This is the first video for the chapter “The Doctor’s Opinion” of the Alcoholics Anonymous – AA Big Book – 1st Step.
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If you prefer to read rather than watch the video, here is the transcript:
Welcome back to Big Book Basic Training.
Today we’re going to break down the Doctor’s Opinion.
The purpose of this chapter is to answers questions like:
What exactly is a physical allergy to alcohol?
What triggers this physical allergy in an alcoholic?
How does someone know whether or not they have this allergy, or how does one diagnose oneself?
What is altruism, and why must alcoholics learn to be altruistic if they hope to achieve sobriety, and maintain long-term sobriety?
And of course; who was the doctor in the doctor’s opinion, and why was “his” medical opinion on alcoholism so important to recovering alcoholics.
The doctor referred to in The Doctors Opinion is William D. Silkworth MD.
A BRIEF BACKROUND ON DOCTOR SILKWOTH
As a young intern at Bellevue Hospital in the year 1900 Doctor Silkworth found he was especially drawn to alcoholics, and that alcoholics were drawn to him.
Over the following decades his personal modesty, disarming gentleness and his profound understanding of the disease helped him secure the trust of his alcoholic patients; a vital component needed when working with alcoholics.
In the early 1930s his decades of tireless hard work finally paved the way for a new era that fused medical AND spiritual healing.
While working with a patient named Bill Wilson at Towns Hospital in New York City they became aware of and began to apply a practical, workable spiritual solution to alcoholism.
Centuries of a world without an answer to alcoholism ended when the blueprint for a spiritual experience or spiritual awakening was discovered and applied simultaneously in New York City and Akron Ohio.
By the time Doctor Silkworth wrote his two letter included in the doctors opinion he had 38 years’ experience working with alcoholics and by this time he had worked with over 40,000 alcoholics.
Please now open your book to The Doctor’s Opinion.
Let’s look at the title of the chapter; The Doctor’s Opinion
The dictionary definition for a MEDICAL opinion is:
“A judgment based on special knowledge and given by an expert: a medical opinion.”
So – when Doctor Silkworth wrote the two letters for this chapter he was providing his professional medical opinion. His medical opinion was not the same as my opinion or your opinion on alcoholism — it was the opinion of a medical doctor … a doctor with (at that time) 38 years’ experience working with alcoholics.
Who wrote the AA Big Book?
Before we get started it is important to note the first word “We”.
“We” is referring to the first 100 people to get sober in AA.
These first 100 alcoholics collectively wrote the AA Big Book in 1939.
At that time roughly 50 of the original members were living in New York City and 50 were living in Akron Ohio.
It was agreed by this group of 100 that Bill Wilson who was living in NYC at the time would write rough-drafts of the first 11 chapters of the big book one chapter at-a-time, and when Bill was done writing each chapter the group in New York would gather; read the chapter sentence by sentence – editing it as they went along.
When the group in New York was done editing each chapter in New York they would then mail their edited version to the group in Akron so the group in Akron could gather and edit the chapter the exact same way the group in Ney York edited it … one sentence or even one word at a time. Doctor Bob – the 1st person Bill worked with lived in Akron Ohio so Bob was there to facilitate the editing process in Akron Ohio.
They all agreed that when each edited chapter came back from Akron – that the then – fully edited version would be the completed chapter.
So … whenever you see the word “we” used in the first 164 pages of the Big Book remember the authors are referring to themselves – the first 100 members of AA who are also the authors of the Big Book.