Title

Family enmeshment, adolescent emotional dysregulation, and the moderating role of gender.

Abstract

Enmeshment plays a key role in many families' dysfunctional interactions and may be especially detrimental for adolescents. Sixty-four adolescents completed ratings of family enmeshment, perceived distress tolerance, an interpersonal challenge task, and mood ratings before and immediately after the task. Before and during the challenge task, adolescents' respiratory sinus arrhythmia (an indicator of cardiac vagal tone) was recorded. Associations were tested between adolescents' perceptions of family enmeshment and 3 aspects of adolescent emotional dysregulation. Adolescents who perceived higher family enmeshment also demonstrated greater emotional dysregulation in several domains: negative global appraisals of distress tolerance, stronger increase in subjective negative mood from baseline to postchallenge, lower baseline vagal tone, and vagal augmentation during the challenge task. Gender differences also emerged, such that girls reported more negative distress appraisals overall and enmeshed boys showed greater emotional dysregulation across analyses. Findings are discussed in terms of how clinicians may dynamically assess and treat enmeshment and emotional dysregulation in families with male and female adolescents.

Publisher

American Psychological Association

Publication Date

8-1-2015

Publication Title

Journal of Family Psychology

Department

Psychology

Document Type

Article

DOI

10.1037/fam0000118

Keywords

Adolescent-parent relationships, Enmeshment, Emotion regulation, Distress tolerance

Language

English

Format

text

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