Dean Pye's Archive

Overfunctioner and Underfunctioner

5 Commentsby   |  09.14.09  |  Uncategorized

Overfunctioning and underfunctioning are two dysfunctional reciprocal roles that often occur together.  It occurs when one person appears to be healthy and successful while the other is unhealthy or not operating at their full potential (Gilbert 1992).  In reality both members of this dyad are struggling.  A typical scenario where this plays out can be seen in the family where the wife is very popular and well-liked and very active at a congregation or job, while the husband does very little and feels as if no one likes him.  He feels like a failure, and so the wife ends up making his friends for him, disabling him from learning how to socialize and make new friends.  Although the underfunctioner appears to be the one who is unhealthy, the overfunctioner actually is keeping this pattern going as well through his or her encouragement of the behavior of the underfunctioner.  Also the overfunctioner often experiences burnout as a result of trying to take care of two people instead of just him or herself. More »

Dean Pye's Comment Archive

  1. Dean Pye on Microsystem
    4:45 pm, 12.06.09

    Well I agree with Scott that the models of therapy that we have been learning these past few months have centered on microsystem changing, and below. It seems that most of the focus has been on the microsystem and the individual because that is the area that is most relevant to a specific person and most able to “quickly” change when compared to the other systems in Bronfenbrenner’s model. The higher you go up on the model, it seems the more resistant to change the systems are. Also the higher you go up in the model, the less influence there is on the individual. In creating change with an individual, the most power seems to lie with the individual, and then bringing in the microsystem such as the family. The other realms can be changed, but there seems to be more difficulty for a therapist to change these arenas.
    One thing I did notice was the integration that Schwartz brought in to the discussion by applying his IFS model not simply to individuals or even families, but he did seem to consider the societal and cultural levels that we interact with on a daily basis. I appreciated this because it does seem that most of the other models we have looked at follow the systemic model, but relinquish control outside of the microsystem.

  2. Dean Pye on Resistance
    4:34 pm, 12.06.09

    I was seriously blown away by the horse story. I knew I had heard it before, and I’m not 100% on all of the details to the story from some random guy on youtube, but if it is true that Milton Erickson came up with that idea at a young age, it is pretty genius for an 11 year old. I certainly do see that as a way of working with resistance that is inherent in a client in some situations. However, I prefer seeing most examples of resistance as being a part of that client-therapist relationship. It is easy to blame the client for being “resistant” to our amazing interventions or our perfectly crafted interpretations, but it seems a bit more “systemic” to consider our own influence in increasing resistance in a client system. Not to say that there are not resistant clients, but it does seem more balanced to see your own hand in the client’s resistance.

  3. Man, I loved Quantum Leap!!! I saw they have dvds out for it now…. good times. Anyways, I would say that if I could change society in a “What if…” scenario, I would want to go back and find some way of changing the numerous schisms that have come about in the church from the very beginning. I do appreciate the diversity that we have in the christian fellowship, but at the same time there are so many bad feelings interdenominationally. If I could find some way to hold the banner of truth high while at the same time maintaining the unity of the Church during those first few hundred years after Christ, I think (hopefully) there would be one Church that would be much more visible in showing its love to one another instead of competing against each other. Just a thought.

  4. Dean Pye on Mesosystems
    2:23 pm, 11.11.09

    Its an interesting thought that mesosystems are the contexts in which two people or groups can link together to form some relationship. I thought the idea of a mother being drawn into the school system through the child was fascinating because of how easily this happens and we often take no notice of how people introduce us into contexts that we initially are not a part of. I think the mesosystem of a child will have a profound impact on that child, both in how they view their worth and viewed by others, although probably not as much effect as their microsystem would have on these issues. However these relationships established in the mesosystem are a part of who they are as a person, and so the health of that system should affect in some way their own health.

  5. Dean Pye on Process
    8:15 pm, 11.06.09

    I think that’s a really interesting idea, watching the foreign film and trying to understand what is going on. I think there are alot of things we can learn about process from the things the clients have to say, but being aware of body language and how something is said is critical to understanding process. I also agree that oftentimes its easy to focus on the content in our dyads because of the overwhelming amount of information there. The “client” is pouring out all about their problem, and it is very easy to miss the patterns that are present within the problems.
    In regards to what has helped me become more aware, I think the amount of time trying to figure out process in our therapy and supervision observations has helped tremendously. I think the supervision observations have helped me alot because they seem a little removed from the need for evaluation in terms of content and process, and so it helps me really see some examples of process and helps me look for process in everyday relationships.

  6. Dean Pye on Second-Order Change
    12:30 am, 11.05.09

    Good job describing what second order change looks like, Kent. I really have a hard time trying to understand what first order change looks like as compared to second order change, but your analogy helped put things in perspective. I also agree with Sybil that it helps to see second order change in terms of changing tactics and entire systems rather than rules about rules.
    1. One other system that second order change can be seen in could be (if we are going along with the Christian theme set up earlier) the system of the Jewish nation during the New Testament. They were looking for a messiah that would free them from Roman authority, but Jesus completely changed their perception of what a messiah would look like by dying to set us free from sin.
    I hope that’s actually an example of second order change…