Presenting the "Roles" in detail:

Please remember that these are
defensive, adaptive and "normal" reactions (Coping
Strategies) to severe dysfunction (especially from alcohol). But ones that become dysfunctional
because they begin to interfere with leading a positive, constructive, successful and satisfying life).

These are
not psychiatric categories or classifications.

The ROLES:                        * The Lost Child      * The Ghost      * The Adjuster Children  
* The Responsible Child      * The Family Hero                          * The Good Child           
* The Rebel                      * The Problem Child                       * The Acting-Out Child
* The Family Jerk               * The Scapegoat                           * The Rescuer
* The Placater                    * The Mascot                               * The Caretaker
* The Clown                      * The Fixer                                  * The Bully
* The Last Hope

The major "victim", The
Lost Child has a separate page:
FAMILY HERO – An achiever

These Hero children give the family self-worth because they look good on the outside.  They are the good   
students; the sports stars; the prom queen. In childhood, the parents look to this child to prove that they are good
parents and good people.

The "Hero" is usually (but not always) the oldest child. As adults they are often workaholics who can identify other’s
needs and meet them, but is without an understanding of their own needs.  This is often a child who uses their
success to find a sense of belonging — the one who shows the family is “all right,” but who is unable to feel the
benefit of his/her achievements. They feel like a fraud and are subject to depressions which they hide from those
around them.

In adulthood, the Good Child/Family Hero is rigid, controlling, and extremely judgmental (although perhaps very
subtle about it) - of others, and secretly of  themselves.  They achieve "success" on the outside and get lots of  positive
attention, but are cut off from their inner emotional life, from their True Self.

They are  compulsive and driven as adults because deep inside they feel inadequate and insecure: they have an
inferiority complex, because of their "success" in conforming to dysfunctional cultural definitions of what constitutes
doing life "right", is often the child in the family who as an adult has the hardest time even admitting that there is
anything within themselves that needs to be healed. They are emotionally stunted.

In group situations, the
Good Child takes on too much responsibility, disallowing the empowerment of others.    
They run things, but without much joy or satisfaction. The Good Child can get self-righteous or persecutory if they  
are feeling unappreciated.
Walk with Me
Through darkened rooms we'll climb
Past covered dust-filled sculptures in the night
With hand in Mine we'll fight the shadows left
behind
Till all that's hid within is brought to light
Nor tremble at the sights which you have seen
For if in Me you trust with all your heart
Then all the times of sorrow I'll redeem.
~Unknown
The Responsible Child * The Family Hero * The Good Child

This child is an achiever, this is usually (but not always) the
oldest child.  This is the child who is "9 going on 40."  

This child tries to transcend (rise above) the sickness of family
the environment by behaving like an angel. In taking on adult
responsibility at a young age, the Responsible Child strives to
excel at everything.

They take on other people's problems and generally  
compensate for feelings of inferiority, with a drive to   
accomplish and prove themselves.

This child takes over the parent role at a very young age,
becoming very responsible and self-sufficient.  When this takes
the form of parenting younger children, the child becomes a
junior mom or dad - they become "parentified". See
Dysfunctional Family for a brief overview of what "parentified"  
is all about.

Then he/she plays out the "higher-powered" parent role in later
relationships. They are good leaders and decision-makers, but
have difficulty listening to, and negotiating with others.
* The Rebel * The Problem Child * The Acting-Out Child * The Family Jerk

This child is in action at the slightest provocation, whether as an hero to prevent abuse to someone else (by
distracting the abuser), or to protect himself/herself with wildness. This is the child who is most visible to  the
outside world.

These children are often involved in unacceptable behaviour, such as fighting, stealing or acting out, and  who    
may adopt alcoholism, drug addiction or other compulsive behaviour early in defiance of the family system.

They get their attention in negative ways. These children often understand what is going on in their family better
than the others do. They tend to be strong leaders and creative individuals. However, they may have poor social
skills and have difficulty dealing with authority.

This child is the barometer of the family dynamics. As the Problem Child, he/she does poorly in school, gets into
trouble, turns to drugs, gets pregnant or otherwise causes problems that take focus away from the  family
problems.  The child does not do this consciously, but is driven by his/her own intolerable sensitivity.

In group situations the Problem Child/Member role may mix among a few people. They are often in crisis, which
distracts the group from moving forward. There is more permission to leave in a group than there is in a family,  
and the Problem Child may do just that.

The group may then find that problems suddenly pop up in another member.

If the Problem Child does not leave, she/he may serve another function in the system: the
Scapegoat.
THE SCAPEGOAT

THE SCAPEGOAT or FAMILY JERK
– This child takes the blame and shame for the actions of other family
members by  being the most visibly dysfunctional. This child serves the family by being sick or crazy to allow the
other members of the    family to ignore their own dysfunction. This is also the child who holds the family  
together — the family rallies to help the family jerk.  He/She learns to remain dysfunctional to continue receiving
the little attention available in a dysfunctional home by   making the family “okay” by being the focus of all that is
“not okay” which all members of the family vaguely sense. This is the child that the family feels ashamed of - and
the most emotionally honest child in the family.  He/she acts out the tension and anger the family ignores.

These children become adults who are valued for their kind heart, generosity, and ability to listen to others.    
Their whole self-definition is centered on others.  They have difficulty focusing on themselves, and they    
therefore don't know how to get their own needs met. They are warm, empathetic and sensitive individuals,      
but they tend  to put up with inappropriate behaviour from other people.

This child provides distraction from the real issues in the family.  The scapegoat usually has trouble in school
because they get attention the only way they know how - which is negatively.  They often become pregnant or
addicted as teenagers as a way of expressing their anger at the family.

This child takes responsibility for the emotional wellbeing of the family and works at minimizing the negative
feelings

These children are usually the most sensitive and caring; which is why they feel such tremendous hurt. They      
are romantics who become very cynical and distrustful.  They have a lot of self-hatred and can be very self-
destructive.

The Scapegoat also takes the blame and shame for the actions of other family members by being the most    
visibly dysfunctional. This child serves the family by being sick or crazy to allow the other members of the     
family to ignore their own dysfunction.

This is also the child who holds the family together — the family rallies to help the family jerk. He/She learns to
remain dysfunctional to continue receiving the little attention available in a dysfunctional home by making the
family "okay". They do this by being the focus of all that is "not okay" which all members of the family vaguely
sense.

Scapegoats are identified as the "
family problem." They function as a sort of pressure valve. When tension builds  
in the family, the scapegoat will misbehave as a way of relieving pressure while allowing the family to avoid
dealing with the drinking problem. Scapegoats tend to be unaware of any feelings other than anger.

The Scapegoat is the one who gets the blame for the dysfunctional system. ("Johnny/Suzy causes such problems,  
I can't get anything done.") The family itself is rarely able to perceive that their whole way of functioning is sick.
Instead, it puts all its anger into scapegoating, which, of course, increases the problems.

In groups, the Scapegoat may be the newest member, the group leader, the editor of a newsletter, or the one  
who generally has the most problems with the group process.  Like the Problem Child, they may choose to     
leave; but another person will quickly become the Scapegoat in their place.
THE RESCUER-Fixer – Similar to the Family Hero, but without the visible success. The Rescuer finds those in
needs, lets them move in or marries them or finds a job for them while supply other needs and is very
understanding of the frequent betrayals.  The rescuer has a deep seated self-hate that drives them to their role  
as a savior, because they know that anyone not already at the bottom of the barrel would have nothing to do
with them. They tend to feel inadequate in their giving and unable to accept help for their own needs.

Like the
Good Child, the Fixer/Rescuer is constantly trying to smooth things out. They become a
Codependent -- one who is fixated on solving others' problems in a way that ignores their own, and allows the
others to continue in self-destructive behaviour. The Rescuer/Fixer often becomes codependent later in life.

As
The Clown, this child keeps himself and the family distracted by playing the entertainer. The Clown denies
that there is any problem, gets attention for himself through bringing some joviality into a grim situation, and
keeps the emotional pain at a tolerable level.

