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Is EHA for You

Chapter 3 – The Description of the Emotionally and Mentally Ill Person *

Most of us have been unwilling to admit we were emotionally sick. No person likes to think they are emotionally different from their fellows. Therefore, it is not surprising that our lives have been characterized by countless vain attempts to prove we were emotionally like other people. The idea that somehow, someday we will control our emotions and enjoy our lives is the great obsession of every emotionally sick person. The persistence of this illusion is astonishing. Many pursue it into the gates of insanity or death.

We learned that we had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were emotionally sick. This is the first step in recovery. The delusion that we are emotionally like other people or presently may be, has to be smashed.

We are men and women who have lost the ability to control our emotions. We know that none of us ever recovers control. All of us felt at times that we were regaining control, but such intervals, usually brief, were inevitably followed by still less control, which led in time to pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization. We are convinced, that we are in the grip of a progressive illness. Over any considerable period we get worse, never better.

We are like people who have lost their legs. They never grow new ones. Neither does there appear to be any kind of treatment that will make emotionally sick people of our kind like normal people. We have tried every imaginable remedy. In some instances there has been brief recovery followed always by a still worse relapse. We who are familiar with our disease agree there is no such thing as making a normal person out of people of our kind who suffer from emotional illness. Science may one day accomplish this, but it hasn’t done so yet.

Despite all we can say, many who are emotionally sick are not going to believe they are in that class. By every form of self-deception and experimentation, they will try to prove themselves exceptions to the rule, therefore not emotionally ill. If anyone who is showing inability to control their emotions can do the right-about-face and emotionally live like a normal person, our hats are off to them. Heaven knows we have tried hard enough and long enough to live emotionally like other people.

Here are some of the methods we have tried: studying psychiatric books, treatment by pychiatrists and psychologists; trying group therapy and self hypnosis. We have tried religion and other 12 step programs. We have tried using at various times and for varying reasons: alcohol, food, drugs, sex and all manner of pills (both prescribed and those acquired surreptitiously). Have attempted suicide one or more times. Taken courses in self control and self improvement. We have procrastinated until time ran out. We have neglected our personal hygiene. We have slept our days away trying to hide from the reality of our situations. We have worked ourselves to the point of exhaustion or quit working all together.

We became prisoners of our own fears and resentments. Seeking relief we tried taking a trip or not taking a trip, taking more physical exercise, reading insirational books, going to health farms and sanitariums, accepting voluntary committment to asylums and subjecting ourselves to all kinds of therapies including shock treatment. Finally we have tried geographical relocations in the hope we would leave it all behind. We could increase the list ad infinitum.

* As adapted from the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous

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