The following is a brief sample from the book
ADDICTION: AM I POWERLESS
(Available on this page)
From the Chapter on Paradigms of Addiction
“The Dysfunctional Family Model”
Dysfunctional Family Model
The Dysfunctional Family Model is a variant of the Psychodynamic Model. It is built on the premise that negative environmental factors related to poor family function are responsible for the development of the “Addictive Personality” and thereby the accompanying addictive behaviors. This model suggests that addictive personalities develop as the result of family environmental factors only and that social environmental factors only perpetuate inconsistencies originating from the family dysfunction.
This model purports that family dysfunction and the human reactions related to that dysfunction, lead to the development of a “survival based personality type” (I will expand on this later.) Supporters of this model believe that the development of the “addict trait” (as it is referred to in this model) is an extremely common occurrence in the dysfunctional family system. Like in the psychodynamic model this set of identified behaviors is termed the “Addictive Personality.” Once again this is a personality role that is formed in response to adjustment problems and a struggle to cope with the stressors brought on by high levels of family dysfunction. Physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect are all extreme examples of dysfunction. (It is important to remember that extreme abuse is not necessary for this personality trait to develop: Individual reactions to family stressors vary greatly.)
Proponents of this paradigm believe that there is a very identifiable pathology which determines the level of dysfunction responsible for the development of and cultivating of this survival role. It should be noted that all families have some level of dysfunction and that when identifying a family as dysfunctional this model is referring to those families with higher than normal levels of dysfunction in certain key areas. These areas include; externalization, rationalization, justification, blaming, avoidance, denial, self-victimization, projection, abuse of all types, extreme self-centeredness, neglect and parental personality disorders.
Parental or guardian addiction is believed to just carry dysfunction forward from the previous generation of dysfunction. If the parental role model is addicted then the dysfunctions detailed above may occasionally be hard to identify and thus not necessary for the addict trait to be carried forward because children often copy the behaviors of their significant role models (both positive and negative.) If you have a family history of dysfunction or abuse then you might add a note to your list. (Perhaps; “My significant family members struggled to present a positive model on how to cope with stress in a healthy way.”) This failure on their part results in an increased level of powerlessness on your part but it does not in and of itself, foster addiction. One must still make the choice to experiment with and use mood altering chemicals.
As mentioned above there are some types of dysfunction present in all families. Some of the more problematic areas include; modeling of the addictive personality, codependency in a primary caregiver, lack of emotional support when coping with personal struggles, the failure to pass on positive functioning tools for the resolution of personal problems and personal life stressors like intellectual or functional limitations.
Also problematic are issues around family denial of problems, avoidance of physical health issues, violence and emotional/physical/sexual abuse. In this model all of the aforementioned types of dysfunction are believed to contribute to the development of the Addictive Personality, a personality developed as an attempt to survive the family chaos termed dysfunction.
(This is just an exert, Learn more by clicking the links on the lest)
Emmanuel S. John, MA, MSW, LCSW
From the book “ADDICTION: AM I POWERLESS”
Available on this web site
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