Narcissism and alcoholism recovery

Narcissism A Barrier to Personal Acceptance of the Spiritual Aspect of Alcoholics Anonymous

Twenty-nine newly recovering alcoholic outpatients drawn from a Minnesota-Model type treatment program in the United Kingdom completed the NPI narcissism scale and the “Steps Questionnaire.”

Results showed the narcissistic “authority” subscale showed a very strong inverse relationship to level of personal acceptance of Steps 2 and 3 (the so called “God” steps) of the 12-Step program embodied by Alcoholics Anonymous.

Also, the narcissistic “superiority” subscale showed a significant inverse association with acceptance of Step 3.

The present results suggest that, relative to their more humble counterparts, recovering alcoholics who score high on narcissism are particularly reluctant to accept the spiritual aspect of the program of addiction recovery advocated by AA.

In particular, results suggest self-centered outpatients are reluctant to surrender their willfulness and thereby accept help from a transcendent yet immanent Divine Source of power.

We tentatively conclude narcissism, or lack of humility, might serve as a psychological barrier that inhibits the tendency to seek assistance from or become fully engaged in faith-based community self-help groups that might facilitate sobriety.

As a result of their reluctance to accept empowerment from spiritual resources, narcissist alcoholic clients might be vulnerable to dropout or minimal engagement in professional treatment based on AA principles, as well as relapse.

Keywords: Alcoholics Anonymous, 12-Steps, spirituality, religion, personality, humility, narcissism, surrender, recovery, treatment acceptability, dropout, relapse. Research; Kenneth E. Hart & Cherry Huggett. Narcissism A Barrier to Personal Acceptance of the Spiritual Aspect of Alcoholics Anonymous, Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, Volume: 23 Issue: 4, 2005

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Overcoming denial of medical conditions

Denial is a common response to a stressful situation. It can be an important coping and defense mechanism. But it also can delay the appropriate response to circumstances that require action and change.

How can denial be helpful or a roadblock to good health?

Denial in its broadest sense means refusing to acknowledge painful or overwhelming external circumstances, avoiding the facts or minimizing the consequences.

Good denial — or even healthy skepticism — can help patients withhold judgment until all the facts are in. It prevents obsession with minor aches and pains. A cough does not mean pneumonia until it’s properly diagnosed by a doctor.

Good denial is used by everyone to block out annoying interferences. For example, stop and listen to the sounds around you. You may hear road noises, air-conditioning, wind, TV and radio sounds. These are normally blocked out of our conscious awareness until we need them. Ask any mother if she actually hears the normal sounds of children at play until there is a cry of pain or alarm – then she is instantly alert.

When patients hear bad health news, denying or suppressing it can offer needed time to come to grips with challenges ahead. Gradually adjusting to major changes can lead to better decisions in the long run. This gradual adjustment is referred to as an adaptive response. Just like we gradually adjust to annoying sounds and sights around us.

But denial that prevents patients from seeking treatment or leads to misuse of alcohol or drugs becomes a maladaptive or harmful response. A woman who finds a lump in her breast and ignores it misses the benefit of an early diagnosis and best chance for a cure. Denying the consequences of smoking or staying in an abusive relationship can jeopardize long-term health.

We use the ‘gradual adjustment’ facility instinctively to deny we have problems. Especially with alcohol because alcohol is something that may have become a good friend to relieve stress and emotional pain.

It all comes down to finding a healthy balance. When faced with an overwhelming turn of events, people can benefit from taking some time to adjust. But that doesn’t change the facts of the situation. A counselor, psychologist or general practitioner can help those stuck in denial find healthy ways of coping that will sustain overall health and well-being.

What is your experience, observations with denial?

Adapted from a story at the Mayo Clinic


Prayer can be a relief and comfort. Some basic ideas about practicing prayer are;

When –
Daily: Prayer works best on our mind and body when it’s cumulative. Daily prayer is a good idea.

At Days Beginning: We begin first thing in the morning. We ask “a Power greater than ourselves” to direct our thinking during the day ahead. Especially important is being willing to let go of self-pity (depression and victimization), dishonesty (mostly within self and with others, but also with money), and selfishness.

At Days ending: Before going to sleep, we review our mental life for that day, looking for traces of resentment or fear – especially rationalizing or justifying our behavior out of fear or resentment.

In addition, we plan to make any necessary apologies or amends during the 24 hours ahead.

Here it is crucial to avoid “worry, remorse, or morbid reflection.

We ask questions: What more do you want to say? Where shall I go now? What shall I do next? What do you want from me God?

Pray for self and others: Pray for others as well as for yourself. This is not simply an admonition not to be selfish; rather, the force of your actions is too powerful to be directed inside only.

