Hey good morning. My name is Derek Stone with http://bigbookwizard.net and we’re going to launch into video number two of this very new season that I just re-launched. You might have seen some of the videos that I’ve done in the past. We did about 18 weeks of the big book study and I’m Reviving it and we’re starting over and we’re going to be in The Doctor’s Opinion today.
Sorry for the big white blankness on the screen here. Usually that’s where I put the recap from the previous week and I just I didn’t have time to do it. If you’re watching this live from the link that I put out on my patreon, welcome. Good to see you.
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So I’ll just take a minute to wrap up. We read the first letter of the doctor’s opinion Regarding William Duncan Silkworth, his expertise in the field of alcoholism and addiction recovery, his treatment of some of the contributing authors of the big book including Bill Wilson, and his statement that real alcoholics are A) hopeless and then a paragraph later his descriptor, his use of the word recovered in describing the progress that he had observed, and so those are some of those two words juxtaposed next to each other is pretty remarkable.
So that’s kind of what we’re looking at and we’re going to read. The Doctor’s Opinion is made up of two letters primarily and what we’re going to read today is the bit of narration that occurs between those two letters. So you know, the doctor’s opinion isn’t numbered correctly. It’s in the Roman numeral section so I don’t even know how to tell you what page to reference and I don’t know that it would help you anyway. So what you want to do if you want to just flip past all the forwords in your book. If you hit Bill’s Story you’ve gone too far. It’s the chapter right before Bill’s Story. I always joke that this is one of the ways that you know the book was written by drunks because the first chapter of the book is not chapter 1.
So, okay. If you’re there, you’ll see that first page where it says “to whom it may concern” And if you flip a page, we’re going to be on the back of that and after you see the signature of William Silkworth’s name you’ll see the narration between and that’s where we’re going to pick up today. So this is, you know, Bill writing and being edited by the first hundred men and women.
So “the physician who at our request gave us this letter has been kind enough to enlarge upon his views in an above statement which follows.” So he gives kind of a brief synopsis of that first letter. It’s only a handful of paragraphs and I can just see, like, Bill getting that letter and reading it and being thoroughly dissatisfied and saying “well thanks Doc for the effort but can you go a little bit deeper? Can you give us a little bit more?” and that certainly is what the second letter is. It’s a couple of pages and it goes really in-depth into what alcoholism is, what the solution is as a doctor sees it, and why the doctor feels powerless to implement the solution himself as a medical professional and why he Marvels and encourages real alcoholics everywhere – whom he calls hopeless – to engage the program outlined in this book and so that’s pretty cool.
He says “In this statement he confirms what we who have suffered alcoholic torture must believe – that the body of the alcoholic is quite as abnormal as his mind” and I’ve actually taken the time in my book to jot down every instance that I’ve found where the big book authors juxtaposed body – and mind maybe that’s the wrong word – but they pair those two things together and talk about body and mind, mind and body, physical and mental, mental and physical. So I will actually post a list of those to go along with this video. I’ll post an attachment maybe or a full post on the free section of my patreon if you’re interested in all those lines where they talk about body and mind.
So the body of the alcoholic is quite as abnormal as his mind. Okay so we’re dealing with something that is in fact – we can locate physically that there is a part of us that is different physically, not just mentally or even spiritually and actually if you know me and you know my views and we’ve had any lengthy discussions with me, then you know that I believe that we’re not all that different spiritually… but certainly mentally and physically different from our fellows.
Okay continue reading. It says “It did not satisfy us to be told that we could not control our drinking just because we were maladjusted to life, that we were in full flight from reality, or were outright mental defectives. These things were true to some extent, in fact, a considerable extent with some of us. But we are sure that our bodies were sickened as well. In our belief, any picture of the alcoholic which leaves out this physical factor is incomplete.” and I would agree.
You know, that this is something they had to zero in on back when this was written because everybody – virtually anybody – could look at an alcoholic in the thirties and say “well this person is full flight from reality they’re suffering from a maladjustment to life”. We might even say today “Restless, Irritable, and Discontent” You know, they’re emotionally maladjusted, they haven’t reconciled their past – we’ll talk a lot about, you know, sort of the mental aspects of recovery and – look all that stuff is true – but we also have to acknowledge that something happens to these people when they drink alcohol that physically alters their level of desire for alcohol – this phenomenon of craving that the doctor will talk about in the next letter – and so any picture that leaves out that physical factor is incomplete.
Now, ironically, I would offer, I would observe, that if this were being written today – you know, you can go to an arbitrary number of meetings in an arbitrary number of days and hear no shortage of data pointing to this physical factor: “one is too many, a thousand never enough”, “don’t drink the first one and you won’t get drunk”, :put the plug in the jug”, “don’t drink no matter what” – like you’ll hear an abundance of data about those things.
