Sunday, July 20, 2008

Exploring Enmeshment and Family Issues with Dr. David Stoop


Photo of David & Jan Stoop

Christians weighing in on Botkin Syndrome:

Excerpts from "Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves" by Drs. Stoop and Masteller.


From the book Introduction by Dr. Paul Meier:


More and more the family is being seen as it really is – the primary influence in our lives that no only builds us and shapes us, but also sets in motion the disorders that limit and frustrate us as adults. The child who was physically or emotionally abused, for example, usually becomes an adult who will also tend to abuse his or her own children, or else will marry someone who does. All too many of us find ourselves behaving like our parents I ways that we vowed we would never repeat, even though we don't have to follow that pattern.


I remember the pain of a young man whose wife had left him for another man. As he talked to me about it, he mentioned in passing that she was at the same age as her mother was when her mother left her father for another man. I asked him about what he had just said. He didn't answer. He just sat there shaking his head, tears filling his eyes. Finally he said, “I can't understand it. She talked often of the pain her mother had caused by leaving. She was still angry at her mother for it. Now she's gone and done the same thing? Why?”


There is no simple answer to the pain of these patterns. Usually, these problems serve a function within the extended family that is beyond our awareness. That is why we get stuck in behaving in ways we swore we never would...


As a physician and psychiatrist, I can attestt to the vast medical and physiological consequences that take place when we don't get our home in order. Dr. C. Everett Koop, our former U.S. Surgeon General, has told me personally that about 80 percent of all the medical illness seen in a doctor's office are either caused by emotional stress, or will be significantly worsened by stressors.


On going, unresolved family issues, along with other stressors cause ACTFRF (adrenocorticotrophic hormone releasing factor) to be released from the hypothalamus, causing ACTH to be released from the pituitary gland. This causes stress hormones to flow out of the adrenal glands, causing decreased lymphocytes (white blood cells), decreased antibodies, and increased vulnerability to all kinds of infectious diseases, including viral-induced cancers.


The physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of a human being are all intricately intertwined. Repressed injuries that we experienced in our families can cause migraine headaches, ulcers, colitis, muscle aches, and other disorders. But we often forget that they can also be the indirect cause of bronchitis, pneumonia, strokes, cardiovascular disease, mental illness, and death. Taking the effort to analyze and understand the dynamics of our families of origin will help us to take control of our lives, and to move in new and healthier directions. Unless forgiveness is a part of the equation, our analysis and understanding will leave us still caught in the family dysfunction.


I have known Dr. Stoop for many years, both as a colleague and as a personal friend. There is no one I trust more to guide me personally into an understanding of my family and its issues. His gifted abilities and experiences, as well as his extensive psychological and theological training, have all contributed to this important book. All too often the process of forgiveness is either left out or distorted. I'm thrilled that Dr. Stoop and Dr. Masteller have restored it to its central role in the process of our healing.


Paul D. Meier, M.D.


Excerpt from
Dr. David Stoop & Dr. James Masteller's
"Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves:
Healing Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families"

Regal/Gospel Light, 1996 (Servant, 1991)