About Adoptee Rage

Statistics Identify large populations of Adoptees in prisons, mental hospitals and committed suicide.
Fifty years of scientific studies on child adoption resulting in psychological harm to the child and
poor outcomes for a child's future.
Medical and psychological attempts to heal the broken bonds of adoption, promote reunions of biological parents and adult children. The other half of attempting to repair a severed Identity is counselling therapy to rebuild the self.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Role Theory Deviance and Engulfment Applied to the Adopted Child


Role Theory and Role Deviance Applied to Adopted Child Role

role set is anyone you have a recurring relationship with in your role. According to Goffman the "role set" is the various kinds of relevant audiences for a particular role. Merton describes "role set" as the "complement of social relationships in which persons are involved because they occupy a particular social status." For instance, the role of a doctor has a role set comprising colleagues, nurses, patients, hospital administrators, etc.
The term "role set" was coined by Robert K. Merton in 1957. He made a clear distinction between a "role set" and a "status set".

"Role conflict occurs when there are incompatible demands placed upon an employee such that compliance with both would be difficult. We experience role conflict when we find ourselves pulled in various directions as we try to respond to the many statuses we hold. Role conflict can be something that can be for either a short period of time, or a long period of time, and it can also be connected to situational experiences.
Intra-role conflict occurs when the demands are within a single domain of life, such as on the job. An example would be when two superiors ask an employee to do a task, and both cannot be accomplished at the same time. Inter-role conflict occurs across domains of life. An example of inter-role conflict would be a husband and father who is also Chief of Police. If a tornado strikes the small town he is living in, the man has to decide if he should go home and be with his family and fulfill the role of being a good husband and father or remain and fulfill the duties of a "good" Chief of Police because the whole town needs his expertise."
Conflict among the roles begins because of the human desire to reach success, and because of the pressure put on an individual by two imposing and incompatible demands competing against each other. The effects of role conflict, as found through case-studies and nationwide surveys, are related to individual personality characteristics and interpersonal relations. Individual personality characteristic conflicts can arise within personality role conflict where "aspects of an individual's personality are in conflict with other aspects of that same individual's personality." (Truett 79) Interpersonal relations can cause conflict because they are by definition "having an association between two or more people that may range from fleeting to enduring, which can cause that conflict." (Wikipedia)
Example:"People in modern, high-income countries juggle many responsibilities demanded by their various statuses and roles. As most mothers can testify both parenting and working outside the home are physically and emotionally draining. Sociologists thus recognize role conflict as conflict among the roles corresponding to two or more statuses" (Macionis 90).
The discipline of group dynamics in psychology recognizes role conflict within a group setting. Members of a group may feel that they are responsible for more than one role within this setting and that these roles may become disagreeable with each other. When the expectations of two or more roles are incompatible, role conflict exists. For example, a supervisor at a factory may feel strain due to his or her role as friend and mentor to the subordinate employees, while having to exhibit a stern and professional watchful eye over the employees.


Interpersonal role conflict occurs when the source of the dilemma stems from occupancy of more than one focal position. For example, as a husband and a father in a social system a superintendent may think his wife and children expect him to spend most of his evenings with them. However, his school board and P.T.A. groups, he may feel, expect him (as their school superintendent) to spend most of his after-office hours on educational and civic activities. The superintendent usually cannot satisfy both of these incompatible expectations.


Intra-personal role conflict occurs when an individual in one role believes that others have many different expectations for him/her in regards to that role. "The school superintendent, for example, may feel that the teachers expect him to be their spokesperson and leader, to take their side on such matters as salary increases and institutional policy. However, the superintendent may feel that the school board members expect him to represent them, to "sell" their views to the staff because he is the executive officer and the administrator of school board policies".


