Step 4: Fears Inventory (Selfish Fears List)

The 12 Steps are the AA program of recovery from alcoholism.
No.3
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Over a hundred, closer to 200

Post by No.3 »

BB p.62 "Driven by a hundred forms of {selfish} fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity..."

I see absolutely nothing in the BB which suggests "only 3" nor anything that suggests all forms of fear are "the same" nor "shared by everyone." Likewise, I don't believe AA treats neurotic fears (psychiatric, outside issues) but there may be slight or occasional overlap registered.

In doing my own personal inventory, I look for what's mine, only identifying what's relevant to me.

As with Defects (built partially from Step 4 inventories), I tell sponsee to be as thorough and complete as possible: personal fears can be added. I go through a dozen or so at the start, check understanding, bullet point less significant Fears, then ask for more detailed descriptions for any high ranking examples.

I've seen them try to count the same defect by the number of time it appears; I don't believe that's correct either. Bundle same-sames, focus on identifying the specific Fear not the target, etc.

Quite a lot of misunderstandings surround the Selfish Fears Inventory generally and online, unfortunately.
"The Group demands total loyalty to the inner group. Some have had to leave the movement because of the Groups' demands which conflict with truth or duty." The Oxford Groups by Herbert H. Henson, 1933, pages 73-74.

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Niagara
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Re: Over a hundred, closer to 200

Post by Niagara »

No.3 wrote:
I see absolutely nothing in the BB which suggests "only 3" nor anything that suggests all forms of fear are "the same" nor "shared by everyone." Likewise, I don't believe AA treats neurotic fears (psychiatric, outside issues) but there may be slight or occasional overlap registered.

Quite a lot of misunderstandings surround the Selfish Fears Inventory generally and online, unfortunately.
Hmmm. That first part. I can see where you're coming from, but as a person who was under psychiatric care for many years, and became agoraphobic despite that psychiatric care, diagnosis of ptsd and other such lovely things, I have to say my own experience says that whilst AA doesn't treat these things, for me, God is a good healer. I got to that through the steps. I'm still amazed at what happened to me. I still don't understand it. I get that it might not be the same for everyone, but my life changed very dramatically. From unable to answer the phone, the door, even sit in my own back yard, never mind leave the house, I can go anywhere and do pretty much anything now. Crowds don't bother me. Christmas shopping alone, in a packed city centre, no problem. Even the mad crush on a night out the other night, didn't bring out the slightest fear in me, and I was being jostled about something awful. I heard that faith and fear cannot co exist. Maybe that's a part of it?

As to the second part, I don't believe my fears inventory looked anything like as in depth as that. It was as in depth as I could manage at that particular time...although I was tempted to write 'everything' as the whole of that fears inventory. More came up for me, later as part of my step 11 daily reviews, and even step 10 spot checks. I'm learning more about my fears as I go along...all in manageable bites. I think had I been faced with that, I would likely have ticked every single box and felt too overwhelmed to do anything with it. Keeping it very simple seemed to work well for me, along with the understanding that virtually any fear I had was largely due to hysterical thinking, projection, and self centredness, rather than looking at the facts and keeping it on a business level. I also took the idea that most of what I was afraid of was beyond my control anyway, and I had to just do my part' and accept that everything was as it should be, right now.

As my sponsor said 'you've had a terrible life that never even happened'...because most of those fears that I had never came to fruition, and even if they did, I found the fear was generally far worse than the reality. Go figure. Waste of energy.

These days when fear crops up, it's essential to see as someone mentioned earlier I believe, which instinct has been threatened. Why. What part of my make up is out of whack. Be willing to be rid of that part of me. Discover, deal, discard. The name of the fear is less important than what's at the root of it nowadays.
If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn't sit for a month -
Theodore Roosevelt

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Re: Step 4: Fears Inventory (Selfish Fears List)

Post by Reborn »

Most of the fears we deal with in AA(if not all) are selfish fears. It boils down to Ego...that I'm not going to get what I think I want..to stroke my delicate sensibilities. It seems some like to complicate the S*** out of this simple program.
We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others. BB pg 132

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"Morbid Fears" vs. "Rational Fears"

Post by No.3 »

We should not conflate neurosis with "Selfish Fears" - not.the.same. Lots of online "Fear Lists" certainly include and often lump many neurotic and existential fears together with the Selfish Fears: so AAs today misunderstand the Inventory. Likewise, confusion about "Selfish Fears" might have been one reason some early AAs inventories omitted the category altogether. Nothing has changed?

Independent of any drug problem, neurotic fears are outside psychiatric issues and simply not AA's business. The best we can do is say "Please see a medical doctor about that." We shouldn't play doctor!

