This is one of a series of articles on evolving and
families (Lesson 5). The series exists because the wide
range of current U.S. social problems suggests that
most families don't
fill the primary needs of (nurture) their members very well.
That suggests the epidemic effects of the lethal [wounds + unawareness]
From 33 years' clinical research, this article proposes an unrecognized
social process that is inex-
orably weakening our families and our
American culture. It may be a global problem. The process can be
described as a self-amplifying three-part cycle unintentionally passed
from one generation to the next.
This article assumes you're familiar with...
This article offers...
a summary of the multi-level, lethal [wounds +
unawareness] cycle, with links to more detail
public is currently unaware of the cycle
and it's costly effects
discovered the cycle
a summary of how the cycle
implications of the cycle, and...
options for breaking
in families, communities, regions, and our country.
What Is This Cycle?
Study this diagram and then return
Does this cycle make sense to you? Have you ever seen this
concept proposed before? If not, why could that be?
Why is the Public
Unaware of This Cycle?
Are you aware of the current global fear of a deadly bird-flu pandemic?
Of the ominous predicted effects of global warming? Of the alarming rise
in U.S. obesity in kids and adults? If so, how do you know of these? I
suspect you'd say "TV, newspapers, magazines, and/or the Web" - yes?
One reason the [wounds + unawareness] cycle is unknown to the public is
that media editors and producers haven't featured it. Four possible
no one has proposed and documented the
they have, but people don't (want to) believe it (once true of global warming, and
looming oil and water shortages);
the public doesn't want to learn
about the cycle and its effects because the implications are too
scary and depressing - so media creators avoid alienating
subscribers, viewers, and advertisers by not publicizing it. The
ultimate reason may be...
To stop this toxic cycle, couples need
to be certified to marry and/or raise kids - meaning some sort of
government regulation. This is so intrusive and repugnant that any
serious attempt to pass
and enforce such legislation would probably cause riots.
Discovering the Cycle
By the improbable confluence of several factors. I was trained as a mechanical engineer (BSME,
Stanford U.), and
have always been curious about how things work (or don't). I'm also a
trained, veteran (34 years)
therapist (MSW), specializing
in understanding and improving
families and relationships.
That led me to study effective communications and parenting, healthy and
in-complete grief, and addiction dynamics and management.
In 1986, I discovered "by accident" that my parents were both functional
alcoholics - so I was (am) an "ACA" -
Adult Child of an Alcoholic
family. This explained much about my own painful life, and I began
"recovery" from the psychological wounds of being raised in an addicted
family. My heal-ing included
shifting from 35 years'
adult atheism to firm faith in - and experiencing - a benign,
Soon after "accidentally" learning my ACA identity, I
attended a Chicago seminar on "personality parts" and "internal-family systems
therapy" by veteran psychologist Dr. Richard Schwartz. It changed
my life and the way I did therapy, and explained the roots of epidemic
I read voraciously about personal and family dynamics, multiple personalities, addictions, marriage, divorce, communications, spirituality,
and various "mental illnesses." My learning was tested and expan-ded by working
clinically with over 1000 average Midwestern U.S. adults with wide range of
presenting problems since 1981.
Though my clients' and students' stories were each unique,
I began to see a pattern in their
lives and ancestries (and mine). The theme that emerged was: many adults who were struggling
with "mental illness," "mood disorders," and "relationship problems"
(i.e. psychological wounds + unawareness + low-nurturance environments)
said that their parents had come from "painful childhoods" also. And
many troubled young parents seemed to be inadvertently wounding their
own children, against all "common sense."
None of the authors
I studied integrated their theories into a coherent trans-generational systemic
concept. We researchers and students were all like the allegorical five
blind men discovering an ele-phant: Feeling the trunk, one says "It is a
snake." Feeling the belly, a second man says "No, It is a boulder." The
third man felt a massive leg, and said "You're both wrong - it's a
tree." The next man felt the tail, and snorted "How can you be so blind?
It's a rope!" The last man guffawed and said "you're all wrong -
it's a palm frond." He was exploring the elephant's ear.
As I composed the articles in this Web site over many years and the
six related guidebooks, the "elephant" (cycle)
coalesced. Evidence of it continued to mount in my client contacts
and family - and now I see its symptoms
everywhere. Web-site visitors' feedback and poll-responses consistently
confirm it. For example,
80% of the site visitors responding to the
poll question "Do you believe in
personality subselves?" say "Yes, without question."
How Does the Cycle Work?
Here's a summary. At any given time (past or present)...
Public and religious values, traditions, and laws
that allow couples to commit
and conceive children before most are qualified to do so. This causes...
Epidemic unwise (a) marital and
(b) child-conception choices
ineffective family communication + grieving + parenting.
Most kids get inadequate
and training on these
and school, so
most of them develop significant psychological
millions of kids must adapt to parental psychological
their wounded, unaware caregivers aren't able to fill their
of this cycle grow up and - without [
+ effective help
repeat and spread the cycle down the generations.
wounds and ignorance
in our society promote
(a) significant health
lives, and (b) most major
Once citizens, parents, and
legislators are aware of this social dynamic and its toxic impacts, they (we) can
break the cycle through
appropriate education, recovery programs, and new laws.
