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Imani Colclough
Prof. Intuwiwat
UWRT 1102-091
November 18th, 2015

Running From you Past Problems


So often in lives we are faced with challenges, these challenges come to us in many
different ways when we are young it may occur in school, or on the playground. Later in
life these challenges may occur in work, fellowship of religion or just in the day to day
struggles of being an adult. We often forget about the challenges we face within our own
homes. The things that occur in your home can have a huge impact on your actions when
you leave the home. This is especially true when it comes to our youth who are naturally
very impressionable. Dysfunction in the home is an attributing factor for dysfunctional
behavior outside the home (Allen, 2012). Teens are especially affected by these
environments where there is a lack of family structure. This dysfunction leads to
rebellion, violence, underage sex, and depression. Depression is the greatest attributing
factor for teens to have thoughts of running away. In the book Into The Wild a
biography about the life of Chris McCandless the main character Chris was in the first
stages of adulthood. He graduated from college and decided to give away all of his
possessions, donate his inheritance, not pursue his career and travel to Alaska. Chris
made the decision to do this without notifying anyone of his plans. Were Chris plans to
do this due to the dysfunction he experienced in his home? Did Chris feel that he
couldnt escape his past without disconnecting himself from everything he knew? Did

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the problems from his childhood arise once again and cause a stressor? One can only
speculate.
Christopher McCandless was a highly intellectual young man who after
graduating from college decided to forgo career plans and trek to Alaska (Krakauer,
1997). Chris chronicled his journey of two years and the various encounters he
experienced along the way in his journal up until when his body was discovered inside an
abandoned bus in Alaska. Before trekking on this journey Chris decided to cut all ties
with his family and everything he established.
Chris parents tried so hard to keep secrets from him and his sister. One of which
was also an attributing stressor for Chriss disappearance is believed to be discovering
that his dad was previously married and that his dad had other children when his mom
met him. These secrets long with the brooding dysfunctional family dynamics that Chris
experienced in his home proved to be overwhelming for Chris. Chriss bared witness to
his parents fighting routinely in front of his sister and him. When Chris later learned that
his parents marriage wasnt as ideal as they portrayed it to be he didnt give them an
opportunity to take responsibility. He didnt feel comfortable in his relationship with
either of his two parents and he didnt know how to effectively communicate with them.
Chris instead kept his feelings to himself and decided to cut his family off and run away
to Alaska.
The effect of family dysfunction that begins in the early childhood stages can lead
to long-term effects up until adulthood (Bozer, 2011). Data results indicate that
increased signs of family dysfunction are significantly associated with more callousunemotional behavior early as the first grade. Dysfunctional parents or caregivers justify

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callous-unemotional behavior by deeming it to be the only alternative to sensitive
parenting (Allen, 2012). Family dysfunction originates and continues from a variety of
attributing factors including: family pride, vulnerability, emotional distance, tension
anger, role reversal, and global pathology (Lloyd, 2015). Growing up in a dysfunctional
family environment can increase the chance of repeat behavior.
Adolescence is a transitional period in which teens experience biological,
emotional, cognitive and social changes. The challenges they encounter during this time
period can increase their risk of developing internalized problems including subthreshold
depression (Wagoner, 2013). Attributing factors to running away not only include
depression but also sexual, physical and psychological abuse. Family structure was
another major factor adolescents in single, blended or dysfunctional homes were found to
be more at risk to running away (Bozer, 2011). It is highly important that adolescences
feel supported by their parents because much of their focus is on how they perceive
themselves and how their parents perceive them. Perceived support and healthy family
functioning may reduce the risk for depressive symptoms in teens. Proper
communication between parents and adolescents allows teens to control their emotions,
and feel more at ease to confide and seek help and advice within their family and from
friends during times of stress (Wagoner, 2013).
Most people dont understand their state of being and how human beings have
the power to overcome their circumstance when they realize their state of possibility
(Lloyd). Chris was able to create a new existence, a new kind of flow that he felt was
more purposeful when he let go of his ties to his family and the life he lived. When
dealing with difficult life circumstance one often wonders how to function in a state of

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dysfunction. The course of action may not be as familiar as you are accustom to, and it
may make you feel uncertain but an opportunity to immobilize pain is worth pursuing
(Allen, 2012). Running from your past problems may not be the answer. Overcoming life
circumstances may require therapy with those individuals that contribute to the
dysfunction that creates the imbalance.
Chris was 22 years old when he disappeared from home as an adult. The factors
that ultimately led to his demise began in the early stages of his childhood. The
memories that replayed in his mind and in the minds of many youth that grew up in
dysfunctional homes cannot be erased. There is so much power in accepting
responsibility and holding the people in your life accountable for their actions. There can
be a sentiment of freedom that you could experience if you leave your problems behind.
This sentiment is only short-lived when you run from your problems and never cope with
them. It is imperative that the cycle of dysfunction is broken to prevent the symptoms
from being passed on from generation to generation (Allen, 2012).