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"It's AA's Dirty Little Secret."

The following excerpts are from a disussion thread from the old Rational Recovery BBS. I have kept the "meat" to keep the disclosure within context. While it starts off as a classic deconstruction of the 12-Steps the truth of what the Steps represent is eventually revealed by Buttercup.

The original thread is at

posted 09-23-2002 02:39 PM - Buttercup

Lately, I've been taking a real good look at the very center-piece of the recovery program of Alcoholics Anonymous: the (in)famous Twelve Steps. Here they are:


1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.Let's zero in on Step Seven: "Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings".

Just what, exactly, are we trying to accomplish here? Sounds a lot like asking for perfection doesn't it? (Just how does one "humbly" ask God to make one perfect? ) On page 76 of the "Big Book", we are instructed as to how to do a Seventh Step:


When ready, we say something like this: "My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen" We have then completed Step Seven (Empahsis in original)

Indeed, we did pray for a state of perfection or near-perfection.

Now take a look at Step Ten: "Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it" Just what is that doing in there?(!) Since God has taken away all our defects of character, what is there left to inventory? The inventory's empty, isn't it? Was this just a meaningless throw-away step so they wouldn't have to call it the Eleven Steps? Or do they mean it? The very first paragraph after the introduction of the Twelve Steps (pg. 60, "Big Book"):


Many of us exclaimed, "What an order! I can't go through with it" Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adhereance to these principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection (Emphasis mine)

See? They admit it: THE SEVENTH STEP DOES NOT WORK! If the step doesn't work, by their own admission, then why bother doing it? So we can get rid of Step Seven. This, in turn, renders irrelevant our being "entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character" since He's not going to do it anyway: ready or not. So we can eliminate Step Six. Of course, now we don't have to make a "searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves" since the purpose of that was to identify all those "defects of character" for future removal. Step Four: Hasta la vista, baby! Step Five is now rendered null and void as we no loonger know the "exact nature of our wrongs".

How about that! I just ditched four steps, and cut a considerable amount of dead wood right out of "The Program". Now all that remains is what to do about this revelation. Should I write to Alcoholics Anonymous World Services? They just put out the Fourth Edition of the "Big Book" so it might not be another fifteen years or so before they introduce the Fifth Edition with the new, streamlined Eight Step program. Perhaps I should write my own version? Hey, I even have a snappy title for it: Buttercup's Big Book: The Easier, Softer Way

Damn, sometimes I impress even myself.

posted 09-23-2002 03:33 PM - Jill

Buttercup, I really like what you wrote about the "12 steps" I think that anyone reading these would recognize that they are religous ideas. The problem with AA is in how they deny that it is religous. The larger problem is that people can be compelled by a court to attend religous meetings, and told that AA is the only way. As far as I am concerned folks should have the right to practice all 12 steps if that is their choice. I just want to be free not to do so. I sometimes describe my success with AVRT as being a "one step" process.

posted 09-23-2002 07:11 PM - Buttercup

AA is despicable in more ways than I can count. However, let us never forget that the A Number One problem with AA is that their program does not work. Even that would be bad enough, but they make matters worse. The Steps are nonsense, and, yet what happens when someone sincerely approaches AA for help? When they dry out, and can think clearly again, and their intellectual, religious, and/or moral integrity tells them that AA isn't for them, what happens? Do these folks, in their lovingkindness, say: "We're sorry to see you leave the Fellowship. Perhaps it isn't for you afterall. If you don't want our help, please get help somewhere, and in the mean time, please don't drink"? Do they say something like that? HELL NO! Instead they claim that he's in "denial" (a term from pop-psychology you won't find anywhere in the "Big Book") that he needs to go out and "hit his bottom", so that when he returns (assuming he doesn't drink himself to death) he can get "humble" and "honest". Between the ideology of "powerlessness", and the claim that those who don't "make it" are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves, and that they are born that way, AA inevitably turns mild drinking problems into severe ones. These people have blood on their hands. And all the while, they claim that the "Program" relieves them of all selfishness and self-seeking. AA's attrition exceeds that of the Bataan Death March, with a recidivism rate of at least 91% or more. When they either outright kill someone, or some old-timer "goes back out", they simply say: "Some must die so the rest may live" - How utterly cold-blooded! Such a nice spirituality!

