Critical Dharma for Thinking Minds
Part 3: Why Convert Buddhist Churches Act Like Incestuous Families
David L. Calof has identified a number of family proscriptions, injunctions, and victims scripts in an incestuous family. I have personally witnessed all of these rules enforced in convert Buddhist churches. They are in effect either explicitly, as actual teachings, or implicitly, as rules of behaviour imposed on members through practices of emotional manipulation and shame. In convert Buddhist churches, most of these rules are in effect most of the time.
They are listed here in a somewhat abbreviated form:
A. INCESTUOUS FAMILIES
2. Rules and norms of the incestuous family: The family maintains its homeostasis through rigid rules/norms and family members take on adaptive but dysfunctional roles.
Denial and Dissociation are the fundamental organizing principles of family life. (Calof, 1988, pgs. 3-4)
“The most important attribute of a social system is the social norms which hold it together. Norms consist of all the agreements, formal or informal, explicit or implicit, which regulate and give order and purpose to a system.. In order for a marriage to be healthy there has to be some compromise and eventual consensus about which rules and norms will be used by the family. Children readily accept most rules and norms because they want and need to belong to their family. Children are considered “good” if they obey. To disobey is to “rock the boat” and to risk being considered “bad” or “crazy”. In dysfunctional family systems, members often have to sacrifice their individual identities and relinquish boundaries to maintain the survival of the system.
- A. Such family systems of denial create certain unconscious rules, family messages, internalizations or scripts of behavior in victims that are virtually universal. Without benefit of recovery, adult survivors tend to function more or less according to these same rules in adulthood…Below are some of the major assumptions which underlie dysfunctional and abusive family process and also operate in the adult survivor: