ACoAs MANIPULATING Self & Others (Part 3c)

in your head  

PREVIOUS: Manipulation #3b

SITE: 8 Ways to spot Manipulators

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

 

Manipulative TACTICS (cont.)
Foot-in-Door
Start by asking someone for a small favor they don’t mind doing, then foot in doorwhen they’re in the middle of it, add on other things or ask for the big thing you really wanted – making it hard for them to say no

Guilting
Telling a conscientious victim they don’t care enough, are too selfish or have it easy, to keep them in a self-doubting, anxious, submissive position. OR make someone feel bad that you don’t have qualities, people or things the way they do (you’re jealous /envious), so they’ll feel sorry & volunteer to help you

Judgmental – the (T) form of T.E.A.
— all the time about everything, which is narcissistic
— occasionally, when old abandonment terror is triggered by a person or situation, but you don’t recognize it’s a reminder of childhood neglect & abuse

Mirroring (negative)
Physically &/or verbally copying someone you want to influence, by using their same body language, intonation pattern, language, preferences… making them feel ‘seen’ – so then they’ll copy you (symbiosis)

Over-promising
Saying yes to anything asked of you even when you’re not interested or it doesn’t suit you, & you don’t have time anyway – just so you’ll be liked. You over-book & then forget or cancel at the last-minute

One up-One Down
a. Feel superior – morally better with more value as a person, rather than being better at certain things (not just having a higher IQ), in order one upto keep everyone away, & not acknowledge your need for connection, help, comfort….

b. Feel inferior, believing you’re worse than everyone else (weaker, dumber, less capable….)
— to stave off assumed inevitable abandonment, disappointment AND
— obeying Toxic Rules “I am unlovable” / “I’m too much trouble” / “Don’t have needs”….
— living in deprivation, trying to get others to meet your needs

c. Fake humility – hiding the compulsion to dominate – by being the servant, helper, assistant, perhaps to serve a ‘higher cause’…. while controlling things from the wings

People-Pleasing / Perfectionism
Constantly trying to be or do whatever others want, or what you think they need/want, going above & beyond what’s called for or expected. Make yourself indispensable so they’ll approve of you & never ‘go way‘

Victim
Put a burden on others to be the ‘good parents’ you never had, BY:
• dismissing your own ‘voice’ & not taking up enough spacevictim
• going along, suffering in silence – but others can feel it
• give up what you want to avoid conflict, but are quietly resentful
• don’t ask questions, but always trying to explain or defend yourself
• talk in indirect or convoluted ways, instead of declarative statements
• withholding, as a form of silent disapproval
• believing you have nothing worthwhile to contribute……

COMBINED Manipulation of Self & Others
Taking on the Scapegoat Role as a child (NOT the same as being scapegoated by the family). It’s the child’s attempt to spare the obvious narcissist / addict their pain, by taking it on & acting it out for them – assuming this will alleviate the heaviness it can feel in others.
It’s a way the child denies admitting that the abandoning adults are as sick as they are & not willing to change

This manipulative tactic (usually unconscious) continues into adulthood – the ACoAs continuing to sacrifice their own needs, good name & protect familystanding in life – if it will make others ‘feel better’ by avoiding responsibility for their own damage

On one level this Role is genuinely taken on in the name of love, but at a deeper level it’s about the fear of losing connection, the ultimate childhood terror.
Unfortunately, the sacrifice is never successful or unappreciated, only being disrespected & dismissed. So when the Scapegoat is treated badly or ignored, this ACoA gets very angry at anyone they’ve been trying to ‘save’.

Adult Scapegoats only focus on being rejected or & invisible, left outfeeling unloved, excluded, attacked – BUT not seeing that they
— allow themselves to be used & toyed with by unscrupulous types
— experience real or imagined slights as a direct rejection, as if others are focus on them, or hell-bent on hurting them
— perpetuate childhood environment of fear, loneliness & abandonment BY not having a strong core identity based on self-esteem & self-respect.

NEXT: Manipulation #4a

ACoAs & PROCRASTINATION (Part 5)

make notes I CAN GET THINGS DONE #5
& feel good about it!

PREVIOUS: Putting things off #4


SITE: Overcoming Procrastination

BOOK: “Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength” by John Tierney, New York Times science writer, & psychologist Roy F. Baumeister.
An unconventional “self-help” book that, much like Timothy Wilson’s ‘Redirect’, grounds its insights & advice in 30 yrs of serious academic research into willfulness & self-control. While the book is fascinating in general, its 3rd chapter “A Brief History of the To-Do List, From God to Drew Carey,” is particularly interesting.

BOTTOM LINE
“WHY BOTHER?” underlies all our indecision & procrastination. We don’t take genuine care of ourselves, no matter how busy or cocky we seem to others. On a deep level we’re paralyzed by:
a. Not knowing or having access to our healthy True Self, so we believe we don’t know what we want or like, nor what our rights are!

b. Not being allowed to be our own internal motivator – so our only reason to take actions has to come from outside. We have to use family, a boss, teacher, a cause, religion, a career, friends & lover relationships, AND ultimately our terror of abandonment & punishment to push ourselves. Left to our own devices, we just collapse inward

c.
Our Internal Conflicts:conflict
• losing someone, being hurt or punished vs. feeling ‘safe’ (even if that safety is an illusion or self-destructive)
• WIC & PP vs. the Healthy UNIT
• obeying vs. disobeying the Toxic Rules
• old patterns vs. new ways of doing things
• what we want vs. what we’re ‘supposed’ to be, do, think, feel

d. Double messages, originally forced on us by one or more adults, we had no choice but to internalize the resulting Double Binds* (simultaneous but opposing demands, with a penalty for whichever one we can’t fulfill).
EXP:
• As kids they expected us to do for them (which may still be going on with an elderly parent), taking advantage of us to be their parent substitute – using hints, guilt, shaming, manipulation, demands, threats…. AND were angry / abusive if we did nothing (the penalty)

• BUT THEN were totally dissatisfied with & critical of (the penalty) whatever we did do for them, no matter how much effort we put in, what it cost us, what we had to sacrifice, how clever we were at it….

*EITHER WAY we were/are punished. If they’re still live we compulsively keep trying – to please them,chained to rules over & over. If they’re not around anymore we often find some other needy, critical person to satisfy – always with the same impossible, painful results!
YES, we’re addicted to the rejection, while maintaining the illusion that we have the power to change them, if only we try hard enough, long enough!

Ultimately, we stopped trying – but only for ourselves, because:
• we’re still waiting for them to approve of us, & give us permission to have a life of our own life (free us of their bondage because we don’t believe we can do it ourselves!)
• we’re convinced that if we failed with them (the family, also school, religion), it’s inevitably that we’ll fail with everything & everyone else, so there’s no point in trying
• we’re waiting for someone – anyone – to come & rescue us so we don’t ever have to be our own parent!

FACING our INNER REACTIONS
• Unfortunately, delaying inevitable responsibilities (as well as ones we’ve taken on voluntarily) creates endless obsession & self-recrimination. “”I’m just lazy by nature”, “I can’t do anything right” , “I’ll just mess it up – again” ….procratination

So why would we rather worry ourselves sick than ‘just do it’?
• we SAY it’s just a habit – but it’s really our self-hate
• we’re used to longing for things, rather than having them
• we’re waiting to be taken care of
• we think we don’t know how, even tho we actually do
• staying loyal to the family by copying how those adults ‘handled’ daily actions & problems
• we’re not allowed to do things easily because suffering is the norm (if it’s too easy it doesn’t count)

NEXT: Procrastination #6

ACoAs being SCAPEGOATED (Part 6)

I NEED TO GET IT – 
that their attacks are not about me!

PREVIOUS: Scapegoated (#5)

SITE: Why does a narcissist need to have a scapegoat?

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

REVIEW: SCAPEGOATING is a way of acting without integrity – the perpetrator (P) slandering another person in order to take the focus off of themselves.
Most family members, if not all, seem to accept it as the normal way to treat the victim – verbally, emotionally &/or physically abusing one child – & look the other way when the Sc is bullied or otherwise mistreated & made the ‘black sheep’.
It’s usually a long-standing pattern in the whole family, perpetuated because it’s experienced as advantageous – to keep the status quo.

