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Thread: Adult children...

  1. #11
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    Impulsivity vs. Rigidity

    When emotional and psychological pain cannot get talked out, it often gets acted out through impulsive behaviors instead. Impulsive behavior can lead to chaos, wherein a pain filled inner world is surfacing in action.

    Painful feelings that are too hard to sit with explode into the container of the family and get acted out.

    Blame, anger, rage, emotional, physical or sexual abuse, collapsing into helplessness, withdrawal or yelling, over or under spending and sexual anorexia or promiscuity are some are ways of acting out emotional and psychological pain in dysfunctional ways that engender chaos.

    Rigidity is an attempt to manage that chaos both inwardly and outwardly. Adults in an addictive/traumatizing family system may tighten up on rules and routines in an attempt to counteract or ward off the feeling of falling apart inwardly or outwardly.

    And family members may tighten up in their personal styles becoming both controlled and controlling. There is no middle ground where strong feelings can be talked over or even explode momentarily but then be talked through toward some sort of tolerable resolution.

    Impulsive behavior is a manifestation of high intensity and rigidity is a manifestation of shutting down, clamping down or being physically present but psychically absent, following empty forms and rules.

    Again, the tendency is to alternate between black and white in 8 thinking, feeling and behavior, with no shades of gray, which reflects the family’s problems with regulation.

    Self regulation is a basic developmental accomplishment that allows the growing child and eventually the adult to regulate their thinking, feeling and behavior so that it is within an appropriate range for the situation they are engaged in.
    Welcome. Please know this is a safe place. Feel free to share.

    ~4tRACY520

  2. #12
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    Grandiosity vs. Low Self Worth

    Feelings of low self-worth and shame can plague those within the addicted family system. Not feeling normal, experiencing themselves as different from other families, and hiding the painful truth of family dysfunction can all contribute to those in an addicted family system feeling bad about themselves.

    Grandiosity is a common defense against feelings of worthlessness. Feelings of helplessness, frustration, shame and inadequacy get covered up with grandiose schemes and fantasies. Family members may not understand how to take baby steps toward success or getting their lives together.

    Frustrated and disheartened they may take refuge in grandiose ideas of themselves and their plans in life as a way of warding off ever-growing fears that their lives are somewhat unmanageable or they cannot seem to get things to work out for them.

    A healthy self-image can tolerate the normal flux in positive and negative feelings about the self without sinking into pervasive feelings of worthlessness or boomeranging into grandiose fantasies as a way of defending against those painful emotions.

    A healthy self-image or good self-esteem is probably one of the most important components of emotional immunity and well being.


    ~4tRACY
    Welcome. Please know this is a safe place. Feel free to share.

    ~4tRACY520

  3. #13
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    Denial vs. Despair

    Addicted or traumatized families are often very threatened by what they perceive to be the looming destruction of their family as they know it. Their very place in the world is being threatened; the ground beneath them is beginning to move.

    Denial is a dysfunctional attempt to put a good face on a bad situation by denying the impact addiction is having on the family system and the presence of the proverbial “pink elephant in the living room” who is taking up ever increasing amounts of space.

    Reality gets rewritten as family members attempt to bend it to make it less threatening; to cover up their ever growing despair. Family members often collude in this denial and anyone who attempts to turn the spotlight onto harsh reality of addiction may be perceived as disloyal.

    They run in place to keep up appearances (to themselves as well as others) while feeling a sense of despair constantly nipping at their heels. Again we witness the cycles between extremes that so characterize addicted/traumatized family systems.

    Reality orientation or an ability to live with life on life's terms is an important part of recovering one’s balanced sense of self and orientation toward the world.



    ~4tRACY
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    Welcome. Please know this is a safe place. Feel free to share.

    ~4tRACY520

  4. #14
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    Caretaking vs. Neglect

    Caretaking can be an attempt to attend to, in another person, what needs to be attended to within the self e.g. personal, unconscious anxiety or pain may become displaced and projected onto someone else.

