by Judit Hajdu
„The effect of dysfunctional family on the identity, inappropriate emotional atmosphere in childhood leading to co-dependency in adulthood. You know, enmeshment, parentification and the lot. ” read a commission for an article on family therapy, I recently received.
I flinched. I don’t know dysfunctional families or inappropriate emotional atmosphere and do not believe in determinism. I do not think that any kind of childhood atmosphere has to lead to either of those grossly generalizing psychological conditions mentioned above, whose only use is to elevate the psychologist to the expert position and convince them and the people seeking help, that the problem is serious, the situation is grave and solving it will require considerable time and energy. I do, however, as an individual-, family- and couples therapist, work with people who make all the effort to handle their painful experiences, find meaning to them and do all they can to separate their actions that don’t follow their values from the ones that do and find reassurance in the latter. Who try to harmonize with their partners the principles they want to live by. A fascinating journey I am humbled to be of assistance to.
It is getting more and more acceptable to voice one’s mental difficulties and traumas. You don’t have to hide your troubles and seeing a therapist is no longer shameful. And that is good. I only wish us therapists would encourage people more to discover, examine and get acquainted with their own problems instead of finding a ready-to-use, one-size-fits all, neat little box to lock them in with their problems. Now, try to get out if you can!
Facing your problems is not easy, nevertheless, you can make it a tad easier by taking a little distance from it, and securing the ground under your feet before. The only chance to grab the tail of a dragon, swing it over your head and smash a few of its fire-blowing head if you stand on solid ground. And then you might even tackle monsters like dysfunction, enmeshment or co-dependence, whatever they might mean.