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Adult Child Syndrome

While the concept of the adult child was originally developed to explain the difficulties of men or women who grew up with an alcoholic or addict in the home, it is also valid for the adult children of narcissistic, traumatized, depressed, numbed, workaholic, abusive, 'borderline' or psychotic parents. For such adult children shame is a given. However there is an additional pattern of self-disempowerment that arises from adapting from an early age to a tyrannical, capricious, and invalidating environment.

Far less than half the time, children will adapt to growing up in such a situation by 'identifying with the aggressor,' (For a picture of what that looks like, see 'covert narcissist' at the bottom of my page on narcissism). But that is different from the more common pattern described below.

Those who adapt to rather than identify with the aggressor often develop in personal relationships a codependent role to those who identify with the aggressor (tyrants), but that is a different sphere of functioning. The Adult Child Syndrome speaks to social, professional, academic, and extended family life. Below are listed several traits from that pattern

Adult children are strongly represented in the helping professions, such as education, health care, social services, therapy, etc... and so many of the traits have been incorporated, at least in mild form, in the social norms of those communities.

Core Traits