10 Oct Overcoming the Entitlement of ‘King Baby Syndrome’
Although there is no formal m category, ‘center-of-the-universitis’ could well be a diagnostic category that afflicts some people with addictions. For many, use of the substances that occupy their time, energy and attention are predicated by a deep desire to have needs met that may have felt neglected throughout their lives. A second component may be a desire to return to the days when all of their needs were met since they never moved past that developmental stage. As a result, they are ripe for what in 12-Step vernacular is referred to as “King Baby Syndrome.” The female equivalent could be called “Queen Baby.”
Signs of King Baby Syndrome
Psychotherapist Christopher Burn explains in “King Babies-The Quest for Maturity” that the syndrome relates to emotional developmental delays stemming from abuse, trauma or early drug use. Fear of loss of control is a hallmark, thus creating attitudes and actions that can become ingrained patterns over time. King Baby Syndrome is characterized by:
- Belief that their needs come first and foremost without concern for others
- Having blinders on when it comes to the perspectives of others
- “My way or the highway” attitudes
- Extreme arrogance
- Dependency, but wanting to appear fiercely independent
- Acquisition of money and possessions to prove worth
- The need for continual validation
- Catastrophizing events
- Feeling misjudged and underappreciated
- Expressions of superiority that mask insecurity
- Jumping to conclusions
- Egoic pride
- Lack of trust
- Expecting to be treated with deference
This sense of entitlement impacts every relationship, as those who are close to people who exhibit these attitudes and behaviors will attest. At home it may appear as if this person is tyrannical, ruling with a heavy hand that has family members quivering in fear. In the workplace, it could show up as a controlling boss who leaves no room for employees to think for themselves or act independently and takes credit for their work, sabotaging them any chance they get. In friendship, it might look like gathering loyal followers who model themselves after him or her.
In the first example, think of the character “Bull” Meecham in the film “The Great Santini.” In the second examples, there is classic narcissist Gordon Gekko from the movie “Wall Street.” Finally, think of Regina George, the ultimate “mean girl” in the film by the same name.
Healing Begins with Willingness
In order to treat King Baby Syndrome, it benefits those affected to recognize that not all needs will be met as expected. Since the desire for immediate gratification is part of the addiction cycle, this can be particularly challenging. Asking the question, “What is it that I most fear if I can’t get what I want when I want it?” could open the door to deeper exploration. For some, it may feel as if they are that helpless child, crying in the crib, waiting for a caregiver who may arrive to meet all of their needs, or perhaps not show up at all, or may come bearing pain rather than relief. For others, it might be fear of emotional or physical obliteration or abandonment.
In treatment, these issues can be successfully addressed if there is a willingness to move beyond it. Learning self-acceptance, as well as seeing themselves as whole and complete without excessive need for external validation and doing an inventory that addresses the ways in which these attitudes and behaviors both serve and sabotage their lives, are among the keys to the castle that may help them to leave safely without falling into the moat.
As frightening as it might be to take off the crown and hand over the scepter, it behooves us all to recognize that the emperor really does have no clothes and beneath it all. We each have our wounds that call out for healing and relief.
Find relief in recovery. Life gets better with addiction treatment.
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