“One can only take an informed guess from the words of Bill W. in the article about “Our promoter friend” who turned “alarming poser” (AA comes of Age page 130-131), how he and those trustees would have responded to the rise of the figurehead Joe McQ; who elevated himself to "teacher" and author of the book “Carry This Message – guide to Big Book Sponsorship;” which carries his “message.” - a “strange mixture of AA and his own religious ideas” (AA comes of Age page 130) and his treatment centre Recovery Dynamics program.
The following are extracts from “Carry This Message – a guide to Big Book Sponsorship”, by Joe McQ:
“As sponsors we know, there are certain things we require of a sponsoree [sic]… … … he has to carry out his assignments and do the things you ask him to do” (page 25).
“… … we are working with an undisciplined person. Assignments should be given, and the sponsor should make it clear to the person that assignments have to be done by a specific time…..there are certain things we require of a sponsoree [sic]… … He has to carry out his assignments and do the things you ask him to do … … Dr. Bob said ‘Get down on your knees.’ And they took step 3… … But an alcoholic can do just about anything you make her do. If you insist that she do certain things, she’ll get them done. She has to go from the undisciplined to the disciplined… … At our treatment centre, Serenity Park, we require all the clients get a sponsor within the third week… The sponsor teaches discipline… … everything is working on this undisciplined person… …. An undisciplined person may fight discipline, but it has to be enforced to help the person….” (Pages, 26, 27) You can’t just say to the sponsoree [sic] ‘go start on your inventory’ because it might take him a month, maybe two. Create a schedule by saying something like, ‘We are going to work on resentments for two days’ then do the other inventories similarly, with a schedule for each one which doesn’t allow the sponsoree [sic] to skimp, but moves him or her along at a good pace….(Step Four assignment). You need to move your sponsoree [sic] along pretty fast…. but you need to keep the sponsoree [sic] busy and keep her moving… you should just move him right on through them bam, bam, bam, bam. Keep the momentum…..” (Page 65)
“Remember that all the people in our fellowship groups are not really alcoholics… … … They aren’t really alcoholics – because an alcoholic can’t do that. They don’t usually stay; they just come in an out of our fellowship. But they don’t have a message to share…..” (Page 65)
The Online Oxford dictionary definition of brain wash:
verb [with object]
pressurize (someone) into adopting radically different beliefs by using systematic and often forcible means: people are brainwashed into believing family life is the best (as noun brainwashing)
victims of brainwashing http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/brainwash
Extracts from “The Steps we took”, Joe McQ. of the ‘Big Book Study Tapes’:
“There is a story in the Bible how all this conflict began. The Garden of Eden story… … the Bible says ‘we are God-like’… … So he created Adam and Eve and put them in Serenity Park…. One day a snake came up to Eve and he said… … ‘Hey Eve you’ve got self will’… … Eve had never heard such a thing so she said ‘What’s that?’… … So the snake ran it down to her. He said ‘You can do whatever you want to!’ She couldn’t wait, she ran to tell Adam, ‘Adam, Adam we’ve got self –will.’ He probably said ‘What in the world is that?’ So she explained it to him… …” (Page 40, 41)
“I think one of the mistakes many people are making today is this: not only as individuals, but groups of people, get together and talk about their problems. They never seem to talk about what to do about them… … … There is no growth in this way of doing; in fact they just magnify their problems. I call this ‘group sickness…’ (Page 128)
“I think Jesus may have been teaching the principle of the first step when he said ‘deny thyself.” (Page 19)
“Step 1 opens the door to Step 2. I like to use the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) (Page 24)
“The Bible says, ‘…ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.’(John 8:32).” (Page 25)
“David said in the 23rd psalm, ‘The Lord is my shepherd.’ (Page 53)
“It’s like in the Bible, where it says there is time for everything. (Ecclesiastes 3:1).” (Page 64)
“Jesus said, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart.” (Page 124)
“I love the passage in the Bible that says, ‘ Thou shalt not be afraid of the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; nor for the pestilence that walketh in the darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.’(Psalms 91:5-6)
“I also like the story of David the little shepherd boy and the giant Goliath.” (Page 146)
“..That they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly (John 10:10) (page 155)
“When we finish step 9 we get the promises.” (Page 123)
“Since Bill didn’t have the capacity to write like a great expert in spiritual things, he laid out a beautiful, simple daily exercise.” (page 137)
This program may well have worked in his treatment centres. But by mixing this outside enterprise inside A.A. and by placing the books in the hands of the still emotionally suffering alcoholic sponsors who barely understand how irrational they are, the dictatorial, judgemental and disciplinarian terminology he used therein, has now left A.A. with the legacy of a cult following and an abusive style of coercive sponsorship from which it will take a lot of effort to recover. - A legacy of the violation of Traditions four (long form) six and twelve.
