Perhaps most importantly:
Controlling may be either functional or dysfunctional.
Functional controlling is in some way necessary, appropriate or need-satisfying.
Dysfunctional controlling — a.k.a. dyscontrol — is none of those things.
Distinguishing the two can be tricky. Dysfunctional control often seems, in the moment, to be an effective way of coping.
Remember the list of controlling behaviors I offered in Chapter 7? Do you ever lie? Go along to get along? Hide your true thoughts and feelings? Most of us find it impossible to never engage in some of that stuff.
But eventually all forms of dyscontrol fail.
That’s because, where functional controlling represents an attempt to face and solve a problem, dyscontrol is a fear-based response whose main goal is to avoid anxiety or discomfort.
We’ll examine specific examples of this in Part 2: Dysfunction. They include anxiety, depression, addiction, and most relationship problems.
For now it’s enough to define dyscontrol as any controlling that ends up frustrating needs instead of meeting them.
Even Edith Bunker came to recognize this. Eventually she saw she needed to stand up to Archie, to stop appeasing him and simply say No.
(Haven’t seen that particular episode? Please do.* And notice the studio audience’s reaction.)
*All in the Family, Season 6, Episode 8: “Edith Breaks Out” (YouTube)
Jump to 12:00.