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Good morning, Derek Stone here with bigbookwizard.net and we’ve got a great big book study for you today. Before we jump into a review of last week, just a quick disclaimer, I’m a life coach interventionist, speaker and man in recovery. I do not claim membership in affiliation with or representation of any organization, facility or group, 12-step or otherwise. All references to Alcoholics Anonymous are made in regard to the book which shares that title. These online meetings, big book studies and recovery videos are for educational purposes only and are not presented nor to be construed as professional advice and or an adequate replacement for other recovery efforts which may prove necessary, including medical detox, professional treatment, rehab, IOP counseling, therapy, medication, meeting attendance sponsorship and/or 12-step work.
Okay, quick review of last week, we studied the doctor’s opinion and we said that alcoholism is not entirely a problem of mental control, meaning that when you see an alcoholic who is drinking, they’re not always doing so in order to escape reality. Sometimes they are drinking because they’ve already drank earlier that day and the alcohol that is in their system is causing a phenomenon of craving and they’re drinking to satisfy that craving which is beyond their mental control. And a lot of people use this word craving, and if you’ve been tuning in for the first 8 weeks of this, you know that this is… we are not using the word craving to refer to something going on in the mind. The mind really only wants to take 1 or 2 drinks to take the edge off usually, it’s just a matter of relaxing, we’re not attempting to drink for oblivion until much, much later in the late stages of alcoholism and addiction. But in the early stages we’re really just drinking to relax and we want to have 1 or 2, that’s all the mind wants to do is 1 or 2. And once those 1 or 2 are in the system, that’s when the phenomenon of craving gets triggered and now every drink I take after that is an attempt to satisfy a physical craving. The way you gorge yourself you’re hungry to satisfy a craving for food, it’s happening that the bodily level, it’s not going on up here.
Drinking to satisfy this craving often creates situations which pile up on an alcoholic causing them to feel so hopeless that suicide appears as the only option. This is what the doctor means when he says, “Sometimes, there are situations which rise out of the phenomenon of craving that cause alcoholics to make the supreme sacrifice rather than continue to fight.” And I’ve known many of these in the 19 years that I’ve been sober, I’ve known many people who have committed suicide as a result of seeing no other alternative to their pain, and that’s why I’ve included this number and this website here. If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal ideation, this is the place to look, they will certainly be able to point you in the right direction. Do not shrug that off as a cry for help or just mild whatever, take that seriously because it does happen.
Okay, I’m getting choked up there, we’re going to be in the doctor’s opinion, we’re going to be in the in the chapter that says a classification of alcoholics, not the chapter, but the chapter of a doctor’s opinion, we’re looking for that paragraph that says the classification of alcoholics. It should be the second indented paragraph on the page. In my book, it’s XXVIII, but I doubt that’s what it’s going to be in a 4th edition. While you’re finding that page, I’d like to give a quick shout out to my supporters on Patreon. If you see your name on the on this list, then you are in fact very near and dear to my heart. I couldn’t be doing these videos without the support of my Patreon members.
Okay, “The classification of alcoholics seems to be most difficult and in much detail is outside the scope of this book.” So the doctor is telling us right away that we’re not going to list every possible type of alcoholic that you could ever hope to run into, we’re just going to list a couple of them because it’s outside the scope of the book to really classify alcoholics. That’s not what it’s… that’s not what’s important. So he’s going to list a couple of… he’s letting us know, “Hey, in the next couple of paragraphs, I’m going to list a few examples, they’re broad examples, we’re not classifying alcoholics here.” And the reason for that is not important and we’re going to see why in a couple of paragraphs. So when you’re when you’re reading this and you’re looking at these different classifications of alcoholics, it’s not really that important to identify like which one of these are you. I mean, that’s sort of a futile exercise because the type that you are might not be on this list. This isn’t an exhaustive list. And so to try to peg yourself into one of these types, “Well, maybe I’m a combination of a couple and maybe that’s a 3rd type,” and, you know, don’t worry about that. If you can identify great, but these aren’t the qualifiers, these are just the external like what it looks like on the outside. And we’re going to hear why he’s even listing these in a couple of paragraphs. So as we’re reading these, just bear that in mind.
Okay, so he says, “There are of course the psychopaths who are emotionally unstable. We are all familiar with this type. They are always going on the wagon for keeps, they are over remorseful and make many resolutions but never a decision.” And I’ve written an article on my blog called ‘The 3 frogs fallacy’, I’ll include a link in the description below to that article that talks really in-depth about the difference between a resolution and a decision and how we really don’t use the word decision today the way that it was intended or the way that it was actually being used when this was written; and so that’s an interesting thing to look at. I think we all know or maybe have been the type of alcoholic or know the type of alcoholic or addict who is very, very over the top with their guilt and their shame and over remorseful. I mean, it is possible to be over remorseful for the things we do when we’re drinking. And if you’re watching this thinking, “Oh my god, no, it’s not, I’ve hurt my family so bad, I’m just such a lowly piece of pond scum. There’s no way that I could ever make it up to them, I’m just so…” I got news for you, that’s over remorseful, right? We are sorry for what we’ve done, we can and do offer amends, and we make up for that stuff when we clean it up and we move forward. And so you might want to consider that maybe you’re this if you’re feeling over remorseful about things.
Okay, “There is the type of man who is unwilling to admit that he cannot take a drink.” So this is someone who’s not even really contemplated that they’re an alcoholic yet or real alcoholic yet.
“He plans various ways of drinking he changes his brand or his environment.” So this is a guy that’s clinging to the delusion that maybe he can still evoke some form of control, he hasn’t even really worked step 1 yet. He’s still an alcoholic, but he hasn’t really worked step 1 and internalized that powerlessness. “There is the type who always believes that after being entirely free from alcohol for a period of time, he can take a drink without danger.” This might be an example of your binge drinker, they’ll go a week or 2 and think, “Well, see, I’ve proven that I can go without drinking so it’s safe,” and then they take a drink on a Friday and miss work on Tuesday. “There is the manic-depressive type who is perhaps least understood by his friends and about whom a whole chapter could be written.”
Notice the doctor doesn’t even give a description of this type, right, he just throws a word out there, manic-depressive, that… I mean, a whole chapter could be written about that to diagnose and delve into. And he doesn’t even bother with that because the classification is not important. What category of alcoholic you fit into is not important, and the reason for this is right here in this next paragraph. Oh, I’m sorry, false alarm, the paragraph after this paragraph. He goes, “Then there are types entirely normal in every respect except in the effect alcohol has on them. They are often able, intelligent, friendly people.” Now everybody, everybody, everybody that I know wants to put themself in this category. But, again, we’ve already talked about if you’re over remorseful, if you’re making lots of sweet promises you make a lot of resolutions that you’re going to quit entirely, if you’re irritable and grumpy 30 days after your last drink, you’re probably not this type, right? This type is normal, friendly, intelligent, able in every respect, except for when they’re drinking. And so oftentimes… oftentimes, I’ll be talking to family members who will express a sentiment to me like, “I don’t know they’re so nice except for when they’re drinking. They’re such a nice person, I don’t know, this alcohol just turns them into someone different.” Well, as someone who’s worked professionally in the recovery arena for over a decade, I can tell you that literally all I do is work with alcoholics who aren’t drinking. I can tell you unequivocally almost across the board, they are not nice! There is nothing nice about an alcoholic who’s not drinking. Every once in a while you get one who fits into this category and they’re friendly and jovial, and usually we find that’s some sort of a mask hiding a bunch of pain underneath. But, yeah, every once in a while, we do find a type like this, but everybody wants to say they’re in this category and, yeah, I don’t know. I mean, if you’re just grumpy pants after about 30 days with not… without drinking, you probably aren’t in this category, right? You’re probably not very friendly to people if you’re getting all grumpy and disgruntled after a week or two without a drink.
Okay, this is… this is the next paragraph that I wanted to really touch on. And this paragraph says, “All these, and many others, have one symptom in common. They cannot start drinking without the developing… without developing the phenomenon of craving.” So this sentence is sort of twofold here, you know, what… it’s talking about, “Okay, if you’re a real alcoholic and you’re in one of the stages leading up to alcoholism, like full-blown alcoholism, it doesn’t matter at what point in your life you take the first drink you’ve ever drank in your whole life, you can’t do that without at some point ensuring that you’re going to develop the phenomenon of craving.” Some people don’t drink alcoholically from the day of their first drink. Some people, you know, are drinking in a really controlled moderate man for quite some time before they find that they’ve developed this phenomenon of craving. And, again, this phenomenon of craving simply means, “Once, I take a drink, I cannot guarantee how many more drinks I’m going to take.” Believe it or not, there are drinkers who can do that. I know, if you’re a real alcoholic watching this, it may come to you as a surprise that there are people who can take a drink and promise that they’re not going to take more than 2 and actually stick to that promise every single time. If you have difficulty doing that, it may be the result of this thing we call a phenomenon of craving. “Once alcohols in my system, the body takes over and I cannot control how much more I drink.”
Now, every alcoholic, regardless of which category they fit into, whether it’s been listed in the previous paragraphs or not, every single one of them is going to have this one symptom in common, that they cannot, not only at any point in their life start drinking without eventually leading to this phenomenon of craving, but on any given evening when they’re stone-cold sober, they can’t put the first drink of the evening into their system, they cannot… so it’s not talking about necessarily start drinking ever in life, they’re talking about, “Any point in time when I get this rollercoaster going, I cannot put alcohol in my system safely. And by safely, I don’t mean nothing dangerous will happen,, I just mean I won’t be able to control the amount I take into my system.” This is the biggest thing for people to struggle with because we often talk about, “Can you control your drinking?” You know, from a societal standpoint, people talk about that question, “Can you control your drinking?” they talk about that question in terms of, “Can you control yourself while you’re inebriated?” Well, that’s not the question, right, there is such a thing as a functional alcoholic. I’ve known people that have built million-dollar businesses during a blackout, okay? So this isn’t about, “Can I be functional and control myself while I’m under the influence?” this is, “Is the amount of alcohol in your system currently that you wanted in your system when you started drinking today? When you first started putting alcohol in your system when you were stone-cold sober, is the amount that’s currently in your system right now the amount that you set out to put in your system?”
See a nonalcoholic can choose to get drunk tonight, they can choose to have a couple, they can choose to get tipsy, they can choose to get a little buzz going. A real alcoholic decides all of those things and just ends up at oblivion anyway despite the decision they made or the intention they set at the beginning of the night, you know? So that’s sort of what we’re looking at here. And so the example… and I’m going to steal this example. If you’re familiar with a couple of cats named Joe and Charlie, they do a bunch of circuits peeking around the big book, and they describe this really beautifully. So I’m just going to steal their example, but I’m giving them credit, okay? So they use this example that if you take 100 alcoholics and put them into a room and you give them all a drink, you’re going to see externally, you’re going to see a lot of different reactions taking place. What it mean by that is you’re going to see people getting really, really happy and friendly and jovial, they’re going to be reminiscing about the good old days, they’re going to be telling jokes, they’re going to be laughing, they’re going to be cutting up, right, those are your happy drunks. You’re going to see some people getting argumentative, maybe they get political and they debate each other, you’re going to see people getting even more aggressive than that and getting competitive with like games of pool or darts or cards or dominoes. You’re going to see people even getting more aggressive than that and fighting with one another physically. You’re going to see people getting romantic and maybe, you know, making out with one another or getting frisky with one another. You’re going to see people in the corner crying, feeling depressed, you’re going to see people telling you everything that’s wrong with their life or everything that’s wrong with the world. We’re going to see all kinds of different external reactions, right, that’s the classification of alcoholics.
