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Every year, countless people overcome severe alcohol and drug problems that could have killed them.

A recovering addict may have to deal with a psychological problem that led to the addiction in the first place.

Mental health problems and personality flaws are often there before the development of addictions.

Although not an official psychological diagnosis, “King Baby Syndrome” is widely recognized by therapists.

A person with King Baby Syndrome is more likely to use a lot of drugs and alcohol than others. Hurtful childhood experiences often lead to the disorder, as is the case for so many other problems.

How does someone with King Baby Syndrome think and act?

Someone with King Baby Syndrome thinks of themselves as the center of the universe. They are “kings” in the sense that they are narcissistic and boss others around.

They are also “babies” in the sense that they long for immediate gratification. An infant or toddler can expect others to meet their needs quickly. A baby expects instant gratification.

If a man or woman has “King Baby” or “Queen Baby” syndrome, then they see others the way a toddler sees their parents.

It is what they want that matters, and they expect their wants to be taken care of right away without effort.

A person with King Baby Syndrome can be both bossy and weak because of their childlike attitude.

A person with King Baby Syndrome will also act strong while feeling week and depend on the validation of others.

They may be dependant on others in all sorts of ways, but do everything they can to appear self-reliant. Just as a toddler can see a small misfortune as a terrible catastrophe, so can an adult with an immature personality.

Why does King Baby Syndrome lead to drug use?

King Baby Syndrome is not a personality problem that one ends up with as a result of drugs.

Instead, it is a set of personality issues that lead to drug-taking in the future. The syndrome appears before any drug experiences.

Taking a drug is more or less a childish act. It gives a person instant gratification. It is a way of experiencing pleasure without effort.

A person with King Baby Syndrome can quickly get into alcohol and drugs because they desire instant gratification. People with King Baby Syndrome also hate authority figures and hate rules.

King Baby Syndrome and Narcissism

While King Baby Syndrome is not identical to narcissism, it has plenty in common with it. Narcissism is extreme self-centeredness and arrogance.

It is normal for young children to be narcissistic. A two-year-old or an infant ought to have this personality because it helps them survive.

Narcissism is named after the ancient Greek myth of a man who fell in love with himself after seeing his reflection. Narcissists love themselves first.

Freud used the phrase “his majesty, the baby” to describe adults that never grow out of this self-centered phase.

A psychologist would not always diagnose this type of person with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). Often, their negative thought patterns and behaviour are not strong enough to justify this diagnosis.

To be diagnosed with NPD, a person must meet five out of nine criteria [1]. Psychologists do not diagnose anyone with NPD unless it is harming themselves or others.

‘King Baby’ Syndrome and quitting drugs

In the 1980’s, psychologist Tom Cunningham wrote about the link between narcissistic personality traits and addictions. Such self-centered people will get angry at those that try to help them quit drugs.

It was Cunningham who used the term ‘King Baby Syndrome’ for the first time. Cunningham pointed out that narcissistic people can be a lot of trouble in rehab.

Any life change, such as learning a new skill or quitting an addiction, may bring up psychological issues that one will have to confront.

Those with King Baby Syndrome often hate authority figures. They may confuse an attempt to help them as abuse.

They have likely been through abuse, and therefore hate anyone who tries to control or criticise them. Those with King Baby Syndrome think that rules are for other people.

Their hatred of rules makes it easier for them to become addicted to drugs and harder for them to quit.

Those with narcissistic personality disorder are much more likely to use drugs than others. Cocaine may be associated with narcissistic traits [2]. More than 64% of those with narcissistic personality disorder have abused drugs [3].

Does King Baby Syndrome shut out negative emotions?

While people with many mental disorders are depressed and gloomy, narcissists are not. If someone has narcissistic personality traits, they are likely to act happy and confident.

Narcissists are party-goers, laugh a lot, and are social, but are not healthy individuals.
Narcissists are at risk of ruining their lives with arrogance and impulsive behaviour.

Since we associate poor mental health with depression and social withdrawal, most people do not recognise narcissists as having poor mental health.

The person with King Baby Syndrome wants to shut out negative emotions. Therefore, they must be upbeat, social, laughing, and confident all the time.

They must always feel like they are better than other people all the time. Trauma in the past did not make them depressed and self-critical. Instead, it made them hardly capable of self-criticism.

