Family, Political Dynamics Similar

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Stressful times can affect families — and politics — in similar ways: They can be more productive or more dysfunctional, a U.S. therapist says.

Dr. Linda Miles said that, as a marriage and family therapist for more than 35 years, she worked to help families find healthier and more productive ways to deal with stressful times. She compared dysfunctional and healthy approaches to four important societal dynamics: taking responsibility, dealing with conflict, problem solving and dealing with stress.

“The dysfunctional approach to the dynamic of taking responsibility focuses on shame and blame rather than expressing ideas and feelings about larger issues, while the healthy approach is for individual family members to accept responsibility for their part of the problem and figure out how to best correct the problem,” Miles said in a statement.

“When dealing with conflict, a dysfunctional family does so by using criticism, contempt and defensiveness, putting up walls and looking for scapegoats. Conversely, healthy families deal with conflict by facing the issues and fighting fairly, which involves learning from mistakes and developing more effective problem solving strategies.”

When trying to solve problems, dysfunctional families are disrespectful of others and use the language of putdowns, while healthy families work together to solve problems and provide mutual respect, even when they don’t agree on ideas, Miles said.

“Finally, when dealing with stress, high anxiety leads to dysfunctional families turning on one another, while healthy families help one another,” Miles added. “New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gave the country a model of civility when he put the populace of his state ahead of politics by complimenting President Obama on his actions during the crisis after Hurricane Sandy.”

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