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The terms "dysfunctional family" and "pathological family" are often used interchangeably. However, both of these concepts have a different definition range: every pathological family can be called dysfunctional, but not every dysfunctional family is pathological. Check what are the differences between dysfunction and pathology in the family.

Oa dysfunctional familywe say when the relations between its members are permanently disturbed and affect the mental and physical well-being of both parents and children. One of the types of dysfunction ispathology- it is used to describe the most serious forms of domestic violence, such as physical violence, sexual abuse, alcoholism, drug addiction. Whether a given family can be considered pathological is determined by the scale of disorders in its functioning.

Dysfunctional family - definition

A dysfunctional family does not satisfy the emotional needs of its members, does not provide security and the proper conditions for the proper development and growth of children. In other words - it does not fulfill important functions from the point of view of the mental he alth of the family members themselves and the whole society.

The source of disorders in such a family are disturbances in the relationship between parents, as well as their incorrect relationship with their own "I" (this applies to the entire spectrum of personality disorders - from mental diseases and addictions, to emotional immaturity, excessive ambition, etc.) . According to the concept of the family as a system, when one of its elements (mother, father or their relationship) is dysfunctional, the consequences affect all of its members. For example, the father's alcoholism has a negative impact on the relationship with the mother, which in turn destroys the child's sense of security and exposes it to long-term stress. As a result, a small person does not acquire the right patterns of functioning in the family and society, is tormented by a constant sense of threat, feels inferior, and is afraid to engage in deeper relationships with others. These are characteristic symptoms of the DDD syndrome - an Adult Child from a Dysfunctional Family.


Dysfunctional family - features

The characteristic features of a dysfunctional family are:

  • the existence of a "family secret" - a shameful problem that mother and father want to conceal at all costs, and to this end they warn their children not to tell anyone; children, often feeling ashamed themselves, rarely communicate that there is something wrong in their immediate environment;
  • lack of established roles and patterns of behavior - in the absence of proper careparental role, the mother often takes over the role of the father, the older siblings play the role of parents in relation to the younger one;
  • lack of real communication between family members - mutual contacts are either full of aggression and hostility, or are superficial and constitute tacit consent to the conflict;
  • the family does not create conditions for the development of its members, there is no place for individuality, there is a resignation from own needs in order to maintain the current situation and keeping the family secret;
  • there is no intimacy and acceptance for different attitudes and opinions;
  • there is no permission to show their feelings or weaknesses, members are forced to pretend everything is okay.

Dysfunctional behaviors in the family

Dysfunctional behaviors vary in their severity and harmfulness. However, it can be concluded that if one of them occurs in the family constantly or frequently, we are dealing with a dysfunctional family. The most common are:

  • father's or mother's alcoholism, drug addiction or other addiction;
  • domestic violence, including physical, mental, sexual and economic violence (both against a partner and children);
  • excessive demands of the mother and / or father towards their children and the associated excessive strictness and lack of forbearance;
  • emotional abuse by parents (blackmailing children, using them in conflict with their partner, forcing them to take sides);
  • emotional coldness of parents and lack of interest in the needs of children;
  • over-control and overprotection;
  • exposing the child to the sight of corrupting behavior, e.g. theft, drug addiction, fornication.

When does a dysfunctional family become pathological?

Among the dysfunctional behaviors in the family listed above, the most serious are alcoholism, drug addiction, domestic violence and the involvement of a child or forcing him to observe acts of violence or fornication. They can also be considered as determinants of a pathological family. This means that every pathological family can be called dysfunctional, but not every dysfunctional family is affected by the problem of pathology. For example, in a situation where parents make their children hostages of their own conflict, involve them in a dispute, and at the same time over-control them - such a family can be considered dysfunctional, but not pathological. It is worth remembering that the boundaries between these two concepts are not sharp and at any moment dysfunction may turn into pathology

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