Baby Hazelden Publication
Inside Cover i
About the pamphlet:
This pamphlet discusses the
King Baby personality - the childish traits seen
in people who have reached adulthood without
acquiring emotional maturity. Not only must
these traits be surrendered before chemical
dependency can be fully arrested, but the
presence of this King Baby personality can
accelerate addiction or lead to relapse.
About the author:
Tom Cunningham has worked in
the chemical dependency field for ten years. He
holds a B.A. degree from the University of
Minnesota and currently works as an inpatient
counselor for chemically dependent adolescents
and young adults.
First published July,
Copyright © 1986, Hazelden Foundation. All rights
reserved. No portion of this publication may be
reproduced in any manner without the written permission
of the publisher.
Dr. Harry Tiebout used "His Majesty, the Baby," the
words of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, to describe an
inborn attitude. The term King Baby could just as well
be Queen Baby, because we all probably have this
infantile ego in our unconscious minds. Chemically
dependent people must be especially aware of King Baby
characteristics; for these attitudes and behaviors can
interfere with recovery.
In our Twelve Step programs, we repeatedly see the need
and make the attempt to surrender - to turn our lives
and our will over to the care of God. We have slogans
that emphasize the necessity and rewards of the Third
Step: Let Go and Let God, What's Turned Over Turns Out.
The recognition of powerlessness is the basis of
surrender, but the act of surrendering comes with the
total acceptance of that powerlessness. Many of us who
have difficulty with the First Step may recognize our
powerlessness but be unwilling to accept it. In other
words, we are able to see and understand it, but our
need for control prevents us from committing ourselves
to this very necessary act of surrender. Our egos
interfere. Our immaturity demands we retain control. Our
King Baby mentality insists we direct our lives and
control our wills. In doing so, King Baby obstructs our
In this pamphlet, we will learn to identify the
infantile King Baby ego within us. Our childish
personality traits must be surrendered before our
disease can be fully arrested. The compulsive King Baby
personality can accelerate addiction or lead to relapse.
We have to maintain our awareness of these tendencies as
we work our Twelve Step recovery program in Alcoholics
Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.
WHO IS KING BABY?
To understand King Baby, let's imagine for a moment
we're returning to the womb. Here we feel warmth,
security, com-fort, freedom, and power. All our needs
are taken care of. We
are the center of our universe. We are
cared for just because we exist, and we are perfectly
content. Infancy also encourages our King Baby attitudes.
Our loud demands for food, attention, and care are
answered immediately. We are again the center of a vast
kingdom; our wishes are all-important. Through the
natural maturing processes of childhood and adulthood,
most of the King Baby mentality is discarded and
replaced by more appropriate coping skills.
Some of us, however,
advanced through the stages of physical growth without
shedding this immature creature - King Baby. For us,
King Baby never forgets the wonderful, warm security of
prenatal and infant life and will try again and again to
experience it. King Baby strives to recapture the total
contentment of every need being met.
KING BABY CHARACTERISTICS
In attempting to regain
the security of infancy, King Babies continue to
function with the same feelings that gratified them so
long ago. Tiebout says that "when infantile traits
continue into adulthood, the person is spoken of as
immature" and this immaturity is tied to the traits of
feelings of omnipotence, inability to accept
frustrations, and doing things hurriedly.'
King Babies share a wide
range of personality traits. None of us has all of these
traits, but we will probably find many that describe us.
King Babies may show these characteristics:
1. often become angry at
or afraid of authority figures and will attempt to work
them against each other in order to get their own way
2. seek approval and
frequently lose their own identities in the process
(Harry M. Tiebout, M.D., The Ego Factors in Surrender
in Alcoholism (Center City, MN, Hazelden Educational
Materials), p. 6, order no. 1270.)