    Then we set about attending to “their” symptoms rather than to our own. (As nurse, I've personally had to deal with this.)

    It is a form of care that is motivated by our own unidentified needs rather that a genuine awareness of another’s. Because this 9 is the case, neglect can be its dark side.

    We neglect or don’t see what is real need in another person because we can’t identify real need within the self. Neglect can take the form of, ignoring or not seeing another’s humanness, withholding care, nurturing and attention, a shutting down of the relational behaviors that reflect attunement and connection.

    Neglect can be particularly difficult to treat because there is no easy behavior to pin wounded feelings on. Clients are left feeling they have too many needs to meet and mistrustful of deep connection.

    Balanced care of self and others is part of living a healthy life.

    ~4tRACY
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    Welcome. Please know this is a safe place. Feel free to share.

    ~4tRACY520

  5. #15
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    Abuse vs Victimization

    Emotional, physical and psychological abuse is unfortunately all too often present in families thatcontain addiction and trauma.

    Abuse is part of the impulsivity that characterizes families wherefeelings are acted out rather than talked out. The other side of abuse is victimization.

    The all too oftendynamic in which the abused child becomes the abusing parent, having felt helpless and victimized asa child, for example, they act out their childhood pain by passing it on in the form in which they got itrather than identifying and feeling their own helplessness and rage at being a victim of abuse.

    In thisway trauma related or addiction related familial patterns of relating become intergenerational. Balance can be achieved when intense emotions can be tolerated both within the self and within theemotional container of the relationship or family.

    When this is possible, painful feelings, even if theyexplode momentarily, can be worked through toward some sort of resolution.

    After a disconnectionoccurs a reconnection can occur which will represent a slight step up in relating, healing orinterpersonal awareness and understanding.



    ~4tRACY
    Welcome. Please know this is a safe place. Feel free to share.

    ~4tRACY520

  6. #16
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    Trauma and Addiction as an Intergenerational Disease Process

    Children of addiction are four times more likely to become addicts themselves and these statistics don’t include multiple addictions such as food, sex, gambling, work addiction etc. Nor do they include those who marry addicts.

    There is certainly evidence that there is a genetic predisposition to addiction. However, even putting genetics aside, the emotional, psychological and behavioral patterns that get passed down through the generations put each generation at risk for perpetuating the trauma related dynamics that lead to emotional problems across a wide range of indicators.

    In this way, addiction and psychological problems become a family illness that is intergenerational. Those who have experienced trauma may experience some of the following issues when they attempt to re-enter adult intimate relationships.

    They may:
    • Avoid intimate relationships because they unconsciously fear another interruption of the affiliative bond (isolation)
    • Recreate relationship dynamics that mirror their original trauma (reenactment)
    • Unconsciously project unhealed pain and anger from the original trauma into present-day intimate relationships (transference)
    • Become enmeshed in intimate relationships in an unconscious attempt to protect against abandonment (fusing)
    • Distance their partner when they enter a dependent relationship (withdrawal)
    • Later respond to situations that trigger them by shutting down, or with an intensity of emotions appropriate to the original traumatic situation (triggering)
    • See their partners in intimate relationships as alternately all good or all bad (splitting)
    • Misread signals from others, overreacting to signals that threaten to stimulate old pain (Alexythimia)
    • Lose the ability to let go and be playful in intimate relationships (loss of ability to fantasize, symbolize)
    • Lose the ability to trust and have faith in intimate relationships (interruption of affiliative bond)
    • Lose their capacity to accept support (numbness, shutdown, unresolved pain)
    • Engage in sensation-seeking behavior (high intensity / shutdown)
    • Self-medicate with drugs and alcohol (self-medication) (Dayton 1997)
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    Welcome. Please know this is a safe place. Feel free to share.

