Lesson 1 of 7  - free your true Self to guide you

Are you curious or skeptical
about personality subselves?

By Peter K. Gerlach, MSW

Member NSRC  Experts Council

The Web address of this article is https://sfhelp.org/gwc/IF/letter.htm

  Updated  01-20-2015

      Clicking underlined links here will open a new window. Plain links will open  an informational popup, so please turn off your browser's popup blocker or allow popups from this nonprofit Web site. If your playback device doesn't support Javascript, the popups may not display. Follow underlined links after finishing this article to avoid getting lost..

      This brief YouTube video previews what you'll read here: The video intro mentions eight self-improvement lessons in the site. I've reduced that to seven.

      This is one of a  series of articles in Lesson 1 in this Web site - free your true Self to guide you  and reduce significant psychological  wounds. Lessons 2 thru 7 are founded on this one. This article is written to people who are skeptical or curious about the reality of personality subselves and psychological wounds.

      This article assumes you're familiar with...

      Premise - young human brains adapt to a low-nurturance environment by forming semi-independent personality subselves or parts. In other words, normal young brains develop like a network of interactive minicomputers, each with its own rules and "program" (special function). This means that the word personality is like the terms team, group, committee, orchestra, troop, troupe, clan, gang, squad, band, class, crew, and family - a single thing made up of related members.

       Typical people are unaware of this idea, and may be initially skeptical about (or scared by) the concepts of...

  • personality subselves, True Self, and false self;

  • inherited psychological wounds from early-childhood abandonment, neglect, and abuse ("trauma");

  • the common effects of these wounds; and...

  • the need for personal wound-reduction ("recovery").

If this describes you, I hope this article will motivate you to learn more about these concepts - specially if you're raising young kids. For perspective, almost 80% of site visitors taking this poll say that subselves are real, "without question."

      As a wounded family-therapist in recovery, I've studied and worked with clients' subselves and my own since 1992. I'm a veteran practitioner of the emerging field of inner-family therapy. It applies the proven family-systems therapy principles to retraining and harmonizing personality subselves.

       Our subselves interact below conscious awareness. Each subself is probably a discrete region in our brain. We're the first generation in history to see this modular brain functioning real-time, via Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and other brain-scan techniques. Brain-function modularity is now medically accepted beyond debate.

      Different regions of your brain communicate together to produce single sensory experiences like "I pick up the fork." Individual brain regions collect and organize special sensory information (e.g. shapes, colors, sizes, smells, motions, facial expression, tastes, etc.), synthesize them into conscious thoughts, feelings, images, and senses. Then the dominant brain regions send instinctive or learned neural responses to organs and muscles ("My shoulders are stiff.") without our awareness. 

      The reality of human "personality splitting" (multiple personalities) has been globally documented and accepted for several decades. The multiple-subself concept  proposed in this and other Web sites is a mild version of that natural "splitting" phenomenon.

      The idea that your personality is made up of a group of specialized subselves or parts is probably new to you. If so, the self-study Lessons in this Web site will require you to defend your present beliefs ("I have no personality subselves"), or to shift your beliefs, based on new information and awareness. Shifting requires you to accept that some beliefs you've held about yourself and other people have been wrong. This can feel scary, specially if you're a parent or grandparent, and/or if you have a professional interest in human health, relationships, and behavior!

      Premise - our cultural tolerance for early-childhood abandonment, neglect, and abuse is a major cause of most social problems. Disputing this idea is normal, to avoid the awful implications. For example: I suspect that our denial of the lethal cycle of [wound + unawareness] inheritance harms more millions of people than AIDS, heart disease, and cancer combined.

      Notice your (subselves) reaction to this idea.

Experience Your Subselves

      I doubt that you'll adjust your beliefs about human personalities until you experience your subselves in action. That requires an open mind, focus, and patience. I propose that you've lived with evidence of personality subselves since early childhood. It's so common as to be invisible. Consider these...

Common Signs of Subselves

      Have you ever...

Had one or several "inner voices" (thought streams)?

Had internal conflicts like "I should do ___ but I don't want to"?

Felt ambivalent, or changed your mind about something? Had trouble making up your mind occasionally or often? Made up your mind, and then struggled with significant self doubt ("Did I make the right decision?")

