I will always hope that we might be reconciled, and I hope for the sake of my brother’s wife and family that he’s mellowed and changed. But while I’ll always watch for signs that the family culture has shifted away from secrets and enabling, I don’t wait for them.(Tara Westover)

I know the meaning of enabling and I thought it always had a positive meaning but here it seems have a negative meaning. Am I correct? And Does "enabling" mean "providing the power, means, opportunity, or authority to allow someone to do something" or something else?

Could you please explain it to me?

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1 Answer 1


In psychology, 'enabling' is a term that refers to when a person unwittingly aids a person's negative behaviour. To be an 'enabler' could mean simply ignoring, rather than challenging, unacceptable behaviour; or it could contribute more directly to it, for example buying alcohol for an alcoholic.

The term has crossed over into wider use and is sometimes used beyond issues that would be addressed by psychology.

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