ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Dysfunctional Family

Updated on January 2, 2014

First, a Definition

You are a product of your environment. So choose the environment that will best develop you toward your objective. Analyze your life in terms of its environment. Are the things around you helping you toward success - or are they holding you back?

W. Clement Stone

From our friends Merriam-Webster we have this definition of dysfunctional:

: impaired or abnormal functioning <gastrointestinaldysfunction>

2

: abnormal or unhealthy interpersonal behavior or interaction within a group <family dysfunction>

Well alrighty then! Sound like anyone you know?

And that brings us to a phrase that has become quite popular in today’s culture, namely the “dysfunctional family.” We’ve all heard of it; hell, many of us have claimed it as a description of our own family….but what exactly does it mean?

For the answer to that question I turned to several health sites. I found this definition from Healthline:

“A family whose interrelationships serve to detract from, rather than promote, the emotional and physical health and well-being of its members.”

The site goes on to list several characteristics of a dysfunctional family:

  • Blaming, or failure to take responsibility for personal actions and feelings.
  • Boundaries between family members are either too rigid or too loose.
  • A tendency of family members to enact set roles…..caregiver, hero, scapegoat, saint…that serve to restrict feelings, experience, and self-expression.
  • A tendency to have an “identified patient”…one family member who is recognized as mentally unhealthy.

Again, does this sound like anyone you know?

A group picture of dysfunction
A group picture of dysfunction | Source

Is This a New Phenomenon?

I’m trying to remember when this phrase “dysfunctional family” came upon the scene. I certainly don’t remember hearing it when I was a teen or for that matter most of my adult years, so this must be a new catch-phrase to help us all understand something most of us have lived for decades. I know for a fact that there were dysfunctional families when I was growing up in the 60’s. The Norlins across the street certainly had their problems, as did the Streitz family four houses down. The Mertz’s were in no way “normal” and now that I think about it, their oldest daughter married and had what can only be described as a dysfunctional marriage and family.

Hell, folks, my own family was dysfunctional. I loved my parents for sure, but their marriage was shaky at best, and they kept a deep, dark secret for years that I only found out about by accident after my father’s death. You see, the thing of it is, back then dysfunction was alive and well, but people chose not to talk about it. Stiff upper lip and all that. Families were every bit as messed up then as they are now, and children were every bit as affected by the dysfunction as they are now, but we just didn’t have a name for it back in the old days, and we certainly didn’t have the desire to air our dirty laundry and declare to the world how messed up we were.

So I am quite pleased that today we have a name for it….dysfunctional family…and a willingness among many to discuss that which needs to be discussed. It is only through openness and a desire to improve that true growth can happen, so I raise my glass in toast to all of you who hail from a dysfunctional family and are willing to share your experiences so that others may learn from them.

An Interesting Theory

Understand that there is no shame in dysfunction
Understand that there is no shame in dysfunction | Source

There Is No Shame in Dysfunction

I think this is such an important truth to grasp. If you are the child of a dysfunctional family, the first thing to understand….the first thing to internalize…is that you are not to blame and you should not be embarrassed by it. Obviously this is easier said than done, but nevertheless it is true. Abuse is never the fault of the abused. Those who live in an addicted household are certainly not to blame for the one addicted.

And I truly believe there is no shame in it. Look around you right now. Step outside your front door and survey your neighborhood. How much dysfunction do you know about right there in the area in which you live? As I write this I can hear the next door neighbors screaming at each other as is their norm in the mornings. They have two small children but that does not prevent them from calling each other vile names in the heat of anger. Dysfunctional? You bet! There are three other families on our block that are without a doubt dysfunctional.

So if it is everywhere then for goodness sake put an end to the shame you are feeling. You are by no means unique. What you are experiencing is being experienced a thousand times over across this country this very minute, and has been experienced for centuries prior to your lifetime.

More Food For Thought

Refusing to allow the dysfunction to change our lives negatively is a key
Refusing to allow the dysfunction to change our lives negatively is a key | Source

Discussion and Willingness to Change the Patterns

As I said before, I grew up in a family of secrets. Take the bad experiences and stuff them in the closet. That’s how our family dealt with ugliness long ago….and….it was how I dealt with the ugliness in my life for a good part of my adulthood. We learn from behavior that was modeled for us, and unless we find an alternative we will continue to model the behavior we were taught. That is a simple truth that is being enacted daily in millions of families around the world.

