Moral Psychology and Synthetic Knowledge

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Good morning. Derek Stone here with and I’m excited to have you on. We are going to be talking today about The Doctor’s Opinion, continuing our conversation from last week and, before we do the review, just a quick disclaimer: I do not claim membership in, affiliation with, or representation of, any particular organization or facility, group, or anything – 12-step or otherwise. I’m not here offering professional advice and these videos are not meant to replace any services that you might need that might prove necessary including counseling, medication, detox, treatment, Etc.  So take these videos as educational and for whatever value they provide in your life, but do not view this as a replacement for sponsorship, meeting attendance, anything like that.

So, what we were talking about last week was The Doctor’s Opinion and four main points that I extrapolated from last week’s video and, if you haven’t seen that yet, it’s over on YouTube or on Patreon, wherever you can find it.  It’s also on the website and the four points are that any description of the alcoholism omitting the physical factor is incomplete. In other words, any description of the alcoholic that leaves out what happens to an alcoholic after taking the first drink – now that’s an incomplete picture.

Also the word allergy which Dr. Silkworth uses in the book, from a layman’s point of view – which we are, the big book authors are, we’re Layman reading it – seems to be accurate and “allergy” as an analogy, at the very least, to describe what this physical factor entails.  The fact that once we take alcohol into our system, it triggers some type of reaction that’s abnormal and averse and not in keeping with the majority of people who drink.

The spiritual solution is altruistic and spiritual.  The spiritual solution is spiritual?  That’s a little redundant – but the solution is spiritual and altruistic.  That tells us that – and they do also allude to medical detox maybe being appropriate, or even necessary in some cases, before a person can fully accept a spiritual solution to their problems.

Okay.  So we’re going to be in The Doctor’s Opinion.  At the start of the second letter. I’m really awkward with these Roman numeral page numbers, especially since I’m using this Study Edition and it doesn’t have all the forwards in the beginning.  You know, the forward to the first edition, second Edition – all that.  So the Roman numerals for this book are a little off from, you know, if you’re using the typical blue book or even the little red read book . Page numbers might look different so I’m not going to attempt to give you the Roman numeral page numbers.  I’ll just say go to The Doctor’s Opinion.  Start at the very beginning and from the very start you’re going to look for the place the second letter starts with simply “The doctor writes:”

I want to say that’s two pages in or one page and if you turn the page once from the very beginning of the doctor’s opinion you should see the start of the second letter and that’s where we left off last week.  So “The doctor writes:  The subject presented in this book seems to be to me to be of Paramount importance to those Afflicted with alcoholic addiction.”

Couple of interesting things to note.  First of all, “alcoholic addiction” is quite a term and there’s a lot of hubbub in certain rooms regarding how a person introduces themselves and “alcoholic and addict” and but this is an interesting term here “alcoholic addiction” I just think it’s worth noting that.

The more important thing I’d like to discuss is “that the subject matter represented in this book seems to be… of Paramount importance to those afflicted with alcoholic addiction”  The subject matter isn’t alcoholic addiction.  The subject matter is how to connect with God and they tell us that in several places. The most notable one which that I’m going to reference is page of 45 where it says “Where and how are we to find this Power?” meaning this Power Greater Than Ourselves and then the next sentence says “Well that’s exactly what this book is all about.  It’s about where and how to find this power.

So that’s a subject that ought to be of paramount importance to those afflicted with alcoholic addiction – not alcoholism. I mean, obviously we need to know what the problem is before we can attempt to solve it, but the real meat and potatoes, if you will – the real message of depth and weight – is going to be the spiritual and altruistic solution.

The doctor continues with: “I say this after many years experience as medical director of one of the oldest hospitals in the country treating alcoholic and drug addiction.”  Again, just pointing out alcoholic addiction.  The doctor’s opinion, right?  He worked with Bill.  Hoowever that’s quite an endorsement that he is saying that this book is of extreme importance – paramount importance. Paramount meaning “above everything else”.  This is the most important piece of literature someone suffering from alcoholic and drug addiction can read according to the leading expert at one of the oldest hospitals treating alcoholic and drug addiction.

