Emperor’s New Clothes

Good article from Psychology Today re: dysfunctional families & scapegoating.  It puts an interesting spin on the Emperor’s New Clothes tale:

What the story doesn’t tell you is that, in real life, no one likes that kid and that no one wants to pay attention to his message. You see, the king can’t be embarrassed like that and still be a powerful king. The dishonest courtiers will need to reconstruct the charade to continue their mischief. The good people will still participate in the folly because they don’t want to embarrass anyone or because they lack the courage or resources to get another job or perhaps because they don’t want to show themselves as having made foolish choices.

This also resonated:

Because we live in a culture that respects family privacy, someone usually has to get badly hurt before the illusion is questioned by anyone outside its ranks.

And so does this:

Usually it isn’t until the teen years, when kids have spent a considerable amount of time with the families of friends, that they begin to understand that things can be different than what they have experienced in their own families. by that time, they have spent all of their formative years in an abnormal situation, developing abnormal ideas about love, loyalty, interdependence, functioning and roles. If they somehow have the courage to call it like it is, the family will do its best to bring them back into line.

All this is at least part of the reason that, in the face of so much information, dysfunction persists. To deal with a dysfunctional family is not only to deal with whatever they say the problem is (e.g., father’s drinking, mother’s temper, the child’s truancy, etc.), but also to deal with an intricate system of illusions and myths that the family relies on to keep it whole.

It takes enormous motivation, courage, and perseverance for a family to work itself out of its unhealthy state and to take the leap of faith into something new that will work better for everyone.

I’d like to add, that sometimes not everyone is willing to take the leap.  Sometimes, one has to leap alone or at least without the family of origin.  It can be lonely, but it’s better than staying mired in dysfunction.

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