We could get into happy drunk, sad drunk, nostalgic drunk, angry drunk, violent drunk, blackout drunk, repetitive drunk. Like, we can get into all those different types of what looks like externally when I drank. And that’s why the doctor only spends 3, 4 paragraphs on this because we could spend all day on this, we could spend a whole chapter on this, we spent a whole book on this if we wanted to, but the whole conversation is pointless because all of them have 1 symptom in common despite how different they look externally. And that 1 symptom is, in about 15 or 20 minutes, maybe 25, each and every one of these 100 alcoholics in the room is going to start looking around for that second round of drinks, “Where’s the next drink? I need the next drink,” that is the qualifier, that’s what we’re looking at. “Can I start drinking without developing a physical phenomenon of craving? I’m drinking to satisfy a craving beyond my control, which means that, yeah, maybe when I started out at 6:00 PM, I took a couple of drinks to take the edge off from work. I’m not trying to escape in terms of oblivion, I got stuff to do later tonight, but I wanted to take a couple of drinks just to unwind,” that explains those 2. What explains drink number 9 and drink number 12 and drink number 15 and drink number 21? What explains those? “The only thing that explains those is the first one that I took because it triggered a phenomenon of craving in my body that is beyond my mental control, that is beyond the fact that what I want to do, what I need to do, what I promised I’d do and what I said I would do is take just 2 after work and be home in time for dinner. And despite that that’s my intention, I cannot prevent the rest of the drinks from following.” That is what every real alcoholic is going to have in common; it’s what they’re all going to have in common. And that is what the doctor is saying here. That’s why we don’t go a lot into the classifications of what type of drunk you were, you know, our stories, when we tell our stories, it’s not really important what all that stuff looks like, what our drinking looked like. What’s really important is this aspect of my drinking, “Am I drinking at times when I’d rather not be, when I shouldn’t be, when I’ve promised I wouldn’t be simply because I took a drink and that drink took more drinks?” If we can answer yes to that, you’re well on path to working the first step.
Okay, so he goes on to say, “This phenomenon, as we’ve suggested, may be the manifestation of an allergy which differentiates these people, and sets them apart as a distinct entity.” So, again, allergies were kind of a new thing when this book was being written, they weren’t quite sure about all the stuff that we know about allergies today in terms of being able to do a skin test for them, the body producing histamines for substances to which you’re allergic and being able to test for those. We can definitively test you for an allergy, but the way they’re using it here and what they knew about it at this point was essentially, when you introduce a substance into a person’s system, they react to it in a way that is averse and not in keeping with the majority of people who ingest that substance. And that is certainly true of this phenomenon of craving. Not everybody who puts alcohol in their system triggers a phenomenon of craving, it’s limited to this alcoholic class. In fact, the numbers, the last study that I heard pegs it at about 10 to 15% of everyone who drinks alcohol falls into this category. That means 85 to 90% of everyone who drinks alcohol doesn’t. It doesn’t affect most people in this way, it’s a poison. The natural physical response to putting alcohol in your system is for your body to start sending your brain messages not to have anymore. And so when a person puts alcohol in their system and they don’t want more than that first drink and their body starts sending signals to the brain to ingest more, that’s abnormal and that’s a physical reaction taking place. And so that abnormal physical reaction is what the doctor is looking at to say, “These people are a distinct entity, this might even be an allergy. Who knows?” that’s what’s… that’s what’s causing him to say this. So it’s, still even though medically might not be 100% accurate, it’s still a great analogy for understanding what’s taking place when an alcoholic drinks.
He goes on to make this statement, “It (the phenomenon of craving)… it has never been, by any treatment with which we are familiar, permanently eradicated,” this is still true today. Later on in the book, I believe it’s on page 31, you know, they talked about, “There is no such thing as making a normal drinker out of an alcoholic. Science may one day accomplish this, but it hasn’t done so yet.” It was true in ‘39 when this book was first published and it’s still true today. We still don’t have a pill to make a real alcoholic drink like a normal person. I mean, I’m just thinking about that. If there was a pill that could make me drink like a normal person, I’d want to take 2 just to see what it does. Also, if I could drink like a normal person, I’d drink all the time. And then I’m going to leave you with this last sentence, and we’re going to actually redo this paragraph next week, we’re going to start with this paragraph because it ties into what we’re going to be talking about moving forward. But he ends it, “With the only relief we have to suggest is entire abstinence.” Now keep in mind, that’s in reference to the phenomenon of craving problem, that’s the only solution we can come up with for that. We can’t really do anything to make it manageable other than not triggering it in the first place.
So that’s a good place to stop I think. I just want to give a couple of brief announcements. We have a… the contest for the big book study, I’m giving away one of these a month. Last night, as a matter of fact, I met with the winner of last month’s contest, he happens to live here in Austin so I was able to just… I threw out an invitation said, “You want to meet for coffee? I can give you the book in person.” And it’s Ira Harris… Harrelson, I think I’m pronouncing that right, Ira Harrelson. I’m so glad he got a copy of this book, he loves it. You know, this thing, I’ve got details on it here. If you want to join that contest it’s bigbookwizard.net/enter, and you’ll be able to get that there. It’s for US residents only. If you want a recovery resource to see how you’re doing on recovery, I’ve got this robust recovery checklist. It’s about 12 items that you can examine to look at, “Where am I at in recovery?” A lot of people have found that useful, it’s bigbookwizard.net/checklist. If you want to support me on Patreon, I don’t know if I have one here, one of these… you can get one of these bookmarks I created as a way of saying thank you for support me on Patreon. They’ve got the 9 step promises on the front and all the promises on the back, you can do that. And last but not least, if you or someone you know needs help, reach out to me, bigbookwizard.net/help. We can find you a professional that you can work with nearby, we can get you whatever kind of help you need, whether that’s a detox, treatment, counseling, coaching whatever you’re looking for. And if you want to just, you know, talk with me a little bit more in depth, ask me questions, reach out to me on social media; there’s all my information. And if you’d like reminders to be able to attend this webinar or this big book study live, then you can sign up for those reminders at bigbookwizard.net/join. So that’s about it for this week, I really appreciate you tuning in. And if no one’s told you today that they love you, let me be the first. And with that, I’ll say be well.
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Good morning I’m Derek Stone with BigBookWizard.net. We’ve got a great and exciting Big Book study for you today. We’re gonna announce the winner of the study edition Big Book giveaway contest and that’s gonna be at the end so stick around for that. Before we get started with the review of last week just a quick disclaimer. Derek Stone, that’s me, is a life coach interventionist speaker and man in recovery. He does not claim membership in, filiation with, or representation of any organization, facility or group (12-step or otherwise). All references to Alcoholics Anonymous are made in reference to the book which shares that title. My videos, live big book studies and online meetings are for educational purposes only and are not to be construed as professional advice nor are they presented or to be construed as an adequate replacement for other recovery efforts which may prove necessary including medical, detox, professional treatment, rehab, IOP, counseling, therapy, medication, needing attended, sponsorship and/or 12-step work.
So last week we were studying the doctors’ opinion and we saw a couple of things in the two or three paragraphs that we went over. The first that a psychic change is necessary in order to recover and that is coming from Dr. Silkworth. He’s not a member of any organization affiliated with this book. He’s not a 12-step fellowship member. He’s not a man of religion, he’s a man of science. He is saying as a medical man and his expert opinion, psychic change is necessary in order to recover. We covered last week a whole list of every instance of spiritual awakening that’s used throughout the book. Spiritual experience I should say which is the non-medical way to reference a psychic change. Dr. Silkworth goes on to say that human power cannot produce a psychic change. If you can produce it through human power it’s not a psychic change. By definition psychic change is that part of me that remains unchanged despite any changes that I make. That’s the core part of me that remains unchanged, despite any changes that I make. In other words I can change what I listen to music wise. I can change what television shows I watch, what I read, who I hang out with, what foods I eat, what language I use, how I dress, my hairstyle or lack of hairstyle. I can change all that stuff. But then there’s a core part of me that remains the same person despite all those changes that I’ve made and that’s the part that needs to change. That’s the psychic change that occurs as a result of that.
So if that sounds pretty hopeless but the part of me that needs to change is the part of me that I can’t change welcome to step one because that is the admission that we’re making. But the part of me that needs to change is the part of me that can’t change. Doctor goes on to say that medical and psychiatric efforts have historically helped some people who struggle with excessive drinking. But they’ve done little for the problem of alcoholism as whole. We’re defining that there’s a class of people known as a real alcoholic. Which brings me to the next point that there is a class of problem drinker also known as the real alcoholic who will not respond to the typical medical psychological approach to recovery. It astounds me how we in the medical profession aka treatment centers as they be known today and we have the private sector if you will the 12-step fellowship. Both sides seem to not realize that they are uniquely qualified to help a distinct group of people that have having difficulty with substance abuse. You have the class of people that respond to cognitive behavioral therapy and coping mechanisms and goal-setting and acupuncture and equine therapy and all the other stuff that medical and psychological people come up with to treat alcoholism. There’s a class of people that will respond to that stuff, but then there’s also this class of people that does not respond to that and they’re going to need a 12-step program.
Each group of people in the medical community and the treatment community and the 12-step community are uniquely qualified to help their people. We are going to be in the doctor’s opinion. In the book well in the fourth edition if you’re using that it is going to be page XXIX. We are looking for the paragraph at the bottom of the page that says ‘I do not hold with those who believe that alcoholism is entirely a problem of mental control’. So while you are finding that page I’m going to give a quick shout out to my supporters on Patreon. This is all the people that signed up to support me last month. There’s new names being added to the list next month. If you see your name up here you are near and dear to my heart, you mean an awful lot to me. I could not be continuing this channel without you. On the doctor’s opinion at the bottom of the page I do not hold what those who believe that alcoholism is entirely a problem of mental control. I’ve had many men who’ve had for example worked a period of months on some problem or business deal which was resettled on a certain date favorable to them. They took a drink a day or so prior to the date and then the phenomenon of craving at once became paramount to all other interests so that the important appointment was not met. These men were not thinking to escape; they were drinking to overcome a craving beyond good mental control’.
There are examples. What he’s talking about here is that yes we are maladjusted to life. In the narration between these two letters the Big Book authors state that it’s not enough for us to be told that we were maladjusted to life. But that is certainly true for a lot of us. There are certain things we have exaggerated emotional reactions to our world. So if you can relate to that a lot of people typically call that or refer to that as the spiritual malady, these exaggerated emotional reactions. If you can relate to that you might be alcoholic, but that’s not the defining characteristic. We believe that any picture of the alcoholic that leaves out this physical factor is incomplete. There’s a mental component as well. But it’s not enough to just say that it’s entirely a problem of mental control. It’s not enough to say that I can’t determine when the first drink is going to occur. But I can’t guarantee you I won’t go a week without drinking. Yeah that’s problematic but without this physical component, without this phenomenon of craving that is not unmanageable. The fact that I can’t control when the first drink occurs is thoroughly manageable if I can control when the last drink occurs. But the phenomenon of craving here guarantees that I can’t. So this example that it gives someone that’s got a problem or a business deal that’s going to end favorably for them.
Imagine having to be someplace at 9:00 tomorrow morning and literally all you have to do is show up there sign the paperwork and you get a fat paycheck. It’s gonna be really good. You don’t have to pitch anybody anything. You don’t have to sell anybody anything. That deal is done, it just needs your signature. It’s gonna be yours. There’s nothing stressful about that. There’s nothing to be maladjusted to. This isn’t a terrible thing that we’re trying to escape, none of that stuff. This is a wonderful day we should feel like a kid on Christmas Eve. Let’s say about 10:00pm we decide you know what I’ve earned it, let me just have a shot of whiskey before I go to bed calm my nerves and drift off into dreamland. That’s it just a shot to unwind, it’ll be nice. That’s all the person wants to do and in fact they need to get to bed on time so they can show up to the thing at 9:00am So they take a shot of whiskey. Well then this thing that we called a phenomenon of craving takes over. This person continues to drink well past 11:00, well past midnight, 2am, 4am. Next thing you know it’s 6:30am and they still haven’t been to bed yet and they are three sheets to the wind and there’s no way they’re making it to the 9:00 appointment. They’re not getting that paycheck. They’re natural circumstances.