But it does not have to be that way! For the love of all that is holy, read that last sentence again….it does not have to be that way!

Try this simple exercise. Log on to Facebook and spend about ten minutes reading the feeds. I guarantee that you will find evidence of dysfunction. LOL I also guarantee that you will find people discussing dysfunction in a healthy manner, and you will find support groups where you can feel at home. Go online and search for support groups in your area. Join one and discuss the things that are bothering you.

If you are a writer then you have the platform just waiting for you to discuss the dysfunction in your life. People need to hear your story. People want to know that they are not alone. People are desperate to know that what they are feeling is valid and that someone understands.

And yes, to do those things there must be a willingness to change.

I am living proof that dysfunction does not have to cripple us, and we do not have to be living legacies of that dysfunction. My loving partner Bev is another perfect example. We both come from dysfunction and yet we have formed a loving relationship that has survived, and thrived, because we were both willing to discuss and grow.

And you can do the same!

Do You Come From A Dysfunctional Family?

See results

So Here Is the Bottom Line

Dysfunction is like a cancer. It will continue to grow, continue to spread into living organs, and continue to kill its host, until steps are taken to eradicate it. Unlike cancer, however, there is a cure. It is possible to permanently end the dysfunction that has been handed down through families. It is possible to eliminate the unhealthy cells so that new, vibrant healthy cells can grow and spread.

The choice is yours.

There is help available. You can find solace and understanding. You can become a symbol of hope for your family and for others like you have had similar experiences.

No, dysfunction is not a new phenomenon. I suspect it is as old as mankind, and I have no doubt that it will continue to spread its sickness throughout society for many years to come….but….

You do not have to be a part of that sickness.

End the cycle!

2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 3 years ago from Arizona

      Don't you think there are degrees of this dysfunctional issue. All families can be dysfunctional in some ways. I think I grew up on a great family but my sister didn't. SHe seemed to get the brunt of all problems and I sailed through. However I didn't have personal issues and she did. So there was lots of fighting with mother. However there was nothing weird in our family so I guess we were not dysfunctional. Well written as always

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh yes, Carol, I think there are degrees....and I think this is an excuse some people use to justify their own behavior...still, I have known some severely dysfunctional families and they do exist.

      Thanks for spending part of your morning with me.

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 3 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      I have learned that if your dysfunctional family cannot accept the boundaries you are trying to establish, a physical boundary (i.e. miles) might be your best bet. Voted up, Bill! Looking forward to following your new blog. :) Cheers!

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 3 years ago from New York, New York

      Bill, I love how you said to open up your Facebook. Seriously so true and just last night I saw total evidence from one of my distant cousins. But again so true about how we live our lives and the choice here is totally our own. Thanks Bill as always and have a wonderful day now.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 3 years ago from Western NC

      "People need to hear your story" - hmm....that stupid rackin' frackin' memoir of mine needs to get done then. LOL. My best friend from college challenged me to work on it and let her edit it "for her birthday" in April. Have I worked on it? No. I went on a fiction novel-writing saga only to find out that, egads, I'm not a fiction writer. Oh yes, I'm confident in my writing. But I write eloquently about real life. I can't make it up because, well...I'm too truthful. ;)

      One thing about writing a memoir? It's friggin' therapeutic. That's actually and probably the biggest reason I haven't finished it: it was so cathartic and such a release and I found such forgiveness of myself and my family when I wrote it. I didn't want to "rock the boat" by publishing.

      That's my dilemma: how to avoid the people in the memoir from recognizing themselves. That's where I get stuck. I don't want my brother to know I wrote about him, but I do want to tell my story. I don't want to get accused of slander, but I also want to share my experiences because, frankly, they're insane...and funny. LOL.

      That's where I get stuck, though: I don't want my family to hate me because I wrote a book about them. So I think about changing the names and places, but then is it fiction? If you have any ideas, I'll read your hub about it. ;)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Steph, I have learned that as well and I believe it. We have to take care of ourselves first and foremost, and that might mean divorcing oneself from the family. Thanks for your thoughts.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Janine...Facebook is fascinating and cheap entertainment, but after a time I find it sad. Way too much dysfunction out there and some are seemingly unaware of it. Well, thank you my dear and enjoy your day.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      My firm belief on this is that I am grateful for my dysfunctional familism. At the very least I learned how not to do it. Yes that is a far cry from actually doing it right -- but a great start.

