The Other Women
by A. Orange


      This is a faithful saying: if a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work.
      2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, soberminded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach;
      3 Not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous...
      8 Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given much to wine, not greedy for money,
      9 Holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience.
      10 But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless.  ...
      12 Let deacons be the husbands of one wife...

1 Timothy 3:1 to 3:12


Ordinarily, I could hardly care less what a man does with his women friends, or whether he has a mistress as well as a wife. There are millions of men who are cheating on their wives, and I'm not going to say a thing about them. But when a group holds a man up as an example of how to live a spiritual life, and even claims that the man is some kind of a saint and a prophet, a man who wrote divinely-inspired books while being "guided by God", but who turns out to be a hypocritical thieving lying philanderer, then I think we can safely cancel his application for sainthood. And I believe that it casts a lot of doubts on his religious teachings.

Bill Wilson cheated on his wife Lois with many different women, both before and after sobriety. He even cheated on her while she worked in Loesser's department store to support him. "I'm going to a meeting" was often a double-entendre when Bill Wilson said it. Bill actually invented the old A.A. tradition of Thirteenth Stepping the pretty women who come to A.A. meetings seeking help for alcoholism. (First you teach them the Twelve Steps, and then you take them to the bedroom and teach them the Thirteenth Step....)

Even worse, Bill Wilson's treatment of his wife Lois can only be described as "cold, cruel, vindictive, and heartless".

Tom Powers helped Bill Wilson to write Bill's second book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. Francis Hartigan, who was Lois Wilson's private secretary and confidant, recently wrote a biography of Bill Wilson. For it, Hartigan interviewed Tom Powers, and quoted Tom as saying that he had urged Bill to quit his smoking and womanizing:

"All the while we were working on the 'Twelve and Twelve'," Tom said, "I would argue with him, 'you're killing yourself. And think about what you're doing to Lois!'"
      While other people I spoke with insisted that Lois never knew about Bill's affairs, Tom insisted that "Lois knew everything and she didn't have to guess about it, either. A lot of people tried to protect her, but there were others who would run to Stepping Stones to tell Lois all about it whenever they saw Bill with another woman.
      I asked Tom how Bill reacted when Tom would insist that Bill's guilt over his infidelities was responsible for his depressions.
      "I think that was the worst part of it," he said. "Bill would always agree with me. 'I know,' he'd say. 'You're right.' Then, just when I would think we were finally getting somewhere, he would say, 'But I can't give it up.'
      "When I would press him as to why the hell not, he would start rationalizing. What would really kill me is when he'd say, 'Well, you know, Lois has always been more like a mother to me.' Which somehow was supposed to make it all right for him to cheat on her."
      Tom himself had also been sexually compulsive even after he quit drinking, and he found it very hard to change his behavior.   ...
      Tom said that it took him five years after he quit drinking to change his behavior in this area, and for five years after that, he tried to get Bill to change, too. "Besides what he was doing to the women he was chasing and to Lois, his behavior was a huge source of controversy in AA," Tom said. "He could be very blatant about it, and there were times when it seemed like the reaction to a particularly flagrant episode would end up destroying everything he had worked for. But then people would scurry around and smooth things over, or cover it all up."
      According to Tom, Bill's behavior caused some of his most ardent admirers to break with him. Eventually, Tom broke with Bill, too.
      "I told him that I still considered him to be my sponsor, but that I didn't want to work with him anymore. I said that I hoped we could be friends, but I didn't want to have anything more to do with him publicly. I just couldn't go on feeling as though I was in any way supporting what he was doing to Lois — and to himself.
      "Bill said, 'Fine. I feel the same way about you, too,' and we shook on it. As though it were some mutually agreed upon parting of the way, with fault on both sides. Which was a real switcheroo, you know. I think he knew that I saw right through it, but I guess it made him feel better not to have to take responsibility for destroying what had been a very enjoyable and productive working relationship."
Bill W., A Biography of Alcoholics Anonymous Co-Founder Bill Wilson, Francis Hartigan, 2000, pages 171-172.

Contrast Bill's little "switcheroo" stunt there with his grandiose proclamation on page 58 of the Big Book that A.A. members must "grasp and develop a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty." Apparently, Bill felt that it was just the other people who needed to be rigorously honest.

Tom Powers found Bill Wilson's behavior to be so objectionable and disgusting that he quit Alcoholics Anonymous and went off and started his own recovery program in Hankins, New York.2 Powers said, "This sex thing ran through the whole business. It wasn't just an episode."3


Bill and Lois in Paris, in 1950.
(That is the woman whom Bill ignored because she was too much "like a mother".)

Bill Wilson taught that he was "powerless" over every urge or craving he ever had, no matter whether it was a thirst for alcohol, cravings for cigarettes, greed for money, the desire for self-aggrandizement, the temptation to lie, or the urge to cheat on his wife Lois by having sex with all of the pretty young women who came to the meetings. That's an interesting excuse for cheating on your wife, one of the more novel ones, but it doesn't wash.

Notice how such an "Admission of Powerlessness" is really just a veiled excuse to continue such behavior: "I can't quit jumping on all of the pretty young women at the meetings, because I'm powerless over my sexual urges. So I guess I'm doomed; I'll just have to keep on enjoying all of the cute young babes because I don't have any control over the situation..."

Bill Wilson was habitually unfaithful to the wife who was supporting him, both before and after sobriety. Bill was such an outrageous philanderer that the other elder A.A. members had to form a "Founder's Watch Committee", whose job it was to follow Bill Wilson around, and watch him, and break up budding sexual relationships with the pretty young things before he publicly embarrassed A.A. yet again.1

The impression that he was a ladies' man seems to have come from the way he sometimes behaved at AA gatherings. When Bill wasn't accompanied by Lois (or later, Helen), he could often be observed engaged in animated conversation with an attractive young newcomer. His interest in younger women seemed to grow more intense with age. Barry Leach, who knew Bill nearly thirty years, told me that in the 1960s he and other friends of Bill's formed what they came to refer to as the "Founder's Watch" committee. People were delegated to keep track of Bill during the socializing that usually accompanies AA functions. When they observed a certain gleam in his eye, they would tactfully steer Bill off in one direction and the dewy-eyed newcomer in another.
Bill W., A Biography of Alcoholics Anonymous Co-Founder Bill Wilson, Francis Hartigan, 2000, page 192.

Susan Cheever reported the same thing in her biography of Bill Wilson, although she tried hard to downplay its importance, using standard stereotypical alcoholic Minimization and Denial to claim that it didn't matter much and wasn't any big deal:

Many people in A.A. worried that Bill Wilson's sexual behavior would be discovered and reflect badly on the movement. Whether or not they were necessary, self-appointed "Bill watchers" usually stayed close to him at meetings and conferences to prevent him from interacting with attractive newcomers in a way that might appear unseemly.
My Name Is Bill; Bill Wilson — His Life And The Creation Of Alcoholics Anonymous, Susan Cheever, page 225.

What kind of a healer or spiritual leader is that? You have to follow him around and watch him, to prevent him from sexually exploiting the newcomers?

Also notice how Susan Cheever totally ignored and avoided the important issue of the harm done to the women alcoholics who got used by Bill for his sex games and self-aggrandizement. Susan Cheever wouldn't touch that issue; she only wrote about how some silly worry-warts unnecessarily fretted over Bill's behavior, worrying that it might "reflect badly on the movement", and "might appear unseemly". Susan Cheever writes as if the women in recovery didn't matter and didn't have any feelings worth worrying about, and their recovery, their health, their lives, and their continued sobriety was of no consequence, not even worth mentioning. The women whom Bill Wilson used and exploited were treated like irrelevant objects both in Bill's sex games and in Susan Cheever's mind.


Bill Wilson just didn't want to be bothered with the hard work of resisting temptation. Like so many other phony gurus, he lived a life of hypocritical irresolute self-indulgence, preaching "spirituality", "absolute purity", "rigorous honesty", and self-sacrifice to others while indulging in all of the pleasures of the flesh himself — with the sole exception that he does appear to have finally quit drinking alcohol after it nearly killed him. (And some people dispute even that, and say that Bill never got more than a year of sobriety. Susan Cheever herself reported that Bill Wilson died screaming for whiskey.)

So just how was Bill's behavior an example of a life "lived on a spiritual basis"? Besides the fact that he hypocritically yammered the words "God" and "working selflessly" all of the time, and held séances and played with Ouija boards, just what was "spiritual" about William G. Wilson?

(HINT: "spiritual" and "superstitious" are not synonyms.)



The biographer Mathew J. Raphael added this tidbit:

Another alleged mistress has been outed by novelist Carolyn See in a memoir of her familial drinking life. It seems that Wynn C. [Corum], See's father's second wife (he was her fifth husband), had once "come within a hair-breadth of becoming the First Lady of AA." For a while during the late 1940s or early 1950s, "she and Bill had been a mighty item." A tall and buxom beauty, with pale skin, high cheekbones, red hair, and turquoise eyes, Wynn "was a knockout, and she knew it, and dressed like a chorus girl." Unfortunately, Bill was already married, but he struck "a hard but loving bargain with Wynn: "He wouldn't, couldn't marry her, but he'd put her in the Book."19 That is, he included her story, "Freedom From Bondage," in the second edition of Alcoholics Anonymous.20

19. Carolyn See, Dreaming: Hard Luck and Good Times in America (New York: Random House, 1995), p. 58. During Founder's Day, I noticed that a copy of Dreaming was in the library of the Akron A.A. archives.
20. As the last story in the second edition (1955), "Freedom From Bondage" became the matching bookend for "Bill's Story." The narrative was retained in the third edition (1976) but shifted to the penultimate position. At one point the author quips that her history of multiple marriages (she admits to four) "caused the rather cryptic comment from one of my A.A. friends ... that I had always been a cinch for the program, for I had always been intrested in mankind, but that I was just taking them one man at a time" (AA, 548-49).
Bill W. and Mr. Wilson; The Legend and Life of A.A.'s Cofounder, Mathew J. Raphael, pages 130, 195.

The "Freedom From Bondage" story is also present in the third and fourth editions of the Big Book at page 544.


Wynn Corum and Corolyn See's father, whom Wynn C. married on the rebound from Bill Wilson.

This story is bolstered by Carolyn See herself in her review of Susan Cheever's book:

      Full disclosure: I grew up with a stepmom, Wynn, who had been fully prepared to marry Bill. He disengaged himself but put her "story" in the second edition of "Alcoholics Anonymous," in which the accounts of recovering alcoholics were included for the first time. She married my dad, her fifth husband, as a sort of consolation prize. Wynn was a wonderful woman, but I saw AA then from the point of view of a prissy, still-sober teenager, watching members bicker about whether taking an aspirin for a headache constituted a "slip," listening to stories of their friendships with a Personal God — "I told God to have you call me today," my stepmother would say after I moved out of the house. (And what could I possibly say? Maybe she had, and maybe He did.) But they didn't worry much about sex.   ...
      So I want to say for the record (and you won't find it on "Grapevine," or any other AA publication) that early AA, at least on the West Coast, was full of raucous men and women bursting with the physical energy that drying out brings. I speak now for Wynn (the Wynn I knew), who wrote "Freedom From Bondage" in the Book, and who, though she had five husbands, considered the high point of her life her amorous connection to Bill.
      Wynn stood on our front steps one bright Christmas morning enthusiastically kissing a different handsome AA swain as others crowded past them, pushing inside to a party, where they would drink tomato juice and laugh like banshees, delirious with joy. They had found God (as they understood Him), and as long as they stayed away from booze and aspirin, they were okay; they were in the clear. They weren't ashamed of sex; they gloried in it.
"MY NAME IS BILL", Carolyn See, The Washington Post, February 27, 2004, page C02.

