Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Beyond The "Laundry List"

Many of us are familiar with the "ACA Characteristics" or "Laundry List" of ACA behaviors.

Here is a more in depth description of behaviors resulting from being brought up in a "dysfunctional family". A dysfunctional family is a family system based on "denial" or "shame-based rules" in which there is always an avoidance of confrontation and inability to resolve conflict.

Codependent characteristics and attitudes:


* think and feel responsible for other people.
* feel pity when other people have a problem.
* feel compelled to help that person solve the problem.
* feel angry when your help isn't effective.
* find themselves doing more than their fair share of the work.
* over commit themselves.
* feel victimized, unappreciated, and used.

Low Self-Worth

* come from repressed families.
* get defensive when others criticize them.
* reject compliments or praise.
* take things personally.
* have been victims of sexual or emotional abuse.
* feel like victims.
* get artificial feelings of self-worth from helping others.
* wish other people would like and love them


* become afraid to let themselves be who they are.
* appear rigid and controlled.


* feel terribly anxious about problems and people.
* lose sleep over problems or other people's behavior.
* feel unable to quit thinking and worrying about other people or problems


* become afraid to allow events to happen naturally.
* think they know best how things should turn out.
* try to control events and people through coercion and advice-giving.


* pretend circumstances aren't as bad as they are.
* go to doctors and get tranquilizers.
* become workaholics.


* don't feel happy, content, or peaceful with themselves.
* feel terribly threatened by the loss of any person they think provides their happiness.
* don't love themselves.
* often seek love from people incapable of loving.
* don't take time to see if other people are good for them.
* look to relationships to provide all their good feelings.
* stay in relationships that don't work.
* tolerate abuse to keep people loving them.

Poor Communication

* don't say what they mean.
* take themselves too seriously.
* gauge their words carefully to achieve a desired effect.
* try to say what they think will please people.
* avoid talking about themselves.

Weak Boundaries

* gradually increase their tolerance until they can tolerate and do things they said they never would.
* let others hurt them.

Lack of Trust

* try to trust untrustworthy people.


* are afraid of their own anger.
* are afraid to make other people feel anger.
* repress their angry feelings.
* do mean and nasty things to get even.
* feel increasing amounts of anger, resentment, and bitterness.

Sex Problems

* are caretakers in the bedroom.
* withdraw emotionally from their partner.
* reduce sex to a technical act.
* have strong sexual fantasies about other people.
* consider or have an extramarital affair.


* being extremely responsible.
* become martyrs, sacrificing their happiness.
* find it difficult to have fun and be spontaneous.
* stay loyal to people even when it hurts.

Check out the Orange County ACA website at: Orange County Adult Children


sparky said...

Thank you going beyond it is so needed for me, Keep It Simple Conceptual, a new saying that hits home. This Closet Laundry List has been so interesting to me I deeply appreciate the time that was put into the service of creating it. It was posted on the ACA Wso forum back when the were operational.

The Closet Laundry List
(14 Traits of a Loving Abuser)

These are characteristics we seem to have in common due to being brought up in an alcoholic/ dysfunctional household and taking the covert victimizer role; that is, one who uses a victim position to justify imposing their will upon others or to exercise control and gain power.

1) We fear the spontaneous, authentic child and can isolate through alienation.
We became isolated and afraid of people and authority figures

2) We demand compliance as a form of approval (love) and we lose emotional connection (trust) as a result.
We became approval seekers and lost our identity in the process

3) The healthy protesting child frightens us and personal criticism brings fear of punishment, so we learn to retaliate.
We are frightened by angry people and any personal criticism

4) We repeat patterns of compulsive abandonment, creating and reacting to false dependencies over and over again.
We either become alcoholics, marry them, or both, or find another compulsive personality such as a workaholic to fulfill our sick abandonment needs

5) We take the victim position; from here we can attack safely. We can hide among true victims who are often recipients of our traumatic actions.
We live life from the viewpoint of victims and are attracted by that weakness in our love and friendship relationships

6) We shift focus to others; we try to help them but we also hurt them as we pass para-alcoholic behaviors. We can stay hidden when taking the offensive.
We have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility and it is easier for us to be concerned with others rather than ourselves. This enables us not to look too closely at our own faults

7) We impart guilt to others to justify standing up for ourselves and declare superiority even though our words or our actions may be harmful.
We get guilt feelings when we stand up for ourselves instead of giving in to others

8) Our drugs are other people; our own reactions provide internal hits of guilt, shame and blame that we use to continue our addiction to excitement.
We become addicted to excitement

9) We can create pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization and then run to its rescue.
We confuse love with pity and tend to "love" people who we can pity" and "rescue"

10) We cannot recognize our true feelings or the true feelings of others so we deny that we are wrong. We use angry tears that hurt and confuse.
We have stuffed our feelings from our traumatic childhoods and have lost the ability to feel or express our feelings because it hurts so much (denial)

11) We judge others harshly and instill a sense of fear in those around us.
We judge ourselves harshly and have a very low sense of self-esteem

12) We come to think of others as part of ourselves and we cannot tolerate their separation or independence. Our parental wounds are unhealed and we will do anything to mask the true nature of letting go and the painful abandonment feelings brought forth.
We are dependent personalities who are terrified of abandonment and will do anything to hold on to a relationship in order not to experience painful abandonment feelings which we received from living with sick people who were never there emotionally for us

13) Our lack of drink or addiction can be a diversion. We pass trauma undetected.
Alcoholism is a family disease and we became para-alcoholics and took on the characteristics of the disease even though we did not pick up the drink

14) Covert victimizers can act/abuse openly and often get away with it.
Para-alcoholics are reactors rather than actors

Don C. 3/25/08

The original Laundry List traits are on the bottom.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting, it's kind of like the flip side of the laundry list that was writen with out my input. I noticed you did not include the etc. on the 6th trait. I still haven't quite worked out why I put it there. I know it was in responce to the "looking at our own fault", as if I could see anything but my faults. I will finish what I started so many years ago. And explain the etc, in trait #6. I think it would have been replaced with "looking at our own feeling, thoughts and action. We (I) never wanted to look at my self, I did not want to know anything about me because of the negative conditioning of childhood. Now I find looking at my feeling, allows me to accepts my strengths and weakness. I do not need to look at my faults, that looking at my faults is a hold over from the A.A. mindset I found so negitive. I have much more to say and will. My book will be finished this year, God willing then the truth of Tony A. will be know. I care about me today, this lets me care about you.