Injustice Collectors and Family Estrangements

Have you met any injustice collectors? No doubt we all know some and both the pain they carry and impose on others. A friend recommended Healing Family Rifts: Ten Steps to Finding Peace After Being Cut Off from a Family Member as a resource for families where a member has cut-off relationships. The author, Mark Sichel, discusses “Injustice Collectors,” a term new to me, as a way to understand how some family rifts happen.

That was a new concept to think about the dynamics behind family rifts – mainly when adult children cut off contact with family. It’s such a common experience Google shows over 87,000 hits for “family rifts.” CNN’s Jen Rose Smith reported that Cornell University Survey found 25% of families surveyed indicated being cut-off from at least one family member (Family Reconciliation Project).

From her own experience and the many parents who reached out to her, Sheri McGregor created a website called Parents of Estranged Adult Children and writes extensively about the dynamics that may make the estrangement and support for families feel like they are the only ones. The fear of discussing it is likely that others will imagine that it’s because of the worst imaginable abuses when there were none. Certainly, abusive relationships often result in strained or estranged family relationships. Yet, not every estrangement is rooted in abuse.

“That number is probably low, said Karl Pillemer, professor of human development at Cornell University, who led the study and explored his findings in the recent book Fault Lines: Fractured Families and How to Mend Them. People find this to be an embarrassing problem,” he said, noting that even in a confidential survey, some topics can feel too shameful to share.”

Here is Sichel’s list of 11 characteristics of Injustice Collectors?

  1. Injustice collectors are never wrong. How is it possible that they are never wrong? It’s simple: They are always right.
  2. Injustice collectors never apologize. Ever. For anything.
  3. Injustice collectors truly believe they are morally and ethically superior to others and that others seem incapable of holding themselves to the same high standards as the injustice collector does.
  4. Injustice collectors make the rules, break the rules, and enforce the rules of the family. They are a combination of legislator, police, judge, and jury to those they consider their subjects. They forever banished from their kingdom any subject they deem disloyal, at. only grantclemency if there is sufficient contrition.
  5. Injustice collectors never worry about what is wrong with them as their “bad list” groats. Their focus is always on the failings of others.
  6. Injustice collectors are never troubled by the disparity between their own rules for others and their own expectations of themselves.
  7. Injustice collectors rationalize their own behavior with great ease and comfort.
  8. Injustice collectors have an external orientation; the problem always exists in the world, outside themselves, and in their view, the world would be an acceptable place if the. rules and standards werefollowed at all times.
  9. Injustice collectors do not have a capacity for remorse or guilt.
  10. Injustice collectors scroll off at the idea of therapy, self-help books, and other tools used by people who struggle to live with them.
  11. The phrase walking on eggshells describes life with an injustice collector. ( Page 46-47)

I’m sure that no one reading this list is an Injustice Collector – well, maybe only a few of these may apply. Just as certainly, everyone knows an Injustice Collector.

If your family has experienced estrangement from a family member, please check out these resources. Know you are not as alone as you feel at times.

There is hope for you and your family if you are Injustice Collector, Sichel, and Pillemer.