Also notice the roots of the A.A. "no medications" madness. It was going on even during the earliest days of Alcoholics Anonymous. Some of those original A.A. members were such crazy religious fanatics that they even considered taking a few aspirin to be a slip from perfect sobriety? (The parallels to faith healing and Christian Science are apparent.) They were obviously using a very different definition of the word "sobriety" than what the rest of the human race uses.



Francis Hartigan, Lois Wilson's private secretary, went on to describe how Bill Wilson used his leadership position in A.A. to get more women:

As the AA office staff expanded in the 1940s, Bill seemed to take an active part in its recruitment efforts. One longtime AA member told me that at first she didn't know why in 1946 Bill hired her and another young woman AA member. "Neither of us could type or take dictation," she told me. Then, one night soon after they were hired, Bill took both women to an AA meeting. He sat between them and, all during the meeting, he had a hand on one leg of each of the women.
      There was also a young woman Bill had begun an affair with whom he subsequently hired for the AA office. She worked at the office from about 1948-1950. She seems to have been very much like Bill's mother, a strong-willed, stubborn woman who was very insistent about having her way. Because everyone knew she was Bill's mistress, she expected to get it. Apparently, she did not appreciate the extent to which AA is a democracy. Bill's recommendation might have gotten her the job, but her behavior became so disruptive that in 1950 the AA trustees told Bill that she could no longer work there.
      While Bill often seemed to feel free to take advantage of whatever opportunities were available to him as AA's head man, a number of people who were close to him told me that there were times when he was painfully aware of the threat his philandering posed to everything he had worked for. Barry Leach, a longtime AA member who was a close friend of Bill's for more than twenty-five years, Jack Norris, and Nell Wing all said that Bill had let them know how badly he felt about his unfaithfulness to Lois. That he nevertheless was seemingly unable to control himself filled him with despair and self-loathing at times and left him feeling unworthy to lead AA.
Bill W., A Biography of Alcoholics Anonymous Co-Founder Bill Wilson, Francis Hartigan, pages 172-173.

Hey! That's quite some A.A. meeting — each hand fondling a woman's thigh! I love it! Where do I sign up?
(But what on earth are you supposed to do when it comes your turn to "share"?)

Notice the status game that Bill Wilson was playing. He was showing off, taking two women to an A.A. meeting and fondling them all through the meeting. He wanted to show the other guys that he was a superstud who could get all of the women he wanted.

Dr. Alexander Lowen wrote:

Narcissists are more concerned with how they appear than what they feel.
Narcissism, Denial of the True Self, Alexander Lowen, M.D., page ix.

Narcissists are neither carefree nor innocent. They have learned to play the power game, to seduce and to manipulate. They are always thinking about how people see and respond to them.
Narcissism, Denial of the True Self, Alexander Lowen, M.D., page 228.

And Dr. Bernstein wrote:

Narcissists are experts at showing off. Everything they do is calculated to make the right impression.
Emotional Vampires: Dealing with People Who Drain You Dry, Albert J. Bernstein, Ph.D., page 130.

Nina Brown says:

      Many who have an Exhibitionist DNP [Destructive Narcissistic Pattern] openly solicit admiration for their sexual prowess. They want others to admire and envy them for being sexually attractive or more successful and better at sexual games. They seek to be the fantasized lover with many conquests and a string of broken hearts. This provides them with much satisfaction and validation that they are superior, worthy, admired, and envied. These people do not know of any other way to connect to others except through sexual means.
      If this description fits your partner, you may find that your partner is constantly flirting, cruising, trolling, engaging in affairs, and not exactly keeping this a secret.
Loving the Self-Absorbed: How to Create a More Satisfying Relationship with a Narcissistic Partner, Nina W. Brown, Ed.D., LPC, NCC, page 149.

Characteristics of a narcissist:

  1. Easily lies, cheats, distorts, and misleads
  2. Enjoys "putting something over" on others
  3. Feels entitled to take advantage of others
  4. Doesn't appear to feel guilty when caught lying
  5. Is adept at off-loading blame
  6. Feels superior
  7. Is contemptuous of others
  8. Boasts and brags
  9. Engages in seductive behavior
  10. Seeks to arouse envy in others
Loving the Self-Absorbed: How to Create a More Satisfying Relationship with a Narcissistic Partner, Nina W. Brown, Ed.D., LPC, NCC, page 118.

Bill may have felt a little bad about his philandering, but his alleged "despair and self-loathing" never stopped him from doing it all again and again and again...

One can only wonder whether the remorse was genuine, or just an act, just another play for sympathy. In his second book, Bill said that it was probably just another ploy:

We were depressed and complained we felt bad, when in fact we were mainly asking for sympathy and attention. This odd trait of mind and emotion, this perverse wish to hide a bad motive underneath a good one, permeates human affairs from top to bottom.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, page 94.

And a book on emotional vampires tells us about Narcissistic emotional vampires:

Even when he [a Narcissistic Legend in His Own Mind] goes through periods of depression, during which he talks about what a terrible person he is, what [he] is looking for is not advice on how to do things better, but someone to reassure him of what he knows in his heart — that he's just fine the way he is.
Emotional Vampires: Dealing with People Who Drain You Dry, Albert J. Bernstein, Ph.D., pages 141-142.

Bill Wilson's own psychiatrist, Dr. Tiebout, criticized Bill Wilson by saying that he had been trying to live out the infantilely grandiose demands of "His Majesty the Baby".



There is a chapter in the Big Book, titled "To Wives", which is ostensibly advice from the alcoholics' wives to other alcoholics' wives. But Bill Wilson did not let his wife Lois write the To Wives chapter of the Big Book. In spite of the fact that the chapter begins with the words:
      "As wives of Alcoholics Anonymous, we would like you to feel that we understand as perhaps few can",
Mr. Wilson actually wrote the entire chapter himself while pretending to be his own wife, because, he said, he didn't trust Lois to get it right. He mumbled something about how she wouldn't get the style the same as the rest of the book. Lois felt hurt by the rejection, but that was the way it was going to be.

Bill had already asked Doctor Bob's wife Anne if she would write the chapter, but she declined. Apparently, Bill felt that Anne Smith was qualified to get the style right, but his own wife Lois was not. That gives us an indication of Bill's opinion of his wife's intellect.

Bill would not let even Lois, who was dying to do so, write the chapter titled "To Wives." After all, she was the wife who had endured Bill's drunken years and the houseful of alcoholics he was trying to wrestle into sobriety. "I have never known why he didn't want me to write about the wives, and it hurt me at first," she said.
Getting Better Inside Alcoholics Anonymous, Nan Robertson, pages 70-71.

Bill originally thought, as he told Bob, "that Anne [Smith] should do the one [chapter] portraying the wife" (DB, 152). When she demurred, Bill did it himself, much to the chagrin of Lois, who reasonably supposed she was better qualified than her husband on this score. In fact, Lois had hoped Bill would ask her to write not only "To Wives," but also the following chapter, "The Family Afterward." But when "she shyly suggested this, he said no; he thought the book, except for the stories, should all be written in the same style" (LR, 114).9
      Obviously, Bill's excuse to Lois makes no sense at all, given his first offering the assignment to Anne Smith. Lois, who kept her disappointment to herself, later recalled: "I have never known why he didn't want me to write about the wives, and it hurt me at first; but our lives were so full that I didn't have time to think about it much" (LR, 114). It may be that Wilson himself was feeling so insecure in his new authorial role that he shied from creating a potential rivalry with his wife. Or, perhaps, he was nervous about what she might say!


9. Also see PIO, p. 200.

Bill W. and Mr. Wilson, Mathew J. Raphael, pages 119-120, 194.

PIO = 'PASS IT ON': The story of Bill Wilson and how the A.A. message reached the world, Authorship credited to 'anonymous'; actually written by A.A.W.S. staff. Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. (AAWS), New York, 1984.

LR = Lois Remembers: Memoirs of the Co-Founder of Al-Anon and Wife of the Co-Founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, Lois Wilson. Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. 1979.

DB = Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers, Authorship credited to 'anonymous'; actually written by A.A.W.S. staff. Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., New York, 1980.

Bill Wilson wrote:

      WITH FEW EXCEPTIONS, our book thus far has spoken of men. But what we have said applies quite as much to women. Our activities in behalf of women who drink are on the increase. There is every evidence that women regain their health as readily as men if they try our suggestions.
      But for every man who drinks others are involved — the wife who trembles in fear of the next debauch; the mother and father who see their son wasting away.
[Here is where the women supposedly began writing. Bill continued:]

      As wives of Alcoholics Anonymous, we would like you to feel that we understand as perhaps few can. We want to analyze the mistakes we have made. We want to leave you with the feeling that no situation is too difficult and no unhappiness too great to be overcome. We have traveled a rocky road. We have had long rondezvous with hurt pride, self-pity, misunderstanding, and fear. These are not pleasant companions. We have been driven to maudlin sympathy, to bitter resentment. Some of us veered from extreme to extreme, ever hoping that one day our loved ones would be themselves once more.
== The A.A. Big Book, William G. Wilson, "To Wives", pages 104-105.

Bill also had those imaginary wives saying:

Another feeling we are very likely to entertain is one of resentment that love and loyalty could not cure our husbands of alcoholism. We do not like the thought that the contents of a book or the work of another alcoholic has accomplished in a few weeks that for which we struggled for years.
== The A.A. Big Book, William G. Wilson, "To Wives".
That statement is present in all editions of the Big Book, from the original 1939 multilithed manuscript through the 4th Edition, 2001, on page 118.

Bill Wilson's imagination was certainly vivid: Even while Bill was still busy just writing the opening chapters of the Big Book in late 1938 and early 1939, he was describing wives who were already jealous of the book because the book had already cured their husbands of alcoholism in just a few weeks. There's nothing like being confident that your book is going to revolutionize the world, and have magical, nay, miraculous effects on alcoholics.

That's insane delusions of grandeur, again. It's also characteristic of a narcissistic personality disorder.

(The real question is, "Was Bill Wilson totally disconnected from reality, a completely delusional raving lunatic, or was he just coldly lying and manufacturing propaganda to promote his new cult and make some money by selling the book?")

Destructive narcissists categorized as "Manipulative" are particularly prone to use misleading statements and lies. Do they know they are lying? Yes. But, they feel they have the right to use any means available to achieve their ends.
Loving the Self-Absorbed: How to Create a More Satisfying Relationship with a Narcissistic Partner, Nina W. Brown, Ed.D., LPC, NCC, page 67.


But Bill didn't have a very flattering view of wives, did he? Normal, sane, loving wives are overjoyed when their husbands are cured of a life-threatening disease. Wives don't usually resent the doctor for curing their husbands of cancer, tuberculosis, or diabetes. But here, in Bill's weird world of A.A., the wives are all resentful and jealous of God, The Big Book, and the alcoholics who cured their husbands of alcoholism in just a few short weeks.

And Bill Wilson just never came off it, either. In his next book, written a dozen years later, he wrote the same things again:

After the husband joins A.A., the wife may become discontented, even highly resentful that Alcoholics Anonymous has done the very thing that all her years of devotion had failed to do. Her husband may become so wrapped up in A.A. and his new friends that he is inconsiderately away from home more than when he drank. Seeing her unhappiness, he recommends A.A.'s Twelve Steps and tries to teach her how to live.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, page 118.

The little woman becomes "discontented, even highly resentful", supposedly because A.A. has fixed her husband when she couldn't. So, Bill says, "He tries to teach her how to live."

