Tag Archives: Harry Tiebout

Dr Harry Tiebout – Psychiatrist That Identified Alcoholism As A Disease

One of the first psychiatrists to describe alcoholism as a disease rather than a moral failing or criminal activity, Harry Tiebout was one of the first to wholeheartedly endorse Alcoholics Anonymous as an effective force in the struggle against compulsive drinking.

In one of his early papers, Tiebout discounted the idea, common among psychoanalytically-inclined doctors, that there was a classic type of pre-alcoholic personality. In his view all of the personality characteristics associated with early alcoholism were manifestations of the tension state accompanying intermittent alcohol binges. These features included:

  1. An unconscious need or drive to dominate
  2. A prevailing negative, hostile feeling-tone
  3. A capacity for ecstatic peaks
  4. A sense of loneliness and isolation
  5. Feelings of inferiority and superiority which exist simultaneously in the individual
  6. A striving for perfection


Harry Tiebout
(from the left) Dr. Bob, Dr. Harry M Tiebout, Bill Wilson


This volume brings together, for the first time, some of Tiebout’s most influential writings. Many of these pieces–from explorations of the therapeutic approach to alcoholism to instructive discussions of the act of surrender so crucial to recovery–are seminal documents in the history, treatment, and understanding of alcoholism. Together, they represent the significant contribution of one man to the countless lives shaken by alcoholism and steadied with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous, psychiatric intervention, and the foresight and commitment of doctors like Harry M Tiebout.

Purchase: Harry Tiebout: The Collected Writings by Harry Tiebout (1999-09-15)