Home page of BPDFamily.com, online relationship supportMember registration here
December 15, 2019, 03:21:19 PM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Board Admins: FaithHopeLove, Harri, Once Removed
Senior Ambassadors: Cat Familiar, I Am Redeemed, Mutt, Turkish
Ambassadors: Enabler, Forgiveness, formflier, GaGrl,  khibomsis , Longterm, Ozzie101, pursuingJoy, Swimmy55, zachira
  Help!   Groups   Please Donate Login to Post New?--Click here to register  
bing
Poll
Question: As one who has read this article, how would you rate it?
Excellent - 7 (38.9%)
Good - 9 (50%)
Fair - 2 (11.1%)
Poor - 0 (0%)
Total Voters: 18

Pages: [1] 2  All   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: Family Systems  (Read 2632 times)
blackandwhite
Retired Staff
*
Offline Offline

Gender: Female
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Parent
What is your relationship status with them: married
Posts: 3115



« on: October 30, 2010, 09:41:46 AM »

Socially Oriented Theories: Family Systems

Mark Dombeck, Ph.D. and Jolyn Wells-Moran, Ph.D.


Source: www.mentalhelp.net/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=9717&cn=353

Updated: Jul 3rd 2006

One major theory address the social aspects of human suffering, and thus may be helpful to know about when pursuing a self-help agenda. Family Systems theory can help provide you the perspective to see that your problems may be larger than you think they are, caused by forces not directly under your control, and affecting people beyond yourself.

Family Systems theory was created during the middle of the 20th century when the idea of ecology was borrowed from biology and applied to the study of human problems. Ecological thinking teaches that individual creatures cannot be adequately understood when studied in isolation, but rather must be appreciated within their network of relationships to the other creatures around them if their lives are to make sense. Individual creatures depend upon their network of relationships with other creatures (animal and vegetable) for their survival; This is apparent in the relationship between flowers and bees, where bees use the flowers as a source of food, and the flowers depend on the inter-flower traffic that the bees provide to spread their pollen and insure healthy genetic diversity within the flower community. These two species are interconnected and cannot be understood in isolation. If the bees become damaged, the flowers suffer, and vice versa. When any part of such a network is altered or damaged, it affects all the other parts of that network, for all are interconnected.

The Family Systems insight is that what is true about flowers and bees is also true of human relationships. People live in families and social groupings, and depend upon one another for the means that insure their mutual survival, including (as Maslow has taught us) food clothing and shelter, but also safety, belonging and social support. Family members are interconnected: Every person within a family has a role to play within the life of the family as a whole. Alteration or damage to one family member affects the entire family, for all are interconnected.

Family Systems theory's ecological view of the family makes it very different than conventional psychological theories. Where other psychological theories view problems as things that occur within individuals, Family Systems theory takes an ecological approach, viewing problems as things that occur between people. They tend to see individual problems as instances of larger relationship problems occurring within families (or within communities or society). This means that when a family member becomes depressed, the effect of that depression are not localized within the depressed person, but rather affect all family members. It is thus a family problem, not an individual one. The depression may even be a consequence of some other family problem. For example, a mother's "empty nest" depression (occurring when her last child leaves home) may result as much from the radical alteration of her day to day family life as from any chemical problem she may have.

Family Systems theorists pay careful attention to the boundaries between family members, because such boundaries are exactly where problems tend to manifest. A boundary is a sort of psychological perimeter and definition that people draw around themselves, and around particular relationships they are involved in. Boundaries mark off where one person or group ends and another begins. Healthy boundaries act as containers that keep things apart that need to stay apart, and also as roles that help people to know how to act. The boundary around the family as a whole helps family members know who is a member and who is not, for instance. The boundary around the parents helps them keep their adult sexuality and communication apart from their children. The boundary around each child and adult within the family helps each family member keep some secrets that are theirs alone.

Family problems occur when boundaries become strained or break and members are put into situations that may harm them. Incest situations are probably the worst sorts of boundary violations, but others are also worth pointing out as examples. Families dealing with spousal abuse often fail to protect their children from that abuse (as well as vulnerable spouses from abuse), resulting in traumatized children and adults. Alcoholic parents may be incapable of taking care of themselves, influencing their children to become "parentified" (e.g., responsible before their time). Angry divorced parents may start fighting through their children (a situation known as "Triangulation because of the shape of the communication communication)", in essence making them into unwilling messengers, filling them with venom and forcing them to choose between parents. Family systems therapists look for patterns of boundary violation in the families they work with, and then work with family members to try to correct what is bent or broken.

For all that family members are bonded, they are frequently blind to how much they are ecologically interdependent with one another. It is very disturbing to most people to think that they might be contributing to a problem. For this reason, dysfunctional families are often quick to blame individuals within the family for their woes, falsely localizing the cause of their pain into a scapegoated member. The family that has created an "identified patient" through this process may still be quite dysfunctional, but this fact becomes conveniently less apparent to the members. A family systems oriented therapist who might work with such a family would look to see whether any identified patients had been created, and then work to educate them as to the truer ecological nature of their family issues.

The key insights to take home from family systems theory are that: 1) the problems people have frequently reflect problems experienced by the families and groups those people are a part of, 2) it is necessary to address family or group problems at the family or group level (the "system" level) if they are to be resolved, and 3) the way to identify what is going wrong within a family or group is to pay attention to how the boundaries governing the family or group members are functioning. Frequently, role transgressions (e.g., abuse situations, failures to carry out particular responsibilities, etc.) serve as good indicators that boundaries are not functioning properly.

Logged

What they call you is one thing.
What you answer to is something else. ~ Lucille Clifton
Gettingthere
****
Offline Offline

Gender: Female
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Posts: 428



« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2010, 11:13:06 AM »

This is an excellent article.

