The latest news on Charlie Sheen is BIG news. He has publicly called AA a cult, indicated that it’s been screwing up his life for 22 years, and that it has control over his family. These latest comments have brought things to a true tipping point. He’s being universally attacked as a crazy person for criticizing AA, and no one in the major media seems to have the slightest interest in investigating his claims. I contend that Sheen’s comments are 100% correct.
While Sheen is the most famous person to call Alcoholics Anonymous a cult, he certainly isn’t the first. In fact, these claims go as far back as the 40’s. For a thorough review, definitely check out this piece, Is Alcoholics Anonymous a Cult? An Old Question Revisited (by L. Allen Ragels), available at stinkin-thinkin.com, Here’s an excerpt:
Alexander and Rollins, both sociologists, went underground in order to understand the world of the Steps as seen through the eyes of actual group participants. “[B]oth investigators attended AA meetings over a period of several months,” they recounted. “In addition, one of the investigators actively assumed the role of an alcoholic . . . she admitted to members of an AA gathering that she was ostensibly an alcoholic in need of help. She then chose a ‘sponsor’ and began to attend both official meetings and informal social gatherings.” The result of this clandestine effort was a decisive study published in California Sociologist, “Alcoholics Anonymous: The Unseen Cult.”
Essentially, Alexander and Rollins measured AA against criteria developed by Robert J. Lifton, whose 1961 work, Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism, is a classic work on thought reform or brainwashing. Measured against Lifton’s standards, Alexander and Rollins concluded that AA is indeed a cult. “AA uses all the methods of brain washing, which are also the methods employed by cults,” they found. “It is our contention that AA is a cult.”
The piece then goes on to systematically analyze the many aspects of AA which prove that it is a cult. It’s a very compelling case, and again, contrary to the universal shock which people have expressed over Sheen’s claim, it’s not the only case that’s been made – people have been calling AA out as a cult for nearly 70 years now. Before that, it was recognized that the organization from which AA sprung, The Oxford Group, was also a cult.
AA asks you to renounce your own will and surrender to a generic “Higher Power”. Lacking the ability to communicate with your higher power, you are told to follow the commands of senior AA members. No one is allowed to talk about what goes on at the meetings outside of the meetings. Members are “anonymous” and are not supposed to reveal their own, or anyone else’s membership outside of the meetings/to non members. Whereas self-examination can be empowering, AA takes the practice to an extreme level asks its members to constantly humble themselves and admit their shortcomings, work on “character defects” perpetually, and to regularly confess to each other, constantly reliving their problems and thereby reinforcing a negative self-image. The only way to live with themselves is to keep confessing to the group, and keep trying to live the spiritual life prescribed by the program. Should a member attempt to live their spiritual or sober lifestyle on their own, without constant AA involvement, they’ll be belittled by the group as they attempt to detach, told that they’re on the verge of relapse, and that they will DIE if they don’t keep up their meeting attendance. Threats will be made, and rumors will be passed about any member who seems as if they’re growing away from the group. The solution they offer indoctrinates a troubled person with the belief that they can only stay sober one day at a time, and that the only thing which will keep them from drinking is their “Higher Power”, a call to their AA “sponsor”, or a trip to a meeting. Indeed, everything about the group breeds dependence on the group, and mortal fear of leaving the group.
But perhaps even more compelling than all of this, are the current creepy events surrounding Charlie Sheen. After his latest incident, involving allegations of a drug & sex binge that landed him in the hospital for a possible hernia, the producers of his show “Two and a Half Men”, staged an intervention of sorts, halted production, and asked him to get “treatment”. He decided, after several past trips to treatment programs and 22 years in AA, that he would get some sort of treatment at home, without staying in a treatment center. This was unacceptable to his colleagues. He proclaimed that he was staying sober, that he could prove it with urine tests, and that he was ready to work. He was derided by everyone as not being ready, and mocked for claiming he was sober, then the show’s creator, Chuck Lorre, placed a title card in one of the episodes which included this line “If Charlie Sheen outlives me, I’m gonna be really pissed.” This can be seen as nothing other than a clear dig at Charlie, a bit of psychological abuse and pressure, and an indication that he highly disapproves of Sheen’s recent choices – one of which was to try something different than the conventional recovery route. Who would do such a thing to a friend who is currently embarking on a quest to change their life? I’ll tell you who: an AA member who believes that AA is the only way.
I don’t have direct evidence (in the form of any personal statements which confirm it) that Lorre is an AA member, although I have evidence which strongly suggests it (thanks to a commenter over at stinkin-thinkin.com). And whether he is or isn’t in AA, he’s clearly indoctrinated into their teachings. On November 12th 2009, The Clare Foundation, which runs several treatment programs highly steeped in and built upon AA/12-step philosophy and practices (they teach the 12-steps, give the Big Book to their clients, and hold 12-step meetings within their facilities), held a massive event honoring Chuck Lorre with the Friends of Clare Tribute Award “for his contribution to the recovery community nationwide.” In case you didn’t know, “recovery community” means “Alcoholics Anonymous”. Furthermore, Dr Drew is a past recipient of the same award, as are other 12-step pushers/members; the list of board members reads like a “who’s who” of the entertainment industry, and also contains many celebrities known for being AA members/”in recovery” – such as Jamie Lee Curtis, Charlotte Rae, Meredith Baxter, Anthony Hopkins, and Buzz Aldrin among others.
