The Family's Contribution to Psychological Health

All human beings are affected by family. The system and individuals in it provide the quality of life a person experiences.

The family as a unit contributes to the overall well-being of an individual. Psychologically. Emotionally. Physically. Spiritually.

Families have "subsystems" that shape children in developing their identities:  the marital/parental subsystem, the sibling subsystem, and the extended family subsystem.

I've observed in my practice that people view their families of origin in a variety of ways.

1. Some people instantly feel shame and guilt when they speak of their families.

2. Others deny that there was anything dysfunctional with their families when there is.

3. Others have only occasional or very few bad memories of their families.

4. Others feel good and happy about the families where they live in.

Generally, when a family is dysfunctional, children question whether they are loved. They feel undervalued and expect nonsupport.

Maria felt like an inconvenience to her mother and a piece of property to her father. Her mother was always absent. Her father made sexual advances toward her.

In Maria's family, both mother and father were incapacitated of making her feel valued and loved as their child ... and as a human being.

Eventually, Maria became disconnected from her sense of self. Regardless of her good behaviors or accomplishments, she simply felt defective at the core.

Maria was sick. When her mother and stepfather called me to tell me what to do about her in the sessions, I refused. They called me demeaning names, hung up, and threatened me.

Family life author Menachem Begin once wrote:

"Peace is the beauty of life. It is sunshine. It is the smile of a child, the love of a mother, the joy of a father, the togetherness of a family. It is the advancement of man, the victory of a just cause, the triumph of truth."