I have held off posting on the sad evolving tragedy of the Duggars who until both intra-families INCESTUOUS molestation of youngers sisters and molestations reported by national media encompassing such predatory repetitious behaviors with girls outside the family for over a month now. I had wished to gather my thoughts and center my psychiatrist thoughts around a unifying them that added something more of value to the media circus that has gone, not helped to die down by the Duggars themselves.
The newest current article, entitled, “Duggarville’ Exposed: Jim Bob ‘Is Like a Dictator’; How He Controls His Clan ,with a Secret Codeword,” has furnished the theme to me. The link to the article in the current just out edition of People magazine is People magazine article on the Duggar Family, is a fairly well done piece but sort of misses an important point.
In the clinical arena of “family therapy” which is one of the more inclusive of different brands of mental health professionals, we call these families, “secretive families,” or my more favored descriptive phrase” closed family systems.” Those of us who trained in intensive family therapy, have long seen these families.Their family wife pathology is more often than not centered around, naturally enough a family secret, no surprise there I suppose but an issue that is still perhaps not as familiar to the public as it should.
Often it’s based on keeping something the family is deeply ashamed of, hiding and sheltering a chronically mentally ill relative. Some the classic great writers of Southern literature would have a literary character who was kept hidden away in the big multi-story home. Horror films has bastardized this notion with the over the top Hollywood theme of the crazy [forgive the crude term and vernacular that comes from these movies] who murders people anonymously and the family has varying notions some is badly wrong and resorts to keeping them locked up in the cupola tower of the home and all the other themes along these lines we have seen since the 1950’s or so.
More often the family secret is INCEST. Some adult who is supposed to be what I call the “true steward of the [parent-child usually] relationship, guard the child and one’s one boundaries with the child, violates this and it becomes the big secret.Time and again we have heard these humiliating secrets from persons who publicly come forth with their tales of incest publicly. For instance it is estimated that incest is far more common than realized. Some years ago the startling statistic emerged from confidential surveys incoming collegiate freshman women that one in four to at most, one of eight (!) had experienced at least one or more episodes of sexual assault by college, though of course not at all it within their families of origin.
Closed family systems have other characteristics too. They are secretive by nature. They are usually controlled by a dominant parent and threatened all their suffering lives at home to “keep the secret.” The above article emphasizes that the Duggar father, in essence, exerted dictatorial control over his children with a “code word” used I expect to shut them up when discussion with any outsider came too close to the secret. They are usually experts at presenting pervasive facades as I judge the Duggars to have done in their overdone Christian religiosity. They are unique as closed family systems take great pains constantly to be very isolative, closed off from the community but there are many such families that are exceptions to this trait of such families.
I have no doubt that the Duggars will continue to present themselves as the all-American wholesome family in some way or other. I fear that they may not deal the apparent and reported cancer of incest residing in their family by the evasive, delaying manner they handled son Josh’s unconscionable incest. In my clinical opinion, had this family come the attention and help of any responsive mental health provider of ANY discipline, DSS Child Protective Services would have been notified as well as the authorities and Josh Duggar would be a lifelong registered sex offender as he should be in my humble from the sidelines vantage point. The tragedies will not stop with the “corrective publicity,” and in years to come I would predict that other offspring in the Duggar clan will come forward with their own sad stories.