Maybe it wasn’t a business deal, maybe it was a PTA meeting maybe it was an appointment with a doctor. Maybe it was dinner date with your significant other. Maybe it was a kid’s soccer practice. Whatever the case may be you had every intention of showing up to this thing and it wasn’t that stressful of a thing. The important thing that we have to realize is that I miss events and appointments that I would want to participate simply because I am too busy drinking to satisfy a craving beyond my mental control. Meaning that once the substance hits my system, once the alcohol or the drugs are in my system I cannot end that ride whenever I want. I am taking it to the duration because of this phenomenon of craving that takes over. The mind wants to drink one or two to satisfy whatever’s going on up there and sometimes it’s just to unwind. We’re not even facing stressors. But once the mind hands over the baton to the body, once we take that drink and alcohol gets in her system, the mind has handed the baton the body and the body begins to run with it. That’s the thing that’s the point the doctor wants to make, I’m not going to make this thing just about I’m drinking because I’m stressed or I’m drinking because I’m hungry, angry, lonely, tired. That might be why we take the first drink but it doesn’t account for why we take the fifth or tenth or fifteenth or twenty seventh drink.
Does that make sense? I hope so. It’s going to be a shorter… But I do want to cover the next paragraph. The doctor there are many situations which arise out of a phenomenon of craving which cause men to make the supreme sacrifice rather than continue to fight. It’s just one sentence but it’s really powerful. Someone once asked me Derek do you think this sentence is talking about suicide? I absolutely do think that the sentence is talking about suicide. There is a line from Bill’s story where Bill writes about a man who kills himself. In fact I can turn to the end of that and we’ll get to this when we read Bill story. But on page 16 of Bill’s story an alcohol in his cusp is an unlovely creature and struggles with them are variously strenuous comic and tragic. One poor chap committed suicide in my home. He could not or would not see our way of life. Bill arguably is really repetitive, he likes to make the same point over and over again. But really just drive that point home with a hammer, beats a dead horse whatever expression you want to use. Wordy, repetitive bill has only one commentary to make about a man who kills himself in his home. That that man could not or would not see our way of life
I don’t know about you I’ve never found a dead body, let alone found a dead body in my home. But I imagine I would have a lot to say about it. But wordy repetitive Bill simply says he could not or would not see our way of life. When this book is written there isn’t a solution readily available to people. So today there might not be as many, this sentence right here might not be as true. But when the doctor is writing this he is talking about there are many situations which arise out of a phenomenon of craving. So referencing back the paragraph that we just read. I miss an important appointment, I miss a certain conclusion of a business deal, I miss a kid’s soccer meeting. These situations as the phenomenon of craving is taking over and I find myself missing things that are normally wouldn’t or engaging in things that I normally would. That cycle of spree and remorse where I emerge horrified by the events that occurred while I was drinking, things that I swore I’d never deal. Those situations arising that phenomenon of craving pile up on us.
In fact the doctor talks about that on a paragraph and we’ve covered previously. Where he talks about once having lost their self-confidence to rely on something’s human the problems pile up [inaudible 13:50] the phenomenon of craving and readily available. Can’t or won’t see it, can’t or won’t wrap their mind around it. In the absence of a solution for the astonishing difficult problems that arise out of the phenomenon of craving, in the absence of a solution with that many people end up taking the easy way out. The supreme sacrifice they call it and that I believe is suicide. There’s stories in the back of the book about people who lock themselves up in a bar and are just ready to die and end it all. Sometimes that feels like the only way out. In fact the original title of this book or one of them that was kicked around was A Way Out, that’s what they would consider in calling it. They just discovered that there were way too many other books already named A Way Out and so we have the title Alcoholics Anonymous that we have today.
That’s about it. If you’ve got some experience with this, I’ve known several suicides in in recovery guys that I’ve sponsored, guys that I’ve tried to sponsor, guys that I’ve known in the fellowship. This is a very real phenomenon. If you know that and want to share some experience strength and hope around it I’d love to see your comments in the comment section, wherever you’re watching this video. Without further ado we have the study edition of Big Book. If you’re entering the contest right now as I’m recording this you’re not going to be in the drawing because there’s all the names that are in there are in there. Actually there’s not a lot of people. Your chances are pretty good when you enter this thing. There’s 26 people in there currently, that’s it. I’m drawing 1 out of 26 and your name stays in until you win. So some of the people in the drawing right now that I’m drawing names from didn’t win last month’s drawing. That book went to Gabby Cooney. This book this one that I’m holding in my hand it’s wrapped in plastic. This one is gonna go to someone new this month. I pay the shipping, it’s free. I’ve got a random name generator and I’m not sure, I don’t think I can do screen capture with this so bear with me. You’re gonna watch me I guess but I’m got all the names in this random name picker here. I’m gonna pick random name. Ira Harrison, congratulations Ira. You have won the study edition Big Book and so I’m gonna contact you by email to get your address and congratulate you. I will ship this out to you as soon as I get that address.
Like I said if your name is in the contest and you’re not Ira Harrison don’t worry you’re automatically re-entered next month. If you’d like to enter that contest the link is in the description below. Also if you’d like a free tool that I created the robust recovery checklist it’s a simple checklist a simple document with about 10 or 12 items on there that you can kind of check to take the pulse of your recovery. Some people have found that really helpful. If you decide to support me on Patreon this month for just $5 I’m going to send you a copy of this promises bookmark. It’s got all the promises on the front for the 9 step promises and then on the back it’s got all the other steps that have promises associated with them and corresponding page numbers. So it’s cool. It’s a little glossy bookmark just something that makes a nice gift. If you or someone you know needs help feel free to check out my resource finder BigBookWizard.net/help. There’s no need to struggle I know a lot of people in the professional community we can get you the help that you need.
Also if you want to reach out on social media that’s me. That’s really about it that we have this week. I just like to say thanks for participating. Thanks for your patience with the late start this morning to. I just switched over to my MacBook, this is the first online book study that we’re doing from my MacBook. As opposed to my other laptop and that’s why some of the fonts and stuff up here are a little jacked up because the font that I was using didn’t translate from one operating system. Calling glaring attention to that misprint there. But I’m gonna do my best to rectify that for next week. I look forward to seeing you here next week. If no one’s told you they love you today please let me be the first. I’m glad you’re here. Be well and God bless
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Good morning Derek Stone here with Big Book Wizard and we are going to jump right in here with week
7. Before we do a review of last week just a quick disclaimer. Derek Stone is a life coach, interventionist
speaker and man in recovery. That's me. He does not claim membership in, affiliation with, or
representation of any organization, facility or group (12-step or otherwise). All references to Alcoholics
Anonymous are made in reference to this book and not to be construed as affiliation. My videos and live
big book studies and online meetings are for educational purposes only and are not to be construed as
professional advice nor are they presented or to be construed as an adequate replacement for other
recovery efforts which may prove necessary including medical detox, professional treatment, rehab IOP,
counseling, therapy, medication, meeting attendants, sponsorship and/or 12-step work.
Review of last week's episode. Couple of strong points. We only went over one paragraph, but there was
a lot contained there. What makes a person alcoholic is not that they drink to change the way they feel.
Everybody drinks to change the way they feel, including the 14 or 15 year old who's taking their first
drink ever in life just to succumb to peer pressure and feel accepted. Everyone drinks alcohol to change
the way they feel. What makes a person an alcoholic is that they drink after making a firm resolution not
to drink anymore. That's the distinction because not everybody does that. For a ‘real alcoholic’ the
guaranteed side effect of taking zero drinks is to become restless, irritable and discontent. There is a
difference between that moment of realization or aha moment where a person has an epiphany that
alcohol is causing problems and they should quit. There's a difference between that and the necessary
psychic change which enables an alcoholic to quit entirely. Oftentimes will let people confuse those two
things and it's a huge disservice.
Without having the psychic change that we just referenced real alcoholic is doomed to repeat the cycle
of deciding to quit and then deciding to drink again and then deciding to quit again and then deciding to
drink again and then deciding to quit again and then deciding to drink again. If that cycle sounds familiar
understand you might be a real alcoholic and if that's according to the doctor's opinion that we read last
week, you are doomed to repeat that cycle ad infinitum ad nauseam for the rest of your life. Just for
edification, a little bonus content that I created here, is a list of all the examples of the term spiritual
experience that are used throughout the book. This is what the doctor is referring to when he says the
psychic change, it's his medical terminology for spiritual experience. I'm not gonna read all of these
necessarily but page 28, 29 ‘surprisingly enough we find such convictions no great obstacle to a spiritual
experience’. 44 ‘if that may be the case you may be suffering from an illness which only a spiritual
experience with conquer’. Page 56 ‘one night when confronted in the hospital he was approached by an
alcoholic would known a spiritual experience’. 66 ‘with the alcoholic whose hope is the maintenance
and growth of a spiritual experience etc’.
I've got two pages of this, two and a half pages of this I'm gonna actually print them together in an
article for your edification. So you can either look for a link to that and below or just visit my blog at
bigbookwizard.net. So we're gonna be in the doctor's opinion and it's gonna be where we left off last
week. You're looking for the page in the doctor's opinion with a very first indented paragraph begins
with the words ‘on the other hand’. I believe it's going to be the right-hand side of your book as you're
flipping through looking at pages. While you take a moment to find it we're actually going to be on the
paragraph that starts with ‘men have cried out to me’, but that's how we're looking for it. While you're
looking for that I'll take a moment to acknowledge and recognize my supporters on Patreon. If you'd like
to support me on Patreon that would be a great thing. You could see your name up here and if you see
your name up here you know that you are very near and dear to my heart.
So on the other hand, this is the doctor's opinion I can' wait til we're out of the Roman numerals so I can
just give you a page number. In my book it's XXVIII but that is only gonna line up with third edition Big
Books or if you've got a study edition Big Book, it'll line up with that. But assuming you found this on the
other hand and strange as it may seem to those who do not understand once a psychic change has
occurred the very same person who seemed doomed, who had so many problems he despaired of ever
solving them, suddenly finds himself easily able to control his desire for alcohol. The only effort
necessary being that required to follow a few simple rules. This is on the heels of the previous paragraph
where the doctor says an alcoholic is doomed to repeat this cycle of deciding to quit deciding to drink
deciding to quit deciding to drink over and over and over again. Unless they have a psychic change, aka
spiritual experience. The next paragraph says on the other hand once we have that psychic change aka
spiritual experience then this very same person who was doomed to repeat that cycle for the rest of
their life suddenly finds himself easily able to control their desire for alcohol. Meaning that this person
will have a defense against the first drink, not that they're able to control the amount of alcohol that
they drink. A lot of people often read that and get confused.
He's not saying that they suddenly develop the ability to control how much they drink and drink like a
normal person. By the way I was talking to a friend last week and we were joking around and we said if I
could drink like a normal person I'd drink all the time. That's an old joke but I think it's funny. Anyway
that's the doctor looking in from the outside saying these people seem to have a defense against the
first drink now once they have a psychic change. The only effort that it really requires and this is
comparing and contrasting to before the psychic change. Because before the psychic change for me to
get short spurts of sobriety three months, six months, nine months, a year and a half by the way
compared to a lifetime of drinking those are short spurts of sobriety. In order to get those I have to sit
on my hands, I have to have a really bad consequence, maybe I've got to be locked up, I've got to have
somebody watching me, it takes all of my concentration and effort I'm miserable. It requires a lot of
endurance. But what the doctor is saying here is once a psychic change has occurred the only effort that
will be necessary to continue that is the same level of effort that's required to follow a few simple rules.
