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What Is Enmeshment?

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Enmeshment is “over-connectedness.” It is created by a lack of clear ego boundaries between family members. This produces a form of fusion, which is a condition that interferes with a clear sense of an individualized, healthy self. The boundaries of an enmeshed person are so weak, that functioning in individually differentiated ways is radically handicapped. When someone says things like “You complete me!” or “I’d die without you!” it may seem romantic, but it should be a big relational red flag! Such language is actually the language of co-dependency, control and enmeshment. Relational enmeshment is a term mental health care providers use to describe a person who loses themselves in another person, who allows that individual to define them.

An enmeshed person will unconsciously use an individual such as (mom, dad, siblings, spouse) for their identity, sense of value, worth, well-being, safety, purpose and/or security. More simply, enmeshment is present when a person’s sense of wholeness comes from another person, which results in them trying to find their sense of worth by unconsciously caretaking for others or trying to fix authority figures so that he/she will feel safe in the world.

We all need to be emotionally connected with our tribal families, but the enmeshment or over-connectedness that I am referring to here is a loss of individual ego identity created when a person is raised in a “less than perfect” family system. A family system must be a balanced system; but since all family systems aren’t “perfect” they are all out of balance to some degree. The family will do whatever it has to do to balance the system for the “tribe” to survive. The family will unconsciously act in or act out in dysfunctional ways to balance the tribal system.

Each family member will compensate for the imbalance of another family member… for example, when a super responsible mother balances the irresponsible behavior of a drunken father. This can surface as cross generational bonding such as when a child takes care of their parents’ feelings, or tries to emotionally compensate for a poor marriage. This can also surface as non-physical sexual abuse such as when the child is USED by a parent to fulfill his/her own needs and desires.  To learn more about the enmeshment process, and how to overcome it call to schedule your consultation today.


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