Dr. William Duncan Silkworth, M.D.
Born in 1873, Dr. William D. Silkworth, M.D. gaduated from Princeton University in 1896 and earned his medical degree from New York University in 1900.
After incurring substantial losses in the stock market crash of 1929, Dr. Silkworth accepted the medical directorship at Charles B. Towns Hospital in New York which specialized in the treatment of alcoholism and drug addiction.
After incurring substantial losses in the stock market crash of 1929, Dr. Silkworth accepted the medical directorship at Charles B. Towns Hospital in New York which specialized in the treatment of alcoholism and drug addiction. It was he who explained to Bill the true nature of his condition — that he was smitten with an obsession of the mind and an allergy of the body. Indeed, at a time when society generally viewed alcoholism as a failure of the will or a moral dilemma, Dr. Silkworth stated, “These people do not want to do the things they do. They drink compulsively against their will. He later encouraged Bill to avoid approaching other alcoholics with the story of his spiritual experience, but to instead focus on the terminal nature of the disease.
Over the course of his career, Dr. Silkworth treated some 40,000 alcoholics. He wrote the introduction to the book Alcoholics Anonymous entitled “The Doctor’s Opinion” in which he set forth his view of the disease concept of alcoholism and endorsed the program of recovery set forth in the pages which followed. Dr. Silkworth worked at Towns Hospital until his death on March 22, 1951.
Dr. Silkworth’s work with alcoholics was truly a labor of love. In an article which appeared in The Grapevine, a publication of Alcoholics Anonymous, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill Wilson, stated, “He never tired of drunks and their problems.