The Origin of Sin

We are born sinners.  In fact it’s the child’s job to push boundaries and break the rules.  Not everyone is born with a finely tuned moral compass, and so that’s just how we learn.  Of course, it’s the parent’s job to discipline with love.  The right balance is important: if the parent is too strict or cruel then the child learns that the rules are arbitrary and can be broken if no one is looking.  If the parent is too lax, then the child must either learn to police himself (with guilt and shame) or will simply continue to break the rules under the assumption that this is acceptable as long as no one says anything, and unintentionally develops the art of lying, manipulation, and self-deception.

Of course no child is perfect and no parents are perfect and regardless of how children are raised most will turn out fine.  As adults we will experience temptations but remember the lessons of our past and do the right thing.  But we will continue to break the rules and sin, for the rest our lives.  And we will justify to ourselves that this behavior is acceptable, even if we later regret it.  Such is our nature.

Many of us were very fortunate and enjoyed a blissful childhood and believed the promises of happiness and success.  But the world turned out to be more cruel, competitive, and unfair than we expected.  We always tried to do the right thing; attempts at cheating generally proved unsatisfying.  But daily life was struggle and pain, and little seemed to come from it.  We eked out an existence as best we could and tried to appreciate what we had.

This is of course the biblical story of The Fall.  Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden as happily and un-self-consciously as children.  And then they were tempted by Satan’s offer to ‘be like God’.  They ate the apple from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  When their disobedience was discovered, Adam argued: “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.”  Eve also passed the blame: “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”  As would any child caught red-handed, they blamed God and the serpent and each other, refusing responsibility for their decision.   Their disobedience, self-deception and audacity enraged God, who banished them from the garden:

“Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.  It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.  By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken.”

They gained knowledge of Good and Evil to be like God, but lost their innocence and blissful ignorance. That is the consequence of our need to know, and that is our nature.

Self-Deception and Sacrifice

If we do wrong, we can either justify it to ourselves (and others), or we can commit the sin in secrecy with the understanding that we will have to pay for it.  But we have knowledge of right and wrong, and sin is never committed freely.  The ancient pagans sacrificed their own children to expiate their sins and appease their gods.  This practice was banned by the Hebrew God, and replaced with animal sacrifice.  By Jesus’ time, the blood flowed from the Temple’s altars in thick rivers.  Then the blood of the Son of God was shed for the sins all mankind.  In modern times those who reject such religious notions expiate their sins by arguing for higher taxes.

A man will rationalize his sins to avoid paying the price, and his capacity to deceive and manipulate himself and others knows no bounds.  Great evil has been committed by good people who justified their sins by ignoring the truth.  Only in retrospect does the crime seem obvious, even if we still struggle to understand how it happened.  The work of Satan, what they used to call ‘demon possession,’ is simply our capacity for rationalization and self-deception, even if such language offends our modern sensibilities.

Never does a man commit sin freely.  His only choice is to deceive himself and others (that there was no sin), or to pay.  Or of course not to commit the sin in the first place, and suffer the resentments of unfulfilled desires.  Ultimately everyone will face this and there is no escape.  In The Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield wanted to catch the children who were not watching where they were going and started to fall ‘over the cliff’.  And then presumably gently place them back on the field.  But such a strategy is doomed, as Holden Caulfield and his followers amply demonstrated.  We will all become ‘phonies’ sooner or later.

Like the Bible, the Koran begins with the the story of The Fall.  Although in that version, Adam and Eve are quite conscious of their sin and immediately beg for forgiveness and mercy when questioned by God.  This sheds light on a significant cultural difference.

Man knows right and wrong and does not commit sin freely.  The exception to this rule is of course the psychopath.  They have knowledge of Good and Evil, but the rules don’t apply to them: they believe they are god.  (In fact they suffer from deep inferiority, which they conceal with the god fantasy, and as such really are no exception.)

Many people today interpret the story of The Fall as either a sanctimonious indictment of man’s evil nature or as proof of God’s injustice.  In fact, it is simply an explanation of our ability and tendency to deceive ourselves as we struggle between abnegation and indulgence.  We must be constantly on guard, or we may become ensnared by the tricks of our own mind.

In Requiem for a Dream, Darren Aronofsky’s parody of the The Fall, a drug addict unplugs the family TV as his mother is watching, while apologizing tearfully and regretfully.  He is unable to resist the overpowering temptation for drugs, while offering no justification or excuse.  This is of course a complete lie and never actually happened.  Until now: today the scene is acted out in families around the world.  The absurdity and stupidity of such a scene is obvious to anyone who has attended an NA meeting, in which members typically share a desire to pick a fight with someone on the bus.  Ironically the general public is quicker to justify their mischief as ‘drug addiction’ than they are, though they will gladly play the ‘get out of jail free’ card as necessary.  Addicts lie freely about the extent of their drug use, and drug ‘cravings’, in both directions, to manipulate the system.

