“Every time I walk into an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, I’m reminded I’m a liar and a sneak.”

These words are written by the AAer who wrote this column in the Reno edition of the News Review [The author of this column commented below to say that he is not, in fact, an AA member. Thank you for the clarification. — eds.]. They are a sad example of what Alcoholics Anonymous does to people. He goes on to write:

I think anyone who walks into an AA meeting and listens with an open mind will walk out feeling like they need to work on this aspect of their personality. There’s a different level of honesty required at these meetings, and even casual visitors can tell by the raw emotion that they’re witnessing an honest-to-higher-power spiritual activity.”

This is an interesting paragraph to examine, because it gives a sneak peak into the mind control tactics used by AA. Let’s take the first sentence:

“I think anyone who walks into an AA meeting and listens with an open mind will walk out feeling like they need to work on this aspect of their personality.”

Being open-minded is considered a good attribute, and most people want to believe that they have an open mind. In fact, the idea of open-mindedness is essential to our advancement in understanding ideas and scientific principles. A new person to AA will be told to “look at it with an open mind”, but what is really meant by this?

One example of this is when an AA newcomer, who may be hesitant at turning their life over to a higher power, is told by another member: “Until I fully gave myself over to my higher power, I could never embrace the idea of quitting on my own – but now that I have put everything in God’s hands (or the AA group, doorknob, or other higher power), I have remained sober.”

This is flawed logic. The AAer cannot fully explain their newfound resolve, so they automatically attribute it to their higher power. This is actually a contradiction. It states – “I can’t explain it ——-> therefore I’ll explain it”. That person will then expect the newcomer to accept their explanation, which is absurd, because being open-minded does not require a person to accept things unconditionally. Wanting evidence beyond a person’s word that a higher power helped curb alcohol cravings is not being close-minded. It simply means that they are open to the possibility, but want some supporting data to back it up. On the other hand, believing in something without question is by definition close-minded, and that is what the AA newcomer in this case is asked to be. This becomes worse when, as soon as a person in AA hears certain trigger words, they inaccurately label those who might challenge them as a “know-it-all”, with rehearsed slogans and clichés such as “none are too dumb for AA, but many are too smart”. So, what AA is asking a newcomer to do is not be open-minded, but to believe without question, which is the exact opposite of open-mindedness.

The last sentence in this paragraph reads:

There’s a different level of honesty required at these meetings, and even casual visitors can tell by the raw emotion that they’re witnessing an honest-to-higher-power spiritual activity.”

This goes back to the writer’s first sentence, where he says that he is reminded every time he walks into a meeting that he is a “liar and a sneak”. This is brutal honesty, and I don’t doubt the writer’s sincerity, but it is revealing about how AA works on a true believer with ego deflation. AA has an advantage over other cults, in that it accepts as members those who are already in a compromised state, and those who have done harm as a result of their alcohol abuse. No person who has had a drinking problem, including myself, can honestly say that they have never lied about their addiction – even if it is something as benign as the number of drinks we admit to having at a party. Virtually every alcoholic has done or said things as a result of their addiction that they regret, otherwise they would not be walking in the door to AA to begin with. What AA wants us to believe is not that we lied because we were drunk, but that we were drunks because we are liars – and that alcoholics contain character flaws not exhibited in the general population. This is an important distinction, because in the former we can do something about the problem (quit drinking) and move on, but in the latter, there is no exit strategy because we are inherently bad people, and AA is our salvation. The honesty that is being referred to in this piece is not honesty at all. If a person were to say in a meeting “I honestly cannot give myself over to a higher power” or “I am not a bad person”, they would be met with criticism; but if they were to say, “I now understand that I am a liar and a sneak, but thanks to AA I am a better person”, they would be met with accolades. Honesty in AA is simply admitting to personal frailties, whether real or imagined. AA honesty is ego deflation, and acquiescence to the group.

The rest of the article is an accurate description of what a person can expect see and hear when they attend their first meeting. I don’t believe this author is using his choice of words as a way to consciously manipulate those reading the article. I don’t doubt his sincerity, or his belief that AA has helped him and could help others. The words I have examined from that first paragraph are the way that AA was presented to him, and he has through conditioning and repetition, learned to repeat them and believe them. Thought stopping slogans are used because they are effective, and when this writer ended his piece with “keep coming back, it works” – he believes this to be true. I’m sure he is a nice guy. Mind control does bad things to good people.

Correction: The quote in the last paragraph that I attributed to the author of the referenced article – “Keep coming back; it works” – was actually the writer quoting the member of the meeting in which he attended and reported on. My mistake.