AA uses that phrase in the Big Book, page 58. I searched for something today, and that page came up, so I read it again.
"Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. There chances are less than average. There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest."
I can recall trying to talk with my (sober but not in recovery) husband when we were newly married, and being taken aback by his complete refusal to be honest with himself or me about his part in our troubles. He blamed me completely, and felt he was an innocent victim.
I had accepted his self-appraisal as a great guy, buttressed by the public facade he's developed to feel accepted. The difference between the public man, and the private man, shocked me. For years, I was in denial that he was not who he pretended to be, and it didn't help that while he was being angry with me and ignoring me for days, friends and customers who knew him only slightly, would tell me how lucky I was to be married to him. The confusion for me was terrible. I didn't understand that the rejection in my childhood had set me up perfectly to assume blame when it was handed to me.
I had learned in Al-Anon that when I felt the hot rush of defensiveness rising within me, I was hearing the truth about myself, however painful or distasteful. I didn't get that feeling if what was being said had no bearing on my character, I could remain detached.
I learned this fact about my character defects both through self-appraisal, and through listening to the words of those who had gone before me in this program. I wanted peace from pain, and I wanted to improve and grow - to become the woman I dimly felt I could be, were I willing to set my pride aside, and listen for the guidance of my Higher Power.
But with my husband, I couldn't withstand the force of his personality, or the emotional abuse, I accepted what he said, and tried to right it. The awful co-dependent fixing need.
Over the years, his blaming became less effective, the more I learned to value my own worth. When I met with him this last time, he was in full bore with the blaming, and his assumption of the victim role. It was exhausting to sit for 3 hours and listen as talked about himself - I wasn't even in the equation.
I wish for him the spiritual awakening 12-Step speaks of, I know that mine changed my life in ways I didn't understand when it was new. I pray that he find his way to himself. I've let go of wanting to see that happen.