Sunday, 2 September 2018

2018 - The 25th Anniversary of 'Letting Go' of the A.A. Circle and Triangle as a Legal Mark

For events leading up to this landmark in A.A. history see: Box 4-5-9, News and Notes from G.S.O., August-September issue, 1993, pages 5-6: "Letting Go' of the Circle and Triangle as a legal mark" https://www.aa.org/newsletters/en_US/en_box459_aug-sept93.pdf


"...The symbol was registered as an official A.A. mark in 1955, and was freely used by various A.A. entities, which worked very well for a while. However, by the mid-1980s there was a growing concern by the members of the Fellowship on the use of the circle and triangle by outside organizations. In keeping with A.A.'s Sixth Tradition that Alcoholics Anonymous "...ought never endorse, finance or lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise...", A.A. World Services began efforts in 1986  to prevent the use of the circle and triangle by outside entities, including novelty manufacturers, publishers and treatment facilities. The policy was undertaken with restraint, and only after all attempts of persuasion and conciliation had failed were legal actions considered. In fact, of approximately 170 unauthorized users contacted, only two suits were filed, both of which were settled at a very early stage. 
   By early 1990, some members of the Fellowship seemed to be saying two things: 
"we want medallions with our circle and triangle," while others were saying, "we don't want our symbol aligned with non A.A. purposes..." 
   ...By early June, the General Service Board reached substantial unanimity in support of A.A.W.S.'s statement that, consistent with our original purpose to avoid the suggestion of association or affiliation with outside goods and services, Alcoholics Anonymous  World Services Inc. will phase out the "official" or "legal" use of the circle and triangle symbol..."

Not an anniversary to celebrate, but one that A.A. groups might consider commemorating, lest history is forgotten. Next time you are at an A.A. meeting, tell your fellow A.A.s that anniversary chips & medallions are not manufactured by A.A. They are outside enterprises. Tell them about Tradition Six, "An A.A. group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise..." And tell them about the A.A. Circle and Triangle legal mark and what group celebrating with anniversary chips has cost the fellowship.

25 years on, the trustees appear occupied with countering myths and misconceptions that A.A. is a cult. One Class A (nonalcoholic) trustee says, "I do run into a minority of colleagues who still believe that A.A. is some kind of religious cult",  another says, "The misconceptions about A.A. that I see come mostly from the alcoholic patient. He or she says, "No, I am not going to A.A. because it is a cult." (See Box 4-5-9, News and Notes from G.S.O., Summer 2018 issue, pages 4-5: "Myths and Misconceptions"  https://www.aa.org/newsletters/en_US/en_box459_summer_2018.pdf

The increasing unauthorized use of the A.A. Circle and Triangle legal mark during the 1980s and the increasing perception that A.A. is a cult broadly coincides with the increasing co-opting of the Alcoholics Anonymous Twelve Steps as an addiction treatment by Synanon cult based Therapeutic Community (TC) treatment facilities. In a treatment industry that continues to evolve, overlapping influences between Synanon TC treatment facilities and institutions that may have initially started out as 12-step treatment facilities means that today there may be little to distinguish between the two treatments in many institutions. The Hazelden Foundation, for example, extended Synanon TC based treatment to all its facilities through the 1970s to the mid-1980s. In 2015, Phoenix House, a first generation Synanon TC entered into a clinical initiatives agreement with the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation allowing them to "share best practices' to enrich both organizations".

Unfortunately for A.A., many treatment facilities publicly link their 12-step treatments to the name Alcoholics Anonymous, confusing some within and outside A.A. as to what A.A. is and is not. There also appear to be an increasing number of individual members and A.A. groups who behave in a cult-like manner after getting their guidance as to what they think A.A. should be from outside entities, including novelty manufacturers, publishers and treatment facilities. 

For more details of the events leading up to A.A. 'letting go' of the Circle and Triangle as a legal mark see the AA Minority Report: "Synanon Cult influence on Alcoholics Anonymous, Addiction Treatment, and the Criminal Justice System 1968-2017

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

AA Agnostica

 AA Agnostica and AA Beyond Belief are two websites that target  literature that is published by other organisations at atheist / agnostic A.A. members. These sites have encouraged the formation of an affiliated movement of  atheist / agnostic groups within A.A. There has been some conflict between some of these groups and some A.A. intergroups.

Alongside the promotion of  interpretations of the Twelve Steps published by other organisations and articles that undermine A.A. Traditions, the AA Agnostica website also includes articles that promote "Faces and Voices of Recovery" and William L. White.

William L. White, a former amphetamine addict, was trained in Gateway House (1), one of the first generation Synanon cult based  Therapeutic Communities that were spawned from Synanon and Daytop Village (2). Faces and Voices of Recovery is the organisational centre of the Recovery Advocacy Movement.

