Satir outlined four defensive positions that families use to preserve the family system in times of stress. These are:
1/ Being super-reasonable
Behaving in this way is to avoid expressing emotions in an attempt to avoid embarrassment by controlling oneself, others, and the environment. People who behave in this way are regarded as being distant by others.
2/ Being irrelevant
Someone whose behaviour is irrelevant tries to avoid stress by engaging in distractions. They flit from one thing to the next because they are fearful of facing up to the stress in case, they upset someone.
This is characterised by accusing others and not owning up to one’s mistakes. People who take this stance seek to preserve their sense of self by blaming others rather than taking responsibility for their loss of self-esteem.
Those who behave in this way are often weak and self-effacing. They are low in self-esteem and too reliant upon others for their own sense of worth so they tend to behave in ways that they consider others would want them to.
A healthy individual according to Satir is the congruent person. Such an individual does not adopt one means of coping with stress but views it as a challenge. They are not afraid of stress because they realise that they have the resources to deal with it. Satir described the congruent person as being a good communicator who is able to think clearly in a balanced way with a heightened sense of awareness.
It is important to note that different people will respond to the same message in different ways. This also applies to children. Whilst they may accept rules which affect their behaviours, they will also learn adapt by creating new decisions as situations change and evolve.
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