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AA GSO Watch

The Big Book Comes Alive --

Charlie Big Book Study Transcript - Originally Taped in Mesa, Arizona, February 6-8, 1987


 1. Introduction
 2. How Joe and Charlie started their study of the Big Book
 3. Spread of the Big Book Study tapes
 4. History of the Big Book
 5. Bill and Dr. Bob realize that forty people are now sober
 6. First groups decide on paid missionaries, chain of hospitals, and book; only the book is actually begun
 7. Table of Contents is explained (p. v)
The Doctor's Opinion & Bill's Story (the problem)
Chapters Two through Four (the solution)
Chapters Five through Seven (the program of action)
 8. Preface--two points are emphasized (p. xi)
Big Book a textbook
 9.  Like a math textbook, begin at the beginning
10. Problems with starting newcomer at Chapter Five
11. Program in the Big Book is unchanged
Forward to the First Edition--two points are emphasized (p. xxii)
One hundred people not just one author
12. Big Book shows precisely how that one hundred recovered
Big Book deals with recovery, not with fellowship
Big Book is as precise as a cake recipe
13. Forward to the Second Edition--Bill and Dr. Bob (p. xv)
14. Dr. Bob and the Oxford Groups


 1.Dr. Bob gets message from Henrietta
Dr. Bob prays with Oxford Group members but gets drunk
 2. Bill brings Dr. Bob the problem as described by Dr. Silkworth (p. xvi )
 3. Dr. Bob sobers and with Bill they work on drunks (p. xvii)
Akron, Ohio group forms
They decide to publish a book
Program in the fellowship has gotten away from program in the Big Book
 4. Original program in Big Book was 75% successful (p. xx)
The Doctor's Opinion--Dr. Silkworth describes two-fold disease
Body AND mind of an alcoholic are both abnormal (p. xxiv)
 5. Baffling from Solomon's time until Dr. Silkworth
 6. Dr. Silkworth's opinion that we have an allergy to alcohol (p. xxiv )
 7. "Allergy" is an abnormal reaction, in this case to alcohol
 8. Charlie describes his dramatically abnormal reaction to alcohol
 9. Most alcoholics don't know what is normal or abnormal
10. Phenomenon of craving in allergic types only (p. xxvi)
Joe describes normal drinkers on airplanes--no craving
11. Classification of alcoholics into five types
12. Only thing all types have in common is phenomenon of craving
13. Joe and Charlie's Disease Concept of Alcoholism Not A.A. information
14. Alcohol is broken down easily by the non-alcoholic


 1. Alcohol broken down poorly or slowly by alcoholic
Charlie describes a typical drinking escapade

A man is supposed to clean up the yard, but goes to a bar

 2. Drinking triggers the phenomenon of craving
Phenomenon of craving gets worse with age or more drinking
 3. Mental obsession of the man allergic to fish but eats it anyway
 4. Alcoholics like the effect produced by alcohol (p. xxvi)
Not the taste but the effect
 5. Charlie describes how his mental obsession developed
Alcoholics can't differentiate the true from the false (p. xxvi)
 6. We are restless, irritable and discontent (p. xxvi-xxvii)
Joe's example of the emotional barometer
 7. Can't drink safely because of the body
 8. Can't keep from drinking because of the mind
 9. Will power is useless unless you see there is something wrong
Without psychic change this is very little hope (p. xxvii)
10. Obsessions of other kinds are discussed--food, gambling, etc.
11. Bill was the first to know the problem, solution, and practical program of action
12. CHAPTER ONE, "Bill's Story"

. Begin Saturday Sessions
13. Bill's Story is the textbook case study of active alcoholism


 1. Like a Twelfth Step call, it describes Bill's disease to the newcomer
 2. Law school to Wall Street--Bill's early days (p. 2)
 3. Bill investigates companies on a motorcycle trip with Lois
Fame and fortune come but drinking gets more serious.
He becomes a lone wolf (p. 3)
 4. Stock market crash, followed by financial decline (p. 4)
 5. Liquor becomes a necessity, blows stock deal,"wakes up" (p. 5)
 6. Bill tries to stop, steals from wife, fears suicide (p. 6)
Uses sedative, goes to hospital, but gets drunk again (p. 7)
 7. Pronounced hopeless, and admits alcohol his master (p. 8)
 8. Bill talks to Ebby in his kitchen
 9. Bill is "aghast" at Ebby's solution (p. 9)
10. Ebby's connection to Rowland H. and the Oxford Groups discussed
11. Bill balks at anything religious (p. 10-11)
12. Ebby tells Bill to choose his own conception of God (p. 12)
13. Bill tried to sober up with the Oxford Groups

