LOST CHILD Family Role


& they like it like that!

Previous:  The Scapegoat

SITE: Lost Child –> Invisible Adult


Provide relief for the family – sacrificing their identity & desires to give parents one less thing to worry about

For Self: hide from chaos, physical & emotional abuse (under a table, in a closet, their room, nearest library), avoid being responsible for anyone else….  withdraws into a fantasy world, making themself very small & quiet
For Family: relieve some tension by not being another burden, provide family’s privacy by not airing ‘dirty laundry’, help family avoid facing serious problems by never mentioning alcohol, toxic roles or Recovery

BIRTH ORDER: 3rd or middle child
IN SCHOOL : Lose themself in school work, get good grades, don’t want to participate, called ‘space cadet’, geek, nerd….

FAMILY TREATMENT : Generally ignored, or considered a ‘blessing’ for not expressing needs. Last child parents will think to get help for

• Socially Acceptable :  Pleasant when spoken to, quiet & unassuming, won’t call attention to self, have opinions but don’t express them, never make waves or demands
• Socially Awkward:  Distant, ill at ease with others, especially uncomfortable when focused on, little or no expression of emotions.  Hide out to not be a bother. Strong attachments to animals & things – instead of people, sometimes with one close friend but often none. May be confused or conflicted about their sexual identity & functioning

• quiet, aloof, ‘invisible’, super-independent, depressed / suicidal, feel easily rejected while always staying aloof, deny getting upset
• become addicts – use chemicals, food, porn…. to dull the pain, can be overweight, bulimic or anorectic….
• drift thu life with no little or ambition, so may be under-employed or obsessed with one ‘big’ goal (realistic or not, productive or not)
• are day-dreamers – buried in books, internet, religion / spirituality, creative mental pursuits, keep a diary, draw, listen to music, watch TV
• may try to get attention indirectly by getting sick, having asthma, allergies, or by bed-wetting

• poor communication skills, unable or unwilling to initiate (passive), have hard time seeing choices / options, tend to lack direction, afraid of making decisions
• give up self-needs & the possibility of asking for or being offered help,  follow without questioning, easily bullied & made fun of, avoid professional help

Change BELIEFS:  
FROM: “Why should I feel? It’s better if I don’t”invisble chils
“If I don’t get emotionally involved, I won’t get hurt”
“I can’t make a difference anyway”
“Don’t draw attention to yourself”
TO: “I have a right to positive attention”
“My emotions are an important part of my True Self”
“I do make a difference, I am worthwhile & people will value me”
“II need to get emotionally involved to have meaningful connections”

EMOTIONS : depressed, fearful, hurt, lonely, rejected, sad, with suppress anger, Express shame by procrastination & being the victim

Always feeling different, the outsider, don’t know how to get their needs / wants met, including need for personal connections, have social phobia so stay ignored & unappreciated, hard to get credit for abilities, feel suicidal

TO: use creativity & imagination, be more social, express emotions, feel important, useful & valuable
BY: giving private encouragement & praise, don’t criticize, encourage anything positive,  provide opportunities to be successful, include child in family process

• Unsosad manciable: the most obvious isolators, withdrawn from life to hide from whatever will hurt or make them uncomfortable – which is almost everything.  Terrified of intimacy, they often avoid connections all together
• attracted to any solitary work or careers where they don’t have to deal with people

• ’Sociable’: if in a relationship they’ll be noticeably unavailable in many ways, pick controlling Heroes or unpredictable chaotic Scapegoats or Mascots
• If artistic, will be excellent actors, studying their parts carefully, glad to hide behind a facade

• Generally: when needing to make a commitment based on logical thinking, feel they have few options – because growing up they just went along with whatever was going on, instead of thinking thru possible choices / options
• Without help: indecisive, can’t say NO, have little or no passion, fun or zest, slow to change & grow, always alone or promiscuous, die early

• to reach out, deawork alonel with loneliness, face emotional pain, make a few deep relationships, give up victim role
• become a team player, practice flexibility, take initiative, make decisions, notice & use available options
• With help: free to express talents, creativity & imagination. Can become assertive, resourceful & independent (not isolated)

• work well alone, self-reliant, quiet
• easy-going, understanding, patient, spiritually developed
• resourceful, creative, flexible, non-conformist, quirky sense of humor
• well-read, scholarly, good observer & listener

NEXT: Mascot Role

PLACATER Family Role (Part 1)


I have to make nice


SITE: Conflict Styles


 Role  – a Twisted form of Service
Combination of the Satir & Wegscheider versions

Placater’s GOAL
Provide soothing to make others feel better about themselves & better in general


For Self: try to not keep getting abandoned, to feel safer/not get hurt & be loved, by calming everyone, preventing conflicts or any overt expression of anger
For Family:  When parents are impaired in some way, they become a surrogate. Born negotiators, they seem to have an uncanny ability to ‘read’ what others are feeling, but at their own expense. Learn early to smooth over potentially upsetting situations & take responsibility for everyone’s pain & emotional well-being

BIRTH ORDER: can be oldest child, usually the girl
IN SCHOOL : very compliant, well-liked, so-so students – preoccupied with other’s problems rather than studying
Used as the family social worker, inappropriately told all the adult’s problems, ‘valued’ for not being any trouble

Few self-protective boundaries, don’t have a clear identity of their own, are not in touch with their own emotions & needs, so can’t get them met, are ‘lost’ without someone to please or fix

BELIEFS:placater girl
FROM: “If I’m nice, everyone will like me”
“Don’t rock the boat”
“If I focus on someone else, it won’t be on me & that’s a good thing”
“If I take care of you, you won’t reject or leave me ”
“I’ll do whatever you tell me to do. I’m here to make you happy.”