Acted impulsively and later regretted it, couldn't explain it, or rejoiced?

Sent and received mixed or double messages (e.g. "I love you / you disgust me")?

Seen both sides of a dispute? - e.g. "I see why you believe that, but I don't agree."

Behaved in ways that were dangerous or harmful to you or others, even though you "knew better"? Common examples: lying to loved ones or colleagues; eating too much sugar, fat, or carbohydrates (junk food); ingesting ethyl alcohol or nicotine (poisons); not balancing work, rest, and play; and not getting appropriate health care (self neglect).

      And have you ever...

Felt opposing emotions at the same time, like excitement and fear, anger and empathy, or compassion and revulsion? Have you concurrently loved and "hated" someone, including yourself?

Had obsessive thoughts and/or compulsive behaviors (e.g. addictions, nail biting) you "couldn't control"?

Felt childish, overwhelmed, lost, out of sorts, down, apathetic, confused, torn, upset, unfocused, uneasy, irritable, depressed, distracted, or moody "for no reason"?

Put off or avoided doing something, felt guilty, and then justified your avoidance?

Wrestled with perfectionism - i.e. feeling strongly that your or another person's efforts aren't good enough?

Felt periods of intense, excessive or "irrational" guilt, anxiety (worry), rage, pessimism, and/or shame?

Had frequent self-critical thoughts like "I am so stupid (ugly / fat / boring / inept / slow / lazy / uncreative / ...), and I could never succeed at _______"?

Had irrational fears of personal or family catastrophes ("I know one of us is going to get cancer and die. I just know it!"; or "I have this weird feeling I'm going to lose my job and be a street bum.")?

Had episodes of feeling unusually clear, focused, energized, aware, serene, confident, grounded, light, strong, resilient, clear, focused, compassionate, and "up"?

      and have you...

Observed these traits in many other normal adults and kids?

      After 54 adult years observing people - including 36 years experience as a  family-systems therapist working with over 1000 average Americans, I conclude:

  • average adults and kids routinely have most of these experiences, and...

  • the experiences are caused by normal inner-family (subself) behaviors below conscious awareness (before personal recovery)

Implication: most (all?) normal people have personalities composed of semi-independent subselves, and they are not clinically "crazy," "defective," or "sick!" (Tho we may feel crazy at times.)

      Another implication: if you've experienced some or many of the traits above, I propose that you are occasionally or often ruled by a well-meaning false self. The alternative is being guided by your wise resident true Self (capital "S"), which yields very different experiences and behaviors.

      If you feel "I am not governed by a group of personality subselves!," how do you explain the common experiences above? Responses like "I don't know," "I don't care," "It doesn't matter," and "That's just human nature" protect you from looking more closely at yourself and others. That's a normal protective false-self response.

Exercise - "Talk to" One or More Subselves

      Can you imagine having an internal conversation between your true Self and one or more of your other subselves? More than any written words or the traits above, this can help you validate the reality of personality parts. To check this out, try rough-drafting your roster of subselves. Then experience your Self "talking" safely with one or more of them. Then return here.

      If you weren't able to do (or avoided) this experience, that suggests that one or more controlling subselves were too scared to try it. If you were able to talk with a subself, what did you learn? Option, try this safe experience several times with an open mind, and see if a pattern emerges.

      My experience is that having 20 to 30 subselves and significant conflicts among them is normal. The exception is the extreme case once called "multiple personality disorder" (MPD) by the American Psychiatric Association. The APA estimate that this condition - now called Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) - may affect up to 5% of living Americans.

      So if you have traits or experiences like those above, you may have two to six psychological wounds that you've unconsciously adapted to since early childhood. If so, these wounds steadily lower the quality of your relationships, productivity, security, happiness, and your wholistic health - and you don't know it or what it means.

      Unawareness and/or denial of disorganized subselves also put your minor kids at risk of acquiring the same wounds. Before self-awareness and recovery (inner-family harmonizing), we survivors of early-childhood trauma accept psychological wounds as normal. That's because we didn't know about subselves, and we've rarely experienced our true Self in charge. People raised in darkness will have a hard time imagining or believing in sunlight until they see it...

