When The Spiritual Malady Is Overcome

“We have been not only emotionally and physically unwell, but also spiritually ill,” says a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. We straighten out mentally and physically once the spiritual malady is overcome.” The spiritual component of the condition becomes obvious when men and women look inward.

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What does a spiritual malady mean?

from the “The Big Book examines the first portion of Step 1, which declares, “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol,” from “The Doctor's Opinion” through the end of “More About Alcoholism.” We've talked about it, researched it, and absorbed it “To understand how we're powerless over alcohol physically, turn to page 23 of “Doctor's Opinion.” We studied pages 23–43 to help us understand how we've felt emotionally powerless. Now I'd want to explore a facet of our “illness” that is rarely discussed in meetings these days: “spiritual malady.”

We frequently hear people say things like, “I have a three-fold illness: physical, mental, and spiritual.”

When you ask them to explain what they mean by that statement, they seem to understand that we alcoholics have a problem “An allergy of the body and an obsession of the mind” — that putting any amount of alcohol in my system triggers a want for more. And when I'm stone cold sober, at my best, the thought of taking a drink will occur to me — or sometimes I don't think about it at all, and I come to after having experienced what page 42 refers to as a “blackout.” “A bizarre mental void.” And, of course, the vicious loop of my thoughts luring me back to a drink and my body obliging me not to drink like that continues “It's nearly difficult to stop me from going on an irrational binge when I'm around “normal” people.

It is well acknowledged that the “The portion of our “illness” that leads to the first drink is called “mental obsession,” and it is the first drink that causes the “phenomenon of yearning.” But what about the other half of my story? “What is it about this “illness” that causes the mental preoccupation in the first place? Why do persons who have been abstaining from drinking for a year, two years, five years, ten years, or even twenty years or more in Alcoholics Anonymous return to drinking?

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We know that bodily cravings do not drive these people to drink because it has been scientifically shown that alcohol is processed out of the body after a few days of abstinence. Most people's mental preoccupation disappears after they've been in the AA Fellowship for a long. So, why do so many individuals in our fellowship, even when they don't want to, return to drinking after a long time of abstinence? WHAT IS THE THIRD FACET OF OUR ILLNESS THAT CAUSES THE MENTAL OBSESSION WHEN WE ARE NOT DRINKING AND HAVE BEEN AWAY FROM ALCOHOL FOR A LONG TIME?

The “missing piece” of Step 1 appears to be what is referred to on page 64 as the “spiritual malady,” based on a comprehensive examination of our Big Book, as well as extensive experience and practice with our Twelve Steps, as well as active work with other alcoholics.

Let me now try to explain the second half of Step 1: “– that our lives had become out of control.”

For a long time, I believed my life was unmanageable because of all the crazy insane things I did while drinking – automobile accidents, injuring people without meaning to, failed relationships, job losses, family problems, jails, asylums, and so on.

Finally, someone clarified to me that those are not the symptoms of insanity mentioned in the Big Book, nor are they the reasons why an alcoholic's life becomes unmanageable.

Those things, of course, can be characterized as “They're called “unmanageability” because they're unmanageable from the outside. The unmanageability that the 1st Step refers to is the INWARD unmanageability of our lives — the restlessness, irritation, and dissatisfaction that most alcoholics experience even before they take their first drink. This is known by a variety of titles “Inward uncontrollability.” It's also known as “Alcoholism that has gone untreated.” Others use it as well “Page 52 of the Big Book (which I'll examine in a moment) contains the phrase “bedevilments.” This “inward unmanageability” is simply referred to as “the spiritual malady” on page 64.

Our text assures us of this “We straighten out mentally and physically after the spiritual malady is overcome.” After the treatment, the mental and physical aspects of alcoholism are placed into remission “Until I have a spiritual awakening — whether I believe it or not — I'm still in risk of drinking.

  • What exactly is this “spiritual malady,” and how may it push an alcoholic back to drinking if left untreated?
  • What is the solution to this problem? (By the way, Chapters 4–11 of our Big Book answer both of those topics in great depth.) What is this “spiritual malady” that we alcoholics have, and how can “untreated alcoholism” force an alcoholic to drink again, even if he or she doesn't want to?

