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Re: Family Histories

Posted by medlib on April 27, 2000, at 16:22:47

In reply to Family Histories, posted by Abby on April 27, 2000, at 10:58:11

> Okay, I know that for most people family history is a genetic question, and I believe this has a lot of merit, but once you get somewhat beyond that and are medicated, how do you think your family and childhood shaped you? How many people had parents who were quite ill? And what have you managed to learn either on your own or through psycotherapy that you didn't feel you learned as a child as far as social interaction goes?
> Thanks,
> Abby


Abby--What an interesting topic/question; I bet it'll produce a long, fascinating thread!

My parents were perfectly normal; Father was a civic leader, Mother was a housewife, hostess, and club leader. Both were well-educated, intelligent, socially successful and in love with each other. They produced two weird, socially dysfunctional, mentally ill kids--genetics is a real crapshoot (one more reason why the eugenics movement never had a chance). Their notions about parenting were, perhaps, a little atypical. Mother thought her role was to perfect the raw material she had been given; she was ladylike and gentle in her corrections, but was always ever-so-slightly dissatisfied. She never "owned" any negative emotions. Denial worked fine for her, but, often, it left her kids "down the rabbit hole" where nothing was what it seemed. Father thought his job was to instruct on matters of morality and philosophy. Altho there was great warmth between my parents, it didn't seem to extend to the kids. Probably they shouldn't have had children. They did everything right--it just wasn't experienced as nurturing. My brother had a psychotic break at l6 and is Bipolar I. I began dealing with depression in my teens and had my first major depressive episode at 21--I'm a double depressive.

Certainly my childhood experiences of family shaped my view of reality. I decided very early that reality is nothing more than contextual, consensual delusion (altho I wouldn't have used those terms then). Contextual because everything we perceive as "real" is powerfully affected by our internal (expectations, experiences) or our external (social) environment, or both. For example, at age 4 my brother spent many hours pouring over diagrams of mechanical objects in a science encyclopedia. My parents thought his fascination was "cute." When I told them that he wasn't just looking at the pictures, he was reading the text, they absolutely refused to believe me. When he, reluctantly, read them a few sentences, they agreed that I must have told him earlier. Their shared reality simply couldn't accomodate a 4 year-old mechanical genius. So, consensual, because people seem to have a strong bias toward conforming to (or resisting) a shared reality. Delusion? However a perception of reality is arrived at, each individual is convinced that his view is the only correct one. Remember "Rashomon"? Each witness saw the same event differently. One reality per customer, at least until they get together and begin the process of contructing some shared realities.

What has therapy taught me? That most parents parent out of their own realities; most aren't deliberately harmful, just unable to operate out of a reality shared with their kids. That, with all the insight and hindsight in the world, the best one can hope for is to make different mistakes. Expectations of perfection are a pernicious delusion. That the hand you got dealt is yours to play, hold, or fold. Just don't waste time expecting a redeal because the Dealer wasn't fair; accept the cards you have and learn to play them better. Socially, my parents wasted their efforts on a lost cause; that just wasn't a card either I or my brother got dealt.

Neither was brevity,--medlib




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