I stress the point that what Bill W. recruited Dr. Bob into, the promised spiritual solution to his alcoholism, was not Alcoholics Anonymous. It was the Oxford Group that Bill W. claimed could do all the things he later attributed, like Dr. Bob’s conversion story, to his own cult religion. The Oxford Group and its leader Frank Buchman asserted that unconfessed sin was at the root of every compulsion, and that dedicating oneself to Group purposes would save them.
Bill stayed in Akron through the spring and summer. As the former wife of an alcoholic husband, I can’t help but wonder what Lois was thinking and feeling. During his belladonna and henbane induced hallucinations as an Oxford Group member worked to induce guilt, Bill had confessed he mistreated her. She’d supported him through years of unemployed drinking. And now her reward was to be largely abandoned so he could join a cult.
AA mythology egenerally claims that Bill W. and Dr. Bob started recruiting members to Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935, but it is simply untrue. From 1935-1937 they recruited new alcoholic converts to the Oxford Group. Alcoholics Anonymous did not yet exist. Their first convert, Bill Dotson, known in AA literature as “AA #3” or “The Man in the Bed”, actually converted to Buchmanism.
Dotson was lying in a hospital bed medically detoxing from alcohol when Bill W. and Dr. Bob, using his medical title to gain hospital access, descended upon him. They had spoken to his wife, promising her a reformed husband if he listened to them. The AA published book Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers makes it clear Bill D. had not requested their presence or intervention. “[T]he alcoholic himself didn’t ask for help. He didn’t have anything to say about it.”
Encouraged by their success, Bill W. and Dr Bob stalked hospitals for vulnerable patients. To get around hospital policies that gave alcoholics in delirium private rooms, Bob would have them admitted for some other cause, so Oxford Group members could wear them down uninterrupted. They specifically and intentionally targeted the most vulnerable alcoholics they could find, and compromised their patient care, all for the sake of the Oxford Group.