HOW were YOU Scapegoated (Sc)?
This list applies to what happened in childhood, but may still be going on, no matter how old you are. You were the Sc IF YOU were/are —
• picked on by either parent to be the ‘bad one’, who looked for things to make you wrong – most of the time unjustified

• put in the role of family outcast, treated with disdain or disgust by family – & then by yourself
• blamed for others’ actions, & held responsible for family problems, conflicts or challenges, that had nothing to do with you

• attacked / punished for telling outsiders the truth about abusive, inappropriate & hurtful family dynamics (‘whistle-blower’)
• never believed when telling the truth about things that actually happened to you or around you, even if you had proof
WERE :
• blamed for &/or punished for what a sibling did, or for the very same things the other kids were allowed to get away with
• accused unjustly, your actions & motives exaggerated or lied about
• told or shown that your accomplishments were bad, ugly, unimportant, useless, worthless

• ignored or rejected by anyone who was/is easily influenced by your torturers (in & out of the family), & perhaps still are
• physically abused (slapped, beaten, kicked, thrown against walls….) whether you did something ‘wrong’, but even when not
• repeatedly accused of behavior only the scapegoater is / was doing (More....)
constantly given contradictory messages or expectations
EXP:
– Parent regularly yelled at you, then accused you of being abusive
– You were being genuinely thoughtful & caring, but told “all you care about is yourself”
– You were the mentally healthiest family member, but accused of being sick, bad, selfish….. Add your own crazy-making experiences

Bill Taylor, of Stressed Health Professionals & Families says: “ One of the most destructive patterns is the scapegoating of a physically or sexually abused child, especially when the mis-treatment is unknown to anyone except the victim & abuser

REACTIONs: Such a victim will often misbehave or be completely withdrawn, take out their anger on others, develop depression or other signs of emotional distress – as a way of handling the anxiety about the abuse.

They are then punished for acting out, by attacks & beatings, which create even more trauma, increasing the child’s misbehavior.
“Most people can’t imagine the daily hell such children or teens suffer from the combination of physical abuse & emotional scapegoating.” (MORE….)

NOTE: The above list applies to many ACoAs, especially in families where all the kids were abused & neglected in various ways.
However, the focus here is on the one – out of a number of children – who is tortured, while the others are treated a great deal better – at leastshouldn"t hurt to be ak id on the surface. (MORE…..)
EXP:
💥 In 1995, 6-year-old Elisa Izquierdo was starved and beaten by her mother while her 5 siblings were left unscathed
💥 7 year old Nixmary Brown was the only one chosen for parental abuse & neglect while her 5 siblings were relatively well-treated
💥 In 1996, Nadine Lockwood was starved to death while her 8 siblings were treated fairly well

💧 Not every Sc is tortured to these extremes, but everyone in a scapegoating family is harmed, even those not directly picked on. Just living every day in a sadistic environment eats away at one’s soul – especially vulnerable, developing personalities. SO – if you were not ‘it’ in your childhood, it doesn’t mean you got away emotionally, psychologically & spiritually undamaged.

NEXT: ACoAs being Scapegoated (Part 7a)

ACoAs being SCAPEGOATED (Part 1)

scapegoat 1I’M NO GOOD FOR NOTHING!
is what they all tell me

PREVIOUS:

 Enneagram Flaws in us all – Type 9.

SITE: Scapegoating– An Insidious Family Pattern of Blame & Shame of One Family Member

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

QUOTE: “The search for a scapegoat is the easiest of all hunting expeditions.” ― Dwight D. Eisenhower

NOTE: Being scapegoated is similar but not quite the same as the Toxic Family Role of Scapegoat. In both cases the child is abused by everyone.
The main differences is that :
• the ROLE is usually the second-born, sometimes the oldest boy as ‘Rebel’, & is something the child takes on in order to protect the family, WHILE
• in Scapegoating, an adult chooses which child is to be abused – made to carry the burden of family’s PMES dysfunctions so the parents don’t have to admit & deal with their own damage

1. ORIGINS: “The Scapegoat motif began centuries ago as a part of the sacrificial dynamic with a sacrificial goatgod or gods.  Once a year in a ceremony, the members of a tribe or village would write down their sins on a ribbon which was tied around a goat’s neck.

