Many people and their organizations are dysfunctional, causing them to respond to critical situations in ways that can prevent effective solutions or that introduce new problems. This can be a significant problem for people in the "helping" professions such as health care.



(1) difficulty in completing projects, tending to become overwhelmed

(2) difficulty in communicating effectively, consistently and honestly (tends to be inconsistent, dishonest and ineffective)

(3) difficulty in relaxing and having fun

(4) difficulty handling conditions that are not chaotic or in crisis

(5) difficulty setting limits or recognizing appropriate boundaries

(6) difficulty with forming or maintaining intimate relationships

(7) difficulty recognizing mutually contradictory states

(8) difficulty in recognizing what constitutes normal behavior (no internal metric as to what is appropriate and what is inappropriate)

(9) difficulty expressing or experiencing strong emotions, tending to avoid or bury them

(10) difficulty in trusting others

(11) difficulty in saying no to unreasonable requests

(12) difficulty in asking for things from others that might be rejected

(13) difficulty in dealing with authority figures


Behaviors, beliefs and feelings:

(1) constantly seeking approval and affirmation

(2) either extremely responsible or extremely irresponsible

(3) extremely loyal even when the loyalty is not deserved

(4) all or nothing thinking, with no middle ground, which may appear as taking sides (either for or against)

(5) takes self very seriously

(6) feels uncomfortable in social situations, resulting in isolation

(7) some form of addictive behavior (substance abuse, eating, working, exercising, spending, etc.)

(8) either strives to be perfect or defective

(9) rigid and inflexible

(10) has low self-esteem with fears of rejection and abandonment

(11) grandiose self-image (variation of all-or-nothing thinking)

(12) discounts the positive and amplifies the negative



(1) acts impulsively, without considering the consequences or alternatives

(2) overreacts to situations over which there is no control

(3) criticizes self and others harshly

(4) makes excuses for or encourages inappropriate behavior (enable)

(5) spends a lot of time fixing problems caused by impulsive actions

(6) lies when it is just as easy to tell the truth

(7) hides or keeps problems secret, covering up mistakes

(8) acts selfishly to meet own needs (protection, pleasure, etc.), even if it means hurting others or treating them as objects (little consideration for others)

(9) denies or rejects any information that endangers beliefs

(10) manipulative or controlling

(11) takes on the role of caring for others while neglecting self

(12) stays in a bad situation or relationship rather than taking a chance



• The presence of one or two of these characteristics does not mean that a person is dysfunctional.

• A person who is dysfunctional should have many of these characteristics.


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