The Atlantic: Macfie Describes How Role Confusion Can Affect Identity Development

The Atlantic featured the story of Laura Kiesel who had to take on the role of being a parent to her infant brother at only 6 years old. Kiesel’s story is one of what psychologists refer to as destructive parentification—a form of emotional abuse or neglect where a child becomes the caregiver to their parent or sibling.

Researchers are increasingly finding that in addition to upending a child’s development, this role reversal can leave deep emotional scars well into adulthood. Jenny Macfie, UT associate director of clinical training in the Department of Psychology, says, “adults who report role confusion in their childhoods may have difficulty with their identity development,” and this in turn, can affect a person’s romantic relationships. Read the full story online.