      Notice your thoughts now. Is there one "voice" (thought stream) or a chorus? Do you know which members of your personality team are "speaking"?

Reality Check

      See if one of these situations describes you now:

      I don't know enough yet about subselves and "psychological wounds" to agree or disagree with the concept. I'm open to learning more, even if it leads to changing some cherished beliefs about myself and human nature; or...

      I disagree that the common traits above are caused by false-self dominance as I understand it. I may be open to new information, or I need to disagree with the Lesson-1 premises in this site to protect myself (symptom: "Yes, but..." thoughts); or...

      My inner voices (thoughts) distract me now by saying things like "This is too complicated," or "...too heady;" or "This is boring, unimportant, and/or irrelevant," or "I should be doing (something other than reading this.)"  These are normal false-self reactions motivated by fear of the unknown (i.e. scary new beliefs). Your true Self will acknowledge such thoughts and seek more information.

      The rest of this article responds to the first two of these alternatives. Before continuing, reflect: why am I reading this? What specific questions do I want to answer? 

      If you accept that psychological wounds and subselves are common, and that they stress relationships and inhibit effective parenting, go here. Otherwise, let's explore the first two reactions above...

1)  You're Willing to Learn More...

      If you're an "open-minded skeptic," you may seek credible answers to questions like these:

  • "If this 'false-self dominance' exists, what is it, and where does it come from?"

  • "What credible research findings indicate that  false-self control is widespread, so that I should let go of the (one brain, one monolithic personality) belief society has taught me?"

  • "Why does this author believe what he proposes?  What are his credentials? Can I trust his reasoning and judgment? Is he selling something here? What are his motives?"

  • "If 'psychological wounding' is real, what does that mean to me and others I care about?"

  • "Why do 'I' (my governing subselves) resist accepting that too little early-childhood nurturance causes psychological wounds that may have major effects on my life? What would it mean to me if these premises are true? What do (my ruling subselves) fear? 

      For example - accepting subselves and related inner wounds probably means some core beliefs about human nature and you are partially wrong. Most of us are reluctant to accept that any basic beliefs about our world are distorted or not true ("I tell you the Earth is flat - just look!") Is this true of you? Can you recall the last core belief you changed? What does it take to adjust your explanation of "human nature?"

  What Are "psychological wounds," and Where Do They Come From?

      To start answering these questions, locate your current attitude about personality "subselves" on this 1-to-10 range...

(1) highly skeptical <-----------------> (10) totally accept

If you haven't reviewed these overview and FAQ pages recently, do so now and return here. Option: print those articles and read them offline. If you're uninterested or unwilling to read these four Web pages now, continue here. Did you get preliminary answers to the first two questions above? Did your position on the 1-to-10 scale shift?

  What Credible Research Exists?

      Research on the long-term impacts of early-childhood abandonment, neglect, and abuse is growing. For a sobering summary, see this after you finish reading this article. Clinical research on brain modularity is relatively new, as is thermal and radiographic brain-scan technology. The research falls into two categories:

normal "dissociative" and "personality disorder" phenomena. A widely accepted clinical standard on these is the American Psychiatric Association's "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), 5th edition (2013). It lists many dissociative, mood, and personality "disorders" that each have identifiable  behavioral symptoms, onsets, and treatments; and... 

extreme personality dis-integration, or Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) - formerly called "Multiple Personality Disorder" (MPD); and...

      At least five factors make replicatable research in these two areas difficult and controversial:

Lack of standard definitions and terminology. For example, opinions and definitions vary widely on questions like these: "What is the human mind?" "What is personality and normal behavior?" "What is reality distortion?'' and "What is 'wholistic' and 'mental' health and 'illness'?"

Incomplete knowledge of how the human mind/brain works and affects human personality development, behavior, and "wholistic health;" 

The complex, poorly-understood interaction between genes, early-family environment (nurturing to toxic), and cultural socialization; and how this interaction affects normal personality formation and functioning;

Cultural variations on what "normal" behavior is. For instance, some Asian and African societies see some behavior from altered states of consciousness as normal or prized, where other cultures would define such behavior as "paranoid," "hysterical," and "psychotic;"

      And another controversial factor is...

