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Do Shrink Parents Warp Their Children Any More Than Non-Shrink Parents Do?

Do Shrink Parents Warp Their Children Any More Than Non-Shrink Parents Do?

In my extended family there exist a few psychological professionals (“shrinks” as they are commonly, and affectionately, termed) and they all have children – for better or for worse. I remember one summer day, when a few of these adult family members sat around happily talking about their respective children as we played in the pool within earshot. Their conversation was less parental boasting or bitching, and more akin to a run down of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. From what little I picked up from the audible parts of the conversation, one of my cousins exhibited some standard personality disorders, while the other seem to be suffering from an extended bout of separation anxiety and possibly some developing signs of obsessive compulsive disorder. No wonder common consensus deems children of shrinks as some of the more messed up individuals roaming the earth.

Author Micah Troub tackles the subject of how children of psychologists adapt to the world around them in his book, Growing Up Jung: Coming of Age as the Son of Two Shrinks. Unlike the cursed children of behaviorists J.B. Watson and B.F. Skinner, Troub paints an honest, but decidedly reverent, portrait of two parents, who just happened to be devoted Jungian therapists. Troub’s parents were enthusiastic about employing their Jungian practice in their parenting technique, which included dream analysis and indulging a sort of “active imagination.” One notable moment in the book is when Troub’s mother encouraged him to “be” and erection to encourage him to overcome a bit of teenage impotence.

But seemingly, Troub made it through his childhood with his head solidly planted on his shoulders and a deep regard for his parents. This runs counter to the pervasive myth that children of shrinks are notoriously maladjusted and riddled with self-doubt. To be fair, not all therapists bring their work home, or subject their children to their therapeutic stance, but is it really easy enough to separate what you know (psychology) from what you practice (parenting)? Is this idea of the well intentioned, but severely damaging therapist parent simply just a myth? Is an overly involved therapist parent any different from any other intrusive parent? Does the fact that they have more of an awareness and education make them more or less understanding or compassionate? Children of therapists and parent therapists are strongly encouraged to share their feelings!

Read more: Children, Family, Love, Mental Wellness, Parenting at the Crossroads, Sex, , , , , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.


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9:37PM PDT on May 10, 2013


4:57AM PDT on May 10, 2013


2:24AM PDT on May 10, 2013


9:34PM PDT on May 9, 2013

Hey Caro, I thought the title said shrink-wrap, too!

1:47PM PDT on Sep 9, 2010

My step mother is a published authority on the step family but a ^&*% and twisted stepmother in reality. Not least because she didn't practice what she preached. I guess it may be different if one is trained in therapy rather than just some tinpot sociologist.

3:20AM PDT on Sep 7, 2010


3:18AM PDT on Sep 7, 2010

Children of therapists and parent therapists are strongly encouraged to share their feelings!

7:44AM PDT on Sep 3, 2010

more spam than comments on this post!

12:05PM PDT on Aug 31, 2010

The title of this article makes me think of shrink-wrap. Must be my dyslexia.

9:41AM PDT on Aug 31, 2010

I feel like "shrink" parents are
capable of doing more damage, if they
are not careful, than parents who
don't have years of indoctrination.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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