Today’s Fury-related post is brought to you by the fine folks at Internet-of-the-Mind.com….

Before you try to resolve some family conflict, it’s best to know whether you and your clan are clinging to certain unspoken rules and long-held roles.  If you are, you’re not likely to resolve the insanity; any cease fire is apt to be temporary.

The following is a list of the Survival Roles or “Masks” that children learn as a way to survive not getting their needs met:


This child never feels “good enough”. They become a “human doing” instead of a human being. They are out to prove their worth but never do to their own satisfaction.

There are two types of Hero’s:

Heroes seek attention and recognition but can never get enough. They tend to become workaholics, over-achievers, and so-called type-A personalities.

They live in fear that they are going to be “found out” as frauds by others.


This child learns to get attention through misbehavior. They get time, attention, affection, and direction from teachers, principals, counselors, and juvenile officers who are all trying to manage their behavior. Unconsciously, the rebel understands that negative strokes are better than no strokes at all.

People Pleaser:

This child is prone to approval-seeking behavior. They fear abandonment and rejection if they say “no” and so developed difficulty setting boundaries.


It is the job of this child to help the family avoid conflict by heading off trouble and making sure others don’t make waves. This role and the People Pleaser may also be the Lost Child. It is not unusual for middle children to take on several roles or all of the roles at different times in the life of the family.

Lost Child:

This child uses fantasy to get time, attention, affection, and direction. They may have a favorite doll that they play mother to; vicariously getting their own needs met.

They may also lose themselves in comic books, novels, television, video games, and imaginary friends to name a few distractions. This child brings relief to the family because they’re known as the one they never have to worry about. They are always around somewhere would never make any noise.

The Intellectualizer/Rationalizer:

A.K.A., the Computer, This child learns to say out of their emotions by staying in the thinking or left brain to “figure things out.”

While this is an attempt to protect themselves from feeling their painful emotions, it usually backfires because they end up attracting, and being attracted to, people who freely express those same painful emotions. These people “trigger” the intellectualizer into reluctantly experiencing their blocked emotions.

The Mascot:

The baby of the family… usually preoccupied with humor or being cute. This child gets a lot of time, attention, affection, and direction for the cute and funny things babies do. They learn to stay “on stage” and become the class clown or the beauty queen. The silliness of this child can continue into adulthood to an embarrassing degree.

In dysfunctional families, roles sometimes shift.  People will adopt different parts, but the script doesn’t change.  The clan needs masks to keep avoiding emotional pain and deeper issues.

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