Is trauma always the cause of narcissism?

Why people develop narcissistic personality traits is not yet well understood.

Many psychologists believe that a child becomes narcissistic if parents teach them that they are much more important than other people [4]. Therefore, it is not always about trauma.

Different types of King Baby personalities

Therapists identify six different variations on the “King Baby” personality [5].

They are as follows:

1. The falsely humble person

A narcissistic person may pretend to be a depressed person that thinks very little of themselves. They might put themselves down.

However, anyone who knows them knows that they are arrogant and think they are better than everyone else. Their humility is false.

2. The ego tripper

The ego tripper loves the praise of others. They do everything they can to have other people complement and respect them as much as possible. They can get angry when people are complimenting them less often than usual.

Ego trippers are bullies. They have to put people down to make themselves feel superior. If others do not continually praise and compliment them, they will need to bully others so that they can feel superior.

3. The king

A king bosses other people around as long as they can get away with it, and sometimes not even then. They are mean to their spouses and children. When they are at work, they are mean to other workers if they have the opportunity to be.

Drinking and drugs make them feel ashamed, as they are not in control of these habits. They are afraid to quit as this would involve admitting that they have a problem in the first place.

4. The princess

The princess wants attention wherever she goes. She expects everyone to love her and wants everyone to do her favours just for the pleasure of being kind to her.

She only takes and does not give, and expects everyone else to be grateful to her even though she rarely does anything for anyone else.

5. The perfectionist

The perfectionist is always upset with themselves and others because they expect perfection from themselves and others. Perfectionists come off as impressive and not dysfunctional people when you first meet them.

However, they never consider themselves good enough. They also see other people as worthy of contempt because they fail to live up to their impossible standards.

6. The clinging vine

Clinging vines love to get other people to do things for them but are not as mean as kings are. A clinging vine will get other people to do tasks for them by using polite language.

They will politely ask for a favour and then be very appreciative, virtually trading complements for favours. In the long run, you do not want to be married to or in a relationship with a clinging vine, because they will expect more and more from you over time.

King Baby Syndrome and relationships

People with King Baby (or Queen Baby) syndrome look for a caregiver when they look for a relationship. They want someone who will take care of them.

They look for a relationship or marriage with a normal person with a sense of responsibility. The responsible person likes the narcissist because they are a fun and confident person.

Their relationships and marriages are not likely to work in the long run. In the long run, they are expected to have responsibilities within the relationship themselves.

Having another person depend on them instead of the other way around is too much for them. Unless they overcome their personality issues, their marriages and long term relationships fail.

Difficulties with Drug Rehabilitation

If a person with King Baby Syndrome does not partly overcome their personality issues, they are likely to return to drugs after rehab. Their behaviour is self-defeating.

They make too many comparisons between themselves and others. They can be self-pitying as well as arrogant and can be very materialistic.

Therefore, they almost certainly have to reduce these problems to have a chance of staying clean after rehab.

Overcoming the Disorder

If a person can recognise that their narcissistic personality is a problem, then they may be able to correct it. When in rehab, they may reflect on the problems with their life and try to reduce these personality traits.

They must recognise that their needs are not going to be met right away. All forms of King Baby Syndrome are based on expecting that other people are going to give them what they want quickly.

Treatment for substance abusers with King Baby Syndrome

People who think they are better than everyone else can be harder to treat than depressed people.

Depressed people want their sad feelings and nervousness to go away, so they accept treatment. Narcissistic people, on the other hand, sometimes have an advantage over others, which makes them not want to change.

Talk therapy is one of the best options as there is not yet a drug specifically for those who have narcissistic personality traits. A therapist can help by teaching the patient to accept themselves and accept others.

If they can both accept their flaws and the flaws of others, then they can overcome narcissism.

Treatment is possible but difficult. A patient may be very uncooperative because they are too self-centered to accept help [5].

Without treatment, they are likely to fall back into drugs. The best therapists can understand that a person with narcissistic traits is in pain and is not merely someone who inflicts pain on others [6]

References:

[1] https://www.pnas.org/content/112/12/3659

[2]  https://beyondsunset.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/kingbaby.pdf

[3] https://www.psychiatry.org/psychiatrists/practice/dsm

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2669224/

[5] https://yalebooks.yale.edu/book/9780300066845/therapeutic-alliance

[6] https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2013-44027-001