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Doing Life Together

Doing Life Together

Casey Anthony, Family Dysfunction on Parade

As a family therapist, the inside look at the Casey Anthony family was all too familiar.  Family members lying, covering up for one another, accusations of incest, neglect, cut off, lack of empathy and out of control behavior. It is the type of behavior therapists like me see in inpatient units at psychiatric hospitals.

Children like Casey Anthony learn to be dysfunctional based on their family system and the environments in which they grow. While Casey is responsible for the choices she made as an adult, she was also influenced by those responsible to raise and nurture her. And that highly dysfunctional family system was paraded daily before our eyes with no intervention, just pathology. That made it hard for me to watch.

During the trial, I watched Cindy Anthony mouth the words, “I love you,” to Casey and Casey raised her eyebrow and turned away. My heart sank. A mother and daughter so hardened to each other. Then listening to the accusations of incest made me think again about how many children are violated by those who are supposed to protect them.  For me, it was painful to watch the unraveling of betrayals, delayed reporting, lack of empathy, keeping secrets, strained sibling and parental relationships, denial and a family clearly out of control and poorly functioning for years. Sadly, rather than seeking help, they continued on a destructive path of lies and pathology. In the end, an innocent child died and no one knows how or why.

I wonder, will Casey ever seek help for her severe pathology or even realize that she even needs help?

And my worse fear is that she will become some sick media celebrity who writes a book and goes on tour.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Charles

    What I am uncertain about is who needs the most help out of the family, we have Casey’s brother ordered to take a paternity test (for Casey’s baby), claims of incest directed at her father (and his unemotional response to aforementioned allegations), a mother who appears to be manipulative and domineering, and lastly we have Ms. Casey Anthony the young mother who presents an appalling admixture of all the above. What I see is a shell of a family so caught up in appearances and keeping things pleasant that there was never an open airing of feelings, emotions, or dissent. This closed off distant and superficial family created such an hostile environment that it was surprising they kept it together so long. It seems the patriarch is the one who manipulates the puppet-strings tied firmly around all in the Casey clan; and his hold around his wife is anything but loving, the mother in turn has a strange see-saw relationship with her children where at one extreme she is caring and compassionate, while at the other she is withholding and distant (and perhaps even threatening). Overall I find it sad that the only time professional help is sought is after some tragedy either self-inflicted or otherwise; often by this time the family has been simmering in a fetid environ of dysfunction for far too long.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Shannon McGuire

    WOW! hOW POWERFUL IS YOU CONCLUSION DR. LINDA. I JUST HOPE SHE DOES NOT HAVE MORE CHILDREN. AS FOR HER PARENT’S I AGREE WITH YOU, BECAUSE I CANNOT SEE A PARENT NOT REACTING EITHER WAY. I PRAY THAT EACH FAMILY MEMBER WILL DEAL WITH THEIR PROBLEMS AND SOMEHOW IN THE MIDST OF THIS HORRIBLE EVENT BE RECONCIL;ED THROUGH THE BLOOD OF JESUS. THIS IS A VERY SAD CASE.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Joy

    Thanks as always, Dr. Linda!
    It has been rough on the whole nation, and even beyond our shores, as so many around the world followed this trial.

    Already here in Florida there are laws being proposed to prevent similar situations from being possible without stricter laws to which such a mother would’ve had to answer.

    I, too, hope she gets the help she so obviously needs. What a time for your latest book “I Love My Mother But…” to come out!

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