Examining Character Flaws

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Yesterday, I came across this interesting graphic of character defects, courtesy of The Writer’s Circle:

Based on my understanding of the different personalities in Emmett Wilson’s story (and of what I’ve learned about character defects in the AA world), it seems that most of the time, people have combinations of defects. Maybe one exhibits more strongly than the other at times.

Also, I think the list is a little flawed. I don’t think the definition of ‘martyrdom’ is accurate, as martyrs tend to seek out persecution or suffering for psychological need.

I showed this graphic to a colleague of mine, as part of a discussion I was having with her about whether or not Emmett was capable of revenge, for example, and if that would be a character defect of sorts. Neither of us think Emmett was the vengeful type. Would that be considered a character defect?

And, if so, what would you call that defect — Cowardice?

Or would cowardice perhaps fall under the category of stubbornness? As in, avoiding taking action because to do so is outside of one’s sense of ‘normal’ or comfort zone? (I know a lot of folks who would claim things in their lives are just fine the way they are, even if they were sinking in quicksand.)

I don’t believe Emmett was absolutely stubborn; nor would I say Emmett was vengeful.

However, he was all about seeing justice being served, nice and hot, to offensive asshats when it was appropriate, and Emmett did it in a polite, gentlemanly way. He didn’t take the insulting, name-calling route; with Emmett, you didn’t get a knee-jerk response about things. His moves were thought out. He didn’t let injustices just slip by.

He was patient about it, too; he always made sure his case was airtight, his facts in hand, and, hey, it was never personal (as he would tell his opponents). No, Emmett wasn’t a coward.

But he could be stubborn, as in, refusing to further a party boss’ power at the cost of his constituency’s interests. Emmett had integrity. He could be stubborn about that, though. 🙂 Not a bad thing.


In the discussion thread that accompanies this graphic, one writer asked whether it was possible to have a character of opposites; i.e., can you be arrogant and self-deprecating?

Another responded absolutely! That would be someone who might go about saying, “I hate my life and I’m surrounded by idiots.”

A depressed narcissist? Maybe. Freud knew best. Source: Facebook

A depressed narcissist? Maybe. Freud knew best. Source: Facebook

In the end, when I think about writing this book, I feel overwhelmed at times, trying to pinpoint Emmett’s character. He was a complicated man, and made up of many character features — not necessarily flaws — just like anyone else.

In AA, the general view of character flaws or defects is that they are positive characteristics pushed to the extreme. We all feel greed, impatience, stubbornness when pushed to the limit. To say that a character defect absolutely defines someone is limiting the understanding of that person.

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