1. Adults from dysfunctional families guess at what normal behavior is.
2. Adults from dysfunctional families have difficulty following a project through from beginning to end.
3. Adults from dysfunctional families lie when it would be just as easy to tell the truth.
4. Adults from dysfunctional families judge themselves without mercy.
5. Adults from dysfunctional families have difficult having fun.
6. Adults from dysfunctional families take themselves very seriously.
7. Adults from dysfunctional families have difficulty with intimate relationships.
8. Adults from dysfunctional families overreact to changes which they have not control.
9. Adults from dysfunctional families constantly seek approval and affirmation.
10: Adults from dysfunctional families usually feel that they are different from other people.
11. Adults from dysfunctional families are super responsible or super irresponsible and sometimes both.
12. Adults from dysfunctional families are extremely loyal even in the face of evidence that loyalty is undeserved.
13. Adults from dysfunctional families are impulsive.
There are some thoughts I have. I have benefitted myself from this list as I grew up in an alcoholic family.
We struggle with trying to feel normal. To fit in. We may lie overtly or covertly. We don't even know that we are not honest as our first thought is self preservation. We worry about making mistakes. Sometimes to try to be perfect or just “invisible." We find ourselves walking on eggshells in fear of results of doing something wrong. With today's research in neurobiology we see that our brains might have been affectecd. We tend to be hypervigilant and think in terms of whether life is safe or not.
We can be overly sensitive (amygdala) and get stuck (cingulate gyrus) from time to time.
We can struggle with boundaries and have a hard time distinquishing ourselves from other people. John Bradshaw and Janet Weigscheider Cruse talk about the roles of “hero,” “scapegoat,” “lost child,” or “clown” that helps the family "function" with addiction. Thus there is loss of being one’s real self. They fear getting close to others for fear of abandonment. We used these roles to cope with what was going on around us.
Children naturaly lack boundaries and have an inordinate sense of self. Thus, they feel responsbile for what goes on around them. Sometimes they give up an responsibility because nothing they do will ever be good enough. They often develop patterns in early childhood of trying to gain self-esteem from the outside world, seeking applause in place of love (overachievement), sometimes giving up and isolating, getting ill, beginning their own substance abuse patterns or "dropping out" (underachievement).
Being able to identify these symptoms helps us begin the process of getting free and becoming the people we want to be.
After you reading this list, you might feel depressed because you identify with some of these symptoms. The point is not to label yourself and become a victim, but to identify and to work toward healing from the trait. As the trait is soften, transformed and even removed, one gains freedom.
Erik Bohlin, M.A. LMHC
New Hope Counseling Service
430 91st AVE NE, STE 8
Lake Stevens, WA 98258
Website: www. erikbohlin.net