Eastern religions resolve the problem of suffering with a strategy to reduce ‘cravings’ typically through meditation.  If we can break out of this cycle of suffering caused by craving, we ultimately will achieve enlightenment, happiness, and freedom from sin.  Of course, such beliefs have little appeal to young people who are more interested in indulging their desires than denying them.

The Return of Human Sacrifice

Addiction is a new religion only 80 years old.  Alcoholics Anonymous is based on Alastair Crowley’s Thelema: “Do as thou wilt,” which is religious alchemy that washes punishment from sin.  It is based on science, magic, the occult, and drug use and has strong prepubescent appeal.  AA modified the teaching for grown men: you can sin freely while under the influence of drugs or alcohol (or the cravings for them), and then pay for it later, typically in your 40′s or 50′s by ‘making amends’.  Typically the mischief is some combination of abuse, neglect, and sexual promiscuity, though it could be anything.  Soon after it began, women also started to participate, if only for the chemical alleviation of sexual abuse, often at the hands of men in the religion.  (Of course, the religion is appealing to many groups for many reasons.  For example, young women often join as revenge against parents for perceived neglect and hold them hostage to the threat of ‘relapse’ – a strategy commonly known as ‘maintaining my sobriety’.)

Normally when a man recognizes his sin, he regrets it and makes a plan to not repeat it.  Addiction is a mortgage plan for sin.   To participate, all you have to do is attend a few meetings during your youth and claim that you tried it but it didn’t work for you.  For example, you can claim that it is too Christian and moralistic and provokes the same feelings that made you want to drink in the first place. And then repeat a cycle of bingeing and abstinence for decades.  Then return in middle age and suddenly ‘get it’.  This is easy: choose an Eastern deity that you feel represents ‘serenity’, apologize to the people you hurt, and then recite the Craving Lie: “I couldn’t stop drinking/using no matter how hard I tried.  I nearly died from my addiction.  AA has saved my life and millions of others.  Now I am happy, joyous and free.”  Don’t worry, you can still drink.  If someone sees you, just call it a ‘relapse’ and return to AA, and remind the newcomers that they must be constantly on guard against this ‘cunning and baffling’ and deadly affliction that nearly killed you.

Despite the lie, ‘craving’ is rarely mentioned at meetings.  It is offered only for public consumption.  Typically people say they drink because they are lonely or because their friends were drinking or for another simple reason, and rarely do you hear “I drank because of intense cravings”.  They claim not to have realized that their lives were ‘out of control’ typically until middle age when they look back.  They then claim they were actually in denial of their own cravings all along, and never really tried to stop, and so their claim that they ‘tried to stop’ is simply a lie, as is their claim that ‘willpower is useless’ and that they were ‘powerless to alcohol’.  So they freely admit to lying to themselves about the extent of their drinking but expect us to believe that they really had irresistible cravings.  A little skepticism is justified, especially considering that to them, powerlessness to alcohol is often just a good excuse to express their frustrations by getting drunk and partying or picking a fight with some guy outside the bar who they don’t like the looks of.

However, there are some people who really are victims of their own cravings.  They were sent to AA at a young age by the courts or a concerned friend or family member, or have a family history of AA participation.  They were impressionable and vulnerable, and they were forced by the cult to confess powerlessness to alcohol.  They may have been told by a sponsor: “I am scared for you.  You don’t know what you are capable of.  You are danger to yourself.”  Months or years later, in a moment of despair they believed it.  Robin Williams, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and many other actors (who once attended AA and are trained to believe the part) are examples.  Their sacrifice pays the interest on the mortgaged sins of the other cult members, who always seem to survive their close brush with death, recounting the highlights of their drinking career in merry drunkalogs.  They deny their sins publicly, even as they refuse to post their drunkalogs which would demonstrate them.  And ironically the depressive admires the mischief, unaware that his or her own blood may be the payment.  This may seem hard to believe, but just go to your local AA meeting and see this dynamic for yourself.  However, most members of AA are unaware that many innocent people died for their sins, and express shock, outrage, and indignation at the allegation (as shown by the comments below).  Of course, some are perfectly well aware.  They are easy to identify because they just pooped in their pants.

