[Written around 2004.]
Alcoholics Anonymous has helped millions to stop drinking, which is a vital step for everyone on the spiritual path, but its inherent limits as a program prevent its members from becoming fully enlightened. AA allows alcoholics a fellowship of peers, but it philosophy denies the full truth – and thus cannot provide fully enlightened guidance. As such, if its members go too far in expressing their true selves, they will not be loved by the group.
AA has a cult mentality. Just like the child in the family, the AA member experiences massive social pressure to conform and to buy the denial of AA. If he speaks against the family at the core level – be it the family of origin or AA – he is suspect, and if he rejects the family outright he is criminal. He is expected to stay a child forever, and thus never leave AA, never call it on its lies, never betray its sick social order and conventions.
AA falsely believes that alcoholism is a disease, not a symptom. This may be comforting for some, but it is not true. Alcoholism is not the disease: the unenlightened family is the disease. Alcoholics were not born so: they were created. They drink themselves into oblivion not because of bad genetics but because of the traumas resulting from childhood abuse, neglect, and rejection. No one raised in a truly loving home – whatever his chromosomes – could become an alcoholic. No one who had full connection with his true self – a fully non-traumatized person – would ever even want to experience even the mildest of dissociative pleasures of drinking alcohol at all.
By denying this reality AA protects the abusive parents, many of whom are its members. But more so it protects alcoholics themselves from feeling their deeper pain, because anyone who learns the full truth of his parents’ cruelties is in for a horribly painful ride. Denying this horrible truth may prevent some from relapsing, but it will prevent everyone from becoming fully enlightened.
Avoiding the deepest levels of pain is part of the AA mentality. They replace the depression of the alcoholic with the grandiosity and dissociation of so-called recovery. This is a spiritual step backwards (See The Four Stages on the Path to Enlightenment). AA believes that full spirituality is attainable by simply admitting the damage you’ve done to others and making amends. This is untrue. Admitting your past wrongs does lessen the cycle of guilt and shame, but does not resolve your own traumas – the damage done to you by your parents. Traumas must be addressed and fully grieved and mourned for deeper healing to take place.
Any program, AA or otherwise, that thinks you can heal without fully exhuming, grieving, and ultimately healing your traumas is siding with your abusive parents and perpetuating the addictive cycle of self-delusion.
(For more, view my critique on AA’s twelve steps.)