N. Mind Games #7
POST: “ACA Laundry List” See #4)
The following 3 posts will be about how ACoAs express our narcissism. In case you object to the idea (many do) or wonder how that can be – here is a list of the parallels between alcoholism & narcissism which we grew up with.
N : Narcissism (N) is characterized by iron-clad denial. From their point of view, they have no problems & can do no wrong. Bragging & a damn-the-consequences-swagger are essential parts of many N personae
Al: Denial also keeps addiction in place. The Alcoholic’s (Al) denial shows up in many ways, like saying they can stop drinking anytime they want, lying about when they drank, or refusing to acknowledge the consequences of their drinking.
That’s why AA members say “I’m ____ & I’m an alcoholic.” It breaks denial.
Al : Addiction can also mask inner conflicts, a low self-image & painful emotions. As long as an addict uses, those problems go unaddressed. They pile up & get harder & harder to face
N : Ns are also defined by entitlement – feeling superior to almost everyone. Not caring about others (lacking empathy), they give themselves full permission to do whatever they want, in spite of social & spiritual rules, or the cost to others.
Al: The alcoholic’s sacred entitlement is drinking. Many are willing to lose everyone & everything in their lives before give up alcohol
N / Al : For both – its all about ME. Their needs are primary. While both may seem to function normally in many settings (when not drunk or triggered by loss of supply), their self-focus always shows up
Al: Without help, alcoholics also will sacrifice health, well-being, reputation, relationships & self-esteem
6) Refusal to take responsibility
N : Ns are quick to blame others for “making me act” the way they do. They almost never apologize or promise to change. That would show weakness, which is unbearable to Ns, sullying the image they desperately hang on to
Al: Active alcoholics are also quick to blame PPT (people, places & things) for “making me act” the way they do. While some apologize for their behavior & promise to turn over a new leaf, their continued drinking & abusive ways eventually are seen for what they are – as empty as their bottles
7) Behavior can switch rapidly
N : Ns can go from charming <–to–> threatening in a heartbeat. Feeling slighted or ‘disobeyed’ can send them into full battle mode
Al: Alcoholics’ mood & actions can also swing drastically, especially when under the influence. Alcohol lowers inhibitions, leading to outrageous, dangerous or abusive behavior
8) Superficial relationships
❧ The N’s dysfunction & the alcoholic’s active addiction make it impossible for them
to form & nurture deep, meaningful relationships
N : Trying to have a reciprocal, honest conversation with a N is a hit-or-miss proposition, & impossible with NPDs. It’s their way or the highway.
Al: Similarly, trying to make a meaningful connection with someone who’s drunk is a fools errand. And they won’t remember it later!
9) Manipulation of others
❧ Both will use anybody they can – to get their fix.
N : The N’s fix is attention & self-gratification. They only see others in terms of what they can get from them
Al: The alcoholic’s fix is a drink. Others are viewed as either enabling their drinking or as potential threats to their freedom to drink. They need enablers as cover
10) Behavior is at others expense
N / A : Those close to both Ns & Als experience being used, emotional abandonment, deprivation & rejection, creating feelings of rage & shame. Loved ones of both may withdraw or eventually leave the relationship
N : Avoiding shame drives much of narcissists behavior. Instead, they cope by dishing shame out to others
Al: Alcoholics carry immense shame, but their drinking numbs or masks it.
(This List modified from Dan Neuharth PhD MFT)
💘 Some people are both NPDs & active addicts, which makes them doubly hard to deal with. ACoAs had to cope with both types in childhood, absorbing many of their traits, but using our native personality as filter to ‘reinterpret’ their patterns.
NEXT: ACoAs as Narcissists (#1)