Wounded Spirit



Can we identify some of the characteristics of our true ‘Inner Person’ (Natural Spirit) and the actions, beliefs or thinking of the ‘Adapted Spirit’ which may have resulted from a ‘Wounded Spirit’.

The natural spirit or natural person can be seen as the way we are in our inner most selves – our real selves. Perhaps we were born with some natural tendencies for the characteristics in this column. We may prevent this natural spirit from being seen by the outside world. We may be suppressing our feelings and spirits. We may even stop ourselves from being aware of impulses or intuitions from our natural spirit.

We may have experienced a traumatic event or series of events, which hurt us at a very deep level. As a result our spirit may have been wounded. To protect ourselves from further pain or out of revenge, we may have adapted our thinking, beliefs and actions. These adapted mannerisms may have become destructive to us without us knowing it. And they may have become so ‘normal’ to us that we cannot see or believe our behaviours are not OK.

Natural Spirit

Wounded Spirit

Adapted Spirit

Centre of a safe and loving universe

Centre of an unsafe, unloving universe

Centre of a world that can be made safe and loving through playing games


Restricted, fearful

Reactions restricted to roles and missions



Reactive, passively compliant or manipulative

Sees self as maker of joy

Sees self as the maker of pain; causing it, responsible for preventing it or fixing it

Sees survival as depending on avoiding dreads of ambiguity, abandonment, blame and betrayal

Curious, in awe of life’s mysteries

Frightened, suspicious

Knows all the answers, has false pride


Fearful, withdrawn

Creates barriers to authentic relating; relates to others in terms of scripts and games



Triumphant when games are working; sad fearful when they are not

Secure boundaries

Born in autonomy violations

Tends to merge with others, be a victim or perpetrator of boundary violations



Only happy when compliance, manipulation or reactiveness is successful

Naively grandiose


Obsessed with interpersonal power and its use


Intolerant of others

Over sensitive

Hopeful, confident and has positive faith


Never gives up mission

Momentary fear, anger, guilt, sadness, pain, pride etc.

Obsessed with pain; knows that pain means true self is worthless, bad, weak, unacceptable to others; knows he is basically unlovable

Uses emotional behaviour to get own way


Low self-esteem

Develops self-image in terms of role; gauges worth in terms of reactions of others


Deals only in blacks and whites; focuses on inevitability of impending doom; never alters world view

No tolerance for ambiguity; deals only in blacks and whites; focuses on avoiding of impending doom; never alters world view


Distrustful, suspicious

Sees people, organisations and events as out to ‘get them’


Isolated, relies on own resources

Dependent, blames others and outside events for problems


Has unreasonable expectations of others

Judgmental, intolerant; views others through his own distorted view; focuses on the shortcomings of others


Has distorted sense of self

Grandiose; promotes self in interactions with others, uses the ‘I, Me, Myself’ inflection

Motives, desires and emotions appropriate to age, needs and societal expectations

Has motives, desires and emotions of a teenager

Mainly seeks to satisfy self; bodily senses, ego and emotions

Open, accepting, realistic

Fearful, denying

Fails to see how ones thinking, perceptions and behaviour contributes to ones situation

In Twelve-Step terms the Wounded and Adapted Spirits may be known as Powerlessness (1st Step), Insanity (2nd Step), Wrongs (5th Step), Defects of Character (6th Step) or Shortcomings (7th Step).

In Alcoholics Anonymous colloquial terms the ‘Adapted’ self would be known as a Dry Drunk.

The Wounded Spirit may have created a WALL of DENIAL of ACCESS to the real inner person – your Natural Spirit.

Healing the Wounded Spirit

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2 thoughts on “Wounded Spirit

  1. Thanks Amy,
    I do not remember where the idea came from but the above book may be a starting point.

    At some time I learn’t that the 12-Steps can be seen as stages to recovery.

    Steps 1, 2 and 3 – being the ‘giving up’ steps. Giving up addiction to drugs, alcohol or behaviors.

    Steps 4 thru 9 – being the ‘clean up’ steps. Cleaning up the “wreckage of the past”, including the wounded spirit.

    Steps 10 to 12 – being the ‘keeping up’ steps. Maintenance of growth and repairs to the spirit.

    This sort of helped me a bit.

  2. Fantastic chart – clearly outlines what’s “normal,” and what the adaptive behaviors and reactive modes are. I wish there were a fourth column that suggested a mantra or frame of mind that’s the pathway to the natural, healed mode, out of the adapted one. Great stuff! — amy eden my ACoA blog http://www.go.blogs.com/guesswhatnormalis


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