From a young age, I noticed slight differences in the way I was treated compared to others that are in my family. I believed that it was because I was middle daughter. No such thing as middle child syndrome when there are four of you. Later, I found out I was the black sheep, or as Aletheia Luna puts it “Identified Patient” (n.d.).
In dysfunctional families, there are certain roles that need to be occupied (Burney n.d.):
- Family Hero: This child takes on the role of an adult, they are typically good students, sport stars. The parents need this spot to be filled so they can fill like they have done a good job of parenting
- Scapegoat: This role is also the black sheep. This person is the one that talks about all the emotions that everyone else is trying to ignore. They are not doing well in school, because they respond in the only way they have been taught to be: negatively. As adults, they are usually the first people to seek out professional help for their low self-esteem and self-image.
- Mascot: This person is deemed to be the person to divert any negative attention that is happening. Most times, the Mascot and Scapegoat are the same people. They are caretakers, and want everyone to be happy. There is a downside though. As adults, they usually have a history of abusive relationships because they feel like they can fix them. They have case studies instead of friendships, because they want to save everyone from anything that is evil.
- Lost Child: This child purposefully becomes invisible. They often use terms such as “it doesn’t bother me” or “don’t worry about me”. Funny enough, a lot of people assigned the label of “lost child” become actors and writers; it is easier to hide behind a character than to live with their feelings.
The best part about dysfunctional families is that you do not need to remain in them. I know that you may have the feeling that you need to occupy these spots to keep the family going, but you are an adult now. You have the choice! You can choose to leave it all behind you, and to not live in the constraints of hatred, and narrow minded thinking. You can blossom from the muck, you can be a lotus. You can be the light in the darkness. You have no obligation to people that do not value you as a person.
Thank you as always to my amazing counselor Jenn Bovee at Inspiring Enterprises LLC.
Light up the Darkness,
Burney R M.A. n.d. Roles in dysfunctional families Information Press of San Luis Obispo California Retrieved from: http://joy2meu.com/DysfunctionalFamilies.htm
Luna A, n.d. Family: how to overcome the shame of being an identified patient/black sheep Lone Wolf Retrieved from https://lonerwolf.com/identified-patient-black-sheep/