"Inter-role conflict results from competing sets of expectations that are aroused by organizational, interpersonal, and personal conflicts"  The following strategies assist in modifying and managing these areas.
One response to role conflict is deciding that something has to go. More than one politician, for example, has decided not to run for office because of the conflicting demands of a hectic campaign schedule and family life. In other cases, people put off having children in order to stay on the fast track for career success. Even the roles linked to a single status can make competing demands on us. A plant supervisor may enjoy being friendly with workers. At the same time, distance is necessary to evaluate his staff (Macionis 90).
An individual can alter external, structurally imposed expectations held by others, regarding the appropriate behavior of a person in his or her position. The most effective alteration is change in the workplace. If the job is a "family-friendly" environment, the needs of a parent may be met easier. One of the biggest stress-relievers for working parents is paid time off including family sick days. A parent may feel trapped if he or she needs to stay home with their child but knows that missing a day of work will, in return, dock them a day of pay. If they have a few days of paid leave they will be able to take care of their child and not have to worry about losing money for doing so. Another workplace support of work-family conflict is child-care. Some jobs have a daycare facility on site or nearby, assisting parents in knowing their children are well taken care of while they are working. The latter example distributes role expectations to others in order to alleviate role conflict.
"Another approach involves changing ones attitude toward and perceptions of one's role expectations, as opposed to changing the expectations themselves. An example is setting priorities among and within roles, being sure that certain demands are always met (for example, the needs of sick children), while others have lower priority (such as dusting furniture)."


Edwin Schur, building on the work of Erik K. Erikson and Kai Erikson on "The Confirmation of the Delinquent" brought the term "role engulfment" to the theoretical fore in relation to deviancy: '"Role engulfment" refers to the process whereby persons become caught up in the deviant role as a result of others relating to them largely in terms of their spoiled identity'.
Conversely, the deviant may themselves embrace the role. 'When a particular role becomes an integral part of a person's identity, almost to the exclusion of all other roles, role merger (or role engulfment) is said to occur. Such a role is often referred to as a "master role"'. The term Role domination also refers to the process of how a particular role comes to dominate over other roles in a person's life.
Role abandonment refers to the disassociation of and detachment of other goals, priorities, and roles following role engulfment.


Role engulfment can also occur in a more mainstream context. It has been explored for example with regard to college athletes. Having initially entered college with a "broad" agenda, many then 'experienced "role-engulfment"...the "greedy role" of athletics soon dominated their time, actions, and social circles'.
Alternately, athletes may have themselves narrowed their focus too early: 'one of the consequences of identity forclosure or role engulfment was the inability to foresee and plan for future roles'.


Whereas some '"good" mothers are able to demonstrate role commitment without role engulfment', others may find the role of "devoted mother" becomes an all-embracing one. 'Role engulfment, by reducing the opportunities for contacts with friends and family, leaves the parent with fewer sources of positive self-evaluation outside of the family'.
Family therapy sees part of the father's role in early child-raising, faced with maternal engulfment, as 'to haul her back, to reclaim her, as it were, from the baby. So that the two of them can put their own relationship as a married couple first again'. (It also notes a potentially wider need 'to see new meanings put into role names' in a family context).


Jungians have highlighted the possibility of role engulfment by one's profession: 'every calling or profession has its own characteristic persona...the danger is that people become identical with their personas - the professor with his textbook, the tenor with his voice'.
The problem is particularly acute with what Alasdair Macintyre calls characters - 'a very special type of social role which places a certain kind of moral constraint on the personality of those who inhabit them...masks worn by moral philosophies'.


  • Tony Tanner explored the contrasting role performances of Mr and Mrs Bennet in Pride and prejudice in terms of role commitment and role distance. Where 'Mr Bennet has become completely cynical about the social roles he is called on to play...gestures of disengagement from the necessary rituals of family and society, Mrs Bennet, incapable of reflection, loses herself in her performance'- role engulfment.
  • Margaret Attwoods's characters struggle against the way 'consumer images express role-engulfment as an omnipresent fate' - strive to 'escape from role-engulfment...from this alienating cultural definition of personality and human relations'.