An old joke has a famous psychiatrist addressing the inmates of a mental institution. “Do we all know why we’re here?” the psychiatrist asks. “Yessir,” one inmate replies. “We’re all here because we’re not all there.” ("Not all there” is slang for a mental problem.)
The joke has been cited in print since at least 1938. Eventually, the joke would be used in recovery programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous. An A. A. instructor would ask the alcoholics in attendance, “Do we all know why we’re here?”, and one would reply, “We’re all here because we’re not all there.” A self-help book about alcoholism was titled A Few Beers: We’re All Here Because We’re Not All There (2013).
Proceedings of the Annual Convention
National Fertilizer Association (1925-1955)
... and as I look around this room today I can’t help but recall the experience of a famous psychiatrist when asked to address a group of inmates in an institution for mild mental cases. Finding it difficult to hold their attention, he stopped talking abruptly and asked, “Can anyone tell me why we’re all here?” Everything was quiet for a moment, and then an elderly inmate in the rear of the room rose up and said, “Yessir, I can answer that one. We’re all here because we’re not all there.”
4 October 1945, Terril (IA) Record, “Tiger Tales,” pg. 8, col. 1:
Do you know what insane asylum inmates say? “We’re all here because we’re not all there.”
22 April 1956, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), “The Wit Parade” by E. E. Kenyon, The American Weekly, pg. 4, col. 3:
At a recent church service in Key Biscayne, Florida, the Reverend W. R. Lesser told about a lecturer speaking before a group of inmates at a mental sanitarium.
The speaker, on being introduced with his customary: “Ladies and gentlemen...you know, of course, why we are all here...”
“Sure,” came a gay voice from the audience. “We’re all here because we’re not all there!”
The Modern Handbook of Humor
bY Ralph Louis Woods
New York, NY: McGraw-Hill
One of the inmates called out, “We are all here because we’re not all there.”
Stepping Stones to Recovery for Young People:
Experience the Miracle of 12 Step Recovery
Edited by Lisa D.
Seattle, WA: Glen Abbey Books
Pg. 213 (Slogans):
51. We’re All Here Because We’re Not All There.
OCLC WorldCat record
We’re all here—because we’re not all there
Author: George Bowser; Rick Blue; Bowser & Blue (Musical duo)
Publisher: Westmount, Quebec : You Guys Pub., 2000.
Edition/Format: Audiobook on CD : CD audio : English
A Few Beers:
We’re All Here Because We’re Not All There
By Robert Johnson