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Saturday, 22 November 2014

From benign to malign in a few easy steps!

Extracts from the aacultwatch forum (old) 

Here’s a couple of films about the Synanon Cult. I think the cult’s early stages of development, its historical significance in influencing drug/alcohol rehabilitation from the 1960s to present, its influence in AA (evidenced in the 1968-1975 AA Grapevine articles in my 12th May post) and AA’s response to the embryo Synanon cult in 1958, might give today’s AA members, and those to come, an important historical insight into the practical application of AA traditions. And, an insight to recognising cultic threats to AA and how to separate these from AA before they become developed. It can be noted from the AA Grapevine articles and in the films below that destructive cults such as Synanon start as benign organisations before they become destructive. When in the apparently benign stage of development, they are at first attractive, welcomed and accepted by many and at the same time not perceived as a threat by the majority. Coercive persuasion (also called thought reform) techniques that modern cults use are so subtle and sophisticated that most people, including professionals, are unable to detect the threat until the cult has evolved to the destructive phase of its development. This may be years after its formation. By then its destructive power has already been felt in the wider society. Maybe if there was more widespread understanding of how cults develop, then newcomers to AA wouldn’t be so attracted to move away from traditional mainstream AA groups to novel groups such as you mention in your 16th May post and old-timers might not be so complacent. Having said this though, if more AA members took the time to understand AA Traditions, Concepts and responsible leadership, then this would be largely unnecessary, because how to prevent cult formation within AA is already explained in these Traditions and Concepts. – The principles and responsible leadership actively demonstrated by the AA members in Santa Monica 1958 and the Central Office manager in Orange County.

The first film about Synanon is a University of CaliforniaTelevision (UCTV) production:“The Lawyer Synanon Tried to Kill ”  - University of CaliforniaTelevision (UCTV) http://www.uctv.tv/shows/The-Lawyer-Synanon-Tried-to-Kill-Legally-Speaking-24671 

Los Angeles attorney Paul Morantz has devoted his professional life to fighting cults. But in the late 1970s that life almost came to an abrupt end when one of the cults he litigated against planted a live rattlesnake in his mailbox. Morantz speaks with California Lawyer editor Martin Lasden about his career and the dangers he faced.”

17.05 mins- 18.26 mins into the UCTV film:

Martin Lasden: “You point out in your book that Synanon didn’t start out as a violent cult, it started out as a relatively benign drug rehab program. What was the turning point? Can you identify the turning point?

Paul Morantz: “Very easily, yes. First, Dederich was an AA fanatic who [..?]  been  volunteered for an LSD trip, which made him  think that he saw insights into mankind….. he began to read at the library eastern philosophies and various books….. and the AA speeches which had religious overtones, Dederich was now being philosophical and psychological and developed his own following  who would come to his apartment……. he developed what would later become the game where they would sit in a circle and attack each other’s behaviour with the rude truth, but truth wasn’t required, you could say anything to cause an effect…”

18.39 mins - 19.27 mins:Paul Morantz: “… and the fact is, he wouldn’t keep statistics. And what he really had was, he had a lot of old-timer addicts who had had enough; and if they could get themselves into a home and fed with fellows like themselves and bond as a group they were capable of staying away from drugs. The fact is that the [..?] statistics done by ’66 showed that Synanon had no greater success than Kensington Hospital; and Dederich by ’66 realised that most of the people who left Synanon went back to drugs. So in ’67 he decided that the only cure was that no one ever leaves…”

The second film including clips of TV news film of the time shows Synanon’s benign phase through to the destructive. Synanon Short Film  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THu690d7qJE 

In describing Dederich, note Paul Morantz’s use of the terms: “AA fanatic” “AA speeches which had religious overtones” and reference to old-timer addicts bonding as a group. - A parallel perhaps, with some groups in AA today? And also with what other AA members are saying about them.”


The Fellas (Friends of Alcoholics Anonymous)

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PPS Join us on Diaspora* here

Friday, 21 November 2014

Alcohol research – Alcohol Research Centre (UConn)

Established in 1978, the Alcohol Research Center (ARC) at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine remains the longest-funded center both at UConn and at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), a branch of the National Institutes of Health. Funding to the ARC was recently renewed through 2017.

