Sunday, November 25, 2012

Unwritten Rules in Botkin Syndrome Families


Christians weighing in on Botkin Syndrome:
Excerpts from "Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves" by Drs. Stoop and Masteller.




From page 107:

Unwritten Rules

Children who grow up in dysfunctional families quickly learn the unwritten, unspoken rules of the household. Here are some that are especially common:

1. We don’t feel.
  • We keep our emotions guarded, especially anger (though often there is one person who is allowed to express feelings openly, especially anger).

2. We are always in control.

  • We don’t show weakness. We don’t ask for help, which is a sign of weakness.


3. We deny what is going on.
  • We don’t believe our senses or perceptions. We lie to ourselves and others.


4. We don’t trust.
  • Not ourselves, not others. No one can be relied upon, no one confided in.

5. We keep the family’s secrets.
  • Even if we are told, no one would believe us – or so we think.

6. We are ashamed.
  • We are to blame for everything bad that happens – and we deserve it.
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)

Roles and Rules

Christians weighing in on Botkin Syndrome:
Excerpts from "Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves" by Drs. Stoop and Masteller.


From pages 105 - 106


A “role” is simply any fixed pattern of relating that forces us into set actions, behaviors and responses, out of “habit” rather than as a freely chosen response to changing circumstances and situations. When roles work like this, they dehumanize us. People do not relate to us as full, free human beings with individual dignity and free will, but only in terms of our role. We are treated, not as “Dave” or “Joan” but as “the Black Sheep,” “the Scapegoat,” “the Kid Brother,” and so on.

Every family system operates according to a set of rules, or what are known in the business world as “standard operating procedures.” Rules may be spoken or unspoken. Nevertheless they exist, and they affect our family’s activities and behaviors. Even without saying a word, our family lets us know what is and is not acceptable, how various circumstances are to be assessed and responded to, and how different individuals out to act and react in different situations.

From Robert Subby in “Lost in the Shuffle:

“Don’t rock the boat” is the all-encompassing rule, the master rule and gatekeeper who rides herd over all the other rules in the family. “Don’t rock the boat” becomes the rule that rules. This simple but stern injunction, “Don’t rock the boat ” locks each individual family member in a set of unhealthy rules. If left unchallenged, these rules will inevitably suppress change, hinder growth, and obstruct any hope of recovery. (pg. 46)



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)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Roles That Enmeshed and Abandoned Children Play within Families

From the writings of Pia Mellody on Facing Love Addiction and Love Avoidance (The dynamics of non-sexual covert/emotional incest)
Note: A child can fill both positive and negative roles.
“Positive Roles”
Roles Assigned to Child With Enmeshing Abuse

"Positive Roles":

  • Hero or heroine (good child)
  • Counselor
  • Surrogate partners
  • Surrogate parent
  • Mediator
  • Mascot (comedian role)
  • Daddy's Little Girl (a ROLE, not a name said in passing)
  • Daddy's Little Man
  • Mommy's Little Girl
  • Mommy's Little Man


In Enmeshment,
In a relationship, this person will be “very good at being good.” Because he/she is so adaptable as a child, when they become an adult, they will seek intensity in order to feel alive and do it in a “positive” but COVERT manner.

They derive both shame and a false sense of empowerment from these roles which imparts a sense of value. They objectify those whom they care for by devaluing their partner while also elevating self.

Negative Roles”
  • Scapegoat (problem child)
  • Rebel

In a relationship, this person will be “very good at being bad.” This adult will seek intensity in order to feel alive in a “negative” OVERT manner.



Roles Assigned To Child With Abandoning/Neglecting Abuse

Negative Role”
Lost Child:
In a relationship, this person will act in a dependent, needy manner and try to create intensity inside the relationship itself as he/she perceives that it is the relationship that keeps him/her alive.


Irrelevant Child:
Deeper level of the lost child.


Xenophobia for BOTH SUBTYPES:
  • Fear in general.
  • Fear of strangers.
  • It is a biological imperative and sometimes is necessary for survival, and we then tend to be relational with what is familiar.
  • For the person who has been neglected or abandoned, he/she will try to be relational with people who create distance in relationships through the use of walls. (They will naturally be attracted, ironically, to those who are emotionally unavailable to them.)
  • For the person who has been enmeshed, he/she will feel compelled to be relational with people who are needy and who believe that they are worthless.

From Pia Mellody's writings and lectures,
and professional training with "The Meadows" treatment facility.

And from
by Mellody, Miller and Miller
HarperOne, 1992.