John & Linda Friel in the book Adult children - the secrets of dyfunctional families describe the change in family systems as being like a cot mobile. If you move 1 part of the toy, the other parts all move until eventually they all return to their origional positions. So it is with change in the family systems - the other memebers (and the person concerned) act in a way to try and return the status quo.  I hope that with persistence it will become harder and harder to return to the baseline positions... .
Logged
blackandwhite
Retired Staff
*
Offline Offline

Gender: Female
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Parent
What is your relationship status with them: married
Posts: 3115



« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2010, 01:29:54 PM »

That's a great visual metaphor, Gettingthere. Thanks so much for sharing it! I'd like to build on that.



The formal name for "returning to the status quo" is homeostasis--it's that mobile turning back to the starting position. I think we all recognize it. Let me give an example of a failed attempt at change, mapping it to the mobile image:

If someone changes, or something changes, the force of the system is brought strongly to bear on returning things to the base point. Let's say Suzie, who is an adult daughter of a BPD mother, goes to therapy and suddenly gets support and realizes that letting her mother scream at her regularly on the phone is really not okay. Susie is represented, perhaps, by the cute blue elephant in the mobile picture above. Suzie, aka cute elephant, stops allowing it. She moves her elephant self around on the mobile, a bit farther out of reach from her mother (perhaps represented by the little tiger).

What happens? She get a lot of flack for it. The flack will come not only from the mother with BPD, but also likely from the father (lion) and her brother (monkey).

Adding to that... .Mother will no longer have Suzie to vent her feelings on; Suzie has been in a scapegoat role. Mother has to experience her own anxiety rather than venting it at Suzie. She paces around the house, gets depressed, drinks more, complains and snaps at the father, moans that she's victimized. Father will call Suzie to bring her into line. Suzie will hear "you need to respect your mother" from her father. Her brother may be getting calls now that Suzie's not taking them. He hears how mean Suzie is, how she picks on mother when she's down. He tells Suzie "talk to mom, she's driving me crazy" or "don't be so mean to mom, you know she's not strong."

Likely nobody says "you must let mom abuse you so she'll get out of my hair" but essentially, that's the message. Change back.

Now Suzie feels crazy. Didn't she just set a very healthy boundary--I don't want to be screamed at on the phone? She begins to doubt herself. She decides to "try again" because clearly there's been a misunderstanding. She can't be right and the whole family wrong, can she? Or she apologizes, because that's what she's always done. She calls her mother to say sorry, her mother screams at her, her mother feels better, the father and brother get less angst, and everything's... .back where it started.

Return elephant, tiger, lion, and monkey to their starting positions... .

I've started introducing some more family systems material to the site because I hope we can collectively learn about and discuss how we can transform our roles within the family and get out of the endless swinging of the mobile round and round back to the starting position, or unhealthy status quo.

Logged

What they call you is one thing.
What you answer to is something else. ~ Lucille Clifton
sandpiper
********
Offline Offline

Gender: Female
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Posts: 1588


« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2010, 03:12:58 PM »

Nice mobile motif but in my family dynamic there's way more than one flying monkey.  Smiling (click to insert in post)

There's an entire swarm of the GD things.

My therapists got me to look at this, too.

I spent years trying to change my interactions with my family.

It was futile. Everything just involved an effort on their part to try to get me to change back.

Over the space of 15 years no less than 3 therapists suggested that it would be a good idea to distance myself from FOO because they felt that since I wasn't recreating the same problems in my own life, the problem clearly lay with my FOO.

So this little black duck doesn't appear on that mobile because she got out the scissors and detached herself from the drama.

I'm attached to a different mobile now and none of the animals on it are predatory.

Much better.
Logged
sandpiper
********
Offline Offline

Gender: Female
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Posts: 1588


« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2010, 03:44:38 PM »

www.christisall.org/wp-content/images/Wolf%20-%20sheep.jpg

My family mobile would mainly be sheep, with one or two of those thrown into the mix.
Logged
DreamGirl
Retired Staff
*
Offline Offline

What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Romantic partner’s ex
What is your relationship status with them: Married
Posts: 4015


Do. Or do not. There is no try.


« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2010, 04:56:19 PM »

I think I can also see where I extracted myself from the family system/mobile that was my parents, myself and my brother.  There were definite patterns where we were all revolving back into place when it came to a certain dysfunctional existence. I think that I didn't necessarily set boundaries so much as I built a wall to keep them out. I can see where they just didn't really seem to mind, my presence losing value when I stepped away. I can also see now where my mom's boundaries are either non-existant or are just trampled on... .but interestingly enough was her firmest boundary being in my direction when I challenged her to stop putting up with it (mostly my NPDfather's nonsense). She let me know that it is her decision and I need to respect it.  So I do. Smiling (click to insert in post)

It also fits in my blended family that involves a pwBPD as well. A lot of triangulating going on between the parents and I can also see where the little ones will even use that aspect to their advantage. What better way to get what you want?  It's also hard when a new "toy" gets added to the mobile (like a new husband/stepfather), it takes a little while to get back to a normal "level" of dysfunction when it gets thrown into a tailspin.  Smiling (click to insert in post)

I can see where each of us will expect or want to take on the role of "emotional caretaker" for the needy being in our life. I think we do it for each other as much as sometimes it is expected of each of us.  A lot like your little Suzie story.
Logged

 "What I want is what I've not got, and what I need is all around me." ~Dave Matthews

selfishshellfish
***
Offline Offline

Gender: Female
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
What is your relationship status with them: Married since 1992
Posts: 169


WWW
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2010, 05:15:18 PM »

I spent years trying to change my interactions with my family.

It was futile. Everything just involved an effort on their part to try to get me to change back.