The goat was then burned as a sacrifice, or sent away into the wilderness. Either way, the Scapegoat carried off the ‘sins’ of the village with it, leaving them forgiven & cleansed.” (MORE…)

DEF: In a twisted version of this ancient religious practice, present-day Scapegoating is a form of bullying, a hostile social/ psychological torture started in childhood, which —
• wrongly combines cause & effect (child = problems), where someone moves blame & responsibility (T) away from themselves & on to a target person or group
• is an aggressive practice, where angry & hostile feelings (E) are projected onto others, via inappropriate accusations

Another way of saying it is: Scapegoating is the practice of singling out someone for undeserved negative treatment – the deliberate projection* of blame & guilt onto another person or group so the scapegoater can remain seemingly righteous, ‘good’ & guilt free.
The victim may be an adult, sibling, child, employee, peer, ethnic or religious group or country. Also called Whipping boy, Fall guy, Patsy, Designated Patient, Sacrificial Lamb

*Projection: (NOT Projecting) A defense mechanism in which
= person/ group A’s unacceptable thoughts, needs & emotions are unconsciously assumed to belong only to person/ group B,
= who is then accused of & punished for causing all of A’s problems.

A’s unhealthy Ego says: “What I can’t stand about myself I’ll totally hate about you (B). So I have to attack you for it in order to deny that I have the same quality”.
🌀 🌀 🌀
2. Scapegoating FAMILYScreen Shot 2015-11-22 at 10.36.15 PM
As the world becomes ‘all one place’, people no longer have the luxury of ‘casting out’ what we aren’t willing to acknowledge about ourselves. Besides, even if we wanted to, there are few wilderness places left in the world to do that.

So we turn on each other. The original purpose of this ritual is re-worked in the dysfunctional family ‘tribe‘ by adults heaping their collective sins on one of their members, then driving them away – if not literally – then by alienating them from everyone else’s affection.

👎🏽 The rest of the tribe can then point to the chosen black-sheep & proudly proclaim that they are not like him/her, allowing the family to look very good to outsiders, compared to the ‘bad’ one. Thus the Scapegoat is sacrificed for ‘the good of the family’ – likely to be chosen unconsciously, but for specific reasons. (in Part 3)

◆ The use of force against another person is always a form of scapegoating, & damages self-esteem in children. Often an insecure parent will be more aggressive with one of their offspring, to vent his/her own frustrations. Elizabeth A. Kaspar tells us that aggressiveness can show up as being:
• rude & humiliating, (“What do you mean, you aren’t going to do it?”)
• self-righteous (“I am only insisting on this for your own good.”)
• manipulative (“If you refuse, you’ll let everyone down”)

NEXT: ACoAs being Scapegoated (Part 2)

Anger – CATEGORIES : Passive, Paranoid, Pass-Agg (#11)

sad baby a.b. 

NO MATTER HOW UPSETTING,
I can’t seem to make anything better

PREVIOUS: Anger Categories (Part 8)

SITE: Righteous Indignation

 

3. OTHER Anger-EXPRESSIONS (cont)

PARANOID anger
Paranoia can be identified on a continuum, FROM mild & occasional (“I bet she’s talking abut me”) TO severe & continual (“I know they’re watching me thru the tv”).
In the present, it’s the Paranoid’s irrational assumption that they’re somehow in danger, but can’t quite put their finger on it, or prove it.
They see it everywhere – others are out to get them, take what’s theirs, want to humiliate them socially, or attack them in some other way.

The fear/terror is a deep sense of insecurity & powerlessness, which generates a lot of anger. Instead of admitting the rage, they project it out onto the world, believing everyone else is angry, so they can be too – without guilt. Their fury is disguised as self-protection.

Paranoia comes from the experience of being in very real & continual danger growing up. As children they were double-binded, manipulated & controlled to the point of never being able to trust their own thoughts & emotions, much less anyone else’s.

