MALADY in Big Book Alcoholics Anonymous, 12 Steps and 12 Traditions

We have a sea change in how we think and feel about ourselves and the world around us. It is almost miraculous, the sudden transformative effect it can have on us. We have the chance to be free from the sick version of our real self, the self that has been in bondage, in addiction. We often take them to grave sooner rather than later unless we decide to be open and share our secrets with another person. Most of us were determined to take these secrets, these “sins” to the grave.

spiritual malady meaning

A Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor is an individual that has sought a degree to specify work with others affected by addiction. This is a combination of course work, and supervised clinical hours. Some common signs and symptoms of cirrhosis include fatigue, itchy skin, weight loss, nausea, yellow eyes and skin, abdominal pain and swelling or bruising. In later stage alcoholism, an individual focuses less on hygiene. So, a bad smell could also be related to a lack of motivation or energy it would take to do daily hygiene. These frequent negative thought patterns also lead to unnecessary and excessive amounts of anger, both when drunk and when sober. Point out, frequent drinkers tend to do what they call “angry rumination” or thinking anger-inducing thoughts. Below are some of the most common questions asked about consuming alcohol and alcoholism. Maryland Addiction Recovery Center is proud to provide treatment and rehab solutions to Baltimore, Maryland, Washington D.C., Northern Virginia, Virginia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, New York, New York City, Long Island, New Jersey, and Delaware.

Heart Reflection — Livecast — I understand my emotions and my whole heart reflection

We have to show love and tolerance for each other as we suffer the same illness/malady. Dismissing others like us for having what we have and acting as we do is like a form of self loathing. We have to forgive ourselves and each other for being ill. Self compassion allows us to be compassionate towards others. I explained to him that his pride had been hurt, he was in shame and his “apparent” depression every since was simply prolonged self pity. For example there is an undercurrent in fear of things being taken away, of it being because we are not good enough, deserving enough, have failed in some way, which are shame based reactions. One of my own difficulties is realising I am hungry or tired and I can often end up exhausted by over-doing stuff especially manual work around my house. My stop button broke a long time a ago and probably did not work very well to begin with. We seem to compulsively seek to relieve an inherent distress of not having what we set out to get. Our decision making seems fueled at times by this need to relieve distress rather than the intrinsic value of what we are seeking.

They are suppose the tell the fronts of our brains to find words for our feelings. Not to tell the bottom of our brains to fight back or run or freeze. In Grace we can still experience negative emotions but God allows us to see them for what they are and not react. His Grace takes the distress out of thee negative emotions. 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. For me we engage futilely and distressingly in resentment because we have an inability to process and control our emotions, they overwhelm us and we often react by people pleasing or react via various defense mechanisms . For me he was seeing the root of this spiritual malady, this emotional disease. This is similar to relying on external means, i.e. alcohol, drugs, addictive behaviours to regulate our emotions and bolster our low self esteem. I end, however, with some words from a doctor who seems to be suggesting that AA works because it makes us more emotionally healthy. These illustrate how the 12 step programme can help with an emotion dysregulation disorder.

A Higher Power and Our Spiritual Awakening

I have found this a fairly common trait among male alcoholics in recovery settings and meetings. 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”. Anyone can be spiritually maladapted, but as an alcoholic, we use alcohol to deal with having a spiritual malady. Many people say that alcoholics have a disease of the mind, body, and spirit. 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. Today I look further at the disease of alcoholism focusing on it as a spiritual malady. 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.

Eco Sober House

The mind and alcoholism are so cunning, baffling and powerful that we often cannot fathom how we ended up intoxicated when relying on our strong willpower to stay sober. The thoughts we have as alcoholics are often insidious in such a way that we can’t tell what is true or false. The Big Book talks about this delusion we develop in active addiction. So if you find yourself getting caught up on the spiritual nature of recovery, don’t. It really isn’t that difficult, and the beautiful thing about it is that it’s intensely personal and can be understood in any way you see fit. Just be open to the fact that besides being physically sick with addiction, you are also spiritually sick and as such, you need a spiritual solution to your problem. We use to blot out the feeling of loneliness we experience and we use to numb ourselves from the existential pain we experience simply by existing. This aversion to all things spiritual is often times the main stumbling block that many people new to recovery face. They have to find a way to come to terms with the idea that there is something greater out there than themselves and that in order to overcome their addiction, they have to at least attempt to connect with it.

It is therapeutic exchange and shame reducing to know someone else has committed similar sins or has acted for similar reasons; they were powerless over their behaviours. These secrets are the emotional and psychic scars of our alcoholic past and they need to be exposed in order for us to fully heal. Almost disappointingly I found some of my sins were quite tame when compared to other people I have spoken to in recovery. This is why we celebrate this great anniversary, this co-founding of AA, as it is the start of this therapeutic and spiritual connectedenss with other alcoholics needing help and giving help and with the wider world. The spirituality of AA is exemplified in helping spiritual malady meaning others, it creates a feeling of wholeness and connectedness with others. Most active ingredients accounting for AA’s benefit are social in nature, such as attending meetings, and the 12 steps mention “we” 6 times but not “I” once. Millions of lives have been saved not to mention the lasting benefits it has brought to families, and societies once harmed by alcoholism. It symbolizes that this was the day when one alcoholic helped another alcoholic achieve lasting sobriety. Dr Bob like Bill Wilson had intermittently stayed sober via involvement with the Oxford Group but they had always relapsed back to drinking. I have a spiritual tool kit that deals with this emotional disease.

