The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Saturday, 9 February 2008

American university adopts Scottish
couple’s alcoholism book as set text

A BOOK by a married couple from Ayrshire in Scotland has been selected as a set text by a top American university.

Phoenix in a Bottle by Lilian and Murdoch MacDonald will now be required reading for all doctoral students in a psychology programme at Alliant International University in San Diego, California.

The book tells the story of Lilian and Murdoch’s desperate fight against and recovery from alcoholism.

Alliant International University, headquartered in San Diego and San Francisco, California, was formed in 2001 by the merger of the California School of Professional Psychology (CSPP) and the United States International University. Alliant has 6 campuses throughout California and also runs programmes in Mexico City, Hong Kong and Tokyo. The California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant is one of the premier psychology schools in the US, and it counts roughly half the licensed clinical psychologists in California as its alumni.

Dr. Gary W. Lawson (pictured above) is Professor of Psychology at CSPP. He says: “I adopted Phoenix in a Bottle because the dilemma this couple struggled with and the questions they ask themselves are like so many others I have encountered in 35 years of clinical experience treating addictions.

“However, nowhere in addiction literature have I seen these issues examined and explained as well as Lilian and Murdoch do in Phoenix in a Bottle.

“I also recommend Phoenix in a Bottle to many of my patients as well.”

Since it was published in 2005, Phoenix in a Bottle has been listed on Amazon UK, but this month it was also listed for the first time on, hopefully giving an extra boost to future international sales of the book.

Phoenix in a Bottle is published by Melrose Books price £16.99.

Melrose Books

Melrose Books marketing and promotions co-ordinator Judith Stephens commented: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the authors to use their writing to help those studying addictions and behaviour, who will of course go onto to help addicts.”


In 1994 as a result of their alcoholism, Lilian and Murdoch MacDonald were down and out, sleeping rough in the streets and parks of Cambridge, the English university town where, a quarter of a century before, Murdoch had attained an honours degree.

Rejecting the conventional concepts of alcoholism, Lilian and Murdoch set about searching for the underlying causes of their self-harming behaviour problem, which they discovered lay in childhood.

They argue that no alcoholic is addicted to alcohol, but rather to the escape that alcohol affords - escape from life, or certain aspects of life with which they are unable to cope.

Having identified and addressed their issues from the past, the couple are today back home in Ayrshire, Scotland, leading normal lives again, with their problems of alcoholism and Lilian’s associated eating disorder well and truly behind them.

Controversially, they are also now able to drink alcohol responsibly again, if and when they so wish.

Described as a modern day Days of Wine and Roses, Lilian and Murdoch’s book Phoenix in a Bottle is the inspiring story of their journey.


Dr. Lawson, a Professor of Psychology at the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University in San Diego, teaches in the PsyD doctoral programme in clinical psychology. He has been teaching, conducting research and publishing articles and books in the addictions field since 1971. He has conducted training in addictions all across the United States and worldwide. He and his wife Dr Ann W Lawson, a Professor and Director of Clinical Training in the Marriage and Family Therapy programme at Alliant, were co-founding editors of the journal Family Dynamics of Addictions Quarterly and between them they have written 10 books on addictions and related topics. They are currently working on a fourth edition of their book Essentials of Chemical Dependency Counselling and a third edition of their book Alcoholism and the Family: A Guide to Treatment and Prevention. They just completed work on a 2nd edition of their edited book Alcoholism and Substance Abuse in Diverse Populations which should be available this summer through ProEd publishers in Austin, Texas.


Alliant International University offers a unique curriculum that combines academics and apprenticeship in all courses of study. With accredited programs at San Francisco, Sacramento, Fresno, Los Angeles, Irvine and San Diego, California, Alliant also hosts accredited programs in Mexico City, Mexico and Tokyo, Japan.

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