By a few simple rules the doctor here means the 12 steps
Next paragraph men have cried out to me and sincere and despairing appeal: ‘doctor I cannot go on like
this! I have everything to live for! I must stop but I cannot. You must help me! ‘Now these this is the
most ripe condition to work with an alcoholic or a drug addict and take them through the Big Book or
the 12 steps. That is when a person says ‘I cannot go on like this I have everything to live for I must stop,
but I cannot’. That is the key. Too often far too often in my professional life and my own personal
recovery I encounter people who have the first part of this ‘I can't go on like this I have everything to live
for I must stop’, but they leave out those three words ‘but I cannot’. Which of course then waters down
the impact of this statement ‘you must help me’ because I don't understand what the real help is if I
don't understand that I cannot stop on my own. So we have this group of people. Often times someone
will come to me and say ‘Derek you don't understand, I can't drink ever again’. I'll level with them and
say buddy if you're a real alcoholic not only can you drink again, but you will drink again. That's what
alcoholism. It's not one is too many, a thousand’s never enough. It's a thousand’s never enough and one
is inevitable. That's what we're dealing with here, that's the problem of alcoholism. The problem is you
Far too often we have people leaving out that key piece ‘I cannot stop I need your help’ and those are
the most ripe conditions. Now for the doctor that's pretty hopeless because a lot of the methods he's
gonna employ aren't gonna be able to work for someone making the statement. That's what he's writing
about here is I've been in this field for a long time and I've got people coming to me saying I must stop
but I cannot and the doctors gonna describe how that feels in the next paragraph. Faced with this
problem this is Dr. Silkworth writing faced with this problem if a doctor is honest with himself he must
sometimes feel his own inadequacy. Although he gives all that is in him it often is not enough. One feels
that something more than human power is needed to produce the essential psychic change, essential
psychic change, cannot do without it. Though the aggregate of recoveries resulting from psychiatric
effort is considerable we physicians must admit we have made little impression upon the problem as a
whole. Many types do not respond to ordinary psychological approach.
This is so crucial understanding what the doctor is saying. Here he's saying as I am working with
alcoholics I start to get the impression that something more than human power is necessary to produce
the essential psychic change. Meaning that I can't get someone to have a spiritual experience through
human efforts. Meaning encouragement or threats or came through someone on a normal psychiatric
level like I don't know cognitive behavioral therapy or something along those lines. These things aren't
gonna work. He goes on to confirm this in the next sentence. The aggregate of recoveries, aggregate
means like the culmination or the sum total or the average. Though the aggregate of recoveries resulting
him psychiatric is considerable, meaning that all these other methods and this is true today I would
offer, this is still true today. All these other methods for staying sober and there's other programs out
there that don't use the 12 steps don't encourage a spiritual experience. They encourage more of a
mindful approach. Things like harm reduction. I don't want to call out other fellowships, but intelligent
recovery if you know what I'm talking about. Things like this we'll take an approach to recovery that says
hey it's dangerous. The statement on the previous page that I can't stop on my own that's dangerous
and those things will take that approach
It's dangerous to say you're powerless. Don't do that. We've got an approach that will work. Yeah well it
will work for a lot of people. It will work for the type of person who isn't powerless and that's the thing
we all need to acknowledge. It's like why doesn't the 12 steps work for everybody? Well it's not going to
be the most effective solution for someone who isn't powerless, it's just not. It's gonna be a really tough
program for someone who isn't powerless. Just like some of the other programs out there are going to
be really tough or impossible for someone who is powerless. There are two groups of drinkers on the
planet. There are people who can recover on a non-spiritual basis. Those people are not powerless. They
might feel like they drink too much. They might drink all the time. Their excessive drinking might be
causing problems in their life. They might have difficulty quitting on their own and need a little bit of
help. But they do not need divine intervention. Then there's a group of people who do. We cannot
ignore that these are two distinct categories. This is why the doctor can say look the aggregate of
recoveries from psychiatric effort is considerable. There's a lot of people getting well from belladonna
treatment or what we would call an abuse today or some of the other treatments that are available, the
medication assisted treatment that's available to people
There's a lot of people getting better off of that stuff. There's a lot of people getting well from
electroshock therapy. There's a lot of people getting well from group therapy. There's a lot of people
getting well from hypnosis and cognitive behavioral therapy and EMDR. There's a lot of people
responding to that stuff we're not denying that. But many types do not respond to the ordinary
psychological approach that was true then and it's still true today. There is never gonna be a
psychological approach to recovery that is gonna work for everybody because there's a segment of the
population that is powerless to employ those methods. That's what powerless means and we've got to
acknowledge that. I don't bash those other programs those programs are good for people who aren't
my people. But for people who are my people the 12 steps is it, it's all there is gonna be. I was on a
debate forum online and someone contacted me actually and said they were on a debate forum online
too. We were engaging in this conversation around someone telling us or admonishing us for claiming
that alcoholics are powerless and how damaging that is. I posed the question why is it damaging to label
an alcoholic powerless? Why is it damaging to make that the first step and ask an alcoholic that they're
powerless? The guy said well because they're not powerless. If someone's not powerless that's
dishonest and blah blah blah and keeping people down all the time.
That's one of the big objections that I hear to this program. I don't want to call myself an alcoholic every
day when I go to meetings because mind over matter blah blah blah. Ok great. Why is that a big deal?
Why is the belief that you're powerless such a big deal? Why is that such a threat? Well the answer that
I get is because when you have that idea in your mind it becomes your reality, it manifests and then
you're stuck. So let's play this through then for a little bit, let's think about this logically. I get an idea
that I'm powerless in my mind and I'm powerless over that idea. But I'm not powerless over the
addictive substance. That's a special kind of special if you ask me. Do you see what I'm saying here?
We've got this group that says it's dangerous to tell that. If Alcoholic’s powerless it's the most beneficial
thing for them, if an Alcoholic’s not powerless that could be maybe damaging because of the whole
mind over matter thing. That's why we can't diagnose anybody. You've got to diagnose yourself. Have I
employed every other method that's available and as this is this 12-step thing the only game in town? If
it’s a last-ditch effort, the last thing I've tried that's the most optimum condition. Problem is we got a lot
of people coming trying to work the 12 steps that maybe don't need them and haven't tried to employ
other methods that would work just well for them.
So we need to understand there are two distinct groups of drinkers out there. Those that are just
drinking too much and having difficulties and those that are not making choices around the drinking.
That's the end of my soapbox there. That really is our episode for today, I think that's a good place to
leave off. If you'd like to win one of these study edition Big Books you can go to
BigBookwizard.net/enter and pick one up. Hardcover it's completely free if you win. I do a drawing every
month. In fact I'll be drawing a name in next week's episode live. I even pay for shipping. It's really great.
It's got blank pages that are lined for note taking. Just a lot of features. You can go ahead and check that
out. Also if you'd like to support us on Patreon for $5 a month I'll send you one of these bookmarks. On
the one side it's got all the promises and what paragraph and page number they're on for the steps and
then it's got the 9 step promises printed in full on the front there. It's a six inch glossy sturdy bookmark,
really kind of cool shows your support. Finally last but definitely not least if you or someone you know
needs help please connect with me you can go to BigBookWizard.Net/help and we can try to find you
some professional help. I've got a lot of contacts in the industry and we can get you somewhere if you
need to be.
You want to connect on social media, I've got a couple of social media things that I do. You can find me
there. Definitely would love to connect on Twitter. I don't do a lot on Twitter and I'd like to do more so
that's a real great way to get my chin right off the bat because I won't have to filter through anything.
That's about it I'm really grateful that you're watching this video. If you've made it this far and you've
watched the whole thing I love you. Even if you haven't I still love you. You’re just not here to hear me
say it. With that I will see you next week. God bless
Good morning, Derek Stone here with big book wizard and we’ve got a great big book study for you today, continuing on with the doctor’s opinion last week. Before we jump in the last week’s review just a quick disclaimer, I am a life coach interventionist and speaker, and man in recovery and I do not claim membership and affiliation with representation of any organization, facility, group, 12-step or otherwise all references Alcoholics Anonymous are made in reference to this book that shares its name and not to be construed with any other organization. My videos, live big book studies and online meetings are for educational purposes only, and are not to be construed as professional advice, nor should they replace any professional treatment which may prove necessary for you including detox, rehabilitation, rehab, treatment, outpatient care, counseling, therapy, medication, meeting attendance, sponsorship, 12-step work etcetera.
Okay, this week we’re going to be continuing with the doctor’s opinion and last week we talked about how frothy emotional appeal doesn’t work for the real alcoholic, and examples of frothy emotional appeal are actually found on page 20. I can take it or leave it alone, why can’t he, why can’t you, why don’t you drink like a gentleman, or a normal person or quit, that fellow can’t handle his liquor, why don’t you try beer or wine lay off the hard stuff or your willpower must be weak. I could stop if I want to I just don’t want to, or you could stop if you want to you just don’t want to, she’s such a sweet girl or guy I think they’d stop for their sake, I think you would stop for their sake, the doctor said if you ever drank again it would kill you but there you are all lit up again, that’s also known as the you’re going to die if you don’t do something threat.
And all of these are examples a frothy emotional appeal, because they appeal to an alcoholic in terms of quitting drinking because of a sufficient reason to do so. Now we know that there’s a class of person who’s incapable of doing this described on page 21 as the real alcoholic, they differ from the hard drinker because for a hard drinker all of these reasons here that’s supposed to be a circle, that looks terrible I’m not going to draw on the page anymore. All of these reasons here would be sufficient for a hard drinker and they’re not for real alcoholic, you can compare and contrast this also with page 31, but they have a list of here are the methods we tried and they list a bunch of stuff that is also an attempt at the level of frothy emotional appeal.
Which is why in the review or last week the doctor says the message which pulls these real alcoholics must have depth and weight, meaning that it’s a deep message, it’s the type of thing that when you hear it you go man that’s deep, it hits you in your soul and it’s a catalyst for genuine change. Dr. SilkWorth has spent much of his life searching for a solution for alcoholism, we see that in the pages and he’s welcoming with open arms this movement, this altruistic movement as he calls it. He also makes the claim that nothing will help these alcoholics more than the 12-step movement growing up among them, there is a little bit of a typo that should be at 12. Anyway, we are going to be continuing on with the doctor’s opinion if you’re in the fourth edition of this blue book, it’s going to be XVIII I believe, no XXVIII, it’s going to be XXVIII in the doctor’s opinion.
While you’re looking for that page I’m going to go ahead and give a shout out to all my supporters on Patreon, if you haven’t supported on Patreon yet I’d love to see your name on this list, if your name is on this list you are very near and dear to my heart, and I thank you for chipping in about a buck a week to keep these videos going. Okay on XXVIII we have a paragraph, I’ll read it in its entirety and then we’ll break down each line because there’s a lot going on here. It says men and women drink essentially because they like the effect produced by alcohol, the sensation is so elusive that while they admit it as injurious; they cannot after a time differentiate the truth and the false.
To them their alcoholic life seems the only normal one, they are restless, irritable and discontented unless they can again experience the sense of ease and comfort which comes at once by taking a few drinks, drinks which they see others taking with impunity. After they have succumbed to the desire again as so many do, and the phenomenon of craving develops they pass through the well-known stages of spree emerging remorseful with a harm resolution not to drink again. This is repeated over and over, and unless this person can experience an entire psychic change, there is very little hope of his recovery. Okay, so first thing to notice is first sentence kicks us off by talking about men and women who drink, now that’s not limited to real alcoholics, anyone who drinks essentially does it because they like the effect produced by alcohol.
Now what is that effect? Well I am going to tell you that the effect at a very basic level is changing the way you feel, and everybody drinks alcohol for this reason. I’m not alcoholic because I drink to change the way I feel, that’s why they make the stuff, that’s about all alcohol is good for that and sterilizing medical equipment. Even someone who’s drinking at a very young age for the very first time simply to succumb to peer pressure, is doing so to change the way they feel, giving in to peer pressure change the way they feel, they feel accepted. And so alcohol is always drank for this reason, to change the way that we feel, we like that effect.
Now the sensation is so elusive it’s sneaky and escapes us, that while they admit it as injurious, okay so this is the next level of drinker, this isn’t just the moderate drinker like we were talking about a few weeks ago, this delves into like hard drinker, problem drinker, real alcoholic because those are the only people that are admitting alcohol is injurious, it’s not injurious for everybody who drinks it’s just injurious for a specific segment of drinkers. So while we’re admitting it’s injurious, they cannot after a time differentiate true from false, now this is not referring to blanket delusion. It’s easy to get the impression that when the doctor says we cannot differentiate true from false, that he’s making an observation about how we have delusional thinking in every area of our life, it’s not what he’s saying.