As a result they’re always on guard, never relaxed. Their ability to process & evaluate correctly is flawed or no-existent, confusing their own motives & emotions with those of others. They see their own anger reflected in the eyes & words of their friends, mates & co-workers, without realizing it’s a mirror. This leaves everyone confused.

PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE anger
The “P-A ACoAs” posts give a full description. This category is also called:
Leaking – stockpiling resentments toward someone, & then talking about them behind their back with others who agree with us, doing things we know upsets the one we’re mad at, gossiping, muttering under our breath

Sneaky
– never let others know we’re angry, much less to what degree, but it shows up Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 8.19.57 PManyway, usually by withholding – actions, communication, emotions…..and then acting innocent & hurt, asking with a puzzled look, “Why are you getting mad at me?”

Underhanded
– trying to get revenge for injustices to our ego by sabotaging the specific ‘enemy’ we’re angry at, rather than randomly abusing whoever is near by. In this case we use little acts of ‘mild’ aggression, in what we think are socially acceptable ways – being late, making belittling side-comments, complaining to others about them….

POWERLESS anger
There are very real situations in life some of us have to deal with, where we are truly powerless – care-taking an elderly sick & forgetful parent, raising a disabled child, coping with a drug/alcohol addicted mate or older child, having a chronic illness…… It’s exhausting, wearing down our patience. It is easy to get frustrated, irritated & then angry. This is normal & needs to be addressed – getting regular relief time

• However, some of us no longer live in hurtful / dangerous circumstances, yet act as if we’re still victims – as we once were in childhood. We get angry whenever we can’t get what we want or expect. We react to everyday frustrations as if they are meant specifically for us – when they’re not. We assume childhood powerlessness is a permanent state, not deserving anything else (learned helplessness). So as adults we don’t have internal permission to get our needs met legitimately. (MORE….)
powerless
⚡️ This causes us to only look to others outside ourselves to provide everything we need or want, & get angry when that doesn’t happen. We don’t know or refuse to admit we are responsible for our own self-care

😪 On the other hand many people are still genuinely trapped in situations they can’t get out of for various reasons – children in abusive homes, sex slaves, battered wives, prisoners, war refugees, living in poverty. (Image ↗️).  A total sense of powerlessness always generates impotent anger, even fury. But without any options, eventually depression & then hopelessness may take over.

NEXT: Anger categories (Part 12)

ACoAs & PLAYING (Part 2)

rain on meI DON’T KNOW HOW TO PLAY –
only to be compulsive, never relaxed

PREVIOUS: ACoAs & Playing (#1)

ARTICLE: “Outcasts, Scapegoats  & Black Sheep of the Dysfunctional Family

 

NOTE:
The purpose and spirit of Play does not require any practical, concrete outcome. It’s not supposed to generate something you can ‘show for it’. It’s a state of being rather than doing.

However, we can have a hobby that we really love – something creative or a sport, which does includes making or winning something. We may or may not be good at it. The value is not mainly the end product, but the process, which is supposed to be pleasurable & satisfying – suited to our True Self & feeding a part of our soul

Also, many of us have heard or read about people who say they love their work so much it feels more like playing. In this case there is a tangible product & a financial benefit, but the point they’re making is that it makes them happy! They feel blessed because they get to do it all the time instead of relegating it to their spare time – or not having time for it at all

ACoA LAUNDRY LIST’s False Self characteristics related to PLAY
a. ACoAs guess at what normal is
Here ‘Normal’ means healthy, as opposed to ‘average’. We don’t realize that playing, relaxing & having fun are a legitimate & important part of being healthy, happy & well-balanced. “All work & no play makes Jack a dull boy”.

There’s a tribe in Papua New Guinea that frowns on sex & bans play. For years anthropologists have considered this tribe too dull to study, but finally had some success. Scholars still don’t know why the tribe developed this philosophy, but it’s certainly not one we should emulate! MORE…)

b. ACoAs feel ‘different’, creating a wall that isolates us
This prevents many of us from making the effort to reach out to others, search for appropriate venues that can provide relaxation, or for opportunities to play & have fun, whether recreational or educational

c. ACoAs have difficulty with intimate relationships
Everyone needs a certain amount of connection with other people, but the amount depends on one’s developmental stage, personality & on what’s going on in one’s life at the moment.
And while it’s perfectly normal & acceptable to play alone, playing with others requires a certain capacity for intimacy** to be ‘successful’ – since being in authentic play-mode means being able to express the True Self without shame or reservation.