      This is a great hub, thank you Bill and I will see you on your best ever site.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Cyndi, you darn near have to change the names and places to avoid slander, and yes, it does give it an element of fiction, but it still remains primarily a memoir because you know who it is about. As for fooling your family I doubt seriously if they will be fooled by the name changes. LOL They can't possibly be that shallow, can they? My family knew when I was writing about them. A couple of them still haven't talked to me.....and that's a shame.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 3 years ago from Western NC

      Interestingly, none of them read. NONE. My sister told me that she finished the second novel she's ever read, and that was three years ago - when she was 43. The other sister? Only the bible. My brother? Read? Pfft. My mom has dyslexia so she hates it and my dad? I gave him a memoir by John Ramsey, the father of JonBenet - who had lost his six year old daughter and his oldest daughter and his wife. I knew he would benefit, and he still has never read it - he doesn't read, either. So it could be interesting. None of their spouses read, either. LOL

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 3 years ago from Taos, NM

      Bill: Great Hub! I will check out your new blog. I could write the book on this, but it is just too depressing to do so. I can't dwell on dysfunction and be healthy at the same time! LOL I have to stay positive. The dysfunctional roots go so deep in my family that I don't know how possible it is to change anything but myself. So I am concentrating on just myself no matter how selfish that seems. You only have one life!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

      Here again you have created a wonderful lesson of life. Indeed there is a little dysfunctional in many families and this is just life however when this dysfunction becomes extreme it is time to sit up and take notice. Thank you again my dear friend for your wisdom and care. Lots of love from Wales Billy.

      Eddy.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dysfunction made me what I am today, Eric; that and a little elbow grease. :) Keep on truckin' my friend and thank you.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Wow, Cyndi, that is unbelievable. That many non-readers in one family...what are the odds? :) You might be safe writing that memoir. I say go for it. Change the names and be done with the fretting over it.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      i agree, Suzette...the great news is that you recognize the dysfunction and have taken steps to end it...well done and thank you for sharing.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Eddy, I always love it when you stop by in the morning for some tea...thank you for the visit dear friend. I hope 2014 is a fabulous year for all us writers.

      love,

      billy

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      "Dysfunction does not have to cripple us." Thanks for illustrating this in your partnership with your wife, Bev; and for helping us correct our attitude toward it.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Dora, life is too short to live with this type of baggage. I want everyone to experience the joy of life. :) Thank you for stopping by my friend.

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 3 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Great hub Billy. I wonder if every family is dysfunctional in some way. I have a friend whose family likes to joke that they are dysfunctional. The son tells his mother that he is the funk in dysfunctional.

      I like the first video in particular.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

      It is so ironic, when you grow up in a dysfunctoinal fanily, you think it is the norm, and you tend to repeat the actions that made the family dysfunctional, then one day you stop and think back and remember how you have internalized the real truth about so many things. I did this for years. When i first started writing ( almost four years ago ) I could not put it on paper fast enough! Cartharsis is a wonderful way to release and move forward. When i hear the song, ' Grandpa, tell me ' bout the good old days ' The lyric, Do daddies never go away ' I guess i thought it was normal. Geez! Did i ever open up? Excellent writers tend to move me to truths from within. Thank you Bill. Cheers.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      I think we all live in a state of family dysfunction from time to time. I think it's probably unavoidable as human beings. The key is to recognize the behavior and how it affects others in addition to ourselves. If we can recognize and correct, then we can hopefully avoid irreparable damage.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      lambservant, I love that line....the funk in dysfunctional. LOL Perfect description. Thank you and blessings always.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Ruby, thank you for sharing that. I think this is such an important topic for people to discuss. Catharsis is good for the soul, isn't it?

      Have a wonderful day my friend and thank you.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sha, that is the goal now isn't it? We can change...we do not have to continue the legacy. Self-growth is a beautiful thing. :)

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      OK billy I am willing but let's hear your deep dark secret first! lol You know as a kid I stayed with girlfriends which of course were wealthier and had nicer cars and houses only having a couple kids compared to our seven and I thought these were Donna Reed families until many years later their deep dark secrets came out that even the rich can't hide forever. The worst, other than financial with my family was Mom and Dad had fights out of the blue sometimes and Mom would through shoes at him and the rest of us hid in fear because we had the giggles over the baby brother retrieving the shoes to see Mom do that again! He loved it when they fought. He started gathering shoes when they started arguing sometimes and they got so tickled the fight was over.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 3 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      We must be on the same wavelength! I have been working on a hub with a similar topic. You have covered it quite nicely here, we all experience dysfunction in some form or another, and hiding from it doesn't solve the problem. The family I grew up in had major problems, and that is what lead me to study about the family and how it affects human development. I like to think that I broke the cycle. Only time will tell!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh Jackie, that is a priceless story. I can just see that little kid grabbing the shoes and returning to them to mom so she could throw them again. LOL I'll be laughing all day long thinking about that. Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Denise, I'd bet money that you broke the cycle. Well done! Awareness and openness....two huge steps to ending the sickness.

