Psychologists work with many people while also having large bodies of information collected by other psychologists. This allows them to see patterns that individuals working alone cannot see on their own.
I am a lone worker on the edge of the field of psychology. I see things very much from a linguistic or psycho-linguistic point of view. I am not well-trained in any of those fields but I am fairly well self-educated in them. I think my perspective has allowed me to see something no one else, to my knowledge, has seen. And that is the need for a practice like FIML.
That said, I have been intellectually limited by my poor ability to see the patterns in human behavior that so many psychologists can see.
My main example of this comes from my long quest to understand my self and the family I grew up in. This quest led me to gradually understand the narcissism of my parents and vaguely grasp how this affected me and my siblings.
I learned the concept of narcissism from psychology but had trouble applying it to my family. The dynamics of two parents and four children confused me. I have read a fair amount about the dynamics of narcissistic households, but never fully grasped how that applied to me and my family.
My FIML partner has explained it to me many times, even including naming which of my siblings was the Golden Child (one of my sisters) and who was the Scapegoat (me), but I never was able to grasp the logical simplicity of the whole-family narcissistic dynamic.
Until I read The Narcissistic Family Structure. I saw that short essay for the first time the day before yesterday and after reading it felt like all the pieces had at last fallen into place.
I felt deeply relieved, even liberated, to read that post. My dad was the overt narcissist as described, my mom was his narcissistic enabler, one of my sisters was the Golden Child and I was the Scapegoat. It was clear as a bell. My other sibs were the “other children.”
The structure is fairly simple once you see it. I bet it’s one of several basic default dynamics that can occur in any small hierarchical group, including the nuclear family.
Only the work of many psychologists over many decades could have produced such an elegant description. After reading it, in addition to feeling relieved of a burden and happy to see the whole puzzle fitted together, I also felt a kind of unemotional thought compassion or existential compassion for my family.
My Golden Child sister, who has grown into a narc herself and who can be exceptionally underhanded, is truly not to blame. She had it even worse than me. I was isolated and demeaned, but my situation also forced me to see that something was wrong. My sister has never figured her role out because her role rewarded her for being underhanded while preventing her from seeing anything else.
My dad died at a fairly young age. After that, my mom flared into full-blown overt narcissism for a few years, but then quieted down. Without his support, she didn’t have enough fuel. About fifteen years after my dad died she even cam to me on her own and provided me with an extensive apology and revision of my/our past. She admitted everything without my prompting and without either of us having any understanding of narcissistic family dynamics. I respect her immensely for that.
I hope that any psychologists reading this will note that my mom really did turn around. She really had been a narcissist with malicious traits and she really did apologize for all of it extensively and over a period of several years.
I also want to thank the profession of psychology for having been able to accumulate enough knowledge to abstract out the basic structure of narcissistic families. I could not have done that on my own.
My FIML partner was crucial to my finally seeing the light. She held to her explanation for almost ten years before I at last got the point. I love it when people do that—stick to their guns for years for your benefit. It’s quite rare and very beautiful.
It may be that as the Scapegoat it was hard for me to see the forest for the trees. I know it was very hard to see my dad critically or to stop idolizing my Golden Child sister. As a Scapegoat child, I learned to accept the drama as presented. My dad was perfect and my sister was beyond awesome.
I write this stuff on the off-chance that someone will benefit from it, much as I did from the post linked above. I think it’s also part of being a former Scapegoat—you spend all your time trying to figure people out.
You could explain FIML as the mind of a Scapegoat forever wondering what is going on.
And also, FIML does transcend one individual’s psychology to reveal a method of finding the deeply unique patterns that make up the intricate structures of all individuals.