19th C. American medical doctor George Miller Beard, who popularized the term neurathenia, identified the primary American "morbid fears" as far back as the 1870s. (These are not the "Selfish Fears" of the clergy or churchman.) Beard pointed out that the predominance or prevalence of such debilitating fears may be somewhat geographical (national/cultural or ethnic) - both hereditary and circumstantial. Here are the late 19th C. Morbid Fears of North America:

Fear of Darkness (Night Terror)
Fear of Storms (Astraphobia)
Fear of Open Spaces (Agoraphobia)/
---Fear of Places: Topophobia
Fear of Church (Ecclesiophobia)
Fear of Confinement (Claustrophobia)
Fear of Crowds (Enochlophobia)
Fear of Disease (Hypochondria)
Fear of Germs (Mysophobia)
Fear of Unknown Evil/Dread (Pantophobia)

That list has undoubtedly grown, re-categorized, etc. over the last 150 years but we should still admit that responsible AA isn't providing medical advice/treatment for neurosis in 2015 either. (There's another Fellowhsip for that, btw: Neurotics Anonymous.)

What about "Rational Fears"? On a circumstantial basis, all of these Fears may be entirely legitimate, existential threats. Certain fears are NOT irrational, petty, trivial or selfish for 'normal alcoholics'* or anyone else. And where delusional thinking is the culprit for the addict, most Existential Fears (Fear of Overdose, Theft, Violence etc.) will resolve once the drug is put down and life circumstances change.

Fear of Burglary/Property Crime
Fear of Violence
Fear of Sexual Abuse
Fear of Disease
Fear of Fire
Fear of Drowning
Fear of Loud Noises
Fear of Police
Fear of IRS
etc.

* Bill W. estimated the AA membership of the mid 1940s as ~50% normal and 50% neurotic. A.A. doesn't classify alcoholics, The Dr.'s Opinion tells us that too: "Then there are types entirely normal in every respect except in the effect alcohol has upon them. All these, and many others..."
Last edited by No.3 on Fri Dec 18, 2015 12:47 pm, edited 3 times in total.
"The Group demands total loyalty to the inner group. Some have had to leave the movement because of the Groups' demands which conflict with truth or duty." The Oxford Groups by Herbert H. Henson, 1933, pages 73-74.

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Re: Step 4: Fears Inventory (Selfish Fears List)

Post by whipping post »

It boils down to Ego AKA It seems some like to complicate the S*** out of this simple program.

There. I fixed that for you.

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Re: "Morbid Fears" vs. "Rational Fears"

Post by Stepchild »

Nice fix Whipping Post...
No.3 wrote:Lots of online "Fear Lists" certainly include and often lump many neurotic and existential fears together with the Selfish Fears: so AAs today misunderstand the Inventory.
What does it matter? According to you the book is full of errors anyway. Not even Bill W. got these steps right. I'm getting this eerie feeling that the only alkies today that are truly recovered are you and your 60 sponsees. Talk about fear....That's enough to give me nightmares.

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Step 4: "Selfish Fears" vs. General Fears

Post by No.3 »

For Americans (c.2005-2015), the top fears identified by polls and studies are terrorist attacks, spiders (snakes, cockroaches, etc.), death, failure, war, gang violence, solitude, the future, and nuclear war; other popular fears including flying, heights (bridges, etc.), clowns, intimacy, rejection, people, driving, bad spirits/ evil powers, water, enclosed spaces, needles, examinations and public speaking.

It should be obvious that most* of those (neurotic) fears are also not applicable to the 4th Step Fear Inventory; we are looking for a different kind of Fear, Selfish Fears. From the big list on Page 2, I suppose the number of widely-shared Selfish Fears among addicts/alcoholics might be limited to a few dozen.

*"Selfish Fears" can relate to Failure, Solitude, Future, Intimacy, Rejection and People.

In the mildest form, "Fear of Public Speaking" can be a Selfish Fear. True Glossophobia is probably the most prominent social phobia and evidence of a social anxiety disorder: as such, a neurosis. When "Fear of Driving" is actually "Fear of Accidental Harm" (Dystychiphobia: OCD disease, of doubt, such as hitting pedestrian, leaving on stove, leaving open window, etc.) then it's likewise another Neurotic Fear.
"The Group demands total loyalty to the inner group. Some have had to leave the movement because of the Groups' demands which conflict with truth or duty." The Oxford Groups by Herbert H. Henson, 1933, pages 73-74.

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Re: Step 4: Fears Inventory (Selfish Fears List)

Post by ezdzit247 »

Wow! Thanks. I think that's the most comprehensive list of fears I've ever read. Great food for thought on inventories!

In my first year of sobriety, I ran across this great litany for dealing with fear in a sci-fi book I was reading.

"I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."

This litany helped me to not run away from fear or deny that I was feeling fear. Denial used to be my default position and was ingrained in my thinking/responses as my best survival tactic from childhood on. Probably saved my sanity too, but I wanted something different in sobriety. My biggest fear was a neurotic fear of spiders. I faced my biggest fear in sobriety by getting a big tarantula which I kept in covered terrarium for almost a year. Called him Merlin and eventually came to know, understand, and feel a lot of affection for him. Going that route, facing my fear from a position of safety, made my fear of spiders disappear.
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children...to leave the world a better place...to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Re: Step 4: Fears Inventory (Selfish Fears List)

Post by Lali »

I cannot say that only one person is responsible for this forum going downhill in the last 6 months, but it all started when No. 3 joined this site. I have to agree with Stepchild that he ought to start his own site. This is getting beyond ridiculous. If for no other reason, can you please rein yourself in, for the sake of the newcomers that really need our help.