    • Anna Haven profile image

      Anna Haven 3 years ago from Scotland

      Nothing is ever straightforward and simple is it. You encapsulated the trials of modern living and those tricky family relations well.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Anna, did you change your profile picture? I don't remember ever seeing a picture of you before. Well hello to the face behind the words, Anna. No, things are never simple....but they don't have to be crippling either, as I know you know. :) Thank you always and have a wonderful evening in Scotland.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Interesting hub Bill. I Know plenty of dysfunctional families and some of them are pretty close to home. I think at some point in life we all get a little dysfunctional. I think your point is an important one, that the dysfunction does not have to extend from generation to generation. It can be stopped and dealt with. Great job.

    • profile image

      sheilamyers 3 years ago

      I agree that there have always been dysfunctional families but we just didn't have a name for it. Is any family perfect? I doubt it. I think every family has some level of dysfunction. Thanks for providing some advice on how to deal with the problem.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Thanks for this hub Bill. Apart from some perfect tv families I don't know of many that couldn't be called dysfunctional in some way. My own included.

    • Anna Haven profile image

      Anna Haven 3 years ago from Scotland

      I did change my picture.

      By using a similar name for my fictional character everyone thought my latest writing was an autobiography, which it isn't. I thought by putting my real picture on it would clear that confusion. :)

      You have a good night too Bill.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      yes it can, Bill, and it is so important to do so. The dysfunction of my life cannot hurt me if I don't allow it to do so.

      Thank you as always my friend. Good luck with that snowstorm!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Sheila, it is always a pleasure having you stop by. Thank you and I hope you aren't snowed in today and tonight.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Oh my goodness yes, John! Quite frankly I think those tv families are a bit boring, don't you? LOL Thanks buddy!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well I like it, Anna! Take care now.

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      It's not easy to grow up in a dysfunctional family... but there is no choice and it becomes your norm until you see elsewhere that things can be so different, peaceful and quite. Sometimes for some people there are no other choice of completely to leave everything behind; it's a question of survival. I know, I have been there.

    • L.M. Hosler profile image

      L.M. Hosler 3 years ago

      Bill I worked in a restaurant for years. You could really see some dysfunctional families, most of whom were the people I worked with. I saw it all there, the alcohol, drugs, cheating & divorcing, abuse, you name it. I used to say I no longer watched soap operas, I worked in one. Now if I could just write a book about it. I must seriously think about doing that.

    • kidscrafts profile image

      kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

      I can imagine that a restaurant is a great place to observe human nature at its best... and at its not so best!

      When I was a teacher I heard some horror stories also; very sad sometimes!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      L.M., seriously,it is all around us. Now that I work at home I don't see it in person, but I have Facebook as proof positive that there is still dysfunction in society. Thanks for weighing in on this.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Joelle, survival indeed. Thank you for mentioning that and you are very correct.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Joelle, we teachers have definitely seen dysfunction....abuse...oh my goodness.

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      Bill, I would love to know what is a "functional" family? I've certainly never met anyone from a family that did not have issues. Not enough love, too much love, not enough money, too much money, abuse, physical and mental. The grass will always be greener on the other side. There are so much genuine pain and suffering in this world of ours, in comparison, although my family is far from perfect we were all loved, never abused or went hungry, my parents did the best they possible could, given their circumstances. For that I'll always be thankful. However, I do agree, it isn't healthy to keep one's pain locked inside. As always, thought provoking. Happy New Year again my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jo, you point is right on as always. My parents did the best they could considering their circumstances and their background, and all in all they did a fine job. My goodness, if perfection exists I have not seen it.

