Dr. Harry Tiebout Bridges Alcoholics Anonymous with Medical Societies

Dr. Harry Tiebout Bridges Alcoholics Anonymous with Medical Societies

Dr. Harry M. Tiebout, a psychiatrist, was an early pioneer in coupling the principles and philosophy of Alcoholics Anonymous with psychiatric knowledge of alcoholism. Harry Tiebout was raised in Brooklyn, New York. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Wesleyan University in 1917 and went on to complete an internship specialized in psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine. In 1935 he became medical director of Blythewood Sanitarium in Greenwich, Connecticut. At its peak, it had eight main buildings, eight cottages, a chapel, a building for occupational therapy, and a small golf course. There were no bars on the windows. Artistic and cultural pursuits were encouraged as part of the therapeutic program. Although the sanitarium was primarily for care of the mentally ill, it also provided care for alcoholics. Tiebout was a strong supporter of A.A. throughout his life, he consistently worked for acceptance of his views concerning alcoholism the medical and psychiatric professions.

In 1939, Tiebout received a pre-publication copy of the book, Alcoholics Anonymous. After looking it over, he gave it to one of his patients, Marty Mann. She had been at Blythewood for over a year but seemed no closer to conquering her alcohol problem than when she arrived, so he considered her a good test of whether the book had value. Marty Mann became the first woman to get and stay sober in AA. Her story “Women Suffer Too” was the first womans story put in the Big Book. In the end, Mann, made education about alcoholism, and promotion of alcohol-abuse treatment, her second career. With Tiebout’s support, she founded the National Council on Alcoholism, now known as the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. Tiebout was the chairman of the National Council on Alcoholism in 1950.

Tiebout also became a friend and supporter of AA co-founder Bill Wilson, providing personal psychiatric care when Wilson developed depression in the 1940s. It was largely through Tiebout’s influence that Bill Wilson was invited to speak at a New York State medical society meeting and then at a meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, and had his talk published in the American Journal of Psychiatry. He served on the Board of Trustees for A.A. from 1957 to 1966.

In the 1940’s and 1950’s, Tiebout published several articles releted to alcoholism and Alcoholics Anonymous:

-The Act of Surrender in the Therapeutic Process

-Direct Treatment of a Symptom

-The Ego Factors in Surrender in Alcoholism

-Surrender vs. Compliance in Therapy

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