The AA Agnostica and AA Beyond Belief websites and affiliated groups illustrate how A.A. is being infiltrated by the Recovery Movement via the internet.

Whether religious fundamentalist, atheist / agnostic or just plain indifferent, it appears that many A.A. members have no idea how much they are being exploited and manipulated by the Synanon Therapeutic Communities/12-Step industry.


(1) "Recovery Rising - Review" https://aaagnostica.org/2017/12/07/recovery-rising-review/

(2) "Synanon Cult influence on Alcoholics Anonymous, Addiction Treatment and the Criminal Justice System 1968-2017" Section 2.2.3, Page 7 

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

"Take Back Your Life: Recovering From Cults and Abusive Relationships" by Janja Lalich and Madeleine Tobias, Bay Tree Publishing, 2006

Extracts from pages 91 & 194:

“There are cults, for example, that focus their recruitment activities in drug-rehabilitation programs, Alcoholics Anonymous, and other twelve-step programs, as that milieu tends to be a ripe hunting ground for potential members.”

“In cases where alcohol or substance abuse was or is a problem, attending meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous may help. However, we caution you to proceed into the 12-step world with your eyes open and your antennae up. Despite its successes, this is an area rife with abuses and incompetencies. Hustlers use 12-step programs as a hunting ground for income and glory. Some counselors and group leaders are not credentialed. Some programs are fronts for cults. Even a well-meaning program may inadvertently promote long-term victimization. Although these groups are set up to reduce codependency, many participants become completely dependent on their 12-step meetings and friends.”

This book will be very helpful to A.A. members who have found themselves to be victims of  cult group abuse. The book will also be very helpful to A.A. members who think they may have been recruited into a 12-step cult group.

- Suggested reading in the minority report.  For an A.A. member's sharing their experience of recovery from a 12-step cult group in the USA, see AA Minority Report pages 70-71.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Conference Steering Committee’s response to the report

The committee decided not to use the minority report as a topic for full Conference discussion in 2018. However, the committee advised that statements made on pages 121-122 could be resubmitted individually for future consideration in the format as described in the document "How to Submit a Topic or Question for Conference.” 

Having supplied the necessary background in the minority report, we will leave the submission of individual questions as a matter of conscience for any Conference delegates, board members, and A.A. group members.

We have discharged our duty in Concept V by presenting a minority report to Conference. By publishing the report we have discharged our duty in Concept XII, Warranty Five, to inform the general public also.

We thank the committee for considering the report. 

For A.A. members resident in Great Britain, questions or topics relating to statements made on pages 121-122 can be submitted for consideration for Conference 2019 anytime between now and 31st August.   

Thursday, 4 January 2018

The Lawyer Synanon Tried to Kill - Legally Speaking

University of California Television (UCTV)

California Lawyer editor Martin Lasden interviews Paul Morantz, the lawyer Synanon tried to kill.
- An educational video about Charles Dederich & Synanon and how cults brainwash followers.

Video can also be viewed at University of California Television (UCTV):

Saturday, 23 December 2017

“The Recovery Revolution: The Battle Over Addiction Treatment in the United States” by Claire D. Clark, Columbia University Press, 2017

A new book documenting the successful promotion of the Synanon Cult and Synanon based Therapeutic Communities in the USA, by Claire D. Clark, assistant professor of behavioral science, University of Kentucky.  

Based extensively on selective archive literature that promoted the Synanon Cult in the 1960s, alongside interviews with former cult members and supporters working in the field of addiction treatment, “The Recovery Revolution” presents an overview of the history of addiction treatment in the USA.

Some sections of the book referring to Alcoholics Anonymous are misleading. The Synanon/Therapeutic Communities “Act as if” principle has been incorrectly attributed to A.A. on page 25. Also misleading are statements made on pages 183 and 188, implying that journalist Jack Alexander was among A.A. “skeptics” and “detractors”, and that the disease model of addiction was originally proposed in the book “Alcoholics Anonymous.” These highlight the challenge A.A. Public Information now face in correcting negative misconceptions about A.A. that appear in academic literature, which when taught in universities, filter down to professionals and the general public.

