Saturday, August 2, 2008

Multi Generational Faithfulness: The Ultimate Tragedy

Another Christian resource for overcoming Botkin Syndrome: Love is a Choice: The Definitive Book on Letting Go of Unhealthy Relationships by Hemfelt, Minirth and Meier.

In the very first chapter of the book “Love is a Choice,” the authors offer the story, what they would call a case history. They describe a couple with marital difficulties and a little about each of their grown children, using an example that allows us to see a more obvious example of how interconnected a family is, in both function and dysfunction. These books are filled with such little vignettes of people, examples of real life situations and how real people struggled with them.

The authors go on to describe how professionals came to understand this field of study – addictions, obsessive-compulsive disorders, workaholism, etc. – as a WHOLE FAMILY problem. He explains the history of the Christians who came up with the “Twelve Step” program for alcoholics, but how they soon noted that addictions were not just an issue of the person using some substance, as destructive and involved as that is. The problem is also one of the family, family roles and family behaviors, and addictions are just a symptom of a greater cause.

The alcoholic (or any who use a substance or a behavior as a means of coping or as a way of escape) becomes dependent upon either the behavior or the substance, whatever that may be. Because families all work together to help one another and provide balance (keeping all those relationship triangles in some kind of balance), each member of the family develops a role within the family. The addiction itself becomes problematic but is not the primary problem but merely a symptom. The real disease is whatever the addicted person tries to overcome or compensate for through the addiction.

From page 7:

The Ultimate Tragedy

Another tragedy with which we will deal in later chapters is a problem of multigenerational nature. The serious dysfunction in a founding family will be absorbed by the children’s families and then their children’s families, a ripple of misery extending farther and farther down through the years. The dependency or dysfunction may change: an alcoholic father may sire, for instance, a worka holic son who sires a compulsive daughter who spends her way to bankruptcy. But it’s there. It’s almost always there, wreaking it’s damage.

Excerpts from
Robert Hemfelt, Frank Minirth and Paul Meier’s

Love is a Choice:
The Definitive Book on
Letting Go of Unhealthy Relationships
Thomas Nelson, 1989