Isn't that a laugh? Bill Wilson suicidally drank his brains out for years and stole money from his wife's purse to go buy more booze while she worked in Loesser's department store and supported both of them, year after year, but now that Bill has become a religious maniac who is obsessed with a cult religion, spending all of his time at meetings and recruiting, he suddenly imagines that he is a religious leader who is qualified to teach his wife how to live, as if she didn't already know. Again, Bill Wilson was displaying glaring evidence of his narcissistic personality disorder.

Note the interesting little goof, the small slip of the tongue that betrays the truth: If the Twelve Steps were really a formula for quitting drinking, then there would be no reason for the guy to teach the Twelve Steps to his sober wife. She has no need of a quit-drinking program — she doesn't drink. Only if the Twelve Steps are something else, like a formula for building up a cult religion, or a formula for that religion's "way of life", is there a reason for him to teach the Twelve Steps to his wife, to "teach her how to live." Bill Wilson just revealed that Alcoholics Anonymous is a cult religion, not a program for sobriety.

Then Bill told us how "the wife" was jealous and felt neglected:

Still another difficulty is that you may become jealous of the attention he bestows on other people, especially alcoholics. You have been starving for his companionship, yet he spends long hours helping other men and their families. You feel he should now be yours.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 8, To Wives, page 119.

Reading between the lines, we can see that Bill's wife Lois was very unhappy with his maniacal obsessive behavior. She admitted, in her own book, Lois Remembers, that she got fed up and screamed, "Damn your old meetings!", and threw a shoe at him.5 She might have been getting tired of supporting the unemployed bum. She had to support him while he drank, and then, after he sobered up, he decided that he liked proselytizing for the Oxford Group religious cult, and then for Alcoholics Anonymous, indulging his messianic complex and going to lots of meetings where he was a big fish in a small pond, much more than working for a living, so she still had to support him for many more years, while he did nothing but his "spiritual practices." In 1944, Clarence Snyder complained that Bill Wilson had been unemployed and mooching off of his wife Lois or the Alcoholics Anonymous organization for nine years.

In his autobiography, Bill Wilson glossed over his behavior by saying:

Burning with confidence and enthusiasm, I pursued alcoholics morning, noon, and night. Though I made a few feeble efforts to get a job, these were soon forgotten in the excitement of the chase. Lois went on working at her department store, content with my new mission in the world.
Bill W. My First 40 Years, William G. Wilson, page 159.

In her book on how to live with a narcissistic spouse, Nina Brown wrote:

Your partner may have high expectations that you will take care of his personal needs. What is expected is that you will fulfill many parenting and nurturing functions, so that your partner can remain free to pursue personally interesting things.
Loving the Self-Absorbed: How to Create a More Satisfying Relationship with a Narcissistic Partner, Nina W. Brown, Ed.D., LPC, NCC, page 78.


Then, with unbelievable gall, Bill Wilson thanked his wife for faithfully supporting him for years and years by writing this about her in the Big Book, writing it as if she were confessing it herself:

      We have elsewhere remarked how much better life is when lived on a spiritual plane. If God can solve the age-old riddle of alcoholism, He can solve your problems too. We wives found that, like everybody else, we were afflicted with pride, self-pity, vanity and all the things which go to make up the self-centered person; and we were not above selfishness or dishonesty. As our husbands began to apply spiritual principles in their lives, we began to see the desirability of doing so too.
      At first, some of us did not believe we needed this help. We thought, on the whole, we were pretty good women, capable of being nicer if our husbands stopped drinking. But it was a silly idea that we were too good to need God. Now we try to put spiritual principles to work in every department of our lives.   ...   We urge you to try our program, for nothing will be so helpful to your husband as the radically changed attitude toward him which God will show you how to have. Go along with your husband if you possibly can.
A.A. Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 8, To Wives, page 116.

"Yes Lois, you selfish, dishonest, silly little girl who thinks she is too good to need God, of course you need to join my cult too. So we'll invent Al-Anon just for you."

Notice how Bill had Lois supposedly saying to the other wives,
      "We urge you to try our program..."
Once again, Bill Wilson says that Alcoholics Anonymous is not a quit-drinking program for Daddy, or a therapy program for alcoholics, or a self-help group for alcoholics. It's a religion for the whole family. (It's the Oxford Group.) And of course it was not the wives' program; it was Bill's.

Bill declared that the wife needed to get a new attitude towards her husband. Again, the narcissistic Bill Wilson felt that his wife Lois was being unfair to him when she criticized his drunken behavior like throwing screaming temper tantrums, tearing up the house, kicking out door panels, and throwing a sewing machine at Lois.6

So, Bill said, she needed God to give her a new attitude.

Bill didn't say anything about the husband needing to get a new attitude towards the wife that he was treating so poorly.

Mind you, when Bill Wilson wrote those pages of the Big Book in December 1938 or early 1939, Lois was working in Loesser's department store in New York City to support both herself and Bill, while he did nothing but go to A.A. meetings, thirteenth step and sexually exploit the pretty women who came to the meetings seeking help for a drinking problem, and write this garbage where he slandered his long-suffering wife, calling her proud, vain, self-centered, selfish, dishonest, and unspiritual — in print.

If Lois irritated Bill by asking him to go get a job, quit messing around with other women, quit chain smoking cigarettes, or quit acting crazy, he responded by calling her selfish, dishonest, unspiritual, and a nag.

Such hateful, arrogant behavior goes far beyond bad manners. It is flat-out insane — completely delusional. Bill grandly proclaimed he was a great spiritual teacher with a mission, guided by God, walking on the Broad Highway, hand in hand with the Spirit of the Universe, while he was treating his wife like that. Bill Wilson was nuts.

Then the paranoid Bill Wilson even attacked the wives — and by implication, Lois — accusing them of being unfaithful. That is a classic textbook example of psychological Projection. Bill cheated on Lois, so Bill accused Lois of cheating. Bill put these words into the mouths of the wives:

We have told innumerable lies to protect our pride and our husbands' reputations. We have prayed, we have begged, we have been patient. We have been hysterical. We have been terror stricken. We have sought sympathy. We have had retaliatory love affairs with other men.
The Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, "To Wives", page 105.

Vulnerability in self-esteem makes individuals with Narcissistic Personality Disorder very sensitive to "injury" from criticism or defeat. Although they may not show it outwardly, criticism may haunt these individuals and may leave them feeling humiliated, degraded, hollow and empty. They may react with disdain, rage, or defiant counterattack.
DSM-IV-TR == Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision; Published by the American Psychiatric Association, Washington, DC. 2000; pages 658-661.

Narcissists ... are always thinking about how people see and respond to them. And they must stay in control because a loss of control evokes their fear of insanity.
Narcissism, Denial of the True Self, Alexander Lowen, M.D., page 228.

Speaking of staying in control, Bill's secretary Nell Wing described an A.A. discussion session like this:

He [Bill Wilson] was also a dedicated, tireless talker.   ...   Not many people interrupted him once he got started. When Lois tried, he would shoot her a slight frown in her direction.
Grateful To Have Been There, Nell Wing, pages 60-61.

So Lois Wilson couldn't even speak without His Majesty's permission?

In another example of projection, Bill Wilson described the stereotypical alcoholic as:

More than most people, the alcoholic leads a double life. He is very much the actor. To the outer world he presents his stage character.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, page 73.

Dr. Alexander Lowen described the behavior of a narcissistic patient named Erich:

Another aspect of narcissism that was evident in Erich's personality was his need to project an image. He presented himself as someone committed to "doing good for others," to use his words. But this image was a perversion of reality. What he called "doing good for others" represented an exercise of power over them, which, despite his stated good intentions, verged on the diabolical. Under the guise of doing good, for instance, Erich exploited his girlfriend: He got her to love him without any loving response on his part. Such exploitativeness is common to all narcissistic personalities.
Narcissism, Denial of the True Self, Alexander Lowen, M.D., page 5.

Bill gave more instructions to the troubled wives:

Perhaps your husband will make a fair start on the new basis, but just as things are going beautifully he dismays you by coming home drunk.   ...   Cheer him up and ask how you can be still more helpful.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 8, To Wives, page 120.

The first principle of success is that you should never be angry. Even though your husband becomes unbearable and you have to leave him temporarily, you should, if you can, go without rancor. Patience and good temper are most necessary.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 8, To Wives, page 111.

So, lady, even if you have to leave your husband, you shouldn't make an angry scene on the way out the door. It is "most necessary" that you smile sweetly at hubby as you leave.

Most necessary for what?

Bill Wilson just couldn't stand his wife Lois criticizing him, nagging him, or angrily screaming at him, calling him "a drunken sot".


Then Bill Wilson even went so far as to basically endorse the idea of divorce, by insisting that A.A. must even come before a man's marriage:

"I decided I must place this program above everything else, even my family, because if I did not maintain my sobriety I would lose my family anyway."
The Big Book, 3rd Edition — Chapter B10, He Sold Himself Short, page 293.

If there be divorce or separation, there should be no undue haste for the couple to get together. The man should be sure of his recovery. The wife should fully understand his new way of life. If their old relationship is to be resumed it must be on a better basis, since the former did not work. This means a new attitude and spirit all around. Sometimes it is to the best interests of all concerned that a couple remain apart. Obviously, no rule can be laid down. Let the alcoholic continue his program day by day. When the time for living together has come, it will be apparent to both parties.
The Big Book, 3rd edition, Chapter 7, page 99.

Yes, the wife must "fully understand" that A.A. will now dominate his life. The A.A. cult comes first — it's his "new way of life", and she gets second place in all things. And they shouldn't get back together until she knows her place and is willing to stay in her place. And if she won't approve of the A.A. program, then the marriage should end.

  • Note that Bill Wilson claimed that their old relationship must be "resumed on a better basis", because it "did not work" before.
  • Let's see now: He drank too much alcohol. That was the problem.
  • Bill Wilson lied and drank and philandered and stole money out of his wife's purse to go buy more booze...
  • So how was that the fault of his wife or their former relationship?
  • So why must the wife now get "a new attitude and spirit"?
  • Isn't that the job of the alcoholic husband?

Again and again, we see that Bill Wilson just couldn't stand the idea that his wife might be a better person than he was, so Bill repeatedly slapped her down with veiled attacks, talking about how "the wife" was selfish and silly and dishonest and jealous, and needed God to give her a new attitude....

And if they don't get back together, the ex-wife gets this advice:

But sometimes you must start life anew. We know women who have done it. If such women adopt a spiritual way of life their road will be smoother.
The Big Book, 3rd edition, Chapter 8, To Wives, page 114.

So ladies, even if A.A. breaks up your marriage, you should still join Al-Anon and adopt Bill Wilson's 12-Step "spiritual" way of life...

Note Bill's arrogant assumption that the women did not already have "a spiritual way of life". Any woman who could not only tolerate an obnoxious lying thieving philandering drunkard like Bill Wilson, but could even work to support him for many years must at least have the patience of a saint...
Poor long-suffering "Stand By Your Man" Lois Wilson...

But in Bill Wilson's deluded mind, the only people who were "spiritual" were the people who followed his dictates, and attended his meetings, and did his Twelve Steps, and hypocritically yammered about God and honesty and spirituality all of the time... (Oh, and who also told Bill Wilson how great he was.) The little woman didn't qualify.

Also see the "Us Stupid Drunks" web page for even more appalling examples of A.A.'s contemptuous treatment of wives of alcoholics.

Then, to pile hypocrisy and denial on top of Bill's other sins, he wrote in his second book:

Permanent marriage breakups and separations, however, are unusual in A.A.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, page 117.



