By Devin Sexson

In deciding whether or not our beloved alcoholism cure "Alcoholics Anonymous" is a cult, it is important to come up with a definition of the word "cult."

The word itself tends to draw controversy.

When any particular group is labeled a cult the term is hotly disputed by members, supporters, and sympathizers with the organization.

There are exceptions to this--the most notorious of cults are not likely to be defended. These would be Charles Manson's Family, Jim Jones' Peoples Temple, Heaven's Gate, and the like.

These are the examples that often come to mind when the term "cult" is used. These are the most extreme examples of a destructive cult and mind-control organization. On the other hand, the loosest definition of the word is likely to label an innocuous group of model railroad enthusiasts a cult.

The specific definition that I'm using to describe the cultic properties of AA is the BITE model that has been developed by Steve Hassan.

Cult expert Hassan is the author of "Combating Mind Control" and "Releasing The Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves," two highly acclaimed books dealing with the issues of mind-control, spiritual responsibility, and exit counseling for ex-cult members.

The BITE model is used as a guideline to determine what extent a particular group practices mind-control tactics for the purpose of diminishing a member's personal identity.

The acronym stands for Behavior, Information, Thoughts, and Emotions. In examining an organization we can look at these four categories and consider how, why and to what extent these aspects are controlled by the group, in order to determine its level of mind-control over the members.

I consider the BITE model to be a very useful tool in defining cult-like characteristics because it creates a clear distinction between groups that may be dangerous and lead to behavior and ideas that are destructive, and groups that provide real benefit for their members and ultimately our society.

Being able to look at an organization and determine the level of mind-control that is being used within it helps us to know how to deal with that organization on a societal level when exercising political activism against destructive cults. It also enables us to determine the best methods to assist those who have been victimized by them.

Hassan himself does not consider Alcoholics Anonymous an organization that fits the BITE model.

He credits AA for providing a great service to those who have found relief from alcoholism through the organization.

He agrees that AA is not suitable for all people, is potentially destructive for some members, and that alternative programs may be more beneficial.

Having been a member of AA for many years, I have a different view of it.

I consider the program of Alcoholics Anonymous a destructive cult that uses all methods of mind-control tactics for the specific purposes of incorporating its members into a belief system that demolishes their individuality, crushes their independence, and creates numerous psychologically damaging side effects.

I will discuss the aspects of AA as they relate to each category of the BITE model, but first I will discuss AA as it is presented to the general public to help explain why this issue is disputed with such adamancy on both sides.

Alcoholics Anonymous has been known as the program that has saved the lives of millions of people who are suffering from the disease of alcoholism.

There is no shortage of people who will testify to having been at the edge of death from years of over-consumption of alcohol. After finding refuge in the program of AA they have experienced nothing short of a miraculous transformation.

They will tell you that they would surely be dead if not for AA. AA meetings are free of charge, widely available, and the only requirement for membership is the desire to stop drinking. The program of AA is based on the idea of one alcoholic helping another, mutually supportive of one another.

There is a camaraderie, understanding, and acceptance that can only come from those who have been there and done that.

The program has spread around the world. They claim to have over two million members. The structure of the program contains no leadership; it is maintained by adherence to the 12 traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous, and a spirit of cooperation amongst its membership.

The program of AA is based on the 12 steps, which are suggested as a program of recovery. These 12 steps have been adapted to fit numerous other organizations for the purposes of overcoming problems with addiction to drugs, sex, gambling, overeating, smoking, and many more.

There are hundreds of books about using the 12 steps in daily living. They are advocated by just about every author of popular psychology books, every TV talk show host, 90% of addiction treatment centers, the United States court system, and the 12-Step programs are almost always praised in the mainstream media.

There is no doubt that AA has made a good name for itself with the public since its formation in 1935. Most people who have no experience with the 12-step programs accept the dominant opinion of our society and consider it to be a good thing.

AA is not known for many of the things that we think of as making a cult.

AA members are not going to commit mass suicide, they don't sell flowers in airports, they don't go door-to-door, they do not live communally, stockpile weapons, or dress in distinctive attire.

These are aspects of the most recognizable cultic groups but not things that are typical of all of them.

But one can still be a victim of mind-control tactics without it being that obvious on the surface, as the majority of cult members are.

Continued: Mind Control Tactics Of Alcoholics Anonymous