Friday, March 13, 2015

The Family Connection

Mary was an achieving A-student outside the home. But at home, she was very dependent on her mother after her father abandoned the family since her childhood. She felt she could never please her mother while growing up. Mary always longed for her mother's validation. But she certainly always came up short.

During our session, Mary would shed tears a lot. Her husband of almost ten years was about to leave her and their two young children. Probing deep into her self, Mary discovered during our sessions together that she transferred her dependence from her mother and her rage towards her father onto her husband. She would physically and verbally harm him when he would not allow her to dominate and tell him what to do to please her.

Countless research in the psychology field reveals that dysfunctional families produce emotionally disordered children. The most common types of families that produce them are of different varieties. They include families such as where there is chronic psychological, physical, emotional, or sexual abuses/abandonment; families where there is alcoholism, drug addiction, or other types of addiction (e.g. gambling, workaholism). Specifics may differ, but these types of dysfunctional families do have certain characteristics in common that harm children.

In a dysfunctional family, a child is not allowed to develop. The victim child lives by the rules dictating which feelings are okay and which feelings are not. As a result, the child behaves in ways he or she believes will please the parent or adult figure. He or she suppresses his or her individuality. He or she grows up suppressing his or her private self and perfecting his or her public self. Eventually there is no true self, just a reaction to others.

By the time the child reaches adulthood, he or she may develop an "approval addiction." He or she constantly worries about what others think. Their self-esteem comes from pleasing others, looking outward for their self-validation. In their original family, the child "walks on eggshells" so as not to make a mistake or incur disapproval. Untreated, this hyper-senistivity to signs of approval or disapproval from others then continues into adulthood. Just a slightest sign of disapproval from another person is enough to trigger a deep sadness or emotional reactivity.

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