Toxic Family Roles (Part 4)


Scahnge ME?? 

I’VE ALWAYS BEEN THIS WAY,
& now you’re saying it’s not the real me??

PREVIOUS: Part 3 – ACoAs – as children

SITE: The Dynamics of a Dysfunctional Relationship

 

 

2b. ACoAs – AS ADULTS

a. the Hero (usually but not always an Extrovert by nature) may herohold on to the role with all their might & become a professional, a healer, an executive…. anyone with authority, responsibility & clout – but only on behalf of others,  OR
• at some point turn their back on the Role so completely that they become the Scapegoat – the perennial ‘fuck-up’ – in order to have NO responsibilities at all – even to themselves.  If that gets to be too much, eventually they can switch into Lost Child & be ‘invisible’

placaterb. the Placater is the overly cheerful & helpful one in class or in the office, always agrees, doesn’t have strong opinions & doesn’t want to disappoint anyone. They are made fun of for being a–kissers & door mats

c. The Scapegoat** – always getting into trouble, often gets fired, doesn’t follow thru & may land in jail, but can also get a lot of street cred as being cool, the bad-boy/girl scapegoator rebel.  They are very envious of the positive attention given the Hero. They sometimes take up the Hero role if the older child is missing & there is a desperate need in the family, but it rarely gets them the praise & love given to the ‘favorite’.
** IMPORTANT: Don’t confuse these 2, altho they may overlap:
— Scapegoat Role: child takes on the suffering of the family to ease their pain
— Being scapegoated: when one child is chosen by the family to be continually picked, blamed for all their problems (because it’s ‘different’ in some way OR too strong, too honest – or both)

d. The Lost Child (as a primary position) tends to be an Introvert by nature, so they are more likely to lost childstay in the background throughout life. Even if isolated in their personal life, they can make great contributions to humanity in literature, science, acting, any form of writing….
• If they form any attachment, it will often be with a Hero type who will take care of them & run their life, or a Scapegoat (perpetrator) who will control & bully them. They are very loyal & usually passive-aggressive since they don’t ‘do’ confrontation.  They may have one close friend for life or none at all

e. The Mascot is usually an Extrovert by nature (but not always) & will find mascotways to get noticed – any kind of performer, teacher, salesperson….. the life of the party, naturally entertaining, but have to work hard to be taken seriously, because of their facade of silliness & ignorance. However, if they have the Hero as a sub-role, they can draw on it for competence & reliability when needed.

= = = = = = =
ANOTHER way to describe the ROLES is to consider how internal PARTS of a person extend out to family member in a dysfunctional system (Internal Family Systems)

SELF : CORE identity of a person. When in our True Self, this is an active, compassionate force, internally & in the family
Qualities : calm, confident, courageous, creative

MANAGER : the system’s protector, trying to be in control of every situation & relationship, to protect them from feeling hurt or rejected
Aspects: caretaker, controller, judge, passive pessimist, self-critical, striver

EXILE : holds the painful emotions isolated from the conscious Self, to protect oneself & the system. These can become progressively extreme, trying to be heard & to share their story
Emotions : despondence, fear / terror, grief / lost, loneliness, rage, shame

FIREFIGHTER : also protects the system, but only acts after the exile is upset, to soothe to distract oneself away from the exile
Activities : driven to or immersed in – computer, diet, exercise, sex, sleep, shopping…
Also: Addictions, dissociation, fantasy, self-harm, suicidality, violence

= = = = = =

PROFILE of a Dysfunctional Family
John Bradshaw, Bradshaw on the Family: a Revolutionary Way of Self-Discovery, Health Communications, Inc., 1988

NEXT: HERO role

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