fails Goes back to the hospital and finally accepts Ebby'sproposals

14. All Twelve Steps are found on one page (p. 13)


 1. Bill's spiritual experience (p. 14)
CHAPTER TWO, "There is a Solution"--shows exactly what happened
 2. We are people who normally would not mix (p. 17)
 3. Illustration of the passengers on an ocean liner
Great difference between steerage and Captain's table
 4. Great power in the fellowship is one element that binds us
The common solution is the other essential element
 5. Common solution is tremendous fact that binds us
Many today just use the fellowship and not the solution
Solution should be pointed out to the newcomer
 6. Charlie talks about this illustration
Different races at the Big Book Study
Charlie finally made it to the Captain's table
 7. Three types of drinkers are moderate social, heavy, real alcoholic (p. 20-21)
 8. Description of real alcoholic (p. 21-22)
 9. Why does he start?--problem centers in his mind (p. 22-23)
10. We are without defense against the first drink (p. 24)
11. Failure of defense against the hot stove
Charlie recalls being burned by stove
Most alcoholics are beyond human aid, so fellowship isn't enough
12. There is a solution--the effective spiritual experience
13. Difficult to continue without an understanding of this term
Most have a wrong conception of spiritual experience
Charlie tells about his Aunt Molly's experience
14. Appendix II explains spiritual experience, spiritual awakening
Personality change sufficient to recover (p. 569)
Readers of first printing thought it had to be sudden


 1. Most experiences are of the educational variety
Others see it, then he realizes
Profound alteration in his reaction to life

 - Not brought about by himself alone

 2. Tapped unsuspected inner resource (p. 570)
 3. No middle-of-the-road solution, only two alternatives (p. 25)

 Go on to the bitter end (the problem of Step One)

 Accept spiritual help (the solution of Step Two)

 4. Rowland H. was treated by Dr. Carl Jung for a year (p. 26)
 5. Pronounced hopeless without a vital spiritual experience
Huge emotional displacement and rearrangements
 6. Three things come together in Bill's mind

 Problem from Dr. Silkworth

 Solution from Dr. Carl Jung

 Recovery program from Oxford Groups

 7. CHAPTER THREE, "More About Alcoholism"--the mental obsession is illustrated by four examples
Insanity is not what we do when drunk, it's believing a lie
 8. We're like a pie with a piece missing, not all gone
 9. Circle of recovery, the old member helps new see the truth
10. Great obsession that we will control and enjoy drinking (p. 30)
11. Methods we have tried, "ad infinitum" (p. 31)
Might try controlled drinking (p. 31-32; first method of diagnosing yourself as alcoholic)
12. Man of thirty stays dry for twenty-five years , drinks again and dies in four years (p. 32-33)
Might try to stop drinking for a year (p. 34; second method of diagnosis)
13. Might look at the mental states that precede drinking (p. 34-35; third method of diagnosis)
Story of the car salesman, Jim--keeps getting drunk (p. 35)


 1. Joe and Charlie look at Jim's story for sanity and insanity
 2. Jim's insane decision to drink whiskey in milk (p. 36)
 3. Insanity is the lack of proportion and the ability to think straight about alcohol (p. 37)
 4. We are as insane as the jay-walker who can't stay out of traffic (p. 37-38)
 5. Absolutely unable to stop on the basis of self-knowledge (p. 39)
Story of the accountant, Fred--gets drunk on Washington trip (P. 39)
 6. Decides to have cocktails with dinner (p. 41)
 7. Alcoholic has no effective mental defence against the first drink (P. 43)
 8. CHAPTER FOUR, We Agnostics--the spiritual kindergarten
Two questions to determine if you're alcoholic (p. 44)"
When you honestly want to, you can't quit entirely
Little control over amount you take
 9. Three attitudes toward God are discussed: atheist, agnostic, or true believer
10. Codes and philosophies didn't save us (p. 45)
11. Lack of power, that was our dilemma (p. 45)
Main object of book is to find that Power  -- The Power will solve your problem
Do I believe or am I even willing to believe? (p. 47)
Believing is the cornerstone
12. Believing is just being suspicious, not faith as yet
13. In the past men were fettered by fixed ideas (p. 51)
14. Joe and Charlie discuss Bill's example of Columbus
Five hundred years ago you couldn't believe differently
15. Columbus had courage to believe, "a good alcoholic trait"


