Adult-Children of alcoholics & other narcissists



   taking too many or not enough - addiction to 

   excitement, physical danger, making constant

   changes OR not taking advantage of

   opportunities or making appropriate changes

   Assumption: it’s inevitable that any risk will

   lead to abandonment


    DEF  : ‘Everything bad that happened to

                 me as a kid was my fault! ’

   Self-hate is a defense mechanism - defending

   against the pain of all the original abuse,

   abandonment & neglect we experienced as kids.

   The child’s assumption is that if I caused it I 

   should be able to fix it,  ie: change myself in 

   order to stop others from hurting us,  by

   somehow pleasing or placating them.

   Since that didn’t work very well the child

   feels like a failure & is hopeless.

BUT we still blame ourselves, even now, & keep 

       trying to figure out ‘what we did wrong’.

SUCCESS averse

   (may be related to 'survival guilt'): sabotage

   ourselves when close to success, don't take

   advantage of good opportunities, make

   unnecessary mistakes AND when near failure -

   work even harder, but with little appreciation

   or fulfillment

TRUST issues

   difficulty sharing emotions & true feelings,

   fear of abandonment and intimacy, guarding  

   secrets, AND not trusting our own judgement,

   values, feelings, experience & knowledge


   unnecessarily continuing the role of victim -

   carried over from childhood. ‘Learned

   helplessness’. Don’t believe we can take care

   of ourselves AND don’t want to !


   about everything, 'awfulize', always expecting /

   assuming the worst, convinced that being

   abandoned is our only option! - & worry about

   passing on bad genetics & abuse (alcoholism,

   depression, incest, illness, etc) to our children


‘Laundry List’ of ACoA Characteristics


    finding many ways:  internally - to torture 

    oneself, & externally - to be mistreated in

    most or all relationships (work, love, friends)


    extreme fear of choosing anything incorrectly,

    as if it were life & death (leading to pain of 

    abandonment). Not allowed to consciously

    know what we want or prefer, fear of  

    rejection if we don’t agree with some else’s

    demands, expectations, even tastes


    endless sorrow, bitterness & complaining

    about not having good parents, family,

    lost opportunities etc, but not willing to 

    improve oneself. True mourning takes time

    but leads to healing, not continued suffering


    is guessed at: poor parental role modeling,

    gaps in learning, inadequate social skills, not 

    knowing  basic realities, not reading social

    cues, naive, not street smart


    depressed, lonely, hopeless, helpless,

    inadequate, suicidal,  'why bother' attitude.

    Living in extremes - too high or too low 

    emotionally. Evenness is considered boring


    always testing, not trusting our perceptions

    & intuition, ‘forgetting’ what we already

    know, not learning from experience,

    devaluing or negating good things that happen

    to us as being accidental or unintended

RELATIONSHIP Difficulties:

    repeatedly choose inappropriate, unavailable, 

    selfish people.  Either find it hard to keep

    friends, stay with someone, get married, cope 

    in the workplace, OR never leave them, no 

    matter what


    fantasies underlie most choices:  marry an 

    alcoholic or otherwise 'disabled' person, go

    into the helping professions, unable to leave  

    harmful family, attracted to depressed, 

    unavailable people we can can 'fix'

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Donna M Torbico  © 2010 - Pgs 2-3