That’s quite an endorsement – like, none of the book he studied to become a doctor, none of the books he’s read since becoming a doctor, none of those books he’s offered any of his patients up to this point, are more useful than this book according to him in this letter.  Now that’s pretty powerful.

He goes on to say: “There was, therefor, a real sense of satisfaction when I was asked to contribute a few words on a subject which is covered in such a masterly detail in these pages.”  So he’s not begrudgingly writing this letter.  He wasn’t paid to write these letters.  He is writing this letter happily.  He’s excited to be invited into this.  This is something that warms his heart as a medical professional to be able to contribute to what he considers to be such an important book.

He goes on to say: “We doctors have realized for a long time that some form of moral Psychology was of urgent importance to alcoholics, but its application presented difficulties beyond our conception.”  Well, now that’s a pretty deep sentence right?  He is saying for quite some time the members of the medical fraternity have known that the solution for alcoholism seems to be beyond the scope of medicine.  “Moral Psychology” – that’s an interesting term. I looked it up a while ago to try to figure out what the heck up means and the definition is just as vague as the term itself, but it is referring to basically a form of psychology that has to do with altruism and spirituality – not the inner workings of the mind, not the inner workings of the body, but the inner workings of the spirit.

So how do medical professionals talk about such things?  Well they have to apply a somewhat scientific term to it, which they call “moral psychology”  Later on, the doctor refers to this thing as the “psychic change”.  These are terms that medical doctors are a little more comfortable using.  They’re a little more professional sounding because we can’t just say “Spiritual Awakening” as a doctor, right?

But again, they’ve known that for quite some time.  There’s an interesting section of the book where Carl Jung, the father of modern psychology, is talking to one of the contributors of this book and tells him, basically, “you’re hopeless” and we’ll get to that page a little later in the big book study, but it’s somewhat important right now and – you know, watch me not be able to find it.  That would be hilarious.

Okay. So it’s basically page 26 and 27 that tell the story of the man who goes to – and I’m not a historical buff with some of this stuff.  If you’re watching this and you know who this individual is, going to meet with Carl Jung, leave it in the comments.  I’d be happy to be edified on that – but he goes to talk to Carl Jung and Jung basically tells him “you’re hopeless” and the man says “We’ll why are you saying I’m hopeless? Is there no exception?”

I mean, if you went to a doctor for a condition that you had and the doctor said “Sorry, but you’re hopeless” your first question would be “Are you sure?  Like, there’s not even one case of somebody recovering from this?  Like, nobody gets better from this?  You’re saying I’m just stuck?”  That would be the question I would imagine and Jung’s response to that “Yes.  There is. Exceptions to cases such as yours have been occurring since early times.  Here and there, once in awhile, alcoholics have had what are called vital spiritual experiences.  To me these occurrences are phenomena.  They appear to be in the nature of huge emotional displacements and rearrangements.  Ideas, emotions, and attitudes which were once the guiding forces of the lives of these men are suddenly cast to one side, and a completely new set of conceptions conceptions and motives begins to dominate them.”

I probably should have created a slide. I didn’t realize I’d be reading all of this ahead of time. Anyway, we’ll skip to the part where he says “In fact, I have been trying to produce some such emotional rearrangement within you.  With many individuals the methods which I employed have been successful, but I’ve never been successful with an alcoholic of your description.”

Right. So these types of Alcoholics, these hopeless alcoholics – and we’re going to discover why Silkworth considers them hopeless next week – what the doctor is saying is confirmed by Carl Jung’s words on page 27, which says “I’ve been known for a while that this is going to take some sort of spiritual connectedness” but we have Carl Jung saying as a psychologist saying “I’ve been unable to produce that in you” and we have Dr. Silkworth as a medical doctor saying “I’ve been unable to do this in you.  We know the solution is beyond the scope of our individual practices.”

