Why are some familymembers blind to whats going on of dysfunctional behavior?

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hope2016

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The dysfunctional mechanism and behavior is recurring. Why are some familymembers blind to what's going on?
I figured it out on a young age - why cant other familymembers see it?

Tired of being the only on figuring it out - why cant they see it and put a finger on it. And perhaps acknowledge it for something unhealthy.
When it's been an recurring mechanism their hole life.

Why not rebel against it?
 

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BettyGray

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Hi Hope,

This question plagued me for a long time. How could my 3 older siblings not see how unhealthy and selfish my NParents were/are?

Like you I figured it out early. I was the youngest with the least power. But I realized none of them shared my observations and if they did they were deathly afraid of saying anything. They would complain about my parents' choices and behaviors to me but if I chimed in and said EXACTLY the same thing, it was "how could you say such horrible things about them? They're good parents!" WHAT???!! You just said the same thing! Conversations ended there. I was wrong for agreeing with them.

As I got older, the more puzzled I grew over their inability to see the obvious. They behaved just as irrationally and nothing ever worked out for them in a positive way. Life just "happened" to them. If good things happened to me - if I advanced in any way way, it was because I was "lucky" and not because of any effort or grit of my own. Or my ability to see that you create the life you want and you DON'T blow the chances you're given.

Their lives became a series of failures and self-sabotage. I thought maybe as they got older they would grow wise to the abuse and start to understand how miserable they were and actually do something to change their situations. Nope. Things just got worse or stayed the same. My life got better and better, and they hated me for it. As though they couldn't take control and go seize what time they had here on Earth to build better, healthier lives. I left, they stayed closely to mom and dad and stayed mired in their toxic quicksand, getting angrier and more bitter by the day.  And so the chasm between us grew and grew.

The logical answer to your question seems to be how these family systems are structured. Early on kids of PD parents are taught not to challenge their parents' choices or behaviors. Speaking up or voicing an opinion is strongly discouraged. So they get sucked into the dysfunction, believing it's normal, "loving" behavior. The myth of the perfect family is born and everyone falls in line with whatever unspoken rules the controlling parents set are blindly followed. The children's' needs, dreams, and wishes are ignored or chastised - independent thinkers are threatening to the myth, therefore they must be punished. To me, taking advantage of trusting, gullible children and bending their budding belief systems around fear and compliance is just plain evil. They know what they're doing. They live for control and who is easier to control than an innocent child who completely depends on you?

Some siblings like the system if it works for them. They're too scared to admit the truth to themselves so they find ways to justify hanging on to the tribal mentality. After all, they were taught that their needs must take a backseat to mom and dad's.

I don't know why some of us "wake up" and see things so clearly while others are like zombies, deeply in the fog and quite comfortable in the land of denial. Where is their sense of justice? Where is their silence of self-preservation, self-respect, and morality?. I foolishly thought those around me shared my awareness and ability to spot bad behavior. It was heartbreaking to realize I had an acute sensitivity and awareness of things around me and that most people I encountered did not. It still baffles me and also saddens me not only for my siblings, but for humanity in general. The tribe mentality is much more accepted and prevalent in our society. Courage to be different is a lonely road as you know and most people just don't want to feel that kind of pain. They don't know it leads to growth because growth is a foreign concept to most people.

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Candywarhol

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Liz1018 - great insight and well put. I couldn't agree more.
It seems there is always one in every family who has the (hyper)sensitivity to see what's
going on and they end up taking a different path, leaving the quagmire behind.
I wish I could remember that in my more desolate moments extricating myself from the enmeshment.

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NewFreedom

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I feel your frustration!

I like to think that we came upon our discovery through a series of processes and if those same processes didn't occur for the other members, then they just can't/won't see it. I was clueless to my family's dysfunction until I moved out of the house and completely across the country. Even then, it took me years of studying psychology, and now studying mental health counseling to fully see the issues, especially those of my uNPD sib. Your other family members probably just haven't had the experiences and mental processes that you have.

Perhaps you could try to show them? As long as it wouldn't harm you, I suppose.

The most frustrating thing that I'm experiencing is one of my other siblings sees it too and agrees with me about everything, yet she still actively seeks a relationship with the NPD sibling. I don't get it, and I see her get hurt. But, that part of it is not in our control, and all we can do is be there if our family members ever start to see what we see. That's what I've learned anyway, I'm not saying it's easy!


