| print this
"Physician Heal Thyself!"
Earle M., San Francisco Bay Area, CA.
393 in 2nd edition, p. 345 in 3rd edition, p. 301 in the
Stopped in Time
and surgeon, he had lost his way
until he realized that God, not
he, was the Great Healer."
had his last day of drinking and
using drugs on June 15, 1953. An
A.A. friend, Harry, took him to
his first meeting the following
week, the Tuesday Night Mill Valley
A.A. group, which met in Wesley
Hall at the Methodist Church. There
were only five people there, all
men: a butcher, a carpenter, a baker,
and his friend Harry H, a mechanic/inventor.
He loved A.A. from the start, and
though he has been critical of the
program at times, his devotion has
in his story heading as a psychiatrist
and surgeon, he was qualified in
many fields. During his long career,
he has been a prominent professor
of obstetrics and gynecology, and
an outstanding clinician at the
University of California at San
Francisco. He was a fellow of the
American College of Surgeons and
of the International College of
Surgeons, a diplomat of the American
Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology,
board-certified psychiatrist, vice-president
of the American Association of Marital
and Family Therapists, and a lecturer
on human sexuality.
was raised in San Francisco, but
was born on August 3, 1911, in Omaha,
Nebraska, and lived there until
he was ten. His parents were alcoholics.
In Omaha they lived on the wrong
side of the tracks, and he wore
hand-me-down clothes from relatives.
He was ashamed of this, and could
not begin to accept it until years
later. He revealed none of this
in his story. Instead he talked
about how successful he had been
in virtually everything he had done.
He said he lost nothing that most
alcoholics lose, and described his
skid row as the skid row of success.
in 1989 he wrote an autobiography
by the same title, which reveals
much more of his story.
his first year in A.A. he went to
New York and met Bill W. They became
very close and talked frequently
both on the phone and in person.
He frequently visited Bill at his
home, Stepping Stones. He called
Bill one of his sponsors, and said
there was hardly a topic they did
not discuss in detail. He took a
Fifth Step with Bill. And Bill often
talked over his depressions with
a search for serenity Earle studied
and practiced many forms of religion:
Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism,
and ancestor worship.
has long been a strong advocate
for the cross-addiction theory,
and predicted that over time we
would see the evolution of Addictions
he was sober about ten years, Earle
developed resentments against newcomers
and began a group in San Francisco
for oldtimers. It was called The
Forum. He wrote a credo for it designed
of ten steps for chemically dependent
people. He felt that addiction represents
a single disease with many open
doors leading to it: alcohol, opiates,
amphetamines, cocaine, etc. Most
of the Forum members were also devoted
also established a new kind of A.A.
group, which used confrontational
techniques. Some A.A. members disliked
it intensely, while others seemed
to gain a great deal from it.
alcoholics make geographic changes
when they are drinking. But Earle
seems to have made his after achieving
sobriety. He has lived in many places,
both in this country and abroad,
traveled around the world three
times, and attended A.A. everywhere
he went. He also married several
1968 he divorced his first wife,
Mary, whom he had married in 1940.
She once told him she had great
respect for him as a doctor, but
none as a human being. He admitted
that he'd had affairs during the
marriage, even after joining A.A.
His relationship with their only
child, Jane, who was a very successful
opera singer, was strained, but
he gave her an opportunity to air
her feelings in his book. She wrote
that when she received the gold
medallion at the International Tchaikovsky
Voice Competition in Moscow in 1966,
a high honor, her father did not
attend. Some people told her that
it was not easy for him to see her
become such a success -- to be so
in the public eye. She added that
their paths were still separate,
but she did not ever totally close
a door because he WAS her father.
the 1960s he was experimenting with
encounter and sensitivity awareness
groups, which were then in vogue.
At one of the encounter marathons
he met his second wife, Katie, and
within a year they were married
and soon moved to Lake Tahoe. They
lived separately except for two
brief periods, and after a few years
he accepted a job with the U.S.
State Department at the University
of Saigon Medical School, in Korea.
He spent five years there, after
which he returned to San Francisco,
hoping to rekindle his marriage
September 1975 he moved to Hazard,
Kentucky, to work at the Hazard
Appalachian Regional Hospital. There
he met his third wife, Freda, thirty
years younger than he was. Freda
came from a truly humble background.
She was the daughter of a miner
who had died of black lung disease.
She and her six brothers were raised
in a typical two-room coal miner's
house in Hazard. During his relationship
with her and her family he was able
to put to rest some ghosts concerning
his Nebraska background. This wonderful
family helped him to re-evaluate
his memories of Omaha.
1978 his feet began again to itch
again. He accepted short-term job
in Napal. When he was offered a
long-term assignment Freda and his
stepsons did not want to leave Kentucky.
Disappointed, he returned to Kentucky,
and obtained work as a gynecologist
in a family planning clinic, and
also lectured to medical students
on human sexuality at the University
of Louisville Medical School. When
he moved again, this time to Kirkland,
Washington, Freda again refused
to leave Kentucky. They were divorced
soon after. They remained friendly
and talked to one another on the
phone about twice a year.
all his travels, he always seemed
to return to the San Francisco Bay
Area. In 1980 he accepted a position
as medical director of the Institute
for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality
in San Francisco. There he met his
fourth wife, Mickey. She was a Ph.D.
candidate at the Institute. He described
her as a vibrant, open, honest,
direct woman without pretense, non-threatening,
sexually on fire, lacking in prejudice,
and tolerant about all aspects of
life -- including human sexuality.
She was already an Al-Anon member
when they met, having been married
to an alcoholic. She also made contributions
in the field of alcoholism and recovery
at Merritt Peralta Chemical Dependence
Recovery Hospital in Oakland, California.
They married and remained together
until her death in 2000. His book
is dedicated to her.
talked to Earle on July 27, 2001.
He told me he still gets to an A.A.
meeting almost every day. His eyesight
is not too good, but otherwise he
is full of vim and vigor. From his
voice, I would have taken him for
a man of 40. He missed the A.A.
International Convention last year
because of Mickey's ill health,
but he hopes to attend the one in