Episode 37: Dysfunction in the Family

In this episode of The Family Couch, we talk with Natalie Jones about dysfunction in families and how to recognize and work through it.  

Jones jumps in and explains that she specializes in working with people who have been victims of narcissists.  Typically these people have been abused, have been in toxic relationships, have been estranged from their family or have experienced abuse in their family.  These people usually present with symptoms such as anxiety, depression, imposter syndrome, etc.  They also often find themselves taking care of others financially.  In her prison system experience, she does individual or group counseling and assessments for people there.  They are often narcissistic themselves.  

Jones discusses that not everyone is created the same and there is no one formula for everyone’s behavior.  She says that parenting does often contribute to the behaviors of those that she works with.  People feel like they are not good enough or accepted, and it often does come from family sources or parenting.  There are also environmental, cultural, or spiritual aspects to this.  She feels that we should be more aware and able to talk about these things as triggers for the issues of the criminals.  She also explains that you can be genetically predisposed to mental issues and that evidence strongly supports that men have a higher likelihood of carrying narcissistic traits based on genetics.  

Jones explains that narcissism runs on a scale/continuum.  Everyone has a certain degree of narcissism.  Someone with extreme narcissism is extremely self-centered and focused on themselves with zero empathy for others.  Pop culture narcissism is more like when a person feels like they were done wrong in a relationship.  People use this term to explain how someone hurt them in a relationship.  

We change gears and discuss talking about the family.  If a parent sees a child going down a path of being narcissistic, the child is most likely picking it up from the parent somehow.  They may be acting out or showing signs of not caring about others.  Jones explains that the parent needs to take responsibility and commit to getting the child some help.  There are often difficult decisions to be made about how the child is being affected and what needs to happen, which can lead to difficult discussions with your partner.  If you are in a relationship with a true narcissistic individual, they will see everyone else as the problem.  This makes it difficult to work on the problem.  

If parents see narcissistic behaviors in their child, they need to recognize it and take care of the issue.  Others may see this behavior and point it out to the parent which leads to action.  Examples include seeing a child acting out with a sibling or other children, trying to take advantage of a less powerful child, or intentionally hurting someone else with zero regard for the consequences or how the other person feels.  Additionally if there is no emotional range or depth, there is a good possibility of narcissistic characteristics being behind this behavior.  Jones feels that using discipline to correct this behavior is tricky.  She recommends connecting with a mental health professional who specializes in this behavior.  She also says holding a firm boundary with your child can be helpful in ensuring the child is not able to manipulate you.  Having clear expectations, rules and consequences is also a good idea.  

We discuss how to get connected with a professional.  Jones suggests doing what you feel is safe–many turn to the internet or a book which both offer information to help you research on your own.  This is a good starting point for many people.  Researching the topic and therapists is helpful.  Jones also encourages people to talk about these issues, even if it is only in an online forum.  People often isolate themselves and do not discuss these problems with others.  She does caution against too much internet research and advises that using it as a starting point is the best idea.  



Natalie Jones is a psychologist and a Licensed Professional Counselor with a private practice in Oakland, CA.  She also works in a California prison system.  She specializes in the areas of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Relationship Issues, and Forensic Mental Health.  



WEBSITE: https://drnataliejones.com/

PODCAST: http://adatewithdarknesspodcast.libsyn.com/

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/drnataliejones/

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/dr.nataliejones/


Toxic Parents and Toxic Families by Susan Forward on Amazon

HG Tutor Books on Amazon

The Narcissistic Family and The Treatment Process


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