Please please please put your own feelings aside and let this site go back to being an awesome site for helping newcomers get a good start in the program. I'm sure you don't act this way in f2f meetings because you would likely get chased out of the rooms. And no one would even care.

Had to think for a long time before hitting "Submit" but I have nothing to lose really. I'm about ready to leave this forum because the stuff going on here is shameful. God knows I'm not perfect but with all the crap that's going on here, I think twice now before I say things that can't be taken back. Don't get me wrong, I have made mistakes and have said things that I regret many times in the past. But I now see how harmful that can be and there is no place for that here.
Step 1: I can't
Step 2: He can
Step 3: I think I'll let him

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Patience, Tolerance and Love Lali

Post by No.3 »

Keep coming back! :)
"The Group demands total loyalty to the inner group. Some have had to leave the movement because of the Groups' demands which conflict with truth or duty." The Oxford Groups by Herbert H. Henson, 1933, pages 73-74.

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Re: Step 4: Fears Inventory (Selfish Fears List)

Post by Lali »

Sorry I can't say the same.
Step 1: I can't
Step 2: He can
Step 3: I think I'll let him

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Re: Patience, Tolerance and Love Lali

Post by Stepchild »

No.3 wrote:Keep coming back! :)
Like dealing with a child. A sick child no doubt. Nothing wrong with saying what you feel Lali. I have to admire people that speak from the heart...Rather than just feeding this troll. It's like a game for some of these clowns. A really sad game. And it does come down to this....
I'm sure you don't act this way in f2f meetings because you would likely get chased out of the rooms. And no one would even care.
It wouldn't last long in the area I live. Not long at all.

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Re: Step 4: Fears Inventory (Selfish Fears List)

Post by PaigeB »

The moderator are aware of the bad behavior of a few individuals and have been monitoring the situation, trying to err on the side of the Traditions. It is a serious move to ban users here and takes much consideration on the part of the team.

Please do not feed into the arguments and fears. If you are bothered by a post you can bring that to the attention of any of the Trusted Servants or myself via private message if you are uncomfortable in using the Report button.

Love and tolerance of others is our code. However, "Our common welfare must come first. Personal recovery depends upon AA unity."

Thank for the tolerance you have afforded me. I will continue to serve the best I can. Thank you for your kind support.
Cling to the thought that, in God's hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have - the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them. page 124 BB

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Re: Step 4: Fears Inventory (Selfish Fears List)

Post by Lali »

PaigeB wrote:The moderator are aware of the bad behavior of a few individuals and have been monitoring the situation, trying to err on the side of the Traditions. It is a serious move to ban users here and takes much consideration on the part of the team.

Please do not feed into the arguments and fears.

Love and tolerance of others is our code. However, "Our common welfare must come first. Personal recovery depends upon AA unity."

Thank for the tolerance you have afforded me. I will continue to serve the best I can. Thank you for your kind support.
Thank you for your post, Paige. Yes, I know it is a serious thing to ban a member otherwise we would have our lovely forum back by now. Yours is a tough job and you are great at it! (And I get that these decisions are made by a TEAM). However, "monitoring the situation" is not changing the situation one iota. So what is the point? Seriously, how much crap has to be put out there before we can act. Bottom line: It's just odd to me that by erring on the side of the traditions, we are protecting the troublemakers and NOT the newcomer who is reaching out for help.
PaigeB wrote:If you are bothered by a post you can bring that to the attention of any of the Trusted Servants or myself via private message if you are uncomfortable in using the Report button.
The problem is that it isn't A post. It is many, many posts, every day, ALL DAY. And the moderators are seeing these posts the same as I'm seeing them, so why would I need to "report" them? I have heard it said many times in meetings that "the newcomer is the most important person in the room". Sadly, that obviously is not the case here.

I have shared a couple of times that when I was newly sober some years ago, I found a site such as this (may have even been this site). After spending a few hours reading posts there, I shut it down and didn't come back until 4 years later. The negativity of the site was actually counterproductive to my sobriety IMO>And VERY MUCH counterproductive to my serenity (which in turn affects my sobriety). The people there seemed to still be sick and I have to tell you, it was a real turnoff. I felt like "If this is how sober alkies behave, I don't care to be one." I did start drinking again shortly after that but I will not say that was the reason as I'm not sure. But I often wonder if I had had this lifeline, might that have kept me from relapse?

One last thing, we reach newcomers by attraction, not promotion. What here in these forums is attractive to newcomers?
Step 1: I can't
Step 2: He can
Step 3: I think I'll let him

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Re: Step 4: Fears Inventory (Selfish Fears List)

Post by Stepchild »

I'm not real sure I get the "report this post" suggestion either. It isn't like..."This is what I heard in a meeting.."....It's all laid out here in black and white. This poster came here after being kicked off another site with one thing in mind. To be disruptive. He's good at it. You don't have to be an internet detective to see that some good members of this site have called him on it. And a select few have agreed with everything he's said....Just to egg him on and create more disruption. They're good at that. It's a pattern here. Nothing new. It's all there.....Read it. Pretty simple to me.

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