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Author Topic: If You Had Controlling Parents - Dan Neuharth, PhD  (Read 565 times)
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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Parent
Posts: 613

« on: June 04, 2015, 04:11:28 PM »

If You Had Controlling Parents
Author: Dan Neuharth, PhD
Publisher: Harper Perennial (September 8, 1999)
Paperback: 272 pages
ISBN-10: 0060929324
ISBN-13: 978-0060929329

This book contains a questionnaire about your childhood as well as your adult life to determine whether you came from a controlling family.  Unhealthy control can exist in "model" families as well as dysfunctional ones.  The author says that the main reason why parents become controlling is because they went through trauma in childhood, and didn't have anyone to help them with it.

So, if you are someone who doesn't feel you were "abused" per se, yet continue to have issues in adult life with relationships, career, self-esteem, this may be the book to help you understand yourself, and the role that your parents' traumas and coping strategies may have played in limiting your life, and how to, as the author puts it, emotionally "leave home" as an adult.  At the same time, many of the examples in the book seem similar to the descriptions of members of this forum who had parents with personality disorders, so it is applicable to more severe situations as well.  

The first section of the book gives descriptions of the 8 common types of unhealthy control (Smothering, Depriving, Perfectionistic, Cultlike, Chaotic, Using, Abusing, and Childlike) with anecdotes from the author's research.

The second and third sections describe reasons why parents overcontrol, the impact of overcontrol on a child when that child grows up to be an adult, and how to solve the problem, including emotionally "leaving home" (individuating) and setting boundaries with adult parents.

I found the book very thorough and systematically written.  I currently see a psychoanalyst, and in my therapy we do discuss family dynamics, but I found the book a useful adjunct to therapy anyways.  There are several comparison charts, and lists of, for example, "Top 10 Guilt-Inducing Family Loyalty Thoughts" or "5 Coping Strategies" that people develop in childhood to interact with overcontrolling parents.  Rather than oversimplifying or trivializing the content, these lists address the most common issues or questions people would have, as well as the common stumbling blocks.    

What distinguishes this book from a lot of other self-help books that I've read is that very often, I read a book that has an eloquent description of the problem, but when it comes to a solution, it resorts to self-bootstrap-pulling-up or vague moral exhortation ("You can do it!  Take your power back!".  This book describes the specific impacts of overcontrol in enough detail, and provides enough information on how to address those specific impacts, that although I can see that it is going to take effort and time, I am not left feeling let down by the book's conclusion.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is exploring the family-of-origin issues behind why they got into a relationship with a pwBPD, whether or not you are currently seeing a therapist.


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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Parent
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« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2015, 02:57:34 PM »

Thanks for the recommendation and insightful book review! I'll definitely have a look at this one. I grew up without severe physical abuse, but suffered (mostly) emotional torment through manipulative and controlling parents—until fairly recently, I minimized the problem and thought "things weren't so bad" (until I realized they were). This book looks like it might be quite helpful.
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