Inherited Dysfunction: What does it look like?
28th February, 2010
As children we are born to parents not chosen by us, but "put" on us by nature without our having any say in the matter! The environment, social status, wealth and even health status we take from our parents when we are conceived. It is the ultimate lottery!!
How we feel about ourselves is very dependent on our earliest experiences and influences...in other words how good our parents feel about themselves reflects back on us like a mirror telling us we are OK or not OK. Unhappy dysfunctional parents can create unhappy dysfunctional children.The main reason for dysfunction in any family is a lack of empowerment and that is always at the core of the issue. Poverty, sickness (both often inherited through the generations) and a feeling of a lack of a part to play in the world are all contributing factors and dysfunction is a response to this.
In each generation people work, live, die and in between become wealthy or become poor, become ill, get better and then become ill again. During all these transitory periods, emotions, feelings anxieties and a myriad of other experiences are felt by those involved. Those experiences will be dealt with in a similar way that there parents dealt with a similar situation. If a small concern is allowed to be "bigged" up to a worry and then on to an anxiety this will become the normal way of behaving in the family. As individuals feel increasingly disempowered they can react in vindictive and destructive ways. This behaviour takes a hold and becomes the norm, behavoural patterns embed themselves creating feelings and spoken responses that can be reactionary and out of proportion (by other people standards) to the original issue. These seem all right to the person involved when they are surrounded by people who behave in the same way (family members). Friends and colleagues will often not accommodate or understand and the person will feel alienated and even repelled from the group.
The truth is that dysfunctional people who feel out of there depth and have lost control and power, gain power back by underhand means often making another person feel bad( sometimes guilty) and thus making themselves feel less bad.
What does a dysfunctional person look like?
Having a relationship or friendship with a dysfunctional person can a rollercoaster of guilt and confusion.Here are some of the traits:
* Spending time with them can cause you to become " fuzzy " headed and not able to think clearly.
*You may feel you have considered a situation well, but after being with them you become unsure about your approach.
*You feel blamed for their unfortunate situation.
*You make choices on the basis of how the other person will react to keep them happy.
*You are made to feel responsible for putting right a situation that is the result of the other person's choice.
*You are often made to feel a bad person if you don't help them out.
*You are made to feel responsible for their situation despite the fact that they make the same damaging choices over and over again.
*You are pressurised to make an immediate decision to " help out" even though the problem has been around for some time.
*You feel " smothered" and at time their company is draining and energy sapping.
One of the external traits (often female) of this kind of behaviour is a sweetness that appears to portray kindness but is in fact an attention seeking device "look at me and make me feel better about myself". These people are nice in the broadest sense (often smiley) but can be two faced and tend to get people to feel sorry for them. They are actually quite draining to be with and have few true friends.
Male dysfunctional behaviour is quite obvious for all to see although all the general traits apply, external behaviour includes drunkeness, drug abuse, aggression, violence and argumentative behaviour. Power is not gained by "winning over" as is often the case with females but by being coercive, demanding and often threatening.
For those people who recognise the above condition and have the courage to seek therapy, I salute you! It isn't easy to have everything that you have ever believed or held precious undermined, questioned and dissected(unhappy childhoods can be precious!)
Psychotherapy does offer a path of exploration into our behaviour, exposing the issues and discovering how and where these patterns of behaviour were picked up. By understanding we are able to make changes and see for the first time how previous generations have affected the way we are today....all these things are worthwhile and enable us to leave a positive legacy to the generations that follow.
Book "I'm OK you 're OK" ( Thomas Harris).
website " The Stroke Economy" www.claude steiner.co.uk.
Related articles from our experts
Anna Jezuita (MBACP) Relationship Reconciliation,Counselling, MindfulnessApril 20th, 2017
Michael O'Rourke MBACP Counsellor/TherapistApril 17th, 2017
Andrea Harrn Psychotherapist and Author of The Mood CardsMay 13th, 2011
Imi Lo: Psychotherapist, Art Therapist, Supervisor (MMH,UKCP,HCPC,MBPsS)March 29th, 2015
Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.