The diagnosis for alcoholism, that it’s, but a symptom of a greater malady (spiritual disease), came from the study of C.G. Jung in Switzerland. CGJ also told Rolland that modern science had no viable solution for alcoholism, and that the only solution he knew of was to have a spiritual awakening (complete psychic change), but that he (CGJ) did not know how to effect such a change. Rolland returned to N.Y, City looking for a spiritual awakening and discovered the N.Y. Oxford Group who had been studying first century Christianity, and discovered six steps or principles that if put into daily action in a person’s life could and would effect a complete psychic change. Rolland applied those six principles to his daily actions and after he experienced a spiritual awakening he carried the message to Ebby Thatcher, who passed it to Bill Wilson at the Towne’s Hospital in Brooklyn, N.Y. Six months later after many failures, Bill passed his spiritual awakening to an Akron Ohio Surgeon named Robert Holbrook Smith, and Alcoholics Anonymous was born on June the 10th 1935. Considering the fact that Waynedale News was founded in 1932 AA’s 1935 birth date doesn’t seem so old.
Here then is Bill’s story of how he passed the diagnosis for alcoholism, and it’s solution for a “complete psychic change,” to Dr. Bob as it’s told in the book, “Dr. Bob and the Good Old-Timers”:
Bill, after pacing up and down the lobby of the Mayflower Hotel in Akron Ohio suddenly realized that he needed to talk to another drunk in order to keep from drinking. Instead of joining the merrymakers at the bar, “Bill got the divine guidance to look at the ministers’ directory in the hotel lobby, and a strange thing happened, he put his finger on one name-Dr. Tunks.” “So Bill called Dr. Tunks, and Dr. Tunks gave him a list of names. One of them was Dr. Norman Shepard who said, “I have to go to New York tonight, but you call Henrietta Seiberling, she will see you.”
Bill remembered having once met a Mr. Seiberling, former president of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, assumed that this was his wife, and couldn’t imagine calling her with such a plea. “But,” Bill recalled, something kept saying, “You’d better call her.”
Henrietta was to become a vital link in the events, which were gathered around the birth and development of Alcoholics Anonymous. Henrietta, of course, was not the wife of the rubber company president, but his daughter-in-law, and she lived in the gatehouse of the Seiberling estate on Portage Path; just a short distance from Dr. Smith’s home.
Henrietta tried to get Bob and his wife Anne over to her house that Saturday night to introduce them to Bill, but at that moment Bob was upstairs in a stupor after having brought Anne home a Mother’s Day plant and then collapsed on the floor.
But as Dr. Bob recalled, Henrietta was very persistent and she bore in to such an extent that Anne had to finally tell her I was bagged and had passed all capability of listening to any conversation, and the visit would have to be postponed!”
Henrietta called the Smith’s home again on Sunday. “Will Bob be able to make it today?”
Bob said, “I don’t remember ever feeling much worse, but I was very fond of Henrietta, and Anne did say we would go over.” “So we started over. On the way, I extracted a solemn promise from Anne that 15 minutes of this stuff would be tops. I didn’t really want to talk to this mug or anybody else, and we’d really make it snappy.” Now these are the facts: we got there at 5 o’clock and it was 11:15 when we left.”
What actually happened to the two men? One of the shortest and most appealing versions came from Dr. Bob’s old schoolmate Arba J. Irvin, who at least gave proper recognition to what was to become AA’s unofficial beverage-coffee-then selling at 15 cents a pound.
“…And so they got together and started talking about helping each other and helping men with similar difficulties. They went out into the city’s lower edges, the city of Akron, and gathered together drunks, and they started talking and drinking coffee. Bob’s wife told me she had never made so much coffee as she did in the next two weeks. And they stayed there drinking coffee and starting this group of one helping the other, and that was the way AA developed.”
In “AA Comes Of Age,” written about twenty years later, after Bill had analyzed the event in the light of subsequent experience, he said that he “went very slowly on the fireworks of religious experience.” First he talked about his own experience until Bob “got a good identification with me.” Then, as Dr. William D. Silkworth had urged, Bill hammered home the physical aspects of the disease, “the verdict of inevitable annihilation.” This, Bill felt, brought about in Dr. Bob an “ego deflation” that” triggered him into a new life.” To be continued in the next issue of The Waynedale News….
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