I hope it's ok for my to stick my 2 cents in, even tho I'm not Kelly, because this is a topic I've thought about a lot. About five years ago one of my best friends died of causes related to her alcoholism. She was a drunk the whole time I knew her with the exception of one year when she was sober - not in recovery, still in denial, but sober. Contrasting her behavior during that year when she was sober with her drinking behavior was enlightening. She behaved in destructive and dishonest ways when she was drinking, but those behaviors and traits mostly vanished when she wasn't drinking. Interestingly, they were behaviors that I also saw in my non-alcoholic, very narcissistic Nmother. Long before I had ever heard of NPD, I noticed that my mother had a number of what seemed like alcoholic traits. Now I recognize that my friend actually had narcissistic traits. For whatever reason, it seems that alcoholism brings out the narcissist in people.
Here are some of the ways my alcoholic friend was like my Nmom:
1) She was EXTREMELY manipulative. She engaged in emotional blackmail, and she would try to force favors and gifts on me in order to obligate me. That is SO like my Nmom.
2) She craved attention. She wanted me THERE.
3) She demeaned. For example, her house was a pigsty when she was drinking (this was alcohol-related, but not narcissistic). If I voiced any objection to it, she would make a snide comment about how sterile and bare my home was, so naturally I had a skewed perception of what constituted neatness. Those mean hit-and-run jabs are very narcissistic. Someone on here once remarked that narcissists had a special meanness. So do drunks.
4) She denied. Ohhhh boy did she deny. So did my Nmom. Both did things they knew were shameful and both worked very hard to make those things OK in their own minds.
5) She had co-morbid compulsive behaviors. My Nmom buys things for herself compulsively. My friend was a clutter junkie. When she was sober she cleaned stuff up and threw out worthless broken crap. When she drank, that worthless broken crap was a treasure she might fix one day, and then it would be valuable.
6) She was a liar. Unlike my Nmom who deliberately, knowingly lied, my friend lied out of convictions instilled by her denial. Other alcoholics I've known have also been great liars, and like narcissists, they exploit every facet of lying - lying in advance of something going wrong, leaving out crucial information, "spinning", outright lying.
7) She blamed. My friend was having lots of problems because of her drinking, and NONE of it was HER fault. She blamed everyone else for everything. That is very typical of narcissists, who are great blamers.
/8) She was a tornado. She left a trail of emotionally thrashed people desperately trying to fix the problems she caused and then ignored.
9) She was creepy. Like many children of narcissistic mothers, I find my mother really repellant, especially when she's digging for emotional pain in other people. She gets an extremely focused and avid look, and she's really happy. My friend was having a serious love affair with her booze that also struck me as being intensely creepy in a parallel way. She loved it. She savored it. She relished every sweet drop of it. Obviously this isn't as bad as what my Nmom did, because her inappropriate adoration wasn't dependent on my suffering, but when my friend was drinking in front of me, I had same sense of being in the presence of a monster that fed and loved and destroyed all at once. I was an unwilling voyeur of a terribly unnatural coupling.
10) She was arrogant. It took me a really long time to figure out why on earth my friend was alcoholic. I kept trying to place it in the context of self-medication. What suffering could have caused her to turn to booze? In reality she had led a charmed life until she started drinking. She had a wonderful and supportive family who stood by her to the end. She had many talents she had been able to use in a dream career. She had excellent health and good looks. What on earth could have led her to drink? I finally realized her fatal flaw: she was arrogant. She had started drinking because she was slightly shy (she was by no means pathologically shy) and alcohol helped her have a good time at parties. She saw no reason not to recapture that good feeling any time she wanted. Most people are aware of alcohol's potential for abuse and cut themselves off after a couple of drinks, but in her opinion, they were weak. She was from a good family, an elite family. She would brag to me that her family had owned land and held slaves before the Civil War! They were Quality. They were not the kind of people who suffered from alcoholism. She wasn't some trash wino. Oh no. Not HER.
This arrogance was just dumbfounding to me (not least because ownership of slaves is not something to flaunt). How could anyone think they were immune to the destructiveness of alcohol? But she did. And by the time it was obvious to her that her confidence was misplaced, she was so addicted she couldn't quit.
My Nmom ended up being an abusive parent because of the same kind of arrogance. HER mother was abusive, but SHE was going to SHOW HER! It would be DIFFERENT for her! She rushed into marriage, she had a baby right away and, not surprisingly, she was just as abusive as her own mother, because that abusive way of relating was all she knew. Nowhere in her thinking was there a little warning voice that said "But what if you AREN'T different? What if you abuse too? Maybe you should slow down, think this through, get some therapy to deal with your anger at your mother?" Oh no. Not HER.
Unlike my mother, my friend was still a lovely woman in many ways, especially when she wasn't drinking, but even when she was. When she was not drinking, she didn't have a lot of narcissistic characteristics aside from her arrogance. I've known other drunks who always very unpleasant people. I wonder, when they dry out, are they still narcissistic? I've heard people talk about "dry drunks." Is a dry drunk a narcissist who doesn't drink?