But not so with alcoholics. When A.A. was quite young, a number of eminent psychologists and doctors made an exhaustive study of a good-sized group of so-called problem drinkers. The doctors weren’t trying to find how different we were from one another; they sought to find whatever personality traits, if any, this group of alcoholics had in common. They finally came up with a conclusion that shocked the A.A. members of that time. These distinguished men had the nerve to say that most of the alcoholics under investigation were still childish, emotionally sensitive, and grandiose.
I still resent the male-centeredness of AA and as soon as I feel that resentment, I replace it with gratitude that there’s AA at all, and then I let it go.
I’ve learned to pretty much name and claim every character defect that exists as at least partly belonging to me. Any amount of time I spend considering any one of them is time will spent.
The focus of my writing and thoughts is how these things related to oldtimers. I often consider newcomers, usually when I’m at a meeting or when I’m trying to help a newcomer, most especially my person favorite kind of newcomer, the chronic relapser.
I love the language of the 12 and 12 and how it says here that the alcoholics were STILL (were they still drinking? probably) childish, emotionally sensitive and grandiose. If they were still drinking, than I take it to mean that children exhibit these character traits, and non-alcoholic children grow out of them, whereas alcoholics-to-be do not. And I honestly have to say that, among newcomers and constant slippers, I do see those characteristics to one degree or another, but all more so than in people who have been sober for some time.
I went to a family wedding this past weekend, and it would be incredibly easy for me to list all the thousand and one ways in which the active alcoholics in my family (that would be my mother’s entire generation, basically) are childish, emotionally sensitive, and grandiose. But then again, my decades of AA training make me shrink back from making those judgements just as soon as I’ve made them (in other words, too late!).
Instead, I’m off to my character defects list to make sure these adjectives are included and in that way, consider them in my own life, each in its turn.