Before Bill took off his wife's dress, he also gave "the other girls" this dire warning: Don't nag your hubby about his drinking, or else he might become moody and resentful and sulk and go spend the night with his mistress:

Our next thought is that you should never tell him what he must do about his drinking. If he gets the idea that you are a nag or a killjoy, your chance of accomplishing anything useful may be zero.   ...   This may lead to lonely evenings for you. He may seek someone else to console him — not always another man.
Big Book, 3rd Edition, To Wives, page 111.

"Console" the poor S.O.B. for what?
Being told that he has to quit drinking himself to death?
It sounds like Lois needed a lot more consoling than Bill did...

(And notice how Bill used the propaganda trick of Sly Suggestions a lot. Bill's crazy ideas may be true... Keep An Open Mind. You never know...)

Bill Wilson just hated his wife nagging him to quit drinking, and this slap was his way of getting back at her.
So, girls, you should never tell Hubby what to do, or else he might think that you're just a nag, and go sleep with his mistress, and then you won't be able to accomplish anything...

Notice the double-bind: you're damned if you do, and damned if you don't:

  • If the wives nag their husbands to quit drinking, the men will just get mad and think that their wives are nags, and go sleep with their mistresses.
  • But if the wives don't nag their husbands to quit drinking, then the guys will just go on drinking forever (and probably still go party with their mistresses).
  • What's a poor girl to do?
  • The only answer is to just be a good little woman and be quiet and go to Al-Anon meetings, and passively wait for the Alcoholics Anonymous men and God to fix the situation for you. (And, while you are there, perhaps you should confess that you've been a domineering bitch.)

Notice how Bill Wilson also worked the blackmail threats both ways:
"Don't hassle me about my drinking and smoking, or else I'll get mad and go sleep with my mistress,"
and also the reverse logic:
"Don't hassle me about spending all of my time going to meetings, doing A.A. recruiting, messing around with other women, chain smoking cigarettes, and not getting a job, or else I'll relapse and drink alcohol."

(And then Bill Wilson did a little psychological projection and accused all of the other alcoholics of being "manipulative".

Hungry destructive narcissists use the childish tactics of pouting and sulking when dissatisfied or when they are thwarted from getting their own way. This is a form of revenge, whereby you are supposed to understand that they have withdrawn their love and approval from you and will continue to hold out until you come around and become more satisfying and accomodating.
Loving the Self-Absorbed: How to Create a More Satisfying Relationship with a Narcissistic Partner, Nina W. Brown, Ed.D., LPC, NCC, page 79.


"Bill The Helpful Housewife" continued his advice to fellow wives, throwing in some Sly Suggestions and fear-mongering for good measure:

Some of the snags you will encounter are irritation, hurt feelings, and resentments. Your husband will sometimes be unreasonable and you will want to criticize. Starting from a speck on the domestic horizon, great thunderclouds of dispute may gather. These family dissensions are very dangerous, especially to your husband. Often you must carry the burden of avoiding them or keeping them under control. Never forget that resentment is a deadly hazard to an alcoholic. We do not mean that you have to agree with your husband whenever there is an honest difference of opinion. Just be careful not to disagree in a resentful or critical spirit.
Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, To Wives, page 117.

"Yes, you shrill housewives will take some tiny little speck and make a big deal out of it, angrily nagging hubby for minor shortcomings like philandering and smoking and drinking himself to death. The proper role for a good housewife is to keep her mouth shut. Don't criticize poor hubby — that would be dangerous — you might hurt him. And above all, don't be resentful. Alcoholics can't stand that."

Narcissistic vampires' greatest fear is of being ordinary. God forbid they should do something as mundane as making a mistake. Even the smallest criticisms feel like stakes through the heart. If you reprimand Narcissistic vampires, the least they'll do is explain in great detail why your opinion is wrong. If you're right, the situation will be much worse. They will melt before your eyes into pitiful, dependent infants who need enormous amounts of reassurance and praise just to draw their next breath. You can't win. There's no such thing as a Narcissistic vampire being objective about his or her faults.
Emotional Vampires: Dealing with People Who Drain You Dry, Albert J. Bernstein, Ph.D., page 137.

"Bill the alcoholic's wife" also told "the other girls":

Try not to condemn your alcoholic husband no matter what he says or does.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 8, To Wives, page 108.

Do not set your heart on reforming your husband.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 8, To Wives, page 111.

Tell him you have been worried, though perhaps needlessly.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 8, To Wives, page 112.

Yes Lois, you are such a silly fluff-head for needlessly worrying about your husband drinking and smoking himself to death.

Say you do not want to be a wet blanket...
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 8, To Wives, page 112.

Again, you should not crowd him. Let him decide for himself. Cheerfully see him through more sprees.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 8, To Wives, page 113.

If he is enthusiastic [about what the A.A. Big Book says] your cooperation will mean a great deal. If he is lukewarm or thinks he is not an alcoholic, we suggest you leave him alone. Avoid urging him to follow our program.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 8, To Wives, page 113.

Yes Lois, quit being a nag.

... you must be on guard to not embarrass or harm your husband.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 8, To Wives, page 115.

If you cooperate, rather than complain, you will find that his excess enthusiasm will tone down.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 8, To Wives, page 119.

Make him feel absolutely free to come and go as he likes. This is important.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 8, To Wives, page 120.

      We know these suggestions are sometimes difficult to follow, but you will save many a heartbreak if you can succeed in observing them. Your husband may come to appreciate your reasonableness and patience.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 8, To Wives, page 111.

(Then again, maybe he won't appreciate you at all. Maybe he'll just continue to take advantage of you, like Bill did to Lois.)

Bill Wilson (the experienced wife of an alcoholic) used a lot of Sly Suggestions in his instructions to "the other wives", telling them to introduce the A.A. "spiritual" cure for alcoholism to their husbands cautiously:

If this kind of approach does not catch your husband's interest, it may be best to drop the subject, but after a friendly talk your husband will usually revive the topic himself. This may take patient waiting, but it will be worth it. Meanwhile you might try to help the wife of another serious drinker. If you act upon these principles, your husband may stop or moderate.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 8, To Wives, page 111.

Oh really? If the husband will stop drinking or moderate just because his wife smiles sweetly and never criticizes him for his binges and drunken escapades, then she must be the real cause of his drinking. It must be her fault that he drinks. Her nagging must be driving him to drink, and her keeping a civil tongue in her head is apparently the cure for alcoholism. If she follows Bill Wilson's instructions, her husband may quit drinking excessively.

So there is no need for the Twelve Steps or Alcoholics Anonymous...
Bill Wilson says so.
All us alcoholics need is a wife who will keep her mouth shut.

Nina Brown described living with a narcissist:

Off-loading Blame

If your partner has a Manipulative DNP [Destructive Narcissistic Personality], you are likely to be accustomed to [his] tendency to off-load blame, and many times you are the recipient of the blame. It doesn't matter how big or small the offense is, your partner never accepts responsibility for mistakes as errors. Worse, you may be blamed for things that are not your fault or are not under your control.
      This tendency to off-load blame is a manifestation of the inflated self. Your partner feels that [he] can do no wrong and is superior. Other words to describe this self-perception and attitude are grandiose and omnipotent.
Loving the Self-Absorbed: How to Create a More Satisfying Relationship with a Narcissistic Partner, Nina W. Brown, Ed.D., LPC, NCC, page 123.



Elsewhere in the Big Book, Bill Wilson even gave us good old boys instructions on how to cheat on our wives and get away with it:

      Perhaps we are mixed up with women in a fashion we wouldn't care to have advertised. We doubt if, in this respect, alcoholics are fundamentally much worse than other people. But drinking does complicate sex relations in the home. After a few years with an alcoholic, a wife gets worn out, resentful, and uncommunicative. How could she be anything else? The husband begins to feel lonely, sorry for himself. He commences to look around in night clubs, or their equivalent, for something more than liquor. Perhaps he is having a secret and exciting affair with "the girl who understands." In fairness we must say that she may understand, but what are we going to do about a thing like that? A man so involved often feels very remorseful at times, especially if he is married to a loyal and courageous girl who has literally gone through hell for him.
      Whatever the situation, we usually have to do something about it. If we are sure our wife does not know, should we tell her? Not always, we think...
      Our design for living is not a one-way street. It is as good for the wife as for the husband. If we can forget, so can she. It is better, however, that one does not needlessly name a person upon whom she can vent jealousy.
A.A. Big Book, William G. Wilson, pages 80-82.

  • The wife gets tired of supporting her constantly-drunk husband and becomes "resentful", so he goes out and finds another girl who is more fun.
  • That was Bill Wilson's design for a "spiritual" A.A. life: Cheat on your wife, and don't tell her; and if she finds out, tell her to forget it.
  • And somehow, that "design for living" is not a one-way street. It will be as good for her as it is for us A.A. men.

No, that is not a joke or an exaggeration. He really did write that. And right after that, on the next page, he wrote:

The spiritual life is not a theory. We have to live it. ... We should not talk incessantly to them about spiritual matters. They will change in time. Our behavior will convince them more than our words.
The A.A. Big Book, William G. Wilson, page 83.

Ah, the outrageous world-class arrogance and hypocrisy:
"In time, our wives will change and learn to be just as spiritual as us lying philanderers."

Bill Wilson ended the To Wives chapter, and his impersonation of the alcoholics' wives, with these words:

      We realize that we have been giving you much direction and advice. We may have seemed to lecture. If that is so we are sorry, for we ourselves don't always care for people who lecture us. But what we have related is based on experience, some of it painful. We had to learn these things the hard way. That is why we are anxious that you understand, and that you avoid these unnecessary difficulties.
      So to you out there who may soon be with us — we say "Good luck and God bless you!"
The A.A. Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 9, The Family Afterward, page 121.

Then, to add insult to injury, Bill Wilson had the gall to begin the next chapter of the Big Book after To Wives with the words:

      Our women folk have suggested certain attitudes a wife may take with the husband who is recovering. Perhaps they created the impression that he is to be wrapped in cotton wool and placed on a pedestal.
The A.A. Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 9, The Family Afterward, page 122.

Poor Lois Wilson sure did put up with a lot of crap from Bill Wilson.



Lois Wilson and Bill Wilson,
Christmas, reportedly at Los Angeles, year unknown.

In another chapter of the Big Book, Bill Wilson advises us good old boys not to confess our little infidelities to our wives in our Fifth Step, where alcoholics are supposed to "admit to God, to ourselves, and to another person the exact nature of our wrongs", because:

"we cannot disclose anything to our wives or our parents which will hurt them or make them unhappy."
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Into Action, page 74.

How convenient. "I can't tell my wife about all of my mistresses because it will hurt her feelings and make her unhappy if I do."

Earlier in the Big Book, Bill Wilson had made the grandiose declaration that A.A. is "a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty" (page 58), but now we shouldn't tell the wives anything.

RARELY HAVE we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty.
The Big Book, William G. Wilson, Chapter 5, How It Works, page 58.

And Bill didn't confess his infidelities, either. Even after all of that, Bill Wilson still had the nerve to deny that he was ever unfaithful to his wife. Bill wrote in the Big Book that,

There were many unhappy scenes in our sumptuous apartment. There had been no real infidelity, for loyalty to my wife, helped at times by extreme drunkenness, kept me out of those scrapes.
Big Book, 3rd & 4th Edition, Bill's Story, page 3.

Such behavior and gross dishonesty goes far beyond bad manners. It is insane — completely delusional. Bill Wilson imagined that he could deceive, embezzle, philander, and sexually exploit women newcomers to A.A., and then lie about it, and still be an inspiring spiritual teacher to his followers.