3. are able to make a good
first impression but are unable to follow through
4. have difficulty accepting personal criticism and
become threatened and angry when criticized
5. have addictive personalities and are driven to
6. are self-rejecting or self-alienated
7. are often immobilized by anger and frustration and
are rarely satisfied
8. are usually lonely even when surrounded by people
9. are chronic complainers who blame others for what's
wrong with their lives
10. feel unappreciated and think they don't fit in
11. see the world as a jungle filled with selfish
people who "aren't there" for them
12. see everything as a catastrophe, a life-and-death
13. judge life in absolutes: black or white, right or
14. live in the past while fearful of the future
15. have strong feelings of dependence and
exaggerated fears of abandonment
16. fear failure and rejection and don't try new
things that they might not do well
17. are obsessed with money and material things
18. dream big plans and schemes and have little
ability to make them happen
19. cannot tolerate illness in themselves or others
20. prefer to charm superiors and intimidate
21. believe rules and laws are for others, not for
22. often become addicted to excitement, life in the
23. hold emotional pain within and lose touch with
THE FRIGHTENED CHILD AND KING BABY Within many
addicted people is a scared, lonely, shamed boy or girl
who whispers self-defeating thoughts based on a lifetime
of negative messages. We constantly compare ourselves to
others and feel we don't measure up.
These feelings of
worthlessness, self-blame, and I-don't-belong become a
central part of our personalities. King Baby - a
selfish, demanding being - emerges as a reaction to
these feelings of shame and inadequacy. As we childishly
strive to be accepted and to please other people, we
begin to seek things from the outside to feel better
inside. Designer clothes, fast cars, attractive
girlfriends or boyfriends, drugs, and the excitement of
life in the fast lane help salve our pain. We develop
attractive, magnetic, charming exteriors to get our way.
Pleasure-seeking, power-seeking, and attention-seeking
devices are used to fill the void, but the void remains.
No amount of love, status, money, or fame is enough for
the scared little child in us.
Seeing this as a weakness, the King
Baby part of us will try to destroy, attack, and push
aside our scared little child. By denying these
feelings, King Baby ultimately blocks out the fact that
the scared little child exists.
The Inner Struggle
Understanding King Baby is difficult
because things are never as they appear on the surface.
There are two prime motivating factors: first, the
scared, lonely, child who does not want to be hurt
anymore and, second, the King Baby who is never
When the frightened child in us hears
the word no, an inner message tells us we are bad. We
feel loved when we are pampered, and unloved when we are
disciplined or scolded. When we are criticized, our
immaturity insists on the right to have our own way and
argues that if we are loved, others should give us our
way. Often, our manipulations allow us to win.
Both of these drives - the frightened
child and the demanding King Baby - are temporarily
satisfied if we create the person we believe others want
us to be. However, long-term recovery is based on the
scared little child regaining self-worth and learning to
control the King Baby behavior.
Recovering people usually are aware of
the many threats to their sobriety. Twelve Step programs
are designed to help us confront and overcome our
character defects. Immaturity, a problem for many of us,
is a stronghold of the King Baby in each of us. We may
need to recognize this defect and overcome it if we are
to continue in our recovery.
The King Baby in us tells us we're
right - the others are wrong. Many of us have defended
our rightness everywhere and anywhere we've felt
threatened. King Babies often act as their own Higher
Power, making judgment decisions for themselves and
others. The King Baby in us tells us we should be able
to succeed at anything we want to do. There is a feeling
of being destined for greatness.
THE KING BABY MYTTH
The King Baby mentality is driven by
three motives - power, attention, and pleasure. By being
overly friendly and charming, we try to win friends. We
may be clinging. We often try to control or dominate.
Almost everything we do has strings attached and creates
indebtedness to us. We fear rejection of our real
selves, so we present a false, invented person to the
world. This protects us from being hurt. Each
personality or game we invent is based on a false
promise or myth.
Myth: If I am charming, attractive,
magnetic, and the life of the party, you will want to be
Truth: By being all things to all
people, we lose our true selves in the process. The end
of the game comes when others realize there is nothing
behind the phony smiles.
Myth: If you obey me and place
yourself in my complete control, I will protect you from
Truth: If we believe we are born
leaders capable of handling any crisis, we expect others
to trustingly place themselves in our hands. Masters of
sarcasm, we keep our subjects in place with cruel
comments. The end of the game is when the "subjects"
refuse to obey.