I've seen plenty of web sites that attack the Steps, but always one at a time. AFAIC, this isn't good enough, since the stepper confronted with this kind of attack will simply give the stock answer: "You're in denial, and need to get honest". It's a whole 'nother story to demonstrate that the Steps, taken as a whole, are self-contradictory. Demonstrating the absurdity of the system, as a whole, will do more to help ex-steppers get over any RGDs they may still have, it gives the readers of these forums more potent ammo to fire at AA whenever some celeb makes some maudlin tribute to the "Steps". And it might actually help some steppers as they now no longer have to fool with the most dangerous ones. Playing with the Fourth and Fifth Steps, this amateur psychology, is playing with fire. Those "fearless moral inventories" are the prime cause of "going back out", can lead to severe depression, and have even been known to lead to suicide. This type of introspection is best handled under the care of a professional, and not some dumbass sponsor you met in some meeting. Perhaps the stepper who's being pressured to do a Fourth Step inventory, against his better judgement, will gain the courage to tell his sponsor to shove it after reading this thread. Even better, he'd see just what a steaming, stinking pile of poo AA really is, and would take the Crash Course instead of going back to AA.

In any event, my good deed for the day.

posted 10-20-2002 10:17 AM - Jo


The impression of the sponsor I had when I first was indoctrinated (they tried hard) to AA was of a zealot who was trying to save my soul. She actually believed that by asking the "Higher Power" for the right words to say (Step 11) every bit of advice she would give a newcomer was "God inspired." Seriously!

She was absolutely fanatical about the steps, but her own personal life was crazy - I found out that she was a single woman who had been "sober" for 10 years and had 2 children by different men in the program, the latest of whom she had said was not living up to his responsibilities and was still sick because he "didn't get it (the program)." I was amazed at her contempt for established religions like Catholics, Baptists etc. None of this (her situation) mattered to her fanatical brain, only "sober time" mattered plus she seemed quite conscientious with her children.

She constantly told me what was wrong with my thinking and that if I didn't change I would drink again - for sure! Nothing about me was positive to her. I actually ended up feeling sorry for her and tried not to judge her according to my beliefs. This woman had a lot of prestige in the AA program! Her personal problems were considered part of the "disease of alcoholism" rather than her own bad choices!

posted 10-20-2002 06:30 PM - Buttercup

Your description of your AA sponsor is quite typical. I've seen lots of that type, both male and female. It hardly comes as a surprise, if you'll check out my introductory post. The Twelve Steps are nonsensical, and everyone knows it. There is no way that anyone could make themselves believe that without there being repercussions. Once one has so short-circuited their ability to think about this logically, the effects can't just be limited to AA doctrines. It will affect every other aspect of their lives.

Also, it doesn't amaze me in the least that she would also hold other religions in such contempt. The teachings of the Catholics, Baptists, other Protestants, Islam, and every other major world religion, and a good deal of the minor ones as well, directly contradict the religion of AA. Christians generally hold that God has given man the gift of freewill. Therefore, if you engage in activities like drinking and drugging, and develop an addiction, that was an act of freewill. It is not God's doing, but yours and yours alone; therefore, getting and staying sober isn't God's responsibility, but yours and yours alone. Also, the Christian God doesn't grant miracles on request, he doesn't give the Christian his daily "marching orders", and this business of asking for nothing less than perfection would be considered a form of blasphemy. After all, according to the Christian, there was but one "perfect man": Jesus Christ, the very son of God himself, and there will never be another. The religion of AA doesn't mix well with any other. If you have any doubts that AA is a cult, take a look at this:


12. Having had a spiritual experience as the result of this course of action, we tried to carry this message to others, especially alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

That is the original version of Step 12. Notice that the AA is to "carry this message" to everyone, to "alcoholics" preferentially, but not exclusively! Later versions were edited so as to more carefully conceal the cult nature of "The Program". This little bit of intellectual dishonesty has served AA quite well indeed.

As a result, AAs tend to be a very squirrelly bunch. They say that your choices are AA or to "remain in the disease". From what I've seen of AAs, I'd rather take my chances with the disease.

posted 10-05-2003 11:14 AM - Carefree

The only steps that have any kind of validity, or make any real sense, are # 8, 9 & 10:

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

These steps effectively just say: 'Ok, now that you've sobered up and wised up, see if there is any mess that you caused while you were acting like an a***hole that you can clean up. But remember that sometimes "Least said, soonest mended" is the best policy, and that actions speak louder than words. And learn from the experience.'

