26 Comments to
The Dysfunctional Holiday Letter

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  1. I know this is supposed to be tongue in cheek, but it just hits me the wrong way. I find it in poor taste.

  2. I think its awful. so mental health problems are linked to prisons and job instability and kicking people – and this is funny?

  3. Hi Therese,
    This is hilarious. Especially the bit about the cat. My family are rather dysfunctional and poke fun at our own mental statuses all the time.

    Black comedy is a very effective way of dealing with mental illness. There should be more of it.

    Regards Sonia
    Author of Therapy Unplugged.

  4. This is great. The holiday’s need some humor.

  5. Come on, people. Lighten up! After all, the title is The “Dysfunctional” Holday Letter. I’ve suffered with serious mental illness plus other major issues that had nothing to do with my own genes during my entire life and sometimes the only coping mechanism one has left is humor and optimism. ANY progress is a reason to celebrate. I think this is a hilarious piece of comedy. Thanks, Therese.

  6. It’s a JOKE people. Don’t you ever get those smarmy Christmas letters with people bragging about their jobs, trips, kids, grandkids etc?
    No one is saying that prison or psychiatric problems are funny. Although sometimes if you don’t laugh at your problems, you’ll cry.
    Merry Christmas to ALL!

  7. My husband and I were just talking about this. We thought it would be hilarious. We do have an odd sense of humor though. It is great to hear from relatives and friends however, by bragging about their life it seems less real. By going the complete opposite maybe people would get that I would rather hear about goofy life things.For example, like when my son’s friend threw the cat in the hot tub to see if it could swim. That seems more interesting than reading about the 3 trips that aunt betty took this year.

  8. Yeah, I make fun of myself all the time, I do have a sense of humor, and as a child, used to make fun of my own dysfunctional family all the time to deal with the insanity of childhood abuse..it helped get me through while growing up.

    I guess what bothers me is that the joke reinforces the erroneous crime and violence link associated with the mentally ill. Choosing to focus on those specifics is poor taste, imo. The rest of the media already reinforces this-do we have to do this here as well?

    Readers here might see this, but many people still don’t realize so many of us deemed mentally ill are just people in the cube next to you at work, your neighbors, even people who do volunteer work..most are just decent people.

    I noticed people are in fact still scared of the mentally ill or think of them/us as lesser people. Its not fun to be viewed in this manner.


    Learn to laugh at yourself for heaven sakes! LOL! To make light of your dysfunctional family helps take the stress off! LOL

    You people are ridiculous. It’s humor……not an insult.

  10. The letter doesn’t say incarcerated Little Bobby has mental illness. The dysfunctional family can have more than one kind of issue to deal with. The person worried about stigma made that leap. I thought the letter was very funny.

  11. Being single, I find the “family picture” card extremely annoying. Would prefer a traditional card with a few words, or even a Holiday letter, if that’s your thing.

  12. Great letter. “Therapists” that don’t find that letter humerous probably feel it hitting close to home.
    I read a letter yesterday intended for the previous resident of my address. What a hoot! My wife and I were rolling.

  13. I laughed! It reminds me of a letter circulating around the time of the Vietnam war- a polish mother writing to her son in the military- it is just a prank, a just in fun poke. Lighten up!

  14. To poster ME,

    It is a federal crime to open mail addressed to someone other than yourself. Write “No Longer At This Address” and remail!

  15. Anyone who cannot find this article humorous needs to pull their pants up a little tighter into their crotch and “get a life”. I sent it to all those in my family who “bore me to death” with their “seasonal update”. Why not pick up the phone occasionally and just talk, or send an email, or “god forbid” get together for a family meal. Happy holiday everyone…. whatever one you are celebrating.

  16. I thought this was hilarious! I’m schizophrenic, my husband has MDD, my daughter is autistic and my son has ADHD. We all cracked up as I read it aloud. We’re all totally open about being mentally interesting. Maybe that’s the difference besides just differences in humour?

    Regardless, we liked it!

  17. I just had to write in, because this made me laugh out loud (even though I am at work! — in a psychiatric hospital!!). Yesterday was my mom’s birthday – she can be described in one word – Narcissistic, so after buying her a present I knew she wouldn’t want to return like most of the others and asking to take her to dinner at the restaurant that she always wants to celebrate her birthday (and mine) at, I came home in tears. She decided on another restaurant, basically tossed her food back onto the waitress’ tray because it wasn’t prepared the way she expected and picked apart everything else because of price or taste – please keep in mind I was paying. After leaving that embarrassment, my ex-husband (unfortunately I married my ‘mother’) makes his nightly phone call to interrogate our daughter and my mom won’t stop – ‘my best birthday present would be for him to never call again’ despite my pleas for her to be quiet. When we get home, my dear fiancee who is from the ever more elusive ‘normal’ family and is ever amazed at how bizarre my mom can be, just gives me a hug and we end up laughing about all the other crazy stuff she came out with (we made it up to 13) – that’s all we can do. Sometimes we just need to laugh, at ourselves and our families. This parody – but more truth than we may want to admit, is a good reminder of how we can have some fun making it through the holiday season.

  18. Wow, this actually fell short of what our family holiday newsletter would have described last year – and it would not have been very funny to read at the apex of the crises. This year, things are not a whole lot better – but perhaps my perspective is. I appreciated reading this, and hope that the offended folks can appreciate humor over time (call me insensitive but I find the alternative to laughing gets old after awhile).