It’s easy to think that because later on we do some inventory work don’t we, and we look at resentments and we look at what’s my part in the resentment, what mistakes did I make, and how’s my delusional thinking influencing this, and how could I just adopt a new attitude and take a different perspective, and alcoholism is essentially a perception problem and all these other things we say, and so it’s easy to get the impression that what the doctor is talking about here is that perception issue. That I don’t see issues clearly, and that’s what he’s describing here but it’s not, he is describing very specifically in terms of diagnosing alcoholism, very specifically we are talking about while I admit alcohol is injurious, in other words while I’ve admitted I’ve got reasons to quit.
So this isn’t the individual who is at what we in treatment would call pre-contemplation, this is the individual who has already determined yes my drinking is causing me problems and I want to quit. Okay, now anyone can have that epiphany, anyone can have that realization, a hard drinker is going to be able to quit based on that reason, a real alcoholic isn’t. So while he admitted it’s injurious after a time, I cannot differentiate that admission with some insanely trivial excuse to drink, in other words I’ve got every reason in the world not to drink on this hand here, and yet I can’t differentiate all those sound reasons with some insanely trivial excuse to drink. And they describe this beautifully on page 37, I don’t have a slide for it we’re not going to turn there, but read that on your own time on page 37.
They talk about this compare and contrast of like yes, I’m holding this idea right here and then parallel to it is this insanely trivial reason to drink, and what the doctor is describing is after a time, after I’ve admitted drinking is injurious and I want to quit, after a time I can’t differentiate those two. Every reason in the world I have not to drink looks just as appealing and inviting as every reason in the world but I have to drink, they both look equal. I can’t have one idea renting it over the other; it’s like the angel and the devil arguing on each shoulder, that’s where the conflict comes in.
And so look what he says, he says to them their alcoholic life seems the only normal one, in other words I’ve quit drinking for a time and that voice starts whispering hey you don’t feel normal, why aren’t you drinking and for a while I can answer it with wife, car, kids, job, career, business, house, I’m on probation whatever all the reasons are enough for not drinking and then that voice just comes back real quietly yes but you don’t feel normal, you know the only way for you to feel normal is to take a drink. And for a while that’s not important, you know it’s way down here on the importance level all these reasons I have for not drinking are way up here, but then eventually at some point I can’t differentiate the two, they all look really equally valid and true.
After this happens, it says they are restless, irritable and discontented unless they can again experience a sense of ease and comfort which comes at once by taking a few drinks. Now notice the order that this goes in, first I’ve admitted drinking is injurious and I’ve made an attempt to do something about it, then I reach a point where all my reasons for why I decided to quit in the first place have gone out the window and I can’t really fathom why I’m not drinking right now, and every reason to drink looks just as valid as every reason not to drink and as a result of that I’m restless, irritable, discontent until I can solve it with a few drinks.
Now notice we’re not talking about getting, excuse my language, but getting shit-faced, we’re not talking about that, we’re not talking about getting obliterated that’s not what I’m thinking about here, all I’m thinking about is man this is going to feel good for five minutes, and if I can just feel good for five minutes all these reasons over here, all these problems that I know the drink is going to cause, if I can just get on the other side of these feelings for five minutes I’ll fix all the damage this is going to cause on the back end. It’ll be worth it if I can just feel better for five or ten minutes, and I’ll fix everything this causes on the back end, I’ll get to it and fix it. Problem is once I satisfy that desire to feel better for five minutes the brain is done, the brain is handed the baton to the body, the mental obsession has handed the baton to the physical allergy and we’re off to the races.
Drinks which they see others taking with impunity, impunity meaning nothing bad is happening to these people, and what we mean is we see other people taking a couple drinks to ease their nerves and it’s not triggering a phenomenon of craving, it’s not triggering them going off to the races, but it’s triggering that in us. Then it goes on to say, after they have succumbed to the desire again meaning relapsed as so many do, and the phenomenon of craving develops, they pass through the well-known stages of spree, emerging remorseful with a firm resolution not to drink again.
My sponsor puts this beautifully, he describes this as when I’m in my drinking, when I’m in my addiction, it’s like being inside an oven and it’s nice and warm and toasty, but then after a while it gets really hot and then after a while it gets even unbearably hot, and then after even longer I’m dying and I’m banging on that oven door and on the other side of the oven is a freezer, and I’m banging on that oven door yelling let me into that freezer. And when they finally let me into that freezer that’s recovery or that’s abstinence I should say, and I’m going to meetings and I’m the boy whistling in the dark that they talk about in a vision for you, and I’m talking about how great it is to be sober and I don’t know what you guys will complain about in here this freezer is nice and cool, I like it.
And then after a while it gets a little chilly, and then after a while after that it gets even freezing, and then after a while after that it’s unbearably cold and I’m dying, and I’m banging on that freezer door and let me out of here I want back into the oven. People in the oven are saying you don’t want no parts of this this is hot, you don’t want me in here and I say I do want in there, and finally I burst my way through and I’m back and I’m drinking, I’m with the old gang again. And that’s nice and manageable for a little while, and then it starts to get warm, and then it starts to get hot, and then it starts to get uncomfortably hot, and then it starts to get unbearably hot, before I know it I’m banging on that oven door saying let me out of here I went back in the freezer.
And then I’m back sober again, and back in the rooms, I’m picking up a one day chip and I’m not drinking I should say, and I’m talking about how great it is to be sober, this is the Spree and remorse he’s talking about. He’s talking about this spree and remorse in the context of someone who’s already decided to do something about their drinking, now this doesn’t have to involve a stay in treatment, this can involve in a moment of lucidity I’ve decided I’m going to quit drinking and that lasts a day, and it’s such a short-lived thing that I don’t even tell anybody I decided to quit drinking.
And so when we’re first stepping people and we’re talking about the stuff and often they’ll say well I’ve never attempted to quit before, well you’ve never made a serious college try, but you’ve woken up one morning after a hangover and said god, I’m never doing this again or I’m going to chill out for a month or I’d better just stop for a week and dry out, and within an hour of that decision you’re drinking again, that’s what he’s talking about here, it applies. Okay, so he goes this is repeated over and over again and unless this person can experience an entire psychic change, there is very little hope of his recovery, entire psychic change. There’s a word, psychic change, now I don’t have a slide created for this, but I’ll create a slide next week that demonstrates what he’s talking about here with this psychic change.
Suffice to say that right now what this means is a change at the core level of my being, this is a type of change that I can’t make on my own. I can change my hair color, I can change my hairstyle, I can change my eye color, I can change the way I dress, I can change the music I listen to, what I eat and who I hang around with, I can make a lot of changes, but after all those changes are said and done there’s a core part of me that stays me, that’s the part of me that needs to change. In fact, I would offer that step one really at its deepest level is the declaration to the universe that I acknowledge, that the part of me that needs to change is the part of me that I can’t change, and I have a little slide that I’ll create next week and we can go into that a little more deeply.
So before we end this video, I want to just finish this illustration, I made this slide a couple of weeks ago when we were talking about the physical allergy and on this page that we’re on, that first indented paragraph that says we believe, if you want to write physical allergy or condition of body next to the house, and then down at the bottom of the paragraph we read today that says men and women drink, if you want to write mental obsession or condition of mind. And when you compare and contrast these next to each other, and I do a step one presentation and I just bought a MacBook and I’m playing around with that, I’m going to learn how to make professional-looking videos and I’m going to do all 12 steps and put this out here for you. So this slide will be in there and will go more in depth into where I get all this information from, but for right now when you look at this skeleton next to each other, you know the physical allergy refers to everything that happens after that first drink, it’s also called a phenomenon of craving down here.
It’s a manifestation of an allergy which isn’t 100% accurate as medical truth, but it is a pretty decent analogy and so we’re sticking with it. The mental obsession over here is everything that happens before the first drink, it’s a form of insanity and they refer to it on 37 as a curious mental phenomenon, so both of these the physical and the mental are phenomena, meaning we can observe it but we can’t quite explain it. The physical allergy means I have no control over the amount of my drinking once I’ve started drink; I’ve no clue how long this roller coaster ride is going to last, and the mental obsession guarantees that I have no clue when the ride will start. No control over when the ride starts and no control over when it last, that’s pretty powerless.
Physical allergy tells me that one drink yields a consequence which is this phenomenon of craving, it’s not DUI’s and blackouts and health complications and money and family and all of that, although those things come with excessive drinking, but the consequence of the first drink for the real alcoholic is that I have no ability to determine whether or not this drink is going to lead to excessive drinking. The mental obsession says it’s zero drinks equals a consequence, already we’re starting to see a problem aren’t we? If I’ve got both of these conditions, well I can’t take a drink without experiencing the consequence and I can’t not take a drink without experiencing consequences, that’s pretty difficult isn’t it.
The condition of the physical allergy is described on page 21 and a test is offered on page 31 which is controlled drinking, the condition of the mental obsession is described on page 24 and a test for the mental obsession is awkward on page 34 controlled abstinence. Our solution if we just have the physical allergy is to take zero drinks; the solution if we just have the mental obsession is to take one drink. Do you see why SilkWorth is calling this hopeless? This man of science looks at this equation and says there’s nothing, no human power that can crack this open. The solution for this problem takes zero drinks, aggravates this problem, and become restless, irritable, discontent. The solution for this problem take one drink aggravates this problem, where I trigger the phenomenon of craving. And so it takes both of these to create powerlessness, because if I had the ability to take zero drinks and nothing bad happened, the physical allergy would be manageable.
If I had the ability to take one drink and nothing bad happened, the mental obsession would be manageable, you couple those things together and they combine in a way that makes everything unmanageable. So that’s about it for this week, if you’re interested in winning one of these study edition big books, these things are amazing, hardcover, they’ve got dictionary definitions you know word and subject index, blank pages for lines, they’ve got a whole video that explains the benefits of owning this thing. I’m giving one away this month completely for free I even pay for shipping, I sent one out last month to Gaby Cooney of Austin Texas if you’re watching thanks for entering, and I hope you’re making good use of this book.
And I’d like to send one to you this month if you join the contest Bigbookwizard.net/enter there’s a link in the description. So if you want to support me on Patreon you’ll get one of these awesome bookmarks, $5 a month that’s a buck a week, it’s the equivalent of a dollar in the basket. They’ve got the nine step promises on the front, and then all the other promises on the back, I’ll send you one of those in the mail with a nice little handwritten letter that says thank you. If you want to connect on social media there’s all my information there, I’m happy to do that as well. And that’s really all I’ve got for this week, tune in next week and I’ll have that slide about the psychic change and what all that means, and what all that entails and until then I look forward to seeing you, and God bless.
I’ve developed a printable checklist to help you stay mindful of your efforts.
All right, good morning, I’m Derek Stone with big book Wizard and we are doing week five of the online big book study. Before we do a review of last week’s information, just a quick disclaimer here, I’m not claiming membership and affiliation with a representation of any organization or facility or group, 12-step or otherwise. These videos are for educational purposes only, they’re not to be construed as professional advice nor should they replace any professional treatment that you might need including detox, rehabilitation, outpatient, counseling, therapy, medication, meeting attendants, 12-step work, sponsorship etc.
Okay, a quick review of last week’s episode, we were in the dark we’re still in the doctor’s opinion and we were looking at a couple of paragraphs that told us that detox can play an important role in getting an alcoholic freed from their physical craving for alcohol, long enough so that they can employ a 12-step program and that’s sort of what we see the doctor saying there in the paragraphs that we covered. We also covered that the correct use of the phrase craving for alcohol is in reference to a physical phenomenon, and strictly exclusively refers to anything and everything occurring after the first drink.