A disaffected alcoholic tells his story:
“Thanks for this forum guys and gals. I am having grave difficulties with AA, as my experiences with it are not good, and I have been looking for a site to confirm my prejudices. I thought I had found it in the Orange Papers, but methinks that the author doth protest too much, and I am being turned off this site. I have been subjected to the primary purpose group by my sponsor whilst in treatment, and this was the tipping point for me. However, I was judging AA - all AA by the rantings of Chris R. Now I see that there ARE moderates in AA, people like yourselves, because whilst I realise that AA is not for me, I do respect the argument that it IS good for some people, and I look forward to reading the posts in this forum”. (aacultwatch forum subject entitled “AA cult.”)
In 1941 the good news was written in the press and A.A. began to take off:
“Because of the absence of figureheads and the fact there is no formal body of belief to promote, they have no fears that Alcoholics Anonymous will degenerate into a cult.” (The Jack Alexander article about AA, page 23)
We wonder if the co-founders of AA would say the same thing if they were around today. Today our public image is not so good:
1998: The Independent: "Cult or cure: the AA backlash" ---- "Alcoholics Anonymous is under attack. Those who have been through its mill claim it is `authoritarian' and `fascistic', employs brainwashing techniques and is cultlike in its attitude to members. Ursula Kenny talks to the disaffected who have rejected its road to recovery...."
2009: The Independent: "Tom Shone takes on the all powerful cult of Alcoholics Anonymous"
Washington Post: “AA Group Leads Members Away from Traditions” by Marc Fisher, July 22, 2007:
Newsweek: A struggle inside AA, by Nick Summers, May 6th, 2007:
Cult Help and information library:
The public debate moves on from the press into various A.A. member’s websites and forums and non-AA related websites, including the parent toddler website mumsnet.com. - The disaffected A.A. members posting their experiences:
There can be little doubt, there is evidence that coercive sponsorship is being deployed by a minority of groups in A.A. and this is beginning get A.A. the reputation of being a cult. To avoid further loss of public confidence in A.A. and if vulnerable people are to be protected from abuse, then we need to see more examples of the Santa Monica pro A.A. Tradition elder statesmanship of 1958. (Concept IX in action). --In this modern World however, to be of effect to meet the present day needs of the fellowship, this needs to be both communicated and operating throughout the A.A. World Service Structure, top to bottom, as soon as possible.”
Prompted by the Minority report a member of the aacultwatch team was delegated the job of locating a transcript of the Joe and Charlie product and giving it the “once over”. Apart from a heavy ladening of Christian exegesis (something not to be found explicitly demonstrated in conference approved literature and which would be quite contrary to AA traditions by the way!) they did come across the following quote under the section dealing with Step 12:
“We don’t want to go through this next chapter (Working with Others) we don’t have the time, but I [Joe or Charlie presumably] do want to look at two or three things in it very briefly.”
and true to their word they did indeed very briefly consider this section. This would go some way to explain the dogmatic sponsorship style advocated above which is nowhere demonstrated in Chapter 7 Working with Others. Interestingly these two it would seem are as guilty as those they criticise, of approaching the programme “cafeteria style” ie. take what you like and leave the rest. In this instance in their so-called Big Book study they have managed to omit virtually an entire chapter. Not bad going! Now what's the word for this? Ah yes! Hypocrisy!
The Fellas (Friends of Alcoholics Anonymous)
PS For more coverage of the Joe and Charlie epic insert “Joe and Charlie” in the local Google search on the aacultwatch site.