And the apartment was not "sumptuous", either. Everything that Bill Wilson wrote in those two sentences was untrue.

  • The house at 182 Clinton Street was a rather ordinary old house, not a sumptuous palace, and then Bill and Lois got evicted from that for non-payment of the mortgage, and were homeless. So they went and crashed at Henry Parkhurst's house. After living off of the charity of various A.A. members for two years, sleeping at one friend's house after another, and camping on a friend's property in the country when the weather was good, they ended up living upstairs in a tiny single room in the first A.A. clubhouse in New York — a room so small that a bed barely fit in there. So much for Bill's "sumptuous apartment".

  • The part about "many unhappy scenes in our sumptuous apartment" is deceptive and inaccurate, too.
    • Why would there be many unhappy scenes if Bill Wilson wasn't cheating on his wife?
      • Was Bill slyly accusing Lois of making many false accusations of infidelity, just bitching and nagging and creating unhappy scenes for no good reason?
      • Is Bill telling us that he came home one morning and Lois was furious because Bill had been out all night with another woman, and Bill said, "Yes, it's true that I was with her, and yes we ended up sleeping together, but nothing happened because I was too drunk. We passed out."
        That excuse wouldn't work after Bill Wilson sobered up and founded Alcoholics Anonymous and started using A.A. meetings as meat markets. Bill wouldn't have been too drunk then.

    • Bill and Lois' contemporaries like Tom Powers tell us that Lois was not the kind of woman that would make a scene. She was too proud to humiliate herself by making a big scene over Bill's infidelities. She was the kind of person to keep quiet, and bottle it all up inside. The only story of her exploding in anger is when she threw a shoe at Bill and screamed, "Damn your old meetings!" Bill Wilson explained away that incident by writing that Lois was unhappy because she was "jealous of God and A.A.", not that she was unhappy because Bill used A.A. meetings to pick up more cute young things.

  • And Bill had absolutely no "loyalty to his wife" that would "keep him out of those scrapes".

The degree to which everything that Bill Wilson wrote was either a lie or just completely delusional grandiose nonsense borders on the unbelievable.

What's even more unbelievable is how many A.A. members believe that Bill Wilson's insane ravings are Holy Scriptures, inspired by God.


Then Bill Wilson did the Minimization and Denial tap-dance some more, insisting that his little infidelity problem couldn't really be all that bad, because if it was, he wouldn't be able to avoid relapsing and returning to drinking alcohol. And Bill said that he ignored the "fanatics" who told him to knock it off and behave himself — Bill Wilson declared that only God could judge him:

      God alone can judge our sex situation. Counsel with persons is often desirable, but we let God be the final judge. We realize that some people are as fanatical about sex as others are loose. We must avoid hysterical thinking or advice.
      Suppose we fall short of the chosen ideal and stumble? Does this mean we are going to get drunk? Some people tell us so. But this is only a half-truth. It depends on us and our motives. If we are sorry for what we have done, and have the honest desire to let God take us to better things, we believe we will be forgiven and will have learned a lesson. If we are not sorry, and our conduct continues to harm others, we are quite sure to drink. We are not theorizing. These are facts about our experience.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, How It Works, pages 69-70.

Well, there had to be something wrong with Bill Wilson's logic, because he screwed every female he could get his hands on, both before and after sobriety — he never stopped it — but there is no hard evidence that Bill returned to drinking after he finally quit in December of 1934 (although there are rumors...). So apparently, Bill Wilson was able to both sin and stay sober.

Although there is much doubt about whether Bill Wilson was really able to both sin and stay sober. Many people have said that Bill Wilson relapsed constantly, and he never got more than a year sober, and he died screaming for whiskey.

A correspondent wrote,

In case you didn't know, throughout his life, Bill Wilson was never sober for more than a year. When he died, he had less than a year's sobriety.
It is a subject that is forbidden in A.A.

And the biographer Susan Cheever, who was allowed access to the secret sealed archives of A.A., and who read the nurse's log book describing Bill Wilson's last days, wrote that Bill Wilson died screaming for whiskey.

      On James Dannenberg's log for December 25 — Bill Wilson's last Christmas Day — at six-ten in the morning, after a long night, the patient "asked for three shots of whiskey," Dannenberg noted. He also noted that Wilson was quite upset when he couldn't have what he asked for. There was no whiskey at Stepping Stones. A few days later he became belligerent and tried to punch the nurse.   ...
      On the seventh of January, Nurse Dannenberg noted that Bill had been visited by some family members and that after the visit he and Lois had an angry argument. The next morning Bill again asked him for whiskey.   ...
      By the fourteenth of January, Bill Wilson, a man who hadn't had a drink in almost thirty-seven years, a man who had discovered what is still the only successful way to treat alcoholism, was asking for whiskey again.
My Name Is Bill: Bill Wilson, His Life and the Creation of Alcoholics Anonymous, Susan Cheever, pages 248-249.

And the Hazelden Foundation finished its biography of Bill Wilson with this strange warning:

There will be future historical revelations about Bill's character and behavior in recovery that will be interpreted, by some, as direct attacks on the very foundation of AA.
== Bill W., My First 40 Years, "William G. Wilson" (posthumously ghost-written by Hazelden staff), Hazelden, page 170.


Bill Wilson did the same Minimization and Denial tap-dance again in his next book, written a dozen years later, declaring that some unnamed philandering "A.A. alcoholic" was now behaving himself because the 12 Steps "often" gave "fine results":

The alcoholic, realizing what his wife has endured, and now fully understanding how much he himself did to damage her and his children, nearly always takes up his marriage responsibilities with a willingness to repair what he can and to accept what he can't. He persistently tries all of A.A.'s Twelve Steps in his home, often with fine results. At this point he firmly but lovingly commences to behave like a partner instead of a bad boy. And above all he is finally convinced that reckless romancing is not a way of life for him.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, Page 119.

Well, whoever that unnamed alcoholic was, it sure wasn't Bill Wilson.

The tendency to lie, without compunction, is typical of narcissists.
Narcissism, Denial of the True Self, Alexander Lowen, M.D., page 54.

Remember how Bill Wilson claimed that he was so much holier than the average alcoholic? He claimed that your ordinary alcoholic just couldn't handle the super-high moral "principles" of the Oxford Groups with their "Absolute" standards like Absolute Purity and Absolute Honesty (like Bill could):

When first contacted, most alcoholics just wanted to find sobriety, nothing else. They clung to their other defects, letting go only little by little. They simply did not want to get "too good too soon." The Oxford Groups' absolute concepts — absolute purity, absolute honesty, absolute unselfishness, and absolute love — were frequently too much for the drunks. These ideas had to be fed with teaspoons rather than by buckets.
Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age, William G. Wilson, pages 74-75.

Somehow, Bill Wilson seems to have imagined that he could cheat on his wife and not tell her, and even write lies about it in the Big Book (page 3), and that didn't violate those Absolute Purity and Absolute Honesty standards.

While Bill may have been Absolutely Loving towards his current mistress, he sure wasn't towards his long-suffering wife Lois. All he did with her was attack her and slander her, even in print, calling her a selfish, silly, dishonest nag in the Big Book while she worked in Loesser's department store to support his lazy philandering unemployed ass.

Narcissistic vampires believe they are so special that the rules don't apply to them. They expect the red carpet to be rolled out for them wherever they go, and if it isn't, they get quite surly.
      They don't wait, they don't recycle, they don't pay retail, they don't stand in line, they don't clean up after themselves, they don't let other people get in front of them in traffic, and their income taxes rival great works of fiction. Illness and even death is no excuse for other people not immediately jumping up to meet their needs. They aren't the least bit ashamed of using other people and systems for their own personal gain. They boast about how they take advantage of just about everybody.
Emotional Vampires: Dealing with People Who Drain You Dry, Albert J. Bernstein, Ph.D., pages 135-136.


Mathew J. Raphael had this to say about the above Big Book quotes:

What's truly incredible in Wilson's handling of adultery is his impersonation of a woman's point of view in the chapter that he would not permit Lois to write. "To Wives" opens with three brief paragraphs that ostensibly turn the ball over to the women, who then appear to speak in a first-person plural voice, which is really Wilson's ventriloquism. "Sometimes there were other women," he writes as if he himself were one of those loyal and courageous girls. "How heartbreaking was this discovery; how cruel to be told that they understood our men as we did not!" (AA, 106). Later, still in narrative drag, he seems to hold women accountable if their men should stray. "The first principle of success is that you should never be angry." Even if your husband becomes so unbearable that you have to leave him temporarily, you must try to "go without rancor." You should definitely not tell him what to do about his drinking; for he will dismiss you as "a nag or a killjoy" and use your interference as an excuse to drink all the more — or worse! "He will tell you he is misunderstood. This may lead to lonely evenings for you. He may seek someone else to console him — not always another man." (AA, 111). The menacing coyness of this threat is calculated to put any uppity wife in her place, which is to be seen, perhaps, but definitely not to be heard.
Bill W. and Mr. Wilson; The Legend and Life of A.A.'s Cofounder, Mathew J. Raphael, page 129.


Speaking of Minimization and Denial, Susan Cheever was pretty good at it too. In her recent biography of Bill Wilson, she tried every which way to rationalize Bill's behavior. She even implied that it was because Lois Wilson looked old:

A photograph of Bill and Lois in 1957 shows a raffish man who might be in his thirties with his long arm around a kindly looking white-haired woman with her blouse buttoned up to the chin. He was sixty-three, and she was sixty-seven. They look like mother and son.
My Name Is Bill; Bill Wilson — His Life And The Creation Of Alcoholics Anonymous, Susan Cheever, page 225.

Ah, so Lois Wilson looked like an old Hausfrau, did she? And that made it okay for Bill Wilson to take advantage of his leadership position in A.A. to seduce every pretty young thing who came to an A.A. meeting seeking help to survive alcoholism?

Twelve-Step morality is really something else.

And what about Bill's appearance? Susan Cheever was really seeing through tinted lenses, if she thought that Bill looked young and sexy — and in his thirties.

I've seen that photograph, and Bill did not look anything like 30. He looked sixty-ish, just like Lois. And that was a terrible photograph, showing Lois at her worst. Also remember that Bill Wilson was a philanderer most all of his adult life, not just in 1957. Lois didn't always look that frowsy, and Bill didn't always look very good, either. Lois stayed faithful to him even when he was just a stinking derelict drunkard.

[If we go back just seven years, to 1950, Bill and Lois looked like the photograph above. And especially look at this photograph of Bill and Lois at home at Stepping Stones, probably from before 1957.]

Here is the photograph that shows Lois Wilson with her blouse buttoned up to the chin:


Bill and Lois in garden.
Susan Cheever may have made an error in dating this picture. Francis Hartigan reports that it was labeled "To Tom P. Merry Christmas 12/1/53." (Bill W., Francis Hartigan, photo opposite page 113.)

Susan Cheever must have something wrong with her eyes. Bill looked like a gaunt burned-out chain-smoking old alcoholic in that photograph, not like a handsome raffish thirty-something movie star.

  • Would that, according to A.A. morality and Susan Cheever's rationalizations, make it okay for Lois to cheat on her husband and start collecting a stable of sexy handsome young studs for her amusement?)
  • Or, more to the point, does that mean that the official A.A. moral code allows any A.A. old-timer who has a frowzy, dumpy-looking wife to thirteenth-step several of the attractive young women who show up at A.A. meetings seeking help for a drinking problem?


