| print this
Silkworth on Jesus Christ
Step people who study A.A.'s Big Book are, of course, familiar
with Bill Wilson's medical mentor, Dr. William Duncan Silkworth.
Bill called him the benign "little doctor who loved drunks."
Silkworth, a psychiatrist, had treated thousands of alcoholics
and was director of Towns Hospital in New York where Bill
had several times sought help. Though Silkworth had explained
the disease of alcoholism to Bill, Bill continued to drink
until he met his "sponsor" Ebby Thacher, who had recovered
through the spiritual program of the Oxford Group. Ebby
had also gone to Calvary Rescue Mission, run by Dr. Sam
Shoemaker's Calvary Episcopal Church in New York; and Ebby
had there made a decision for Christ. Wilson went there
for the same purpose and, according to a conversation the
author had with Dr. Shoemaker's widow (Helen Smith Shoemaker),
Bill Wilson made a decision for Christ at the Rescue Mission.
Bill stayed drunk for a few days and then checked into Towns
Hospital and again sought help from Dr. Silkworth. And it
was during this stay, that Bill took the life-changing steps
of the Oxford Group, had his "hot flash experience," reported
it to Dr. Silkworth, and was told by Silkworth that he (Bill)
had better hang on to what had happened to him. Silkworth
later was asked to write the "Doctor's Opinion" that opens
the basic text of the Big Book. Silkworth's picture appears
in A.A.'s Pass It On, the biography of Bill's life.
before his death, the author spent an hour with Dr. Norman
Vincent Peale, friend of A.A., the Rev. Sam Shoemaker, and
Bill Wilson. Dr. Peale told me of the conversations he had
with Bill Wilson about Bill's conversion. However, until
1997, I had never heard the following account by Peale about
Dr. William Duncan Silkworth. It can be found in Norman
Vincent Peale, The Positive Power of Jesus Christ (New York:
Foundation for Christian Living, 1980), pp. 60-61. It appears
under the title "The Wonderful Story of Charles K.":
a businessman in Virginia, had become a full-fledged alcoholic;
so much so that he had to have help, and fast, for his life
was cracking up. He made an appointment with the late Dr.
William Duncan Silkworth, one of the nation's greatest experts
on alcoholism, who worked in a New York City hospital [the
Charles Towns Hospital]. Receiving Charles into his clinic
as a patient, the doctor gave him treatment for some days,
then called him into his office. "Charles," he said, "I
have done everything I can for you. At this moment you are
free of your trouble. But there is an area in your brain
where you may hold a reservation and that could, in all
likelihood, cause you to return to your drinking. I wish
that I might reach this place in your consciousness, but
alas, I do not have the skill."
doctor," exclaimed Charles, "you are the most skilled physician
in this field. When I came to you it was to the greatest.
If you cannot heal me, then who can possibly do so?" The
doctor hesitated, then said thoughtfully, "There is another
Doctor who can complete this healing, but He is very expensive."
all right," cried Charles, "I can get the money. I can pay
his fees. I cannot go home until I am healed. Who is this
doctor and where is he?"
but this Physician is not at all moderate as to expense,"
persisted Dr. Silkworth. "He wants everything you've got.
He wants you, all of you. Then He gives the healing. His
price is your entire self." Then he added slowly and impressively,
"His name is Jesus Christ and He keeps office in the New
Testament and is available whenever you need Him."
Peale then describes the healing of Charles through the
power of Jesus Christ.
article was written by Dick B.
historical information, visit Dick B.s web site: http://www.dickb.com/ndex.shtml.
Titles and Articles by Dick B. His site includes: Alcoholics
Anonymous history, Early A.A.'s spiritual roots and successes.
Also, his articles on A.A.'s biblical sources -Results of
many years of research on Twelve Step biblical origins.
to main Dr.
Silkworth index page.
Silkworth Grapevine index | Grapevine