Step 8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
Oh look, another guilt inducing list exercise! You’d think this would be part of the fourth step of Alcoholics Anonymous, when recruits were instructed to draft a “searching and fearless moral inventory”. Since Bill Wilson basically plagiarized and adapted the Six Steps of the Oxford Group, they are redundant.
The first three steps are gas lighting. They teach the new convert that they are powerless, unmanageable, and insane. Then they offer submission to the group and its God as a solution, which brings intense immediate relief. The next four steps had recruits enumerate their sins, confess them, become ready for God to cure them, and then asked Him to do so. Whipping up guilt and shame, then providing confession as release valve again fills the cult member with temporary relief.
In Step 8 that relief is ripped away again. All the soul searching, self flagellation, and confession work wasn’t enough. Though they were promised removal of wrongs, shortcomings, and defects of character, the cult keeps members in a cycle of shame and confession, which keeps them reliant on the group as the only source of emotional relief from their self-loathing.
There is value in knowing yourself, in being honest about what kind of person you are and have been. But if you focus only on the negative, you will not end up with an accurate, true impression. I have major depressive disorder and it often makes me only see the bad in myself. That’s precisely what makes it unhealthy. AA is inducing the effects of depression, over and over again, as part of a cycle designed to exploit emotional pain.
This is not healthy. It does not empower alcoholics or give them increased responsibility as they sober up. It keeps them in a loop of shame, infantile helplessness, and spiritual ecstasy. It is a cycle of abuse. In domestic violence the “good” period of the abuse cycle is called the “honeymoon” or “seduction” phase. In AA it’s built right into the founding documents of the program. AA is an abusive cult.