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Adult Children: The Secrets of Dysfunctional Families

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It is estimated that as many as 34 million people grew up in alcoholic homes. But what about the rest of us? What about families that had no alcoholism, but did have perfectionism, workaholism, compulsive overeating, intimacy problems, depression, problems in expressing feelings, plus all the other personality traits that can produce a family system much like an alcoholic It is estimated that as many as 34 million people grew up in alcoholic homes. But what about the rest of us? What about families that had no alcoholism, but did have perfectionism, workaholism, compulsive overeating, intimacy problems, depression, problems in expressing feelings, plus all the other personality traits that can produce a family system much like an alcoholic one? Countless millions of us struggle with these kinds of dysfunctions every day, and until very recently we struggled alone. Pulling together both theory and clinical practice, John and Linda Friel provide a readable explanation of what happened to us and how we can rectify it.


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It is estimated that as many as 34 million people grew up in alcoholic homes. But what about the rest of us? What about families that had no alcoholism, but did have perfectionism, workaholism, compulsive overeating, intimacy problems, depression, problems in expressing feelings, plus all the other personality traits that can produce a family system much like an alcoholic It is estimated that as many as 34 million people grew up in alcoholic homes. But what about the rest of us? What about families that had no alcoholism, but did have perfectionism, workaholism, compulsive overeating, intimacy problems, depression, problems in expressing feelings, plus all the other personality traits that can produce a family system much like an alcoholic one? Countless millions of us struggle with these kinds of dysfunctions every day, and until very recently we struggled alone. Pulling together both theory and clinical practice, John and Linda Friel provide a readable explanation of what happened to us and how we can rectify it.

30 review for Adult Children: The Secrets of Dysfunctional Families

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    This is the first self-help book I ever read. It shed light on the dynamics of my family of origin and propelled me into recovery.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jennyappleseed

    This book may have literally saved my life. I can't recommend it enough if you come from an unhealthy family, no matter the degree of dysfunction. This book may have literally saved my life. I can't recommend it enough if you come from an unhealthy family, no matter the degree of dysfunction.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dena

    Insightful, I believe everyone could benefit from this book. First step to fixing the problem is to acknowledge that there is one.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Monica Willyard Moen

    This is a very clear introduction to the concept of how adult children cope with things they learned from their dysfunctional families while they grew up. If you grew up in a home where alcoholism, addiction, abuse, or eating disorders were common, it is very likely that you lived in a dysfunctional family that did not teach you healthy relationship skills. As a result, you may not know how to connect with other people, how to build an intimate relationship, or how to resolve conflict in a way t This is a very clear introduction to the concept of how adult children cope with things they learned from their dysfunctional families while they grew up. If you grew up in a home where alcoholism, addiction, abuse, or eating disorders were common, it is very likely that you lived in a dysfunctional family that did not teach you healthy relationship skills. As a result, you may not know how to connect with other people, how to build an intimate relationship, or how to resolve conflict in a way that preserves your relationship. The authors explain that dysfunction happens along a continuum so that some families have mild dysfunction while others are so damaged that the aftermath can be physically and psychologically stunting for the children of the family. This book also briefly covers the topic of family systems and how the entire family can be impacted by one member’s addiction or abusive behavior. This book provides questionnaires to help you assess the level of dysfunction in your family, what issues are currently causing problems for you, and helps you figure out what kind of professional or support group help could assist you in moving forward. Finally, this book discusses codependency since the authors believe that even people who are alcoholics or addicted to drugs deal with codependency issues underneath the addictions. I highly recommend this book as an introduction to this subject and as a sort of tour guide. There may be books that are more targeted to providing help in specific areas, but this is a very nice starting point.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Laurent

    5 stars -- Wow. This book had a deep impact on me. If you have the vague feeling there's something fucked up in your life but cannot say what, this book is for you. If your parents always told you that they love each other but had/have trouble expressing it spontaneously, this book is for you. If you cling to your partner or look for a partner like an addict in withdrawal, this book is for you. This book is a treasure about codependency. The codependency movement started from children/partners of al 5 stars -- Wow. This book had a deep impact on me. If you have the vague feeling there's something fucked up in your life but cannot say what, this book is for you. If your parents always told you that they love each other but had/have trouble expressing it spontaneously, this book is for you. If you cling to your partner or look for a partner like an addict in withdrawal, this book is for you. This book is a treasure about codependency. The codependency movement started from children/partners of alcoholics. But what about the rest of us who had a normal chilhood yet live a life of quiet misery? This book has an answer for these people.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    Everyone, no matter what their childhood, should read this book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Aurora Dimitre

    Another one of those old self-help books. Kinda fun.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Angelina

