Cycle of Dysfunction

How do you know if what you learned as a child is dysfunctional?

When looking through a looking glass from your culture upbringing you wouldn’t think dysfunction. You would probable think “normal”, or “standard”. That’s because you are not taught to question your culture, your behaviors or your existences. In fact, unless you pursue a higher education, you only know what was pass down from prior generations; and those things are confirmed by other families of similar culture.

For instance, mon and dad yells and argue with each other thinking that staying together because of the children is better than breaking up. Both mom and dad came from families that yelled and argued, so what they were doing seemed normal to them. There is a good chance that their children will repeat this cycle of dysfunction.

What about the child who grew up on government assistance, poverty or parents addicted to drugs & alcohol? Wouldn’t that child think his situation is normal?

While very few think that growing up on public assistance or in poverty is not dysfunctional, let me tell you how it is dysfunctional. It is not the act of being on government assistance or in poverty, it’s the thinking that there is no solution. What’s pass down is the psychological thinking that a person is suppose to be in a certain situation, “you belong on government assistance and in poverty”, usually associated with culture. When a person believes he/she is supposes to be in a degrading situation it’s called dysfunctional thinking.

The lack of resources in low income communities makes it hard for someone to believe that they can do better. Some children look at their future and compare it to what they see on TV. They soon learn that the life on TV is a fairytale.


These individuals will continue the cycle by developing their own parenting problems and perpetuating the dysfunctional dynamic. Psych Central notes that “Neural pathways developed from childhood traumatic experiences help shape how we respond to others and adults often find themselves repeating the same behaviors and patterns throughout their lives.” (Defining the Traits of Dysfunctional Families, posted May 31st, 2017 by Tricia Hussung)

Tracy Creer