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Adult children and multigenerational family transmission of dysfunctionality: Are you an “Adult chil

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Priyanga Singh, Aug 2, 2020.


do you consider yourself an adult children ?

  1. yes

  2. no

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  1. Priyanga Singh

    Priyanga Singh Young Member

    Sep 11, 2019
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    Practicing medicine in:

    The term "Adult Children" was first coined by self-help groups supporting the wounded adults of alcoholic parents. In past years, the term has become generalized to include all grown children who were raised in abusive homes or dysfunctional families of narcissistic, traumatized, depressed, numbed, workaholic, abusive, neurotic, or psychotic parents. According to author of well-known book “The Family” John Bradshaw, hundred Percent of families are dysfunctional in some manner; the degree of dysfunctionality may vary but its there.

    Its multigenerational

    Dysfunctional adult children often marry other dysfunctional individuals and create new dysfunctional families by raising adult children and cycle continues for generations. The purpose of this article is to increase awareness regarding this issue of being adult children and to break the transmission further.

    As Carl Jung has mentioned “We cannot change anything unless we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses” , there is only one way to change the status quo of our miserable, wounded and empty existence of being an adult children, the acceptance of us being an adult children and to work towards betterment of ourselves and future generations to come.

    How do you know if you are an “Adult Children”?

    I have summarised few traits of adult children after thoroughly researching from “The Family” by John Bradshaw, “The Drama of the Gifted Child” by Alice Miller, “Homecoming” by John Bradshaw and “The Dark Side of the Inner Child” by Stephen H. Wolinsky. If this list compels you and relatable to you than I highly recommend reading these books (in same order as mentioned above) for deeper understanding and evolution of your consciousness.

    Adult Child Syndrome’s most common Traits:

    • Overthinker- Adult children have paralysis of analysis. They start thinking 'too early' and too much because they do not trust world. Their childhood caregivers were the one who robbed them from natural trusting instincts of human animals, by conditioning them with their own fears and insecurities. Some adult children get frozen with fearful thinking and world is always deceptive place for them. They think, their overthinking will save them from troubles.

    • Their inner critic is cruel judge- The tyrannical voice of caregivers is internalised in adult children and they always judge themselves as “NOT BEING GOOD ENOUGH”. In fact, many suicides will not happen if the inner critic is muted and discarded. Many suicide notes by people around the world mentions NOT MEASURING UPTO, in many areas of life as a cause of their despair.

    • They bargain their true self for Certainty and Perfection-Adult child is vulnerable to seduction by offers of long-term security giving painful jobs, toxic partners, and high-profile authority peoples. They are easy to get allured into following a cult, religion or spiritual leader who promise certain and perfect world to them, hence there are million of followers of such peoples.

    • Fear of Powerful and controlling figures- caregivers of adult children were playing as an authority, they were harsh, capricious, and unempathetic to the child, the child was rewarded only if he or she behaves to please them. Adult children of dysfunctional family are always submissive and suppressed by authority figures, they cannot stand for their truth.

    • Emotionally immature and co-dependent – Adult children are emotionally immature and always depends upon other people for fulfilment and satisfaction. They roam around like hollow incomplete being and fill their empty space with toxic people, food, alcohol, work, and spiritual addictions.

    • Alexithymia (Inability to Recognize Feelings)- This is from repressing emotions until the capacity to feel is either lost or frozen. According to Carl Jung, Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering. People repress and become neurotic. In her book Alice miller beautifully explains “The art of not experiencing feelings. A child can experience her feelings only when there is somebody there who accepts her fully, understands her, and supports her. If that person is missing, if the child must risk losing the mother's love of her substitute to feel, then she will repress emotions.” (from the book “The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self”)

    • Have Trouble Discussing Problems. They have trouble discussing their problems in healthy way, they deal with their problems by denial, avoidance, addictions, and repression. Most of the times, instead of solving real problems they distract, themselves with empty solutions and addictions.

    • People pleasuring and self-sacrificing- As children, they were disliked, rejected, and emotionally abandoned by their parents, so as adults they constantly crave for reassurance and worried about liked by everyone they meet. Many celebrities come into such category, they wish to be liked by millions and, even if they are liked by millions, deep down they feel empty.

    • Saying ‘NO’ is tough – these people are “yes MAN”, they cannot say “NO” even though every cell of their body might be screaming “No” inside. The root cause is their people pleasing and approval seeking attitude, they just do not want to be bad guy in other people’s book.

    • Approval hungry - As children they were controlled by disapproval, their parents rewarded and loved them when they were following parental commands like their personal slave, later they confuse approval with love. They believe that approval is a necessary first step toward love, which leads to intimacy problems and disagreements.

    • Guilt ridden – they are always in guilt of not living up to. They suffer all their lives from this crushing feeling of guilt, the sense of not having lived up to their parent’s expectations, which they later projects on their intimate partners and children. They do not understand that it is not a child's task or duty to satisfy parental needs and no amount of rational argument can ease their discomfort.

    • Lack of healthy Boundaries- This is more than inability to defend boundaries, it is an actual desensitization to intrusion and exploitation, they cannot say no and they themselves intrude other persons privacy and sense of being free. Lack of maintaining healthy boundaries causes feelings of suffocation and being killed by excessive dominance of others. People can use these people as doormat and exploit them indefinitely, such people have long list of resentments and unspoken repressed anger, which later may give rise to mental illness.

    • Low Self Worth- Lack of unconditional acceptance in early life is hard to overcome.

    • Black and White Thinking- For adult children life is either wonderful or terrible, but not in-between. In the natural world, though, almost everything is 'Gray' and in between. Black and white thinking is an outcome of living with a tyrant parent where everything is about pleasing or displeasing him or her, parents are mythological gods and children are their loyal slaves. Black and white thinking often leads to feeling that there are only two options, either run or be slave, either everyone is evil or good, there is no middle road in their map.

    • Take Everything Personally - As children, everything that came at them from the tyrant was in fact targeted--approval and disapproval, reward, and punishment. (Some of this may have been intended to disturb them, most of it was displaced rage) From this, adult children often grow up perceiving that every bit of social friction means that the other person is 'messing' with them. There is a great difficulty recognizing that others may only be acting out of self-interest or their own issues.

    • lie when it would be just as easy to tell the truth- They are ashamed of their true self, so they cover themselves behind fake self. They are always lying to support their fake image, which also leads to intimacy problems. To love, one must be true to themselves and adult children are in constant fear of losing their false fake self which they think is more precious than their actual self.
    adult children jpg.jpg
    • They act on impulses – their actions are governed by their whims, instead of rationality, this impulsivity leads to confusion, self-sabotage, and loss of control at times. As a result, they spend tremendous amounts of time cleaning up the mess and mistakes done in fits of emotions and impulses.
    So, these are few most common features in adult children of dysfunctional family. I highly recommend reading books mentioned in this article. I hope you enjoyed and learnt something deep about your being. I am medical doctor and cartoonist, I create cartoons at , you can subscribe to the website’s newsletter for fun-filled medical information. You can follow creativemeddoses on Facebook, twitter and YouTube.

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