    ~4tRACY520

  7. #17
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    Parents with a family history of trauma and/or addiction

    Parents with a family history of trauma and/or addiction may tend to:

    • Have trouble tolerating their children being rejected by anyone.
    • Tend to violate their children’s boundaries by being unnecessarily intrusive and overly curious about their child’s affairs or push them away and withdraw or both.
    • Have a difficult time negotiating the vicissitudes of intimacy with their children and establishing an overall evenness in relating.
    • Overprotect their children even when it is not in their children’s best interest or push away the child’s needy/dependent sides or both.
    • Not know what normal is and consequently have trouble understanding what behavior to accept or foster as normal in their children and what behavior to discourage.
    • Have trouble having relaxed and easy fun with their children.
    • Have impulsive features that they act out in their parenting.
    • Feel somewhat different from other families.
    • Attempt to over control family life and the lives of their children.
    • Have trouble establishing healthy boundaries with their children, positioning themselves either too close or too far.
    • Withdraw when hurt or become attacking, may have trouble modulating their responses.
    • Have trouble generating healthy family rituals and allowing for the natural ebb and flow that accompanies them. They may become too important or minimized as to importance or both.
    • Layer their unresolved historical emotions onto their relationships with their children.(Dayton 1997)


    ~4tRACY
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    Welcome. Please know this is a safe place. Feel free to share.

    ~4tRACY520

  8. #18
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    Resilience, YAY!

    In treating ACOAs it is very important to identify the qualities of strength and resilience that they possess. ACOAs can be marvelously adaptive and resourceful.

    As the Italian proverb goes “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Many COAs and ACOAs develop unusual personal strengths.

    One of the single most important thing that resilient children share in common, according to Wolin and Wolin, is a strong, bonded relationship with at least one other person, usually within the extended family network, often a grandmother, aunt or uncle.

    Wolin and Wolin have created what they call a resilience mandala, or those qualities that are resilience enhancing.

    They are:
    • Independence
    • Creativity
    • Relationships
    • Insight
    • Humor
    • Morality
    • Initiative

    Some of the risk factors for children that can lead to psychological and emotional problems later in life are:
    • Poverty
    • Overcrowding
    • Neighborhood and school violence
    • Parental absence
    • Unemployment or instability

    These can be the children who are likely to wind up in the health care or penal system. However, some children grow up in the middle of all this and still come to have productive lives and relationships.

    Wolin and Wolin studied these children and their growth into adulthood in order to identify the attitudes and qualities that resilient children and adults seemed to possess and what factors might have contributed to building them.

    They discovered that resilient children tended to have:
    • Likable personalities from birth that attracted parents, surrogates and mentors to want to care for them. They were naturally adept recruiters of support and interest from others and drank up attention, care and support from wherever they could get it.
    • They tended to be of at least average intelligence reading on or above grade level.
    • Few had another child born within two years of their birth.
    • Virtually all of the children had at least ONE person with whom they had developed a strong relationship, often from the extended family or close community.
    • Often they report having an inborn feeling that their lives were going to work out.
    • They can identify the illness in their family and are able to find ways to distance themselves from it; they don’t let the family dysfunction destroy them.
    • They work through their problems but don’t tend to make that a lifestyle.
    • They take active responsibility for actively creating their own successful lives.
    • They tend to have constructive attitudes toward themselves and their lives.
    • They tend not to fall into self-destructive lives.

    ....SO, there IS hope!!

    ~4tRACY
    Welcome. Please know this is a safe place. Feel free to share.

    ~4tRACY520

  9. #19
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    Resilient Adults

    Wolin and Wolin in studying resilient adults found that they tended to have:

    • Found and built on their own strength:
    • Improved deliberately and methodically on their parents’ lifestyles
    • Married consciously into happy, healthy and or strong families
    • Fought off memories of horrible family get-togethers in order create their own rituals.
    • There tended to be what Wolin and Wolin refer to as the “magic two hundred mile” radius between them and their families of origin, enabling them to stay somewhat apart from the daily fray of potential family dysfunction.