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Inurdreams

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Very true words, Liz.

I saw the dysfunction in my FOO and could easily see it in my ILs.  It is so frustrating to see that others don't see it.  It's so blatant and obvious to me.

It's ike that story about the King's new clothes, which weren't there.  Only one child had to nerve to stand up and say, "Wait a minute! The King is naked!"

Of course, if I am remembering correctly, after is was pointed out, others were brave enough to chime in.  Too bad that doesn't happen in real life.  Those of us to stand up and state what should be the obvious get ostrasized.

I don't know if it's due to brainwashing from early childhood or if they are getting a pay-off for going along; a pay-off I never saw or understood.

I remember once NGM telling me and my brothers that if we behaved then she had a special treat for us.  I was about 13 at the time and for some reason It just irritated me and I spoke up and mouthed off and said, "Why do you try to buy everyone's love?"  I had seen her do this countless times with me and everyone else.  Well, that went over like a lead balloon.  I never received another single thing from her for the rest of her life.  I had the courage to stand up and speak the truth and I was punished for it.  But also remember how mad my brothers were at me for saying anything.  They were afraid they wouldn't get whatever it was she had coerced them with.

I know this seems like a small, petty thing but to me it illustrates why family members keep their mouths shut and just go along.


Peek not through the keyhole lest ye be vexed. - Stephen King


Response to a Flying Monkey:  Apparently you are suffering under the delusion that I give a damn.

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Candywarhol

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It's ike that story about the King's new clothes, which weren't there.  Only one child had to nerve to stand up and say, "Wait a minute! The King is naked!"

That really seems to be a common symptom in dysfunctional families.
I always say that there's so much under the carpet in my family that people are tripping over
the big mound and still pretending it's not there.
The one who suggest doing a clean-up, asking why others don't see the mound get's hit on the head and told they're crazy.

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IAmReady

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Early on kids of PD parents are taught not to challenge their parents' choices or behaviors. Speaking up or voicing an opinion is strongly discouraged. So they get sucked into the dysfunction, believing it's normal, "loving" behavior. The myth of the perfect family is born and everyone falls in line with whatever unspoken rules the controlling parents set are blindly followed. The children's' needs, dreams, and wishes are ignored or chastised - independent thinkers are threatening to the myth, therefore they must be punished. To me, taking advantage of trusting, gullible children and bending their budding belief systems around fear and compliance is just plain evil. They know what they're doing. They live for control and who is easier to control than an innocent child who completely depends on you?

Some siblings like the system if it works for them. They're too scared to admit the truth to themselves so they find ways to justify hanging on to the tribal mentality. After all, they were taught that their needs must take a backseat to mom and dad's.

I don't know why some of us "wake up" and see things so clearly while others are like zombies, deeply in the fog and quite comfortable in the land of denial. Where is their sense of justice? Where is their silence of self-preservation, self-respect, and morality?. I foolishly thought those around me shared my awareness and ability to spot bad behavior. It was heartbreaking to realize I had an acute sensitivity and awareness of things around me and that most people I encountered did not. It still baffles me and also saddens me not only for my siblings, but for humanity in general. The tribe mentality is much more accepted and prevalent in our society. Courage to be different is a lonely road as you know and most people just don't want to feel that kind of pain. They don't know it leads to growth because growth is a foreign concept to most people.

Well said! In my observation, the majority of people want to be part of the herd. They don't want to rock the boat, or challenge an authority figure. They want to fit in, and be part of the group. Being willing to part with the herd, and be an independent thinker, and question whose in charge - this is not in most people's DNA, especially when it comes to family dynamics. Asking people to analyze their family's way of doing things, and to be able to observe those dynamics with detachment and a critical eye - this is a tall order. It's like asking people to observe the air they breathe every day.

Being the independent thinker (the role I played in my family) is a painful, often frustrating gift. My immediate family consists of uNPD father, enabler/distant/aloof mother, me, and one younger sister. My father's insane control issues were catered to by my mother, and she was not above being ridiculously controlling herself, in order to not upset my father.