So oftentimes the word craving is misused today, or maybe it’s used correctly today and it was misused then, whoever is using it correctly doesn’t matter, what matters is that we use it the way that the doctor was using it so that we can understand what we’re reading when we read what he wrote to us, and the way that he uses that word craving is strictly in the physical sense, the bodily sense. Silkworth was not the first doctor to refer to this phenomenon as being the symptom of an allergy, I believe the first written text of that was a book called the knee Bertie printed in 1800 and I forget the author’s name of that, you can do a google search if you’re that interested in that. And I think that was the first written reference to a physical component of alcoholism, I don’t know if they called it an allergy back then.
Of course allergies were kind of a new thing when Silkworth was writing and so that’s why he says this may be a manifestation of this thing allergy that we’re exploring, and what he meant by that is that there is a physical reaction to a substance that is not in keeping with the majority of people who come into contact with that substance. Now today we know that the true definition of allergy goes a little bit deeper than that, in terms of the body being able to produce histamines and us being able to do like a skin test or something to actually prove that there is an allergy. And so in that sense you know medically it might not be the most sound phrase to use, but when allergies were first hitting the scene and all we knew about them was that it was a physical reaction to a substance that’s not in keeping with the majority of people who drink, or who come into contact with that substance. He looked at alcoholics and said well they’re having a very similar physical reaction to alcohol, and so this might be this thing allergy that we’re now discovering.
And the allergic reaction, I put that in quotes for that reason, the allergic reaction to alcohol is limited to what he calls a hopeless alcoholic or what the rest of the big book would go on to refer to as a real alcoholic, and it never occurs in the average temperate drinker. In other words this phenomenon of wanting, needing, stating or desiring to have two drinks and then proceeding to have four or six or seventeen instead never occurs in the non-alcoholic drinker. And I created a slide that I’m going to be continuing with next week, that kind of lays these two things side by side, but this is if you want some more information on what all of this here means I’ll circle it even though it’s the only thing on the screen. You can go ahead and watch last week’s video and maybe I’ll put the link to that somewhere up at the top of the screen or somewhere.
Okay, so we are going to be in this opinion, I’m not a fan of these Roman numeral pages so I’ll give you a moment to find it but the doctor’s opinion is the last chapter right before Bills story, so if you turn to the beginning of Bill’s story you can work your way backwards. In my book it is XXVI but I don’t believe that’s going to line up with anyone if you’re using fourth edition, I think my doctor’s opinion numbers line up with the third edition of the big book. But it’s right after his second letter that starts with the doctor writes, and it’s the page where the first indented paragraph on the page starts with the words we believe, so if you’re kind of looking I’ll give you a second to find that, actually if you’re watching the recording of this you can always pause and find it.
Okay, the second indented paragraph on this page says frothy emotional appeal seldom suffices, the message which can interest and hold these alcoholic people must have depth and weight, in nearly all cases their ideals must be grounded in a power greater than themselves if they are to recreate their lives. So there’s a lot there, for example what does frothy emotional appeal refer to, I mean if it seldom suffices, if it doesn’t work in other words to help an alcoholic or encourage an alcoholic to get or stay sober, then it probably behooves us to know what frothy emotional appeal means. And so examples of frothy emotional appeal might be do you see what alcohols doing to you, if you keep on going this way you’re going to die, you’re hurting your children, you’re hurting your family, you could lose your job, you’re facing jail time these are all things that are appealing to an alcoholic in other words if I go to court and I make an appeal, I’m appealing to an alcoholic on an emotional level and frothy just means with fervor or excitedly.
And so oftentimes well-intentioned family members of alcoholics, well-intentioned friends and family members who don’t know any better, heck there’s even professionals in the field who are still doing this don’t know any better, and are appealing to an alcoholic on this frothy emotional level. This is the whole just say no campaign, drugs are bad okay, right this whole mentality of just convincing people that the path they’re going down is wrong and damaging and all of that. Well that’s not going to work for a real alcoholic, what would work for a non-alcoholic just appealing to a sense of, you know most non-alcoholic people engage in activities that are harmful to them, someone comes along and points out how those activities are harmful to them, and they decide oh I don’t want to harm myself anymore or other people and then they’re done. If you’ve had any amount of time around an alcoholic, or if you are an alcoholic or and for the purpose of these discussions drug addict as well, then you know that that approach doesn’t work.
You know you don’t have to be told this you already know that, frothy emotional appeal seldom suffices, the message which can interest and hold these alcoholic people must have depth and weight, what the heck does that mean, what is depth and weight, what kind of message has depth and weight? Well we all kind of intuitively know this, we all kind of intuitively know what it means for something to have depth and weight for example if you’re talking to someone, if you’re at a meeting for example and you hear someone give a share, if someone says something to you and you go wow that’s deep. Well that’s what we’re talking about, wow that’s deep, that message that they just shared with you is deep, it has depth, and it has weight. It’s not just sort of a surface level message that’s just trying to appeal to your emotions, it actually strikes something in core, I mean when you hear truth you know you recognize it.
And that’s what he’s talking about, there has to be a message that reaches people at their core. And so this includes the description of the alcoholic, this is why the big book authors go to great pains to describe the alcoholic accurately, because it’s not enough to just say well I was drinking way too much and it was destroying my life and there were all these external consequences and everything was out of hand, well yes. But when one alcoholic starts talking to another about I thought I was going crazy, I had all the reasons in the world to try to stop or moderate what I was doing, and all my efforts to do so were failing and I started asking myself do I just not love these people, do I just not care about myself, do I just not care about this job, when you start talking like that and the alcoholic who’s listening to you realizes oh this person knows, these are the things I’ve been afraid to utter out loud.
Then they know like okay that message there has depth, you know it reaches someone at a level more than just yes I was drinking too much, and I was being a jerk and etc. in nearly all cases their ideals must be grounded in a power greater than themselves if they are to recreate their lives. Yes, and so recreate is kind of an interesting phrase right it’s not rebuild, it’s not regain and that’s often what people think it’s like I want to we oftentimes hear alcoholics or even family members talk about getting better. And the language I’m a big proponent of this, I believe that the language we use especially when we’re not thinking about what we’re saying, especially when we’re just talking naturally and conversationally, the language that we use really reveals the thinking process that we have underneath. And so when a family member says I want them to get better, or when an alcoholic says I just want to get better it’s interesting, because the word that isn’t used most of the time.
And I talked to hundreds of family members a month, thousands a year, alcoholics the same and I mean I just talk to a ton of people in around this stuff and I’m always hearing I just want them to get better, what I never hear is I want them to get well. I shouldn’t say never I do hear that on occasion, but what I rarely hear is I just want them to get well. It’s like wellness is up here, and then you have sickness way down here and as long as someone remains in that bracket that’s good, and what really happens is an alcoholic will fall below that, they’ll fall into oh hold on you’re unmanageability is now unmanageable for us, we want you to get better, get back into that manageable zone. And alcoholics will often say that too I was maintaining just fine and now I fell below that zone, and I want to get better and just get right above that, that threshold again of how far I’m willing to go and just get right.
And they never want to break through this top bracket; they never want to go up into what we would actually call wellness. And again I shouldn’t say never, but that’s the language when we’re saying I want to get better, we’re talking about regaining an old life. My life before alcoholism destroyed everything, well a thought to consider and a thought that I often ask people ponder is, is it possible that that life is unsustainable as evidenced by the fact that that life led to drinking. And so maybe we’re not so much trying to regain an old life, as we are trying to recreate a new one, and so that word recreate given to us by Dr. Silkworth is really an interesting concept. And I do believe as we go through the book that’s a message that we’ll see a little bit more of, is how to recreate our lives not regain the old one, but to recreate a new life.
And of course in order to do that our ideals must be grounded in a Power greater than ourselves, this can’t be grounded in the idea that I’m going to do it, I’m just going to pick myself up by my bootstraps, don’t even get me started on that figure of speech, maybe I’ll do a separate video about that. But I think that’s really damaging idea that we have prevalent in our culture, is this idea of picking myself up by my bootstraps. And so I see on the chat someone’s asking me to do, I think that’s what that’s asking, and so yes let me take a sip of coffee. Yes, so what’s funny is people will often say that and perhaps you’ve heard this expression, just pick yourself up by your bootstraps. And this expression and when we get into step three, who knows how long it’ll be before we do that, but on the study when we get in there I’ll cover this again.
But pick yourself up by your bootstraps is a statement of self will, I mean it’s a self-will statement. It’s this idea that I can fix myself, I can heal myself, I can throw enough self-will at any problem to fix it or to get better or whatever, and we’re so committed to this expression in our community, in our society, in our culture that we actually use this as a figure of speech, oh just pick yourself up by your bootstraps or I’m just going to have to pick myself up by my bootstraps. But the original quote comes from Abraham Lincoln, who says it is impossible for a man to pick himself up by his own bootstraps, that’s where we get it from and we are so committed to this idea of being able to do it, that we’ve bastardized the original quote and the original meaning of the quote.
I mean the original quote says the exact opposite of the way that we’re using it; he goes on to compare that effort picking ourselves up by our own bootstraps. If you don’t know what bootstraps are they’re like these things I don’t know, they’re on the back of a boot and they allowed people to put their shoes on easier, their boots on easier. It’s like the piece of leather attached to the back that you can use to pull your boots up on your feet a little easier, and the idea that I can grab onto the back of those while I’m wearing my boots and actually pick myself up off the ground with those is what that expression is saying, that’s exactly what it’s saying. And Abraham Lincoln goes on to say, it’s the equivalent of standing inside of a bucket and then attempting to use that bucket to lift myself up off the ground from inside the bucket, and you can begin to see the impossibility of that, and yet we’re so committed to this idea that I’ve got enough power to lift myself up, to pull myself up out of the muck and the mire and even Silkworth a man of medicine is saying nope they’re not going to be able to do that.
If they’re going to recreate their lives their ideals cannot be grounded and just pick yourself up, it can’t be grounded in this idea of I can do it, it can’t be grounded in encouragement, it can’t be grounded in any of that, it’s got to be grounded in the idea that there’s a power above me that’s going to be able to lift me up. That’s sort of the idea and that’s a through-line throughout the rest of the book that we’ll see, I’m not just isolating out of context a couple of words here. Okay, well I didn’t expect to spend that much time on that, on that paragraph. Next paragraph, if any feel that as psychiatrists directing a hospital for alcoholics we appear somewhat sentimental, in other words we’re directing a hospital and we’re talking about spirituality, and we’re talking about God and that’s obviously sentimental and by sentimental he just means like non-scientific.
If any feel that has psychiatrists directing the Hospital for alcoholics, we appear somewhat sentimental let them stand with us on the firing line, see the tragedies, the despairing wives, the little children, let the solving of these problems become a part of their daily work and even of their sleeping moments, and the most cynical will not wonder that we have accepted and encouraged this movement. Okay, so oftentimes I remember going to meetings in very early recovery and talking about my problem of the day, and I thought my problems were so profound that they needed to be shared with people no matter what. I’ve got a captive audience, and you’re going to hear about them darn it, and I would puke my problems out under the table and they would go around the room and I’d get encouragement and frothy emotional appeal and support and all of that from people, and then there’d always be that one asshole who would start talking about the steps.
And I’m like thinking to myself listen to me jerk, I’ve got some real-world problems, I need some real-world solutions don’t be talking to me about God and the steps, it just seems sentimental and outdated. And today I’m happy to say that I am that asshole, I am the one who if you are to share with me your problems my first thought is how is God going to fix this, how are the steps going to fix this. And it’s not because I’m out dated or old-fashioned, it’s because walk a mile in my shoes that’s what the doctor is saying here, let them stand with us a while on the firing lines, see the tragedies that spurn wives. Dedicate a couple of years of your life to solving the problems alcoholics present on a regular basis, to repairing the damage done to families, to pulling people up out of the muck and the mire. And do that for a couple of years and if at the end of that you are not marveling at the value of the 12 steps play, then maybe we can have a conversation then.