Meetings are often little more than a competition to boast about mischievous debauchery or who has the youngest girlfriend.  While in public they promote their club with pious reverence.  But if they did not sin then what do they have to make amends for?  Or if their sins were caused by a disease, then why dredge up the past?  The reason of course is that they amend because they did wrong, and did so by their own standards.  They are blatant hypocrites, which they explain away with the claim to have been in denial of the damage their drinking was causing for years if not decades despite long interludes of sobriety. And then they repeat the Craving Lie.  And we fall for it ourselves, thinking “Of course alcohol causes sins for some people and so what if AA is religious as long as it stops you from drinking?”

The newly self-diagnosed alcoholic must remain vigilant against the temptation of alcohol, which after one sip will take possession of his soul like a demon and force him to drink until blackout (a convenient excuse for not remembering their behavior).  Whereas the Christian must remain vigilant against self deception.  Bill Wilson claimed: “There had been no real infidelity, for loyalty to my wife, helped at times by extreme drunkenness, kept me out of those scrapes.”  (Big Book p. 3)  This of course is a well known lie – Bill’s infidelity is legendary.  It’s not surprising that alcoholics openly despise Christianity.

Ultimately the cult will be betrayed by its own need to recount its mischief, and this will break the back of the organization.

The Unlearnable Lesson

Many parents today believe that a happy childhood makes for a happy adult (or at least lowers the risk of being blamed for unhappiness).  So the parent indulges the child’s every wish and withholds criticism and discipline at all costs.  Ultimately they become locked in a battle of repressed resentment and anger, and the child must figure out the rules on his own.  The parent believes that boosting the child’s confidence and self-esteem will protect him from the fall, but of course this only heightens the trauma of it.  It’s no wonder that such children grow up to despise God’s Law, thinking: “I had to figure out the rules on my own, and now you want me to submit to this archaic crap?”  And no wonder they turn to the religion of addiction to mock the parent’s failure to play a god whose own self-deception blocks recognition of the original warning.  The biblical truth is actually validated by its denial, even as the victim’s mother now travels the country preaching to young people about the threat of an insidious and deadly medical disease that bears a striking resemblance to demon possession.

The punch line of every addiction memoir is: “I didn’t get better until they stopped trying to help me.”  The Fall is inevitable and its avoidance will end badly.

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AA’s Satanic Roots

Alastair Crowley chafed at the long and oppressive list of ‘Thou shalt nots’ in the bible, as well as the hypocrisy he saw in the church in which he followed his father who was a traveling preacher.  So he dreamed up a new religion whose only law was “Do as thou wilt.”  He named it Thelema and spent the rest of his life trying to justify it through a grand unified theory of science, magic, occult and drug use.  He founded two churches in which to practice this religion: OTO (Order of Oriental Templars) and  A∴A∴ (Argentium Astrum – Silver Star).  

The primary purpose of the religion was of course to convince women to sleep with him or engage in various depraved activities and to not complain about it afterwards.  Unfortunately he never achieved much success and died poor and alone, and highly reviled.   Continue reading

And the Lesson Today is HOW TO DIE!

Simon Astaire has his personal imprint on many high profile calamities.

Elliot Rodger and his six victims

Astaire is the family’s close personal adviser and main link to the outside world.  “So many people are asking what could have led this young man to take the lives of 6 innocent people and injure 13 others.  So yesterday I spoke with close family friend and author Simon Astaire who knew Elliot Rodger since he was a little boy and witnessed his parents’ struggle to raise him first hand.”

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Pepperdine U Sues AddictionMyth’s Ass Off!

Pepperdine University today filed papers to “sue the ass off” AddictionMyth for “all he’s worth” for impersonating and plagiarizing Public Policy Assistant Professor Angela Hawken.  Said Pepperdine President Andrew K. Benton, “That despicable troll committed the crimes of Impersonating a Revered University Official and then Plagiarizing Sacred Academic Texts when he copied her research wholesale and passed it off as her own.  I mean, I believe in academic freedom.  But crediting ideas to their rightful owner?  That’s just outrageous!” Continue reading

A Conversation with Drug Policy Expert Angela Hawken

Angela Hawken is a professor at Pepperdine U and a drug policy expert.  She is author of the book Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know.  AddictionMyth recently sat down with the raging loon for an intimate conversation by email:

Angela Hawken:  You have a blog post “written” by me.  Except that I did not write it.  I want it removed from your site or attributed to the correct author.

AddictionMyth:  Of course.  Please make a complete list of your demands so that I need make only one trip to the trash can.

AH:  I never wrote the words you attribute to me on your website.  I find it offensive that someone would post something under my name that I did not author.  Please let me know if you plan to remove the post.  If not, I will have to refer the case to the university lawyers.

AM:  Just try it.  I’ll have my Jews on you so fast you’ll think you’re an Asian girl!