What Does the Cycle Mean?
comprehensive answer to this question merits a whole book.
One meaning is that most (all?) efforts to
reduce the main social problems of our Era are inef-fective and waste scarce time, money, and energy
because they ignore the underlying two primary problems: epidemic
and psychological (false-self)
vivid example is the growing American
epidemic, despite widespread dietary and nutri-tional programs
and increasing public education. This trend suggests that most Americans
aren't motiva-ted by the very real threat of fat-related health risks
like diabetes, strokes, and heart disease. This illus-trates
the prevalence of the psychological wounds of shame (self-devaluing and
- (e.g. denials: "I'll never get sick because I'm overweight").
Another sobering cycle-effect is the unremarked American
divorce epidemic, which stresses
mil-lions of adults and kids every year and causes many secondary
personal and social problems. For an example of the cycle's effect on a
real stepfamily couple and their kids, read
this after you finish this.
third meaning of this cycle is the unyielding,
social problem of
and their widespread personal, family, and social
effects. The proliferation of various
12-step "Anonymous" programs in
cities and villages across the world implies how widespread the desire
to break compulsive self-medication against relentless
childhood wounding and their
Perhaps the most compelling meaning is that - until an aware public
decides to protect them - millions of vulnerable American (and
global?) kids (like yours?) are growing up with preventable
which will degrade their health, relationships, and lives until
and unless they hit true per-sonal
(usually in mid-life) and choose to admit and patiently
their wounds. By that time, their own kids have often begun to adapt by
forming their own personality-wounds, as the cycle inexorably spreads.
One final mega-meaning of this cycle is the widely-accepted reality that
are changing the Earth's ecological balances in ways that are already
disrupting global societies and life-species. Scientists are
increasingly vocal and unified in warning that civilization faces major
threats because humans are squandering and polluting our fresh water, land,
The [wounds + unawareness] cycle promotes personal and
social denial, self-gratification, overstim-ulation (distraction), and a
self-defeating short-term focus, which combine to promote widespread
dis-counting of our imminent ecological threats.
Reality Check - how many people do you know who are making
significant lifestyle changes to reduce the coming severe effects of
global warming and pending energy and water shortages? Are you?
These implications are illustrative, not comprehensive. The general and
specific effects of the grow-ing [wounds + unawareness] cycle in every
sector of modern life are beyond summarizing here.
Pause and notice what you're
now. Do you know which of your diligent personality
are causing them?
The good news is - once people (like you) understand and accept
this cycle - they (we) can break it and protect future generations from
its effects. Before looking at your options, take a...
Reality Check - try answering these out loud... Reflect and
see where you stand on the ideas above. T- true, F =
false, and ? = "I'm not sure," or "It depends on... (what?)"
I understand and
accept the concepts of personality
true Self, and
(T F ?) If you're doubtful or unsure, read this
letter and then try this safe, interesting
For perspective, about
80% of site visitors responding to a
poll say "Yes, personality
subselves are real, without question."
I can name (a)
each of the six common false self
and (b) at least three things they
(T F ?)
I am motivated to
myself honestly for significant psychological wounds now (T
I accept that
average kids raised by wounded, unaware parents are at significant
risk of developing psychological wounds and being ruled by a false
self. (T F ?)
I can describe
four things typical adults are
of, and at least four vital
that they are often uninformed about. (T F ?)
describe the main
in the [wounds + unawareness] cycle clearly to an average
high school senior now (T F ?)
can explain at least six common
of the cycle on families and society. (T F
I can explain why
most people are unaware of the cycle and its effects. (T F
I am very
motivated now to protect the young people in my life from the
effects of this cycle. (T F ?)
true Self is
to this reality check or I know which
is. (T F ?)
Can We Break the Cycle?
YES! This article proposes three practical steps you - or anyone -
can tailor and apply to protect your family and descendents first;
and then our society, by raising
There are four potential groups who can spread the word: recovering
concerned parents, and public health and media professionals. A critical
factor that must pre-cede alerting the public is methodical research to
test and validate the [wounds + unawareness] cycle proposed in this
This article is part of a series on
under-standing, identifying, and reducing psychological wounds and related
unawareness (Lesson 1). It proposes an ancestral cycle of [wounds +
una-wareness] silently spreading down our gener-ations, weakening our
society, and damaging our Earth. The article describes...
the three components of the cycle (can
you name them?),
how the cycle operates
likely reasons why the public is unaware
of the cycle so far
a summary of how I (the author)
discovered the cycle,
five of the many harmful effects of the
cycle on persons, families, and society, and...
a link to a series of articles on
break the cycle in
your family and in society.
Learn something about yourself with this 1-question anonymous
Pause and reflect - why did you read this article? Did you get what you
needed? If so, what do you need now? If not - what
you need? Who's
these questions - your wise
Prior page /
Lesson-5 links /