    Okay, Alanon and Dual Recovery Anonymous also helped.

  19. I have been crying since yesterday and slept only 3 hours today due to depression. After reading this letter, I bursted out laughing. Thanks for giving me something to laugh about

  20. Wow…everyone take your meds. It is HUMOR. Life is too short to find ways to make everything offensive or insulting, there is plenty of that to go around without going out of your way to find more.

    Seriously, take this for what it is worth — an attempt to be light hearted and amusing.

    The letter is funny as hell — only my opinion and you won’t change it so go rain on someone else’s parade, fun police. :-) I appreciated reading it.

    And for the record, this year has been nothing short of HELL for me and my family and yes I deal with mental health issues every. single. day. so I really dont want to hear any fabricated drama.

  21. I love it, but not quite wacky enough for me. I have so wanted to write a true but funny newsletter, but didn’t want to hurt/offend other family members. You cant take this stuff seriously-it would drive you crazy. Oh, wait, that already happened. Well, you know what I mean. I keep a list of funny incidents from hospitalizations and they are a lot funnier once they are over.

  22. Recovery is trying my best either in the presence of absence of my symptons. Also, Philosopher’s Quote “Once you decide you’re not going to commit suicide, you can embrace life. (Forgot source, sorry). .Get ready, the moment this holday passes we’ll be seeing the Valentine Marketing,…then Easter,…then Mothers’ day, then Father’s day….add nauseum. I’ve decided one is no more significant than the other. In fact what works for me is “if I wake up tomorrow” Hey!!! It’ a HOLIDAY for sure!!! Anyway lotsa love to you and yours, and prayers for those alone and suffering too.

  23. God help us! Now we’re politically incorrect if our Xmas family joke offends someone who is single? Duh! That’s why you’re still single.

  24. As both a psychiatric nurse of 20yrs and then experiencing PTSD and chronic depression, it was some ‘sick humor’ that made me laugh. I wasn’t at all offended and it made me feel better. I wish there was more of it around. I don’t think its intention is to upset or insult anybody, but unfortunately it usually does. I think being able to laugh at things is a great coping mechanism and stress buster but everyones sense of humor is different.

  25. I think all the complainers need to lighten up and read the title. I know this is a mental health site but the title is Dysfunctional Family! No where in the letter does it say that all or any are mentally ill. Just that they seek services like both mentally ill and non mentally ill people do when to much stress hits.

    This is a dysfunctional family letter which the majority of people both mentally and non mentally ill come from or have in there close family ties.

    Last i knew a being in a dysfunctional family does not mean you are mentally ill. If it does they better start handing out Prozac as party favors cause most all are gonna need it.

  26. Sadly, our problems are going to worsen. Here’s why:

    The great revelation of art (including music) is that the world requires and involves man; although science has been slow to recognize this; for the danger of technology is that it is creating a world of experience that is toxic and foreign to the self where man is neither truly involved nor required. By pervasively and fundamentally changing our various sensory experiences (including the range of feeling thereof), the self’s ability to represent and form a consistent, comprehensive, and relatively extensive approximation of sense is being compromised; whereby sense and feeling [increasingly] cannot be properly experienced, utilized, and understood as the expression and extension of the self’s desire; and it is not only our loss of language that we face. (Consciousness and language involve the ability to represent, form, and experience comprehensive approximations of experience in general; and this includes art and music as well.) The reconfiguration (i.e., disintegration, alteration, reduction, and/or replacement) of sensory experience in general (including range of feeling) is progressively involving a disintegration and contraction of being and experience (including thought). This is evident in (and includes) sleep disorders, depression, anxiety, autism, obesity, and the experience of television. (Clearly, obesity involves a disintegration, contraction, and detachment of being/experience; and it is associated with increased risk of death from all causes.)

    Moreover, there is no true difference between what is foreign/unnatural and toxic. Artificially reconfigured sensory experience (including pollution, processed foods, television, etc.) makes the self increasingly unconscious (and reactive) in unpredictable ways. The disintegration, alteration, reduction, and replacement of sensory experience and feeling involve the loss of the instincts; as the self is disconnected and detached from what is natural and truly sustaining. The disintegration and contraction (and this includes detachment) of being and experience go hand in hand. Being and experience are becoming excessively (and increasingly) unconscious and less animate. Finally, in reference to sleep disorders, it is important that dreams involve a fundamental integration and spreading of being and experience at the mid-range of feeling between thought and sense, in conjunction with the natural extensiveness and interactivity of being and experience.

    In both depression and anxiety, the emotional disintegration and contraction of being and experience involves increased feeling at the emotional center of the self. In anxiety, this is consistent with excessive concern, the reduction in the desirability of experience, emotional imbalance (or variability), bodily aches and pains (i.e., emotional disintegration), the mind “going blank”, panic attacks (involving a sort of generalized paralysis and loss of experience), etc. Comparatively (and similarly), in depression, there is a contraction, detachment, disintegration, and loss of being and experience that also involves a loss of emotion. The loss of desire in both depression and anxiety involves a significant reduction in the comprehensiveness and consistency of both intention and concern as they relate to experience in general; and this has the dream-like effect of reducing thought, emotion, and memory, including the desirability and totality of experience as well.
    Author/Expert Frank Martin DiMeglio

  27. Nope, sorry, read it again. It’s still not funny. I’m usually a pretty funny person, but this letter is just not funny, it’s insulting, plays to overwrought stereotypes and isn’t even that well put together.



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