    First time reading on the topic dysfunctional family and how such system affects child and later on an adult, "child adult". Personally, I enjoy any psychology book which explores complex human emotions, psychology theories in a simple relatable language. For me, this book, delivers just that. I like, that the author not only naming feelings & symptoms, but also links them back to the topic by highlighting how it all affects behaviour of the adult, suggests to look into yourself and most importa First time reading on the topic dysfunctional family and how such system affects child and later on an adult, "child adult". Personally, I enjoy any psychology book which explores complex human emotions, psychology theories in a simple relatable language. For me, this book, delivers just that. I like, that the author not only naming feelings & symptoms, but also links them back to the topic by highlighting how it all affects behaviour of the adult, suggests to look into yourself and most importantly reminds the reader to seek clinical and group help if couple of symptoms apply. If you are looking for some techniques, tools of overcoming "adult child within" I would say, it isn't a go to book. It certainly a go to book to increase an awareness on the topic and acknowledge if you have an issue. I think this book should be read by everyone at least once for its insights on emotional behaviour. I think readers who can benefit from this book are: adult- children, teenagers, healthy adults (help to see other side and broaden knowledge and understanfing of adult child experience). Personal notes/potential spoilers: On Sadness: " to feel sad, we must also let ourselves feel powerless. Sadness is a normal, healthy response to loss... sadness may feel empty at first but eventually becomes the fuel for renewed hope and existence...sadness let us cry without feeling the ashamed... it lets us take the time to say goodbye...and the best of all we do not require that we do much of anything to be appropriate for situation". On shame: "Shame is a base if all addictions. It is often expression of worthlessness/ critisism e.g. I made mistake therefore I am a mistake. It comes from damaging interpersonal bridge between 2 people, in particular when relationship comes in question. Shame can cause ostracism. On guilt:" there 2 types of guilt: healthy guilt, which let us know when we have authentically done something to hurt someone else and it provides the energy and drive to keep us paralysed. Meanwhile,unhealthy guilt tells us that we have done something wring when we really haven't, and thus it provides a lot of energy and drive to keep us paralised". On secrets: what secret we try to hide that causes shameful feeling/thoughts/behaviour? Important to overt covert behaviour by understanding emotional secret driving the behaviour, to do so its important to let it out in without shame or blame, especially if the secret doesn't serve a healthy purpose. On co-dependency: " loss of self on a regular basis is not intimacy it is dependency". Co-dependency is dysfunctional pattern of living, which emerges from our family of origin, culture, producing arrested identity development and resulting in an over reaction to the things outside of us and an under reaction to things inside of us. Left untreated it can lead to an addiction. Symptoms of co dependency are: depression, tolerance to inappropriate behaviour, self-defeating coping strategies, strong need yo control oneself and others, stress related physical symptoms, abuse /& neglect of self, difficulty with intimacy and secuality, fear of abandomnment, shame, inappropriate guilt, eventually addiction, rage." "the feeling of better than also leaves plenty of room for feeling worse than others, which leads to social and emotional isolation" " we can not recover alone but we also cannot recover if all of our time is spend with others who are not in recovery" On the monster-Fear: "If you run away from me without listening to what I have to say, you might end up avoiding something important for you. But if you listen to me just right, and learn to make friends with me, then will you have a wisdom". p.194

  9. 4 out of 5

    Heather Johnson

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This was a very succinct set of descriptions as it relates to those having been raised in dysfunctional households. Very enlightening. There were many times when I had to just say, "those were words I did not have to describe what I was experiencing". I am praying to undo any harm done to my children and to mature with compassion from this level of growth. This was a very succinct set of descriptions as it relates to those having been raised in dysfunctional households. Very enlightening. There were many times when I had to just say, "those were words I did not have to describe what I was experiencing". I am praying to undo any harm done to my children and to mature with compassion from this level of growth.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    Great, necessary book for me but the message that I must have professional help or else I'm unlikely to recover/heal was saddening. I will do the best I can with what I have available, like everyone else. Great, necessary book for me but the message that I must have professional help or else I'm unlikely to recover/heal was saddening. I will do the best I can with what I have available, like everyone else.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sophia

    My entire life I had been dealing with symptoms of a dysfunctional childhood without realizing just how many of my symptoms can be attributed to it. This book provided me clarity, strength, and reassurance to help my journey forward in a life of recovery from toxic behaviors and relationships.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Radjaa Insaf

    A great read!!! This book is a must read for those interested in learning about dysfunctional families. Whether you are an adult child of a dysfunctional family or just seeking to learn about the subject, I highly recommend this book for your

  13. 5 out of 5

    Paula

    This book isn’t particularly well-written or organized, in my opinion and some of the interlude stories are quite strange. However, the content is good and breaks things down simply and to the basics. Helpful in self-reflection.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Marcella

    Great overview that helped me identify issues I was feeling, in spite of what I considered a stable (although not loving) childhood. Good starting point, so that I can now address some of those issues that I may be repeating.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Any Length

    A bit slow to start but well worth reading and easy to relate to. He gives lists of symptoms which one can read through to check if one relates and identifies.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Juan Mulet

    Great book Life changing. Helped see the inner child in me. Made me realized that I can change for better now. Great!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Donnette

    Interesting.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Theresa Ugenti

    My therapist suggested this book. It really opened my eyes as to why I did so many things.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Noah Coad

