6 Core Traits of Dysfunctional Families @auramag
Category : FAMILY
Author : Sana Rubiyana

A dysfunctional family is a family in which conflict, misbehaviour, and often child neglect or abuse on the part of individual parents occur continuously and regularly. According to the American Psychological Association, a dysfunctional family is a family in which relationships or communication are impaired, and members are unable to attain closeness and self-expression. Members of a dysfunctional family often develop symptomatic behaviours, and usually, one individual in the family presents as the identified patient.
No family is perfect. Likewise, no family, or social system for that matter, will be completely void of dysfunction. However, occasional dysfunctional behaviour does not automatically create the kind of family dysfunction that causes trauma. Rather, this comes through patterns of repeated behaviour, resulting in a dysfunctional “culture” within the family unit that is compounded by a lack of awareness or insight into how these patterns affect the growing and developing children.
Rigid family rules and roles develop in dysfunctional families that help maintain the dysfunctional family system and allow the addict to keep using or the abuser to keep abusing. Dysfunctional families tend to be unpredictable, chaotic, and sometimes frightening for children.
The six core traits of dysfunctional families are-
Denial- is the main coping mechanism of dysfunctional families. It allows members to avoid the true, deeper issues and continue the cycle of dysfunction. Blame high reactivity and defensiveness are a pattern.
Lack of Repair- Inability to cope with conflict that looks like pretending conflict didn’t occur, engaging in silent treatment, lashing out or shaming.
No emotional boundaries between family members – This looks like getting involved with each other’s conflict, giving each other directives on how to engage or having children meet the needs of parents.
Shaming self-talk—Shaming self-talk manifests in how parent figures speak about themselves or directly to their children and creates low self-worth.
Intense cycle of fear- at the core of a dysfunctional family are high levels of anxiety that lead to constant crisis. Members cannot self-regulate, which leads to controlling/micromanaging behaviours as a way to cope.
One member controls the emotional tone of the home- in healthy families, everyone can feel their emotions. In dysfunctional families one person’s behaviour, mood and choices dictate the emotional tone of the entire home.
Healing- Understanding some of the family rules that dominate dysfunctional families can help us to break free of these patterns and rebuild our self-esteem and form healthier relationships.
Talk about your feelings and experiences. When you share your thoughts and feelings with trustworthy people, you can break down shame, isolation, and loneliness and build more connected relationships. Acknowledging and talking about your problems is the opposite of staying in denial. It opens the door to solutions and healing.
Trust others and set appropriate boundaries- Trust can be scary, especially when people have let you down in the past. It takes time to learn to trust yourself. Who is trustworthy and who isn’t. Trust is an important component of healthy relationships, along with healthy boundaries that ensure that you’re being treated with respect and that your needs are met.
Feel all your feelings- You are allowed to have all of your feelings. It will take practice to get back in touch with your feelings and realise their value. But you can start by asking yourself how you feel and telling yourself that your feelings matter. You no longer have to be limited to feeling shame, fear, and sadness. You also don’t need anyone else to validate your feelings; there are no right or wrong feelings or good or bad feelings.
Seek professional help- If you cannot cope and self-heal, seek professional help.


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