I like this essay because it explains a lot of the strange dynamics of AA that destroy relationships, in particular the shunning dynamic which I find personally very odd and hurtful and seems to be more common, than in secular life, when religious cults like AA get involved. It is inevitable when you have a closed belief system that cannot accept the value of others, which is why you see it a lot where cults are involved: disowning, excommunication, disconnection, disfellowshipping are the kinds of words used to disrespect people who do not have the same beliefs or act the way you want, and in AA it happens all the time.
It is justified by saying that it preserves the integrity of the organization or relationship, but on closer examination it is often those cutting off that are being abusive, or being abused. Think of what it means to get 13th stepped: Once you’ve served your purpose, you can be called an alcoholic who’s putting others’ ‘sobriety in jeopardy’. That’s a really unhealthy way to end a relationship with someone they felt the need to bang. It leaves the person feeling sexually toxic, when in reality the 13th stepper is just moving on to a new victim.
It’s also a way that cult leaders and narcissists use to cut others out of the lives they wish to control. It is not uncommon for an abusive guru to tell someone to give up family and friends.
Shunning almost always comes from an attitude of superiority and a deep need for control: “If you don’t live your life the way we say, you’re dead to us”. There are healthy adult ways to communicate and have boundaries, and then there are the fearful and coercive ways of destructive cults.