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Health & Wellbeing: Ayrshire couple offer support for Tony Blair’s Respect agenda

Ayrshire couple offer support for Tony Blair’s Respect agenda

A married couple from Ayrshire, Scotland have written to UK Prime Minister Tony Blair welcoming his statement in a recent interview that the Government is planning state intervention in order to prevent potentially problem babies becoming problem teenagers of the future.

[UKPRwire, Tue Sep 12 2006] A married couple from Ayrshire, Scotland have written to UK Prime Minister Tony Blair welcoming his statement in a recent interview that the Government is planning state intervention in order to prevent potentially problem babies becoming problem teenagers of the future.

In his statement Tony Blair said: “If we are not prepared to predict and intervene far more early, then there are children that are going to grow up in families that we know perfectly well are completely dysfunctional, and the kids a few years down the line are going to be a menace to society and actually a threat to themselves.”

In their letter to the Prime Minister, Murdoch and Lilian MacDonald write: “One of the reasons we particularly welcome your statement is because we deduce from it that, like us, you believe dysfunctional behaviour stems from early childhood, and that preventing it at this stage is more sensible and effective than trying to rectify it later.

“The particular dysfunctional behaviour that we are interested in, and have personal experience of, is alcoholism.

“We are two former alcoholics who by confronting and addressing our problems from childhood have successfully overcome our so-called “addiction”, to the extent that we are now able to drink sociably and responsibly again, thus disproving the conventional wisdom that alcoholism is an incurable disease from which only remission is possible by embracing life-long sobriety.

“We have told our story in a book called “Phoenix in a Bottle”, published last year.

“We believe that society is now ready to outgrow the myths and dogma about alcoholism so long promulgated and perpetuated by the pseudo-religious cult Alcoholics Anonymous, and accept the fact that alcoholism, like other “addictions” is not an illness, but a behaviour problem rooted in childhood that can be prevented.

“Although we oppose the teachings of Alcoholics Anonymous, we are even more appalled by the way in which private clinics have piggy-backed AA, hijacked their 12-Step programme, and are selling it to an unsuspecting public for quite astronomic amounts of money. At least in AA it is free of charge.

“But what is worse now is that the National Health Service sends many alcoholic patients to these clinics, and picks up the tab for their stay and their “treatment”, thus wasting funds from the public purse that could otherwise have gone towards preventing alcoholism in the first place.

“Our attempts to ascertain how much public money is squandered in this way have been to no avail. Perhaps if you were to initiate an enquiry, an exact figure may be divulged.”

In conclusion, Murdoch and Lilian MacDonald tell Prime Minister Tony Blair: “If our personal experiences of family dysfunctionality and its consequences can help to promote and enlighten your Respect agenda, we would be happy to meet with you to discuss our ideas.”


Lilian and Murdoch’s lives were devastated by alcoholism, but they have now recovered so completely that they now not only lead normal lives again, but are also able to drink in a perfectly sociable manner once more.

That goes against the teaching of Alcoholics Anonymous, and of many alcoholism treatment centres throughout the world.

But Lilian (62) and Murdoch (60) believe that lifelong sobriety is not the solution to alcoholism, as this only treats the symptoms and not the causes of the problem, and is merely a damage limitation exercise.

The couple argue that alcoholism, in common with other self-harming disorders like bulimia, anorexia and self-mutilation, often stems from problems experienced in childhood.

And if these problems can be identified and properly addressed, then the problem behaviour can be cured.

Twelve years ago the couple had hit rock bottom, sleeping rough for two weeks on the streets of Cambridge, where a quarter of a century previously as an undergraduate Murdoch had received an honours degree in English Literature at Magdalene College. They had moved to Cambridge from Ayr with the idea of Murdoch doing research for a doctorate, but had reverted to their old habits, started binge drinking, and been thrown out of their lodgings.

After a fortnight, and when they were just about at the end of their tether, two nurses on their way home after a Saturday night out took pity on Lilian and Murdoch, bought them a cup of tea and found them a place in a homeless hostel.

They spent the next twelve months there getting to the roots of their alcoholism. They tried AA one last time, before concluding that it was a quasi-religious cult whose ideas on alcoholism were inadequate and outdated.

Instead, by reading psychology, they decided that the causes of their alcoholic behaviour lay in problems experienced during childhood. And that once these problems were realised and addressed, there was no longer any need for escape through alcoholism, and they could even drink normally like other people again.

Ten years after selling newspapers from a stand in Market Square, Cambridge, so that he and Lilian could get back on their feet financially, Murdoch is now a freelance business and financial journalist, and also runs his own public relations consultancy.

And in order to pass on the benefits of their experience to others who still have problems with alcohol, the couple have written their book “Phoenix in a Bottle”.

Reviewing the book, American addiction expert Dr Stanton Peele PhD commented:

“Phoenix in a Bottle is a modern version of The Days of Wine and Roses, and tells the true story of how two people who entered a period of desperate drinking stayed with one another in a close loving relationship, and emerged from their alcoholism able to drink responsibly again.

“Both a wonderful love story and a challenge to conventional wisdom about how people can recover from drinking problems, Phoenix in a Bottle gives people hope, and helps them to confront their own demons - alcohol or otherwise.”


Issued by:

Fame Publicity Services
10 Miller Road
AYR, Ayrshire
Scotland KA7 2AY

Telephone: 01292 281498
Mobile: 07833 667322


Company: Fame Publicity Services
Contact Name: murdochmcd
Contact Email:
Contact Phone: 00 44 1292 281498
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