Social-Cultural CAUSES of the Dysfunctional Family

    The dysfunctional family (relationship) is a cultural thing: it is the product of an
    emotionally dishonest, fear-based, blame-shame, society (still a patriarchal
    one) – and based upon beliefs that do not support the concept of "Love thyself",
    "Love thy neighbor", or "Do Unto Others as you would have them do unto
    you" (Robert Burney).

    As we have seen.
    *Culture is the major determinant of what is "acceptable" - and what isn't; what is
    "possible", and what isn't; what is "permissible", and what isn't. Culture is what teaches
    us what our "limits" for achieving our potential are: and thus retards it. The family is the
    smallest cultural unit - it is a culture itself.
    Dysfunctional family and relationship dynamics can be the
    poor foster care - and many others. Dysfunctional Families &
    Relationships respect no boundaries: they  are found among
    rich and poor; educated and illiterate; in all cultures, in all
    religions and political systems. Dysfunctional families &
    relationships go far beyond our role models and our proto-
    types. These are dysfunctional – and that’s cultural.

    Our "traditional" concepts of what a man and of what a woman
    is, and what a child is, are distorted and twisted stereotypes
    of what masculine, feminine and childhood really are: they are
    formed by the cultures we live in. Our cultures reinforce it
    through examples among "heroes", public figures, magazines,
    advertising, and television, among others.
    It is a "machismo" thing.

    Abuse and Violence are endemic: this is how power and control
    are  maintained, and transmitted - the cultural transmission of

    No matter where we look - and I am trying not to be
    pessimistic - we see violence: war, protests, exploitation,
    starvation, and large  scale poverty - when the resources
    to avoid all this are readily available. The "push" seems to
    be toward "control" and dominance - using force whenever,
    and wherever necessary.

    Children learn from their parents and other significant adults:
    from what they see, hear, observe and experience, they form
    their views on what is "right" and "wrong", "how life is", what
    is permissible and acceptable, etc.
    The "model" cultures promote of what a man is does not allow a man to cry or express fear;
    when the model for what a woman is does not allow a woman to be angry or aggressive,
    or a child to be a child - that is emotional dishonesty, and is severely maladaptive.

    When the standards of a society deny the full range of the emotional spectrum and label
    certain emotions as negative - that is not only emotionally dishonest, it creates an emotional
    sickness (our behaviour patterns are not a disease) they are behavioursand patterns of

    When a culture is based on emotional dishonesty, with role models that are dishonest
    emotionally, then that culture is also emotionally dysfunctional and maladaptive. For it sets
    the people of that society up to be emotionally dishonest and dysfunctional in getting their
    emotional needs met.

    What we traditionally have called normal parenting in this society is abusive because it is
    emotionally dishonest.  Children learn who they are as emotional beings from the role
    modeling of their parents - and from the wider cultural setting they live in: in which they
    are immersed; and by which they are surrounded.

    "Do as I say - not as I do," does not work with children or adults.  Emotionally dishonest
    parents (and cultural environment) cannot be emotionally healthy role models, and cannot
    provide healthy parenting.  Our cultural/familial model for what a family should be sets up
    abusive, emotionally dishonest dynamics.
           Dysfunction: MAJOR Cultural CHARACTERISTICS and TRAITS Inventory
                   of sick, unhealthy, dysfunctional(alcoholic) families and relationships:

    Denial & Enabling: Denial is the mechanism that "keeps it going" (see
    Dysfunctional Families). This is only a manifestation of cultural denial and
    enabling to maintain exploitation and the status quo (see Denial and Enabling).

    Non-communication and secrecy: members of/from dysfunctional family (cultural
    unit) avoid speaking about the situation and their feelings about it. The whole
    dysfunctional, maladaptive situation results in feelings of futility and powerlessness about
    being able to change anything. Later in life it leads to makes them want to drop out of
    groups, blame everyone else, and do almost anything but communicate, or look for
    meaningful change.

    Anger and fear: in dysfunctional families (as in cultures), children are left with a constant
    level of anger and fear, which becomes "normal" behaviour in these circumstances. Later,
    it is exacerbated by any situation which threatens (or seems to threaten), or to mimic the
    original situation (family dynamic). The anger is carried over from childhood into adult-
    hood, and later in life, when certain incidents arise, even if the anger is justified, its
    vehemence will usually be greater than the situation deserves, due to the carry-over.
    Because it is in part a carryover from childhood, the force or frequency of the anger may
    obscure its actual cause, and the end result is frustration for everyone.

    Competition: (mirrored from the culture people find themselves in), there is a limited
    mount of love, time, money, food, clothing, safety, etc, in dysfunctional families. Family
    members learn that all of these things must be earned through competition. Rather than
    developing ways of working together, family members pit themselves against each other.
    Later in life they feel they have to compete with others (in all kinds of situations and
    circumstances) to get a word in edgewise, to perform as well as others, or to jockey for
    a power position.

