How To Get Rid Off An 18 Year Old Boy The Role of Fear and Anxiety in an Adult Child’s Life

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The Role of Fear and Anxiety in an Adult Child’s Life

For an adult child who has grown up with alcoholism, para-alcoholism, dysfunction and abuse, fear and anxiety almost define his life.

“Adult children often live a secret life of fear,” according to the textbook “Adult Children of Alcoholics” (World Service Organization, 2006, p. 10). “Fear, or sometimes horror, is one of the connecting threads that bind the 14 traits together.”

These traits, such as isolation, approval seeking, victimization, overdeveloped sense of responsibility, inability to defend oneself, denial, repressed feelings, need to please people, consistent responding, and self-judgment stem from a rewired brain. who seeks to survive in a post-home environment that he believes will be similar to the one he has already experienced.

Three of those traits mention the word “fear” – namely, “… He fears men and authority;” “We are afraid of angry people and all personal criticism;” and “We’ve become addicted to the thrill.” “Excitement,” in the latter case, has become a substitute for the original word, “fear.”

“While many adult children seem cheerful, helpful or self-sufficient, most of them live in fear of their parents and spouses in addition to fear of their employers…” continues the textbook “Adult Children of Alcoholics” (ibid, p. 10). “They have a sense of impending doom or that nothing seems to work.”

Those who attend Al-Anon meetings, which offer comfort and support to families of alcoholics, echo this phenomenon.

“Before I came to Al-Anon, fear was my greatest obstacle,” said one member in the Al-Anon text “Hope for Today” (Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., 2002, p. 58) . “My responses to fear included withdrawing, hiding, procrastinating, running away, or berating myself. None of these behaviors helped me face my fears. In fact, they only made things worse.”

Although fear and anxiety, as this article indicates, dictate, distort and omit a person’s life and may flow through the veins of an adult child as regularly as blood, they are fundamental to all belonging to the animal kingdom, limiting actions and activities that the brain perceives as dangerous and harmful. But when they become excessive, they inhibit meaningful, nurturing and healthy relationships and impair quality of life. They are also hardly new.

More than a century ago, Sigmund Freud made a statement that was as valid then as it is today.

“What we clearly want is to find something that tells us what anxiety really is,” he said.

“Anxiety,” in response to his request, is a set of unpleasant but familiar and sometimes frequently experienced emotional and physiological sensations that may include increased blood pressure, pulse, heart rate, and breathing. It is a state of minor or “disease” – lightness, agitation, nervousness. A person is not able to completely calm down, rest and be at peace with himself.

It implies that something about his current state, circumstances, or environment is not entirely certain, or even slightly rebooting, and can provide a subtle, anticipatory warning that something is about to happen. This state of uneasiness is further compounded by the fact that the person may not be aware of what that doom might be or when it will happen – in other words, one cannot know why they feel that way or how to shake it off. determined.

Freud mistakenly believed that fear was experienced when a person could determine what harm was and that anxiety prevailed when they could not. However, this was not an accurate assessment, as these physiological states are not equal. Fear is the diametric opposite of love and is therefore the lowest rung on the emotional ladder, while anxiety is milder and less intense. Although neither is particularly pleasant, fear can release stress hormones and adrenaline, triggering a fight-or-flight response because a person or circumstance poses a threat to safety or survival. Anxiety, on the other hand, is milder and can be considered a preliminary step to this intense state, which precedes the actual threat.

And while fear is more likely when these counter-survival circumstances are known, anxiety can be experienced whether or not they are. An adult child, for example, suffers silently from this condition without being able to determine why, but someone else, whether or not he belongs to this category of adult children, may be subjected to the same situation while thinking about an event in the near future, e.g. . such as the need to give a speech in front of a large audience or to perform a medical procedure. Anxiety in this case can be considered a synonym for anticipation.

Both fear and anxiety can be equated to the “bells” of the body’s “alarm system”—that is, alerts that prepare it to endure, tolerate, or even survive a pending event.

“The perception of these bodily changes is what we experience as anxiety,” says Michael Kahn, Ph.D. in “Basic Freud: Psychoanalytic Thought for the 21st Century” (Basic Books, 2002, p. 108). “Their function, Freud saw, was to serve as a warning of impending danger. The purpose of a warning is to signal us to take action against an impending danger.”

But he went a step further. It was not just the danger that proved harmful, he assumed, but also the powerlessness or helplessness a person would experience in the face of it, leaving them vulnerable to its effects.

“It is important to remember that Freud’s theory describes not only the anticipation of danger, but also the anticipation of helplessness in the face of that danger,” Kahn continues (ibid, p. 110). “If I’m confident in my ability to deal with danger, I don’t need to be warned and feel no anxiety.”

