Lets Ask Bill W.
Question & Answer # 16
Do alcoholics as a class differ from other people?
Some years ago the doctors began to look at Alcoholics Anonymous and they got about thirty of us together and they said to themselves “Well, now that these fellows are in A.A., and they won’t lie so badly, and maybe for the first time we’ll get a good look at what the interior of a drunk is like.” So a number of us were examined at great length by psychiatrists, and all sorts of tests taken, and the object of this particular inquiry was to see whether alcoholics as a class differed from other people, and if they did, just why and how much.
A number of us were invited to attend the conclave, and a number of learned papers were read, and finally one of these physicians (a very noted one – the meeting took place at the New York Academy of Medicine) began to sum up what he thought the conclusion which they had arrived at was this: that the alcoholic is emotionally on the childish side. That the alcoholic is a person who is more sensitive emotionally than the average person. And then, they ascribed another quality to us – they used the word “grandiosity,” they were grandiose (meaning by that that as a type we were what you might call “All or Nothing people.”) Someone once described it by saying all alcoholics hanker for the moon when perhaps the stars would have done just as well. As a class, we’re like that, said the doctors. (Memphis, Tenn., Sept.18-20, 1947)