You know, which always amazes me, you know, when I encounter someone and I offer them a spiritual solution and they’re convinced “well I just need to get my medication straight” or “I need to go get my psychological issues and my trauma straightened out and that’ll be fine” or… it’s like, okay.  Keep relying on and medical doctors and psychologists when the experts in both those fields have said this stuff we can’t help.  So it’s just interesting the historical reference of some of this literature that we’ve lost touch with.

Anyway, I’ve gone off the deep end on that.  So he goes on to say “It’s application presents difficulties beyond our conception.  What with our ultra-modern standards, our scientific approach to everything, we are perhaps not well equipped to apply the powers of good that lie outside or synthetic knowledge.” and that’s just a fancy way of saying, like, all the facts and figures and data crunching and tables and research that we have at our disposal doesn’t scratch the surface of the spiritual Realm – the powers of good, so to speak.  How do we go about approaching that?  It’s outside the realm of all this concrete, tangible stuff that we’re working with.

What’s interesting is that oftentimes newcomers are very much stuck on this as well, because they can’t see it, feel it, hear it, taste it, smell it.  It lies outside the powers of their own synthetic, observable, tangible, knowledge they disregard it entirely and view it entirely as being out right – you know, later, that part in the book that says “at first what seems a flimsy reed, eventually becomes the loving hand of God” – it’s like, yeah, the stuff feels like it’s not going to help because I can’t grasp it with my tangible, synthetic, knowledge.

So this this applies here specifically to doctors but can also apply to the newcomer who’s struggling.  Okay next paragraph.  “Many years ago one of the leading contributors to this book came under our care in his hospital and while here he acquired some ideas she put in a practical application at once.”  Couple of things.  The application of the 12 steps – and that’s what they’re talkin about, by the way — the leading contributor they’re talking about is Bill Wilson.  Now he did not write the book like a lot of people think.  He was one of the leading contributors.  He wrote the majority of it.  What he wrote was heavily edited.  There’s a whole chapter he didn’t write.  He didn’t write the doctor’s opinion, obviously – or most of it – and so to say that Bill Wilson wrote the book is a little bit incorrect.  He didn’t write the book Alcoholics Anonymous.  He was one of the leading contributors to it – the main driving force behind it, but it had several co-authors.  That’s why he’s not credited with authorship.  You know, if you look on the title page he’s not credited with authorship for the book.

So “One of the leading contributors of the book came under our care in this hospital” and Silkworth tells the story in the first letter about Bill Wilson coming to Town’s Hospital “and while here he acquired some ideas which he put in the practical application at once”  So the application of the stuff is practical, even though it’s spiritual and lies outside the bounds of synthetic knowledge.  Applying these things has practical, tangible results and he puts it into application at once.  There’s an important set of words: “at once” – and we’ll see this throughout that direction for working the steps, throughout the rest of the 164 “at once”, “immediately”, “next we launched” – like, it’s always action, action, action, more action.

Okay.  We have time for one more paragraph I think.  The next paragraph “Later, he requested the privilege of being allowed to tell his story to other patients here.” – meaning, Towns Hospital – “and with some misgiving, we consented.  The cases we have followed through have been most interesting, in fact many of them are amazing.”  In other words, Bill Wilson isn’t a fluke.  He didn’t just have some kind of weird, you know, Acid Trip in the hospital and the doctor just said – Well I’ve heard that story before – that Bill’s detoxing when he sees this flash of light or whatever and he shares it with Silkworth and Silkworth is pretty convinced that it’s something to do with the medication and the detox but he says “Hey run with it.  Whatever is going to help you, run with it”  Well that’s true that that was what Silkworth was thinking, but it’s not true that that’s what Bill Wilson was going through because if it had been merely just some sort of psychosis-induced hallucination on Bill’s part he would not have been able to induce that in other people at this hospital.