By including those you care about in your prayers, you are solidifying the bonds between you.

Style –
The collaborative style: Here, God is the co-pilot. You talk to God, listen, consult, and the responsibility for solving a problem is shared.

Collaborators gain the most from their spiritual coping. They get a strong sense of spiritual support from God. A crisis becomes an opportunity to grow spiritually, to learn more about your life and God.

The deferring style: We leave our problems fully to God. It’s a good response to a situation when it’s truly out of your hands. But it’s not helpful if people use it to sidestep their own responsibility. ‘Let go, let God’

The self-directing style: You’re in charge. God gave us the resources to solve our problems and now it’s up to us to handle them.

We aren’t really looking to God for help, either because they just don’t think it’s God’s place to solve their problems or because they’re cynical.

This style works well when seeking the power of the Higher Power if we really know what to do.

Petitions and inward communication: It is either a petition to God or, in its wider sense, is inward communication with your real self. In either case, the ultimate result is the same.

Focus: We can pray for the cleansing and purification of the inner self, for freeing it from the layers of ignorance and darkness that envelops it. The enveloping ego can stop us doing what we really ‘need’ to do or say.

Vital things: Prayer is a means of bringing orderliness and peace and repose in our daily thinking and actions. Take care of the vital things and the other things will take care of themselves.

Twenty minutes a day: Prayer and meditation are important simply because you owe yourself 20 minutes each day to reflect on who you are, what you have become, where you are, where you have been, and where you’re going.

How do you meditate or pray? Leave your comments below.

Controlled Drinking Effects

Want to drink without the problems – you can if your not an alcoholic.

Smelling and seeing alcohol weakens the ability to resist a drink. When social drinkers were exposed to an alcoholic drink they found it difficult to control their intake of alcohol.

When the same people saw and smelt water they had no stronger desire to drink it.

Mark Muraven and Dikla Shmueli reported in the prestigious journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors (June 2006). No matter what emotion their volunteers were experiencing at the time they had a greater impulse to have a drink of alcohol after sighting or smelling alcoholic beverages. Also, by resisting the temptation to drink they undermined their self-control capacity at least in relation to alcohol.

The same effect has been reported by alcoholics for generations. However, alcoholics have an inbuilt ‘desire to drink’ at any time and anywhere.

This study found that people who had normal drinking desires were less likely to drink or drink to excess. But, people with a ‘desire to drink’ drank alcohol quicker, more often and in greater quantities.

Self-control, self-will seems to make matters worse for people with a strong desire to drink alcohol.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has two criteria that people can use to assess their own drinking practices. These are;

  • An abnormal desire to drink anytime, anywhere, anyhow – a preoccupation with alcohol.
  • Once having had a drink, an inability to always be able guarantee their behavior or drinking once drinking has started – a compulsion to drink alcohol.

 AA has over 3 million members world wide who know just what this scientific study confirms; that an unusual preoccupation with alcohol and an irresistible impulse to drink can be medically and socially damaging. Alcohol abuse can also lead to the wrecking of normal thinking and life in general.

Read of alcoholics experiences, strengths and hopes online @ Alcoholics Anonymous.

What are your expereinces with controlled drinking? Leave your comments below.

The 12 Steps Of Alcoholics Anonymous

Here are the steps we took which are suggested as a program of recovery.

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs. (AA, pp 59)

AA Saying:

  • We Give up with Steps 1-3;
  • we Clean up with Steps 4-7;
  • we Make up with Steps 8 & 9, and
  • we can Keep up our sobriety with Steps 10-12.


Can we identify some of the characteristics of our true ‘Inner Person’ (Natural Spirit) and the actions, beliefs or thinking of the ‘Adapted Spirit’ which may have resulted from a ‘Wounded Spirit’. 

The natural spirit or natural person can be seen as the way we are in our inner most selves – our real selves. Perhaps we were born with some natural tendencies for the characteristics in this column. We may prevent this natural spirit from being seen by the outside world. We may be suppressing our feelings and spirits. We may even stop ourselves from being aware of impulses or intuitions from our natural spirit. 

We may have experienced a traumatic event or series of events, which hurt us at a very deep level. As a result our spirit may have been wounded. To protect ourselves from further pain or out of revenge, we may have adapted our thinking, beliefs and actions. These adapted mannerisms may have become destructive to us without us knowing it. And they may have become so ‘normal’ to us that we cannot see or believe our behaviours are not OK.


