Posted by: RealisticRecovery | May 17, 2009

Blast from the Past – 1940 Time Magazine article on “Alcoholics Anonymous”

Blast from the Past – 1940 Time Magazine article on “Alcoholics Anonymous”

“Alcoholics Anonymous”
Monday, Feb. 19, 1940- Time Magazine

Last week one of the best-known teetotalers in the U. S., John D. Rockefeller, had 60 people to dinner. No cocktails were served, for several of Mr. Rockefeller’s guests were members of “Alcoholics Anonymous,” a widespread, publicity-shy group of one-time guzzlers who have cured themselves.

Psychiatrists now generally consider alcoholism a disease, specifically a psychoneurosis. Alcoholics generally drink, not just because they like liquor, but to escape from something—a mother fixation, inferiority feelings, an intolerable domestic situation, social or economic maladjustment. They may suffer the torments of the damned, even while drinking themselves into a stupor, and especially in the brief period between waking up with a remorseful, clattering hangover and getting down the first drink of the day. Psychiatrists try to help them by discovering the hidden reason for drinking and showing how it can be removed. But cynics in sanatoriums, watching a sober man walk out the door full of good intentions, often bet on how many days or weeks will elapse before he is back. Nagging by families usually makes things worse.

About five years ago a traveling salesman named Bill, after repeated alcoholic relapses, was pronounced hopeless by his doctors. Bill was an agnostic, but some one asked him if he couldn’t believe that there was some power bigger than himself—call it God or whatever he liked—that would help him not to drink. The idea was that though Bill was always willing to let himself down, he might be more reluctant to let God down. Bill tried it, found that he had no trouble resisting the desire to drink. He was cured. He told his discovery to others, and the cure spread. These reformed drunkards called themselves “Alcoholics Anonymous,” now number about 400 in towns all over the U. S. They do their missionary work on their own time, as an avocation.

Aware of his interest in liquor control, some of the group wrote to John D. Rockefeller two years ago—asking not for money but for advice. Mr. Rockefeller asked a representative to look into their doings, grew so interested that he helped to publish a book, Alcoholics Anonymous (Works Publishing Co.; $3.50), in which some members described their battles with the demon and how they won.

Professional opinion on the usefulness of Alcoholics Anonymous is divided. Some psychiatrists think the group is making a mistake in not leaning more heavily on medical guidance. Others feel that it gives something that psychiatry does not, should be encouraged to the fullest extent.




  1. “The idea was that though Bill was always willing to let himself down, he might be more reluctant to let God down.”

    Hmmmm…. is that why there has to be a higher power? Because I don’t have enough self-respect to just do it for myself? At least that’s one explanation that actually makes sense.

    I know I feel like I am letting down my blog-“friends” when I drink. I suppose that’s why I actually need to talk to people at AA meetings — to include them in the group of people I might be letting down.

  2. When I read your blog, I see a living version of “progress not perfection”, that’s inspiring.
    We have never met yet somehow our inner selves have been given a great opportunity to connect somehow and make progress. I hope that’s all people are expecting from us.

    But I have to admit, the more I connect with people at my various meetings, and through this blog, the better I am getting.
    I don’t know how this phenomenon works , it’s part “I don’t want to let them down”, and part “i’m actually starting to enjoy this recovery journey, and enjoy the company of some of the great people (like you) who seem to be traveling with me and I don’t want to give that up or lose it”.

  3. one thing i noticed about the aa meetings is that it is amazing just to be in a room full of people trying to better themselves, trying to connect with others in a deep and spiritual manner. how often does that happen?

    i definitely have learned a lot about life and myself from my blog. it’s amazing that people all over the world have the same problem, and the solution seems to be somewhat universal as well.
    it’s also amazing to connect with people in general by spewing out my thoughts and feelings on the blog — and to get thoughtful comments in response is comforting.

    i’m glad to connect with you and others through my blog, and i hope we can continue to enjoy each other’s company.

    i’m still trying to get to the place where i can see some progress, but i’ll get there eventually. i’m definitely in a different place than i was a few months ago (some of my older stuff is pretty bad — I’m glad not to be there anymore).

    hopefully i have had my last drink, although i can’t really be certain. but i don’t know where i’d be today without the support of my fellow recovery bloggers. It’s good to know that it can be done — that recovery and a happier, more fulfilling life are possible.

  4. “i’m still trying to get to the place where i can see some progress, but i’ll get there eventually”

    i’m thinking your post ” compassion received” = progress

    now I gotta go check out that Lama fella.

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