      Happy New Year to you, Jo. Thank you for your friendship.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      Dear Bill, growing up I thought we were the only family with such issues, but then I realize almost all families have some sort of dysfunction! LOL Well, I have written of my dad suffering with PTSD after returning from wars back in the day and that was when we never heard of such either and they did not talk about it back then. Nowadays, it is out in the open and everyone is encouraged to seek help. I wish my dad did not suffer and attempt to cope in the manner in which he did. Like you, I made the choice to not live in such a manner and find joy and love others and just be happy as life is too short and we will never get this day back once it is gone.

      Up and more and sharing.

      Happy New Year and many blessings and much love in the new year,

      Faith Reaper

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Faith, there was a term back then called "shell-shocked" and that was the only attempt to even label the effects felt by soldiers after the war....we have come a long way in that regard; now if we could just make sure that all soldiers are counseled after combat I would feel we were really making strides. Thank you for your memories and thoughts, and blessings to you always.

      bill

    • Alphadogg16 profile image

      Kevin W 3 years ago from Texas

      I definitely have to agree with to business, as I have never seen a "functional" family in my lifetime. However, no matter how dysfunctional ever one is, no one will ever lose their value.

    • Gail Meyers profile image

      Gail Meyers 3 years ago from United States

      Bill, I think the pharmaceutical companies are totally out of control, as well as the labeling of everything under the sun a "disorder." I am not in the field, but it is my understanding that the labeling also has to do with a therapist's ability to receive third party payments in a given situation. In my experience, facing the problem and processing the emotions instead of stuffing them is a much healthier alternative to drugs. However, I think in some situations they truly are needed and improve the quality of life.

      I first heard the term "dysfunctional family" in the early 1980s when learning about alcoholic family systems due to my step-father's alcoholism. So, it's been around for quite some time! It was the Babyboomers who first began dragging the skeletons out of the closet. Thank GOD! because nothing heals in secrecy and darkness! Think Oprah revealing her childhood sexual abuse I believe in the 80's, Joan Crawford's daughter Catherine (Mommie Dearest movie) speaking out about her childhood abuse also in the 1980s, Sally Fields playing Sybil, etc.

      The last statistic I read was that 95% of families fit the description of dysfunctional, but there are degrees. Some may be almost comically dysfunctional, while others are toxic waste dumps. The toxic waste dumps filled with abuse loved the idea of "being strong," (with the implication that honestly facing the issues and working to break the cycles with a therapist was somehow "weak"), no one "airing their dirty laundry," etc., because it kept their abuse concealed. Just like in AA, sharing your story helps the person sharing it, as well as those who listen to or read it. It also redeems the experience in some small way if it can help someone else in a similar situation.

    • mathira profile image

      mathira 3 years ago from chennai

      billy,dysfunctional families seem to be the by product of the modern society which is more inclined to be wealthy than concentrate on nurturing relationships. Well thought about hub!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 3 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      The first black and white photo in this hub could be my living room and my family. I reached for my magnifying glass to make sure my picture wasn't there with your family. The brunette girl looks like my sister. We had the same window treatments, etc.

      I've long had a nagging feeling to write a story about my life including growing up in a dsyfunctional family (with a positive entry here and there.) My purpose would be to motivate readers to realize the growth and greatness that can come from very sad and difficult circumstances.

      I'm forever grateful for your message here. Especially, the part that states "we are not to blame" and "we should not be embarrassed."

      Thank you precious Billy for all you give to me.

      Much love to you and to Bev ~ Audrey

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      I knew of Dysfunctional Families and had felt sad for those who had to go through such experiences. Great hub and always something to think about from your hubs.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Oops teach, sorry bout that through=throw. I know to go back and read over but get in a hurry. As I get older I astound myself at the weird mistakes I make! lol

      Not to sound goody two shoes though when my four younger brothers became teens was the start of dysfunctional! Whew. I am surprised my mom lived through it.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Alphadogg, your last sentence was right on my friend! Thank you for that thought.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Gail, a great analysis and an interesting statement about drug companies. Give it a name and sell a drug for it. My goodness we are a complicated people and we insist on making things more complicated than they need to be. I watched my mother for thirty years take prescription drugs rather than face the problems and secrets that she hid.

      Well my friend, it ends with me and my immediate family.

      Thank you for a great comment.

