Page 37 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous talks about a type of insanity that is unique to alcoholics and addicts. The writer, Bill Wilson, openly admits that he did not take the definition out of a medical or psychological diagnostics manual. If he had, it might have sounded like the dictionary definition: “Insanity – State of being unsound (flawed, defected, or decayed)”
Bill candidly admitted he was not offering a medical definition of insanity. He acknowledged that the precise definition would not be found in the Big Book. He easily could have looked up the word “insanity” in a medical or psychological textbook, but he didn’t. I respect him for that. He accepted his role as one alcoholic writing to other alcoholics and was offering the definition that would be most useful to them.
“Whatever the precise definition of the word may be, we call this plain insanity. How can such a lack of proportion, of the ability to think straight, be called anything else?”
In this series of “Insanity” drawings, each of the words in that definition will be looked at. This first drawing shows is breathtaking. It shows someone in the ordinary act of carrying a load of groceries home. The bag in her left hand clearly contains several venomous snakes writhing and curling towards her in a menacing way. The bag in her opposite hand contains household goods.
Why doesn’t she instantly drop the bag of snakes? It’s hard to imagine anyone not dropping the dangerous snakes and the mortal threat that they pose. She continues on her walk which some would argue proves that she is insane. I would have to agree.
What about the other bag? Doesn’t it contain something as deadly? A bottle of liquor pokes out of the bag. That may also be a deadly threat, but it may not. Who’s to say she can’t safely drink the entire bottle? The problem is, if she is an alcoholic, Bill W. predicted that she would be unable to correctly identify and respond to danger. I think he was right. At least about me.