    Wolin and Wolin found that the price these persons tended to pay were:
    • Stress related illnesses.
    • A certain degree of aloofness in their interpersonal relationships.



    ~4tRACY
    Welcome. Please know this is a safe place. Feel free to share.

    ~4tRACY520

  10. #20
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    Healing the Emotional Body along with the Mind and Spirit

    Implications for Treatment

    Because the types of trauma that occur in homes often constitute ruptures in relationships and often are at the hands of primary caretakers upon whom we depend for nurturance and survival, the implications for treatment are complicated.

    That is, the very vehicle that will lead us eventually back to health (i.e., relationships in therapeutic situations such as one-to-one or group therapy or twelve step programs) are those situations that have become fraught with pain and anxiety.

    Part of what addicts, ACOAs and codependents are doing in recovery is rewiring their body/mind systems to be able to tolerate increasing amounts of emotional and psychological pain without blowing up, shutting down or self-medicating.

    The cerebral cortex "has more inputs from the limbic system than the limbic system has coming from the cortex" (Schore 2004) Consequently our emotions highly impact our thinking and choice making processes.(Damasio 1999)

    Integrating these emotional messages with our reason is part of how we come to better understand ourselves and develop emotional literacy. But the body will also need to develop emotional strength; it will need to heal the nervous system that has become deregulated through trauma.

    This limbic reregulation happens slowly and over time. A week or a month or even a year is not enough time to accomplish this intricate mind/ body task. It may take years for clients, to accomplish these deep changes and may require a combination of body work, therapy and twelve step programs.

    Talking about traumatic memories may be the very last phase of healing from them. Full healing may encompass:
    • Developing the ability to manage levels of physiological arousal without becoming so anxious and fearful that one cannot tolerate the emergence of traumatic memory and the accompanying physiological sensations.
    • Limbic rewiring, i.e. spending time with adept external regulating relationships in order to repattern the deregulated limbic system, e.g. therapy, twelve step programs, hobby groups, faith groups, relationships with animals.
    • Getting sufficient rest and relaxation.
    • Adopting good nutritional habits.
    • Finding alternative ways self-sooth and self-regulate such as yoga, massage, exercise, meditation/relaxation/breath work that can stimulate the body’s natural opioid or self-soothing systems. heal the nervous system and bring it back into balance.
    • Doing the family of origin, present day family work in order to work with issues that contribute to using and dysfunction.

    Issues relating to addiction or being the adult children of addiction often get misdiagnosed. ACOAs may present across a wide range of symptoms such as depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, gambling, sexual or borderline symptoms.

    But it is difficult for healing to take place solely on a psychological level without understanding the full picture of both trauma and addiction. When healing occurs, it can often be traced to a long term relationship with an empathic therapist and the sense of belonging and the patient reworking of limbic bonds that occurs through twelve step programs.

    Often times, in searching out these original wounds therapists need to keep in mind that there will be what are referred to as model scenes (Lachman 2002) or scenes that carry an intricate web of symbolic meaning and dynamics for the client.

    These scenes may be a sort of amalgam of many overlays but, as in a dream, they have a depth of meaning and significance that the mind has shaped over a period of time. It is these sorts of scenes that we see emerge in the film, The Process.

    People who have been traumatized do not necessarily remember things perfectly or in order. Memories are fragmented and tend to fill out over a long period of time as the client becomes a little bit stronger each day.

    Consequently there is no one scene, no one conversation and no one method to use in trauma treatment. A combination of approaches that includes both group and one to one therapy, twelve step programs and body work has proven to be effective in the long term and can produce lasting healing.

    Oftentimes those in recovery report that “they do not wish to close the door on their pasts” because, through recovery, they experience a deepened capacity for living.


    ~4tRACY
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    Welcome. Please know this is a safe place. Feel free to share.

    ~4tRACY520

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