The Love Conqueror
Myth: I am irresistible to the
opposite sex. Part of my attractiveness is my lack of
respect for them. I expect love, attention, wealth, and
power for the privilege of my company.
Truth: We are in
deadly competition for center stage and are incapable of
commitment to a relationship. The end of the game is
when others recognize the shallowness of the conqueror.
Myth: Youthfulness, a
beautiful body, and an attractive face are the essential
qualities for me to be liked and accepted.
Truth: We have tried to
get by on looks alone. The end of the game is when
others tire of the child who requires continuous
reassurance of his or her attractiveness.
Myth: If I can entertain
you with my music, my wit, or any other talent, you will
worship and adore me.
Truth: We experience acceptance only
if others rave about our talents and seek our company in
order to be entertained. The game is up when others tire
of always having to be a fan or realize we have no warm,
human qualities to contribute to a relationship.
Myth: I am not worthwhile unless I succeed at being
the best in what I do.
Truth: No one is always the best or the most
successful, but we try to gain self-worth by
specializing in doing certain things well. The end of
the game comes either
when we realize the futility of such high
expectations or when others tire of our competitiveness.
Myth: If I am nice and sweet to everyone, they will
like me. Truth: Our fear of rejection causes us to
constantly seek approval from everyone., The end of the
game is when we realize we can't make everyone happy or
when others tire of our wishy-washy attitudes.
Myth: I must get my way or else.
Rules are for other people. If you tell me not to do
something, you are waving a red flag in my face and
challenging me to do it.
Truth: We rebels usually get the
consequences or punishment we deserve or ask for. The
end of the game is when we weary of paying the price the
outlaw must pay and abandon this behavior.
Myth: I deserve to suffer. I don't
count. Nobody understands. Poor me. I see your pity as
an expression of love.
Truth: We confuse love with pity and
believe sacrificing ourselves will protect us from
abandonment. The end of the game is when we get tired of
realize we deserve better. The Dropout
Myth: If you won't play the game my way, I won't play
the game at all.
Paralyzed by fear of failure and rejection, we attempt
nothing and feel the world owes us. We are so
discouraged and pessimistic, we give up before we even
start. The end of the game comes when others get tired
of providing a free ride .2,1
THE VICIOUS CIRCLE
Every one of these games began with some promise of
success but slipped into frustration and failure. A King
Baby's life becomes a series of extreme highs and lows.
New beginnings are always followed by painful endings.
These Babies become addicted to the thrill of success
and, more importantly, to the pain of failure.
King Babies can't stand the boredom of things going
too well and will rock the boat or create a crisis. A
life of turmoil clouds the issues and lessens their
responsibility for failures. The chaos even keeps them
from seeing their constantly lessened self-esteem. The
fact that it is not fun anymore is lost in the total
absence of any feelings. It's predictable that the King
Baby personality will be addicted to something. It is
only a matter of time.
THE FATAL COMBINATION
Addicted to a life of excess and driven by feelings
of low self-worth, an immature person's life is
frustrating and unrewarding, but not necessarily fatal.
But something happens to the chemically dependent person
when the King Baby lifestyle
(John Powell, S. J., Why Am I Afraid
To Tell You Who I Am? (Allen, TX, Argus Communications,
1969). Available through Hazelden Educational Materials,
order no. 6670. Janet Geringer Woititz, Ed. D., Struggle
for Intimacy (Pompano Beach, FL, Health Communications,
Inc., 1985). Available through Hazelden Educational
Materials, order no. 6642.)
and low self-worth are combined with the experience
of getting high. This "something" can be a fatal
combination. That warm, comfortable, confident feeling
of infancy - something we have been looking for all our
lives - is captured again. The comforting,
fear-dispelling effects of a chemical are exactly what
our King Baby egos have been searching for. As the love
affair with getting high takes over, all aspects of our
lives progressively slip into more excessive, immature
The King Baby defense system of denying almost any
problem is already well established, and it accelerates
the chemically dependent person's descent to the bottom.
