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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Alcoholics Anonymous and Psychology: Looking Back at A.A. History

"You see, Alcohol in Latin is "spiritus" and you use the same word for the highest religious experience as well as for the most depraving poison. The helpful formula therefore is: spiritus contra spiritum."

-- Dr. Carl Jung to Bill Wilson --
(Correspondence dated January 30, 1961)
Although it opens by misclassifying Rolland H. as a "founder" of A.A. - Rolland H. maintained lifetime sobriety in the Oxford Group, but never joined A.A. - the attached video is a worthwhile reminder of the initial impetus that Carl Jung gave to the chain of events that would lead to the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous (and, through it, the entire 12 Step movement) in 1935.

Those with a deeper interest in the Jung-Wilson may wish to read further (here). Suffice to say, however, that it was Jung who saw that the craving of the alcoholic addict was, in fact, a spiritual thirst; in his words, "the search of our being for wholeness." It was Bill W., Doctor Bob and the original old-timers, however, who would meld medical, religious, and psychiatric insights into the program that would become A.A.

Dr. Jung's correspondence with Bill W. is published in the Grapevine Publication, "Language of the Heart," or may be viewed (together with a multitude of other helpful and historical articles about A.A.) online at

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