The book has been criticised for failing to adequately document the Synanon Cult’s fraudulent and violent activities and the unethical marketing and abuse that has occurred in Synanon based Therapeutic Community treatment facilities – See the following reviews of the book by journalist Maia Szalavitz and lawyer Paul Morantz:

“Breaking Addicts in Order to Fix Them: How Synanon revolutionized drug treatment and poisoned the politics of prohibition” by Maia Szalavitz: http://reason.com/archives/2017/09/21/breaking-addicts-in-order-to-f

“Claire Clark “The Recovery Revolution” Columbia Press 2017 Fake History – Synanon – A Book Review” by Paul Morantz:  http://www.paulmorantz.com/cult/claire-clark-columbia-press-fake-history-synanon-a-book-review-once-on-amazon-but-somehow-removed/

Despite its shortcomings the “Recovery Revolution” does document in detail the extent to which the Synanon Cult and its Therapeutic Community successors expanded and the extent of their political influence in shaping  government policies on addiction treatment in the United States, from Synanon’s beginning in 1958 to the present rise of the Recovery Movement and Recovery Oriented Systems of Care.

Readers of the book are unlikely to gain much of an insight into the nature of Synanon's successful promotion, or the “battle over addiction treatment in the United States” without reading the history of the Synanon cult and Therapeutic Communities and how cults of the 1960s and 70s have since evolved in the following publications: “The Light on Synanon: How a Country Weekly Exposed a Corporate Cult and Won the Pulitzer Prize” by Dave & Cathy Mitchell and Professor Richard Ofshe, Seaview Books, 1980;  “From Miracle to Madness: The true story of Charles Dederich and Synanon” by Paul Morantz, 2nd Edition, Cresta Publications, 2015; “Help at Any Cost: How the Troubled-Teen Industry Cons Parents and Hurts Kids” by Maia Szalavitz, Riverhead Books, 2006; “Cults in our Midst: The Continuing Fight Against Their Hidden Menace” by Professor Margaret Thaler Singer, 2nd Revised Edition, Jossey-Bass, 2003.

Unfortunately for A.A., the misuse of the book “Alcoholics Anonymous” as an addiction treatment for decades by various institutions, including Synanon Cult based Therapeutic Community institutions, has meant that the battle over addiction treatment in the United States is one that is also being fought within A.A. 

Maybe one day, sociologists, psychiatrists, and addiction treatment policy makers might work out that it wasn’t such a bright idea to base an addiction treatment model on the ideas of a megalomaniac alcoholic who thought A.A. meetings were “limited and really of no value”, who founded a destructive cult, who failed to achieve permanent sobriety himself, and who was eventually convicted of conspiracy to commit murder.   That it wasn’t such a bright idea also, to base addiction treatment models on a book called “Alcoholics Anonymous” that was not intended to be an addiction treatment, the title of which is also a registered trademark of Alcoholics Anonymous that cannot legally be used by other organisations - including large corporations such as the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation for the purpose of selling their Minnesota Model and wares.

For a brief history of the Synanon Cult’s influence on addiction treatment and Alcoholics Anonymous in the USA and Great Britain see AA Minority Report 2017: “Synanon Cult influence on Alcoholics Anonymous, Addiction Treatment and the Criminal Justice System 1968-2017”

Friday, 15 December 2017

Big Book Study Cult invades A.A. in Lithuania

Around 2010 ― “Big book STUDY” groups started to form. They look like followers of the Oxford groups. Seminars of "sponsorship" are being organised. Written contracts are being made between a sponsor and sponsee. Usage of 0th (zero) step. Persistant persuasion that there is "the one and only true path to RECOVERY". They're stating that they don't have alcohol problem anymore, ―”Aren't ill anymore”. Big book study groups aggressively express themselves in public information also discrediting ideas of AA. They publish and sell AA GSO unapproved literature. Inside of AA fellowship in Lithuania a few individuals are trying to organize a separate structure, which is based on distorted principles of sponsorship. They are attempting to affect AA processes through their sponsees. In this way, chaos is being spread and AA unity is being pulled apart. Hyperactive actions in public information and ignored opinions of other AA groups and services is making society feel repulsive towards AA fellowship, damaging its public image. Based on the Twelve Concepts for World Service we understand that we can‘t do much more than just talk trying to appeal to their conscience and urge to follow the 12 traditions of AA. That's why we are asking you to share your experience on how did you deal in similar situations.”

The experience of A.A. in Lithuania is similar to that experienced by A.A. in some parts of Great Britain.

The Big Book Study movement, supported by an international recruitment apparatus involving a network of treatment centres, seminars, retreats, speaker recordings, publications, websites and online meetings, is unlikely to go away anytime soon. New cult groups are likely to pop up wherever the movement, using what are sophisticated forms of brainwashing, can recruit and radicalize vulnerable individuals. Lack of information appears to be part of the problem.

For information on Big Book Study cults and the Synanon Cult’s contribution to this international movement, see AA Minority Report 2017“Synanon Cult influence on Alcoholics Anonymous, Addiction Treatment and the Criminal Justice System 1968-2017”