TO: “It’s ok to have a focus of my own”
“I am likable without having to take care of others”
“I don’t have the power to keep someone with me, but if they stay it’s because of who I am, not what I do for them”
“I can do whatever suits me best, in all situations”

• Develop a high tolerance for inappropriate behavior, will take the blame for things not their fault (ironically), thereby protecting others from taking responsibility for their choices & actions
• Main concern is on themselves & how they’ll be perceived. They react to stress or ‘uncomfortable truths’ by trying to avoid it, sometimes going to extraordinary lengths to avoid confrontations
• May sacrifice themselves – are willing to lose so others can win
• Efface & belittle themselves, while inflating others, to get brownie points & stop possible aggression.
• Actually believe they care so much about others & that no one cares for them. Can be great listeners

Frustrated rage, fear, powerlessness, low self-esteem, guilt. Show shame via victimization, depression, perfectionism

Deep sense of not being good enough just as they are, or the right to get equal attention & caring from others.  Denying personal needs, they’re unable to receive, have ‘false’ guilt, a great fear of conflict & anger, are hyper-vigilant with high anxiety

AS ADULTSover-giving
They’re often in abusive & one-sided relationships (with spouse, children, friends, bosses…), constantly giving without getting anything back.  Are overly responsible so become excellent enablers, marring addicts or other ‘broken’ people. Often choose careers as helping professionals, which can reinforce the tendency to ignore their own needs, such as social workers, nurses, therapists…. (more likely in ‘supportive’ positions, so not often male doctors)

TO: Allow the child to focus on themselves and not others, separate their personal worth from doing/ care-taking, help them to focus on Self instead of others, learn to express emotions & playing

BY: Validating P’s intrinsic value (being vs doing), helping them develop ability to take care of & prioritize needs for themselves (when child IS helping another – ask them what he/she is feeling at the moment)
• Parents (P) talk about & act in ways that reinforcing that prove the adults can take care of themselves & other family members, so the child can relax

NEXT: Placater #2

WHAT is GUILT? (Part 1)

Man with tam
Since everything is about ME (isn’t it?)
– it must be me, I’m always wrong


SITEs:  How to deal with Guilt Trippers
3 Types Guilt & How to Let Them Go

: See ACRONYM page for abbrev.


POINT 1. Guilt (G) is a normal EMOTION, but not a primary one like anger, joy, sadness.
Since it helps preserve social bonds, a moderate amount of guilt is adaptive. Too much is crippling, repeatedly telling lies trains the brain to ignore feeling bad about it, & not having any remorse is psychopathic.

NOTE: The ACoA focus of guilt is explained in Part 2

POINT 2. Guilt is the emotion mainly related to ACTIONS or NON-actions, but also to ‘unacceptable’ thoughts & wishes

POINT 3. General USES of guilt are for:
 exerting influence – G is used by some people in close relationships to control another’s behavior (MORE….)
— the one with less power can get their way by guilting the one with more
EXP: “If you loved me, you wouldn’t do that / would do that for me”
— The one with more power can shame & punish the one with less
EXP: “I guess you mean I shouldn’t have been a mother” when told of old hurts

b. spreading out emotional stress – negative & positive sides of a ‘bad’ situation – acknowledging you’ve messed up, AND showing you care about that person or event
EXP: “If you feel guilty over not taking out the garbage, chances are your spouse–who wanted the garbage taken out–will feel better knowing that. In this way, emotional equity is restored, because bad feelings are restored to the person who caused them,” (psychologist Roy F. Baumeister, CWRU of OH)

c. maintaining relationships – G depends on inter-personal context, a two-person experience, which can help make people pay attention to others
EXP: feeling bad about not keeping a promise, not spending enough time with loved ones, not responding to texts….
Given how uncomfortable guilt can feel, it can provide a strong motivation to apologize, correct or make up for a wrong, & be more responsibly in future

‘Normal’ TYPES of G – in relation to actions, cause by:
. something you did — wrong. It may be something that harmed another person, it violated your own ethical or moral code, or something you swore you’d never do again. In these cases, there’s no doubt it happened

b. something you didn’t do, but want to — thinking a lot about doing something that’s against your own moral code, or is dishonest, unfaithful, or illegal.
This kind of G can be confusing, with conscience poking a finger at you.
Since you didn’t actually commit the act (yet), & no one know what you’re thinking – you’re still on moral high ground. But obsessing about wanting to do something you know is wrong (for yourself or toward others) can make you very uncomfortable

c. something you think you did — A lot of preset-day unhappiness comes from our own irrational thoughts about situations we’re in. Some people will be wracked with G if they’re convinced they did something wrong, even if there’s no objective evidence of that.
EXP: The magical belief you can jinx people by just wishing them ill, without acting on it. If something bad actually happens to them later, you’ll secretly think it was because you were that powerful!  At some level you ‘know’ that’s illogical, but it’s hard to give up the belief altogether

d. that you didn’t do enough to help someone — someone you know is having a hard time or is sick, but you don’t call o check up on them or help in some practical way.
OR – you’re been doing too much for someone, & you take a break or just stop, because you’re burned out (compassion fatigue). Acting out of guilt can only drain you further & end up making you a less effective helper

e. that you’re doing better than someone else — this can be:
— adult children doing much better in life than their alcoholic / narcissistic family, or poorly-adapted immigrant parents, such as going to college, making more money….. even if they say they want their children to succeed

— the only person left in the family after some natural (fire) or social (war) disaster, often will feel survivor guilt, even though the event was totally out of their control. This can have Spiritual implications – they were meant to survive for a reason. 😢

NEXT: What is Guilt (#2)