Consider three distinct layers. The physical need is the first layer, which is our body's reaction to alcohol when we consume it. The second layer is the mental lunacy that occurs right before the first drink – the mental preoccupation. The third layer is the inward condition that triggers the second layer, which then triggers the first — the inward condition “Spiritual ailment.” Symptoms of this condition “According to the Big Book, the “third layer” consists of the following:

  • “A hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity” are driving him (page 62),

These are just a handful of the signs and symptoms of the disease “The term “spiritual malady” is used throughout our book to characterize this condition. But, in the end, these are only symptoms of the disease “Spiritual ailment.”

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The text says on page 62 that “We believe that selfishness, or self-centeredness, is at the basis of our problems.” This “SELFISHNESS-SELF-CENTREDNESS” (or “ego,” as some call it) causes us to react to life situations in the ways described above “Other diseases and addictions beyond alcoholism are also listed as “symptoms.”

If this selfishness-self-centeredness persists in an alcoholic's life — EVEN IN SOMEONE WHO IS NOT DRINKING AND CONTINUES TO ATTEND MEETINGS — and the ego is not smashed and re-smashed by consistent application of all twelve steps, the sober (or sober-ish) person (or sober-ish person) will relapse “Just not drinking”) alcoholic will almost certainly drink again… or, even worse, will continue to live a miserable life as a “undrunk” (also known as a “dry drunk”). This is why we see people who have been in AA for ten years finish up in mental facilities — AND THEY HAVEN'T DRINK A DROP!

Because if I continue to act selfishly — self-centeredly – egotistically, I will continue to experience the symptoms of the disease “Spiritual ailment.” If I keep experiencing this interior uncontrollability, my mind will eventually seek for the solution “It believes that drinking will provide it with a “feeling of ease and comfort.” My ego, on the other hand, can trick me into thinking I'm doing OK. (For example, in Chapter 3, Fred drank when there wasn't any.) “There's a cloud on the horizon.”)

We'll usually tell ourselves and others, “At the very least, I'm not drinking.” I can have a “weird mental blank-spot” — often known as a “sober blackout” — and before it hits me, I'm beating on the bar, asking myself, “What am I doing?” “How did this happen?” says the narrator.

So, if you're suffering from the, ask yourself if you're suffering from it “spiritual malady” – especially if you haven't had anything to drink in a long time. What is the state of your health? “Currently, what is your “inner life”? Are you experiencing any of the above-mentioned symptoms?

  • Do you exercise the disciplines and practices of stages ten and eleven (self-examination, meditation, and prayer) on a daily basis?

“Above all, we alcoholics must be free of this selfishness (“the ego”),” reads page 62. We must, or we will perish! That is made possible by God. And it often appears that there is no way to completely eliminate self (ego) without help.”

On page 25, we learn, “There is a way out. Almost none of us enjoyed the self-examination, the lowering of our pride, and the admission of flaws that the process necessitates for its proper completion. But we witnessed how well it worked for others, and we began to believe in the hopelessness and futility of life as we knew it. When those who had addressed the situation approached us, we had no choice but to pick up the simple kit of spiritual tools that had been placed at our feet. We've discovered a lot of heaven, and we've been propelled into a fourth level of existence we never imagined.”

This “fourth dimension,” which we learn is the “world of the Spirit” in the 10th Step, leads us beyond the physical, mental, and emotional dimensions of existence — it removes the selfishness (ego) of the individual “Spiritual ailment.” Our “spirit” is not unwell, as the term “spiritual malady” implies. It simply means that we are spiritually cut off from God's power, which allows us to stay sober, happy, joyful, and free.

To summarize, it will not be my body — my allergic reaction to alcohol — that causes me to drink again. It isn't my head — my mental fixation — that is the primary cause of my relapse into drinking. It's all about the “My EGO (selfishness-self-centeredness) manifests a spiritual sickness in me that can eventually lead to alcoholism or even suicide.

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Bill W. comments on pages 14 and 15: “Because if an alcoholic does not perfect and expand his spiritual life by work and self-sacrifice for others, he will not be able to withstand the upcoming challenges and low points. If he didn't work, he'd have to drink again, and if he did, he'd have to die. Then faith would truly be dead. It's the same way with us.”