 1. We can't give a newcomer our faith which is based on Steps Three through Twelve
we can help newcomer come to believe.
 2. First they believe, then decide, then take action
 3. Deep down inside is the fundamental idea of God (p. 55)
God isn't lost, He dwells within us
 4. We need to peel away the garbage
 5. We now have the diagnosis of Step One and the prescription of Step Two
CHAPTER FIVE, "How It Works"--the directions to Step Three and Step Four
Joe talks about how Bill wrote the Steps one evening
 6. Charlie reads from the original manuscript of "How It Works"
 7. Designed to sell you three pertinent ideas
 8. The original Twelfth Step calls are discussed
In two visits they took newcomer through Steps One and Two
The book does this in The Doctor's Opinion and first four chapters
The early A.A. members started the newcomer at Step Three when they sponsored them into the group
 9. There was a big fight over the first of Chapter Five
10. Bill intended and wanted "directions" not "suggestions"
11. Bill gave in but used "directions" everywhere else
Charlie tells the drunken burglar joke
Being convinced we were at Step Three (p. 60)
12. Charlie discuss "decision" to take a trip
13. Will is my thinking, life is my actions


 1. We must decide between problem and the solution
 2. Joe was afraid he would end up in the Salvation Army Band
Joe discusses will
It's like a last will and testament
 3. Animals don't have self-will but humans do, and we need it
Adam and Eve in "serenity park"
 4. Charlie discusses the three basic instincts of life
 5. Social instinct is a strong desire to be part of the group
 6. Security instinct, from earliest times was necessary for survival
Sex instinct also gives only a temporary feeling
 7. Self-will cannot overcome self-will
 8. Joe says the instincts are like the utilities of a building
The root of our troubles (p. 62)
 9. We had to quit playing God; God is the Director
Build an arch to freedom, we get positive results
10. Third Step prayer (p. 63)
11. Fourth Step housecleaning begins AT ONCE, or self-will stops us
12. Not a list of dirty nasty things
Resentment is to judge incorrectly and is a wrong
13. Fear is to believe incorrectly and is a wrong
Harm to others is a wrong
14. Charlie's first inventory wasn't very helpful


 1. Inventory guides have confused people a lot
 2. Bill used the parable of a business inventory (p. 64) Business inventory and personal inventory are compared It's always a written list of items Without it we "go broke," that is we get drunk
 3."Moral" means truthful
 4."Stock-in-trades means what is in our heads today
 5. We searched out the flaws in our make-up that block us (p. 64) Three manifestations of self, resentments, fears, and harms to others.
 6. RESENTMENT is the "number one" offender (p. 64) Joe says we replay it to excuse ourselves and accuse others
 7. We must analyze these resentments (p. 70)
 8. Joe and Charlie interpret the inventory on page sixty-five
 9. List from top to bottom all the people, institutions, and principles we're mad at.
10. List from top to bottom what they did to make us mad
11. List from top to bottom what part of self is affected
12. We went back through our lives (p. 66)
13. Charlie tells how he squandered time through resentments
14. Resentments cut us off from the sunlight of the Spirit (p. 66)


 1. People, some long dead, dominate us through our resentments
 2. Fourth Step prayer is seldom mentioned but very useful (p. 67)
 3. "Freedom from Bondage"--example of prayer to remove resentment Some deep resentments will not "analyze out" (p. 551) Pray for the person for two weeks (p. 552)
 4. Charlie did this on a partner that he had hated and it worked
 5. In the fourth column we looked for our own mistakes (p. 67)
Joe did this on his resentment toward his mother-in-law
 6. We can now choose to be resentment free if we work at this
 7. Charlie talks about resentments toward business partner and his wife
 8. Charlie tells about a man who resents his neighbor painting the house next door
 9. FEAR is useful when it gives us caution We reviewed our fears thoroughly (p. 68)
11. List all our fears from top to bottom first
List why we had them, example IRS because we cheated them List what part of self is affected
12. List exact nature of the wrong
13. Most fears will look pretty double dumb, for others we use prayer