But here we’re seeing the doctor saying “look, we followed through with a lot of cases of people that Bill came to work with and many of them are amazing.  Many of these cases are amazing.” So there is a track record of duplicate-ability – if that’s a word – duplicate-ability.  It’s duplicatable.  Bill is duplicating, in other people, the experience that he himself has had.

“The unselfishness of these men as we have come to know them, the entire absence of profit motive, and their community spirit is indeed inspiring to one who has labored long and wearily in this alcoholic field.  They believe in themselves” – now whether or not you work professionally in the alcoholic field or simply of hung around the rooms for a considerable amount of time, when you labor long and wearily in the company of alcoholics and addicts who are attempting to, and failing, then reattempting, and failing, and reattempting to and failing, and reattempting to and – you know, the retreads and the in-and-out and the revolving door and you see this year after year.  People dying and people struggling.  Witnessing someone finally get it and being absent of profit motive, in community spirit and unselfishness and to see that personality change in people where they’re just selflessly giving of themselves.  Like, that’s amazing.  That is indeed inspiring whether you work professionally or just hang around the rooms.  Like to finally see that click and someone is absolutely inspiring…

Later on, on page 89, they say “This is an experience you must not miss.  “We know you will not want to miss it.”  That’s powerful to me and the doctor writes “they believe in themselves and still more in the power which pulls chronic alcoholics back from the gates of death.”  You know, back from the gates of death, that’s an interesting, you know that’s sort of a throwback to page 30 where the big book authors say “Many pursue it into the gates of insanity and death” and so the doctors’ saying, you know, this power pulls us back from that, but notice that “power” is capitalized here.  Capital P power and one of the rules that we’re going to adhere to during this big book study is that anytime we see a word – I think I just had a glitch in my camera, sorry – anytime we see a word that’s capitalized in the book that normally wouldn’t be, we know that that word is referring to God, and I wrote an interesting – well, I think it’s interesting – I did some research and wrote an article, and maybe I’ll post it in the description below – a link to it. I wrote an article about, you know, every instance of the word God or a version of the word God in the book.  I’ll post a link to it in the description to that.  I also wrote another one called the seven names for God that you’ll wish you understood sooner and maybe I’ll post a link to that as well.

Anyway, that’s all the time we have today.  We will stop there. I just want to give a quick reminder that I’m giving away one copy of the Study Edition big book, not mine obviously, because I filled this thing with notes and I own that.  It’s mine.  I’ve had it for years, but I’ll send you a brand new copy of the Study Edition big book.  It’s got dictionary definitions in the back from the 1937 dictionary so the definitions that were in use at the time it was written.  A word and subject index in the back so you can look up things like how many times does the book use the word “recovered” or “disease” or “must”.  It’s got blank pages.  Every other page in this book is blank.  Maybe you can see that, with lines on it so that you can take notes.  Blank pages every other page is blank so you can take some notes and it’s got historical footnotes has got these Nifty little ribbons to keep places.  I’ll give you a choice of burgundy or black.  It’s a nice hardcover.  It is completely free to join the contest.  You join through

I’ll put a link in the bottom below and I’ll tell you there’s exactly, last time I checked, there’s exactly one person enrolled in this contest.  So if you enrolled, you know who you are.  So go ahead and sign up for that and your name will stay in until you win and I’ll be sending one of those out every month and actually next week I’ll be announcing the winner to that contest who’s getting that Study Edition big book.

Also, if you’d like one of these fancy bookmarks I created, you know, you can’t see it very well but there’s the front, there’s the back.  So… nice glossey, sturdy bookmark.  Consider supporting me on patreon.  It’s only $5 a month and I’ll send you one of these bookmarks as a way of saying thank you and if you want to connect with me on social media there’s a lot of my info right there that you can.  I won’t read it all but you can take it down and to find me on social media and on the internet.  With that, I bid you adieu.  Until next time I’ll say God bless thanks for attending.

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