Natural Spirit


Wounded Spirit


Adapted Spirit 

Centre of a safe and loving universe Centre of an unsafe, unloving universe Centre of a world that can be made safe and loving through playing games



Spontaneous Restricted, fearful Reactions restricted to roles and missions



Creative Reactive Reactive, compliant or manipulative



Sees self as maker of joy Sees self as the maker of pain; causing it, responsible for preventing it or fixing it Sees survival as depending on avoiding dreads of ambiguity, abandonment, blame and betrayal



Curious, in awe of life’s mysteries Frightened, suspicious Knows all the answers, has false pride



Relational Fearful, withdrawn Creates barriers to authentic relating; relates to others in terms of scripts and games



Joyful Sad Triumphant when games are working; sad fearful when they are not



Secure boundaries Born in autonomy violations Tends to merge with others, be a victim or perpetrator of boundary violations



Consolable Inconsolable Only happy when compliance, manipulation or reactiveness is successful



Naively grandiose Powerless Obsessed with interpersonal power and its use



Tolerant Intolerant of others Over sensitive



Hopeful, confident and has positive faith Pessimistic Never gives up mission



Momentary fear, anger, guilt, sadness, pain, pride etc. Obsessed with pain; knows that pain means true self is worthless, bad, weak, unacceptable to others; knows he is basically unlovable Uses emotional behaviour to get own way



Confident Low self-esteem Develops self-image in terms of role; gauges worth in terms of reactions of others



Flexible Deals only in blacks and whites; focuses on inevitability of impending doom; never alters world view No tolerance for ambiguity; deals only in blacks and whites; focuses on avoiding of impending doom; never alters world view



Trusting Distrustful, suspicious Sees people, organisations and events as out to ‘get them’



Interdependent Isolated, relies on own resources Dependent, blames others and outside events for problems



Accepting Has unreasonable expectations of others Judgemental, intolerant; views others through his own distorted view; focuses on the shortcomings of others



Humble Has distorted sense of self Grandiose; promotes self in interactions with others, uses the ‘I, Me, Myself’ inflection



Motives, desires and emotions appropriate to age, needs and societal expectations Has motives, desires and emotions of a teenager Mainly seeks to satisfy self; bodily senses, ego and emotions



Open, accepting, realistic Fearful, denying Fails to see how ones thinking, perceptions and behaviour contributes to ones situation 

In Twelve-Step terms the Wounded and Adapted Spirits may be known as Powerlessness (1st Step), Insanity (2nd Step), Wrongs (5th Step), Defects of Character (6th Step) or Shortcomings (7th Step). 

In Alcoholics Anonymous colloquial terms the ‘Adapted’ self would be known as a Dry Drunk.


The Wounded Spirit may have created a WALL of DENIAL of ACCESS to the real inner person – your Natural Spirit. 

Copyright © 2007 Robin Foote  

Alcohol Self-help News and BriefTSF


Brain Chemicals Trump Willpower in Addicts, NIDA Director Says

Understanding brain chemistry, not building up willpower, is the key to preventing adolescent alcohol and other drug addiction, according to
Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA).


The Associated Press reported April 3 that Volkow said that adolescent brains are still developing and react differently to drugs than those of adults. Volkow, a researcher with a long history of exploring the brain circuitry involved in addiction, has been shifting some of NIDA’s research efforts toward examining how the brains of adolescents and people who don’t become addicted to alcohol or other drugs differ from the brains of those who do develop drug problems. “What is it that makes a person more vulnerable to take drugs or not?” said Volkow.


“Now we have Nora’s picture rather than a picture of fried eggs,” said
Joanna Fowler, a former colleague of Volkow’s at the Brookhaven National Laboratory. “We can go beyond that knee-jerk picture of a brain to a real brain … If you can conceptualize (addiction) as a brain disease rather than a moral weakness or lack of willpower, you can more easily bring resources to bear.”


Former NIDA head Alan Leshner said Volkow has promoted the idea that addiction “has to be seen as a health issue as well as a criminal or social-justice issue. She has definitely moved neuroscience forward.”


Volkow said she always has been fascinated in the brain and issues of free will. She noted that the brain is not fully matured until the early 20s, with the frontal cortex — the brain’s cognitive and reasoning center — the last to be finished. Thus, for teens, “to stand up and say ‘I’m not going to do it’ is much harder than (for) an adult,” Volkow said.


Brain immaturity may also explain teen risk-taking and why scare tactics can backfire in drug prevention. “It is that notion of ‘I dare you,'” she said. “It may be appealing to an adolescent because they are seeking for danger in many instances.”


From; Join Together Online 

Comment; 12-Step fellowships have been saying for over 70 years that alcoholics and addicts are ‘mentally, physically and spiritually’ different from their fellow man. The first step of the 12 says “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol [or addiction] that our lives have become unmanageable.”


It’s good to see science catching up with the experiential knowledge of alcoholics and addicts.