This statement contains two fundamental realities of raising an adult child—danger (in the midst of shame, blame, a potentially abusive alcoholic or dysfunctional parent) and helplessness (as a helpless, vulnerable, underdeveloped child in the midst of it). But fear and anxiety intensify when coupled with this helplessness, serving, to a significant extent, as both the cause and core of the adult child syndrome.

“Many adult children struggle with the concept of helplessness in the first step (of the twelve-step recovery program), because helplessness is all that many of us know as children…” advises the textbook “Adult Children of Alcoholics” (cited, p. 101) . “As children, we were overwhelmed by parents who unconsciously taught us to feel helpless or less competent.”

Parental dysfunction, betrayal, and even abuse create what becomes the original “authority” for such a child, one that seems to turn against him, as if, for reasons beyond his understanding, it has been relegated to another, or an enemy. , from the side of the fence, and creates an indelible image that he attributes to others later in life.

“We want to see our parents as authorities who cannot be trusted,” the textbook “Adult Children of Alcoholics” points out (ibid, p. 11).

“Our past experiences tell us that every leader, employer or official is inherently an authority and not to be trusted,” it further states (ibid, p. 379).

Since most of these parents are unrecovered adult children themselves and are triggered by their own offspring, they project their own fear onto them, often through boundless bonding.

“The fear, excitement and pain of non-drinking parents affect the children and are transferred to (them),” advises the textbook Adult Children of Alcoholics (ibid, p. 24). “This is the internalization of parental feelings and behavior in one of its purest forms.”

Even when such children grow up and move away from their environment, they carry with them the transferred fear.

“Our parents projected their fear, doubts and sense of inferiority onto us,” explains the textbook “Adult Children of Alcoholics” (ibid, p. 101). “We were helpless against the projections. We absorbed our parents’ fear and low self-esteem thinking that their feelings came from us.”

It can hardly be disputed that grown children live a life based on fear as a result of these conditions. The mere entrance of an alcoholic or para-alcoholic into a room can cause anxiety and tension – so much so, in fact, that the air can often be cut with a knife. Walking on eggshells, they retreat, avoiding any movement or sound that will set off their parents and cause chaos, distress, blame, criticism or even abuse. This constantly uncertain, restless environment offers no experience of being raised in a calm, trusting, safe state, and they later carry fear and anxiety with them in their interactions with adults.

“…adult children use (fear) to mimic the feeling of being alive when in reality they are recreating a scene from their family of origin,” explains the textbook “Adult Children of Alcoholics” (ibid, p. 16). “Gossip, dramatic scenes, pending financial failure or failing health are often the turmoil that adult children create in their lives in order to feel connected to reality.”

Although abandonment can take many physical and emotional forms, it can be seen as the fundamental basis of fear. The infant, in its original, helpless state, is completely dependent on its mother or primary caregiver for protection, safety, warmth, nourishment, clothing, comfort, reassurance, and all its physical needs, and can do little more than cry to warn her. that he needs attention. Being abandoned and feeling that she will never return causes overwhelming fear and anxiety, as her absence can ultimately be equated with death.

While abandonment may be considered the first fear in the chain that connects the adult child’s life to him, there are numerous later others, including the initial parental betrayal and the terror that the helpless, helpless child may feel, causing him, without choice or alternative, to flee from within into a self-created protective inner the refuge of the child. He portrays that parent as the original figure of authority, and he sees the multitude of others he meets later in life as his displaced face. It leaves him, as a vulnerable, helpless child exposed to a person projecting fear, who can sometimes be unstable, criticize, blame, shame and abuse, adding layers to the fire of fear. This creates uncertainty as to when these incidents will occur. This forces him to swallow and swallow what can be done to him, as he abides by the unwritten rules of “don’t talk, don’t believe, and don’t feel” imposed in alcoholic homes, as he continues to build his fear base. And, finally, he leaves a home environment that he believes approximates what he will experience outside his door, causing him to be hypervigilant for dangers he cannot identify or understand, but which makes his inner child tighten its grip on its refuge.

This chain, connected by links based on fear, results in a life characterized by discomfort, anxiety and mistrust.

Article Sources:

“Adult children of alcoholics.” Torrance, CA: World Organization for Adult Children of Alcoholics, 2006.

“Hope for today.” Virginia Beach, Virginia: Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., 2002.

Kahn, Michael, Ph.D. “Essential Freud: Psychoanalytic Thought for the 21st Century.” New York: Basic Books, 2002.

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