Depression is NOT a “defect of character”

It’s June. The 6th month of the year. Those of us in the Northern Hemisphere will be celebrating the start of summer with the summer solstice. Those in the Southern Hemisphere are headed into winter.

Of course, in the 12 step world, we often focus on a step and a tradition each month. Naturally, meetings are focused on the sixth step in June, where we humbly ask the good of our understanding to remove our defects of character.

I’m still fuming. At the end of an open discussion meeting a member started talking about the fact that he’d googled “character defects” and found a list of 12 and that he had all 12. Among them, Anxiety and Depression were listed.

Now, putting aside the fact that conveniently the author of this blog post (which I won’t link to because I don’t want to send any traffic to it) managed to come up with 12 character defects, as in 12 steps, as in 12 months, as in 12 apostles, as in…

Seriously! Mental Health conditions are listed as “defects of character!”

What the fucking fuck?!?!?!

Lets get something straight.

Depression and Anxiety are NOT character defects. They are mental health conditions. They are diseases or at least symptoms of a disease. They are (more often than not) highly treatable through modern medicine and therapy.

It’s shit like this, old thinking that is blatantly wrong, that makes me question whether I can remain in a 12 step fellowship and become healthy.

This is not healthy thinking.


Depression: |dəˈpreSH(ə)n|


1 feelings of severe despondency and dejection. self-doubt creeps in and that swiftly turns to depression.

Psychiatry a mental condition characterized by feelings of severe despondency and dejection, typically also with feelings of inadequacy and guilt, often accompanied by lack of energy and disturbance of appetite and sleep: she was referred by a psychiatrist treating her for depression.

anxiety |aNGˈzīədē|

noun (pl. anxieties)

a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome: he felt a surge of anxiety | anxieties about the moral decline of today’s youth.

Psychiatry a nervous disorder characterized by a state of excessive uneasiness and apprehension, typically with compulsive behavior or panic attacks.

9 responses to “Depression is NOT a “defect of character””

  1. Sorry, but after suffering through panic attacks and depression and finding that they were a product of poor choices and not “keeping my side of the street clean”, I can understand why someone might make the mistake of saying depression is a character defect. It’s not of course. It’s a product of living with character defects rather than fixing them. At least that’s how my counselor put it….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I can understand how this might have happened. It’s just disturbing that mis-information gets handed around like gospel … Not my problem to fix though. Couldn’t even if I wanted to. And I’ll probably be guilty of dispensing bad information at some point in my life…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ah, but there is an answer, brother. You can fight stupid by properly explaining it, kindly. If we jump out and pummel someone for being stupid but let’s look at this as an example… After the meeting I’d go up to the person and explain that their assertion that depression is a character defect had me flummoxed and ask them to explain…

        Then I would add exactly what I did in my last comment. This takes a lot of practice but it’s a great skill to have. Good luck, brother.

        Liked by 1 person

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