Later in life the Clown is still distracting group process, often getting strokes for it because they do alleviate a
dreary situation, yet they prevent true work from being accomplished. No group would be complete without
them, they are often seen as the group's saviour, yet their fixing is more like an aspirin than a cure. They're the
ones we can't live with, and can't live without.


Placater children learn early to smooth over potentially upsetting situations in the family. They seem to have
an uncanny ability to sense what others are feeling at the expense of their own feelings. They tend to take total
responsibility for the emotional care of the family. Because of their experience in this role, they often choose
careers as helping professionals, careers which can reinforce their tendencies to ignore their own needs.

They become adults who cannot receive love; only give it.  They often have caseloads rather than friendships.
They tend to get involved in abusive relationships in an attempt to "save" the other person.  They go into the
helping professions and become nurses, and social workers, and therapists.  They have very low self-worth and
feel a lot of
guilt that they work very hard to overcome by being really "nice" (i.e, people pleasing, classically
codependent) people.

The Bully:  This child is usually the victim of physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse, who successfully     
makes the mental transition to stop being the victim by victimizing others. Often the Bully is genuinely  
remorseful for the pain and suffering caused to others, but will continue inflicting that abuse rather than face
his/her own pain.


The Last Hope Child is similar to the Lost Child. The Last Hope child is the caretaker for the family when all
other members have become unable to continue their roles. Often the Last Child is raised on comments like,

"You'll never hurt me like so and so."
These children may work themselves to death trying to do "what's right"  
for blood relations or adopted families, no matter what the expense to their own life (also "
The Lost Child").


THE MASCOT – Often a younger child who uses humor or other distracting behavior, such as being   
exceptional clumsy or always in trouble, to take the focus of the family away from the problems of the family
dysfunction. If the parent is violently drunk, the Mascot may take the abuse to “save” the rest of the family, or
may be able to crack a joke at the necessary moment to take everyone’s mind off the pain of their reality.


THE ADJUSTER – The one who is never bothered by what is happening; there is no reason to be excited
because everyone had to live with family problems. The child never becomes too attached to goal or a desire
because they have learned to change their direction at any moment. They float, knowing something is wrong  but
coping, often successfully, with one chaotic situation after another by surrendering their identity to the   needs of
the moment.


THE DOORMAT – The abused child who survives by lying down and letting others walk all over him/her,  
rather than risk an unpleasant or dangerous confrontation. This child is very understanding of the need   
someone else may have to injure him/her, but cannot identify his/her feelings about the abuse in the past or
present.

THE ACTING OUT CHILD or THE REBEL – This child is in action at the slightest provocation, whether as     
an heroic action to prevent abuse to someone else (by distracting the abuser) or to protect himself/herself with
wildness. This is the child who is most visible to the outside world and who may adopt alcoholism, drug
addiction or other compulsive behavior early in defiance of the family system.


THE BULLY – This child is usually the victim of physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse, who successfully
makes the mental transition to stop being the victim by victimizing others. Often the Bully is genuinely  
remorseful for the pain and suffering caused to others, but will continue inflicting that abuse rather than face
his/her own pain.

THE LAST HOPE – Similar to the Lost Child, the Last Hope is the caretaker for the family when all other
members have become unable to continue their roles. Often the Last Child is raised on comments like “You’ll
never hurt me like so-and-so.” These children may work themselves to death trying to do “what’s right” for  
blood relations or adopted families, no matter what the expense to their own life.

THE LOST CHILD (See Lost Child) – Often a younger (or the youngest) child, this personality type has    
learned to stay out of  the way, not make his/her wants known and to expect nothing. They avoid feeling by
denying that they have feelings. They adopt whatever behavior will allow them to stay invisible within the   
family, at work, at school or  in a relationship. This is the child who can assume whatever personality those
around him/her find least threatening. No wonder they are such consummate actors/actresses - and so
disconnected.

An Adult Child may have several of the above characteristics at one time, or may play a different role within    
the family at different ages or depending on who they are responding to.
"Roles" are coping strategies taken by children growing up in negative environments.

Each personality type has its special needs for healing, and each type can recover if they are willing to    
take the risk in believing they can change and heal.  Because the personalities of the family are mangled,  
the character traits of the children can be equally blurred.