Yes, it was like that in our house and beyond. Perhaps this is why I felt a sense of despair and hopelessness when I read the article. In my family it just seemed as though "Man hands on misery to man, it deepens like a coastal shelf... ."

The concept of the family as system does make a lot of sense.
Logged
CalicoSilver
********
Offline Offline

Gender: Male
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
What is your relationship status with them: Married almost 30 years.
Posts: 2636


WWW
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2010, 05:22:50 PM »

Thank you for this article. I gave it a fair rating. It's probably a very helpful approach to train family oriented therapists who have zero experience living (within) a dysfunctional family themselves.
Logged
bpdfamfan
*****
Offline Offline

Gender: Female
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Parent
Posts: 536



« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2010, 09:52:33 PM »

The Suzie/mobile metaphor really hits home for me.

quoting B&W "... .Likely nobody says "you must let mom abuse you so she'll get out of my hair" but essentially, that's the message. Change back."

definitely  Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)

Logged
beatup
***
Offline Offline

Gender: Female
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Sibling
What is your relationship status with them: married
Posts: 144


Mean People Suck


« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2010, 12:08:47 AM »

 This has really made me think... .I was a victim of incest... .I never told anyone for fear that the mobile would be catapulted out the window hence I had great difficulty with my sexuality, choosing men etc and of course boundaries. My uBPD sis bossed me around & I let her. The family unit functioned fairly well most of the time. I did view myself as well adjusted until my 40's when the secrets began to unravel. By then I had experienced numerous rages from sis ending in NC for 1-2 yr periods. We always reconciled... .bringing things back to status quo. I believe now that sis did this for Mom & Dad. Now they are passed away... .it seems to have affected her motivation? or perhaps she knows I mean what I have been saying over & over? I thought perhaps without our parents we might cling more closely... .but she claims that she has accepted the loss of parents & me. Very sad
Logged

beatup
Onward....Through the Fog
Gettingthere
****
Offline Offline

Gender: Female
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Posts: 428



« Reply #10 on: November 12, 2010, 03:44:15 AM »

I spent years trying to change my interactions with my family.

It was futile. Everything just involved an effort on their part to try to get me to change back.

What i want to know is, that definately applies to me with regards to FOO, hence NC . I know there are unhealthy things going on in my family now (ie me, husband, children) that i am trying to change. I can feel the resistance. Will it work, or will the mobiles just swing back to the origional positions? I have an awful feeling the latter. I had children before starting to try and get healthy; i fear the best that they can have is to be "less unhealthy" than i if you understand me  :'(
Logged
AppleChippy
*****
Offline Offline

Gender: Female
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
What is your relationship status with them: Married
Posts: 708


« Reply #11 on: November 13, 2010, 08:43:54 AM »

Mother will no longer have Suzie to vent her feelings on; Suzie has been in a scapegoat role. Mother has to experience her own anxiety rather than venting it at Suzie. She paces around the house, gets depressed, drinks more, complains and snaps at the father, moans that she's victimized. Father will call Suzie to bring her into line. Suzie will hear "you need to respect your mother" from her father. Her brother may be getting calls now that Suzie's not taking them. He hears how mean Suzie is, how she picks on mother when she's down. He tells Suzie "talk to mom, she's driving me crazy" or "don't be so mean to mom, you know she's not strong."

Likely nobody says "you must let mom abuse you so she'll get out of my hair" but essentially, that's the message. Change back.

Now Suzie feels crazy. Didn't she just set a very healthy boundary--I don't want to be screamed at on the phone? She begins to doubt herself. She decides to "try again" because clearly there's been a misunderstanding. She can't be right and the whole family wrong, can she? Or she apologizes, because that's what she's always done. She calls her mother to say sorry, her mother screams at her, her mother feels better, the father and brother get less angst, and everything's... .back where it started.

Return elephant, tiger, lion, and monkey to their starting positions... .

Wow, this is almost exactly what happened to my husband recently. 

We're NC with uBPDSIL who rants about us to enMIL who goes crazy when the illusion of family unity is broken. 

Early in the day on enMIL's birthday last month, enFIL calls nonSIL telling her he's going to jump off the balcony because enMIL is going crazy because my DH hadn't called her yet.  nonSIL then harasses DH to call their mother.  DH relented and called and the craziness ended but DH feels awful for being put in that situation. 

There seemed to be no time to just take a moment and think about what was going on, nonSIL was harassing him in front of our kids.

Just a tiny discrete example of the mobile that is DH's family.


 Thanks for posting this article and thanks for everyone who contributed!  Great information. 
Logged
blackandwhite
Retired Staff
*
Offline Offline

Gender: Female
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Parent
What is your relationship status with them: married
Posts: 3115



« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2010, 09:50:04 AM »

Wow, AppleChippy, your DH's family does seem to be a perfect example. I'm sorry about that--can't be fun for any of you. Here's a description of enmeshment from Adult Children: The Secrets of Dysfunctional Families. Sound familiar?

Excerpt
Enmeshment is a term from family systems theory, and is actually a problem in boundary definition... .Put simply, enmeshment is a tangled mess. When people are enmeshed with each other, it is nearly impossible for them to see where their identities end and someone else's identity begins. My problems become your problems and your problems become my problems. I blame you for my unhappiness and you blame me for yours. I can't make a move without you knowing it and/or commenting on it, and vice versa.

In an enmeshed family, everyone is "into" everyone else's business. You can't go to the bathroom in an enmeshed family without someone taking note of it. Triangulation runs rampant in enmeshed families. Everyone is running around like chickens iwth their heads cut off, going from one person to the next, "spreading the news," trying to fix everyone else's problems, telling them how to live their lives, and so on.