The fundamental issue with a substance use disorder is that there are no predictable factors that make someone more prone to the disorder than another. In fact, studies have been done on twins to try to determine if there is a genetic predisposition for a substance use disorder, typically with mixed results. As there is no specific reason that someone grows to have a substance use disorder, there’s no defining factor or characteristic that might make someone’s obsession turn light or dark. The good news is that properly treated, those in recovery from the disorder are often able to, with continued growth, use this quality in order to be very successful. The same pursuits that many had, prior to their struggles becoming unmanageable, Sober House become easy to focus upon again, often leading to more success than they experienced before. This is greatly inspirational for those who have just come into the room when the mountain looks impossible to climb. Seeing the same traits that were harmful before, turn to assets and lead to a more incredible life is often the first thing that attracts newer members to recovery. Due to the nature of frequent episodes of powerlessness over our behavior, attached to addiction and alcoholism, we often acted in a way we would never act in sobriety. We had limited control over behaviour at times due to intoxication and acted on occasion in a way that shames us today. Sometimes others expel the same negative emotions on to us.


When the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous was written and published in 1939, the times and language of those times was incredibly different than modern times. This is one of the reasons that Big Book study groups have become so popular among recovering alcoholics. Apart from dissecting the Big Book so as to have a firmer grasp on the 12 Steps and program and in general, it also is designed to help us decipher the intricate language and wording used from a different time period. Old timers and recovering people with more experience can explain in layman’s terms just what the author Bill W. Was trying to relay in a far more easily digestible spiritual malady meaning fashion. As addicts we can become so focused on the outward form our addiction takes – whether that booze, drugs, sex, overeating, etc. – that we overlook its deep roots at the core of our being. This spiritual malady is the restless spirit, the soul sickness that if left untreated will begin to ooze symptoms of emotional insecurity worry, anger, self-pity, and depression, even if we have been sober for years. But such a transformation may be more accessible than it initially sounds. We still don’t have power, but we do have access to a power that transforms us and our lives. We do not experience mental obsession or morbid reflection.

Other emotions are substituted to hide the shame and maintain self esteem. Anger, exaggerated pride, anxiety and helplessness are substituted to keep from feeling the total blackness of being bad. The buried shame is expressed through defense mechanisms that shield negative unconscious material from surfacing. It was a list of the negative emotions which appear always when I felt anger and resentment against someone for hurting me and my feelings. In other words, I had not processed these episodes emotionally and embedded these events in my long term memory like healthy more emotionally mature people do. He “had to” react with arrogance, dismissiveness, impatience and intolerance, because his shame, which is a fear based emotion, made him fearful of his own recovery and fear makes one strangely dishonest , This is my experience. This is how a mental health disorder manifests itself as distorted fear based thinking which appear, if acted upon, to make one’s situation a whole lot worse.

The list of emotional difficulties continues throughout the Big book’s first 164 pages. Here we have an abnormal reaction to alcohol and for some alcoholics a maladjustment to life. The psychology and neuropsychology of alcoholism, addictive behaviour and recovery. We begin to obsess and buy the lie because we want to feel the ease and comfort of the first drink. We drink and set off the craving and the cycle of addiction starts all over again. Our spiritual malady causes us to be restless, irritable, and discontented. Basically, the alcoholic, once they start they cannot control the amount they take. Recovered means free from the obsession and constant struggle to stay sober.

What does the big book say about Unmanageability?

The First Step as described in the Big Book of A.A.

“We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol––that our lives had become unmanageable.” Basically there are two halves to this step, separated by the dash, consisting of two important terms––powerlessness and unmanageability.

It is the always wanting one more that makes my affective disorder that of addiction and not another disorder. This emotional immaturity is referenced throughout the Big Book I believe. It is interesting that a common definition of “spiritual” as it relates to AA, is a sense of connection with others. For me this maladjustment to life is not exactly the same as the spiritual disease mentioned in the Oxford Group pamphlet. It was 80 years ago, so our knowledge base has moved on greatly from when the Big Book was written. Hence I believe we should appreciate that this definition of our condition has been updated by research into emotions especially in the last 20 years. I am not advocating changing anything, I hope AA recovery remains as it is for 80 more years and much more years. I would not change one word in the first 164 pages of the BB. I have for several years wondered if the spiritual malady described in the Big Book adequate or accurate enough in describing what I suffer from.

  • Once you open up to this idea and implement that spiritual connection, you will experience your long-awaited spiritual awakening, the answer to that pesky spiritual malady we suffer from as alcoholics.
  • Otherwise we have not really completely treated our alcoholism.
  • But first, it’s crucial that you understand the difference between a spiritual experience and a religious one.
  • It asks them to allow themselves to have a new experience of what these things can mean to them.