Morning meditation - Celebrating life
Farewell to Falwell - When religion goes bad

Destructive parenting often justfied in borderline families and enlightened witnesses can be soul saving

Upset_child Christine Lawson in her book, Understanding the Borderline Mother, writes,

"Studies indicate that the single most important factor affecting resiliency in children is the conviction of being loved. The effects of parental abandonment, abuse, neglect can be mitigated if children have access to a relationship with a loving adult such as a teacher, a minister, a neighbor, or a relative who is empathically attuned to the child's feelings." p.43

This person is what Alice Miller calls "an enlightened witness." The enlightened witness is a person whom the child trusts and feels understood by whom the child believes knows what is going on and who validates the child so that the child is reassured that the problems being experienced are not generated by them but by the other.

The symptoms and interpersonal dynamics of borderline disorder are subtle and often not recognizable by the casual observer. When symptomatic behavior appears it often is easily dismissed as an aberration by a non-intimate observer. The Dr. Jeckle/Mr. Hyde phenomenon is very prevalent in borderline families where there is concentrated effort to hide the dysfunction and a breach of the secrecy is judged to be a huge betrayal and is severely punished. Therefore, repeat disclosures are unlikely, and children repress and deny their experience knowing it is unlikely their stories would be believed by outsiders, and would be punished by insiders. Even when symptomatic behavior is recognized and acknowledged, it is hard to believe that a supposedly loving parent would treat their child in such ways. Even the parent herself often does not seem to be aware of the destructive impact of her behavior and so dysfunctional behaviors are denied or rationalized, or even justified as being necessary for the benefit of the child.

This is post #11 on a series based on Christine Lawson's book, Understanding the Borderline Mother.



"Even the parent herself often does not seem to be aware of the destructive impact of her behavior": truer words were never spoken. I do not believe that my mother MEANT to make me insane. I think her frame of reality is such that to her, her behavior and mindset are appropriate (this is why she never does anything wrong in her own eyes). This disorder is like an invisible germ. Every now and then you see the effects of it, but trapping the sucker for microscopic review is a bugger.


This is such an important point. I was so lucky to have my grandmother, who did this for me. I think this is why I am not as damaged as my sisters. They are both in deep trouble as adults. I am so grateful to her for not only this but for also providing a stable environment as a comparison which I drew strength from when all hell broke loose.

The comments to this entry are closed.