The role of personal spirituality in human growth, health, and behavior. For instance, evidence is accumulating that concerted prayer can reduce or heal some physiological illnesses or conditions. Many veteran practitioners of internal-family systems and other therapies independently report experiences that suggest the reality of spirituality as a wholistic-healing factor. The healing power of faith is largely unexplored, and inquiry and debate continue.

      Despite these five factors, there is a wealth of credible research and reference material to consider. I refer you to five of many rich sources of research and theorizing on personality splitting ("multiplicity"), dissociation, subselves, and personality-splitting recovery:

  • Chapter II (p. 107) in The Plural Self - Multiplicity in Everyday Life, edited by John Rowan and Mick Cooper; Sage, 1999;

  • The 12-page bibliography (pp. 223 - 234) in Subpersonalities - The People Inside Us, by John Rowan; Routledge, 1995 - first published in 1990;

  • The 9-page bibliography (pp. 345 - 353) in The Mosaic Mind, by Regina Goulding and Richard Schwartz, Ph.D.; W.W. Norton, 1995'.

  • Embracing Our Selves, by Hal Stone, Ph.D. and Sidra Winkleman, Ph.D.; (New World Library, 1989); and...

  • The Search for the Real Self - Unmasking the Personality Disorders of Our Age; by Dr. James F. Masterson (The Free Press, New York, NY; paperback, 1988).

  • Other titles on personality subselves that have influenced me are here and here.

      Unless you've had a prior interest in "personality disorders," you've probably never heard of these titles or their authors. I believe that they and the scores of professional researchers and authors they cite are serious, reputable, credible scholars and reporters. Note the recent publication dates.

      Three informative Websites are...

  • The Center for Self Leadership (CSL), founded in 1995;

  • https://mentalhelp.net. This site will lead you to a wealth or articles and Web links; and...

  • https://www.isst-d.org/ - the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation. In the non-profit site you're visiting now, dissociation means "significant distrust and conflict among subselves which disables the resident true Self." 

  Why Should You Trust Me and My Premises?

      If you trust me (the author) enough or don't care about my credentials and beliefs, go here.

      I've studied human behavior most of my 77 years - professionally since 1979. Because my premises here about personality subselves and wounds are probably alien to you, I expect you to question whether my knowledge, perceptions, and reasoning are credible. For an overview of my background, read this and return. If you're curious about my current core beliefs about people, relationships, families, and "problems," follow the links when you finish this article,.

      My undergraduate training and 17 years' experience in engineering validated the now-accepted idea that the behavior of groups of people can be understood via systems theory.  My social-work masters-degree training (1979 - 81) and multi-year study and practice of indirect (Ericksonian) hypnosis in the 1980s convinced me of the ceaseless dynamic, mysterious interplay between our unconscious, semi-conscious, and conscious minds. With new-therapist zeal, I took hundreds of hours of post-graduate seminars, laced with reading several dozen clinical theory and practice books, to try and "understand" this profound mystery.

      The subjects included Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP); personality disorders; healthy grieving, anger management, healing shame and guilt; divorce causes and impacts; brief therapy, paradoxical therapy (the Milan Group), Transactional Analysis (Erik Berne), and Gestalt therapies (Fritz Perls et. al.); guided imagery; the therapeutic paradigms of Murray Bowen, Carl Whitaker, Salvador Minuchin, Virginia Satir, Peggy Papp, Harville Hendrix, John Gardner, Jay Haley, Richard Fisch, Paul Watzlawick, Joseph Zinker, and many more.

      I was licensed as a Certified Social Worker (CSW) in Illinois, and as a Parent Effectiveness (P.E.T.) Trainer and a Rainbows (divorce-adjustment) facilitator. I had no initial training in dissociative disorders. Like most colleagues, I paid little attention to Multiple Personality Disorder because it seemed rare and my instructors ignored it. 


      This rich stew of ideas fed my evolving a theory of family- nurturance levels and how they affected human personality development. I began a solo psychotherapy practice in 1981, specializing in working with stepfamily adults, couples, and kids. I got early clinical training in this specialty from the writings of Dr. Clifford Sager and Esther Wald (University of Chicago), and a weekend seminar with Drs. Emily and John Visher who founded the nonprofit Stepfamily Association of America in 1979.