    • Made profile image

      Madeleine Salin 3 years ago from Finland

      When I had read this hub, I thought I had grown up in a pretty normal family, but now when I've thought about it for a while, I realize we weren't always normal. I guess my parents must have done something right. They have now been married for 49 years and my three siblings and me grew up to be honest and hard working people. I'm a lucky woman even if my family was a little dysfunctional sometimes. :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      mathira, a very interesting comment from you...thank you for that...nurturing relationships....great thought.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Audrey, I think many of us from that time can understand the message here. We are aware and we can choose to remain sick or not. It is entirely up to us. You and I? We choose happiness and wellness.

      love always

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      DDE, it is most definitely a sad situation, but one that need not continue. Thank you for your thoughts.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jackie, the teacher didn't even catch the mistake. LOL I think we both need the weekend to get here. :)

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Made, I would agree, your parents obviously did something right. I sure like the way you turned out my friend. :) Thank you and have a wonderful weekend.

    • Jeannieinabottle profile image

      Jeannie InABottle 3 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      I'd like think my family puts the "fun" in dysfunctional. :-) I don't really let it bother me anymore, but then again, there are different levels of dysfunction. Some people really do need help and ruin the lives of others. Thanks for sharing this hub!

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 3 years ago from South Africa

      Billy, this is an excellent hub about dysfunctional families. I am going to publish a hub about nuclear families and would like to add a link to this hub of yours. I grew up in a most functional family, and still external factors managed to sent me off the track. Each and every member of a family has the responsibility to keep their family functional.... the failure of one should not become the failure of all, and after failure there is always another opportunity to be successful.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jeannie, there are most definitely different levels of dysfunction....our family was a perfect example of mild to medium...the people next door are over the top. LOL Thanks for stopping by.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Martie, thanks for sharing this on your hub....I look forward to reading your thoughts on nuclear families. I like what you said about members having responsibility. I am big on responsibility for one's actions.

    • toknowinfo profile image

      toknowinfo 3 years ago

      Hi Bill, This is a very frank and no nonsense hub about family dysfunction. You are absolutely right that it doesn't have to be that way. The problem, the way I see it, is that most of us go into relationships, especially when we are young, with little self awareness and with the illusion that we are doing things different than the way we grew up. We all look to compensate for the dysfunction we lived with and this can cause more dysfunction. This is where I believe working with a good therapist and self honesty can give the insight to avoid mistakes we would normally be blinded by. You went through a lot and finally came realizations that transformed your life. You and Bev are wonderful examples that you don't have to be a prisoner of your past. Keep being the inspiring person you are, and happy and healthy New Year.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 3 years ago from New York

      Bill, sometimes I think you are a hammer, always hitting the nail on the head. Dysfunction is not a secret nor a condemnation but something that happens in families. It is our job to get beyond the dysfunction as you have pointed out so beautifully. To realize it thrives around us but we can change how it affects us is more important than assigning labels.

      So very well done as always my friend.

      Voted all but funny.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      toknowinfo, you raise an interesting point. Bev and I have faced this. We have over-compensated for previous dysfunction and in the process caused new dysfunction. LOL It's hard to find that balance, isn't it? Sheez, will our work ever be done? :) Thanks and Happy New Year to you.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Mary, and I'm glad you didn't vote this funny. I'd have major concerns for you if you had. :) Have a great weekend Mary.

    • vkwok profile image

      Victor W. Kwok 3 years ago from Hawaii

      Environment is a major factor in a kid's growth, especially in this day and age where people born in lower-income families and neighborhoods tend to get stuck in them, with very rare chances to rise up.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great point vkwok...thank you for that.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 3 years ago from SW England

      I agree with some others here that dysfunction exists in most families but it's the degree of the dysfunction that is important or should I say significant. At least we can do something about it, given a wish to do so.

      Dysfunction can also identify characters; in fact, it's the basis for many comedians' humour!

      It's our job to help those whose dysfunction does them or others harm so that they have the opportunity to function in a beneficial way.

      Great hub, dealing with such a common problem.

      Hope you have a great weekend, bill. Ann

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 3 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      BRAVO!!! (applause/standing ovation)......The truth is "Dysfunctional Family," however long the term has been around, should be music to our ears. I think we may have all readily embraced it, to replace....."those psychos next door,"....."the weird & crazy family," that goes to our church....."The Spooky Smith's"......Let's face it, since the beginning of time? Yes, absolutely. I seem to recall a Bible lesson about Cain & Abel...you too?

      Right about the same time we all learned about Dysfunction.....in individuals, groups, families, society.....I don't know about you, but I pooped myself right out in no time, looking for the "Functionals."