As these are the normal actions of any reasonable, self-respecting person, I fail to see why anyone should need to lay them out as three, pretentiously worded, steps.

posted 10-12-2003 11:36 PM - Buttercup

Carefree wrote:


These steps [8, 9, & 10] effectively just say: 'Ok, now that you've sobered up and wised up, see if there is any mess that you caused while you were acting like an a***hole that you can clean up. But remember that sometimes "Least said, soonest mended" is the best policy, and that actions speak louder than words. And learn from the experience.

In the first place, these steps are all part and parcel of AA's great mind game. The very idea that you can not stay sober unless you "clean house" is utterly bogus. It's simply seeking some "deep" reason for self-destructive drinking. It's an evasion of the truth: drinkers drink because it makes them feel real good all over. I never drank for any other reason. Period. Unless one comes to terms with this fact, there's not one damn thing that you can do about the problem. Furthermore, this idea of "cleaning house" plays straight into the favor of the Beast-within. The lurking doubt that one may have somehow failed to make some amend for something one did while drunk provides a ready excuse to drink whenever one pleases. And there's the built-in excuse: didn't work the "Steps" well enough. (Is there ever such a thing?) Instead of receiving admonitions for being st00pid, Mr. Alcoholic can go right back to the "Rooms" for another dose of acceptance and lovingkindness. Mr. Beast has got to love that!

In most cases, for most drunks, the one and only "amend" that counts is abstainance. The drunk's family probably doesn't give a damn about anything else, and any other attempt at "amends" won't cut the mustard. So far as "...these are the normal actions of any reasonable, self-respecting person...", like hell they are. I never met any normal, self-respecting person who continually wallowed in such self-doubt and angst. Show me someone who "Continue[s] to take personal inventory and when [...] wrong promptly admitte[s] it", and I'll show you a doormat. Thanks, but no thanks!

Michael9810 wrote:


Buttercup, AA's Step 7 is a prayer of intercession, and is firmly within the Christian tradition.

Your premises are factually incorrect, so it's hard to know what point you're actually trying to make

Read the original post that opened this thread. Then show me what "premises" are "factually incorrect". For the most part, I was quoting the words right out of the "Big Book". They can't be factually incorrect unless it's your contention that the "Big Book" doesn't really say what it means. In which case, what good is it? As for Step 7 being a prayer for intercession, read it again, and read what Bill Wilson wrote as a model Seventh Step prayer. That's a prayer for perfection, and that is most certainly not Christian. Furthermore, there's nothing "Christian" about the Steps or AA.


Just for fun, picture yourself standing in a large attic, cluttered with many boxes stacked one upon the other. These old boxes contain the sum total of your experience. [...] Now, the idea is to bring everything out of the darkness and into the light so that you can see what it is and figure out what to do with it. The idea here is to get rid of all the hurtful memories, so think of this experience as you would cleaning out your attic.

Make yourself an inventory of what you can find right off and jot each memory down in your journal.
Magick Training: The Seven Scrolls
First Church of Satan
(Emphasis mine)

Can you say: "Fearless moral inventory?" Sure, I knew you could.


By the way, letters of apology do not need to carry a return address or even come from the town in which you currently reside. The point is that you are doing something positive to settle a matter in your own mind. [...] Balance is the key. As you deal with each and every memory both good and bad, right or wrong, mark its disposition next to it in your journal. When you pay a debt, mark it "Paid in full". When you settle a score, mark it "Settled". And when you have done all you could to set things right, mark that item "Canceled". So it is written, so it shall be! Out of mind, in the book, close the book.
Magick Training: The Seven Scrolls
First Church of Satan

"Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others."


Once you have brought all of your life up to date and have figured out just what has happened, you may deal with the rest of your life on a day-to-day basis. You'll keep your journal up-to-date and have a running total of your whole-self balance sheet.
Magick Training: The Seven Scrolls
First Church of Satan

"Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it."

There's your true origins of the Steps: straight from a training manual for the aspiring Black Magician! Make no mistake about this: Bill Wilson was up to his eyeballs in the Occult. He fancied himself as a Black Magician, a Warlock, and went to great lengths to convince others that he indeed was: that he gave sobriety and he could take it away. That's how he got away with stealing the copyright to the "Big Book" with nary a peep of protest. It's AA's dirty little secret.

What is disturbing is that this fits in perfectly with the Wilsons' necromancing antics through "spook sessions" (even the seance room within Stepping Stones, the Wilsons' house, is preserved). William Griffith Wilson didn't just dabble within the occult. He was a hardcore fanatic within the Black Arts!

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