Wednesday, September 07, 2011

A.A.'s Dr. William D. Silkworth (Wilson's psychiatrist at Towns) The Christian

1. This is a short list of excellent resources concerning Dr. Silkworth. The key item is:

Dale Mitchel, Silkworth: The Little Doctor Who Loved Drunks (Center City, Minn.: Hazelden Foundation, 2002):

2. Here are a few of the statements in the Silkworth biography for your consideration--and there are more.

The first is found on page 10:

As a republican Presbyterian from a small town, he [Silkworth] had never before [i.e., before he arrived at Princeton University in 1892] spent any time with a Catholic.[footnote 7]
Footnote 7 on pages 219-20 states:

The importance of Silkworth's . . . religious standing would later play a role in the development of Alcoholics Anonymous. During a time of great AA growth, Silkworth was consulted by Bill Wilson as to the impact the Catholics might have with full involvement in AA. These discussions eventually led to one of Silkworth's most admired works, published in 1950 as "The Prevention of Alcoholism: A Challenge to the Catholic Clergy."

Here is a second statement found on page 10:

When Silkworth was a young boy, his father had impressed upon him the requirement for complete abstinence for success in life. His father had seen the ravages of alcoholism while serving in the army during the Civil War. Also, his father had been a follower of Thomas Francis Marshall, a man growing in national stature as a temperance speaker. Once a senator from Kentucky, Marshall had promoted a true spiritual conversion requirement of reform and temperance. He spoke frequently in and around New York, sharing his own life story and advocating personal conversion and reliance upon God. Young Silkworth was told quite early of the need for crisis, reform, and conversion when dealing with alcoholism.

Here is another statement on pages 11-12:

Silkworth's family remembers him as a deeply spiritual man, yet unsatisfied with any particular denomination. A devout Christian, he initially fit well into the temperance mind-set developing across the country. For years he attended a church that would also have an impact on the formation of Alcoholics Anonymous, the Calvary Christian (Episcopal) Church.
For those who want to know even more about Dr. Silkworth, the Christian, and Bill Wilson's friends, Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr. and Dr. Norman Vicent Peale, there is information on Dr. Peale and Silkworth and Jesus Christ in: (1) The Silkworth biography cited above. (2) Norman Vincent Peale's The Positive Power of Jesus Christ. (3) Dick B., The Conversion of Bill W.

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