are 12 step programs a cult? Discuss..

by avishai 26 Replies latest jw friends

  • avishai

    What qualities would you say they share w/ other high control groups?

  • transhuman68

    I've never understood the comparison of 12 step programs to cults.

    Sure, they may be a high control group, with meetings and a sponsor, and some pressure to conform; but they are a part of society, not separate to it; and there is more freedom to join or leave.

    Maybe a necessary evil- at least for a while.

  • Black Sheep
    Black Sheep

    Take a list of cult attributes and cross reference the group's teachings with it.

    You do have to be honest about it though. We have all seen JWs playing dishonest mind games to weasel out of fitting those descriptions. We can't have a different standard because 'its not a religion'/whatever.

    If it walks like a duck ..............


  • designs

    They can have there place in recovery from addictions. The premise is simple enough, admit to a group your true condition and feelings, set goals to make amends and life choices.

    To some it becomes their central social connection and others need a program like it for awhile to get healthy.

  • OnTheWayOut

    I think that groups that apply 12-step programs and get cultish are proof that a group can become a cult (or become cultish) unintentionally.

    I attend an Alcoholics Anonymous group that is for Atheists and Agnostics and we don't allow backtalk- critical comments on the statements and comments of other members. But I have seen groups that heavily apply the 12-steps and where members do critically judge the statements of others. AA is anonymous and it is not required to follow the steps. The only single requirement is a desire to stop drinking. With other groups, they may also have a single requirement for membership, yet the group may turn into something it should not be- a place of judgmentalness and applied pressure to conform.

    It's a great example of how WTS (and other groups) could have started with good intentions and warped into a dangerous mind-control cult. The success of the group became more important than the good of the individual members, applied pressure to conform increased the group success.

  • JeffT

    Onthewayout beat me to it. I've been going to AA for almost five years. Having been in a cult, and now being in AA I can tell you AA is NOT a cult. No one is required to believe anything or do anything (although you're likely to be told that not following the program is not going to help you quit drinking). There is no shunning. No larger organization telling people what to do, every group is autonomous except for a few matters that relate to AA as a whole. I have never seen anybody get kicked out of AA, and there is no list of rules that must be followed.

  • confliction

    "If it walks like a duck and it quacks like a duck..."

    Witless Response:

    No, see, this isn't what it looks like- a regular duck.

    It's so much more than a duck.

    this duck has the backing of the holy spirit, because it says it does.

    The duck told me it has holy spirit.

    And I believe it, because the duck never lies- because it has the holy spirit.

  • avishai
  • Twitch


  • digderidoo

    Look at the first sentence on the Orange Papers website.... "One man's analysis of Alcoholics Anonymous.". This guy is entitled to his opinion, but it's only one man's opinion. Personally i've never heard of women being raped or abused in AA and i wouldn't imagine for a minute that anybody abused would be silenced. I have heard of some guys who are refered to as "13th steppers", basically guys who ask newcomer women out, but not abuse.

    When i first came to AA i was very hesitant to attend meetings due to my JW past. I debated the AA program through and through, i left AA twice due to this line of thinking. When i left nobody contacted me to rejoin, it was left up to me, that was the big difference. AA is about attraction, rather than promotion, if you want it it's there, if you don't then don't go, it's as simple as that. I can honestly say that AA is nothing like the cult that JW's are. I can see how some groups exhibit cultish characteristics and if some believe it to be a cult i couldn't really care, it's kept me sober.

    Seven years ago i was a helpless, homeless drug taking alcoholic who would steal food as any money i had went on booze. Today i'm a sober, recovering alcoholic, half way through a law degree, have a nice home, job, have joint custody of my two boys, have my daughter living with me and most of all have a peace of mind after having come to terms with all of my past issues.....and all that i put down to AA and the 12 step program.

    If this Orange Papers guy and others believe it to be a cult then so be it, i don't believe it to be a cult and most of all it works for this alcoholic.


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