      My hundreds of average Midwestern clients allowed me to reality-test and meld the ideas of all my many academic teachers into 7-Lesson self-improvement  course.

      In 1986, I "accidentally" discovered that I was the son of two functional alcoholics, and came from a very dysfunctional (low-nurturance) ancestry. That life-changing epiphany explained much about the painful qualities of my life, including two divorces. I began to learn all I could about what being an "ACoA" (Adult Child of Alcoholics) meant, and what could be done about it. As I read and attended seminars about this and addictions, including codependence and our Inner Child(ren), began to see a pattern in what my clients and my own personal therapy were showing me. The pattern had three themes:

When asked, clients described their childhood families as having relatively few of these nurturance traits;

They sketched their and their mates' family trees as having a significant number of these traits, and...

My therapy clients' presenting problems and life choices had exactly the same traits as typical ACoAs, though many said their early caregivers weren't chemically dependent. One common client trait was divorce and/or a series of unstable, unsatisfying relationships. Another was an almost universal inability of adult clients and couples to think clearly and communicate (problem-solve) effectively. Many had minor kids who were "acting out" or "troubled."

      I began to sense a connection among these three, but didn't know what it was. None of my post-graduate training had affirmed or described a connection, or proposed what to do about it.

      By "chance," I attended a 1990 seminar led by Chicago psychologist Dr. Richard Schwartz on inner-family-systems (IFS) therapy. It provided the missing link between my troubled clients' three patterns. His IFS concepts, based on a decade of study and clinical practice, made instant, intuitive sense to me. I signed up for two nine-month externships with Dr. Schwartz at the University of Illinois, and began my first faltering steps working with my clients' and my personality "parts" (subselves).

      Since then, I have had hundreds of clinical and personal experiences of hearing and seeing people's subselves in action. I've watched scores of average women and men react with amazement when their Inner Critic, Procrastinator, Observer, Perfectionist, Magician, Saboteur, an array of reactive inner children - and their wise, resident true Self - would "speak" (cause thought streams and emotions), when respectfully invited to. 

      I watched people's physical posture, facial expression, and vocal tone change subtly or clearly, as different parts took turns running the client's inner family of subselves. I have witnessed several hundred troubled people interviewing their subselves, and learning that these personality parts were certain they were living in a time decades before - the "bad old (childhood) days." I've listened to people cry and laugh as they recounted having inner-staff or council meetings, and journaling live dialogs between their conflicted or distrustful subselves. 

      I began to study dissociative disorders intensely, including multiple personalities. I read three helpful books on "voice dialog," a kind of therapy by veteran psychologists Hal Stone and Sidra Winkleman Stone. I adapted their ideas, and found the high majority of my clients very receptive and responsive to them.

      The Stones' book "Embracing Each Other" helped me understand "relationship difficulties." A recovering colleague gave me this poetic excerpt about a stepfamily-couple's subselves from Michael Ventura's book Shadow Dancing in the USA. I began to see more and more evidence of false selves and their effects in and outside my clinical office, including in the media.

      As Dr. Wayne Dyer wrote, "You'll See It When You Believe It." The fact that the Center for Self Leadership (CSL) staff has been conducting clinical training workshops internationally since 1995 testifies that I am one of many who sees the reality of inner-families of subselves and their effects. The annual CSL conferences have been attended by hundreds of clinicians from all over the world who are finding the inner-family concept real and effective at promoting permanent positive change..

      A core premise in this Web site is that early-childhood abandonment, neglect, and abuse ("trauma") promote the formation of survival-motivated false selves This needs to be independently validated by formal research. If this premise is true, the social implications are as impactful as discovering fire and the wheel.

      Another core premise here is that unaware Grown Wounded Children (GWCs). choose each other as mates and associates repeatedly, despite painful results. Veteran marital counselor Dr. Harville Hendrix (Keeping the Love You Find) and others seem to agree. Logic is clearly not useful in explaining this.