One Christmas, my sister and I were both home visiting. I was maybe 28, and my sister was 24. We were going to be getting in the car on Christmas morning, and driving six hours to my uncle's house to spend a few days. We did this every year. My sister's adorable dog (a golden retriever) was a couple of miles away, at her boyfriend's parents' house, because OUR parents would not let the dog in their house (they said she might break something). My sister wanted to go visit her dog before we were departing for this trip, as she wouldn't get to see her for a few days. My father was out running, and afterwards would be coming back to shower and get ready. My sister should have plenty of time to go and see her dog and say goodbye to her boyfriend. Our mother refused to let her go.

Now, mind you, my sister was 24 years old - an independent adult who supported herself and had been living on her own for years. In my view, she should have just brushed my mother off, grabbed her keys and left. But, all the brainwashing of our youth clearly still had hold of her mind (Our parents' needs come first! Always do what they tell you, no matter how unreasonable!). So, I was appalled when my sister passively accepted what my mother said. She (a grown woman) was going to give up seeing her dog and her boyfriend before our trip (completely unreasonable requests), because her mother said so.

I knew what was going on - my mother didn't want to incur my father's wrath if for some reason he was kept waiting and my sister wasn't back yet. My narc father could never ever be kept waiting on any of us, for any reason (only the other way around). So it was easier to just stop my sister from going at all. Not worth the risk, I'm sure my mother was thinking to herself. But in our household, standing up to my father's insane control issues was not allowed.

Unless you were me. I stepped in on my sister's behalf that day, and told my mother that she was being ridiculous, and my sister was going. An argument ensued - my mother, as usual, enabling my father's insanity, and making me out to be the bad guy for butting my nose in where it didn't belong. In the end, my sister didn't go. I tried to persuade her, but she wouldn't come around. She probably concluded the same as my mother - not worth the risk.

To me, bowing down to that kind of nonsense and petty power display, was intolerable. I could so clearly see what my father was about, and how my mother was enabling his bad behavior, and how my sister's going along with their selfish control games was misguided and cowardly. But in my family, being the clear thinking, insightful one isn't going to get you any awards, that's for sure.

The biggest fight I ever had with my mother was over my father's crazy control issues (I didn't know yet that he was NPD). I mean, we had a BLOW OUT. In the weeks following, there was a flurry of emails between my mother and me, my sister and me, and my sister and my parents, over what had happened. In one of my sister's emails to me, she had inadvertently forwarded an email she wrote to my parents about it all. In reading what she wrote to them, I was very surprised when I read that she said, "I know Jane is difficult. I know how she can be." (Jane is the name I use on this forum). She was catering to their version of reality, where I (the troublemaker) am "difficult" because I stand up to my parents and challenge their nonsense.

Being the maverick, the independent thinker, the non-conformist, in a home with PD parents, will not win you any awards. Toxic, dysfunctional families want good little followers, who will toe the party line, completely buy in to the parents' insanity, and shun anyone who dares to stand up and say no.

« Last Edit: June 11, 2016, 01:30:38 PM by IAmReady »

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all4peace

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A couple thoughts:

1. The very dysfunction creates a mentality/culture/attitude of acceptance through fear, obligation, guilt, secrecy. When you're afraid, depressed and have a beaten-down self esteem, you don't know you deserve better.
2. They do know better and don't want to fight it. Fighting it is nearly pointless, it takes a lot of energy, and it can lose the fighter the only family they have. Better to have the dysfunctional family than none at all. (some may think)
3. Until adulthood, a lot of children don't have the opportunity to fully see how abnormal their family is.
4. Your family member didn't have the same childhood you did. I didn't think my brothers could see how bad our family system was since they were very favored, but they still saw it and absorbed it. Some, however, don't even see it.

« Last Edit: June 11, 2016, 03:25:47 PM by all4peace »

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Shockwave

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My take on it?

They're not. In my case, they're even in on it.

My brother was double-crossed by my FOO and left to rot in his apartment alone at the end of his life, and that's exactly what happened. Much of it was his own doing as much as it was the FOO, but I know for a fact that the cover-up, and the fact that my mother and sister STILL haven't told me what happened that day (it was my uNPD father in one of his many triangulation attempts to alienate me against my mother and sister, when he was definitely not an innocent party in the dysfunction either, thanks in no small part to some information my brother passed onto me before he died).

Sometimes, the siblings know what's going on. My uBPD sis, has a master's degree in nursing! She's worked at a hospital for 25+ years, and has worked almost every department you can name, including the psych ward. Not only is she complicit, but is in full-on coopt mode with the dysfunctional hierarchy that my uPD parents have in their home.
"Because he's the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we'll hunt him. Because he can take it. Because he's not a hero. He's a silent guardian, a watchful protector. A Dark Knight."
-- James Gordon, The Dark Knight

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naturelover

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My 3 siblings know how mom is, only one ever tells her what they think and was met with her N rage..so even they just ignore her so not to deal with her rage. such dysfunction and all by a mom who needs control and pity

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hope2016

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Yes I would like to show them, but most of them are so inflicted in the mindgames of the person whom is controlling the dysfunctional patterns, that they tend to believe another point of view and actually dismiss my opinion. The courage of standing ground and calmly explain my views is rather damaged - because i get hurt and devaluated. But in the process of working with my own reactions to such behavior I believe I believe I can reach them in moderation.
The fear of the narcissists in my family is in my way. I fear their comments and their hash emotional discard. That I have been hurt from in the past. If I talk to one familymember, the npd might get to this and get back at me. With the emotional discard that I fear and don't want to be involved with. It is like reaching for a beautiful flower, but you risk to get burned by the nettle among the flowers.


I feel your frustration!

I like to think that we came upon our discovery through a series of processes and if those same processes didn't occur for the other members, then they just can't/won't see it. I was clueless to my family's dysfunction until I moved out of the house and completely across the country. Even then, it took me years of studying psychology, and now studying mental health counseling to fully see the issues, especially those of my uNPD sib. Your other family members probably just haven't had the experiences and mental processes that you have.

Perhaps you could try to show them? As long as it wouldn't harm you, I suppose.

The most frustrating thing that I'm experiencing is one of my other siblings sees it too and agrees with me about everything, yet she still actively seeks a relationship with the NPD sibling. I don't get it, and I see her get hurt. But, that part of it is not in our control, and all we can do is be there if our family members ever start to see what we see. That's what I've learned anyway, I'm not saying it's easy!

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hope2016

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"To me, taking advantage of trusting, gullible children and bending their budding belief systems around fear and compliance is just plain evil. They know what they're doing. They live for control and who is easier to control than an innocent child who completely depends on you?" - This is the outmost truth, if they know what they are doing, I schould not have a second take on them as possible innocent. Sometimes I am in doubt wheather the npd knows what they are doing though. If they do, it is much easier for me. The abusive person has accused me of being abusing and this manipulation tactic is her strongest mindgame. She knows is works, otherwise she would not use it. So she is aware to some extend. At least of the action/reaction. Or so i think - I can know for sure.. I am way too patient with her. The behavior just isn't okay.

"Some siblings like the system if it works for them. They're too scared to admit the truth to themselves so they find ways to justify hanging on to the tribal mentality. After all, they were taught that their needs must take a backseat to mom and dad's." - To me the tribal mentality is a good thing as long as we don't hurt eachother. I actually think that it is the tribal mentality that scould make you stand up for the persons in the group whom are being discarted and intergrate them into the group. Any other behavior is to me deeply immature. Like children on the playground bullying eachother.


Hi Hope,

This question plagued me for a long time. How could my 3 older siblings not see how unhealthy and selfish my NParents were/are?

Like you I figured it out early. I was the youngest with the least power. But I realized none of them shared my observations and if they did they were deathly afraid of saying anything. They would complain about my parents' choices and behaviors to me but if I chimed in and said EXACTLY the same thing, it was "how could you say such horrible things about them? They're good parents!" WHAT???!! You just said the same thing! Conversations ended there. I was wrong for agreeing with them.

As I got older, the more puzzled I grew over their inability to see the obvious. They behaved just as irrationally and nothing ever worked out for them in a positive way. Life just "happened" to them. If good things happened to me - if I advanced in any way way, it was because I was "lucky" and not because of any effort or grit of my own. Or my ability to see that you create the life you want and you DON'T blow the chances you're given.

