Lesson 1 of 7  - free your true Self to guide you


Estimate the Functionality of
 a Family or Group

By Peter K. Gerlach, MSW
Member NSRC Experts Council

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The Web address of this article is http://sfhelp.org/gwc/4_grouptraits.htm

Updated 02-03-2015

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      This is one of a series of articles on Lesson 1 in this Web site - free your true Self to guide you in calm and conflictual times, and reduce significant psychological wounds. This is one of several checklists which are designed to help people assess for significant wounds.

      This worksheet compares typical behavioral traits of members of low-nurturance ("dysfunctional") and high-nurturance ("functional") social groups like families, workplaces, schools, neighborhoods, and church communities. This 2-part YouTube video provides perspective on what you'll find in this wound-assessment worksheet:

       The worksheet assumes you're familiar with...

  • the intro to this Web site, and the premises underlying it

  • the toxic [wounds + unawareness] cycle

  • a comparison of typical true Self and false-self behaviors, and...

  • how to assess for psychological wounds

    button  Premises

      See how you feel about these opinions - A = "I agree," "D = "I disagree,", and ? = "I'm not sure."  If you're not sure, follow the links for more perspective.

  • Families have existed in every age and culture because they fill a set if primal psychological, physical, and spiritual needs better than other human groups. Filling needs (reducing discomforts) is called nurturance. Some families are better at nurturing their members than others.  (A  D  ?)

  • Many adults and older kids are significantly-wounded survivors of too little early-childhood nurturance. A false self develops naturally when a child or young adult doesn't get their physical, emotional, and developmental needs met consistently enough. (A  D  ?)

  • Unless wounded co-parents dissolve their protective denials and commit to meaningful personal heeling, they risk (a) unintentionally depriving their dependent kids of essential nurturance, and (b)  passing on significant psychological wounds as their caregivers and ancestors did. (A  D  ?)

  • Typical kids who get too little nurturance will display (a) some of the group-related behaviors in the table below, and (b) some of these typical behaviors of wounded individuals.  (A  D  ?)

  • Concerned adults often see these behaviors as signs that "something's wrong" with the child, rather than with the child's primary caregivers. Where this is true, changes pushed on the child [medication, harsh discipline, withholding prized things (or threatening to), grounding, shaming, "giving up," etc.] will probably increase the "problem behaviors."  (A  D  ?)

  • A quick test for any group's nurturance level ("functionality") is to judge on a continuum (low > moderate > high) the average primary emotions most members usually feel in a group after they adjust to it. Many variables affects the validity of this premise, so this checklist is a rough indicator of group-leader and group-member wholistic health. It is not proof.

button Worksheet Directions

    Choose a comfortable setting, and block off at least 30" of undistracted, clear-minded time;

    Check to see if your true Self is guiding your other subselves now. If not, your worksheet results are apt to be skewed. For ideas about freeing your true Self, see Lesson 1 in this Web site.

    Focus on (a) a present or past child or adult (including you), and on (b) a group s/he actively participated in regularly - e.g. a home, family, school, church, committee, club, team, or workplace.

Then check the emotions or attitudes you feel the person usually experience/d as they participate/d. This is about discovery and recovery, not about blaming anyone!

High-nurturance Group Traits:
Leaders are probably
 Grown Nurtured Children (GNCs)

Typical members are...

Low-nurturance Group Traits: Leaders are probably Grown
Wounded Children (GWCs)
Typical members are...

_  Serene / peaceful in the group

_  Calm / relaxed / at ease in the group

_  Self-confident / Self assured / sure

_  Appropriately proud of membership

_  Energetic / interested in group activities

_  Responsible (in group roles and tasks)

_  Sociable / sharing in the group

_  Spontaneous / free

_  Trusting / open

_  Cooperative / team player

_  Recognized / appreciated by others

_  Loyal / accepted / involved with others

_  Important / valued / needed by others

_  Competent / adequate / able

_  Happy / satisfied / fulfilled (usually)

_  Hopeful / optimistic / motivated (usually)

_  Safe / secure in the group

_  Challenged / stimulated / alive

_  Nervous / anxious / worried

_  Stressed / tense / uneasy

_  Self-doubting / ambivalent / uncertain

_  (Very) ashamed / guilty

_  Apathetic / bored

_  Defensive / irresponsible

_  Isolated / extra shy / withdrawn

_  Rigid / over-controlling

_  Secretive / suspicious / on guard

_  Resistant / defiant / rebellious / loner

_  Ignored / discounted / unappreciated

_  Detached / rejected / indifferent

_  Invisible / unwanted / unimportant

_  Incompetent / inadequate / unable

_  Upset / frustrated / unfulfilled

_  Despairing / gloomy / apathetic

_  Unsafe / uneasy / insecure

_  Overwhelmed / disinterested / "dead"

_  Looks forward to / enjoys being in the group _  Dreads going to / "hates" being in the group

       The more "high nurturance" traits your subject often displays relative to their family or other target group, the more likely it is that the group leader/s is/are wholistically-healthy Grown Nurtured Children (GNCs). 

      Conversely, the more "low nurturance" traits your target person displays or feels relative to their group, the more likely it is they're being unintentionally deprived from filling important core needs there and/or in one or more other important current groups, like their family, school, team, church, club, and/or social set.

      From clinical experience since 1981, I propose one of five reasons that millions of typical U.S. marriages and families are significantly stressed and troubled is that one or more adults (a) suffer significant psychological wounds, and (b) they don't (want to) know that or what it means.

      Lesson 1 here is designed to help detect these wounds and offer an effective framework for self-motivated personal healing - "parts work," or inner-family therapy. Assessing for significant wounds is a keystone couples need to work at to make wise commitment choices for themselves and their descendents.


      This is one of several worksheets to help you assess yourself or someone else for significant psychological wounds. This worksheet contrasts typical behaviors in members in high-nurturance (functional) and low-nurturance (wounded) groups, including families. Do all the assessment worksheets before drawing a conclusion about yourself and your group.

      Pause, breathe, and reflect - why did you read this article? Did you get what you needed? If not, what do you need? Who's answering these questions - your true Self, or ''someone else''?

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