Angela Hawken Explains Addiction

My book Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know was actually written by three people: me and Mark Kleiman (UCLA) and Jonathan Caulkins (CMU).  Inevitably there were some discrepancies and inconsistencies in our positions, and this caught the attention of some our more pedantic readers.  So I would like to take some time to clarify them.  I hope to get us all on the ‘same page’ so to speak.  Better late than never, right?  Continue reading

Oh My Gods

There is no cure for addiction, but we have a program that will help you manage it: first you must turn your will to God as you understand him.  Don’t worry it’s not a religious program.  If you are Christian then your god can be Jesus, and if you are another religion then you may choose the god(s) of that religion.  If you are not religious at all, then you may choose Science, or “Good Orderly Direction”, or even AA itself: “Group of Drunks”!   Continue reading

Lie Like the Wind

So you want to attend AA but not sure if you’re really an alcoholic? That’s ok.  You don’t have to know for sure.  All you have to do is lie. That’s what everyone else does.  Confess your powerlessness. Say that you want to stop drinking but can’t.  No matter how hard you tried. Who knows what that even means?  Maybe it’s really true.  Embrace your alcoholism.  Wear it like a badge.  Re-evaluate your entire life in this new context.

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Undiagnosed Alcoholic?

Age 19

I wasn’t an alcoholic, but drinking alcohol always helped me with being more confident and sociable.

Age 20

The envy, rage, and feeling of inferiority I felt almost made me explode with rage right there at the party, but instead I went to the bathroom and vented to myself in the mirror of how much I hate Vincent and wanted to kill him. I drank a lot more wine that night, pouring myself glass after glass. By the time Vincent arrived after his party at Leo’s, I greeted him with drunken contempt, and drank even more wine. I drank too much.  When I got home, I began to cry because of all the emotions I experienced that night. Continue reading

Making Amends

From: Dale Berkley, Attorney at Law, NIH
Subject: Cease and Desist (retraction)

Dear AddictionMyth,

This whole satire thing has become tiresome.  So I would like to be completely serious for a moment.  I hereby retract my “Cease and Desist” letter regarding your satirical posts on our NIH Scientists.  It was blatantly unconstitutional and a chilling infringement on your First Amendment rights.  I blush just to think about it.  You would think I’d know better, as a Senior Attorney at a prestigious government institution.  But here’s the problem.  You see, I am an alcoholic.   Continue reading

Red Face Club

AddictionMyth is excited to announce the inauguration of the Red Face Club1.  This is the club that you join when you feel your cheeks reddening and burning because one day you let your mouth get ahead of your brain and then just when your brain catches up you suddenly realize that google has already indexed and archived your words for all eternity, and curse the fact that you live in America which really should be more like Europe. Continue reading

Cease and Desist!

From: George Koob, Ph.D., Director, NIAAA, a Division of NIH
Subject: Cease and Desist
Date: May 7, 2014

Dear Mr “Addiction Myth”,

NIAAA (a division of NIH) demands the immediate retraction of the false, misleading, libelous, slanderous, and dangerous article entitled “A Conversation with Addiction Guru Aaron White, PhD”.  The ‘interview’ is a sham and both your original questions and the answers kindly provided by Dr White were modified to make him appear ridiculous and disparage the Science of Addiction.  I can assure you he is an accredited scientist and it is a legitimate field of medicine and Nora Volkow is brilliant and may win the Nobel Prize one day for curing Addiction.  So what if she sometimes practices her acceptance speech at work?  That is none of your business.

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Welcome to the Club: How to Cure a Heroin Addiction

“I had an intense craving for heroin that lasted for days and wouldn’t go away.  So I got my hands on some.  Then I took it, and it wasn’t enough.  So I took more, but that still wasn’t enough.  So I kept taking it until I was unconscious.  Then when I woke up feeling sick to my stomach, and I felt bad because I was withdrawing, so I took more.  Then I kept repeating the cycle.” Continue reading

Who Wants to Win a Nobel Prize?

It’s getting harder and harder these days to discover a cure for a deadly disease that’s worthy of the Nobel Prize.  All the ‘easy’ ones, like polio and measles, have already been taken, and all that’s left are the thorny ones, like cancer, heart disease, and AIDS.  But there’s still a juicy one ripe for the pickins: Addiction.  If you can find a cure for that, then you might as well start writing your acceptance speech.  I mean, if you can cure addiction, you’ll save millions of lives and rid the world the world of the scourge of drugs.  Yes people may still do drugs, but they won’t destroy their own lives with them.  They’ll do them for a time and have fun and move on.  Or not, but at least they’ll have to admit it’s a choice not a disease. Continue reading