Tag Archives: abuse

Don’t rock the boat

Yesterday, while reading in From Shame to Peace, the thought hit me whether it could be that some traditional, strongly group-oriented societies are as abusive as a dysfunctional family.
Let me explain: the problem in a dysfunctional family are different kinds of unhealthy behavior patterns, including:
The family has a delicate balance that depends on everybody playing his/her role, so the topmost rule is – “don’t rock the boat” – meaning that a family member who feels a need to change, including family members who try to get healthy, will be considered the bad guys. Change is seen as a danger and personal growth is denied. [A healthy family can handle change and give its members the freedom to redefine their roles.]
The family “honor” is protected by secrecy. The unspoken rule is – “don’t let anybody know that we have a problem, e.g., alcoholism”, – at the cost of the individual who would need help but can’t talk to anybody. This mechanism is a way to avoid shame at all cost by not talking and sweeping things under the carpet, even to the point where you believe it yourself (self-denial).
Basically the family “welfare” as defined from a dysfunctional perspective is more important than the individual and his/her need to find healing, growth, personal development, etc.
All these behaviors can be quite damaging and hurtful, and make it very difficult to get help and healing for the individual.
Comparing this to group-oriented societies, you may find similar patterns: the group is more important than the individual; traditions are the security of the group and therefore change is seen as something undesirable; shame has to be avoided at all cost, even to the point of “honor killings”; established roles have to be kept and therefore the unspoken rule is “don’t rock the boat”.
Of course, I am coming from a less group-oriented background and therefore I am not completely objective. On the other hand, I am aware that the individualism in Western countries has other disadvantages and isn’t the solution either. Probably this is why I am hesitating to believe my own conclusion. What do you think?