Their lives became a series of failures and self-sabotage. I thought maybe as they got older they would grow wise to the abuse and start to understand how miserable they were and actually do something to change their situations. Nope. Things just got worse or stayed the same. My life got better and better, and they hated me for it. As though they couldn't take control and go seize what time they had here on Earth to build better, healthier lives. I left, they stayed closely to mom and dad and stayed mired in their toxic quicksand, getting angrier and more bitter by the day.  And so the chasm between us grew and grew.

The logical answer to your question seems to be how these family systems are structured. Early on kids of PD parents are taught not to challenge their parents' choices or behaviors. Speaking up or voicing an opinion is strongly discouraged. So they get sucked into the dysfunction, believing it's normal, "loving" behavior. The myth of the perfect family is born and everyone falls in line with whatever unspoken rules the controlling parents set are blindly followed. The children's' needs, dreams, and wishes are ignored or chastised - independent thinkers are threatening to the myth, therefore they must be punished. To me, taking advantage of trusting, gullible children and bending their budding belief systems around fear and compliance is just plain evil. They know what they're doing. They live for control and who is easier to control than an innocent child who completely depends on you?

Some siblings like the system if it works for them. They're too scared to admit the truth to themselves so they find ways to justify hanging on to the tribal mentality. After all, they were taught that their needs must take a backseat to mom and dad's.

I don't know why some of us "wake up" and see things so clearly while others are like zombies, deeply in the fog and quite comfortable in the land of denial. Where is their sense of justice? Where is their silence of self-preservation, self-respect, and morality?. I foolishly thought those around me shared my awareness and ability to spot bad behavior. It was heartbreaking to realize I had an acute sensitivity and awareness of things around me and that most people I encountered did not. It still baffles me and also saddens me not only for my siblings, but for humanity in general. The tribe mentality is much more accepted and prevalent in our society. Courage to be different is a lonely road as you know and most people just don't want to feel that kind of pain. They don't know it leads to growth because growth is a foreign concept to most people.

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NewFreedom

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Yes I would like to show them, but most of them are so inflicted in the mindgames of the person whom is controlling the dysfunctional patterns, that they tend to believe another point of view and actually dismiss my opinion.


I totally understand... it's a shame that it has to be that way. I'm in a similar situation as well.

Have you ever head of Family Systems Theory? It's a psychological theory that says individuals are better understood as part of their family system, rather than out of the family context. One of the tenets of FST that has helped me is that systems, and families, are always trying to reach homeostasis. This means that if the system becomes disrupted (aka you standing your ground or speaking out against the abuse), the family will naturally reorient to reach a similar operation as before.

This thought helped me because when I went NC with my uNPD sister, no one in my family came to my side, and I felt really hurt at first. Thinking of the family system helped me to depersonalize the situation and know that my family members are part of the system too, and it's not personal to me.

It still is frustrating though, and I'm not saying I'm totally over it or anything. I am studying counseling, and thinking about things in terms of theories always helps me. I hope it helps you too!

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Inurdreams

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Yes I would like to show them, but most of them are so inflicted in the mindgames of the person whom is controlling the dysfunctional patterns, that they tend to believe another point of view and actually dismiss my opinion.


I totally understand... it's a shame that it has to be that way. I'm in a similar situation as well.

Have you ever head of Family Systems Theory? It's a psychological theory that says individuals are better understood as part of their family system, rather than out of the family context. One of the tenets of FST that has helped me is that systems, and families, are always trying to reach homeostasis. This means that if the system becomes disrupted (aka you standing your ground or speaking out against the abuse), the family will naturally reorient to reach a similar operation as before.

This thought helped me because when I went NC with my uNPD sister, no one in my family came to my side, and I felt really hurt at first. Thinking of the family system helped me to depersonalize the situation and know that my family members are part of the system too, and it's not personal to me.

It still is frustrating though, and I'm not saying I'm totally over it or anything. I am studying counseling, and thinking about things in terms of theories always helps me. I hope it helps you too!


Interesting theory.

I was once talking to a cousin-in-law about the family dynamic of the ILs and and wondering how they other family members didn't see it and how they went along with it and she said something along the same lines as the theory you stated above.  She said, "They can't stand up against the lies and manipulation because they are all part of it."

I agree, it takes a while to realize that we are not the cause of the initial dysfunction.  Our only "sin" is walking away and refusing to be a part of it any longer.
Peek not through the keyhole lest ye be vexed. - Stephen King


Response to a Flying Monkey:  Apparently you are suffering under the delusion that I give a damn.

