Jung's influence can sometimes be found in more unexpected quarters. For example, Jung once treated
an American patient (Rowland H.) suffering from chronic alcoholism. After working with the patient for
some time, and achieving no significant progress, Jung told the man that his alcoholic condition was near
to hopeless, save only the possibility of a spiritual experience. Jung noted that occasionally such
experiences had been known to reform alcoholics where all else had failed.
Rowland took Jung's advice seriously and set about seeking a personal spiritual experience. He returned
home to the United States and joined a Christian evangelical church. He also told other alcoholics what
Jung had told him about the importance of a spiritual experience. One of the alcoholics he told was Ebby
Thatcher, a long-time friend and drinking buddy of Bill Wilson, later co-founder of Alcoholics
Anonymous (AA) Thatcher told Wilson about Jung's ideas. Wilson, who was finding it impossible to
maintain sobriety, was impressed and sought out his own spiritual experience. The influence of Jung thus
indirectly found its way into the formation of Alcoholics Anonymous, the original 12-step program, and
from there into the whole 12-step recovery movement, although AA as a whole is not Jungian and Jung
had no role in the formation of that approach or the 12 steps.
The above claims are documented in the letters of Carl Jung and Bill W., excerpts of which can be
found in Pass It On, published by Alcoholics Anonymous. The detail of this story is disputed by some