      I have studied and experienced personal recovery from a low-nurturance (traumatic) childhood since 1986. I have met hundreds of people (including clinicians) who spontaneously testified they came from childhood lacking psychological and spiritual nourishment, and who were clearly GWCs. 

      What I can report factually is that the two premises above seem to be born out in interviews with hundreds of average, random divorcing and stepfamily clients since 1990. Since 1981, my stepfamily clients have been referred from dozens of different lay and clinical sources around Chicago. I continue to get unsolicited feedback like this from people who are exploring these inner-family ideas in their own lives.

      As far as my motives for maintaining this Web site and my zealous focus on breaking the silent [wounds + unawareness] cycle, I want my life to matter by contributing to the common good. I want to use my knowledge, talents, and limitations (e.g. my wounds) to raise public awareness of the toxic link between low childhood nurturance, true-Self dis-ablement and ignorance, and divorce. In studying relationships and family dynamics since 1979, I've never seen the toxic cycle that is proposed here. This has become a compelling life mission for me. 

      At 77, I'm not interested in wealth, fame, prestige, or power. My payoff is epitomized by a sexual-abuse survivor with whom I worked for several years toward harmonizing her terribly chaotic inner family of subselves. She called unexpectedly one Christmas day to say "You've been on my mind, Pete. I just called to say thanks so very much for the (inner-family) work we did. It has made a major positive difference in my life! I'm passing it on to other people now..." Her true Self was speaking...


 If Subselves are Real, What Does That Mean?

      It means that you and people you care for are at risk of these common personal and relationship effects. It also means:

  • if you're an unrecovering wounded parent, you risk unintentionally passing on the lethal [wounds + unawareness] cycle to your children. If you're a human-service professional, you risk giving flawed or harmful service to your clients and patients; and...

  • you have the opportunity (and moral obligation) to alert other people to the lethal [wounds + unawareness] cycle, and why and how to break it;

      Reflect on what you think and feel now compared to when you started reading this article. What have you learned? Has your attitude about subselves, wounds, health, parenting, and marriage shifted? If you want to learn more about psychological wounding and it's effects, I suggest you read any of the books by Hal and Sidra Stone, Richard Schwartz, Virginia Satir, and/or John Rowan.

      If you're motivated to study normal personality subselves more now, go here. If your subselves aren't so motivated, read on... 

2) If You're Skeptical...

      Premise: human resistance to change or new experience comes from fear of significant discomfort. Your anxieties come from prior life experience ("Do not put your hand in boiling water!") So skepticism about or rejection of the concept of psychological wounding and its impacts probably means some of your subselves fear that accepting these ideas would cause you significant discomforts like these:

"Accepting this idea about personality subselves means something bad will happen to me." This kind of vague anxiety is typical of young subselves controlling your personality. A related option is that your Catastrophizer  (a common Guardian subself) is in charge. Your true Self would cause thoughts like "I'm not sure about this idea about true Self and false self. It's probably worth more study before I decide whether to believe this or not."


"Accepting this personality-subselves concept means that I and/or someone I care about is sick or crazy." No, it means that you or they are normal.


"Accepting this false-self idea means that 'someone else' has been making my life decisions, and I'd have to mistrust my own perceptions and judgments." If you feel this, your dilemma becomes: "Do I want to continue living as a hostage to misguided, protective subselves who don't trust there's a safer/better way for me to live? How will I feel about this when I approach my death?"


"Accepting the [wounds + unawareness] cycle means that I would have to blame my parents and grandparents for being inadequate caregivers, which is intolerable."

      Parents who co-create low-nurturance family environments and foster psychological wounds deserve compassion, not blame - partly because their ignorant ancestors and society were unable to fill their early psychological and spiritual needs well enough.

More common fears...

"Accepting this psychological-wound idea means that I have inadvertently...

  • harmed my kids and been a 'bad parent;' and/or I've...

  • picked a significantly-wounded partner, and/or I have...

  • (unintentionally) misled other people who have depended on me, and/or...

  • I'll have to admit to myself and others that I've been wrong; and/or...

  • someone I've respected as a wise teacher and a guide has been wrong; and/or...


