AA is a Cult, part 17

Step 5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another person the exact nature of our wrongs. 

“Admitted” – An early version of this step said “Confessed” and this was changed to avoid a Catholic ban on Alcoholics Anonymous. The Vatican had already taken objection to the Oxford Group for its use of publiuc confession, and the Pope eventually forbid Catholics to attend Oxford Group meetings. AA successfully dodged such censure by calling their public confession admitting. 

“to God” – Here is God again, but still no advice to put the bottle down. Alcoholics who go to AA seeking treatment and help are instead recruited into a religious cult. The early claim in Step 2 that a Higher Power could be a doorknob rings pretty hollow here. How is a doorknob supposed to restore my sanity or hear my confession? 

“to ourselves” – Step 4 already asked recruits to enumerate their sins as part of a “searching and fearless moral inventory” but that wasn’t good enough. Now they need to really wallow in their wrongs, let that shame fester. Clearly this is more advantageous to a cult than an alcoholic. 

“and to another person” – That person will just so happen to be your AA sponsor, not a licensed therapist or ordained clergy member or addiction medicine specialist. No, it will be someone who’s expertise is based on their own history of problem drinking and their membership in this religious cult (or for Bill W. and other early AAs, a member of the Oxford Group cult.) 

“the exact nature of our wrongs” – This is firmly in the territory of the Oxford Group’s third C for recruitment: Confession. By this time a recruit has been told they are powerless, unmanageable, and insane, and that only God and AA can save them, and been instructed to focus on their every shortcoming.  After the orchestrated, pent up guilt and shame induced from the first four steps, confession feels like relief. 

It feels so good by contrast that some AA members ascribe that relief to God (as they understand Him). This quasi spiritual experience is created in many cults that have nothing to do with substance abuse. Cult expert Robert Jay Lifton calls this “mystical manipulation” and explains it thus: 

Experiences are engineered to appear to be spontaneous, when, in fact, they are contrived to have a deliberate effect. “

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