Pattie Boyd's memoir, "Wonderful Tonight," describes Boyd's leaving her marriage with Beatle George Harrison after he became morose and uncommunicative, alternating between compulsive chanting and meditation followed by drug and alcohol blasts, to take up with Eric Clapton.

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The Stanton Peele Addiction Website, September 5, 2008. This blog post also appeared on Stanton's Addiction in Society blog at PsychologyToday.com.

Did Pattie Boyd require an expert to explain alcoholism?

Pattie Boyd and Eric ClaptonPattie Boyd's memoir, "Wonderful Tonight," describes Boyd's leaving her marriage with Beatle George Harrison after he became morose and uncommunicative, alternating between compulsive chanting and meditation followed by drug and alcohol blasts, to take up with Eric Clapton.

The only problem with Clapton as suitable mating material was that he had just left a three-year period of holing himself up with a girlfriend and heroin. After treatment to overcome that addiction, he then embarked on a several-year drinking binge, which is where Boyd joined him.

Although Clapton had individual problems, Boyd's entire social set indulged in non-stop partying, in which she regularly joined. Still, she couldn't help but notice some difficulties in their relationship. Joining him on tour, she found that Clapton "coped by drinking himself close to oblivion" daily, sometimes showing up for concerts so drunk he performed on his back.

After the tour, away together on an idyllic Caribbean island, they had "the most glorious time." Except that the gardener would round Clapton up every morning and "take him to the ‘tea shop'" where they would "spend the day smoking dope and drinking. Eric would come home in the evening and pass out."

When they returned to England, Boyd found, "Eric loved the pub. . . .we would go there most lunchtimes. . . .and then he would invite all these people who happened to be there back to the house afterward and carry on drinking. . . ." For relief, once again they went on vacation, to a hotel Clapton owned with a friend, where they "inevitably settled down to some serious drinking."

Finally back at Clapton's home, "we settled down to a normal life - although it was far from normal." Their lives revolved around parties, for "Eric only came alive" when drinking and with an audience. "As the drink took hold, Eric began to live his life in five-hour cycles: his body needed alcohol every five hours, so there was no set pattern to his life, or his moods. . . .I was never away more than five hours, and I would never know what mood I would find him in when I came back into the house." At night, "I used to dread the sound of his lurching footsteps on the wooden stairs, not knowing what to expect next."

Houston, do you think there could be a problem? But Pattie Boyd says she didn't recognize one: "I accepted Eric's behavior." This was not because she was feeling good, but "It wasn't until later that I realized how shallow and narrow my life was becoming." No signs there, despite indignity after indignity. She came home once to find Clapton sitting next to a model. Clapton told her to leave: "'Can't you see we're having a really intense and intimate conversation here?' He was very drunk."

What else to do, but get married? Only later did Boyd find out "how the whole thing had come about. . . Eric had been playing an endless drunken game of pool. . . ." A friend bet "Eric he could get his photograph in the newspapers the following morning." And so the wedding was set.

All of this was before the chapter "Spiraling Our of Control," including Clapton's nonstop infidelity. But Boyd had trouble coming to grips with all of this for the following reason: "I spoke to a few doctors about it but no one in the medical profession seemed prepared to acknowledge there was a problem." More pain and despair followed. Oh, Clapton did write "Wonderful Tonight" about Boyd.

Okay, let's say there was neglect of alcohol problems in the British (and American) medical communities (although this was the 1980s). Simply looking at her life and Clapton's, and the feelings of dread and misery that pervaded her existence, shouldn't Boyd have recognized something was amiss, even leaving out any reference to alcohol? Didn't she have ample evidence of this before she married Clapton? Did she need an expert to explain, "Your husband is an alcoholic and his drinking is making your life a hell?"

I'll stop my narrative here, and let readers ponder and answer this question for themselves.