The enemy is within us, and our drug use releases the
pent-up frustrations, angers, resentments, fears, and
doubts like a rocket ship taking off for the moon. The
wonderful feeling of the womb returns, and the Baby is
radiant within and without, excited and confident about
this newfound high.
The ego becomes a raving maniac demanding to be
constantly fed in a series of fun parties and excitement
that speeds us through the progression of chemical
dependency at a record pace. We become chemically
dependent quickly, reaching bottom in a fraction of the
time it took our elders.
Blinded by the wonderful feeling of that perfect
high, the Baby in us throws away what's left of a
conscience and value system. Having a set of built-in
blinders, earplugs, and tunnel vision for our delusion
and denial system, we are able to remain totally
ignorant of how far we have gone.
SICK AND TIRED OF BEING SICK AND TIRED Exhausted from
a lifestyle of needing everything in a hurry, scheming
to win, frantically trying to gain the upper hand,
fearing outcomes and endings, and trying to be all
things to all people, the Baby in us often comes to a
When that sick, panicky feeling of butterflies in the
stomach becomes a raging fear and terror that totally
consumes us, we hit bottom. The Baby cannot imagine life
without chemicals and is fearful of going on and on in
this never- ' ending rat race. Locked into the pattern
of this repeated
behavior and never trying anything different, King
Baby is too paralyzed by fear to face the next day.
Recovery can be delayed by the immature ego which still
insists on being right - "I can do anything. I don't
need help." Timing is everything, for now the Baby is
vulnerable and can be helped.
ADMIT DEFEAT, FACE REALITY
Admitting our way didn't work and facing failure will
open the floodgates to a world of pain. In an instant
our King Baby will go from feeling we need help to
feeling hopeless, from being optimistic to believing we
can't change. We will stay stuck in our swamp of despair
waiting to be rescued while demanding a guaranteed
blueprint for success before we will face our fears and
begin to act. At this time, we can accept the hand of
A.A. or N.A. reaching out to us in the form of another
King Baby alcoholic or drug addict, reassuring us the
Twelve Steps work. Before the First Step is taken, King
Baby needs the hope of "If others can do it, so can L"
The way out of the King Baby trap is "I Can't, We
Can" thinking. Surrendering to the Twelve Step way of
life can harness the power of King Baby and can help us
find a Higher Power that will work for us.
We can learn the true meaning of forgiveness,
humility, and gratitude. We can learn to avoid the
pitfalls of King Baby and tune into the Twelve Steps. We
can learn to have fun again while gaining a new, deeper
understanding of life. , HEALING OUR SCARED LITTLE CHILD
Using all the love and support from our Twelve Step
group, . we must begin an inward journey to meet that
girl part of us, so long ignored. We can let ourselves
imagine walking into his or her room and seeing the
child huddled and crying in the corner. We can become
loving, caring parents to that child within each of us.
As any parent would do, we encourage the child to come,
sit close, and to explain what is wrong. Then by holding
that child, saying "It's all right," and gently wiping
away the tears, we can let this youngster know that he
or she is loved, is a beautiful human being, and is
THE NURTURING WITHIN A.A. AND N.A.
A soft, warm, secure feeling exists in Twelve Step
groups and it reaches out to newcomers with the message
"You are loved just because you exist, and I will love
you even before you become lovable." This is the promise
of A.A. and N.A. - love with no strings. The only
expectation is a sincere desire to stop drinking or
using. This is the warm, radiant womb that the Baby has
been looking for all along. The warm, caring Twelve Step
family is genuine and stands in sharp contrast to the
false security of alcohol and other drugs.
Slowly, the recovering Baby begins to gain
self-respect through the Twelve Steps. It's hard work
changing one's whole life, but A.A. and N.A. are always
there as guides. In these programs, an awareness of
personal dignity begins to bloom. It happens through
self-discovery, self-discipline, selfforgiveness, and
self-acceptance. Gradually the scared little child takes
the opportunity to develop self-love.
TO LOVE AND BE LOVED
It makes no difference if the people in our Twelve
Step groups loved us before we loved ourselves. The key
are loving ourselves more. Gradually, we will explore
and discover all the wonderful assets we have.