This is not easy because our True Self got shrouded in shame & self-hate, making it hard for us to ‘let loose’ & to let others get emotionally close to us.  ACoAs are more likely to put others in double binds: “I hate you – Don’t leave me!” OR “I need you – Don’t touch me!”

**INTIMACY: (IN-TO-ME-YOU-SEE) “Relating to or indicative of one’s deepest nature, marked by informality & familiarity. Something deeply personal, private, or secret”.
In our relation to others, it’s the ability to connect our ‘deepest nature’ with safe & appropriate others, because we know there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the Real Me, so we’re not afraid of letting it be seen

d. ACoAs take themselves very (too) seriouslytoo serious
While other children were busy learning to relate, compete, play & develop social skills, we were learning the tough lessons of survival. Many of us never heard our parents laughing, joking or fooling around.
The air was heavy, filled with the invisible energy of suffering. Life was hard business & the tone in our house put a damper on anyone enjoying themselves.
So if we did try to play or have fun we were guilted for wasting time OR punished for being frivolous & attacked for being ridiculous, making it stressful & terrifying.

NEXT: ACoAs & PLAY #3

SCAPEGOAT Family Role (Part 1)

scapegoat 

IF I GET INTO ENOUGH TROUBLE,
they won’t have to!

PREVIOUS: The Placater #2

SITE:  The Scapegoat Who Changed Her Family Role

 


NOTE:
This is not the same as the being scapegoated – where parents pick out one child to blame for all the family’s trouble which they themselves are causing.
HERE, the Scapegoat role seems ‘voluntary’, in the sense that this position is being held as a self-sacrifice.

SCAPEGOAT‘s GOAL
Provide a change of focus by allowing everyone to think they are the source of the family’s problems

PURPOSE
For Self: take on the ‘bad-guy’ role to protect the addict or other main trouble-maker from having to face his/her pain, their sacrifice given as a love-offering
IMP: An in-your-face refusal to comply with a parent’s direct or unspoken demand for perfectionism 

For Family: serve as the “pressure valve” in the family when tension builds. They misbehave to draw attention away from the ‘problem’ parent so the family’s problems is anything other than the addiction.
• To protect the family from any outside interference (cops, social workers, shrinks, social services….) & to prevent change.  They act out the tension & anger everyone ignores, doing things the ‘wrong way’, to show family what’s really going on hoping they’ll can learn from it

BIRTH ORDER: Usually the second child, sometimes the first boy if an older sister is the Hero
IN SCHOOL
Academically borderline or failing, they drop out, get suspended or kicked out, may not graduate

FAMILY TREATMENTdefiant_girl-1
Family makes them the ‘black sheep’ & then feels ashamed of them. Because they’re the blunt ‘truth-tellers’, one or both parents may dole out harsher & harsher punishments trying to ‘break’ them for not going along with the program.

They’re compared negatively to older, well-behaved / compliant siblings, sometimes considered ‘mentally ill’, & may be taken to therapy to get ‘fixed’.
Targeted to be Scapegoats, either because they’re:
a type: hyperactive or sick, so are easily bullied, and/OR
b type: the angry, rebellious, problem child who has the guts to say or do what no one else will, & so is easily ‘set off’ / reactive

ACTIONS /STYLE
Personal: They are the most sensitive, caring & emotionally honest family member. Scapegoats are actually the strongest ones, since they carry the “sins” for the entire family.
Their sensitivity causes them intense pain when mistreated, making them self-hating & self-destructive. They are a romantic who becomes very cynical & distrustful from being the “target” of the family’s dysfunction. Will leave home as soon as they can

Family : Rebellious (constant trouble with authority, won’t follow directions), They make a lot of noise, diverting attention from the addict & his/her need for Recovery on to themselves. They won’t go along with the Hero pretending everything’s alright. For a while will try to compete with the Hero for status, but lose & then stop trying to please
                         Social:
Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 10.19.45 PMBecause they have thick walls built around them from fear, their relationships will often be superficial & inauthentic – except when they can bong with another equally angry, bitter peer.

