from Psychology Today

You Remember James Frey?

Is he an example of a writer who completely outgrew his addiction?

by Stanton Peele in Addiction in Society

Recovery manual, or what?

It’s hard to summarize the James Frey story. He wrote a wildly best-selling memoir about his drug and alcohol addiction, A Million Little Pieces, in which it turned out he exaggerated the extremity of his behavior and for which Oprah famously confronted him on her show.One thing that was ignored about Pieces was that it was anti-12-step and that Frey opposed the disease theory of addiction throughout his book, including his stay at Hazelden (the name of the rehab was disguised).

“I’d rather have that (relapse and death) than spend my life in Church basements listening to people whine and bitch and complain. That’s not productivity to me, nor is it progress. It is the replacement of one addiction with another.”

“I know I won’t ever believe in the Twelve Steps. People like you keep saying it’s the only way, so I’m thinking that I might as well just put myself out of my misery now and save myself and my family the pain.”

“Addiction is not a disease…Diseases are destructive medical conditions that human beings do not control…I don’t think it does me any good to accept anything other than myself and my own weakness as a root cause.”

Everyone just assumed Frey was a 12-stepper, and that his book was a recovery manual—in his earlier appearances on Oprah he seemed to play to this assumption, without declaring himself one way or the other.

Flash forward. Frey took a hit from Oprah and his publisher, but he recovered to write several more adult best sellers and then started his own production company. In subsequent Oprah shows he and the host kissed and made up. Frey has emerged from the entire experience fundamentally unapologetic about it.

He was thrilling, condescending, rude, empowering, and haughty. “He didn’t show an ounce of self-doubt,” says Philip Eil, then a first-year nonfiction student. “Not a second of wavering. He was 110 percent that there was no truth, that he would live forever through his books.”

Meanwhile, Frey turned himself into a highly profitable industry (now called Big Jim Industries!) and wrote the best-selling young-adult series “The Lorien Legacies,” of which the first book, I Am Number Four, was made into a hit film by DreamWorks.

So, there is a lot of good news about Frey, and many people find Frey is an extremely good story teller and writer.

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