Seeing how the event was packed with entertainment industry AA members, and taking into account everything we know about the Clare Foundation’s mission, and then considering Lorre’s behavior towards Sheen – it’s probably not too far off to say that Chuck Lorre is an AA Member. In fact, as soon as Sheen made his comments calling AA a cult, the decision was made to cancel production of the remainder of the season. According to the LA Times:
On Friday, Charlie Sheen appeared on FOX Sports Radio’s “Loose Cannons” program to speak with host Pat O’Brien about the future of his hit show. Asked what happened with “Two and a Half Men” — the show was suspended after Sheen trashed executive producer Chuck Lorre on multiple radio shows — he said, “They kept getting up in my grill, kept telling me how to live my personal life, [I’m] saying, ‘Back off, back off,’ and they wouldn’t.” (SOURCE: LA Times)
Sheen specifically complained about the judgment of Lorre and his collaborator Lee Aronsohn. “These guys are a couple of AA Nazis and just blatant hypocrites,” he said. “They just do not practice what they preach. It’s so transparent and so sad.” (Lorre has been open about his own battles with substance abuse.)
I don’t know where they got the part about Lorre being open about substance abuse, but with that, and Sheen referring to them as AA Nazis (thus confirming their membership), it’s becoming clear that Lorre is in the cult of AA, and that this is a battle over views of “recovery” more than it is about whether or not Charlie Sheen is using drugs. Sheen has been asking to go back to work, offering to take urine tests, and they have refused. They have sat back and allowed him to be portrayed as insane and selfish, and blamed the halt in production on him, when in fact they are the ones who will not go ahead with production – all because he rejects the life of “recovery”, which means he refuses to take part in 12-step activities and ways of thinking, he refuses the pseudo-spiritual lifestyle of AA, he refuses to believe he has a disease. This has nothing to do with addiction – it has to do with Charlie leaving the cult. To see these guys using their power to punish him publicly because they disagree about AA only serves to prove Sheen’s claim that the organization is a cult.
Witness also a recent response to Sheen’s comments about AA from 12-step thumper Dr Drew:
well he’s got a point, their uhh, success rates aren’t that great but the fact is it does work when people do it… (SOURCE: TMZ)
This is serious doubletalk right here. It’s creepy, and it smacks of cult. He’s saying “yeah I agree, but I don’t”. It’s an insane statement, but this is what people face in AA all the time, and any cult for that matter. When their mumbo jumbo fails to bring the promised changes, the cultists proclaim that you’re not a real believer, you didn’t really give yourself to their ways, or you must have some other sins holding you back from success. Essentially Drew is saying that Sheen didn’t really “do” AA in this statement. AA is built to allow every one of these accusations – if you failed, you didn’t really “surrender to a higher power”, and you need to go back to your first steps to try to do that again with “rigorous honesty”. They excuse every single failure by deflecting the blame back on the person they failed to help, and they suck that person back in with guilt. They claim “never have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path”, meaning essentially that they believe they have a 100% success rate, even though any reliable study shows this idea is nowhere near reality. They can’t measure whether you’ve “thoroughly followed their path”, because the path involves making a mystical connection to God through surrender – how do you measure that? They measure it by failure: if you’ve failed, then you haven’t followed the path, you haven’t gotten right with God – and the infuriating circle of nonsense continues. Drew’s statements about Sheen are further proof that the organization is a cult, he’s bringing his mind-games into the public – what’s normally saved for inside of AA is reaching the light of day, and it ain’t pretty.
Charlie Sheen has turned on the cult, they aren’t happy, and this promises to be a knock down drag out fight because they’ll do anything to impose their way of life on others, even if that means giving up a TV show worth billions of dollars.
UPDATE: Entertainment Tonight is reporting that Charlie has just returned from the Bahamas. They have pictures of him taking a drug test, of which the urine portion has come back clean, and the blood test results are expected to be ready by monday (blood tests are more accurate). If this shows that he’s been clean, then we have to wonder why Lorre won’t bring the show back into production. Some would say it’s Charlie’s strange comments, but Charlie has been a 9/11 Truther for quite some time and publicly commented on that in the past. Many would see that as insane, or a sign of instability – yet it was never reason to shut down production before.
EDITED TO ADD: I realize this may not be the best written post. I’ve been rushing to get something out on this story, but there are so many issues involved that it’s a tough one to cover. So I’d like to sum up what I think is one of the most interesting points here which you won’t find elsewhere. I’m hypothesizing/predicting a particular story-line here. I think that when everything comes out about this whole situation, this will be the whole story: 2 guys are in AA. One of them (Lorre) is the other one’s (Sheen) boss. The boss tolerates the employee’s substance related misdeeds and indiscretions, as long as the employee stays obediently in AA. Employee realizes that after 22 years of struggling, AA hasn’t and will not work for him. He decides to give up on AA and try something else. Boss disapproves, finds this personally offensive, and suspends him from work. Employee fights back and says “you can’t do that, I’m sober, I can prove it, and I want to continue to work, per my contract”. Boss dismisses and belittles employee, pressuring him to come back to AA. Employee resists, denounces AA, and asks to be left alone, and just get on with work. Boss resents the employee because he no longer belongs to AA, and shuts down the whole business simply to punish employee for rejecting his precious fellowship of AA.
I could be absolutely wrong about this. Time will tell. But I’m not wrong about AA being a cult, nor is Charlie Sheen, nor are the countless researchers who’ve come to the same conclusion ove the past 70 years.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE (monday evening): Charlie Sheen confirmed that Chuck Lorre is an AA follower on The Today Show this morning. I’ve got video here – Charlie Sheen Confirms That Chuck Lorre is an AA Member.