No one has an identity of their own. There is no separateness. There is no clarity of boundaries. There is a lot of emotional incest. No one takes responsibility for their own lives. No one is allowed to live in peace. No one is allowed to make their own mistakes and learn from them with dignity. Everyone is so tangled up with everyone else that when one family member gets depressed, eventually every family member gets depressed; or everyone becomes manic to compensate for it. When one person goes on the upswing, everyone else goes on the upswing; or they get moody and depressed.

It's as if we're all in a life raft together at the mercy of constantly changing seas. Up and down, back and forth we go, one big happy family, caught in an endless web of emotions and problems.

But before we all get depressed together on that life raft, it's important to realize that change is possible. Several mentioned no contact as a method of getting off the life raft/away from the family mobile. Even prior to a decision such as level of contact, there's a key step, and that's gaining insight.

All of us here have some level of insight, or we wouldn't be here. Suzie, in the example, has some level of insight (just not enough yet to transform her role in the family).

In your example, Apple Chippy, you note:

Excerpt
DH relented and called and the craziness ended but DH feels awful for being put in that situation.



That "awful" feeling he has is a clue to help him gain insight.

Gettingthere said:

Excerpt
I know there are unhealthy things going on in my family now (ie me, husband, children) that i am trying to change. I can feel the resistance. Will it work, or will the mobiles just swing back to the origional positions?

You can change. Your family can change. It takes a lot of effort, but you can overcome the resistance. What is your initial insight--what patterns are you seeing?
Logged

What they call you is one thing.
What you answer to is something else. ~ Lucille Clifton
BMama
********
Offline Offline

Gender: Female
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
What is your relationship status with them: Married 18 years.
Posts: 2485



« Reply #13 on: November 14, 2010, 07:02:14 PM »

The Suzie/mobile metaphor really hits home for me.

quoting B&W "... .Likely nobody says "you must let mom abuse you so she'll get out of my hair" but essentially, that's the message. Change back."

definitely  Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)

I second this post.

Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)

I think it helps to understand the family dynamic a lot.  My T often tells me that I need to lower my expecatations, that is just how life is lived on "their" planet.  That's a nice answer, but I'm the type that needs to explore the reasons AND get it, in order to see where things are not my fault, and move on.  This is a wonderful thread.
Logged
Gettingthere
****
Offline Offline

Gender: Female
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Posts: 428



« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2010, 11:05:25 AM »

You can change. Your family can change. It takes a lot of effort, but you can overcome the resistance. What is your initial insight--what patterns are you seeing?

Thanks B&W, you've no idea how much I needed to hear that today. Will come back and post the pattern details later in the week, but thanks again
Logged
CalicoSilver
********
Offline Offline

Gender: Male
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
What is your relationship status with them: Married almost 30 years.
Posts: 2636


WWW
« Reply #15 on: November 15, 2010, 12:27:36 PM »

Family Systems theory was created during the middle of the 20th century when the idea of ecology was borrowed from biology and applied to the study of human problems. Ecological thinking teaches that individual creatures cannot be adequately understood when studied in isolation, but rather must be appreciated within their network of relationships to the other creatures around them if their lives are to make sense.

I was curious about "Family Systems Theory," and its description rang a few bells - so I went back into my library to research it further.

I'm not surprised that I found the answer in a book about physics and mysticism. Personally - I count myself amongst those who believe (humanity) is on the cusp of a shift-in-consciousness, and therefore - we must create new systems and operating theories to explain our collective experience. While I believe the approach is "sound," its description doesn't really do it justice, IMO. Attaching it (family systems theory) to a broader movement within the scientific community as a whole, as part of a "paradigm shift," puts it in a different perspective.

Moreover, I think it represents a refreshing approach - to understanding the reality of life within "broken" families. How else can an individual's behaviors be understood without putting that individual - in context - and looking at the dynamics that shape their behaviors? I certainly wouldn't attempt to do so, and have trouble understanding why this "new approach" was even necessary. I once thought that it would be obvious to anyone (in the mental health field) that our environment has a major impact upon our behaviors. Now, well - not so much, but at least - "the times, they are a changing."


THE PARADIGM SHIFT

In my second book, The Turning Point, I explored the social impli­cations of the current shift of paradigms. My starting point for this exploration was the assertion that the major problems of our time cannot be understood in isolation. They are systemic problems--interconnected and interdependent. Stabilizing world population will only be possible when poverty is reduced worldwide. The extinction of animal and plant species on a massive scale will con­tinue as long as the Third World is burdened by massive debts. Only if we stop the international arms trade will we have the re­sources to prevent the destruction of the biosphere and of human life.

In fact, the more we study the situation, the more we realize that, ultimately, these problems are just different facets of one sin­gle crisis, which is essentially a crisis of perception. It derives from the fact that most of us—and especially our large social institu­tions—subscribe to the concepts and values of an outdated world-view, to a paradigm that is inadequate for dealing with the problems of our overpopulated, globally interconnected world. At the same time, researchers at the leading edge of science, various social movements, and numerous alternative networks are devel­oping a new vision of reality that will form the basis of our future technologies, economic systems, and social institutions.

The paradigm that is now receding has dominated our culture for several hundred years, during which it has shaped our modern Western society and has significantly influenced the rest of the world. This paradigm consists of a number of ideas and values, among them the view of the universe as a mechanical system com­posed of elementary building blocks, the view of the human body as a machine, the view of life as a competitive struggle for exis­tence, the belief in unlimited material progress to be achieved through economic and technological growth, and—last, but not least—the belief that a society in which the female is everywhere subsumed under the male is one that is "natural." During recent decades all of these assumptions have been found severely limited, and in need of radical revision.

Such a revision is indeed taking place. The new paradigm that is now emerging can be described in various ways. It can be called a holistic worldview, seeing the world as an integrated whole rather than a dissociated collection of parts. It can also be called an ecological view, if the term "ecological" is used in a much broader and deeper sense than it is commonly used. This broader and deeper sense of "ecological" is associated with a specific philosophical school and, moreover, with a global, grassroots moment known as "deep ecology," which is rapidly gaining prominence. The philosophical school was founded by the Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess in the early seventies with distinction between "shallow" and "deep" ecology. This distinction is now widely accepted as very useful terminology for referring to a major division within contemporary environmental thought.