    Unequal power structures: in most dysfunctional families (once again, as in the
    various cultural environments) one person had the most power (often, but not always,
    the father); the other adult (often, but not always, the mother) was dependent upon
    him/her. The children, in turn, were dependent upon the weaker of the two. That
    adult's powerlessness was compensated for through his or her power over the children.
    The children were powerless against their parents and sought to make pecking orders
    among themselves and their peers - because they learned to operate
    within the family rules.
    Dependence: dysfunctional family cultural unit members became dependent upon the
    very people whose behaviors they didn't feel good about.  Later in life these people are
    terrified to let go of destructive patterns: of course, outsiders find this behavior baffling:
    codependency at its worst - and thus repeating and perpetuating the cycle. It also often
    leads to Codependency  later in life.

    Guilt and shame: members of dysfunctional families usually are: powerless, dependent,
    fearful and angry. These emotions are funneled into the subconscious through secrecy.
    The end result is: a feeling of malaise (sickness); low self-esteem; lack of trust, and a
    strong underlying sense of shame; also see "Guilt", a great cultural mechanism to keep
    people from questioning the status quo.

    Lack of trust: this is the consequence of growing up in a dysfunctional family (or
    growing up dysfunctional). It is a continuing state of dysfunctional family survivors. It
    goes so deep that a vicious, repeating circle is formed, one which perpetuates the
    situation: with the result that it both causes and increases all of the behaviours above
    (see Building Trust). This is simply mirroring the cultural climate where people no longer
    trust politicians, for example.

    That circle is known as the Cycle Of Violence & Abuse. Inability to trust leads to being
    suspicious of everyone, and everything. There is always a suspicion that all others have
    hidden motives and agendas: in fact, it is assumed that this is the case. This leads to the
    inability to be fully authentic, honest and forth-right. To people raised in a dysfunctional
    family, or trapped in a dysfunctional relationship, the opposite (healthy, functional and
    adaptive) looks weird, strange, sick, intimidating and scary.

    Our cultural human tendency is to judge/compare new experiences, ideas, practices,
    customs, situations and people in our lives by comparing them, or measuring them
    against what we know. To people raised in a dysfunctional family, or trapped in a
    dysfunctional relationship, the opposite (healthy, functional and adaptive) looks weird,
    strange, "sick", intimidating and scary.

    Mostly, this is due to the fact that our human tendency is to "judge" new experiences,
    people and situations in our lives by comparing them, or measuring them against what
    we know. The "weirdness" actually consists in the fact that it is the "sick" situation we
    are using as the "standard", as if, somehow, it was "right" and the other is "wrong".

    If we use the standard we were taught, we will never be able to break out of the
    cultural pattern: amazingly, there are those who go counter to the prevailing cultural
    model - and work out a family, or relationship system that doesn't follow the cultural
    pattern:see Healthy Families,  Comparing Healthy-UnHealthy Relationships,"

    "Escape" from this is totally possible - see "The Awakening".

    Klaas Tuinman
    Deerfield (Yarmouth County) Nova Scotia - Rev: 2009-2019
    To cope, members of dysfunctional family systems resort to taking on “roleswithin the
    family that allow the system to be tolerable. The “taking on a role” is an unconscious act
    – it is not deliberate: it is a survival "technique". These, too, are products of our environ-
    ment and culture (as represented by the family, community, culture; "church" and state)

    Since the family is the basic core of society - the problems and dysfunctions of society are
    reflected in the family, and the dysfunctions of families are projected into society. A
    "sufficient" number of dysfunctional (alcoholic) families causes the entire society to turn
    dysfunctional: it is truly, and fully a "cultural" phenomenon: a sad, and destructive one
    - often to be repeated, generation after generation - until someone breaks the cycle.

    Because the child is born into it, the family's method of functioning is seen as "normal",
    rather than sick, maladaptive or deviant - it becomes simply "the way things are" for that
    child. It is part of their socialization process.
    This form of dysfunction is shrouded in non-communication, alienation, fear, denial and
    anger which, while shared by all, is not permissible to express. These feelings get
    channeled into standardized behavior patterns designed to keep the unhealthy system
    functioning as smoothly as it can under the circumstances. The patterns become second
    nature, part of the basic survival mechanisms which people carry through into all their
    subsequent situations.
It is no measure of health to
be well-adjusted to a
profoundly sick society.
~Jiddu Krishnamurti
People who really want to heal,
will find a way;
those who don't, will find an
The Culture of Dysfunction
Culture and Its Effects on Family and Relationships
"Roadside assistance" For Your Journey Through Life
From the eBook: "One! The Journey hOMe", by Klaas Tuinman M.A.
© 2007-2020
Questions and comments welcomed.