What we learn in recovery is that the problem centers in the mind. There is an obsessive quality and an emotional sensitivity, often experienced in childhood, that later has the possibility of turning to an obsession to seek solace from the way they feel. Lacking the tools to manage pain, disappointment, and resentment in a healthy way, the mind obsessively seeks the only solution to the problem that has yet worked, which is a mind or mood-altering substance. This same obsessive spiritual malady nature causes those with a substance use disorder to instinctively seek other things for relief from their thoughts. Often, before ever using a substance, they were bright students, picked up hobbies that they were able to develop into amazing talents or ambitious employees that were able to vertically ascend with ease. The motivation that drove most of these positive outcomes, however, was typically relief from their low self-esteem or otherwise painful thinking.
When the spiritual malady is overcome we straighten out mentally and physically?
As explained in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, “we have been not only mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick. When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically.” When men and women look inwardly, the spiritual component of the disease becomes apparent.
The anger response is more comfortable than feeling the shame for some individuals. Families where coercive and humiliating methods of discipline are used develop children who are shame prone. Behavior become driven by defenses that function to keep from feeling bad. Reality becomes distorted to further protect the self from poor self esteem.
The Missing Piece: The Spiritual Malady
Just as revealing where the negative emotions listed which clearly showed how I react, and can still react to people who I believe have caused my hurt or rejection. I did not realise that the engine driving this emotion dysregulation was chronic shame. I would have found this threatening to my sense of self so I would have reacted via defense mechanisms. I would have strangely blamed this person for making me feel the way I did! Even if this person had no such intention of hurting my feelings I would blame him nonetheless via my defensive reactions. The newcomer gave me an example of a resentment he was experiencing after this guy at a meeting said “get off your pink cloud” a phrase that refers to the sometimes mildly ecstatic feelings of early recovery.
The third positive benefit is that someone who is obsessively seeking to improve has greater interpersonal sensitivity. Those who are seeking to be the best often seek the feedback of others and are more accepting of constructive criticism and instruction, making them more agreeable in their interactions. The sin disease idea became the “spiritual malady” of AA. In fact they were all interlinking in a pattern of emotional reacting, one activating the other. It was like a emotion web that ensnared one in increasingly frustrating states of emotional distress and inappropriate responding.
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In other words it is the consequence of my fear based condition, this affective disorder. Once we are aware of these feelings we can begin the real work on ourselves. It is not easy to do so but recognizing this aspect of alcoholism forces us to take an honest look in the mirror at our behaviors and attitudes towards life and other people.
In order to illustrate how I believe my spiritual malady is the consequence of my emotional disorder, called alcoholism/addiction first let’s go back to where this idea of spiritual malady came from. So we have issues with emotions and somatic/body feeling states. I want to make clear to members that these thoughts are not definitive treatise on the subjects. Just an attempt to stimulate thought or discussion and provide information based on my study and experience.
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This sin disease had very real psychological, emotional and physical and physiological effect on the mind and body. Sins were a contagion that mixed with the sins of others and the sins of families, groups, societies, cultures and countries. “… unacknowledged thoughts and feelings become repressed and surface later through substitute emotions and dysfunctional behavior. Other emotions are substituted to hide the shame and maintain self esteem.
- I am not only fearful I have reacted to their arrival via shame based defence mechanisms and reactions.
- It is important that when we embark upon this quest to alleviate our spiritual malady that we are not too harsh on ourselves.
- Dr Bob like Bill Wilson had intermittently stayed sober via involvement with the Oxford Group but they had always relapsed back to drinking.
- The years of recovery reveal many different things, some of them not so palatable.
- Once turning to substances many of these people struggle to maintain the same focus on the other priorities they had.
It’s the “spiritual malady”, as manifested by my EGO (selfishness-self-centeredness), that can eventually lead me back to drinking or sometimes even suicide. The struggle for anyone with a substance use disorder is that the focus, outside of treatment and 12-Step meetings, is typically on the substance.
