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Thread: boundary dissolution

  1. #11


    Quote Originally Posted by chatoyer View Post

    Anyone familiar with this dynamic? I think I know of a handful of friends who seem like they went through this experience.........

    Yes, but it was not my parents fault. My mom got literally insane when I was very young. My dad tried to hire someone to take care of us, but my brother was very difficult and no one wanted the job. He had to work until very late at night. We didn't own a phone, so If I needed anything I had to go to a pay phone or neighbor's house, so we had no assistance during the day at all.

    I had no idea of how to take care of a house, let alone another child. My brother and I had for years our heads full of lice. He failed in school. The house was a complete mess. It was chaotic. When my mom got better, she took over the house responsibilities (thank God), but she remained emotionally fragile and I had to take care of her emotional needs.

    Fortunately, we all survived and learned a lot from the experience.

    Edit - Oh, I forgot. My parents fights ended up in violence a few times, which led me to always monitor them and act as a referee to avoid the escalation. They are really good people.. away from each other.
    Last edited by Eve; 10-08-2007 at 01:41 AM.

  2. #12
    にゃん Array runvardh's Avatar
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    Jun 2007
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    Well, I took too long to get to this. A compact string of events helped me tell my mother to fuck off, but I'm still working on the residual effects.
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  3. #13
    Senior Member Array ptgatsby's Avatar
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    Apr 2007


    Hmm, after thinking about this for a while, I can say that I most likely underwent this - both sides, the effects and the cause.

    I ended up being the emotional support (and sometimes financial, etc) for both my parents through their tough times.

    This is interesting to me because I was just recently complaining about how they still treat me as a child a lot of the time... and it really really irritates me. I'm not sure how that fits together, except maybe there was no real process of growing up and moving apart to clearly differentiate the line. Instead, they viewed me as half "adult" at a very young age and now they view me as half "child" at an older age.

    Interesting to think about, considering my difficulties with interpersonal skills. I could also be seen to be more anxious now than I probably would of been - I'm not sure if that is entirely accurate, but I do tend to have an emotional rollercoaster ride when dealing with family.

  4. #14


    This applies very well to my situation growing up. I was the eldest (after an older sibling passed away), and essentially became a second mother to my younger siblings after my parents divorced. The divorce was messy and my parents both acted rather immaturely in my opinion, by childishly telling me things in confidence about each other, or asking me to pass angry messages on to the other parent (I was 8 at the time). My mother still remains emotionally exhausting to me, despite being an amazing woman who I look up to in many ways. My father and I have a relatively strained and distant relationship, but we're starting to take steps in the right direction.

    Quote Originally Posted by chatoyer View Post
    A Type of boundary dissolution in a dysfunctional family system:

    Research shows that, over the course of childhood, young children who fulfill their parents' need for intimacy have difficulty regulating their behavior and emotions (Carlson, Jacobvitz, and Sroufe 1995) and demonstrate a pseudomature, emotionally constricted interpersonal style ( Johnston 1990). In the longer term, childhood role reversal is associated with difficulties in young adults' ability to individuate from their families (Fullinwider-Bush and Jacobvitz 1993) and adjust to college (Chase, Deming, and Wells 1998). Parent-child role reversal also is associated with depression, low-self esteem, anxiety (Jacobvitz and Bush 1996), and eating disorders (Rowa, Kerig, and Geller 2001) in young women. Due to cultural expectations that associate caregiving with the feminine role, daughters may be particularly vulnerable to being pulled into the role of "mother's little helper" (Brody 1996; Chodorow 1978). .
    I'd say my depression, self-esteem, and emotional distantness were the worst when I was a teenager. I've been making giant leaps since leaving home for college and really exerting my independence.

    I've been contemplating going to therapy just to make sure that the baggage from my childhood isn't affecting me too deeply. I guess you could say I tend to have an emotionally constricted interpersonal style, although whether this is due to this so-called boundary dissolution affecting me or because of my INFJness is hard to tell.

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    Yes, with my mother in particular. She was much more fragile than anyone in the family, and my father's alcoholism really hurt her. My sister and I both had to walk on eggshells, listen to her complaints about my father, for a long time were her silent coconspirators (where she would tell us everything he was doing wrong, until independently each one of us broke away and asked her to stop, because we did not want to be involved that way).
    My childhood situation was similar allthough I would describe my mothers as both very fragile and very strong. I still feel repelled at how much we managed to demonize my father back then. My mother is a co-dependant ENFJ "the self-appointment queen of loosers". She picks the weak, nurtures them until they've completely lost their ability to think for themselves. If they resist, she regains control by threatening to commit suicide and if that fails, she demonize them. She still pulls of all her little tricks and my dad too for that matter. She often starts by saying, "I really shouldn't be saying this about your dad but..." or "I've keep this for myself for a long time but...". I don't see any of my parents that often so I try to ignore it, I gues they'r both so old by now that nothing will change nomatter what.
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  6. #16
    4x9 Array cascadeco's Avatar
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    Oct 2007
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    Edit - just deleted my original post, because after thinking about it, I was talking about something totally different from role-reversal.

    What I can say is that I, like others, have spent my 20's (I'm now 29) figuring out who I am, how to interact with people, and how to deal with my emotions. Still working on it.

    And, I know it was the type of environment that I was raised in - one that basically didn't teach me any of that, or nurture any of that (everything was repressed, emotions weren't expressed, and nothing went beyond the surface) - that is why I feel like I've been playing rapid 'catch-up' the past 10 yrs or so. I sometimes joke with myself that socially/emotionally, I'm probably at a high-school level. :-) Even though I *feel* pretty mature overall.

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