The Center is the first funded by the NIAAA to focus on both the etiology and treatment of alcoholism. Although alcohol research remains the central focus, the ARC now has programs that encompass research on other psychoactive substances (including heroin, marijuana, cocaine), pathological gambling and HIV/AIDS.

Our program is guided by three basic scientific questions:
  • What is the nature of addiction?
  • Why are some individuals more vulnerable to addiction than others?
  • What mechanisms account for the efficacy of various treatments for different types of addicted persons?“

The Fellas (Friends of Alcoholics Anonymous)

PS For AA Minority Report 2013 click here

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Bill and Bob's Excellent Adventure! (contd)

A wildly imaginative dianoetic rambling concerning the the “basic text” of Alcoholics Anonymous (viz. the Big Book) (our comments in red print)

Chapter 2 There Is A Solution (pp. 20-22)

 “You may already have asked yourself why it is that all of us became so very ill from drinking. Doubtless you are curious to discover how and why, in the face of expert opinion to the contrary, we have recovered from a hopeless condition of mind and body. If you are an alcoholic who wants to get over it, you may already be asking—“What do I have to do?’’ [Note: “What do I have to do” - NOT 'What do YOU have to do'. This is an invitation – NOT an instruction]

It is the purpose of this book to answer such questions specifically. We shall tell you what we have done [but NOT necessarily what you should do]. Before going into a detailed discussion, it may be well to summarize some points as we see them [but again this does not imply you should agree with this particular perspective].

How many times people have said to us: “I can take it or leave it alone. Why can’t he?’’ “Why don’t you drink like a gentleman or quit?’’ “That fellow can’t handle his liquor.’’ “Why don’t you try beer and wine?’’ “Lay off the hard stuff.’’ “His will power must be weak.’’ “He could stop if he wanted to.’’ “She’s such a sweet girl, I should think he’d stop for her sake.’’ “The doctor told him that if he ever drank again it would kill him, but there he is all lit up again.’’

Now these are commonplace observations on drinkers which we hear all the time. Back of them is a world of ignorance and misunderstanding. We see that these expressions refer to people whose reactions are very different from ours.

Moderate drinkers have little trouble in giving up liquor entirely if they have good reason for it. They can take it or leave it alone.

Then we have a certain type of hard drinker. He may have the habit badly enough to gradually impair him physically and mentally. It may cause him to die a few years before his time. If a sufficiently strong reason—ill health, falling in love, change of environment, or the warning of a doctor—becomes operative, this man can also stop or moderate [ie. he possesses sufficient will-power], although he may find it difficult and troublesome and may even need medical attention [not all who drink apparently to excess are chronic alcoholics].

But what about the real alcoholic? He may start off as a moderate drinker; he may or may not become a continuous hard drinker; but at some stage of his drinking career he begins to lose all control [ie. insufficient will-power] of his liquor consumption, once he starts to drink.

Here is the fellow who has been puzzling you, especially in his lack of control . He does absurd, incredible, tragic things while drinking. He is a real Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He is seldom mildly intoxicated. He is always more or less insanely drunk. His disposition while drinking resembles his normal nature but little. He may be one of the finest fellows in the world. Yet let him drink for a day, and he frequently becomes disgustingly, and even dangerously anti-social. He has a positive genius for getting tight at exactly the wrong moment, particularly when some important decision must be made or engagement kept. He is often perfectly sensible and well balanced concerning everything except liquor, but in that respect he is incredibly dishonest and selfish. He often possesses special abilities, skills, and aptitudes, and has a promising career ahead of him. He uses his gifts to build up a bright outlook for his family and himself, and then pulls the structure down on his head by a senseless series of sprees. He is the fellow who goes to bed so intoxicated he ought to sleep the clock around. Yet early next morning he searches madly for the bottle he misplaced the night before. If he can afford it, he may have liquor concealed all over his house to be certain no one gets his entire supply away from him to throw down the wastepipe. As matters grow worse, he begins to use a combination of high-powered sedative and liquor to quiet his nerves so he can go to work. Then comes the day when he simply cannot make it and gets drunk all over again. Perhaps he goes to a doctor who gives him morphine or some sedative with which to taper off. Then he begins to appear at hospitals and sanatoriums.

This is by no means a comprehensive picture of the true alcoholic, as our behaviour patterns vary. But this description should identify him roughly. ”

(our emphases)

Coming next – Chapter 2 There Is A Solution (contd)


The Fellas (Friends of Alcoholics Anonymous)

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Alcohol research – Cleveland Alcohol Centre

The Cleveland Alcohol Center is an NIAAA/NIH funded P20 Developmental/Exploratory Center that takes advantage of the many strengths of the world-class research community at the Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University to address the important public health issue of alcoholic liver disease (ALD). The CAC is an interdisciplinary team of investigators expert in measuring in vivo markers of biochemical and molecular stress, as well as assessing the cellular/organismal responses to that stress. Basic scientists and clinical investigators will interact not only to translate basic science advances to clinical investigations (bench to bedside), but also to translate the clinical experience into refining and advancing the approach of basic research studies (bedside to bench) on the mechanisms for ALD.

Our long-term goal is to promote interdisciplinary investigations into understanding the molecular targets of ethanol-induced damage, as well as the cellular and systemic responses to damage, in order to rationally design and test therapeutic interventions to either slow and/or reverse the progression of ALD.”


The Fellas (Friends of Alcoholics Anonymous)

PS For AA Minority Report 2013 click here

Alcohol research – Alcohol Focus Scotland

Alcohol Focus Scotland works to reduce alcohol harm to individuals, families, communities and Scotland as a whole, through the implementation of effective alcohol control policies and legislation.

We want to see fewer people have their health damaged or lives cut short due to alcohol, fewer children and families suffering as a result of other people's drinking, and communities free from alcohol-related crime and violence.

Our priorities

We aim to reduce harm by bringing about a significant reduction in alcohol consumption across the population.

Our strategic priorities are:
  • Reduced affordability of alcohol
  • Reduced availability of alcohol
  • Regulated marketing of alcohol
Our work 

We take an evidence-based, outcomes-focused approach to delivering our work which involves:
  • Communicating news, information, research findings and briefings
  • Gathering evidence of the harm caused by alcohol and influencing key decision makers by advocating for effective policy
  • Developing learning opportunities and resources to support best practice”

The Fellas (Friends of Alcoholics Anonymous)

PS For AA Minority Report 2013 click here

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

General Service Conference-Approved Literature

Service Material from the General Service Office

Conference-approved" - What It Means to You

The term “Conference-approved” describes written or audiovisual material approved by the Conference for publication by G.S.O. This process assures that everything in such literature is in accord with A.A. principles [see Traditions]. Conference-approved material always deals with the recovery program of Alcoholics Anonymous or with information about the A.A. Fellowship.

The term has no relation to material not published by G.S.O. It does not imply Conference disapproval of other material about A.A. A great deal of literature helpful to alcoholics is published by others, and A.A. does not try to tell any individual member what he or she may or may not read [a fairly self-evident statement. Most people could probably work out that one out by themselves. However such material would not have to conform to AA principles eg. Primary Purpose material viz. the AA programme according to Joe and Charlie's so-called “Big Book study”, Wally P Back to Basics etc].

Conference approval assures us that a piece of literature represents solid A.A. experience [which presumably doesn't imply that any non-Conference approved literature doesn't represent solid AA experience – but then how would a newcomer know that for example?]. Any Conference-approved booklet or pamphlet goes through a lengthy and painstaking process, during which a variety of A.A.s from all over the United States and Canada read and express opinions at every stage of production.

How To Tell What Is and What Is Not Conference-Approved

Look for the statement on books, pamphlets and audiovisual materials:

This is A.A. General Service Conference-approved literature”

Not All “A.A. Literature” Is Conference-Approved

Central offices and intergroups do write and distribute pamphlets or booklets that are not Conference-approved. If such pieces meet the needs of the local membership, they may be legitimately classified as “A.A. literature.” There is no conflict between A.A. World Services, Inc. (A.A.W.S. – publishers of Conference-approved literature), and central offices or intergroups – rather they complement each other. The Conference does not disapprove of such material [we have to assume that such material is subjected to the same degree of rigorous inspection as that applied by AAWS – or do we? Moreover this licence to publish such material – if it may be called that – seems to fail to take into account Tradition Four ie. not only must it satisfy the needs of a “local membership” it must also satisfy the requirement that the respective publications produce no 'adverse' impact on “other groups or AA as a whole”. Moreover see Traditions relating to non-endorsement, non-affiliation etc. Those groups which use non-conference approved literature emanating from outside sources are effectively endorsing and aligning themselves with those same entities eg. Primary Purpose, Back to Basics amongst others thereby contributing to yet another breach of the Traditions].

