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Will Godfrey Will Godfrey

What Happens When You Invite AA-Baiting Stanton Peele to AA’s National Board Meeting?

15 Substance

It’s difficult to think of a more prominent or outspoken opponent of Alcoholics Anonymous and the disease model of addiction than Stanton Peele—the ever-provocative addiction theorist, author of books like Resisting 12 Step Coercion (2001), and noted Substance.com contributor. So it may surprise those who know him to learn that he was once invited to the national AA board meeting—it may surprise them less to learn that he was ejected from it.

In a feature titled “Banned for Life” at Esquire—where Peele’s daughter, Anna, is an editor—Peele Sr. shares how he has been kicked out of a meditation session in Vancouver and a bar in San Francisco, before launching into the main event:

…somehow I (probably the leading anti-AA theorist in America) got invited to a national AA board meeting at a New York hotel by some guy I didn’t know, but who thought he could bring me into the fold. While I was there, an AA meeting broke out.  

They had three recovering people speak. Each was supposed to speak for five minutes; each went on for about an hour. I leaned over to the man who had invited me, and whispered—”Even you must be bored out of your skull!”  One woman spoke who had been homeless as a teen, and two men who never drank at home, and then went berserk in college—and kept on going. Afterwards, I went up to a board member, who happened to be President of Rockefeller University, and I asked him, “Do you give your children alcohol?” He said he did let them drink wine at dinners when they became teens. I said, “You need to tell everyone in AA that it’s their abstinence fixation growing up that seems to produce a majority of alcoholics, judging from tonight, and extremely disturbed childhoods, in the other case.”  

I then went up to a woman who edited the AA periodical “The Grapevine,” and told her she needed to do an article on that topic.  

Right about then, the man who invited me came over and said, “They’ve told me that you need to leave.”