Missildine observed that overcoercion is the most common pathogenic parental attitude in our culture.

It is characterized by the parent who anxiously controls, directs, supervises, and redirects their child with an endless stream of reminders and directions. It is highly likely that you suffered form some overcoercion as a child since we live in an overly coercive culture. The over controlled child is deprived of opportunities to flexibly direct their abundant curiosity to knowing both their inside and outside worlds. The child of coercive parents has little chance to initiate and pursue his or her own interests and activities.

These children gradually learn to compromise what is on the inside and re-focus their attention on what is outside of them. But, “nothing living will obey.” Some common reactions to coercion like dawdling, forgetting, procrastination etc. develop to preserve some sense of independence in the child. Over time the child may see few avenues for expressing her own interests in the face of the powerful and controlling parent. He or she develops passive ways to hold on to their individuality, keeping it from dying without evoking parental wrath. These compromises eventually evolve into mental models and beliefs that contribute to excessive reliance on outside direction which is resisted at the same time. Like most early mental models, they tend to stick and are maintained by an “at home” feeling that we all strive to preserve. However, the cost of keeping them in place beyond their usefulness is very high indeed. Regrettably, many of these attempts to preserve “individuality” are at the expense of the real self. The child comes to knows what he or she stands against but loses site of what he or she stands for.

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