Dr. David B. Adams – Psychological Blog

Psychology of Illness, Pain, Anxiety and Depression

The Enmeshed Family

enmeshed family

Enmeshed Family Creation

A distorted perception of the world, society, responsibility and goals can be created and maintained by a family.

With injured or ill individuals, the enmeshed family can readily become a subculture which encourages the patient to perceive that he/she is incapable of any productive return to work. The family can encourage the patient to believe that doctors are indifferent or incompetent, and that almost everyone is “out-to-get-you.”

By taking away responsibilities from the patient, the family can encourage grossly exaggerated perceptions of disability and effectively block any motivation and attempts to mobilize.

I do not know of a case in which the patient’s perceptions of disability was not substantially determined by the views of the family. The role of the family needs to be determined and is often a critical factor in determining whether the patient is motivated-to-recover.

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