Adult Child of Humans

Hank Robb, Ph.D., ABPP - reprinted from The Behaviour Therapist - may be duplicated with attribution

A new diagnostic group, Adult Child of Humans (ACOH) is identified.

An instrument for making the diagnosis along with scoring and treatment guidelines is provided.

Adult Child of Humans

As a practising psychologist, I have watched an increasing number of people label themselves members of one ‘problem’ group or another - from co-dependents to adult child of alcoholics.

I have reviewed the lists of unique ‘symptoms’ that are said to define these various groups and believe it is time to cast a wider net.

After reflecting on my extensive graduate and post-graduate training and experience, not to mention 50-odd years as a member of the human race, I have divined 10 symptoms of a newly identified, and until now sorely neglected group - Adult Child of Humans (ACOH).

With our keen eye for research, we behaviour therapists may soon be able to determine with confidence which of our clients, friends, colleagues, and perhaps even ourselves can be classified as ACOH.

ACOH Inventory Description and Development

The ACOH inventory is a brief self-report questionnaire that can be administered at any time and any place in under 15 minutes. It consists of 10 forced-choice, True/False items. It has strong face validity. To date, all individuals identified as ACOH have continued to be so classified, providing perfect reliability. Scoring and interpretation is both easy and straightforward. If examinees are over 18 years old and report three or more of these ‘symptoms,’ they should be regarded as ACOH.

ACOH Inventory

While I sometimes feel quite capable of handling one of life’s problems, at other times I feel I can’t. T F

While I recognize that the universe doesn’t actually run on a fairness principle, I strongly feel the world should treat me fairly and am quite upset if it doesn’t. T F

While I sometimes cope fairly well with failure, at other times I feel hopeless and think I’m no good. T F

While I recognize that some of my past behaviour was foolish, I sometimes do the same sort of thing again when the opportunity presents itself. T F

While I often cope fairly well with certain life frustrations, at other times I get in quite a “tizzy.” T F

While I often force myself to do what is wise in the long run, despite the difficulties, I sometimes declare that certain problems are just too hard and refuse to take any action. T F

While I am often hopeful about the future, at other times I am pessimistic and doubt anything I do will make a difference. T F

While I often see that many people in the world have problems worse than mine, I frequently act as if my troubles and frustrations are as bad as possible. T F

When others point out how things could be worse for me than they currently are, I often recognize they are being realistic - at other times I think they are only minimizing my problems and not taking me seriously. T F

While I see that only one person in the entire world gets the Olympic gold medal for any given event, and the rest often find joy in attempting to achieve that goal regardless of their success, I occasionally set a performance standard of mine unrealistically high. T F

Three or more ‘T’ is ACOH indication


Unfortunately, humanity is a chronic condition from which an ACOH is unable to ‘completely recover.’

An ACOH is however able to ‘recover’ from the silly, if popular notion, that a human fallibility is a symptom of a disease caught through association with a family member or friend who tenaciously behaves in a thoroughly annoying or self-defeating way.

ACOH might reduce an emotional disturbance about their condition by recognizing an important distinction.

“Rather than have a disturbance because an important person in my life gave me a bad card in life or taught me how to play a card badly” - and this is a cardinal feature of ACOH – “I actually tenaciously hold onto the hazy thinking I once learned.”

More often and with considerable creativity, I produce hazy thinking of my very own!

With effort, as an ACOH, I might learn to better accept rather than condemn myself and, by doing so, live a relatively satisfying, if endlessly fallible, life.

While I might find it difficult to ‘completely recover’ from my humanness, I might go on to think, act, and feel a bit more helpfully.

Adult Child of Humans
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