But I’ve been in this game for well a couple of weeks ago it was 19 years, I celebrated 19 years a couple of weeks ago and yes I can relate to the doctors passage here, it’s probably the paragraph in the doctors opinion I can relate to the most is yes I’ve spent a long time trying to help people solve these problems, and it seems like the steps are, lightly a godsend, they’re a beacon of hope. And so this doctor is saying look I get it, I get it we look crazy as medical doctor talking about God and the steps and encouraging these alcoholics to come in and talk to our patients, but we found very little else, in fact he goes on to say that in the next paragraph, we feel after many, that should say many not any, we feel after many years’ experience that we have found nothing which has contributed more to the rehabilitation of his men, than the altruistic movement now growing up among them.
And this altruistic movement is none other than the group of drunks writing the book Alcoholics Anonymous, and these little regular this work that they’re doing with one another. And so that is the doctor’s opinion, and he’s the again Silkworth the leading expert of his day, in the leading Hospital of his day really telling people look this is why I’m writing these letters, this is why when the authors of Alcoholics Anonymous come to me and they ask me, hey can you write a couple letters for our book. He’s like yes I’ll do it, he’s overjoyed to do it. So that’s really again right there’s been 20 minutes two paragraphs, so we go it’s a bit of a slower pace but we’re going kind of in depth with this stuff. So real quick before I go, if you haven’t signed up for this contest, we’re giving away a free study edition big book; you can see the plastic still on it. It’s a copy of the book that I use, this thing is awesome, it’s got lines for notes and I’m giving one away every month and last month the winner was Gabby Cooney of Austin Texas.
There’s only like I think 25 people signed up for the contest the last time I checked, and so there’ll be a link in the description below if you are interested in signing up for that. Also if you want to support me on Patreon you get this awesome bookmark, I’ve made a bunch of these they’ve got the nine step promises on the front and a bunch of other promises on the back. It’s $5 a month that’s the equivalent of like a dollar a week, some people have been asking me how can I throw a dollar in the basket so to speak and that’s the way that I’ve chosen to set that up. Shout out to all my supporters’ thank you very much, if your name is on this list you’re dear to my heart.
And if you or someone needs help, probably the most important announcement I have feel free to reach out to me, you can find me on social media, you can sign up for my mailing list on Bigbookwizard.net and reply to any of the emails that I send and reach out for help that way. Okay, and with that thank you for attending, I’m glad you’re here, I’ll stick around a little bit after I hit the stop button and chat with the people that are still on, but I’m going to end the recording now so with that have a great week and god bless.
I’ve developed a printable checklist to help you stay mindful of your efforts.
Good morning, Derek Stone here and I am excited to do today’s episode, because today we have something really exciting. We’re going to be announcing the winner of the big book study edition contest that I’ve been holding, a lot of people signed up for that and I’m really excited. So if you don’t win this week you’ll have plenty of chances, but we’re going to get to that in a moment. Before we do the review of last week, let me just give a quick disclaimer that I am not claiming here on this podcast or video whatever you want to call it, I’m not claiming membership or affiliation or representation or anything else with any organization or a facility or a group 12-step or otherwise, these videos are meant to be educational only, they’re not meant to diagnose, they’re not meant to treat, they’re not meant to replace anything else that you might need including professional treatment, detox, rehabilitation, outpatient care, counseling, therapy, medication, needing attendant sponsorship, 12-step work all of that stuff may prove necessary for you.
And these videos hopefully will help aid and incorporate into those efforts, but they are not intended to be or represented as an adequate replacement for any of those things. Okay, so last week we were in the doctor’s opinion, we talked about how Dr. Silkworth considers the subject presented in the book Alcoholics Anonymous, to be the most important subject an alcoholic can consider. Silkworth is honored to be writing the two letters of the doctor’s opinion that he is writing, we also discussed moral psychology it’s medically sounding verbiage to reference a course action which will induce a spiritual experience. It’s a form of psychology later on when the doctor says you know this needs to happen before psychological measures can be employed, the psychological measures he’s referring to are the moral psychology measures, different from regular psychology where we’re dealing with the inner workings of the mind, but it’s more moral psychology having to deal with issues of right and wrong and even issues of spirituality and that’s the term that coined for it back then.
He goes on to say that a spiritual solution to alcoholism while necessary is beyond the scope of medical and even psychological understanding, the point where it comes beyond logical understanding comes later in the book and we looked at that a little bit with Carl Jung’s discussion with an early AA member. But this is what he refers to when he says synthetic knowledge, and last week’s episode discussed what are we talking about with synthetic knowledge, it’s basically the whole collection of tangible, concrete schools of thought that look at tangible concrete things that we can study and so yes of course the world of the Spirit is going to be beyond the realm of those things. There are people who study the world of the Spirit, but what they’re studying is not within the realm of synthetic knowledge. And also the Wilson’s spiritual experience Townes hospital was not a clue; he was able to duplicate this with other alcoholics.
There’s often a story about how he was detoxing in town’s hospital and some of the medications he was on were causing him to hallucinate, and when he reported this spiritual experience to the doctor the next day, Silkworth said hey man just run with it right. He’s like hey, I don’t know what’s happened to you, but you better hang on to it. And it’s true that Silkworth did think that this was a hallucination, but the proof of whether or not that was merely a hallucination or a genuine spiritual experience lies in whether or not Bill was then able to replicate that process with other alcoholics. And we do see historically that Bill Wilson is able to replicate that process with other alcoholics at Townes Hospital, so we know that it’s not a clue. All right, we are going to be on the doctor’s opinion, and again I’m not sure how to direct you to these Roman numeral pages, but this is just after the beginning of his second letter.
So if you turn the beginning of the doctor’s opinion, and turn a couple of pages in you’ll see his second letter that starts with the doctor writes and then about one, two, three, four, five, six paragraphs down literally at the very bottom of that page, in my book it’s XXV but I believe that’s a third, that matches up more with the third edition. But if you’re looking at the bottom of that page you should see this line here, of course an alcoholic ought to be freed from his physical craving for liquor, and this often requires a definite hospital procedure before psychological measures can be of maximum benefit. Again, these psychological measures that Silkworth is referring to are the moral psychology, the twelve steps in this sense. He’s still viewing the twelve steps as moral psychology, and so he’s saying before any treatment can be employed, even the most effective one there is often a medical detox required but here’s what’s interesting to me.
His use of the word physical craving for liquor, now I cannot tell you how frustrating it is to hear people in any room talk about the craving for alcohol as having to do with the mind, that’s the colloquial use of the word craving. However, if we’re going to understand what the big book authors intended for us to understand when they wrote this, then we’re going to have to understand the words the way they’re using them. And this right here tells us what kind of craving we are going to be referring to, and so anytime we see Silkworth especially use the word craving for liquor, when he’s talking about that word craving he doesn’t always add the word physical in front of it, but make no mistake that is the way that we’re using the word it is physical. Its physical craving, it’s happening at the bodily level, in other words every cell in my body and I’m not a biologist right, so maybe I’m getting some of the verbiage wrong here, but every cell in my body is craving food, oxygen and water currently.
Now I don’t think of that as a craving because I have ample access to all those things, but if I go 90 seconds without oxygen I’ll begin to feel the craving for oxygen at the bodily level. If I go four days without water, I’ll begin to feel the physical craving for water at the bodily level. If I go 30 days without food, I’ll begin to feel the physical craving at the bodily level for food. And what happens is when alcohol enters my system, if we’re dealing with the physical craving for liquor we’re talking about alcohol being elevated to that same level of importance, almost at the cellular level of being as important as food, oxygen and water. Now we’re going to find out in the next paragraph that this only happens once alcohol enters the body, so whenever we’re using the word craving we are talking about something strictly limited, the discussion is strictly limited to the phenomenon that we observe after an Alcoholics had the first drink, not the first drink ever in life obviously but you know the first drink of the day.
You know I’ve had a period of sobriety lasting almost 24 hours, and alcohol is out of my system and then I take the first drink of the day and it triggers something internally, this physical craving that is quite a phenomenon to observe. So the next paragraph goes on to say we believe, and so suggested a few years ago that the action of alcohol on these chronic alcoholics is a manifestation of an allergy. Now again we talked last week and we’ll just touch on briefly or two weeks ago I think, we’ll just touch on briefly that when they’re using the word allergy here it’s not in a strict medical sense. Well we have a doctor using it right, so how can that be, well allergies were relatively new thing at the time of this writing, so he’s throwing out this as a theory they didn’t really understand allergies to begin with. So he’s throwing this word allergy out, like hey this might be what we’re dealing with, this thing called allergy might explain alcoholism.
And it explains alcoholism as an analogy, it explains it really nicely as an analogy, you know medically correct who knows. Can someone be producing histamines to alcohol? I don’t know how accurate that is. But when he’s saying so suggested a few years ago, an interesting little fun fact for me is there’s a book called Annie Bertie written in 1800 I believe is the exact date, and I believe that’s the first written record of alcoholism being referred to as an illness and having a physical component. And so this isn’t Silkworth idea, he often gets credited for it. He was the major proponent of it at this time, but he puts in his letter right here we believe meaning the medical fraternity and so suggested a few years ago. So he’s not alone in this opinion, he is the minority opinion, there’s not a lot of doctors that believe that at this time which is why he doesn’t sign his name to the letter, because he would have been dropped out of the medical community.
But there were some that believed him and he wasn’t the first, it wasn’t his theory. So we believe and so suggested a few years ago that the action of alcohol on these chronic alcoholics is a manifestation of an allergy that the phenomenon of craving that’s supposed to be craving is limited to this class and never occurs in the average temperature. So when we’re talking about a physical craving for alcohol, we’re talking about a phenomenon that is limited to what we would call the real alcoholic, what Silkworth would call the hopeless alcoholic. But what we would call what the big book authors later on would call the real alcoholic and limited to that class. So the phenomenon of intending to have just a couple of drinks at the outset of the night, envisioning that my night is going to look like just a couple of drinks when I go have them, and then proceeding to have six or seven or 24-96 instead that’s an experience it’s limited to the alcoholic, it doesn’t happen in the nonalcoholic drinker.
And so we don’t need to see a whole lot of this occurring in your drinking history to be able to safely help you diagnose yourself as alcoholic, we just need to see a handful of examples even just one, because we know that this never occurs on the non-alcoholic, so if we see it occurring in you it’s a pretty safe bet that you are alcoholic. It goes on to say these allergic types meaning real alcoholics, these allergic types can never safely use alcohol in any form at all. Now he’s not talking gas, liquid, solid any form at all, he’s talking about any amount at all. You know whether it’s a beer, or a shot a hard liquor or a mixed drink or whatever you know it’s like it doesn’t matter, any form at all it’s not safe and the reason it’s not safe is because it triggers that phenomenon of craving.
A lot of times people read this and they like to think that what he’s referring to is oh yes, one drink is going to lead me to break out in handcuffs and get arrested and get in trouble and it’s like, listen jaundice, health complications, legal complications, DUI’s, arrest, loss of money, loss of health, waking up after a blackout next to someone I don’t know, hurting my loved ones, losing time and memory like all of that stuff is what makes alcohol dangerous to use in large quantities for anybody. Anybody using alcohol in large quantities that risk for that, it makes alcohol dangerous for an alcoholic to use in any amount. Is that potentially triggers a phenomenon of craving, that’s the danger, that’s why a real alcoholic can never safely use alcohol in any form at all, because it has the potential to trigger that phenomenon of craving and lead to excessive drinking and then of course excessive drinking is just dangerous for anybody.
kay, these allergic types never safely use alcohol in any form at all, and once having formed the habit and found they cannot break it. So once having this discovery that I can’t quit this thing on my own, that’s what they’re talking about here right I form the habit and found I cannot break it, that’s an important distinction because most of us form the habit a long time before we discover it. Once I formed the habit and then I discover that I cannot break it, meaning that I wake up one morning and say gee I really need to quit drinking, drinking is having a negative impact on my life, I really need to give this stuff up, I really need to leave it alone for the sake of my fill-in-the-blank job, family, wife, dogs, car, kid, career, business, house, whatever it is I’m trying to keep and not lose to my drinking, man I really got to give up my drinking.