It's like a celebration for a sponsor to watch a
sponsee discover his or her wonderful and unique
talents. Each one learns from the other while going
through the trials of early sobriety. Sponsors do this
so they can stay sober; but, in doing so, they reinforce
all that they have learned. Watching the newcomer come
alive again is a thrill that is reward enough.
Coming alive again with a sense of self-dignity and
becoming connected with a sponsor will prepare us for
the next stage.
Our immaturity has forced us to spend our lives
attracting outside power to feel good inside. Selling
ourselves for a smile was slavery. Good feelings do not
come from people, places, or things, but from the
Reclaiming personal power comes by
first admitting powerlessness over others. We all need
to take responsibility for our own self-worth and
dignity. Self-worth does not depend upon what others say
or do, but instead on how a person reacts to what others
say or do. There are choices about the way to
react. Reacting with fear, anger, or
resentment tends to make a person feel worthless.
Accepting the fact that everyone is not going to agree
with us, and perhaps not even like us, is reality.
SURRENDER: BE GOD OR BELIEVE IN GOD It's quite a
relief to be free from trying to run the whole universe.
In surrendering, we turn the job back to a Higher Power
who, in turn, fills our souls with the warmth, comfort,
and serenity we've been seeking so long. Once again it
is similar to the feelings of the womb.
Before Surrender After Surrender
angry cared for
empty full FORGIVENESS
God doesn't make junk. Each one of us is a special
and unique person - a somebody, not a nobody. In all the
world there is not another one like us. We must become
fascinated by ourselves and realize how tough we are.
The King Babies within us have developed a wide variety
of strengths coupled with God-given talents, and we must
learn to appreciate those strengths. We can learn from
the past and let it go. We can stop being judge, jury,
and executioner condemning ourselves. We know our Higher
Power forgives us. Now it is time to let Him. We must
stop judging ourselves and get out of His way.
"Oh Lord, it's hard to be humble when you're perfect
in every way." When Mac Davis sang that song, King
Babies everywhere blushed, knowing he was singing about
them. It is now obvious that pride is a large part of
the King Baby problem. What we need to learn is that
pride can be positive. Humility is not being meek and
fearful. Rather, humility is an acceptance of being
equal, not better or worse. To be equal is
be honest, open, and vulnerable, which is difficult but
now possible. Feeling free to be ourselves, we can face
reality. Humility helps us to be teachable and flexible.
To continue growing and avoid relapse, humility must be
King Baby's guilt machine, or conscience, is broken.
King Babies whitewash their behaviors and lose their
value systems in the process. Realizing this, they
overreact and beat themselves constantly for being
human. Until the King Baby in us finds a balance and a
new set of values, we will need to rely heavily on our
sponsors. A good rule of thumb is if we feel guilty, we
shouldn't do it. We need to find out what we believe in
and live by it.
USING OUR ADDICTIVE PERSONALITIES We know we have
addictive personalities. Why not try being addicted to
something that is positive for us? We can pick some
mini-goals or things that we can do each day. We can
develop a fun, positive, even passionate love affair
with some kind of exercise program. If we want to, we
can go back to school.
DEVELOPING A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH OUR HIGHER
We should ask ourselves what kind of a Higher Power
we have, and how we are going to contact Him as we read
our daily meditations. We can pick a theme to live each
day by, remembering that a positive attitude is not
automatic, but comes from practice and hard work. The
more our expectations are lowered, the more our serenity
increases. We can practice acceptance of ourselves and
Each evening we should record the positive things we
did and the good things that happened to us. This
focuses on giving ourselves some credit for what we
accomplish. We can gently review our mistakes and
promptly admit where we were wrong.
RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE OPPOSITE SEX Our recovery is
seriously jeopardized by getting into a relationship too
soon. While hurting with the growth pain of recovery,
the King Baby in us often seeks new relationships to
ease the pain of growth. If allowed to happen it is like
a moth being drawn to the flame, and King Baby too often
creates an addictive relationship, using the
relationship like a drug high. This puts our recovery on
hold, or - even worse - it may encourage relapse. Our
immaturity may have prevented us from knowing what a
healthy relationship is or how to have one. All we have
known is to possess, invade, demand, attack, and
conquer. We love the honeymoon but have been incapable
of sustaining the nuts and bolts of a relationship. The
powerful emotions of a new relationship could cause us
to lose our newfound sobriety.
"YOU'VE GOT TO CHANGE YOUR WHOLE LIFE," THE SPEAKER
Imagine for a moment a permanent stereo headset with
one ear listening to King Baby and the other listening
to A.A. Our call letters will be K-BABY and W -AA for
the "we" in A.A. We have a choice to tune in either
K-BABY or W -AA. K-BABY represents stinking thinking or
the thoughts that will lead us to relapse while W -AA
represents recovery. If we challenge K-BABY thinking and
tune in W -AA, we can begin to change our behaviors.
The King Baby Stinking Thinking Versus the Slogans of
K-BABY Stinking Thinking - W-AA Slogans
Living in the past and worrying about the future -
One day at a time
Continuing to run away from fears and apprehensions
- Easy does it
Trying to handle it my way - Let go and
Overreacting when things don't happen the way I think
they should - Live and let live
Trying to rewrite the Big Book, the Steps, and the
Traditions -- choosing the parts I want to work -
If it works, don't fix it
Forgetting that staying sober and A.A./N.A. are
my number-one priorities - First things
Complicating it into "analysis paralysis" -
Keep it simple
Taking others' inventory, pointing out when
they're wrong - Take your own inventory
Little white lies are okay - It's an
Justifying grudges and holding on to them
- Don't carry resentments
Telling people what you think they want to hear
- Tell it like it is
Symptoms of Relapse to the Principles of A.A./N.A.
K-BABY Symptoms of Relapse W-AA Principles
Dishonesty - Honesty
Doubt - Hope
Procrastination - Action
Fear - Courage
Taking the easy way out - Integrity
Complacency - Willingness
Cockiness - Humility
Expecting too much from others - Brotherly love
Letting up on discipline - Self-discipline
Quitting the meetings - Perseverance
Forgetting gratitude Omnipotence - Spiritual
THE ATTITUDE IS GRATITUDE
Eventually, we learn to take on the task of
supporting, nourishing, and stroking our scared little
child. We even make a truce with the King Baby part of
ourselves and become able to monitor what is going on
within. It never occurred to King Baby that a person
could be self-disciplined and live a normal life and
still be really turned on and alive. We now can develop
an inner serenity King Baby never thought possible.
There's a beautiful poem called "The Request and the
Response" that describes the feelings King Baby has when
he realizes that through all this suffering he has been
most richly blessed.
The Request and the Response
(A Universal Prayer of Thanksgiving)
I asked God for strength, that I might
I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to
obey. I asked for health, that I might do
I was given infirmity, that I might do better
things. I asked for riches, that I might be
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.
I asked for power, that I might have the
praise of men,
I was given weakness, that I might feel the
need of God. I asked for all things, that I
might enjoy life,
I was given life, that I might enjoy all
I got nothing that I asked for, but
everything I had hoped for, Almost despite
myself, my unspoken prayers were answered, I am
among all men, most richly blessed.
CSI L 515 King Baby received call from Rachel at
Hazelden on 02.20.05 asking if I'd like a catalogue Hazelden
Korrekt had previously ordered King Baby from Hazelden on
01.12.06 CSI L 515
02.20.05 Hazelden call for catalogue & following notes
minutes after titling
CSI L 515 King Baby 02.17.05 on 02.20.05 3 days after
recording episode. It was as if Rachel knew that I had just
titled the episode and decided to call.
01.12.05 DL Kiefer Sutherland (24 Hours & movie Flash Back) &
Andy Samberg (SNL cast) Links
12.17.05 SNL - Jack Black - Lazy Sunday lyric "Swayze"
links Donnie Darko (cast Patrick Swayze as Cunningham)
Thomas Payne - acid tab