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A dysfunctional family role characteristic of many people with psychosomatic illnesses or vague psychiatric syndromes (such as ADHD or Bipolar II Disorder) in which an adult child uses this “illness” as an excuse for remaining dependent on his/her parents. This protects the parents from experiencing a pathological empty nest syndrome and from feeling like they failed as parents. Real physical illnesses with easily feigned symptoms (e.g. wheezing, pseudo-seizures) also work well since no one can tell for certain whether any given episode is real or not.

Definition by David Allen.

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