      Certainly didn't exist in my home, my friend's homes, my neighbors, co-workers or extended family's home........

      Hmmmmm, let's see, where can those damned Functionals be hiding??

      I found the 1st video especially interesting. I like that Dr! Needless to say, bro...this is superb. I'll be stopping by your Dysfunctional Playhouse.....looking forward to it!.....UP... U-I-B-A....tweeted, pinned & shared

    • Jo_Goldsmith11 profile image

      Jo_Goldsmith11 3 years ago

      Bill!

      You have given me the best gift for the New Year. You have helped to take the sting out of being from a dysfunctional family. I had to make up my mind in Nov when an incident happened. It was the last straw. I have not and nor will I contact those people again. ever! And even *ever* isn't long enough for me. But thank you for helping me get through the last of the emotional stuff and over the *hump* to think and feel and all these years believe I was like them. I am not, and now that I have read this beautiful, interesting , awesome article. I am convinced I was so different from them, for so long.

      And it was a matter of time before I could recognize it.

      Shared, up votes all the way and tweeted. Blessings!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Ann! I am one of those dysfunctionals who has learned to embrace my oddities and move forward in life. Now no harm is done but rather I have gained an appreciation for the qualities that make us all unique.

      I always love hearing from you my friend. Have a wonderful weekend.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Paula, my friend, my sister, my kindred spirit, what a shock to see you show up for this hub. LOL "The Spooky Smiths"....LOL...my distant relatives are named Smith and that is a pretty accurate description. What I loved about being adopted is I could always look at my relatives and say "hey, I ain't got any of your blood in me and thank the heavens for that fact." :)

      Come on over to the Playhouse. I'll have your throne waiting for you.

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jo, I'm very glad that you did recognize it. Unhealthy is as unhealthy does, to borrow from Forrest Gump. :) Let them stew in their own dysfunctional juices while you learn to live a good and healthy life.

      blessings and thanks always

      bill

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 3 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Well....on the adoption thing...true.....however, if what we suspect is true...OMG, bill, you poor man!! Have I got some medical records for you to browse!!LMAO!!!!

      I already flew right over to the Playhouse....first class. It was worth the turbulence.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Paula, I have decided it might be best if we never meet in person. I fear I would hurt myself laughing so damn hard. LOL Glad you survived the flight. I'll talk to the pilot and see if we can't eliminate the turbulence next time.

    • W1totalk profile image

      W1totalk 3 years ago

      This spoke to me on many levels. My concern is that the hidden secrets have not come out yet on my end. This was a great and effecting article for me. Thank you billybuc.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      I embrace the dysfunction that I grew up in rather than hiding from it. By doing so, it helps me keep things real and open. There is no perfect.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      W1totalk, I suspect this spoke to a good many people. Those secrets will eat you alive as you well know. Best wishes to you my friend...and thank you.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Flourish, I'm with you 100%. Dysfunction was valuable for me although many will have a hard time with that statement. Thanks for agreeing with me. LOL

    • VVanNess profile image

      Victoria Van Ness 3 years ago from Prescott Valley

      Unfortunately, with my family, I had to make the decision about when to simply let go of each of them. I haven't spoken to my dad in about 6 years, but finally started sharing letters with him again just in the last couple of months.

      Last year I had to decide to stop all communication with my mom. When 33 years later, the abuse continues, you have to make a decision about your future and the effect this abuse will continue to have on your life and on the lives of your spouse and children.

      I made my decision. Hopefully one day these relationships can be mended.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Victoria, seriously, good for you. I have no doubt it was a very tough decision; I've been there...but I also have no doubt it was the decision that had to be made. Best wishes to you in 2014.

    • Paradise7 profile image

      Paradise7 3 years ago from Upstate New York

      There were many things that hit me hard in this hub. The little slots we were put into as kids: "the smart one", the "creative one", the " mentally ill one!" (my unfortunate sister). That hit me. We didn't have to follow through in our adult lives with the labels attached to us as children.

      This hub contains many valuable and positive messages for the very many of us whose homes were of dysfunctional families.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Paradise, thank you for the visit. Yes indeed, the little slots we put others in or find ourselves in. Hard to live up to those labels, isn't it? It certainly was for me.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Dysfunction is in all families in some degree or another. It strikes, the rich, the poor, the best of al people. How we choose to handle t is another story. Let's accept each other for who we ARE, not who we are NOT.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Deb, I have nothing to add to your comment. Right on my friend.

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 3 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      That the hub is excellent is shown by the comments. I've read the whole conversation to date with much interest. I'll be following your new blog.

      May I add as an aside a reply to CClitgirl, who expressed some of the dilemmas of memoirists: To see how some writers of note have dealt with such questions, I recommend THE FOURTH GENRE: CONTEMPORARY WRITERS OF / ON CREATIVE NONFICTION, by Root and Steinberg, 2nd or later edition. Memoir is one form of creative or narrative nonfiction. The book has examples of memoir and has articles by memoir writers about writing memoir. And re fiction, consider this experiment: Remember a joyous or awful true life incident. Now write a scene that is entirely made up, fictional -- different people, different place and time, different situation from your actual experience -- but in which the scene brings to the point-of-view character those same emotions that you had. Develop the exercise into a story or novel if it interests you enough -- or not, if it doesn't. Then eventually, perhaps, when the time seems right, write straight what you did experience, telling truth with the emotional wallop of fiction. When is the time right? There's the rub.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Brian, excellent points my friend. I ran into problems with my first novel and I have several family members who are still upset about it. :) Live and learn, eh? Thank you!

    • profile image

      lovedoctor926 3 years ago

      A very good hub. voted up useful.

      I could use this platform to write about my experience, but I would have to expose myself. This would be a very interesting story. My mother has always been a drama queen. We're always arguing. It's been going on for years. It's her way or the highway. Nothing has ever gotten resolved. lol. She's never going to change and I guess that I just have to accept it rather than getting all worked up for nothing. I can't believe I'm writing this here, but I will try this exercise & see what I come up with. You're so right, someone has to break the cycle.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Doc, if she isn't going to change then one of two things have to happen: either you have to leave or you have to learn acceptance. Thank you for sharing my friend and best wishes.

    • Express10 profile image

      H C Palting 3 years ago from East Coast

      It is sad and frightening to see that many people simply continue the dysfunction into their adult lives and pass it along to their own children. We have a choice in the people who surround us whether they are "blood related" or not. While we can't always have a positive effect on others, we can choose whether or not to react to dysfunction and we can choose how we act when dysfunction is brought our way. This is a useful and spot on hub.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Express, thank you! One problem seems to be that many people don't understand that their dysfunction is truly dysfunction...it's all they have ever known.....but once it becomes apparent there is definitely a choice that can be made. Thank you for your thoughts on this.

    • Danida profile image

      Danida 3 years ago from London

      Interesting hub!

      I'm pretty sure my family is dysfunctional -- we fight often, make fun of other family members, and argue over the simplest of things. When we're all at home we feel like prisoners and claustrophobic, which definitely isn't a sign of a functional family!

      However at the end of the day we do laugh and watch TV together and hug, so it can't be that bad, right?

      We do have to work on it though.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Danida, if at the end of the day you can sit with each other, laugh and hug, how bad can it be? :) It's just my opinion, but I think there is a little bit of dysfunction in the best of families. :) Have a great weekend and thank you.

    • Fossillady profile image

      Kathi 3 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      This is such an important topic and hits every family at some level! I'm a true believer it can be cured and we can learn to grow out of those old negative behavior patterns! I'm living proof! And I'm a true believer that we all can use some expert counseling to help us unravel the confusion and peel back the onion in order to get at the core of negative behavior patterns! Unlike our parents generation, we have available access to us all kinds of helpful information!

      PS . . . appreciate this definition which broadly sums it up the "dysfunction family"

      “A family whose interrelationships serve to detract from, rather than promote, the emotional and physical health and well-being of its members.”

      Thank you for sharing this Bill and will share!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Fossil, how are you? Good to see you and thanks for such a great comment. Yes there is help and no, the cycle does not have to continue. All it takes is willingness to change and some hard work.

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 2 years ago from Philippines

      Very well said, Bill. You often speak with such grace that it's hard to believe when you talk of experiencing dysfunction yourself. It's quite a revelation. I'm glad you've gotten out of it and I think your blog is a great idea for helping people to deal with dysfunction. I think dysfunction is more prevalent than some would have us believe. But like you pointed out, there is a way to get over it and to live a happy life.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mona, maybe I'm just a slow learner. :) Seriously, I had to learn at my own pace, and some lessons were harder than others, and some I fought harder than others. We live and learn my friend. Thank you for the kind words.

    Click to Rate This Article