Shallow ecology is anthropocentric. It views humans as above or outside of nature, as the source of all value, and ascribes only instrumental, or "use value" to nature. Deep ecology does not separate humans from the natural environment, nor does it separate anything else from it. It does not see the world as a collection of isolated objects but rather as a network of phenomena that are fundamentally interconnected and interdependent. Deep ecology recognizes the intrinsic values of all living beings and views humans as just one particular strand in the web of life. It recognizes that we are all embedded in, and ultimately dependent upon, the cyclical processes of nature. This deep ecological awareness is now emerging in various areas in our society, both within and outside of science.

The ecological paradigm is supported by modern science, but it is rooted in a perception of reality that goes beyond the scientific framework to an awareness of the oneness of all life, the interpendence of its multiple manifestations, and its cycles of change and transformation. Ultimately, such deep ecological awareness is spiritual awareness. When the concept of the human spirit understood as the mode of consciousness in which the individual feels connected to the cosmos as a whole, it becomes clear that ecological awareness is spiritual in its deepest essence, and then not surprising that the new vision of reality is in harmony the visions of spiritual traditions.


The Tao of Physics, Fritjof Capra
Logged
sandpiper
********
Offline Offline

Gender: Female
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Posts: 1588


« Reply #16 on: November 16, 2010, 08:52:59 PM »

Something has been bugging me about this since I first read it and I've been trying to put my finger on it.

The first T that I ever saw, who diagnosed my PTSD, introduced me to the concept of family systems and it was interesting.

In the end, after listening to my stories about my family's behaviour, he decided that they were just destructive and intent on scapegoating various family members and they were unlikely to change.  Others have said that in the intervening decades.

I think with an ordinary family that is under stress or there's something going wrong, these sorts of family systems philosophies stand a chance at working.

With a family where there's a pwaPD, I think it's much harder.

Unless the PD seeks treatment they are always going to strive to restore their system to one that works for them.

I think whoever wrote the 'Wolf Pack Post' - as outlined to them by their T - really nailed that one.

I think Pressman & Donaldson Pressman also really nailed the dynamics of our family systems in their book 'The Narcissistic Family'.

As long as you're inside a system that is meeting a disordered person's needs, I don't think there's really any constructive way of changing your behaviour so that you'll get a more positive behaviour from the disordered person.  They're just going to kick and scream until order is restored in their world and the healthier you get, the more disorder that's going to create in yours.

I think I've put my finger on what's troubling me about this, and it's that there's so many destructive and abusive behaviours and forms of communication inside a PD family, that if you think of the family as a tree then essentially it's riddled with termites and it's slowly being hollowed out from the core because there's so much negative input and so little positive input into the life of the family.

I can't remember when I first noticed that other families didn't communicate or behave in the way that my family did, and that the way other families treated each other just felt GOOD and that this was what I wanted.

Once I read Beverly Engel's books on Emotional Abuse I started to see all the little snipes, all the little forms of passive aggression, the attempts to control and triangulate and dominate.

And I think that's the key to families like ours.

Unless several members are willing to sit down and learn new behaviours and let go of destructive forms of communication and abusive interaction, there's no point being there, because otherwise there's just more termites than tree.

Logged
immadone
**
Offline Offline

What is your sexual orientation: Straight
What is your relationship status with them: Widow since '92-see above. I'm turning into a cliche'
Posts: 96


« Reply #17 on: November 17, 2010, 10:48:30 AM »

I agree, and I think that's exactly where the concept of homeostasis comes in: It seems to me the backlash in a pd family towards a member who starts to change the dynamics (ex: Set/maintain boundaries) is fast, furious and unrelenting. This was my experience as I started to place more physical/emotional distance between my pdmomma and NPDs... .I think it would be called LC or vLC here. For example, when I was unable to travel to pdmomma's for Xmas because of lack of $$ to make the trip I was berated mercilessly... .interestingly there was NO OFFER of financial assistance so I could travel there, even though I had never taken-or even asked for financial help from her and she could well afford to do so. I didn't ask, she didn't offer. Concurrently with my "absence" from the annual Xmas fiasco, pdmomma's DWI (Dialing While Insane) phone calls at all hours started ramping up and continued for years. The point is, as I started drawing away-even for very realistic financial reasons, she "sensed" she was "loosing control" of me... .and she was. Her efforts to keep me enmeshed became increasingly frantic-and menacing-as the years continued.

I mention this because I know for some members NC is not an option. However, I found LC and vLC to be far more difficult, challenging and exhausting than NC. Attempting to remain engaged with a pdfamily system offers incredible challenges due to the rigidity of the roles each member plays (particularly the characterlogical nature of the pwpd) and the lack of "elasticity" in the entire system IMO. Ultimately, it seems  family members who are attempting to free themselves from the enmeshed relationships (utilizing LC etc.) become so exhausted, befuddled, ostracized by the continuing efforts of the foo to "keep them in their place" they respond by giving up their efforts entirely and "go along to get along" or NC. I have the greatest respect for those who find both personal piece of mind AND success (however they wish to define this) in remaining in some sort of relationship with their pdfamily system.

Of course, one of the huge challenges in dealing with PDs/family systems is the spectrum of PD itself: There are low-medium-high functioning pds and it seems to me the vast majority of research is conducted utilizing the most readily available population of BPD: The lower functioning, "acting in" BPD that is most likely to have contact with the Mental Health System.

