"Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Heal from Distant..."

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Monologue Magnet

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Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How to Heal from Distant, Rejecting, or Self-Involved Parents, by Lindsay C. Gibson, PsyD
New Harbinger Publications, Inc. 2015  ISBN 978-1-62625-170-0

My reaction to this book is that it has some useful things in it, but it should also be approached with some caution and probably shouldn't be one of the very first things a person in early recovery from a very bad PD crisis should pick up.

I read this book this weekend, and I'd say I'd give it 3/5 or 4/5 stars.

Its good points first:
There are checklists in the book that can help you find some validation that you are in fact dealing with a parent that has some kind of a problem. 

Also, if you have been led by a dysfunctional foo to believe that you are the one with the problem for needing emotional connections to others and for having needed emotional support from your parents, this book can help you validate that this is actually normal and people are actually normally biologically wired that way, and for actual species survival reasons.

Also I believe the book doesn't let parent types the book calls "The Passive Parent" off the hook for the fact that they were responsible for protecting their child and failing to do so is definitely dysfunctional parenting and not ok.

The book also suggests some calming techniques to help the people who use them try to view the situation more objectively and to monitor your reactions to things that are going on.  I haven't tried this in depth yet, but I plan to, and some people may find the idea of exercises to get the mind calmer very useful.


With that being said, I don't think I'd give this book to a person who was in new recovery from dealing with a person on the very bad end of the PD spectrum. 

I don't feel the book explains very well the distinction between just a dysfunctional parent and a PD dysfunctional parent.  The book seems to lump in what I think of as an older view, that all of these problems are defense mechanisms against having to deal with emotions, whereas I believe some people who are PD "use" emotions very effectively.  For their purposes.  Evilly, but effectively.

There are a few things in this book that I think are kind of nave, for example on page 86 of the paperback edition it says, "Few parents consciously intend to undermine their child's future".  Um, ok, that may technically be true in terms of numbers of parents out there, but considering the audience of this book, exactly those types of parents may be an outsize proportion of the number of people reading this book.  Some parents definitely do undermine their child's future: sadistically, as competition, to permanently captivate a steady source of attention, or in order to indenture a permanent caretaker for a sibling with massive mental problems are just a few reasons I can think of offhand at the moment.  I'm sure there are others.

In my estimation, the book kind of assumes that most people are going to stay in contact with the parent, accept that the parent has limitations the child can't change (that part is true) and move to a mode of communication with the parent that the parent doesn't find supposedly emotionally threatening. That may work for some people, but it isn't everyone's answer.

So if you read it, parse the difference between the useful parts and not, and leave the rest.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2017, 11:10:31 AM by Spring Butterfly »



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I just read this book and I found it a gentler approach to personality disorder. The checklists were interesting, and the list of traits of emotionally mature people was even more helpful. I've often thought I have to look at the pd in my life in terms of what's missing in his/her character.

The point I took from the book that stayed with me is that emotionally immature parents prefer their emotionally immature children.



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This book was very helpful to me. I wasn't ready to call my parents personality disordered when I read it and it helped move me toward that reckoning. I found it helpful I didn't have to be settled on a diagnostic label for them in order to notice their failure to love me the way adults are supposed to love their children. Once I could orient to the fundamental condition of inadequate love, I could begin to see how severe it really was and why it had affected me so profoundly. Then the patterns came into sharper focus.

When I finished reading it, I immediately re-read it, marking it up heavily. It's become a resource I return to.
sometimes in the open you look up
to see a whorl of clouds, dragging and furling
your whole invented history. You look up
from where you're standing, say
among the stolid mountains,
and in that moment your life
becomes the margin
of what matters
-- Terry Ehret



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I'll add my voice in appreciation for this incredible book. One insight I'll never forget is how an emotionally immature person sees time as a snapshot rather than a timeline. It explained so much inexplicable behavior from my ILs at that time that helped me feel less insane, and more like we simply didn't see time the same way at all.