And then, finally, Susan Cheever told us that Bill's sex life was really none of our business:

And in fact, Bill wasn't lying to anyone about his behavior either. Lois knew, and somehow accepted what was happening, at least enough to enable their life together to continue. The men and women who worked with him knew. As for everyone else, now that he was a private man and A.A. was administered by its own members, his private life wasn't really anyone else's business.
My Name Is Bill; Bill Wilson — His Life And The Creation Of Alcoholics Anonymous, Susan Cheever, page 225.

Ah, but when Bill Wilson used his leadership position in A.A. to sexually exploit women who came to A.A. seeking help to save their lives from alcoholism, then that most assuredly was other people's business,

  • starting with the women who were victimized,
  • and then including with all of the A.A. members whose organization was being discredited by Bill's behavior,
  • and then including all of the people who are wondering what might help them to overcome a drinking problem,
  • and then including all of the people who get pressured or coerced into Alcoholics Anonymous because it is supposed to be some kind of a helpful therapy program for alcoholism, not a meat market,
  • and then including all of the counselors, therapists, judges and parole officers who doing the routing, pressuring, and coercing.
  • and including all of the people who get told that A.A. is some kind of a good spiritual recovery organization that was founded by a wise, saintly man,
  • and finally including all of the women who get exploited today by A.A. old-timers who are following Bill's tradition.
Incidentally, in November of 2004, after Susan Cheever published her book My Name Is Bill, she was elected to the Board of Directors of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency — the NCADD — the A.A. front group that was founded by "Mrs." Marty Mann to promote Alcoholics Anonymous. I wonder what new party line about 13th-Stepping the NCADD will now espouse.



Alcoholics Anonymous was supposedly a therapeutic program that in some way treated people for the so-called "disease" of alcoholism. That put Bill Wilson in the position of advertising himself as some kind of a healer. It is grossly unprofessional and highly unethical for a doctor, psychiatrist, or counselor to take advantage of his position of authority to seduce female patients. Real doctors who do that get their license to practice medicine revoked. They get kicked out of the healing profession. They even get put in prison for molesting patients.

But since Bill Wilson wasn't a real doctor or therapist, just a cult leader with a quack cure, he didn't have any license to yank. And there is no oversight board that monitors the ethics or behavior of Alcoholics Anonymous sponsors or leaders. They can do anything they wish to the newcomers. And that is one of the big problems with Alcoholics Anonymous.

And such blatant sexual exploitation continues, right now, in Washington DC, Arizona, California, Minnesota, Florida, New York, and lots more places.

Such thirteenth-stepping behavior can be very harmful to the female newcomers. Instead of getting therapy and healing, they get screwed and exploited, and leave A.A. with bitter, resentful feelings.

  • So, according to the standard A.A. dogma, they will invariably relapse and drink again, because they left A.A., and because they "have a resentment".
  • So they will die drunk because they are "powerless over alcohol".
  • So Bill Wilson was apparently killing sick women who came to A.A. seeking help.

Bill Wilson had to be a heartless monster to keep doing that to the young women who came to Alcoholics Anonymous seeking help for their alcoholism. When they were weak and shaky and cloudy-headed and still unsure of their sobriety, Bill Wilson was scheming to get into their pants. Bill Wilson exhibited total disregard for their welfare or their recovery. They were just so much fresh meat to him.

When it came to serious life-or-death matters of alcoholism or sobriety, Bill Wilson exhibited a total lack of compassion, morals, or ethics. He callously disregarded the health and welfare of the pretty young women newcomers, and just concerned himself with his own pleasures. Bill Wilson was a sexual predator, not a helpful therapist. That is not the behavior of a great man, or a prophet, or a spiritual man, or a religious man, or a healer. And that sure isn't "rigorous honesty" or "unselfish spirituality". And it isn't the much-ballyhooed "Four Absolutes of the Oxford Groups" — Absolute Purity, Absolute Honestly, Absolute Unselfishness, and Absolute Love — either.

A person with Narcissist Personality Disorder:

  • has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
  • is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
  • believes that he or she is "special"...
  • requires excessive admiration
  • has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
  • is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
  • lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
  • often usurps special privileges and extra resources that he believes he deserves because he is so special.

DSM-IV-TR == Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision; Published by the American Psychiatric Association, Washington, DC. 2000; pages 658-661.

Also see: DSM-IV == Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition; Published by the American Psychiatric Association, Washington, DC. 1994; pages 658-661.

Also see: Internet Mental Health (http://www.mentalhealth.com/)




Helen Wynn


And then there was Helen Wynn. She was special. The other women didn't last long, but the affair with Helen lasted many years, right up to Bill's death. Bill Wilson even ended up putting her in his will, giving her ten percent of the estate that was going to his wife Lois.

Helen Wynn was a former actress and a very attractive woman. She was 22 years younger than Lois Wilson. Francis Hartigan, Lois Wilson's personal secretary, described them as:

The two women were bright and bold, attractive and accomplished, but where Lois seems always to have been self-sufficient and rock-steady, Helen could be mercurial and needy. Like Bill, she seems always to have possessed a restlessness that couldn't be more than temporarily slaked.
Bill W., A Biography of Alcoholics Anonymous Co-Founder Bill Wilson, Francis Hartigan, page 193.

Bill and Helen seem to have met at an A.A. meeting. Soon after, Bill got Helen a job at the AA Grapevine. Most everyone in the office knew that Helen was hired because she was Bill's girlfriend. But unlike most of the women whom Bill hired, Helen proved to be competent and capable, and worked her way up, over a period of years, to become the magazine's editor. Bill and Helen became frequent companions whenever he was in New York, and Helen sometimes accompanied him to A.A.-related events. Whenever Bill came to New York, he would stay overnight in a hotel, and Helen stayed with him.

After Helen left the Grapevine in 1962, Bill continued to contribute to her support. He wanted the A.A. trustees to route a portion of his royalty income directly to Helen, but the Trustees refused, and told Bill to pay his mistresses himself. Bill was furious at their effrontery.

Then Susan Cheever reports something rather odd:

Some old-timers remember that Bill had larger financial dreams for Helen. They worked together on the experiments and distribution of LSD and niacin,4 which became one of Bill's late-life enthusiasms. Some A.A. old-timers say that Lucille and David Kahn, the couple who financed much of the LSD research, were poised to give a lump sum for a research headquarters to be run by Helen. Ultimately, that didn't happen.
      Then the A.A. trustees — the new truly democratic government of A.A. — refused to allow Helen the percentage of the Alcoholics Anonymous royalties that Bill had earmarked for her.

231 that didn't happen: This is part of Tom Powers's story about why he stopped working with Bill. "Helen went crooked," he said. Powers says he went to the Board and kept them from allowing Helen to get the money for an LSD research headquarters.

My Name Is Bill; Bill Wilson — His Life And The Creation Of Alcoholics Anonymous, Susan Cheever, pages 231 and 287.

"Helen went crooked"? What on earth does that mean? To toss out a generalized slur like "Helen went crooked" is just gossip-mongering. Specifically, what crimes did Helen Wynn commit that made her unfit to be the leader of the LSD research foundation? For the sake of accurate history, we should know. Unfortunately, so many of the participants have died that it is unlikely that we shall learn that. Perhaps the answer is locked in the sealed historical archives at the A.A. headquarters, but the A.A. leaders aren't about to open the archives of the secret history of Alcoholics Anonymous.

In 1968, with his emphysema growing worse, Bill and A.A. executed a new will that called for Helen to receive 10% of his book royalties, and his wife Lois the other 90%, after his death.



Nan Robertson wrote a history of Alcoholics Anonymous that just repeated the standard A.A. party line about everything. She glossed over Bill's philandering with these words:

Wilson's marriage to Lois Burnham in 1918 lasted until his death at the age of seventy-five in 1971. She believed in him fiercely and tended his flame. Yet, particularly during his sober decades in A.A. in the forties, fifties and sixties, Bill Wilson was a compulsive womanizer. His flirtations and his adulterous behavior filled him with guilt, according to old-timers close to him, but he continued to stray off the reservation. His last and most serious love affair, with a woman at A.A. headquarters in New York, began when he was in his sixties. She was important to him until the end of his life, and was remembered in a financial agreement with A.A. This affair, and experiments in spiritualism, LSD and megavitamin therapy, scandalized A.A. trustees and other veterans in the home office. Some felt Wilson was not upholding the high ideals of the organization and was muddying its singleness of purpose and peddling crackpot ideas to a membership that worshiped him. But his qualities of generosity, openness to change and humility about his own shortcomings were particularly endearing. "I never heard him bitch about anybody," said a man who joined A.A. in the 1940's and was one of its first homosexual members. "It wouldn't have mattered if I was a cannibal. He was delighted by eccentricities. His attitude was, 'Here's one of the camels that wandered into our tent! Aren't people wonderful?'"
      Another said, "As a failed human I couldn't stand it if I thought Bill hadn't failed. I couldn't live up to a perfect example."
Getting Better Inside Alcoholics Anonymous, Nan Robertson, page 36.

What a white-wash. So Bill's cheating on his wife, repeatedly, constantly hurting Lois, was just a little "straying off the reservation", huh? Just like a fun-loving naughty little Indian, sneaking off of the reservation to go get some beer, right?

And Bill "never bitched about anybody"?

  • What about Henry Parkhurst? Bill pretty much destroyed him after Hank criticized Bill for taking all of the credit for writing the Big Book (and all of the Big Book money, too). Bill took Hank's share of the Big Book profits, and left Hank to die drunk and pennyless.

  • What about atheists? Ed, who was ostracized and exiled to an alcoholic death for refusing to believe in God as Bill Wilson dictated, might have been very surprised to hear that.

  • Also read chapter four of the Big Book, We Agnostics, to see how tolerant Bill was of people who held different religious beliefs than his own.

  • And Bill Wilson sure bitched about Ernie Galbraith, Doctor Bob's son-in-law and A.A. Number Four:
    "I gave up on you a long time ago, you son of a bitch!"
    Children Of The Healer; The Story Of Doctor Bob's Kids, Bob Smith and Sue Smith Windows, page 54.

And Bill had to be less than perfect so that other A.A. members could relate to him? Well, he had already failed in business and in life, and he was already far less than perfect — he was an alcoholic, a fraud, a failed Wall Street hustler, a quack healer, a phony holy man, a felonious embezzler, a stock swindler, a madman, an evil cult leader, and a narcissistic pathological liar — so he didn't really need to keep on cheating on his wife Lois just to make the other A.A. members feel comfortable...

Isn't that one of the lamest rationalizations you've ever heard?


Susan Cheever came up with some equally inept rationalizations of Bill Wilson's behavior:

      Sexual compulsion itself is still a confusing secret in our world, even today. On the one hand, we chuckle at a sexually compulsive athlete, and even encourage the circumstances of their compulsion, but on the other hand we decry it. Our girls must be virgins, but they must also be sophisticated. Our boys must be man enough to score, but also gentleman enough to provide emotional and permanent financial support for any child they father.
      In the world in which Bill Wilson matured, men were assumed to be sexually driven creatures whose bestial desires could only be tamed by the love of a gentle woman, if they were lucky enough to find that gentle woman. In the meantime, bundling boards — low walls clapped into place across the bed — and homemade chastity belts were used to keep the beast at bay. In a world without birth control, the general result was men trying to express themselves sexually and women, terrified of pregnancy, failing to respond.
My Name Is Bill; Bill Wilson — His Life And The Creation Of Alcoholics Anonymous, Susan Cheever, page 228.

What a crock of B.S. It is highly unlikely that Bill Wilson ever saw a bundling board or a chastity belt in his life. Besides, notice the propaganda trick that Susan Cheever is playing — create a diversion:

  1. Sexual compulsion is not "a confusing secret". There is nothing confusing or secret about getting horny and wanting to grab a pretty woman.

