When a family is confronted with addiction, there are certain patterns of reinforced behavior that occur and usually the family isn’t even aware this is happening. This phenomenon was described by psychotherapist Virginia Satir in the 1960’s and 70’s and then adapted by psychotherapists Claudia Black and Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse in the 1980’s. In the family you have the:
- Addict – The person suffering with the addiction. The addict creates chaos and tension within the family and avoids taking responsibility.
- Enabler – The enabler protects the addict and neglects their own self-care. They will make excuses for and justify the addict’s behavior and take on the responsibility keeping the addict from being held accountable. The enabler is usually codependent.
- Hero – The hero is the star of the family and is usually the high achiever who has great success and accomplishment. They are perfectionists and tend to have high levels of anxiety. This can lead to poor communication, rigidity, and the inability for them to ask for help.
- Scapegoat – The scapegoat is less passive-aggressive and usually becomes directly defiant. They may act out in unhealthy ways. They can be underachieving, be irresponsible and can sometimes even engage in substance misuse.
- Mascot – The mascot is the immature person that uses humor to diffuse the situation. This is used to gain attention and as a means of control. The mascot is viewed as a poor decision maker.
- Mediator – The mediator is the go-between person. They don’t want any anger or hostility and have a high tolerance for inappropriate behavior. They like to avoid conflict. This often results in deep fear and unspoken resentments.
- Lost Child – The lost child is invisible. They become independent and immerse in solitary activities. They never ask of others which leads to unmet needs and low self-esteem.