In “Doctor Bob’s Nightmare” (2002) the first of the Personal Stories found in Part I “Pioneers of A.A.” we have the personal story of A.A.’s cofounder Dr. Robert Smith. In this account we have a description of Dr. Bob’s meeting with Bill Wilson.  Dr, Bob notes that as a physician and an educated man he had, “…read a great deal and talked to everyone who knew, or thought they knew anything about the subject of alcoholism. (2002, p. 180)” and he writes this pregnant statement, italicized in the original, “Of far more importance was the fact that he was the first living human with whom I had ever talked, who knew what he was talking about in regard to alcoholism from actual experience.  In other words he talked my language. (2002, p.180)”

The emphasis here is on “actual experience.”  Dr Bob could accept what Bill had to say because of the credibility based on “actual experience.”  As he notes in the very next sentence,  “He knew all the answers, and certainly not because he had picked them up in his reading.”  Here we have the central feature of A.A.: one alcoholic talking to another alcoholic.  Dr. Bob did not have a spiritual experience like Bill’s although he was very involved in spiritual practice.

Unlike Bill Dr. Bob continued to suffer from cravings for two and a half years after he stopped drinking.  But he felt that his own behavior when drinking had removed any privilege he might have to use alcohol.  He was quite stern towards those he thought had intellectual barriers to a belief in a power greater than their conscious self.  “If you think you are an atheist, an agnostic, a skeptic, or have any other form of intellectual pride which keeps you from accepting what is in this book, I feel sorry for you.  If you still think you are strong enough to beat the game alone, that is your affair.  But if you really and truly want to quit drinking liquor for good and all, and sincerely feel that you must have some help, we know that we have an answer for you.  It never fails, if you go about it with one half the zeal you have been in the habit of showing when you were getting another drink.
Your heavenly father will never let you down!”  
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