A dysfunctional family is one in which conflict and instability are common. Parents might abuse or neglect their children, and other family members are often forced to accommodate and enable negative behavior. In some cases, dysfunctional families can be the result of addiction, codependency, or untreated mental illness.
No family is perfect, but it’s important to note that an argument or accidental insult does not qualify as dysfunction. In fact, dysfunction may only become evident when adverse behaviors make it difficult for individual family members to function, thrive, and grow as human beings. So while the term “dysfunctional family” might be used flippantly in popular culture, growing up in a toxic environment can have a lasting impact as children transition into adulthood.
Psychologists and other mental health professionals are uniquely able to address some of the common issues associated with dysfunctional families at the source, helping their clients to overcome issues and any resulting trauma.