Just a few observations/thoughts FWIW.
Logged
blackandwhite
Retired Staff
*
Offline Offline

Gender: Female
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Parent
What is your relationship status with them: married
Posts: 3115



« Reply #18 on: November 17, 2010, 11:20:05 AM »

Good food for thought all around.

Family systems is a theoretical tool for understanding how families work--one of many. No claims to absolute truth in it, certainly. It's also an approach therapists can use to work with families that need help. Throughout my reading in family systems, there is much acknowledgment that sometimes an individual member simply cannot change a system enough to have a healthy role. In fact, the system may be downright dangerous. In those cases, the only way to achieve a healthy life is to remove oneself from the system, which is what we call no contact around here. For spouses, it might mean divorce. There are many ways of transforming your role in the family, including leaving it.

SaNPDiper mentioned the book The Narcissistic Family, which explores--from a family systems perspective--how therapists can help clients who grew up in this type of dysfunctional system to heal. We also have a workshop on related issues: TOOLS: Family systems--understanding the narcissistic family.

Those who are a bit outside--and I often think of our in-laws on the boards, who find they've walked into a level of what the ? that they probably never dreamed possible--understanding the system gives them a way to makes sense of this strange new experience.

On our boards, we have members who are adult children, parents, siblings, spouses and SOs, in-laws, grandparents--every type of family role. Those who are closest to the situation and locked inside the family system can often begin to achieve insight when they can understand what they're looking at IS a system, with roles, rules, and a tendency to maintain dynamic balance (homeostasis) and return to "stability" no matter how functional or dysfunctional. They can start to see their own role and begin to step out of that role. Where that insight and shifting dynamics will lead depends on many variables, as immadone noted. We have a lot of members who feel stuck and completely powerless. Taking a family systems perspective is one way that change can begin.

Could a misguided family therapist or family member misuse these concepts or apply them poorly? Certainly. If the family is approached without an understanding that one or more members is disordered, then things are not going to go well and may get a lot worse. Should a family member take on responsibility for transforming the entire family system? Not unless the member wants an exercise in futility. However, the family member can change his or her role, with ripple effects that might be surprising.

Going back to my original made-up example: If Suzie is able to firm up her sense of herself, that she is a worthwhile person and that she is not going to allow anyone to abuse her, her mother will no longer have the outlet of screaming at her on the phone. If Suzie gets secure enough to resist the "change back" messages from her family members, her family members will be left to deal with the situation themselves. The golden brother may get an earful and start to realize that what Suzie has been saying about mom's anger isn't all in her head after all. He could even open up with Suzie and the two of them might find their relationship shifts. Dad may have to come to terms that mom has a drinking problem. He may start attending Al-Anon, and get a better sense of himself. Mom may never change, but those around her might--or not. But Suzie definitely can.

Another aspect to understanding your role in the family is getting a handle on repetition compulsion, the unconscious repetition of unhealthy patterns and relationships we developed in our early lives. Consider Suzie again, moving forward in time and establishing her adult life. If she doesn't get a handle on these issues, chances that she will pick a spouse who treats her at least a bit like her mother does, abusively and as an outlet for stress, are pretty good. Chances that she might in turn find herself screaming at her own child in moments when she's overwhelmed, also pretty good.

Even if you leave your family of origin, you carry the patterns of the system within you until you take the opportunity to work on yourself. That's one of the reasons we introduced the Survivors' Guide on the Coping board, to transform ourselves. Hopefully we all have a chance to "do over" with a family of choice, whether that's friends, a spouse or SO, children... .whatever family we create for ourselves. We can use our insights about family systems to make those families as healthy as possible.

B&W





Logged

What they call you is one thing.
What you answer to is something else. ~ Lucille Clifton
CalicoSilver
********
Offline Offline

Gender: Male
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
What is your relationship status with them: Married almost 30 years.
Posts: 2636


WWW
« Reply #19 on: November 17, 2010, 12:09:22 PM »

Interesting thoughts from all who've shared. My recent  Idea moment was delivered by reading Adult Children-The Secrets of Dysfunctional Families. Since I (was exposed) to one for too many years - I already knew how hard it can be breaking free of their influence.

While one is - in the middle of one of these families - its incredibly hard to realize that the family system itself provides the "ties that bind" and effectively compensates when one member attempts to upset the apple cart.

Trying to break free from them is not unlike what is known as a "Mexican Handcuff" around my area. It's a cylindrically-shaped woven straw apparatus that slides easily over one's fingers. Insert a finger in each end - then pull. The harder one pulls, the tighter it constricts. 
Logged
Gettingthere
****
Offline Offline

Gender: Female
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Posts: 428



« Reply #20 on: November 17, 2010, 01:16:26 PM »

While one is - in the middle of one of these families - its incredibly hard to realize that the family system itself provides the "ties that bind" and effectively compensates when one member attempts to upset the apple cart.

 

Calicosilver - did you manage to free yourself, and if so, was it in a way other than NC? I can't imagine the personal strenght it must take to remain in the thick of it and still get healthy
Logged
sandpiper
********
Offline Offline

Gender: Female
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Posts: 1588


« Reply #21 on: November 17, 2010, 03:19:53 PM »

B&W, agreed.

I think one of the reasons I'm OK is because I'm the generation that grew up with Oprah on TV and she introduced me to the concept that abuse is cyclical and as the child of an alcoholic (which was the only diagnosis we had for Dad back then) I was at risk. I knew I needed to work on myself and so when I found myself in trouble I went to T.

My sisters are 10 years older and they still pooh-pooh mental health care - and they've never accepted my diagnosis of PTSD.

My T says it's a defense system for them.

I'd love to see some sort of program in our schools that teaches life skills - conflict resolution, good communication, and how to have good relationships. I think that something like that would be really helpful to identify kids who are at risk and intervene at an early point, and it would be enormously helpful with issues like bullying in schools and the workplace, and it would have a flow on effect of helping kids to develop the kind of relationship skills that would help them negotiate their work and their home lives.

