Misplaced loyalty

Parental Alienation

Part of the conventional therapeutic wisdom is ‘that those of us who were unlucky enough to be raised by bad parents also get to be burdened as adults by their demands…we maintain a sense of misguided loyalty’.[3] Under the rubric – ‘Misplaced Loyalty: The Codependency Factor’[4] – the self-help movement would strongly challenge such loyalty: ‘in either individual therapy or self-help groups, the goal is to seek out and replace our misguided loyalty and attachment to our failed parents with attachment to healthier peers’.[5]

Psychoanalysis would highlight the accompanying paradox that ‘the child, it should be remembered, always defends the bad parent more ferociously than the good’.[6] The paradox may help account for what have been called ‘trauma bonds…the misplaced loyalties found in exploitive cults, incest families, or hostage and kidnapping situations, or codependents who live with alcoholics, compulsive gamblers or sex addicts’.[7]

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