Saturday, May 8, 2010

Stinking Thinking and Dry Drunk

There's a peculiar type of thinking that is called 'stinking thinking' in Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12 step programs. It's characterized by self pity, resentments and a weird whining sound.
Locally an AA men's group was started especially to address those who develop this malady. It's called the "Whine and Snivel Group". Teddy bears are situated on all the tables and when men share other men will begin to throw teddy bears at them if they notice that typical 'dry drunk' quality.
It's been characterized as having a psychotic lawyer in one's head which will make a case for one's own special misery and make a case against anyone who gets between them and their nursing their self pity.
In AA the characteristic of being a 'legend in one's mind' was recognised as evidence of close mindedness and isolation and not attending enough face to face AA meetings. When one goes to enough meetings, sometimes to break out of the insaneity of 'dry drunkeness' one needs to do meetings daily or more, or whatever it takes to recognise that others have problems too, that one isn't terminally unique and that no one, especially drunks, have a monopoly on suffering. Specifically drunks learn that they are more likely themselves to have been victimizers than victims and that they need to make amends routinely because they are by nature of their disease very angry people who carry resentments to people, institutions and especially to principles.
Further, the strange malady of alcoholics is that they rarely can see or hear themselves but must see and hear another alcoholic's emotional drama before they can identify, empathize and realize that they too are in that state again.
Stinking thinking can arise any time, no matter how long sober we are, and it's often thought of as a 'craving equivalent' because ultimately 'poor me, poor me, poor me" leads to "pour me another drink". This may reflect the organic scarring of chronic alcohol abuse/ and or drug abuse and one day perhaps a fMRI or PET series would allow us to image a person in the midst of this brain fart.
In the meantime I personally sometimes need a teddy bear to hit me in the head before I get off my ass and do something about my situation, like helping another alcoholic, getting a sponsee, doing another set of steps, speaking to a sponsor, getting a sponsor if one doesn't have one, re reading the Big Book , joining a related 12 step program such as Al Anon, Co Dependents Anonymous, or involving oneself in other spiritual and related exercises that help get oneself out of oneself.
There's a terminal uniqueness about the alcoholic that shows up as either 'one downmanship" or "one upmanship' with the idea of emotional sobriety being 'right sizedness" ie insignificantly significant or significantly insignificant. The Teddy Bear works for me.
Alternatively an 'attitude of gratitude' leads to 'emotional sobriety' because God's grace is all. Again the Teddy Bear works for me.


Anonymous said...

So, alcoholics have the idea that their problems are unique, as in, they're the only one who... ???

It's interesting, I notice with some people that if I ask an opinion, as in, I am having a problem with whatever and have not figured it out. I'll get one these 3 weird responses:
1. Stop complaining!
2. Stop blaming!
3. Do you think you're the only one with this problem?

I'll be, like, hey man, all I'm wondering is whether this is a known problem with a known solution... I sure hope I'm not the only one who has it. I'm mentioning it not to complain, but to seek a solution, and the point of finding a cause or origin wouldn't be to blame someone, but to create a solution that would work.

The type of person I refer to doesn't get that at all. They seem to be very fixated on maintaining the status quo and going after anyone who raises an issue or is interested in a change. It's a different orientation than I have and I don't really know how to relate to it, but you seem to be talking about that kind of personality here.


There are 4 or 5 of these people at my job (I have a large workplace) and they often seem to be under some form of mega-stress that isn't really work related (although the workplace is also stressful); they seem to try to control this stress by going on about not complaining, not blaming, and not thinking you're unique.

One of them was in a tizzy about the library the other day; the librarian was singling him out, supposedly, by insisting he bring back a book that had been recalled. I just listened because he was so upset, I didn't want him to start raging at me. But I was thinking, wait a second, aren't you the one who keeps telling everyone they're not unique? Why do you think you should get to keep this book over time if someone else needs it?

I can't figure it out, but your post does speak to all of this in some way.

paulofnm said...

the spirit will continue to express suffering until it finds resolution. We are all self involved. Why are you trying to control anyone including yourself and direct their response? Why not teach that person how to be positively self involved instead of using group molding? In the twelve steps why isn't self love at the top? Because it's nasty sister self pity will show up? If one is thirsty they drink and then they don't thirst. Some can't absorb love so they are self absorbed which does not quench the thirst. The pain needs healing and then the love will come. The problem with pain is the body learned to shut off the pathways of absorbtion. Alchoholism is one of many diseases where the mind hurts the body. Teaching one to go outwards to heal inwardly is a distraction. intimately healing and loving the aspect that csuses us to become separated from love heals and brings love.