Dysfunctional Family "Rules"
Adapted from J. Bradshaw, Healing the Shame that Binds You.
Control—One must be in control of all interactions, feelings and personal behavior at all times—control is the major defense strategy for shame.
Perfectionism—Always be right in everything you do. The perfectionist rule always involves a measurement that is being imposed. Fear and avoidance of the negative is the organizing principle of life. Members live according to an externalized image. No one ever measures up.
Blame—Whenever things don’t turn out as planned, blame yourself or others. Blame is a defensive cover-up for shame...Blame maintains the balance in a dysfunctional family when control has broken down.
Denial of the Five Freedoms*—Each freedom has to do with a basic human power—the power to perceive; the power to think and interpret; to feel; to want and choose; and the power to imagine. In shame-based families, the perfectionist rule prohibits full expression of these powers.
The No-Talk Rule—This prohibits the full expression of a feeling, need or want. In shame-based families, members want to hide their true feelings, needs or wants. Therefore, no one speaks of the loneliness and sense of self-rupture.
Don’t Make Mistakes—Mistakes reveal the flawed vulnerable self. To acknowledge a mistake is to open oneself to scrutiny. Cover up your own mistakes and if someone else makes a mistake, shame him.
Unreliability—Don’t expect reliability in relationships. Don’t trust anyone and you will never be disappointed.
* As delineated by Virgina Satir