    One of the most impactful books I've read. Really nailed my experience. One of the most impactful books I've read. Really nailed my experience.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Kae

    This is a life's game changer. Taught me a lot on my raw nerve self and an even better thing is they offer possible ways out of the wreckage. Funny, an old book still applies in 2020 life. This is a life's game changer. Taught me a lot on my raw nerve self and an even better thing is they offer possible ways out of the wreckage. Funny, an old book still applies in 2020 life.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tansura

    Mostly information. Little on treatment though that's likely due to the sort of disorder that's the subject and how it needs to be highly individualized. Good overview. All my audiobooks are starting to follow a psychology trend. Mostly information. Little on treatment though that's likely due to the sort of disorder that's the subject and how it needs to be highly individualized. Good overview. All my audiobooks are starting to follow a psychology trend.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Barrie

    Free little library book that I've tucked away for too long. This morning, my mom cried about some petty woe is me complaint on my son's bday. Soooooo, it's high time I whip this out and finally give it a proper read to understand her neediness and constant drama. Ugh, not at all what I thought I'd get out of this book. Apparently I'm the last one to know that Adult Children is code for co-dependent alcoholics. Nothing wrong with being one, but that is not what I thought the book would be about-- Free little library book that I've tucked away for too long. This morning, my mom cried about some petty woe is me complaint on my son's bday. Soooooo, it's high time I whip this out and finally give it a proper read to understand her neediness and constant drama. Ugh, not at all what I thought I'd get out of this book. Apparently I'm the last one to know that Adult Children is code for co-dependent alcoholics. Nothing wrong with being one, but that is not what I thought the book would be about--and since this was all based on theory and not fact, this book just made me angry over and over again--saying how we are all fucked up (ok, sure, all of us are likely fucked up) and that the only way to "get better/get help/fix relationships" is by going to a ____ Anonymous program. I'm sure that helps a lot of people, but I was disappointed at this book's tiresome focus on only one "right" solution.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Neti Neti

    useful book with a lot of information

  24. 5 out of 5

    Traci Simons

    I listened to this on audible and it was very informative for me. I learned a lot about what a "family of origin" is and how that affects everyone. It gave me peace of mind at some points and then made me think at others. There are lots of lists in there that may have been easier to read than listen to, and the narrator reads quite slowly so I sped it up a bit. Overall, I'd recommend this to anyone who's trying to figure out their crazy family dynamics. I listened to this on audible and it was very informative for me. I learned a lot about what a "family of origin" is and how that affects everyone. It gave me peace of mind at some points and then made me think at others. There are lots of lists in there that may have been easier to read than listen to, and the narrator reads quite slowly so I sped it up a bit. Overall, I'd recommend this to anyone who's trying to figure out their crazy family dynamics.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    This book contains excellent descriptions of roles people in dysfunctional families find themselves stuck in and the habits they develop. The examples are somewhat gendered and the authors are very heavy into the 12 step model but they integrate many schools of thought (psychodynamic, Rogers, Erikson, etc). There are also parables and analogies interspersed that help the reader understand some of the concepts. I would recommend this to people with any issues or dissatisfaction with their family This book contains excellent descriptions of roles people in dysfunctional families find themselves stuck in and the habits they develop. The examples are somewhat gendered and the authors are very heavy into the 12 step model but they integrate many schools of thought (psychodynamic, Rogers, Erikson, etc). There are also parables and analogies interspersed that help the reader understand some of the concepts. I would recommend this to people with any issues or dissatisfaction with their family of origin. This would be especially useful for adult children of alcoholics who haven't sought therapy or treatment yet or even recognized that a problem exists.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Steve Woods

    This is a very handy little book. The dfifficulty for people whose lives have been controlled by the effects of an abusive childhood is that they think that the way they regard the world and others is normal, and common to others. This short book has the information to help begin to crack that shell of delusional thinking. A good start for anyone who has hit the wall in life. The answer as to why it's all goe pear shaped may be here. This is a very handy little book. The dfifficulty for people whose lives have been controlled by the effects of an abusive childhood is that they think that the way they regard the world and others is normal, and common to others. This short book has the information to help begin to crack that shell of delusional thinking. A good start for anyone who has hit the wall in life. The answer as to why it's all goe pear shaped may be here.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kelli

    Very dated and not the greatest as far as psycho analysis is concerned. It has a great discussion on family structure and boundaries. It brings up a few good points, but I'm sure there's a newer book like it that is better written. Very dated and not the greatest as far as psycho analysis is concerned. It has a great discussion on family structure and boundaries. It brings up a few good points, but I'm sure there's a newer book like it that is better written.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    Extremely rewarding - This book is one that I will reference often. it has been a great resource for me in my adult child recovery and I found myself in a lot of the text - it was as if the authors were writing for me/through me. I recommend this for ANYONE, as we all have dysfunctions.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    You're always "recovering" never recovered per se. We're all adult children in varied degrees. Learn to express your feelings. You're always "recovering" never recovered per se. We're all adult children in varied degrees. Learn to express your feelings.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Read while at Crown. Great book.

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