In adulthood, the child may have several of the above characteristics at one time, or may play a different
role within the family at different ages or depending on who they are responding to.

The patterns that occur are as many and varied as the people we are. The mistake comes from focusing  
too much on the individual roles, and failing to see the dynamics of the system as a whole. We can focus  
on the plight of the poor Scapegoat, or the burden on the Fixer, but we tend to focus on an individual,
through the lens of our own roles, instead of learning to think as a system.

In a family or group system, everything affects everything else. Scapegoat or Clown, Leader or Ghost, the
whole system is affected by each action and presence (or absence). Those who obviously have power are  
no more important than those who appear to have less power, and all have equal ability to topple the
system.

The “positive” aspects:
We adopt the roles that are best suited to our personalities (we are born with a certain personality).

What happens with the roles we adopt in our family dynamic is that we get a twisted, sick and distorted
view of who we are as a result of our personality melding (blending) with the roles.

This is dysfunctional - it causes us to not be able to see ourselves clearly.  As long as we are still reacting  
to our childhood wounding and old tapes then we cannot get in touch clearly with who we really are.  
We can heal - any time we want to!

It is important to remember that the false self that we develop to survive is never totally false - there is
always some Truth in it.  

For example, people who go into the helping professions do truly care and are not doing what they do
simply out of Codependence.  Nothing is black and white - everything in life involves various shades of
grey.  

Healing is about getting honest with ourselves, and finding some balance in our life.   

Healing is about seeing ourselves more clearly and honestly so that we can start being true to who we  
really are, instead of to who are parents wanted us to be.

Note that reacting to the other extreme by rebelling against who they wanted us to be is still living life in
reaction to our childhoods. It is still giving power over how we live our life to the past instead of seeing
clearly so that we can own our choices today.
You are a child of the universe, and you have a right to be here: Victim No More
Klaas Tuinman M.A.
Dawn Cove Abbey
Deerfield, Nova Scotia 2010: revised 2017
If you are one that this description fits, and are searching for a way to heal, and it was your parents
who were involved in bringing about this situation - the following might be helpful: "
I didn't stop     
that fear is the only thing that you know and have, then suicide seems like a good alternative. And so  
I tried three times.

And finally that third time, I realized that I had to either make a new choice, which was
to give up  
my parents
- not give up my parents - or love for my parents, but have them quit running my life,
and quit having fear in my life or I was going to end up living in a psychiatric ward for the rest of     
my life.
"  (Also see "Fear")
~Anon
Regardless how long your behaviour pattern and circumstances may have existed, and no matter how much
you despair of healing: recovery - healing and becoming a true survivor is possible at any time.

"Each night I die to old habits and to negative thinking and actions that do not serve me any longer. Each
morning I am resurrected into new life, again and again –
if I so choose."
(adapted from the chapel's prayers).
"As long as you keep thinking that it is not your fault (how you feel now); that something else must change,
you will continue to feel helpless and powerless. By continuing to play the victim, you will be totally at the
mercy of your environment."
-Unknown
NOTE: This page, like most pages on the site, describes and explains behaviours and circumstances.  They
can bring understanding, and while understanding by itself does not  This page, like many pages on the     
site, describes and explains behaviours and necessarily bring recovery: it can bring a sense of relief.

U
nderstanding is only the first step - it is not the recovery process itself!

The information on this page describes an 'extreme' of behaviour. Very few people ever display all of them.
Some of the behaviours listed here are actually ‘normal’ responses to certain events and situations. These
reactions usually subside and lose their power to disrupt life or create and maintain chaos. However, when a
person is deeply wounded they linger and contribute to dysfunction.

The good news is that although it seems difficult, anyone can dig down deep past set behaviours and   
change their core responses.
Dawn Cove Abbey
________________________________________
Roadside assistance For Your Journey Through Life
________________________________________________________________
From the eBook: "One! The Journey hOMe", by Klaas Tuinman MA, © 2007-2017
Questions and comments welcomed.
Adult Children Roles: Detail

Adaptive Coping & Survival Strategies