Role Archetypes


You are probably the middle child who is very independent but overlooked by others. You daydream and fantasize a lot. You have very few friends and have difficulty having intimate relationships.


You seek the approval of your peers, and you are very popular. You may have had sex and tried drugs and alcohol at an early age. You may have had unplanned pregnancies. You fight and engage in conflict often.


You are the family martyr and have codependent relationships even now. You take responsibility for things that have nothing to do with you. You are always busy helping other people.You don't let go and just have fun.


You are likely the oldest child who is described as the good kid. You wear a mask that conceals your fear of failure and your family's shortcomings. You may be a workaholic that suffers from stress-related illnesses.


You may be the youngest child in the family who enjoys being the center of attention. You don't know what's actually happening in your family because of your avoidance. You give love but don't know how to accept it.


You believe yourself to be morally and spiritually above others. As a kid, you were considered to be the model child who did what you were told. You compare yourself to others and don't hesitate to point out the fault in them.


You covered for others in the family to prevent arguments, consequences, and the family from breaking up. You never expressed your own emotions, and you struggle with that now. You don't speak up for yourself.


You are always in pursuit of something that occupies your time with no end goal. You always come up with more things to do to keep busy. You do this to avoid facing your feelings of being nothing, so you are never satisfied.

When we are raised in toxic families, we often go through a time period, and for some of us, a lifetime, of repeating the toxic patterns we were raised in with other people in our lives. We do this until we decide we’ve had enough pain and choose to genuinely examine our patterns and stop the craziness for good.”― Sherrie Campbell

Dysfunctional families have been a well-kept secret for a long time. Many people grew up with the idea that what happened in the home stayed in the home no matter how vile or violent. It’s no wonder that children learned to change their behavior and personalities to cope with their daily lives. They assumed certain roles that are often seen in toxic families that have been passed down from generation to generation. They did not voluntarily take on these roles. 

Children assumed these roles under duress for fear of rejection or retaliation or to get along with toxic parents and family members. However it happened, it happened and far too many children had to make that decision. And far too many adults are still reliving their role in their current lives. They have not linked their issues and challenges to their childhood trauma. It will take deliberate action to heal the habits, cycles, and trauma that have transitioned into adulthood in one way or another. 

The main archetypes or roles that continue to show up in toxic homes were first identified by researchers and psychologists studying families with alcohol addiction. Since then, those roles have expanded beyond addiction to include other dysfunctional, unhealthy family dynamics. Discovering your role is the first step in ending toxic family dynamics and claiming your authentic self. Once you know the role you assumed as a child, you’ll be ready to heal the emotional wounds you carry. It’s time to heal your inner child and become your highest self.

The five key roles in dysfunctional families are the loner, scapegoat, enabler, hero, and mascot. You may assume multiple roles at various times depending on the circumstances. But you have a main role that defines your actions in the toxic family. I also included some of the lesser known roles for your information. You may find you identify with some of these as well. 

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