King Baby Syndrome

Estimated reading time: 29 minute(s)

Addiction is a harsh reality of life and can be a challenging experience for the victim and their loved ones to watch. This disorder is powerful enough to change people from empathetic and generous to entitled, self-serving strangers. Some people may get so affected that they barely recognize themselves anymore. Despite the widespread education about addiction and its effects on personality, many people still remain unaware of its possible connection with a condition called king baby syndrome.

Characterized by a personality type that never lets a person grow out of their infantile, child-like behavior, this disorder can easily complicate recovery. It can also make people more vulnerable to developing addictions in the first place and relapsing following a rehab. The long list of dysfunctional actions and thoughts such people harbor force them to behave immaturely, negatively affecting various aspects of life.

King Baby and the Lost Child: An Overview of the Syndrome

Sigmund Freud was the first person to use the term “king baby” during the 1930s. It describes a mental condition where a person firmly believes that the whole world revolves around them. It includes a set of personality issues that may potentially lead to dangerous behaviors, such as addictions, in the future for instant gratification and pleasure without putting in any effort.

According to psychologists and other mental health experts, the king-baby personality usually manifests as a lost child that is still present somewhere inside an addict. This lost child feels alone and worthless and believes they do not belong. These feelings stem from the deep childhood traumas where drug addicts and alcoholics attempt to seek approval or love they couldn’t get as a part of their childhood. They feel insulted when they hear the word “no” as they believe such negative affirmations often lead to drastic consequences. Such lost children also feel safe when they are indulged and pampered.

Once such king babies pursue something, following through with it becomes highly unlikely, leading to failure. These failures negatively affect and reinforce their mentality, pushing them into a cycle where they attempt further grand feats. To break away from this vicious cycle, these king babies need to admit their defeat and start forming genuine connections with other people instead of seeking constant approval. To accomplish this, such “lost children” need to work on their inner “scared child” and heal it.

Many experts also believe king babies constantly clash with their “inner child.” Their inner child forces them to think they are always deserving, whereas the king baby traits move them to feel entitled and worthy of the best. This dangerous internal conflict can push such people on some dangerous pathways, such as addiction, which not only makes their lives difficult but also reinforces king baby mentality.

Top King Baby Syndrome Characteristics

Recognizing the symptoms and behaviors typical of king baby syndrome is essential, especially for people undergoing addiction recovery. For them, recovery is not only about quitting substance use, but it also involves digging deeper to understand what drew them to addictions in the first place. Following are some common traits that a king or queen baby is likely to exhibit:

  • A strong belief that rules must not apply to them
  • Issues with authority figures
  • All-or-nothing thinking, i.e., everything is either excellent or terrible with no middle ground
  • Making big plans with no follow-through
  • Easily raged when criticized
  • A feeling of not belonging
  • Tendency to suppress feelings
  • Need for approval that supersedes self-identity
  • Inability to experience feelings
  • Extreme behavior
  • Constant dissatisfaction
  • Lack of personal responsibility
  • Blaming others when anything goes wrong
  • Excessive focus on material possessions and money
  • Intense fear of abandonment
  • Thrill-seeking behaviors
  • Unkindness to “unimportant” people
  • Intense fear of failure and rejection
  • Loneliness

Remember that some of these characteristics may vary in severity in some people. Moreover, some traits may be more prevalent in some people than others.

The Six Manifestations of King Baby Syndrome

Mentioned below are the six common manifestations associated with king baby syndrome:

King Baby

Such people are narcissistic and appear to have a high confidence level on the outside. However, in reality, they are filled with insecurity and fear. They often have a demanding attitude for everything they want from everyone and fail to give anything back to them.

The Princess

This refers to the female version of a king baby and shares similar characteristics. The princess sees everyone around them as objects she can use to get what she wants and is not hesitant to throw a fit upon not getting what she wants. She is also keen to get everyone’s affection and attention whenever she walks into a room, no matter how late she is.

The Ego Tripper

Like an acid or marijuana trip a person experiences after getting high on these substances, an ego tripper feels euphoric on having good feelings about themselves or receiving praise from others. A lack of recognition from others can trigger the ego tripper to start putting them down. In short, such people are only happy if they feel like everyone else is beneath them.

The Falsely Humble

A person with this manifestation does not appear to have the classic king baby syndrome characteristics at first glance, as they always tend to put themselves down. However, this intentional self-degradation attempts to draw others’ attention away from their vulnerabilities. Some people also enjoy the attention they receive from others when they put themselves down.

The Perfectionist

This king baby type seems to be doing well initially, as most perfectionists look put together. They are always on time, and their house and life are in order. However, such people often thrive on this high standard that they believe to have that the rest of the world lacks. Such perfectionists always want to be on a pedestal and may feel so guilty when they make a mistake that they put down people around them.

The Clinging Vine

This person becomes too close to others and starts relying on them for every other thing as it is too hard or too much for them to handle. Such people also flatter others to manipulate them into doing everything they want.

King Baby Syndrome & Difficulties of Addiction

During the 1980s, a psychologist named Tom Cunningham explained the association between narcissistic personality traits and drug use. Remember that he was the same person who coined the term king baby syndrome for the first time and pointed out that it can become difficult to quit using drugs due to self-centeredness. Such people go through many difficulties as they show hatred toward those trying to help them stop, which can cause trouble in rehab.  

Any life change, including quitting drugs or acquiring a new coping mechanism to help cope with addiction, may lead to psychological issues in such people. Moreover, their hatred for authoritative figures makes them struggle to work with counselors and therapists, and they may confuse their help as abuse. This hatred often stems from their abusive past, but some people also believe that rules are only for others to follow; hence, they struggle to commit to a structured lifestyle.

Another reason people with king baby syndrome find it difficult to quit drugs is their high propensity to return to addictive behaviors following rehab. Their behaviors are often self-defeating, and they keep comparing themselves with others. Some are specifically arrogant or self-pitying and can be very materialistic at times. Hence, it is imperative to address these problems to improve the chance of long-term sobriety.

What Treatment Includes

Regardless of the facility you approach for help, such as a support group, a treatment center, or private counselors, there are specific necessary steps you need to go through for recovery. The first and most crucial step is to aim for recovery with high motivation. Many people with king baby syndrome have to hit rock bottom before they finally realize the need for help. Once they are at that point, it becomes easier for them to accept that they need a change and work on it.

While the exact components of a treatment program may vary from one person to another, it almost always begins with working towards acceptance that you are a king baby. For some people, it can be challenging to admit that they have specific weaknesses they need to work on. However, once they are past that point, it gets easier to pick out these weak points individually, recognize them as toxic, and work on them. Letting go of these unhealthy behaviors and traits may not happen in a few days, but consistent efforts will likely lead to complete recovery. Beyond managing the king baby syndrome, many experts also focus on helping patients overcome other associated or co-occurring issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and addictions. As a part of PTSD management, experts help patients confront and deal with traumas or pains in the past that first triggered their syndrome. These confrontations can be scary; however, with professional help, most patients fully recover and can successfully talk, process, and confront all pain they have spent years trying to suppress or hide.


How are king babies with relationships?

Most people suffering from king baby syndrome are constantly in search of a caregiver when they look out for a relationship. They need someone who can take care of them and take full responsibility, whether in a casual relationship or marriage. However, such marriages or relationships are likely only to work short-term as a healthy relationship involves equal responsibilities instead of entirely relying on one person. However, king and queen babies need help understanding this concept of equality and may find it annoying or too much for themselves to have a partner depending on them. As a result, their relationships are often short-lived and meaningless until they try to overcome their core personality traits.

What are some tips to optimize recovery from king baby syndrome?

People with king baby syndrome can follow the tips mentioned below to optimize their recovery journey and maximize the chances of long-term healing:

  • Try living in the moment instead of worrying about the past or future
  • Try not to hold any grudges or resentful feelings
  • Focus on different ways to improve yourself instead of thinking about other people’s shortcomings
  • Keep your calm when things do not go as you hoped or expected
  • Remind yourself that the same set of rules applies to you as to everyone else
  • Always follow the policy of honesty and avoid telling people what you think they like to hear

Why are king or queen babies more likely to fall prey to addiction?

Every king or queen baby is different; however, almost all of them lack responsibility and believe that the whole universe revolves around them. With no solid sense of self, such people often resort to external resources to acquire a sense of fulfillment, including using drugs. Some people may also be tempted to use drugs to mask the emotional pain that triggered their syndrome in the first place.

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