Often act out in front of others, putting on a tough act. In reaction to the family chaos & abuse, they become the troublemaker – argumentative, attention seekers, blaming others, disruptive, intrusive,  negative leaders, secretive, sneaky, verbally dishonest, unwilling to take responsibility

DEFENSES
Defiance, withdrawal, hostility, sullenness, acting out, ‘don’t care’ facade. Strong connection to their peer group (same type) or totally isolate

DEFICITS
Inappropriate expression & use of anger, intrusive, won’t follow directions, self-destructive, defiant, irresponsible, underachiever, social & legal problems at young age (truancy, teenage pregnancy, high school dropout, addiction, suicide attempts), can lead others into trouble

NEXT: Lost Child Role

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

Toxic Family ROLES (Part 3)

all roles 

I KNOW WHAT IS EXPECTED – my Role tells me!

PREVIOUS: TFR (Part 2)

SITEsDifferent Toxic Roles
▪︎  Dysfunctional Family Rules & Roles

Virginia Satir divided the functions into: Blamer, Computer, Distracter, Placater & Leveler roles, sometimes used in Neuro-Linguistic Programing (NLP) training.
They’re broader than the familiar ones – Hero, Scapegoat, Lost Child & Mascot  (Originally in “IF ONLY MY FAMILY UNDERSTOOD ME” – Don Wegscheider 1979

⬇️ VARIATION
:

1. ADULT Roles (Part 2)
2a. ACoAs – AS CHILDREN
• the eldest boy or eldest girl is usually the Hero or Placater, who is aligned with the non-drinking parent (if there is one)
• the next child becomes the Scapegoat, identifying with the active addict
• The Lost Child 3rd or middle one, & is mostly ignored (3rd wheel)
• the Mascot is last, who tries to keeps things light

Just as there are shifts in any living system, the way roles are assigned, clumped together or reassigned changes over the years of a family’s life.  Toxic Family Roles (TFRs) themselves stay the same no matter who they’re stuck onto, but can overlap or be passed on, like a deadly virus! These severely limiting, false personae are taken on by each child, in one of several ways. If there are fewer or more children, roles double up:

a. For an only child, all 5 roles✶ weigh on them, with one often being dominant, so one person may become mainly Lost Child while another may be mainly Mascot, etc. Not having siblings to share the roles, this child (& later as adult) can experience rapid cycling of moods which can be scary, confusing & sometimes mistaken for manic-depression.
cycling roles
✶ What may seem like ‘being crazy’ – especially under stress – is actually an automatic shift from one Role to another in quick succession – Hero / Placater to Mascot to Scapegoat to Lost Child & back again – with the mental & emotional perspective of each suddenly coming to the foreground & then being replaced.
If there is no obvious medical condition, this switching can be understood rather than feared, & can even be used as a temporary coping skill until Recovery brings out the True Self

b. If there are only 2 kids, each takes on more than one role, depending on gender, birth order & personality.  In this case each child can still have one dominant Role, but can switch into another when dealing with different types of people.  So a child with a primary Role of Hero (the elder), with Scapegoat & Lost Child as sub-roles, can act out the Scapegoat when someone pushes them too far, or the Lost Child when being mistreated in some way.

•  The Hero (usually the eldest) is required to be perfect at all times – to know everything, never make mistakes, always look good….. This is an enormous burden.  When the ‘job’ gets to be too much this child may say or do something inappropriate, outrageous or illegal to relieve the stress of perfectionism. It is both a rebellion & a cry for help, but only garners punishment & a demand for a return to Hero status.toxic roles

The other child may be Mascot & Lost Child, & sometimes will take on the Hero / Placater when the older sibling has left home or is incapacitated – OR when running their own household as an adult.

d. With 3 or more – there are still some overlaps. When an older child leaves home (usually the Hero going off to school, work or war) someone else takes over, which means someone having to double up, with even more pressure

NEXT: Part 4 – ACoAs as Adults