Friday, March 28, 2014

stuff feelings, don't talk or trust, be invisible: the message of dysfunctional alcoholic families

name of artwork: Keep Feelings to Yourself, Keep the Dirty Family Secret
image is ©2014 Lise Winne
(for information regarding licensing any images contact LilacGroveGraphics (att) 

This article by Pamela Weintraub in Psychology Today describes what living with alcoholic parents are like and why trauma is acute and common. Excerpts from the article:

The alcoholic family is one of chaos, inconsistency, unclear roles, and illogical thinking. Arguments are pervasive, and violence or even incest may play a role. Children in alcoholic families suffer trauma as acute as soldiers in combat; they also carry the trauma like an albatross throughout their lives.
Not only is the experience devastating, it's common, says Stephanie Brown, founder of the Alcohol Clinic at Stanford Medical Center, where she formulated the developmental model of alcohol recovery. Seventy-six million Americans (about 45 percent of the U.S. population) have been exposed to alcoholism in the family in one way or another, and an estimated 26.8 million of them are children... 

... Claudia Black, a leading expert on adult children of alcoholics and author of It Will Never Happen to Me, says these children grow up with three dangerous rules: don't trust, don't feel, and don't talk ... Since the parents inflict so much pain on their families, they teach their children to suppress their emotions just to survive. Indeed, alcoholic parents are prone to angry or violent outbursts that (along with the drinking itself) they end up denying, and children in such a home may buy the delusion, themselves. Since the children are inculcated to deny the reality around them, they develop a resistance to talking about urgent, important, or meaningful aspects of life. -- Pamela Weintraub

I have also personally witnessed and known some adult children of alcoholics who also expect their children not to feel anything in traumatic situations (and the children who do "feel" being labeled as crazy and over-reactive when hurt or abused by others), though I haven't been able to find any literature on the subject (note on 4/12/15: I did find some answers, and I wrote about them here). It is just something I note in my observations in meetings, group therapy situations and in experiences in my own life. As with active angry alcoholics, it is about walking on eggshells, keeping quiet and not having a voice (especially if it is about confronting, i.e. about important and meaningful subjects that may be mutually emotionally laden or controversial, none of which can be expected to be resolved in a healthy open-discussion manner)...

To find out more about the dynamics of how angry outbursts that end in abuse by a member of a dysfunctional alcoholic family get discounted and diminished by other family members, GO HERE TO THIS POST

Friday, March 21, 2014

is an anger management course possible with an alcoholic?

name of artwork: A Legacy of Too Much Anger and Rage
image is ©2014 Lise Winne
(for information regarding licensing any images contact LilacGroveGraphics (att) 

So, is an anger management course possible with an alcoholic? The answer is a resounding no!

A therapist explains why HERE. Or to explain it succinctly:

I want to stress that anger management is usually ineffective for a person who is angry and frequently using alcohol or other drugs. You can do anger management with such a person until you are blue in the face—and it will not work! ... Now that I know drugs are often the cause for anger, I refer this type of client to a substance abuse program. Once he/she has completed such a program, the anger is often gone. -- Buck Black, LCSW

Friday, March 7, 2014

who is in control in the alcoholic family?

name of artwork: King of Alcohol
(under the influence, of course!)
image is ©2014 Lise Winne
(for information regarding licensing any images contact LilacGroveGraphics (att) 

I found this as part of an article on

Who’s in control?
In general, the person with the most erratic behavior controls the behavior of those around them. Unless your family has even bigger problems than alcoholism, the alcoholic is in control of the alcoholic family. The rest of the family tends to cater to their desires or whims. Whether it is to avoid confrontation, deal with the fallout of their behavior or simply because it is easier to give in, everyone else goes along. This only changes when the family decides that they won’t put up with it any more – a very difficult decision. ~

Who lets it all happen? Enablers. Who are the enablers? This article explains how different family members make it all happen.

What about putting up with abuse in the alcoholic family? GO HERE to learn about the dysfunctional alcoholic family wheel of abuse. This is what it looks like, but you'll have to use the link in order to see the writing:

another view of the King closer up:

I draw to speak out (and also to help others find a way). Silence is never golden in these kinds of situations, that's for sure!