I remember reading something here - maybe in the research section - where they'd done a study and discovered that unless they gave the BPDs life skills, no amount of one on one therapy was going to improve their personal relationships or give them the resources to maintain stable employment.

I wish there'd been some kind of 'decontamination' course I could have done once I was 18 and living in another town from my FOO.

Back then I read some of Harriet Lerner's books, and the really important things that I got out of that were the concepts of triangulation - and how important it is to remove yourself from a triangle when the problem exists between two other people and is being diverted onto you - and her philosophy of 'change the dance'.

i.e. just because the difficult person in your life insists on doing the tango there's no reason to follow their lead.

You can choose to waltz or foxtrot.

And sometimes they'll be that confused by you changing that they'll start missing a few steps in their own dance.

I still have to remind myself at times, 'Piper, you don't tango.' 
Logged
CalicoSilver
********
Offline Offline

Gender: Male
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
What is your relationship status with them: Married almost 30 years.
Posts: 2636


WWW
« Reply #22 on: November 17, 2010, 05:07:20 PM »

Calicosilver - did you manage to free yourself, and if so, was it in a way other than NC? I can't imagine the personal strenght it must take to remain in the thick of it and still get healthy

Thanks for asking. I wish I could have broken free while remaining in the household, but I couldn't. (At this time I had NO IDEA I was trying to cope with two people seriously afflicted with PD's.)

My mom is uBPD, and her husband is uNPD. I suppose these facts alone could make understanding those skewed dynamics nearly impossible for anyone but a highly trained and experienced professional - but as a young man attempting to "grow up" I always felt that it was me who had the problems... .and I had plenty - from my seriously failed parenting, and not due to a PD.

I only broke free from their madness upon leaving their household. Looking back, it would have been impossible for me to have gotten away from them any other way.
Logged
BMama
********
Offline Offline

Gender: Female
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
What is your relationship status with them: Married 18 years.
Posts: 2485



« Reply #23 on: November 18, 2010, 11:35:49 AM »

This is a great thread.

BW, something I was thinking as I was reading your post.  I did this myself, and still catch myself thinking the "wrong" way.  You eluded to this, but I wanted to clarify a thought I had, I guess.

Change at any level, setting the boundaries, holding to them, even leaving the system has to be about YOU, your own mental, physical health.  Simply going through the motions of upsetting the apple cart, as another put it, hoping to only affect change in others is futile, and will probably lead to disappointment.  This is a trap I fell into, and still occasionally slip on... .IF I JUST hang on, uBPDm will FINALLY get it and all will be sunshine and roses.  It took a while to realize that it had to be about ME, not what change I might affect in them.

Do I hope that my family system will change as a result of my walking away, boundary setting?  Sure.  I'm a glass is half full chick.  However, I had to stop thinking about that as a desired result of my actions, I guess is the way to put it.  I HAD to work on me, be a little more self-centered so to speak for therapy to make sense.

I think you were saying this, in parts put altogether in your last reply on page one... .I just wanted to pull it out and reiterate.
Logged
Telios
******
Offline Offline

What is your sexual orientation: Straight
What is your relationship status with them: married 21 years
Posts: 896


« Reply #24 on: November 18, 2010, 01:37:46 PM »

Nice mobile motif but in my family dynamic there's way more than one flying monkey.  Smiling (click to insert in post)

There's an entire swarm

So this little black duck doesn't appear on that mobile because she got out the scissors and detached herself from the drama.

I'm attached to a different mobile now and none of the animals on it are predatory.

Much better.

This is pretty much the way my FOO is as well, I have gotten out the scissors and detached from most everyont except my omother,I can be around her once a week with little problems as long as I use a modified version of Wise Mind ! 

Wish I could have a warm loving relationship with mom,but reality is mother never knew a whole lot about warm , and accepting peoples feelings as being ok,never understood the "I'm okay, your okay thing."  I think she almost feels an obligation to have all the answers and if she doesn't then she just down plays your feelings



Anyway Well put SaNPDiper!

Thanks, Telios
Logged
qcarolr
Distinguished Member
*
Offline Offline

Gender: Female
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Child
What is your relationship status with them: Married to DH since 1976
Posts: 4928



WWW
« Reply #25 on: August 23, 2011, 09:56:13 AM »

Change at any level, setting the boundaries, holding to them, even leaving the system has to be about YOU, your own mental, physical health.  Simply going through the motions of upsetting the apple cart, as another put it, hoping to only affect change in others is futile, and will probably lead to disappointment.  This is a trap I fell into, and still occasionally slip on... .IF I JUST hang on, uBPDm will FINALLY get it and all will be sunshine and roses.  It took a while to realize that it had to be about ME, not what change I might affect in them.

I realize how important the acceptance of this is for me - that all my hopes for my DD25 to maintain a level of funcitoning as an untreated BPD in our family is kind of futile. And when she is back in our home (me, dh, gd6, DD25, 2 puppies - one being 'hers' I find that I step back from my self-care and putting the priority on gd6's needs. Things start to destabilize for me, and then for gd6. Today I woke up, DD25 having been gone a couple days hanging out with her homeless friends and giving me a break from her neediness, feeling more hopeful. I have turned my mind back to letting go of my expectations of her and focusing on taking care of myself and the rest of my household. She is a pwBPD, not willing to participate in treatment, and I just have to keep my protective bubble in place -- putting my needs and gd6's first.  Accepting it will never be "all sunshine and roses" in our r/s with DD25.

qcr xoxo
Logged

The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better. (Dom Helder)
jardin
******
Offline Offline

What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Posts: 873



« Reply #26 on: August 23, 2011, 10:21:37 PM »

As someone who really uses visualization a lot, I appreciate the concept of the mobile.  I actually think it is very important to recognize the ties that bind us.  We live in a society that tends to commend independence and individuality... .but very few people are islands.  Even if we remove ourselves from one mobile via NC, we'll find ourselves on some other one.  People constantly impacting us.  And, in response, our inevitable reaction to that impact.  It makes sense to choose more healthy reactions instead of just passively spinning around. 

