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Bill Wilson + Carl Jung: Epic Pen-Pals [BONUS 8]

Updated: Aug 4, 2020


In this week’s bonus episode, McCall unboxes the letters written between Bill Wilson, founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, and Carl Jung, famous psychiatrist and psychoanalyst.

How did these letters inspire the genesis of AA? And, in turn, how did the process of AA inspire Jung?

McCall shares the history between these two unlikely pen-pals and how they were both links in the chain that founded Alcoholics Anonymous.


  • [00:53] The Oxford Group

  • [1:55] Bill W’s 1st letter to Carl Jung

  • [2:34] Jung’s most hardcore patient

  • [4:26] Hazard and the Oxford Group

  • [5:44] "Ebby" and Bill W's history

  • [8:23] Bill W. and A.A.

  • [9:06] Bill W’s final letter to Carl Jung


  • [1:55] “This letter of great appreciation has been very long overdue. A certain conversation you once had with one of your patients… was to become ‘the first link in the chain of events that led to the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous.” --Bill Wilson, in his first letter to Carl Jung, 1961

  • [4:02] “[Y]ou frankly told him of his hopelessness, so far as any further medical or psychiatric treatment might be concerned. This candid and humble statement of yours was beyond doubt the first foundation stone upon which our Society has since been built.” --Bill Wilson, in a letter to Carl Jung, about the foundation of Alcoholics Anonymous

  • [4:57] “His craving for alcohol was the equivalent on a low level, of the spiritual thirst of our being for wholeness, expressed in medieval language: the union with God.” --Carl Jung, in a letter to Bill Wilson

  • [5:15] “How could one formulate such an insight that is not misunderstood in our days? The only right and legitimate way to such an experience is that it happens to you in reality and it can only happen to you when you walk on a path which leads you to a higher understanding.” --Carl Jung, in a letter to Bill Wilson, on having an enlightened experience

  • [9:37] “Your words really carried authority, because you seemed to be neither wholly a theologian nor a pure scientist. Therefore, you seemed to stand with us in that no-man’s land that lies between the two … You spoke a language of the heart that we could understand.” --Bill Wilson, in a letter to Carl Jung, from Modern Man in Search of a Soul

Recommended Resources


tags: 12-step recovery | spiritual recovery | recovery podcast | spiritual exploration | spiritual podcast | bill wilson | bill w. | carl jung | alcoholics anonymous | bill w. carl jung letters | jungian psychology

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