THE "IDENTIFIED PATIENT" IN FAMILIES
It is common for members of a family to engage in patterns that are hurtful, lead to conflict, and are extremely challenging to change. Often, such behavior patterns are rooted in past generations and can take up to five family generations to dissipate on their own.
One of the most common hallmarks of a struggling family is that of the “identified patient”. Typically one family member is singled out as being the “problem”. This person is usually labeled as the one who is the most emotionally volatile, who causes the most trouble for other family members, and who may even be expected not to thrive in life.
Perhaps you are aware of being the identified patient in your family or can think of someone in your family who is seen this way. In either case, it is important to note that the role of the identified patient has been vital (often times throughout generations) for providing the family with a stable way to keep the family together while managing unwanted feelings like insecurity, fear, anger and shame. However, the identified patient simply provides a distraction from such emotions rather than providing long term relief and resolution.
Luckily, family therapy can help transform such dynamics. A skilled therapist can guide a family in becoming less reactive and more mindful of interactions, leading to healthier, more collaborative, supportive patterns of interacting. And who doesn’t want a family that works together in a positive and encouraging manner?
If you’re interested in learning more and beginning the healing process, contact me at 720-432-8875.