Fortunately, for me, the “spiritual malady” is no longer a “missing component” of Step One. It's a stark reminder of my impotence and uncontrollability, and it helps me understand why I so desperately need to find a Power Greater Than Myself. And until the cause of our alcoholic illness is recognized and a course of action (the Twelve Steps) is pursued to enable God to remove it, it can lie dormant and burn us when we least expect it.

Where in the big book does it talk about spiritual malady?

  • What exactly is this “spiritual malady,” and how may it push an alcoholic back to drinking if left untreated?
  • What is the solution to this problem? (By the way, Chapters 4–11 of our Big Book answer both of those topics in great depth.) What is this “spiritual malady” that we alcoholics have, and how can “untreated alcoholism” force an alcoholic to drink again, even if he or she doesn't want to?

Why is resentment the number one offender?

In the Big Book, the case is stated clearly: “The number one offender is resentment. It kills more alcoholics than any other substance.” A person who is enslaved by resentment has a slim probability of overcoming their addiction. After all, resentment has no effect on the person we despise.

What is emotional sobriety?

A concept known as emotional sobriety is one of the cornerstones of alcoholism treatment. The concept is that alcoholics and other addicts who want to stay clean for a long time must learn to control negative emotions that might lead to discomfort, need, and, eventually, relapse. This is a lifetime undertaking that necessitates the development of a completely new way of thinking about life's challenges.

However, the recovery literature also recommends that “first things first” be followed by “don't drink.” Alcoholics are advised not to analyze why they are hooked or how they may have avoided alcoholism, especially in the early stages of recovery: “The maxim is “don't think, don't drink.” Take it one day at a time and do whatever serves to distract the mind from the want to pick up a glass—prayer, exercise, meetings, etc.

When you think about it, these techniques represent two quite distinct types of emotional control. Distraction is unthinking—it entails any and all ways of cognitive detachment from thoughts of alcohol and the fear of wanting. It's a blunt instrument in the recovery toolbox. Long-term emotional sobriety, on the other hand, necessitates a patient, methodical reconsideration of all the people, places, and things that once threw us off kilter—and could again. According to new research, a healthy mind switches between these approaches efficiently when confronted with unpleasant feelings. Researchers are learning how people cope with uncomfortable experiences by researching these systems, and what goes wrong when those skills are missing.

These fundamental concepts of emotional control are taught in recovery programs because addicts do not understand them intuitively. However, many healthy people appear to spontaneously use the procedures. At least, that's the result of some recent studies by Stanford University psychologist Gal Sheppes and colleagues, who looked at how people respond with various types and intensities of unpleasant emotions. The researchers hypothesized that people process various types of emotional information in one of two ways described in recovery literature: either completely blocking it or carefully considering it in order to reevaluate it. People would, for example, nip an experience or thought in the bud if it was particularly intense and threatening. They would just withdraw and pay attention, obstructing negativity from awareness in the same way that recently recovered alcoholics are encouraged to do. This method would prevent powerful negative thoughts from ever taking hold.

People who are confronted with milder negative feelings, on the other hand, are less likely to filter them out. A second cognitive system would manage these emotions, applying more complex processing to these unpleasant feelings in an attempt to make them harmless. However, the negative thoughts and feelings must first be preserved in memory in order to be reappraise and reinterpreted. That is, at least, Sheppes' theory, which he and his colleagues put to the test in a series of lab tests. They expected that healthy people would swiftly divert their attention away from severe emotional experiences, preferring instead to engage in milder, less dangerous activities to dilute their emotional potency.

The researchers enlisted the help of 20 volunteers, who were taught about the two types of emotional regulation—distraction and reappraisal—before exposing them to photos showing unpleasant feelings of various intensities. For example, a low-intensity image would depict a woman holding her head in an unclear state of concern, whereas a high-intensity image might depict a woman in tremendous distress, with blood flowing down her face. The volunteers stared at a series of such images for half a second before narrating out loud for five seconds how they were processing the emotion—whether they were distracting themselves from it or considering how to reinterpret it. The respondents' regulating tactics were described by other volunteers and observers as either distraction or engagement and reappraisal. The individuals also punched a button to indicate which emotional processing method they were using to ensure the results were accurate.

