A.A. History Fragment Number Ten
By Dick B.
© 2009 Dick B. All rights reserved
The Remarks and Conclusions of the Rockefeller Group, the Founders, and Dr. Silkworth that led to the formation of The Alcoholic Foundation on August 11, 1938, when Big Book preparation was moving forward with Bill Wilson. In a report on the activities of the Akron Christian Fellowship, John D. Rockefeller, Jr.’s representative Frank Amos said the following:
During December, 1937, Mr. William G. Wilson arranged an appointment with W. B. Richardson at Rockefeller Plaza. Mr. Wilson told briefly the story of how, after many vain attempts to discontinue the use of alcohol, he had achieved what he believed was a permanent cure, through what he termed a religious or spiritual process.
A dinner conference was arranged. And those present were Messrs Scott, Richardson, Chipman, and Amos (the Rockefeller group); two other non-alcoholics, Dr. W.D. Silkworth (Bill Wilson’s physician and chief psychiatrist at Towns Hospital) and Dr. Leonard Strong (Wilson’s brother-in-law), and “the following ex-alcoholics, William G. Wilson, Henry G. Parkhurst, William J. Ruddell, Ned Poynter and Joe Taylor, all of New York and vicinity; Mr. John Henry Fitzhugh Mayo of near Baltimore, Maryland; Dr. Robert H. Smith and J. Paul Stanley of Akron, Ohio.” The conference lasted five hours.
Dr. Silkworth, Psychiatrist at Charles B. Towns Hospital, New York, which is rated as a leading hospital in this country for the treatment of alcoholics, made the statement that he had treated a number of these ex-alcoholics present, some of them several times, and that not one of them, in his opinion, could have been permanently cured by any means known to medical science or to Psychiatry.
He went on to state without reservation that while he could not tell just what it was that these men had which had effected their “cure,” yet he was convinced they were cured and that whatever it was, it had his complete endorsement. He stated that alcoholism is, medically, an incurable disease. These statements from an outstanding Psychiatrist and a leading authority on the treatment of alcoholism, made a very profound impression upon the non-alcoholics present.
A meeting was arranged for Mr. Wilson to talk to a friend of Mr. Amos and within two weeks this friend accepted without reservation the principles of the “cure” by a religious or spiritual approach. Over eight months have elapsed since that time, and there is every evidence that this party is permanently cured, although it is the policy of these ex-alcoholics through their own experience in working with other alcoholics, not to accept any alcoholic as permanently cured until a considerable period of time has elapsed. That period usually ranges from two to three years. The present leaders of the movement, all of them ex-alcoholics, have been teetotalers for periods ranging from two to four years.
Author Dick B. obtained the Frank Amos report quoted above, with the permission of archivist Paul L., during Dick’s two visits to the Stepping Stones Archives at Bedford Hills, New York. For documentation of Dr. Silkworth’s further affirmations that alcoholism was curable by the power of the “Great Physician,” Jesus Christ, see Dale Mitchel, Silkworth: The Little Doctor Who Loved Drunks: The Biography of William Duncan Silkworth, M.D. (Center City, MN: Hazelden, 2002), pages 44, 47-52, 67-68, 106; Norman Vincent Peale, The Positive Power of Jesus Christ: Life-Changing Adventures in Faith (Pauling, NY: Foundation for Christian Living, 1980), pages 59-63; Dick B., Cured: Proven Help for Alcoholics and Addicts, 2d ed. (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 2006), pages 9-12, 15-18.
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