Oftentimes what’s being left out today is the mental component. Back then that was, like, just commonplace. They just understood maladjusted to life, but, you know, today we tend to leave out that mental component – all the thought processes and struggles that occur prior to the first drink – and so I think it’s a little ironic they are emphasizing this back then, because people overlooked it and I think today it would be a little different.
What are your thoughts on that? Go ahead and leave your opinions in the comments and I’d love to read them.
Okay, so the next paragraph: “The doctor’s theory that we have an allergy to alcohol interests us.” Now it’s been pointed out to me and, by my own reading confirmed, that the big book authors in the 164 never outright use the word “allergy”. They never endorse it nor refute it. What they’re saying right here is that that theory is interesting to us. They go on to say “As layman” – meaning, as non-medical professionals – “our opinion as to its soundness may, of course, mean little. Hey, we can’t comment on, you know – I mean, the word “allergy”, as far as I understand it, medically speaking, is that the body produces histamines and we could do a skin test for it, you know. Is that existent in any of us? Well, I don’t know. I’m not a medical professional, but doubtful. Right? So, as layman, as non-professionals, like, I can’t speak to whether that’s a medically correct term: allergy.
He goes on to say “but as ex problem drinkers, we can say that his explanation makes good sense. It explains many things for which we cannot otherwise account.” So as a non-medical professional I can’t speak to the soundness of the use of the word “allergy” from a medical perspective but, as an ex-problem drinker or as an alcoholic, I can absolutely locate the allergy model as an accurate analogy. At the very least, it’s an interesting analogy for the idea that – well, you know the layman’s use of the word allergy simply means that when I put something in my system that I’m allergic to a physical reaction, that’s averse, occurs that is not in keeping with the majority of people who ingest that substance and that’s certainly true of the alcoholic.
Again, whether it’s medically classifiable as an allergy, or just classifiable as an allergy in layman’s terms, that’s up for more intelligent people than me to debate and certainly more intelligent than the big book authors, but it is an interesting theory and it does serve as a good analogy to explain really stuff we can’t account for. Like the fact that, you know, if I just wake up at 6 a.m. and make it to that business meeting at 7 and sign the paperwork I’m sitting pretty and getting a fat paycheck and at 10 p.m. I just want to have a drink to settle my nerves and then I end up drinking until 4 in the morning and missing that appointment. How do I account for that? That’s not a maladjustment to life. That’s not a mental thing going on. That’s a physical compulsion beyond my control. It’s almost as if something’s triggered inside of me once I ingest alcohol and that’s why it’s the allergy and allergy is so powerful as a good representation whether or not it’s medically sound. Makes sense?
Okay, next paragraph. “Though we work out our Solution on the spiritual as well as an altruistic plane, we favor hospitalization for the alcoholic who is very jittery or befogged.” I believe they’re talking about medical detox here. You can’t safely medically detox on your own in a lot of cases. An individual contemplating that is really well advised to seek out professional help because a detox from alcohol can kill person and so we do favor hospitalization. We do partner with professional organizations from time to time, at the very least, to get a person through a medical detox. Whether or not you value the rehab industry as a whole – that’s a whole different conversation. I’d love to hear your thoughts on that in the comments below. For sure I’d entertain those and even respond to some of them, but you can’t deny that what they’re talking about here is some form of medical detox and the role that doctors do play in those early, early, early, early stages of – you can’t even call it recovery – just sobriety, right? Just drying out an alcoholic to the point that they can hear the solution.
It goes on to say “More often than not, it is imperative that a man’s brain be cleared before he is approached, as he has then better chance of understanding and accepting what we have to offer” and that’s certainly true in my experience, that a person who is under the influence currently probably can’t work the steps. A person who is convulsing and shaking due to delirium tremens probably has difficulty working the steps. Although we do have historical data that shows that a lot of the people working the steps in the early days were shaking so badly that they couldn’t write their own 4th step. Sponsors were writing them for them – even though they weren’t called sponsors, but that’s a whole different discussion.
So, you know, there is a case for, you know, letting the body clear out and detox a bit so that the mind can fully absorb the spiritual solution. S that’s essentially the end. Let me just double-check in my book. This is the text that I typed up. There might be one more line that he says before the next letter begins – yeah “The doctor writes:” that’s all he says so that’s all we’re going to cover today.
I think that’s enough. I think I find that the shorter these videos are the more digestible they are. I could talk for hours on end on this stuff, and I have on several occasions, but, you know, I want to make this information digestible so I’m going to go ahead and sign off there.
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