Resisting response to rituals

The role of parents therefore is critical in putting in place the first steps towards changing the dynamic of the household with respect to not continuing to service the needs of the embedded problem. An example of the way in which parents are dragooned into servicing the embedded problem is one parent, usually the mother, allowing herself to be monopolised to attend to the anxiety of the young person to the exclusion of other members of the family. It may also take the form of certain rituals that the family have to follow with respect to managing the anxiety of the young person, as well as having to respond to their repetitive questioning and excessive dependence. It has to be noted that these behaviours never succeed in allaying anxiety for the young person, and through their collusion with these demands, parents and families actually perpetuate and reinforce the belief and the anxiety. We hypothesise that because the young person feels that they are controlled by their anxiety, that they put their energies into trying to control the people around them. It is not unusual for the family in these situations to have become somewhat fragmented. Parents almost invariably become split and lose a sense of authority and cohesion. One parent is almost always drawn into a powerful and separate relationship with the young person to the exclusion of the other parent, which further weakens their capacity to work as a parenting team. On occasion, other members of the family such as siblings have been enjoined into the task of ‘servicing’ the obsessive behaviour which is also not conducive to their own positive development.

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