  2. Bill's behavior had nothing to do with the lack of birth control pills or women being afraid of sex. Bill was scoring anyway. (And more primitive, less reliable, means of birth control, like the diaphram and the sponge, did exist.)

  3. Odd Victorian attitudes about sex, like thinking that men were sexually driven beasts, did not justify Bill's exploitative behavior either. Bill Wilson was not living in the Victorian age — he was living in the Roaring Twenties, and in the Depression Thirties, and in the Wartime Forties. Bill Wilson was what he was, regardless of what some old Victorians may have thought many years earlier. Bill Wilson controlled his own behavior and deliberately chose which attractive young A.A. woman to take advantage of next.

  4. Bill Wilson was sexually exploiting the pretty women who came to A.A. to get help to survive alcoholism. Real healers don't screw their patients.

  5. Also notice the attempt, in the first paragraph, to explain away Bill Wilson's predatory behavior with yet another diversion. Bill's sexual exploitation of female A.A. newcomers had nothing to do with some unnamed boys' and girls' sexual frustration during another period of history. Bill Wilson was a married man who was cheating on his wife, not a horny young athlete who was compulsively trying to get some sexual satisfaction from a reluctant girlfriend.

Then Susan Cheever salted the rest of her book with equally misleading statements like:

Marty Mann, for instance, kept her [lesbian] sexual preferences a secret for years. She called herself "Mrs. Marty Mann," although she wasn't married, in order to protect her secret.
      Yet when Bill wanted to keep his sexual behavior secret, he was met with controversy.
My Name Is Bill; Bill Wilson — His Life And The Creation Of Alcoholics Anonymous, Susan Cheever, page 237.

That is simply untrue. That is the exact opposite of the truth.
The early A.A. members were worried that Bill's flagrant non-stop philandering would bring discredit and disrepute down on the fledgeling Alcoholics Anonymous organization. They wished that Bill's shameless behavior was more of a secret. They wished that Bill Wilson would quit advertizing and flaunting it and showing off. Tom Powers, the co-author of Bill's second book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, found Bill's behavior to be so brazen and vulgar that he quit Alcoholics Anonymous in disgust because he couldn't stomach any more of Bill Wilson's misbehavior, and he didn't even want to be publicly associated with Bill Wilson any more.

      Many who have an Exhibitionist DNP [Destructive Narcissistic Pattern] openly solicit admiration for their sexual prowess. They want others to admire and envy them for being sexually attractive or more successful and better at sexual games. They seek to be the fantasized lover with many conquests and a string of broken hearts. This provides them with much satisfaction and validation that they are superior, worthy, admired, and envied. These people do not know of any other way to connect to others except through sexual means.
      If this description fits your partner, you may find that your partner is constantly flirting, cruising, trolling, engaging in affairs, and not exactly keeping this a secret.
Loving the Self-Absorbed: How to Create a More Satisfying Relationship with a Narcissistic Partner, Nina W. Brown, Ed.D., LPC, NCC, page 149.



Nan Robertson said of Bill Wilson:
"But his qualities of generosity, openness to change and humility about his own shortcomings were particularly endearing."
That is the charismatic charmer at work. Nan Robertson was unable to see Bill Wilson clearly. She couldn't even see that Bill was most certainly NOT open to change. He never stopped philandering, or grandstanding, or taking all of the money for himself, or demanding his own way about everything.

The Europe SOS web site had a page that described cult leaders as:

      Cult leaders are often charming, charismatic figures with above-average intelligence. The "charismatic charmer" is one their personalities — a pseudo-personality.
      Many cult leaders suffer from borderline, disassociate or multiple personality disorders. Members feel honored to be with, and be seen, around them. But their personality can change dramatically in a flash. Cult leaders are always very disturbed individuals. They are usually victims turned persecutor, having a history of involvement in other social, political or religious cults and/or suffering the effects of a traumatic childhood. Behind their strong and confident exterior (pseudo-personality) they need their leader position to compensate for a very fragile sense of self-worth, self-esteem and self-identity.
      Nothing will stand in the way of their visions, schemes and self-glorification — not even the well-being of their partners or children. They manipulate the minds of vulnerable members, extorting money and sexual favors and/or abusing them psychologically, physically and/or sexually.

That sounds a lot like Bill Wilson:

Everything Narcissistic vampires do is a move in the great game of self-aggrandizement, which is their main reason for living.
Emotional Vampires: Dealing with People Who Drain You Dry, Albert J. Bernstein, Ph.D., page 136.

Bill Wilson + man on bed
Bill Wilson posing for a staged "man on the bed" publicity photograph, where Bill allegedly performed miraculous faith healings, making the drunks "pick up their beds and walk."


The idea that Wilson might come and go unnoticed at meetings, as merely a private A.A. citizen, was literally the stuff of Hollywood fantasy. At the end of My Name is Bill W. (1989), the powerful made-for-television movie, James Woods (playing Bill) is shown slipping anonymously into a meeting. At first Wilson is piqued to go unacknowledged as the cofounder, but he quickly suppresses his vanity; after the meeting, as just plain Bill, he lends a sympathetic ear to another suffering alcoholic. As the film fades to black, we see Bill, properly fortified with coffee, beginning what we know will be a long talk with someone who desperately needs his help. Lois, beaming with devotion, understandingly absents herself; she knows Bill must be about A.A.'s business.24
        In reality, when Bill W. went to meetings, not only was he inevitably recognized, but he was also swarmed by admirers and pressed into telling them his story. Sometimes he would hold audiences for small groups of the faithful. One old-timer remembers waiting for two hours in order to spend twenty minutes with Bill W. at a Boston hotel in 1947. That day more than two hundred A.A.s were placed in groups of fifteen; each group was seated in turn in a large lounge, where Wilson held court. The experience was thrilling; the pilgrim felt as if he "had been in the presence of some spiritual force." Bill's "aura" pervaded the room; he seemed "to be unaware of the phenomenon and even of his part in it, but to me it was real yet unnatural."25

24. According to William G. Borchert, author of the screenplay, this incident is based on a true story told him by Lois Wilson, about a meeting she and Bill attended during the early 1940s in Barstow, California. Borchert moved the scene forward chronologically to 1950, in a way that makes it dramatically effective but undercuts its historical plausibility. Borchert also told me that he was aware that the scene in the Mayflower lobby (see Foreword) could not have happened the way it has been written. But the legend has become so deeply entrenched, he felt he had no choice but to follow the myth rather than the facts.
25. Freeman Carpenter (pseudonym), 60 Years an Alcoholic; 50 Years Without a Drink (Newtown, Pa.: Unique Educational Services, 1996), p. 372.

Bill W. and Mr. Wilson; The Legend and Life of A.A.'s Cofounder, Mathew J. Raphael, pages 167, 199.

You can read the Freeman Carpenter story to which Raphael was referring here.

(Oh, and another reason Bill Wilson was not likely to go unrecognized at any meeting in some distant town is that he often telephoned ahead and arranged to have a newspaper reporter and photographer present, so that he could get his story and picture in the newspaper again.)

Given the openness of Bill's pursuits, that anyone who was a friend of Helen's and part of Bill's inner circle could not be aware of the affair seems hardly credible. However, in spite of his natural and unassuming manner, many people were unable to see Bill clearly. Even today, many AA members believe that alcoholism had them in a death grip, and they talk unself-consciously about the miracle of their recovery. During Bill's lifetime, it would seem that nearly all AA members felt this way, and a great many saw Bill Wilson as a miracle worker. For every member who criticized Bill for his depressions, there was at least one member ready to deny that Bill was ever depressed. For anyone concerned about the effect of Bill's smoking on his health, others were ready to insist that he didn't smoke that much, or if he did, it certainly wasn't bothering him.
Bill W., A Biography of Alcoholics Anonymous Co-Founder Bill Wilson, Francis Hartigan, page 192.



Now, is that stuff what the Hazelden Foundation was referring to when they put this paragraph into their "autobiography" of Bill Wilson?

There will be future historical revelations about Bill's character and behavior in recovery that will be interpreted, by some, as direct attacks on the very foundation of AA.
Bill W., My First 40 Years, "William G. Wilson" (posthumously ghost-written by Hazelden staff), Hazelden, page 170.

Or is there even more stuff that they aren't telling us?
What else is hidden in those locked and sealed archives?

In her apology for Bill Wilson, Susan Cheever wrote:

      Almost twenty-five years after Bill Wilson's death, years in which many parts of his work and his experience have been studied and restudied, some parts of his life, including his sex life, are still officially secret. Many people know a few facts about Bill Wilson's life.   ...
      ...   But Bill's sex life is still a secret, something A.A. members buzz about over coffee after meetings, but something which has been excised from the official literature and — for the most part — from the official A.A. archives.
My Name Is Bill; Bill Wilson — His Life And The Creation Of Alcoholics Anonymous, Susan Cheever, page 224.

Bill's sex life is officially secret? Says who? Secret from whom?

Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. isn't the U.S. Government, or the Pentagon, or the CIA, or the NSA, able to classify information at will. The A.A. headquarters and the A.A. Board of Trustees cannot just declare information "officially secret" because they find the truth to be unpleasant or embarrassing.

And notice that they are "excising" embarrassing information from the official A.A. archives. Destroying documents? Erasing history?

Whatever happened to all of that grandiose bragging about

"grasping and developing a manner of living that demands rigorous honesty"?
(The Big Book, page 58.)



Footnotes:


1) Bill W. A Biography of Alcoholics Anonymous Cofounder Bill Wilson     Francis Hartigan
This biography was written by Lois Wilson's private secretary, Francis Hartigan. If anybody should be privy to the insider secrets about Bill's infidelities, it would be Francis. And he says that Bill was about as faithful as a horny alley cat, all of his life, both before and after sobriety.
See chapter 25, The Other Woman, page 192, for the Founder's Watch Committee.
Also see page 170 for the interview with Tom P..

2) Susan Cheever, My Name Is Bill; Bill Wilson — His Life And The Creation Of Alcoholics Anonymous, page 232.

3) Susan Cheever, My Name Is Bill; Bill Wilson — His Life And The Creation Of Alcoholics Anonymous, page 231.

4) Susan Cheever, My Name Is Bill; Bill Wilson — His Life And The Creation Of Alcoholics Anonymous, page 241:

Bill loved LSD. He urged everyone he knew to try it, including his wife Lois, his secretary Nell Wing, his friend Dr. Jack Norris, Reverend Sam Shoemaker, and Father Ed Dowling. He even thought his mother might benefit.
My Name Is Bill; Bill Wilson — His Life And The Creation Of Alcoholics Anonymous, Susan Cheever, page 241.

