Dr Sylvester Minogue, Instrumental in the History of Alcoholics Anonymous

Posted by admin on December 15, 2011
the history of aa

Dr Sylvester Minogue was instrumental in the early history of Alcoholics Anonymous in Australia. He was an amazing man and the AA members who knew him referred to him lovingly as Sylvester. Like nearly all true hero’s Sylvester was also very humble and kept a low profile.

He just got the job of helping alcoholics done and without any fuss about sponsorship or the like that goes on in AA meetings these days. He had none of the hype that comes from sponsors in AA, counselors and social workers.

Possibly because of his low profile and for other reasons is why there is very little documented history about this amazing man and his work with alcoholics. The truth is he was so generous with his time for alkies who were struggling. He was instrumental in those early days in AA and especially around AA meetings in Sydney.

He like all the sober alcoholics of that time understood the importance of anonymity for AA members. the anonymity is  important to be successful with helping others to get sober.

Thankfully Dr Minogue, understood this and thankfully also that he was interested only in helping AA members get sober and not interested in wanting to make money from them. For this reason alone he didn’t need to be seen as a ‘star’ in or outside of AA meetings.

He was seen as just the quiet achiever who understood the problem of alcoholism. It is a shame that history has not recorded a proper recognition for this great man and that he was not recognised for the great gift that he had. That was to be able to help alcoholics in AA to get sober and sane.

I am lucky to have heard about Sylvester’s generosity towards alcoholics and how he gave up his time so willingly to help them in AA meetings. The stories were told to me by the older sober members (OSM) of AA.

One man said that Dr Minogue helped him tremendously. He said that Dr Sylvester Minogue was instrumental in many people getting sober right up to the 1960’s and 70’s as well as in the earlier times.

This OSM said that in his early days in AA he phoned Dr Minogue every afternoon after work from a public phone box. He phoned him to tell him what meeting he was going to that evening.

The member would continuously be amazed to find that Dr Minogue was always there at the meeting before him, waiting for him. He was baffled to know how Sylvester could possibly have done it. He never found out how Dr Minogue could get across town so fast to a meeting and be there before him.

Still today it is so important that an alcoholic in early sobriety has someone there who is stable to talk to after the meetings. The meetings are full of unstable people. Especially in those early days of AA where there was virtually no sobriety in at the AA meetings.

An alkie is off-the-air (as they called it) before the meeting and sometimes also still that way after the meeting. This is why it is absolutely crucial that he has someone to talk to so that he settles down in his thinking and is put back on the ground. This is so important that he gets this before he leaves the meeting. That is so that he stays sober long enough until he gets to the next meeting.

Dr Minogue understood this fact and many other things about sobriety. He was a psychiatrist and having that background probably helped him understand the plight of alcoholics in those early days of AA.

The knowledge that he had is lost today for no one else has come along to match his work. No one except an OSM named Keith was around that I am aware of could match his understanding of alcoholics.

The articles I have linked to here are purely to show a reference to Dr Minogue’s association with AA. However I do not agree with most of the claims in them. For instance it is highly unlikely that Dr Minogue was involved in bringing literature out from America, supposedly to benefit AA members.

The literature was instead brought out by Arch McKinnon (who was not an alcoholic) and it only benefits the people wanting to make money from alcoholics and that’s about all that it is useful for. As I said, Dr Minogue was not one of those people, thankfully.

He was far to wise for that nonsense. He understood the simplicity of AA and how the fellowship worked by keeping it simple.

It also works by the power of association of sober people. It works by alcoholics telling their stories of, What it was like, What happened, and What it is like now. It works by alcoholics having someone stable to talk to after the meetings.





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