That said, between thoughts of staying on the forest path, lots of ducks, and now a mobile of farm animals, I believe I'm officially ready to open a petting zoo in my head.  Smiling (click to insert in post) 
Logged
Sir5r
*******
Offline Offline

What is your sexual orientation: Straight
What is your relationship status with them: Married
Posts: 1097


« Reply #27 on: August 23, 2011, 11:18:42 PM »

The mobile is a great metaphor. I see my BPDw trying to turn the mobile back as a metaphor for many of the problems that arose when my children became teens and resisted her control. It was then that things really began to turn for the worse and then I became the object of her hate. Now I'm therapy I have begun to deal with her in a non reacative way, not absorbing the stress she creates but reflecting back at her.  She actually said the other day "look what you have done to me, I have gained a lot of weight and I'm scratching myself!" I replied by saying "I don't absorb the stress you pit out anymore, I reflect it because I can't take it anymore."

Basically she is trying hard to return the mobile back where she had it and it isn't working so her BPD symptoms are showing up in other ways. Our therapist so much as said that a week ago to me.

Sir5r
Logged
lbjnltx
Retired Staff
*
Offline Offline

Gender: Female
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Child
What is your relationship status with them: widowed
Posts: 7766


we can all evolve into someone beautiful


« Reply #28 on: August 24, 2011, 09:16:23 AM »

Excerpt
I'd love to see some sort of program in our schools that teaches life skills - conflict resolution, good communication, and how to have good relationships. I think that something like that would be really helpful to identify kids who are at risk and intervene at an early point, and it would be enormously helpful with issues like bullying in schools and the workplace, and it would have a flow on effect of helping kids to develop the kind of relationship skills that would help them negotiate their work and their home lives.

i have been trying to do this outside the school community.  beginning a new program is really really hard.  i have given the information and meeting times to police dept. sherrif's dept, one local school, mhmr, safe house, juvenile probation, as well as given a presentation at our church... .very little utilization and the program is definitely not thriving.

it's free, transportation is available for the kids ages 12-17.  when things are voluntary... .free... .there are still very few "takers"... .the only way i see the program advancing/surviving is for A) it is mandatory or B) parents become desperate enough to lay down their egos and fears to get help.

this program, PPC, or Postive Peer Culture is highly affective, peer led, and has a 4 decade success record.  it is used in residential treatment centers and some ... .a few... .school system both public and private.

how does this fit into the "family systems" discussion?  when we as parents won't take responsibility, won't admit that our children need more than just casual parenting, the entire family will suffer and suffer generationally.

[quoteHowever, the family member can change his or her role, with ripple effects that might be surprising.

][/quote]
suprising... .i say miraculous!  that is why i "preach" learning the tools, skills, and practicing them within the family relentlessly... .IF... .no positive change is affected in the pwBPD that is unfortunate and sad BUT the parent is still healthy and able to cope and have a good life ANYWAY because they are healthy and skilled and able to cope!  there is no way to lose by changing and learning a more excellent way.

on the subject of NC ... .no contact... .

i have been thinking about this a great deal lately as many parents seem to take this route... .(perhaps because i am in a different place and my d14 is still a dependant, i don't have that option).  i understand that NC may be necessary while working on learning the skills, achieving personal excellence, becoming a healthy person/parent, however, if one has achieved all that and is able to deal w/whatever is thrown at them, is NC just a way not to deal... .not to have to use those skills which you possess?  can one be healthy and operate in the most excellent way to the point that no matter what their kids/spouse/parent says or attempts to do that they can remain grounded and healthy?

lbjnltx
Logged

 BPDd-13 Residential Treatment - keep believing in miracles
BMama
********
Offline Offline

Gender: Female
What is your sexual orientation: Straight
What is your relationship status with them: Married 18 years.
Posts: 2485



« Reply #29 on: August 24, 2011, 09:21:05 AM »

Personally... .I don't find anything wrong with "avoiding" people if they are toxic and unhealthy.  I understand your situation with a child.  And I might feel totally different if my pwBPD was my child.  Mine is my parent.  I've spent my life trying to make her happy and failed just as recently as two days ago, WHILE I'm trying to maintain NC, and while she continuously works at eroding my boundaries.  I may have changed, but she has not.  I find it a better use of my time to put my new life skills to work creating and nuturing healthier relationships with other people.
Logged
Pages: [1] 2  All   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Links and Information
CLINICAL INFORMATION
The Big Picture
5 Dimensions of Personality
BPD? How can I know?
Get Someone into Therapy
Treatment of BPD
Full Clinical Definition
Top 50 Questions

EDITORIAL DEPARTMENTS
My Child has BPD
My Parent/Sibling has BPD
My Significant Other has BPD
Recovering a Breakup
My Failing Romance
Endorsed Books
Archived Articles

RELATIONSHIP TOOLS
How to Stop Reacting
Ending Cycle of Conflict
Listen with Empathy
Don't Be Invalidating
Values and Boundaries
On-Line CBT Program
>> More Tools

MESSAGEBOARD GENERAL
Membership Eligibility
Messageboard Guidelines
Directory
Suicidal Ideation
Domestic Violence
ABOUT US
Mission
Policy and Disclaimers
Professional Endorsements
Wikipedia
Facebook

BPDFamily.org

Your Account
Settings

Moderation Appeal
Become a Sponsor
Sponsorship Account


Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2006-2019, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!