Posted by: RealisticRecovery | April 20, 2009

Dysfunctional Family – Definition

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A dysfunctional family is a family in which conflict, misbehavior and even abuse on the part of individual members of the family occur continually and regularly, leading other members to accommodate such actions. Children sometimes grow up in such families with the understanding that such an arrangement is normal. Dysfunctional families are primarily a result of co-dependent adults, and also affected by the alcoholism, substance abuse, or other addictions of parents, parents’ untreated mental illnesses/defects or personality disorders, or the parents emulating their own dysfunctional parents and dysfunctional family experiences.

Dysfunctional family members have common symptoms and behavior patterns as a result of their common experiences within the family structure. This tends to reinforce the dysfunctional behavior, either through enabling or perpetuation. The family unit can be affected by a variety of factors.

Effects on children

Children growing up in a dysfunctional family have been known to adopt one or more of six basic roles:

* “The Good Child” – a child who assumes the parental role.
* “The Problem Child” – the child who is blamed for most problems, in spite of often being the only emotionally stable one in the family.
* “The Caretaker” – the one who takes responsibility for the emotional well-being of the family.
* “The Lost Child” – the inconspicuous, quiet one, whose needs are often ignored or hidden.
* “The Mascot” – uses comedy to divert attention away from the increasingly dysfunctional family system.
* “The Mastermind” – the opportunist who capitalizes on the other family members’ faults in order to get whatever he/she wants.

They may also:

* think only of themselves to make up the difference of their childhoods. They’re still learning the balance of self-love
* distrust others
* have difficulty expressing emotions
* have low self-esteem or have a poor self image
* have difficulty forming healthy relationships with others
* feel angry, anxious, depressed, isolated from others, or unlovable
* perpetuate dysfunctional behaviors in their other relationships (especially their children)
* lack the ability to be playful, or childlike, and may “grow up too fast”
* often learn to live far away from their families.


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