December 21, 2020 by Burning Tree Programs in
Professional therapists teach people to live in the present. AA encourages members to share their experience, strength and hope with other members. It is emotionally healthy to accept our past experiences, however painful, as past events and move on to a richer, more fulfilling future. This is why we need a satisfactory definition of what alcoholism and addition is? Rather than describing these conditions in terms of the manifest symptoms, i.e chronic substance abuse or, at times, vague “spiritual maladies”. It is important that when we embark upon this quest to alleviate our https://ecosoberhouse.com/ that we are not too harsh on ourselves.
- If you are an alcoholic, then you know you cannot just put the plug in the jug and quit.
- AA was co-founded 80 years ago when Bill Wilson passed on a message of hope to Dr Bob, or Dr Robert Smith to give his full name.
- I am assailed externally by fear of what other’s think about me and internally about what I think of me – when these two line up it can have a powerful and damaging effect on my psyche.
- It symbolizes that this was the day when one alcoholic helped another alcoholic achieve lasting sobriety.
- Some of us are “people pleasers”, some of us are dismissive towards others.
There is much speculation and debate over the etiology of addiction. The desire to understand addiction and find a remedy no doubt arises from the pain and heartache of those affected. Fortunately, amidst all the speculation, God has graciously revealed the underlying roots of addiction.
I believe we can unwittingly complicate our treatment of alcoholism by believing we have other conditions we see as distinct from alcoholism but which are in fact part of this condition called alcoholism. My affective disorder via various neural and cognitive – affective mechanisms leads to chronic substance use and dependency of these substances. The list of emotional difficulties continues throughout the Big book’s first 164 pages. The psychology and neuropsychology of alcoholism, addictive behaviour and recovery.
If that be the case, you may be suffering from an illness which only a spiritual experience will conquer.” We embark upon a journey of recovery that allows us to develop a deep spiritual connection. Through our spiritual connection, we finally are given the power to overcome the disease and live happy, joyous, and free lives in sobriety. Many people are initially turned off to the idea of the program because they believe it preaches religion and God, and many addicts and alcoholics have no desire to pursue a religious answer. But the beauty of the 12-steps is that they are spiritually based as opposed to religious. What that means is that all that is required is the belief in a power greater than yourself.
For me this section is saying our emotion dysregulation leads to feelings of being “restless, irritable and discontented” which prompt a return to drinking. Racticing prayer and meditation helps us be mindful of our surroundings and gain consciousness of our spirituality by bringing us closer to our higher power. Strengthening this relationship with a spiritual being brought us hope that we can recover from the mental and physical suffering of alcoholism. This is the type of spiritually maladapted behavior that we typically exhibit in active alcoholism. When not treating the spiritual aspect of the disease those behaviors are the types of things that will start to make life unmanageable once again. Without a connection to a higher power, it can get quite ugly in sobriety.
What is the main purpose of the Big Book?
Its main object is to enable you to find a Power greater than yourself which will solve your problem.
What I am saying is that they do not have the emotion dysregulation or fear based responding that I seem to have which often prompts “sin”. Addiction is often referred to as a disease of perception as addicts have a tendency to creating extraneous narrative around the experiences of their lives. Since this additional narrative often consist of perspectives that causes the addict to feel separate, this is where the spiritual malady lives. It is through the daily cleansing of perception through the process of the steps and the sharing with another addict that the addict is able to return to living as an integrated part of the whole of life. Sometimes others expel the same negative emotions on to us. I have found this a fairly common trait among male alcoholics in recovery settings and meetings. It is emotionally healthy to live in the day … in the here and now.
But all of these interventions have limitations unless our primary spiritual problem is addressed and overcome and this can be done through the gospel alone. The lack of rest comes from the marring of shalom through the fall of mankind in our separation from God. Jesus Christ alone is God’s prescribed remedy for the insanity that results from our spiritual malady. Any promise of finding true freedom from this malady other than Jesus is a false gospel .
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