Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: May 28, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963930 | Print ISBN: 9781412941655 | Online ISBN: 9781412963930| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Donna Dea Holland
Dysfunctional family refers to a family pattern generally associated with lower levels of health, well-being, happiness, and positive outcomes, compared with other families. Conceptualizing a dysfunctional family should be not as a dichotomy but as a continuum, viewing it in terms of degrees of dysfunction. Some families may be more or less dysfunctional than other families, with the extent and severity of dysfunction varying. Many disciplines—such as sociology, psychology, social work, medicine, and criminology—study dysfunctional families. Because several disciplines study dysfunctional families, many different definitions, viewpoints, and solutions to dysfunctional families exist. Many different types of dysfunctional families exist, as do various forms of family violence commonly classified as dysfunctional. For example, all forms of chronic or severe child abuse—sexual, emotional, and physical—are considered dysfunctional, as is child neglect, perhaps the most common form of child abuse. Spousal violence is also dysfunctional because of the physical and emotional harm inflicted ...