William Duncan Silkworth
William Duncan Silkworth, M.D., (1873-1951) was an American medical doctor and specialist in the treatment of alcoholism. He was Director of the Charles B. Towns Hospital for Drug and Alcohol Addictions in New York City in the 1930s, during which time Bill Wilson, a future co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.), was admitted on three separate occasions for alcoholism. Silkworth had a profound influence on Wilson and encouraged him to realize that alcoholism was more than just an issue of moral weakness. He introduced Wilson to the idea that alcoholism had a pathological, disease-like basis.
William Silkworth wrote the letters in the chapter titled "The Doctor's Opinion" in the book Alcoholics Anonymous. Dr. Silkworth treated more than 40,000 alcoholics in his career and was regarded as one of the world's leading experts in the field. Crucially, he described the powerlessness of alcoholism as an obsession of the mind that compels one to drink and an allergy of the body that condemns one to go mad or die. Dr. Silkworth observed that alcoholics could recover if they could obtain an essential psychic change brought about with the aid of a "Higher Power."
He is buried at the Glenwood Cemetery in West Long Branch, New Jersey.
- Writings, articles, letters and documents of Dr. William Duncan Silkworth
- William Duncan Silkworth (Biography)