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The outcomes were unmistakable. When confronted with a low-intensity photograph, the majority of the volunteers chose cognitive engagement, while the majority chose to distract themselves from a high-intensity photograph, implying that switching methods is a normal and healthy way of dealing with negativity in life. The volunteers were also given a questionnaire by the researchers “At the conclusion of the experiment, volunteers were given a “surprise” memory test, which revealed that, as expected, memory for the emotional photos was harmed when they chose distraction and disengagement. This finding shows that distraction as an emotional regulation approach works by preventing emotional information from entering memory at all.

Even though intense visuals are effective at priming negative emotions, the researchers desired a test that was more realistic. They employed the anticipation of electrical shocks to induce a measured level of anxiety in volunteers in another experiment. They attached electrodes to them and used them to deliver 20 shocks of different intensity. The volunteers were shown a brief written explanation of the forthcoming shock's intensity level just before each shock, giving them time—on average, 12 seconds—to choose and use a technique for reducing their anxiety before being zapped. The volunteers, as before, spoke out about which cognitive method they preferred. The data on shock intensity and cognitive decisions was crunched by the scientists, and the results were essentially the same as before. Volunteers were much more likely to choose a reappraisal strategy, according to a study published in the online edition of Psychological Science in September ( “They were much more likely to try distracting themselves when confronted with an unpleasant but tolerable shock (“this one won't be so bad”), and they were much more likely to try distracting themselves when confronted with a strong and intensely painful shock (“this one won't be so bad”). In short, most persons have the cognitive flexibility to adjust their regulating choices depending on the scenario.

It's hardly surprising that people naturally opt to interact with only mildly unpleasant feelings. The ability to reinterpret emotional events has long been recognized as a useful coping tool, and it is frequently taught as part of cognitive-behavioral therapy. The findings on distraction, on the other hand, contradict a long-held belief that it is critical to interact with severe emotional challenges—and that ignoring or minimizing them is detrimental “It is hazardous to “repress” emotions. This point of view has been rapidly eroding. Evidence is accumulating that, in severe circumstances, some emotional withdrawal might be beneficial. This strategy appears to work for disaster victims, persons suffering from severe, ruminating depression, and, of course, recovering alcoholics.

What is the synonym of malady?

1'sea sickness, a disease that shows no regard for rank or bravery' illness, sickness, ailment, disturbance, complaint, disease, infection, indisposition, affliction, infirmity lurgy, bug, and virus are all colloquial terms for the same thing.

What do you mean by spirituality?

Spirituality is defined as the awareness of a feeling, sense, or belief that there is something more to being human than sensory experience, and that the greater total of which we are a part is cosmic or divine in nature.

How do you release resentment?

The first step toward overcoming resentment is to recognize that you have control over your thoughts. Then, as Conte suggests, visualize a bucket for your ideas and feelings. “Whatever you put in your bucket, that's what you'll get.” The same can be said about your thoughts.”

You're filling your bucket with thoughts that injure your present self when your thoughts are centered on past negative occurrences or the person you blame for them, he explains. (For six techniques to break out from the cycle of negative thoughts, see “How to Stop Ruminating.”)

“What we practice, we master.” So if we practice living in the past and trying to alter things we can't, we'll get really good at it,” he says.

He goes on to say, “Instead, you can start practicing focusing on the present moment.” “It's a cathartic release of all that weight when you can let go and focus totally on the now.”

What are the signs of resentment?

Resentment prevents you from letting go or forgiving someone, at least momentarily. However, there are a few symptoms that you or someone you know may be on the verge of suffering excessive bitterness. Â

It's normal to have reoccurring unfavorable thoughts about persons or situations that have caused you pain. These feelings could include:

Resentment can often rise to an inability to stop thinking about the event that created such strong feelings. Negative ideas can take over and stay with you for a long time, perhaps even years.

Resentment can lead to sentiments of disappointment or remorse in certain people.

When a person recalls a difficult experience, they may react to regret and remorse by blaming themselves and wishing they had acted differently.


Certain persons or events may elicit undesirable memories of wrongdoing when you are resentful, leading you to avoid situations or people who trigger these negative emotions.

People will frequently do so in order to safeguard themselves and their well-being.

Resentment might cause your connection to shift. Holding grudges and behaving out passive-aggressively are two ways some people deal with resentment. Â