Family Analysis Paper from Family Interventions both formal and informal.
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My family shows signs of being a healthy family for the most part with a few exceptions. The biggest exception is that the individuals are not assigned to particular roles. This means that our roles as individuals provide organized chaos as we rotate from situation to situation. These role rotations allow my family to experience both enmeshment and disengagement. An example of this would be when a family member ends a romantic relationship the family tends to become disengaged and experiences differentiation. However, in the event of a family tragedy the family experiences higher levels of enmeshment and lower levels of differentiation. However, neither of these ever reached a significant extreme, which in my opinion, allows the family to be highly adaptive and mange high level of anxiety.
A couple of years ago my father experienced sharp pains throughout his chest and was hospitalized for several days. The medical staff instructed him not to exert himself, consequently the rest of my immediate family came together to help with my father??™s obligations. The individual who was impacted the most was my mother. Structurally my mother has to take on roles such as financier and outdoor maintenance, which was normally filled by my father. Our normally highly differentiated family had to lower that aspect of our family structure in order to compensate and fill in the leadership role of my father. Although this was a temporary situation (about one month), I believe this situation had little long-term effect on family roles. However, this situation increased our family??™s enmeshment and lowered our differentiation permanently.
In bouts of normal family anxiety, the family shows signs of clear and defined roles. My parents tend to share the roles of family Hero and child Enabler. I believe that this occurs because my parents believe in relying on family and being responsible during times of anxiety thusly emphasizing these aspects when anxiety occurs. My brother and I tend to bounce between all of the other roles (Lost Child, Mascot, Scapegoat, and Chemically Dependant Person) depending on each specific scenario. One major exception to this structure is when one of my parents cannot fill the role of the family Hero, such as the example of my father??™s chest pains, my brother and I will help to fill the void that is left behind. During times of non-anxiety, roles tend to have little significance in our family structure. This is due to high levels of differentiation. The rotational roles we play today have been true since I was a child and continues today. If I were forced into choosing a single role, I would prefer Mascot. To provide a sense of fun, excitement, and laughter to a family structure would be a role that I would be able to handle.
Togetherness and Triangulation:
Typically, I do not feel a high level of pressure for togetherness when the family is experiencing anxiety. Calling it ???pressure??? is an inaccurate statement regarding my family but a better word would be a ???need??? for togetherness. This may be simply a semantic argument, but the difference to me is that under pressure one feels a sense of obligation for togetherness, whereas a need is simply an instinctive reaction to anxiety. The only time I can recall ever feeling pressure for togetherness is when my grandfather died. It was clear that during this time any lack of participation in togetherness would end badly for any non-participant. This example caused a clear sense of pressure for togetherness.
Triangulation is the biggest way the family alleviates anxiety. In fact, it is the only way the family deals with anxiety. My mother seems to be the centerpiece to all the triangulation that exists. This is largely because in early childhood, my father was working extremely hard to provide for the family and my mother, working only part time, was physically more available. My mother typically passed the tension from on outsider to another. This happened constantly, if one of the children had a problem the tension was passed or expressed to mother then passed to father and mother and father would resolve the tension in the best possible manner. However, if there was a problem between father and mother, mother would pass this on to one of the children. This is what is meant by mother constantly passing the tension; she is literally at the center of all the triangles that exist within a family. However, because of the high level of differentiation the tension usually stopped there. As children, we are taught that ???adult problems??? were between adults no matter how much mother involved the children with the situation.
I find myself willing to go to any extreme to bring balance to enmeshment or differentiation. In the case of a severe imbalance of enmeshment, I would be willing to give up all of my individuality to bring balance. On the other hand, in a severe violation of my individuality I would be willing to sacrifice all enmeshment to regain my individuality. This is in part because of the level of comfort I have experienced with enmeshment and differentiation in the family throughout my life. This long term stability of enmeshment and differentiation would call for something so severe to cause an imbalance that such extremes would be necessary to bring back balance.
I believe that my family analysis is my cultural upbringing. Both of my parents came from dysfunctional and abusive families. In order to break this cycle of abuse they essentially created their own culture in which to raise their children. This was beneficial in the long-term because it allowed both children to explore other cultural upbringings in a more positive environment and stops any cycle of dysfunction and abuse.
When reflecting on my family and this paper I realized that in many ways my family is unique and highly adaptive. I began to understand how other families function and why I now have a greater appreciation of other families??™ anxiety. Analyzing my family has brought to light the positive and negative affects of the family structure which allows me to continue the traits of a healthy family system.