Signs of Dysfunctional Families


Is Your Family Dysfunctional?

It has already been established in other articles that those who grow up in highly dysfunctional families are more likely than others to develop mental illness later in life (for example. borderline personality disorder. But what are the signs and characteristics of a dysfunctional family?

I list some key examples below :

  1. PARENTAL ALCOHOLISM OR DRUG ADDICTION : this puts the child at risk of various forms of abuse and increases the likelihood that he will be neglected (emotionally, physically, or both). It also increases the likelihood of conflict within the family.
  2. AN UNPREDICTABLE AND FEAR INDUCING ATMOSPHERE : for example, the parent may be inconsistent  with their child, meaning the child can never be sure as to how his parents will respond to his various behaviours. Or the parent might be violent towards the child, or prone to outbursts of extreme rage. 
  3. A HIGH LEVEL OF CONFLICT WITHIN THE FAMILY :  this may be verbal or physical (although, of course, a certain amount of conflict within families is inevitable, particularly when children within the family reach adolescence).
  4. PERFECTIONISM :  for example, if one or both parents place excessive demands upon the child to constantly achieve excellence in a particular activity or activities, causing the child to experience damaging levels of stress and anxiety.

5.ABUSE :  physical, sexual or emotional

6. POOR COMMUNICATION : for example. the child being largely ignored by one or both parents.

7. EXCESSIVE CONTROL :  for example, not allowing an adolescent child to ever leave the house to see friends or invite friends around to his own house.

8. REPRESSION :  for example. a family in which it is unacceptable to show or talk about personal feelings and emotions (everyone must keep a ‘stiff upper lip’ at all times).

9. A LACK OF EMPATHY :  for example, in a family in which the parents are never able to understand or relate to the child’s feelings about issues that are of importance to him, and are, therefore, dismissive of him.

10. ROLE-REVERSAL : for example, in a single parent family in which the child cares for a clinically depressed mother whilst his own needs (emotional, physical or both) go unmet.

11. DENIAL :  for example, in a family in which the father is an alcoholic but this fact can never be acknowledged or spoken about, meaning the problem goes unresolved and the child is burdened with having to keep a ‘family secret’)

12. SCAPEGOATING : for example, when the personality problems of family members are projected onto one individual.


eBook :


Above eBook now available for immediate download on Amazon. CLICK HERE.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About David Hosier MSc

Holder of MSc and post graduate teaching diploma in psychology. Highly experienced in education. Founder of Survivor of severe childhood trauma.

Leave a Comment

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: