Understanding Arrogance and Its Role in Addiction

Understanding arrogance can help many people get beyond their resistance to addiction treatment and recovery. It can also help loved ones deal better with the opposition and defiance of an addicted loved one. Since arrogance is, unfortunately, a common trait among people with addictions, it can make any relationship with an addict difficult at best.

What Does It Mean to Be Arrogant?

The word arrogant is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as:  exaggerating or disposed to exaggerate one’s own worth or importance often by an overbearing manner;  showing an offensive attitude of superiority. Any of us who have dealt with active addiction up close certainly recognize it. It is by and large the personality characteristic that most makes maintaining a relationship difficult if not intolerable across the board, wherever the addicted person goes.

Arrogance shuts down communication and throws up a defensive wall that feels overwhelming and impenetrable. When up against relentless arrogance, many of us give up our efforts to connect in any meaningful way. Yet, we tend to misinterpret arrogance. As Christie Hartman in It’s Not Him, It’s You, has said: “Don’t confuse confidence with arrogance. Arrogance is being full of yourself, feeling you’re always right, and believing your accomplishments or abilities make you better than other people. People often believe arrogance is excessive confidence, but it’s really a lack of confidence. Arrogant people are insecure, and often repel others. Truly confident people feel good about themselves and attract others to them.”

Compensating for Fear and Insecurity

All of us have fear and insecurity sometimes and we have to find a way to cope with those feelings. If we are relatively healthy, we can manage those rough spots and come to some resolve of them. However, many people live with fear and insecurity chronically and often to very deep and painful degrees. Attempts to cope are continuous and we tend to develop patterns and habits that are efforts to cope. In a condition such as addiction, our coping habits and patterns can become extreme and in themselves dysfunctional. An arrogant attitude and related behaviors are one such dysfunctional attempt to cope. Author Caroll Michels arrogance as: “a self-defense tactic to disguise insecurities.” Desmond Tutu expands this definition by saying: “Arrogance really comes from insecurity, and in the end our feeling that we are bigger than others is really the flip side of our feeling that we are smaller than others.”