12-step belief system and to support the small minority that finds this approach facilitative of recovery.
* * *
Chaz takes as his fundamental task to evaluate whether AA (and the ubiquitous 12-step treatment programs based on AA's model) comprises a cult involvement.... Examining cult philosophies and indoctrination techniques, he answers with a qualified "yes": the most important therapy group/technique in the U.S., in the eyes of the public, media, and health care system, is in many ways a brainwashing factory, one whose impact has led to no reduction in alcoholism in the U.S. In fact, by discouraging alternative approaches and free thinking about America's drinking problems, AA may have had exactly the opposite impact.

But the good news, in Chaz's analysis, is that America's honeymoon with AA is nearly over. Chaz traces this cultural shift to the recent more critical thrust of popular articles on AA and its 12-step philosophy, repeated negative court decisions on the constitutionality of forcing people to attend AA/12-step programs, and a growing awareness of AA's limited effectiveness — as well as to his own and other books, many published by See Sharp Press. In the next quarter century, Chaz predicts, what has often been AA's reign of terror over American alcoholism treatment will end.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Went to a Christmas marathon meeting this morning...

I held my tongue and let people prattle on about God and the Steps. I was there because I was grateful that I had a sober Christmas morning, and that room had been somehow instrumental in getting me to this place. I shared from my heart. I mentioned I had achieved some measure of sobriety without a Higher Power and the Steps. But I didn't harp on this fact. I was content and at peace. The others with their god, bible, and steps didn't bother me ... that simply was not what happened to me. There's a lot of the program I agree with, that I have been helped by. For example, page 84 of the Big Book reads:
Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear. When these crop up, we ask God at once to remove them. We discuss them with someone immediately and make amends quickly if we have harmed anyone. Then we resolutely turn our thoughts to someone we can help. Love and tolerance of others is our code.

And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone, even alcohol.

This is my program. No twelves, no sequence or order. Just simple principles that have become part of my habits and my life.

The Bible says "Love thy neighbor."

That could also mean leaving them alone.

- Charles Bukowski.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ferguson's story

Prayer for Understanding

Help us remember that the jerk who cut us off in traffic last night is a single mother who worked nine hours that day and is rushing home to cook dinner, help with homework, do the laundry and spend a few precious moments with her children.

Help us to remember that the pierced, tattooed, disinterested young man who can't make change correctly is a worried 19-year-old college student, balancing his apprehension over final exams with his fear of not getting his student loans for next semester.

Remind us that the scary looking bum, begging for money in the same spot every day (who really ought to get a job!) is a slave to addictions that we can only imagine in our worst nightmares.

Help us to remember that the old couple walking annoyingly slow through the store aisles and blocking our shopping progress are savoring this moment, knowing that, based on the biopsy report she got back last week, this will be the last year that they go shopping together.

Open our hearts to all humanity. Let us be slow to judge and quick to forgive, show patience, empathy and love.