 1. HARMS DONE TO OTHERS--especially through sex conduct The quickest way to hurt others is through sex Animals don't have our problems with sex
 2. We think about it before, during, and after, and must make decisions about our actions Many need an overhauling, but we try to be sensible (p. 68)
 3. Some want more and more sex, others think it's shameful (p. 69)
Big Book wants to stay out of this controversy
We review our conduct of the past
The inventory is done in the same way as resentments and fears
List the people we have hurt, for example: spouse, partners, children
hurt by adultery (column one)
List what we did (column two)
 5. List what part of self caused this action (column three)
Sex used to build our own ego
Sex used to buy emotional and material security
Sex used for revenge, or to get our way
 6. Most often the cause is not the sex instinct but the social and security instinct
We find the same character defects (column four)
 7. We tried to shape a sane and sound ideal for our future (p. 69)
The test--selfish or not?
Ask God to mold our ideals and help us live up to them
 8. Avoid hysterical thinking or advice (p. 70)
 9. If we continue to hurt others we are quite sure to drink
If sex is very troublesome we help others (but not by having sex with them!)
10. There has already been a lot of personality change
Also add anyone we have harmed that hasn't shown up so far and we have the names for the Eighth Step
11. If we have listed and analyzed our "grosser handicaps" (resentments, fears, and harms to others) in a Fourth Step we have made a good beginning (p. 71)
CHAPTER SIX, "Into Action"--directions for Steps Five through Eleven
12. We start reaching out to others with Step Five Bill uses shortcomings, wrongs, and defects interchangeably
13. Solitary self-appraisal insufficient (p. 72)
If we skip Step Five we may drink
14. We share all our life story in the three areas of our "grosser handicaps" We are very much the actor (p. 73)


 1. Step Five helps me be honest with me
One purpose of Step Five is to improve Step Four inventory particularly as to the fourth column, what I did wrong
 2. How to choose someone to hear the Fifth Step (p. 74)
 3.Promises after the Fifth Step (p. 75)
Returning home we are quiet for an hour and review what we have done and check the first five Steps (p. 75)
 4.Step Six we are willing or ask God for help to become willing to remove things which are now objectionable
 5. Step Seven prayer is discussed
 6. Charlie says we try to practice the opposite of the character defect
 7. Joe says that Steps Six and Seven are tools of change, the pick and shovel of recovery
 8. Successful living means the daily dying of our old ways
 8. Charlie says that we are now responsible for the way we feel
10. Steps Eight and Nine--going to any lengths (p. 76)
11. The three dimensions of life are discussed: mental, physical, and spiritual
12. We become willing to make amends, but usually not to everyone on the list at the beginning
Direct amends means face to face wherever possible, and equal restitution (often in regular payments of money where owed)
13. Steps give us a design for living
14. Big Book deals with all kinds of amends questions


 1. There is no need to work Step Nine "off the wall"
Don't make amends if it will harm others, we don't beg them
 2. Dr. Bob couldn't stay sober until he made amends
 3. Charlie reads the promises after Step Nine (p. 83-84)
 4. We have to work for them before we get them
like Charlie when he was a boy so he could get to go to the movies on Saturday
 5. Charlie re-reads them adding "When I took a drink of alcohol"
We get the same ease and comfort from the Steps as from alcohol
 6. Greatest waste in A.A. is the people who are "just not drinking," they miss the fourth dimension of life
Last three Steps are growth Steps not just maintenance Steps
 7. Step Ten is really doing Steps Four through Nine on a daily basis (p. 84)
 8. There is danger in working Step Ten "off the wall" We don't wait until night to do Step Ten
 8. Tenth Step promises are read (p. 84-85)
10. Somewhere between page forty-five and eighty-five the obsession is removed
We are not cured of alcoholism, we have a daily reprieve (p. 85)
11. Vital sixth sense (p. 85)
12. Step Eleven suggest prayer and meditation (p. 85)
13. At night we constructively review our day (p. 86)
Have we been doing Step Ten today?
Joe and Charlie have a helpful review sheet
14. On awakening we consider our plans (p. 86)

(TAPE 8)

 1. We ask God to direct our thinking (p. 86)
Joe asks is my life as good as my mind?
Charlie tells the brain transplant joke
 2. We may face indecision (p. 86)
We are very limited in our information
God has ten-thousand great answers for each question
We ask God for inspiration; we don't struggle (p. 86)
 3. More and more on the plane of inspiration (p. 87)
Classic Western prayer and meditation
Prayer is asking for direction,
meditation is listening for the answer
Sometimes God speaks to us through other people
 4. Charlie tells of a group that tried Eastern meditation
Careful to make no requests for ourselves only (p. 87)
 5. Joe examines the prayer life from his youth
 6. When Joe was a boy, one man asked for everything in heaven
 7. We pause when agitated or doubtful (p. 87)
Promises or results of Step Eleven (p. 88)
Step Twelve is discussed briefly
 8. Charlie discuss spiritual awakening as THE result of these Steps
 8. We carry a very simple message
10. We are uniquely able to help alcoholics
11. A.A. could fail unless we stick to what works
The people who carried the message to Joe and Charlie didn't stay sober
12. Joe discusses the failure of the Washingtonians of the 1840's
13. Joe says that Big Book teaches him how to live
Charlie says that the hardest place to practice the principles is in his own home
14. Our book is meant to be suggestive only (p. 164)


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