Also see Francis Hartigan, Bill W. A Biography of Alcoholics Anonymous Cofounder Bill Wilson, pages 176 to 179:

      When Bill took LSD, use of the drug was legal. He first took it as a participant in medically supervised experiments with Gerald Heard and Aldous Huxley in California in the 1950s. Lois also participated in the first LSD experiments in California. At Bill's insistent urging, she took LSD herself but always claimed later not to have felt anything. Bill insisted that she did too feel something and that she in fact had a very pleasant time. Nell Wing, who took LSD herself during one of these sessions and was there when Lois tried it, tends to believe Lois. She explains LSD's lack of impact on Lois by noting that she took much less than the others had. Father Ed Dowling was among the people who accepted Bill's invitation to join him in these early experiments. Bill also invited Jack Norris, medical director for Eastman Kodak and long-serving nonalcoholic chair of AA's General Service Board, but Norris declined.
      It is hard to appreciate today the enthusiasm with which LSD experimentation was initially greeted. Aldous Huxley wrote Father Thomas Merton that LSD might even be the SOMA he had written about in his futuristic novel, Brave New World, and that it was deserving of the most serious and thorough scientific research. Sam Shoemaker wrote to Bill about the wholehearted endorsement of LSD experimentation by an Episcopal bishop, and Wilson wrote to Carl Jung, praising the results obtained with LSD and recommending it as a validation of Jung's spiritual work. (Word was received of Jung's death, and the letter was never sent.)
      Wilson is thought to have continued experimenting with LSD well into the 1960s. Lib S., a longtime AA member who lived in New York for many years, told me that she participated in LSD experiments with Bill in the late 1950s in New York. Marty Mann, Helen Wynn, and others participated in the New York experiments, which were supervised by a psychiatrist from Roosevelt Hospital. Lib S. said that the alcoholic participants in the New York researches were all sober. The purpose was to determine whether the drug might produce insights that would serve to remove psychic blocks that were preventing people from feeling more spiritually alive. Each participant had to agree to undergo extensive debriefing, and all were urged to make detailed notes about what they were experiencing.
      Bill agreed with Huxley's assessment of LSD's power to open the "doors of perception." He described his first experiences of the substance's effect as being akin to what he had experienced in Towns Hospital the night his obsession with alcohol was lifted. Nell Wing told me that her own LSD experiences were something that she had always valued. Although Nell denies that Bill ever went this far, other people who knew him during this period said that his initial enthusiasm for LSD was so great that he thought it should be available to all alcoholics.
Bill W. A Biography of Alcoholics Anonymous Cofounder Bill Wilson, Francis Hartigan, pages 178 to 179.

5) "Damn Your Old Meetings!"
That is the title of chapter 8 of Lois Wilson's book, Lois Remembers. Lois' book is also pretty pathetic: it was probably ghost-written for her, somebody else putting words into her mouth, yet again, because it came out in 1979, long after Bill's death, when she was also very old and frail. The Lois Remembers book parrots much of the standard party line from the Big Book, including the "jealous of God and A.A." story:

Slowly I recognized that because I had not been able to "cure" Bill of his alcoholism, I resented the fact that someone else had done so, and I was jealous of his newfound friends...
      God, through the Oxford Group, had accomplished in a twinkling what I had failed to do in seventeen years.
Lois Remembers, page 99.

All I can say is: What pathetic, brain-damaged tripe. Any normal wife would be overjoyed to see her husband cured of a deadly disease. But not in the weird world of A.A. — not in the delusional mind of Bill Wilson. There, the wives are all jealous of God and A.A. (and not simply furious that he insists on going to A.A. meetings all of the time, and 13th-stepping the pretty women there, instead of getting a job).

6) Nan Robertson, Getting Better Inside Alcoholics Anonymous, page 43.



Bibliography:


As usual, the Big Book.


Bill W. A Biography of Alcoholics Anonymous Cofounder Bill Wilson     Francis Hartigan
Thomas Dunne Books, An imprint of St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010, 2000.
ISBN 0-312-20056-0
Dewey library call number B W11h 2000
This biography was written by Lois Wilson's private secretary, Francis Hartigan. See footnote above.


Bill W.     Robert Thomsen
Harper & Rowe, New York, 1975.
ISBN 0-06-014267-7
Dewey call number 362.29 W112t
This is a good biography of William G. Wilson, even if it is very positively slanted towards Mr. Wilson, because the author knew Mr. Wilson and worked beside him for the last 12 years of Mr. Wilson's life. And rumor has it that this book was prepared from autobiographical tapes that Bill Wilson made before he died. So expect it to praise Mr. Wilson a lot. Still, this book will also tell you about some of Bill Wilson's warts, his fat ego, his publicity-hound behavior, and his years-long "dry drunks"...


Bill W. My First 40 Years     'An Autobiography By The Cofounder of Alcoholics Anonymous'
(This is Bill Wilson's alleged 'autobiography', supposedly published anonymously.)
Hazelden, Center City, Minnesota 55012-0176, 2000.
ISBN 1-56838-373-8
Dewey call number B W11w 2000
This book was reputedly assembled by ghost writers at Hazelden from the same set of autobiographical tapes of Bill Wilson that Robert Thomsen used for his book.


Bill W. and Mr. Wilson — The Legend and Life of A.A.'s Cofounder     Matthew J. Raphael
University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, Mass., 2000.
ISBN 1-55849-245-3
Dewey: B W11r 2000
This book was written by another stepper — the name 'Matthew Raphael' is a pen name — and it generally praises Bill Wilson and recites the party line about most things, but it also contains a bunch of surprises, like detailing Bill's sexual infidelities, his and Bob's spook sessions — talking to the 'spirits' in séances through the use of Ouija boards, spirit rapping, clairvoyance, and channeling, LSD use, and publicity-hound megalomania.


My Name Is Bill: Bill Wilson — His Life And The Creation Of Alcoholics Anonymous     Susan Cheever
Simon & Schuster, New York, London, Toronto, Sydney, 2004.
ISBN: 0-7432-0154-X
LC: HV5032.W19C44 2004
Dewey: 362.292092--dc22 or B W11c 2004
Another biography of Bill Wilson written by a stepper with a bad case of hero worship. She glosses over and rationalizes all of Bill Wilson's faults. She even implies that Bill Wilson was right when he was conducting séances — that he really was talking to the spirits of the dead.
See quotes here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.


Lois Remembers: Memoirs of the Co-Founder of Al-Anon and Wife of the Co-Founder of Alcoholics Anonymous     Lois Wilson
Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc. 1991.
ISBN: 0-910034-23-0
Lois' book is pretty pathetic: it was probably ghost-written for her, somebody else putting words into her mouth, yet again, because it came out in 1979, long after Bill's death, when she was also very old and frail. The Lois Remembers book parrots much of the standard party line in the Big Book, including the ridiculous "jealous of God and A.A." story:

Slowly I recognized that because I had not been able to "cure" Bill of his alcoholism, I resented the fact that someone else had done so, and I was jealous of his newfound friends...
      God, through the Oxford Group, had accomplished in a twinkling what I had failed to do in seventeen years.
Lois Remembers, page 99.


Alcoholics Anonymous: Cult or Cure?     Charles Bufe, 1998.
See Sharp Press, PO Box 1731, Tucson AZ 85702-1731
ISBN 1-884365-12-4
Dewey call number 362.29286 B929a 1998
(This is the second edition; it has noticeably more information than the first edition. The first edition is: ISBN 0-9613289-3-2, printed in 1991.)
This book is now free on the Internet, at: http://www.morerevealed.com/


Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age     by "anonymous" (really, William G. Wilson)
Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. (AAWS), New York, 1957, 1986.
Harper, New York, 1957
LC: HV5278 .A78A4
ISBN 0-91-685602-X
This is Bill's history of Alcoholics Anonymous. It suspiciously differs from known history here and there.


'PASS IT ON'; The story of Bill Wilson and how the A.A. message reached the world     by "anonymous" (really, A.A.W.S. staff)
Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. (AAWS), New York, 1984.
ISBN 0-916856-12-7
LCCN: 84-072766
LC: HV5032 .W19P37x 1984
Dewey: 362.29/286/O92
This is the official, council-approved version of the history of A.A.. Strangely enough, there is some very interesting stuff in here, including chapter 16, which describes Bill's spook sessions and séances, talking with the spirits of the dead, and communicating with spirits through spirit rapping and the Ouija board. See pages 275 to 285.


Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers     Authorship credited to 'anonymous'; actually written by A.A.W.S. staff.
Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., New York, 1980.
ISBN: 0-916856-07-0
LCCN: 80-65962
LC: HV5278.D62 1980
Interesting, gives a lot of details of the early days in Akron. It is, of course, totally sanitized and every line has been checked to make sure that it conforms to the standard (false) party line.


Getting Better Inside Alcoholics Anonymous     Nan Robertson
William Morrow and Company, Inc., New York, 1988.
ISBN 0-688-06869-3
LC: HV5278.R59 1988
LCCN: 87-31153
Dewey: 362.2'9286--dc19 or 362.2928 R651g
Another very standard, sanitized, history of Alcoholics Anonymous, one that just toes the A.A. party line in all matters.


Narcissism, Denial of the True Self     Alexander Lowen, M.D.
Macmillan Publishing Comany, New York, 1983, and
Collier Macmillan Publishers, London, 1983.
ISBN: 0-02-575890-X
LC: RC553.N36L38 1983
LCCN: 83-18794
This is a great book, a real classic. Dr. Lowen advances the idea that narcissism is not falling in love with one's self, but rather with a false image of one's self. That small subtle difference actually makes a very large difference. In the original Greek mythology, Narcissus died — starved to death — because he was obsessed with his own image and stared at it endlessly. But as Narcissus approached death, his real emaciated appearance could not have been very attractive. Narcissus was seeing an illusion, not his true appearance.
      Dr. Lowen advances the idea that narcissism is often caused by child abuse and prolonged humiliation and pain in childhood. The child adopts a persona where he feels no pain and is powerful and invulnerable. The child thinks, "When I grow up, I'll be so powerful and strong that no one can hurt me or humiliate me ever again." Then the child, who grows into adulthood, spends the rest of his life pursuing and defending an illusion. Narcissists are obsessed with defending and preserving their image — they can't stand it if somebody "makes them look bad" — they can't stand criticism. They deny their true feelings and put on a mask of unfeeling, because they imagine that it will keep them from being hurt again. Likewise, they completely disregard other people's feelings. They are obsessed with power and control, so that they can control the world around them and prevent anyone from humiliating them again. Narcissists are often extremely seductive and manipulative people, often charismatic charmers, and occasionally high achievers as well. They lie habitually, without giving it a second thought. They fear insanity.
      In other words, Dr. Lowen was describing Bill Wilson, the abused son of an alcoholic father and a neurotic mother.


Emotional Vampires: Dealing with People Who Drain You Dry     Albert J. Bernstein, Ph.D.
McGraw-Hill, New York, 2001.
ISBN: 0-07-135259-7 (hard); ISBN: 0-07-135267-9 (pbk.)
Dewey: 158.2 B531e 2001
This is a wonderful little easy-to-read book on the psychology of exploitative personalities. It's easy to identify both Frank N. D. Buchman and William G. Wilson as Narcissistic Vampires — "Legends in Their Own Minds" — who could not tolerate the least little bit of criticism, and who felt entitled to take the best of everything for themselves because they were so special, and who threw screaming temper tantrums when the commoners displeased them.
Quotes: here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here.


Loving the Self-Absorbed: How to Create a More Satisfying Relationship with a Narcissistic Partner     Nina W. Brown, Ed.D., LPC, NCC
New Harbinger Publications, Inc., Oakland, CA, 2003.
ISBN: 1-57224-354-6
Dewey: 158.2 B879L
This book tells you how to cope with being married to an obnoxious narcissist. The one thing I couldn't see was, "Why bother?" Nina Brown makes narcissists sound so bad that you really don't want to be married to one. But if you are some kind of long-suffering masochist who really wants to go through it all, read this book.
Quotes: here and here and here.


Working with the Self-Absorbed: How to Handle Narcissistic Personalities on the Job     Nina W. Brown, Ed.D., LPC, NCC
New Harbinger Publications, Inc., Oakland, CA, 2002.
ISBN: 1-57224-292-2
Dewey: 650.13 B879w
Like the book above, except that this one deals with being trapped in work situations where a co-worker, or worse, your boss, is a destructive narcissist. Unless you are financially desperate, go find another job.



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