The Wounded Self: Family Wounds Can Be Healed

Family Wounds

Family Wounds

Family Wounds. Photo courtesy of Helga Weber(CC No Derivatives)

This document describes the condition of adult children of addiction (ACOAs) as the product of a genuine failure of parents to help the developing child resolve his or her needs for narcissistic and idealizing needs. The former failure arises when grandiose impulses are completely ignored, leaving the child to accumulate intense pressure in the psyche that leads to shame. Similarly, without “good-enough parenting” the child never learns to process and internalize some of his or her idealistic needs for comfort and safety, leading to a failure to develop a mature and cohesive sense of self. 

Recommended good parenting includes a healthy mix of acknowledgement of the child’s narcissist and idealistic needs for recognition, validation, and care, along with regular “mini-failures” that allow the child to slowly internalize the needs in order to develop a strong sense of self. The piece is useful for addicts with children, ACOAs, family therapists and addiction recovery specialists.

At Bluefield, several of our students have parents who struggled with addiction as well, resulting in family wounds for their children. We work with our students to overcome any trauma they may have from growing up in an addicted home. We help them to take responsibility for their current actions and not constantly stay in the victim role.  In addition, we work with parents to make sure they are on board with their child’s recovery and have a strong understanding of the cunning, baffling and powerful nature of addiction.  

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