Okay great, and then a couple of nights later I’m drunk again, and then I get back on my horse with a firm resolution never to drink again and then later on a drunk again, and I’m starting to discover I can’t break this habit on my own. So that’s the point he’s describing here, once having formed a habit and found they cannot break it, once having lost their self-confidence and the reliance upon things human, now that’s an interesting statement that I’ll touch back on in a second, their problems pile up on them and become astonishingly difficult to solve. Now this is I think a description of what I would describe as an alcoholic hitting bottom, I’ve heard a lot of definitions of hitting bottom, but my favorite that I’ve heard is that hitting bottom is when life circumstances or as the book puts it here problems, when my problems or my life circumstances start piling up quicker than I can justify them. Meaning that life throws me a curveball I lose that job, but I’m able to knock it out of the park with this nice justification of well that boss just didn’t like me.
And then a few months later I get that DUI and I knock that out of the park with a justification of well, you know that was a speed trap. You know and then the girlfriend or the wife threatens to leave me and I knock that one out of the park with well, it wasn’t meant to be. Or she’ll be reactive and then the kids are upset that I missed a game or something, and I knocked that out of the park by saying well you know kids overreact, I lose a job again and you know all these things I’m able to keep up with really adequate excuses, but once they start piling up and I start facing the fact that this might have something to do with my drinking, and I seem to have a habit, I cannot break this habit, I don’t have any confidence in my own ability to manage life. Reliance on things human meaning my own efforts and the efforts of other people, these things start piling up on me and they become astonishingly, that’s a really strong word, astonishingly difficult to solve.
And so these things start piling up quicker than I can justify them, quicker than I can rationalize them away, quicker than I can explain them away and that is the moment in my opinion that an alcoholic really hits bottom. That’s the moment when we really consider okay maybe I can’t do this, maybe I need help and that’s this reliance upon things human. Later on when we start talking about a spiritual solution to alcoholism, and we start talking about you know one of the common denominators of alcoholics is A trauma, lots of trauma and then B not surprisingly enough, a reluctance or resistance or difficulty having relationship with God. Maybe it’s a willingness to have relationship with God, but there’s a difficulty due to the trauma or there’s reluctance due to the trauma or there’s just a flat-out refusal due to the trauma.
And then if that’s the world I’m living in, then I’m going to have to be able to rely on human powers, I can’t establish or won’t establish or I have difficulty establishing relationship with a higher power. And we’re not talking about in response to alcoholism, I mean in life some people rely on a higher power and some people rely on themselves and that’s fine for a time, but a real alcoholic who’s been living, relying on themselves, facing the fact that they can’t rely on themselves anymore, if you are living in a world devoid of God when that happens it’s going to feel pretty hopeless, so there’s some food for thought on that one. We’ll unpack that a lot more as we go through, but I just wanted to call that to your attention that there’s a lot to unpack there in that paragraph. So I’ve created sort of a diagram, I’d like to do a little bit more of this because there is some screen sharing that I’m able to do, so I’d like to do some more illustrations and slides for you on this big book study.
And we’re going to be able to dive into the other half of this, but Silkworths’s hopeless alcoholic if you could draw like an imaginary line down the middle of the screen here, and sort of divide this into two symptoms. You know the first symptom we see is this physical of craving and that refers strictly to whatever happens after the first drink, he uses the word allergy as an analogy to describe it, it really is a phenomenon of craving and this word phenomenon that they’ll use several times. Simply describe something that’s observable yet difficult to explain, if this is the case then one drink for us means consequences, and the consequences again of having one drink for a hopeless alcoholic is not the consequence of losing a car or losing a house, losing freedom or hurting someone, losing health or losing money that’s the consequence of excessive drinking for anyone, the consequence of one drink for a real alcoholic is this idea that I can’t adequately predict what’s going to happen next.
And this is described really nicely on page 21, we won’t turn there right now because I didn’t create a slide for it although I probably should have, but you can read that in your own time. And then there’s a test for that described on page 31, and that is obviously the test of control drinking and again you can read that in the book on your own. Maybe I’ll create some slides for those two pages and we can go in-depth on that next week, but that’s really it for the big book study. That’s all I have prepared its a little shorter one today, because we do have some announcements. The first thing I want to announce is this contest to win a big book study edition, this is a nice book right here and I mean I’ve advertised this a lot, you’ve seen me talk about how every other page is lined.
It’s got its got blank with lines so that you can write notes in it, I don’t know if you can see that every other page. It’s got the original manuscript in the back, so you can read like all the musts that are in the original how it works, and rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our directions. Yes that’s the original definitions of words that are in the big book with 1937 definitions so from the time they were written a word index, a subject index, hardcover, leather and I got two of these and I was debating giving both of them out because for a short time the only two people entered into the contest, but these are nice they’re wrapped in plastic, they’re brand new, I’m going to send this out to you today and let’s go ahead and I’ve got an electronic selection method and let’s go ahead and click that button.
And it looks like Gabi Cooney from Austin Texas is the winner, and so I’ll be sending an email out to you shortly Gabi, and congratulations I’ll be sending that out to you. Now if you didn’t win please know that your name stays in, and I’ll be drawing the name every month, the last big book study of the month, and so you still have a chance to win, there’s still a reason to tune in don’t lose hope, I want to give away as many of these as possible. Also I’ve got these fancy bookmarks here, I don’t know if you can see them really well, but you know they’ve got the ninth step promises laid out on the front and then they’ve got all the promises on the back with the location, the page number here and the paragraph number where you can find the promises for that particular step. That’s a gift I created for people who join my patron as a supporter, it’s just $5 a month that’s the equivalent of a buck in the basket once a week.
So if you like these videos and you want to support I’ve got the red envelopes here, people that have supported this month that I’m going to be sending out, so if you ordered one that’ll be coming in the mail for you sometime this, I’m putting them in the mail literally today, so however long the post office takes to get that to you. If you’re interested in connecting on social media there’s all my information there, I’m happy to answer questions, I’m not very active on Twitter yet just because I don’t have a lot of engagement there.
So if you want to shoot me some questions over on Twitter, I’d be happy to probably be really responsive over there just because it’d be like a treat to see Twitter come up on my phone and ding. And so that’s it, I’m happy that you’re here and I’m just going to talk for a little bit so that the YouTube logos and stuff can come up on the screen and not block anything. That’s it though I’m happy that you’re watching, wherever you’re watching, whenever you’re watching, congratulations again to Gabby and we will see you next week.
I’ve developed a printable checklist to help you stay mindful of your efforts.
As promised, here’s a compiled list of each instance where the authors of the book Alcoholics Anonymous indicate body and mind devoid of any mention of spirit.
Page 6, paragraph 2: “The mind and body are marvelous mechanisms, for mine endured this agony for two more years.”
Page 6, paragraph 2: “Then came the night when the physical and mental torture was so hellish I feared I would burst through my window, sash and all.”
Page 7, paragraph 1: “Best of all, I had met a kind doctor who explained that though certainly selfish and foolish, I had been seriously ill, bodily and mentally.”
Page 20, paragraph 1: “Doubtless you are curious to discover how and why, in the face of exper opinion to the contrary, we have recovered from a hopeless state of mind and body.”
Page 22, paragraph 4: “We are equally positive that once he takes any alcohol whatever into his system, something happens, both in the bodily and mental sense, which makes it virtually impossible for him to stop.”
Page 23, paragraph 1: “Therefore, the main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind, rather than in his body.”
Page 30, paragraph 1: “No person likes to think he is bodily and mentally different from his fellows.”
Page 92, paragraph 2: “Talk about the conditions of body and mind which accompany [alcoholism]”
Page 106, paragraph 5: “The alarming physical and mental symptoms, the deepening pall of remorse, depression and inferiority that settled down on our loved ones — these things terrified and distracted us.”
Page 141, paragraph 3: “You can see that he is mentally and physically sick.”
Page 157, paragraph 5: “The man in the bed was told of the acute poisoning from which he suffered, how it deteriorates the body of an alcoholic and warps his mind.”
Interestingly enough, many of these passages also support the disease model of alcoholism and addiction as well as the use of the word “recovered”…. but those are ideas for future articles.
I hope this list finds you well, and I hope you found it interesting.
I’ve developed a printable checklist to help you stay mindful of your efforts.
Good morning. Derek Stone here with http://bigbookwizard.net 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 http://bigbookwizard.net
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.
I’ve developed a printable checklist to help you stay mindful of your efforts.
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.
If you’re watching the replay and you’d like to join us live, visit http://patreon.com/bigbookwizard and I’ll have a link in the description below. Also I’ll have a link for the contest that I’m running this month for a Study Edition Big Book. You can win one of these for free. It’s free to enter and it’s free to win. I don’t even charge for you for shipping. If you win I’ll ship that out. Your choice of black and burgundy, hardcover, leather… I’ve got a whole video explaining the benefits of this book and all the cool stuff that’s in it and there’s a link in the chat box and there will be a link in the description below.
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.
Just a friendly reminder: Study Edition big book available for free if you sign up for the contest. If you’re viewing this video on Facebook you can get a second entry into the contest in addition to submitting your email address via the link. You can get a second entry by liking, sharing, and commenting on the this video or just click the link below and enter your information. U.S. residents only for right now. Maybe that’ll change but for right now U.S. residents only please and that’s it.
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I’ve developed a printable checklist to help you stay mindful of your efforts.
Are you exercising all of your freedoms? Those in the U.S. enjoy certain liberties that are ours because we, as a people, declared our independence from our parent country over two hundred years ago. As individuals, however, many people still suffer under the tyranny of their family of origin. This dysfunction exists in most families and is inherited from generation to generation. If individual personhood isn’t declared, it can limit our potential as individuals.
Family therapist Virginia Satir came up with five freedoms that people enjoy once they’ve declared a personal independence from the dysfunction they inherited from their family of origin.
1) The freedom to see and hear what is here. Instead of only being able to see and hear what was, what will be, or what “should” be.
Ask yourself: Am I truly present in this moment? or do I wallow in past hurts in past pain, disappointment, and regreor (worse) fearfully look to the future?
2) The freedom to feel what you feel. Instead of feeling what you “should” feel or what others tell you to feel.
3) The freedom to say what you feel and think. Instead of only being able to say what you “should” feel and think or what one is expected to feel and think.
4) The freedom to participate in getting your needs met by asking for what you want. Instead of silencing your wants and waiting for permission.
5) The freedom to take risks on your own behalf. Instead of choosing to be secure by not “rocking the boat”.
The freedom to see, hear, feel, think, say, ask, and risk whatever is actually on your heart is Powerful, Beautiful, Possible — not always easy to achieve.
To struggle with this in one’s own family is a natural part of growing up and becoming mature. Many spend an entire lifetime and never attempt it, let alone achieve it.
If you haven’t already, I’d like to encourage you to declare your own individual personhood so you too can exercise and enjoy all of the freedoms afforded to you by living as your own person. This doesn’t mean a disregard for the feelings and well-being of others, it simply means the freedom to not be ruled by them.
Make this declaration to yourself. Write it down, post it on a mirror, read it aloud to yourself every morning:
“I (insert your name), declare individual personhood. I declare my freedom to see what I see, the way I see it, without editing. I declare my freedom to feel my feelings, just as they are, not as I’ve been told they “should” be. I declare my freedom to express those feelings without censorship simply to avoid being unpopular. I declare my freedom to speak to my needs, to advocate for myself, and to make requests on my own behalf without waiting for somebody else to do it for me. I declare my freedom to take healthy risks on my own behalf without the fear of making waves.
I declare all of these freedoms as my birthrights, granted to me by virtue of my individual personhood. I will no longer be afraid to disrupt the status quo. I feel confident that as I live these freedoms, I will inspire others to do the same.”
Now that’s a thought, isn’t it?
I’ve developed a printable checklist to help you stay mindful of your efforts.