Definition of Defects:
A shortcoming, imperfection, or lack.

of Defects:
Flaw, imperfection, deficiency, inadequacy, shortcoming, limitation, etc.

These notes are from recovery in AA and related 12 step programs.
Readers are encouraged to click the external links for more detail.
We hope you find them helpful.

Love in fellowship.


Definitions used for inventory steps;

Self-centeredness: thinking of myself excessively and not giving due regard to others

Pride: worrying about what people think of us — what would they think of me if they knew? How could he do that to the great me?

Self-pity: feeling down about my own situation. This is usually the defect that we feel most directly. It’s the one that lets us know that we have a resentment — poor me! It is not possible to feel pride and self-pity without it being due to Self-centeredness.

After all, I can’t be feeling down about my situation (self-pity) if I am trying to think of others first; similarly, I can’t be worrying about how others view me (pride) if I am not thinking about myself. This is why these three come together, they “hunt in a pack”, as it were.


Jealousy: resenting affection that is given to others — I am jealous of Fred because Mary fancies him and she doesn’t fancy me.

Envy: wanting what rightfully belongs to others, their possessions, their abilities — I am envious of Fred’s Mercedes and his good looks. (But in this case I am still jealous of him as well because Mary fancies him and not me.)

Dishonesty: the conventional use of not being honest (lying, cheating, stealing). There are additional meanings that are not a used in everyday language, but are used commonly in the fourth step — if I resent someone else for something that I have done myself it is dishonest (hypocrisy or self-delusion).

We can extend that further: even if I Hadn’t done what I had resented him for, then in almost every case we can say: “There but for the grace of God go I.” In other words, if the positions were reversed and I had been through everything that person had been through in life, that I would not do the same, we might refer to this as a sort of potential hypocrisy.

There are certain situations where this would not apply: we cannot ever put ourselves in God’s position. So, other things being equal, if we resented God we would not include dishonesty.

Selfishness: not being prepared to let others have some of what is mine (material goods, time). NB if we are just thinking of ourselves, that is self-centeredness and not selfishness.

Greed: when I have what I need yet I want more. Refers to material possessions.

Gluttony: greed for food and drink (including alcohol).


a selfish desire for sex.

Arrogance: knowing better than my equals (not minding my own business, telling people who have not asked me and over whom I have no authority, what to do) or thinking I am the equal of my betters (not accepting the authority of those I should — parents, bosses at work, teachers when I am at school). Also making judgments on the morality (rights and wrongs) of people’s behavior is arrogance, because ultimately only God (or the judicial system) is entitled to do that.

Intolerance: not putting up qualities, in others that they cannot help — he is ugly; I don’t like her accent; I don’t like the English; I don’t like the working/middle/upper class; I don’t like his or her skin color/race/nationality. Intolerance is not used for when we don’t like someone’s behavior (see ‘arrogance’).

Impatience: I am fed up with waiting (bus queues, she hasn’t returned my telephone call yet.)

Sloth: laziness, procrastination | More…


To avoid falling into confusion over the names defects should be called, let’s take a universally recognized list of major human failings—the Seven Deadly Sins of pride, greed, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth. When the satisfaction of our instincts for sex, security,and society becomes the sole object of our lives, then pride steps in to justify our excesses. Fear, a soul-sickness in its own right, generate more character defects; fear that our instincts will not be satisfied, to covet possessions of others, to lust for sex, and to become angry when our demands are not threatened, to be envious of others. We stay lazy. Fears are termites that ceaselessly devious our foundations..

Pride and fear turn out to be bogeymen, nothing else. The search for defects is just a beginning of a lifetime practice, How have we reacted to frustration in sexual matters? What defects contributed to our financial instability. Did fear fill us with conflict? Was I extravagant. Wai I a pinch-penny, The most common symptoms of emotional insecurity are worry, anger, self-pity, and depression. This kind of insecurity may arise in any area where instincts are threatened. We fail to recognize our total inability to form a true partnership with another human being. Self-centered behavior blocked a partnership relation with any one of those about us. Defects ambushed us into alcoholism and misery. 12 & 12 | More…


We succeed in enterprises which demand the positive qualities we possess, wrote de Tocqueville, but we excel in those which can also make use of our defects.

We learn in The Program that our defects do have value—to the extent that we use them as the starting point for change and the pathway to better things. –A Day At A Time | More…

Through uncovering and admitting my character defects, I realized that I was no different than the people I was so afraid of. I understood that we were all suffering and that I didn’t need to disguise my authentic self. -Voices of Long-Term Sobriety/Grapevine.

Why do we call them “shortcomings”? Perhaps they should be called “long-goings,” because that’s often what it takes for them to fade from our lives. Once we have uncovered our fear, we are able to move beyond it. We try to imagine what our lives could be like without some of our more glaring shortcomings. This gives us a feeling for what lies past our fear, providing the motivation we need to push through it. Our Higher Power offers us a new vision for our lives, free of our defects. That vision is the essence of our own best, brightest dreams for ourselves. We need not fear that vision. –Just For Today | More…


Beginning the AA program, we are inclined to feel that our problems and difficulties are largely due to circumstances and other people. The more we work the Steps, the more we realize that our troubles are within, rather than without. We see that the root of our difficulty lies in being centered on self instead of centered in our Higher Power. Our Higher Power removes our character defects as we become willing to let go of them. Honest awareness is our first task, and this is facilitated by maintaining abstinence. Abstinence gives us the honesty and the energy to change. As we change, circumstances and relationships improve. –Food For Thought | More…

Sin is a fundamental relationship; it is not wrong doing, it is wrong being, deliberate and emphatic independence of God. We bear the sin of the world by identification, not by sympathy.  A distinction must always be made between the revelation of Redemption and the conscious experience of salvation in a man’s life. –Oswald Chambers | More…


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