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alonenow

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           There are probably a many different reasons why they either do not see it or chose to ignore it my siblings ignored it because they wanted her to continue to bail them out of any situation be a built in babysitter even though her treatment of their children was not good.  Then there is the extended family we only got together a few times a year and they just chose to ignore it because it is work to actively avoid someone.
 i think it is like this type of example..............I had a friend who was wrongfully terminated from a job at a retailer, I would have never set foot in the place again...... but she still shops there. WHY  because it is on her way home.............???? some people will not inconvenience themselves and just ignore when they are wronged.  going LC/ VLC or NC takes planning and skill to navigate many people are IMO just not willing to put in any effort even though the simple gesture WOULD make a huge difference to a SG of the family.

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all4peace

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alonenow--you nailed one that I'd forgotten--they RELY on the system. If the gcSIL fully admitted how bad her sister and mother are, she would lose her built-in childcare and actually have to care for her kids full time. That is not an option for her. She has acknowledged to me how critical, judgmental, unkind and awful her mother is, and this mother takes care of her children constantly. If she truly admitted the full extent of her mother's dysfunction, she couldn't simultaneously pretend to be a good mother herself and allow her children so much contact with this person.

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Inurdreams

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That's the thing.  There is always some sort of pay-off which continues the dysfunction.  SGs rarely get any positive pay-off so they are not as inclined to stick around as long for more mistreatment.

I don't think the other family member are blind to the dysfunction, they just want to maintain their position in the hierarchy because they get some reward for playing along.

Peek not through the keyhole lest ye be vexed. - Stephen King


Response to a Flying Monkey:  Apparently you are suffering under the delusion that I give a damn.

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BullyBuster

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I was the only non-PD left in my immediate family after my mother's passing. My uNPD/HPD sister definitely exploits the behaviors of my uNPDF to benefit herself. She knows what he is but she'll never fully accept it or acknowledge it to anyone. She's the GC and acknowledging the disorder takes that away. Her ego could not take the loss of that. My mother wasn't blind to their behavior but she never validated the existence of it either. I'm a fighter and she wasn't. I think strength has a lot to do with it.

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hope2016

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"I don't think the other family member are blind to the dysfunction, they just want to maintain their position in the hierarchy because they get some reward for playing along."

 - Exactly! This is what I don't get, I would rather give up my position in the hierarchy, than to stand passively when dysfunctionallity is damaging another person. I would not be able to live with that.

My impulse is to act - to defend!


That's the thing.  There is always some sort of pay-off which continues the dysfunction.  SGs rarely get any positive pay-off so they are not as inclined to stick around as long for more mistreatment.

I don't think the other family member are blind to the dysfunction, they just want to maintain their position in the hierarchy because they get some reward for playing along.

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hope2016

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Thank you so much! Yes I have head of a theory similar to the Family Systems Theory you mentioned. But I don't understand it in my guts. I do understand the mechanisms and this is helpfull to get the behavior. But its like observing a group of lions, and my perspective is at them, from outside.
I don't feel tuned to this system/behavior myself though. I believe in mutual respect in relations, one to one. - And how the group has the responsibility to single out abusive behavior and help.

But it does help to grasp the hole thing and to get at view on the links - and then it can give you some peace of mind. To undersand it on this level.


Quote
Yes I would like to show them, but most of them are so inflicted in the mindgames of the person whom is controlling the dysfunctional patterns, that they tend to believe another point of view and actually dismiss my opinion.


I totally understand... it's a shame that it has to be that way. I'm in a similar situation as well.

Have you ever head of Family Systems Theory? It's a psychological theory that says individuals are better understood as part of their family system, rather than out of the family context. One of the tenets of FST that has helped me is that systems, and families, are always trying to reach homeostasis. This means that if the system becomes disrupted (aka you standing your ground or speaking out against the abuse), the family will naturally reorient to reach a similar operation as before.

This thought helped me because when I went NC with my uNPD sister, no one in my family came to my side, and I felt really hurt at first. Thinking of the family system helped me to depersonalize the situation and know that my family members are part of the system too, and it's not personal to me.

It still is frustrating though, and I'm not saying I'm totally over it or anything. I am studying counseling, and thinking about things in terms of theories always helps me. I hope it helps you too!