G.S.O. does develop some literature that does not have to be approved by the Conference, such as Service Material, Guidelines and bulletins.

Available at Most A.A. Groups

Most local A.A. groups purchase and display a representative sampling of Conference approved pamphlets, and usually carry a supply of hardcover books. Conference approved literature may be available at central offices and intergroups, or it may be ordered directly from G.S.O. Groups normally offer pamphlets free of charge, and the books at cost [but see: The Big Book makes a tidy little profit!]

Grapevine and Conference Approval

An often asked question is whether or not Grapevine is “Conference-approved.” General Service Conference approval is a lengthy review process that can take years for longer projects, with several stages of committee evaluation along the way.

Since Grapevine comes out 12 times a year, and the Conference meets only once a year, the magazine would never come off the press if it had to go through the Conference review process. However, the Conference has always supported the concept of Grapevine and, in 1986, a Conference Advisory Action specifically addressed the issue of Conference approval for the first time with the following statement: “Since each issue of (the) Grapevine cannot go through the Conference approval process, the Conference recognizes (the) Grapevine as the international journal of Alcoholics Anonymous.” In addition, the Conference Charter guarantees the right of Grapevine’s editor to accept or reject material for publication; there is a Conference Committee on Grapevine, formed in 1954; and any Grapevine or La Viña matter of importance to the Fellowship as a whole is brought to the Conference through that committee.

So, the concept of Grapevine has been endorsed by the Conference as a whole and the use of Grapevine and its publications as recovery tools has been encouraged throughout the Fellowship year after year [however this does suggest - editorial discretion notwithstanding - that information published in this fashion should be treated with rather more circumspection than approved literature. Grapevine, in particular, at one stage might better have been described as the 'Plymouth (Road to Recovery) Echo' (cult group) so infested was it with articles relating to their particular sponsorship-obsessed brand of recovery!].


Conference-approved literature is copyrighted with the Copyright Office, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., U.S.A. To insure the continued integrity of A.A. literature, and to make sure the A.A. recovery program will not be distorted or diluted, permission to reprint must be obtained from A.A.W.S. in writing. Permission to reprint Grapevine content must be obtained from A.A. Grapevine, Inc. (AAGV) in writing [but see copyright law, in particular Fair Use and Fair Dealing].

However, A.A. newsletters, bulletins, or meeting lists have blanket permission to use the material, providing proper credit is given to insure that the copyrights of A.A. literature are protected. Please visit aagrapevine.org http://www.aagrapevine.org/website-policy for the copyright and reprint policy that applies to AAGV, Inc. content.

The A.A. Preamble is copyrighted by A.A. Grapevine, Inc. (not by A.A. World Services). Beneath it, these words should appear: “Reprinted with permission of A.A. Grapevine, Inc.” The Steps and Traditions should be followed by these words: “Reprinted with permission of A.A. World Services, Inc.”[but see Fair Use above]

(our emphases)(our observations in red print)


The Fellas (Friends of Alcoholics Anonymous)

Monday, 17 November 2014

Alcohol research – Midwest Alcoholism Research Centre

The Midwest Alcoholism Research Center (MARC) has grown out of inter-linked research collaborations among alcoholism researchers at Washington University School of Medicine (lead institution), the University of Missouri-Columbia, the Palo Alto Veterans Administration Medical Center, Arizona State University, and Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Australia.

The broad focus of the research program of the MARC concerns the etiology and course of alcohol problems and associated comorbidity in community samples of adolescents and youth.  Center-wide research themes involve testing three classes of mediational models for alcoholism risk: (a) pharmacological vulnerability; (b) negative affect-regulation; (c) deviance proneness- in a series of prospective behavioral genetic and family studies, as well as laboratory-based studies.”


The Fellas (Friends of Alcoholics Anonymous)

PS For AA Minority Report 2013 click here