King Baby Syndrome 

An explanation for our addictive personalities

King Baby Syndrome (or queen baby) was written by Tom Cunningham at the Hazelden Foundation in Minnesota. He wrote the pamphlet for recovering addicts and alcoholics to explore dry drunk syndrome. This term is obviously an oxymoron as it implies that a person is drunk without ingesting alcohol. Addiction is not about the substance it is an illness that results in a set of symptoms and behaviours that the substance medicates.

The term “His Majesty, the Baby,” originated from Freud’s paper “On narcissism” (1914) the concept describes an inborn attitude. Freud uses the tale of Narcissus as a synonym for egomania or fixation with oneself to illustrate king baby syndrome.

The story: Narcissus is a young man who seeing his reflection in a pool of water falls in love with himself, unable to tear himself away he finally dies of self obsession. His name is derived from the Greek word “narke” meaning sleep or numbness.


Narcissus - King Baby Syndrome


We are born narcissists in order to survive; Now imagine returning to the womb, here we feel warmth, security, comfort: all our primary needs are taken care of and we are the centre of our universe, during our infancy we demand food, attention, care and expect to get it to feel secure and satisfied. Through the natural maturing processes of childhood and adulthood, most of our king baby syndrome mentality is discarded and replaced by more appropriate life skills. However some of us advanced through the stages of physical growth without shedding this so called “King Baby” attitude.

When addicts suffer from “King Baby syndrome” they want the same level of self centred gratification that babies and young children need. Addicts must be especially aware of King Baby drives and characteristics, for these attitudes and behaviours can continue to show up after we achieve abstinence.

Traditionally narcissism is seen as a result of setbacks in early development. This is caused by a gap between the ideal self (standards set by others, society, parents) and the real self. Known as “Narcissistic wound”, it’s usually due to unmet needs, hurts and threats to self-esteem, and now relying on approval and admiration from others to ease the anxiety and low self worth.

Nurture versus nature: narcissism in relation to addiction maybe caused by a predisposition to dopamine deficiency, and therefore feelings of deprivation and dissatisfaction, either genetic or due to neglect. Whatever the cause, it leads to anxiety, triggers defense mechanisms and defective character traits to compensate. Narcissist Personality Disorder is listed in the DSM as a classifiable clinical diagnosis.

Hope Beach

King Baby Syndrome

Inner struggle

There are two prime motivating factors for adult-baby behaviour, first, the scared lonely child who does not want to be hurt and second the adult baby who is never satisfied. Sometimes when our inner-child hears the word NO, an inner message hears the word BAD.

Core beliefs

I am special and different or I must be admired and love by all

I can’t get enough or I must be the best

I must get my way or No one understands me

I don’t trust anyone or My needs are never going to be met

Others envy me or No one cares about me 


“Ego maniac with inferiority complex”

king baby syndrome traits in various degrees; exaggerated or rigidly held sense of entitlement, self obsession, vanity, arrogant, greed, grandiosity, superiority, self –sufficiency and rage. The objective is to compensate for inferiority by being right and important in order to fulfil ones needs.

Persona: or pseudo-self, we develop ways to cope and be accepted as well as to meet our selfish needs, at home, at work, with friends. By covering our true or real selves with a functional persona however we cannot help this king baby syndrome from emerging.

“It’s ok to be the centre of your universe; however it’s not ok to expect to be the centre of everyone else’s universe!”

“King baby syndrome” Personality Traits

  1. Become angry or afraid of authority figures
  2. Seek approval and sometimes lose my identity in the process
  3. Make good first impression have problems completing things.
  4. Have difficulty accepting criticism
  5. Hypersensitive
  6. Have difficulty sustaining healthy relationships
  7. Have addictive personality and am driven to extremes
  8. Have been immobilized by anger and frustration
  9. Am rarely satisfied
  10. Given to exaggerations and showing off
  11. Feel lonely even when surrounded by people
  12. Need people around me to feel ok
  13. Say “I know” a lot
  14. Complain and blame others for what is going wrong
  15. Feel like I don’t fit in
  16. See the world as a jungle full of selfish people
  17. See things as a catastrophe, all or nothing thinking
  18. Judge life in absolutes: black and white, right and wrong
  19. Live too much in the past and fearful of the future
  20. Have strong feeling of dependence with fears of abandonment
  21. Have taken advantage of others for your own ends
  22. Fear failure and rejection so don't try new things
  23. Are concerned with money and material things
  24. Fantasise, Dream big plans & schemes
  25. Reduced ability to show compassion to others or themselves when dealing with illness
  26. Charming to bosses but like to boss around subordinates
  27. Believe the normal rules do not apply to them
  28. Attracted to excitement, life in the fast lane
  29. Hold emotional pain within
  30. Lose touch with own feelings

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself it is thinking of yourself less”


group work with Henk

King Baby Syndrome

Personality & Identity

Persona: Latin word for mask

Carl Jung used the term “Personas” in his book “Psychological types (1921)” to describe personality types. He believed we all share common genetic elements, he called “the archetypes”, and these represent prototype patterns of stereotypical behaviour that are stored in our collective unconscious, such as Martyr, Hero, Outcast, Devil, Warrior, Temptress, damsel in distress etc

Our personas help us function - how we meet our needs and survive socially. The way we present to the world, but somehow they are separate from our “true or real self” – Our Persona is a mask which protects our fragile Ego. Jung identified two main personality groups;

  1. the extraverted attitude that responds to the external world
  2. the introverted attitude that responds to the inner world

These two opposing attitudes are both present in the personality, but ordinarily one of them is dominant and conscious while the other is subordinate and unconscious.

We judge and perceive the world via the four components of our personalities: Thinking, feeling, sensing, intuiting

King Baby Syndrome by Simon Mott