"Fully accepting the implications of this false-self dominance idea means my professional work and/or the organization I work for is unintentionally providing misguided or harmful service. If I stay with them without working for change, I'll have to pretend to go along with values and beliefs I really don't agree with. I'll have to sacrifice my integrity for my security.

      True, which means your protective subselves choose security first and your integrity second. This promotes daily anxiety, shame, and guilt ("inner pain") which relentlessly promotes false-self control and hinders wholistic recovery.

And a related fear is...

"Accepting this inner-wound idea means I'll have to change my core beliefs about relationships, and show that to others (or pretend...). That's likely to evoke resistance, conflict, and rejection. If I persist, I'll risk others' scorn, ridicule, disrespect, and possible censure and abandonment."

      The first part is probably true. The second part depends on (a) how and why you present your new view of personality subselves and psychological wounds to other people, and (b) how you react to their reactions (empathically, defensively, respectfully, sarcastically...). What strategy have you evolved so far for managing major values conflicts with other people?

      More possible resistances (fears) to accepting personality subselves...

"Accepting this [ childhood trauma > inner-wounds ] cycle means that I'd have to live with believing...

  • "our whole society is wounded and ignorant (true),

  • most other people are really wounded, deluded, and living false lives (true); and...

  • our government, and legal, educational, religious, and law-enforcement systems are misguided and focusing on the symptoms, not the causes." True.

      Pretty scary, isn't it? Social change is inexorable, and starts with individual convictions and decisions. The courageous people who "walked their talk" and risked reputations, friendships, and security to abolish colonial dominance, slavery, racial and religious bigotry, child exploitation, and women's inequality show us the way to reduce our epidemic of  unqualified child conception and low-nurturance parenting...

"Accepting this inner-family idea means that I...  (what?)

      These examples invite you to identify the fears that cause your subselves to reject, discount, or ignore the theme of Lesson 1 - assessing for psychological wounds and reducing any you find. Identifying your fears is a chance to learn about the subselves that govern your thoughts, perceptions, and actions. If they're too scared they'll try to persuade you to do something else...

Reality Check

      Before we end, clarify where you stand now: T = "true," F = "false," and ? = "I'm not sure." Studying Lesson 1 in this Web site will help you answer each of these statements as "True"

I can say out loud why I'm reading this article.  (T  F  ?)

I can clearly explain what "family nurturance level'' means.  (T  F  ?)

I can clearly describe (a) what personality subselves are, and (b) where they come from. (T  F  ?)

I have thoughtfully read these typical questions and answers about subselves and psychological wounds and wound reduction ("recovery").  (T  F  ?)

I can (a) clearly describe what a "true Self" is, and (b) I'm sure my Self (capital "S") is guiding my personality now.  (T  F  ?)

I can clearly describe (a) what a false self is, and (b) at least six typical behavioral traits that indicate someone's true Self is disabled.  (T  F  ?)

I can clearly describe the six psychological wounds proposed in this Web site, and at least three of their common effects.  (T  F  ?)

I understand the lethal [wounds + unawareness] cycle and its common  societal effects. (T  F  ?)

I believe that motivated, aware people can reduce their psychological wounds over time by intentionally retraining and reorganizing  their subselves; and/or I want to learn more about this now. (T  F  ?)

I accept that (a) these concepts are credible and real, and (b) pertain to me and the people I care about; or I can clearly name the specific fears (above) that prevent me from accepting these concepts. (T  F  ?)

I will assess myself for psychological wounds within the next 10 days  (T  F  ?)

I want to discuss the Lesson-1 concepts with one or more important adults in my life in the next week. (T  F  ?)

      Pause, breathe, and notice your self talk now. What did you just learn?


      This nonprofit self-improvement Web site is partly founded on the ancient premise that normal human personalities are composed of a group of semi-independent subselves or parts. This open letter is written to people who doubt or reject this idea. It aims to (a) identify and explore your doubts and fears, and (b) raise your self-awareness. If you reject or ignore the reality of personality subselves and their effects, the Lessons in this self-improvement site will be of limited use to you.

      Being "uninterested" or unwilling to learn whether subselves and wounds are real and personally relevant probably means you're used to being controlled by a well-meaning false self. Notice your reaction to this idea...

tavble of contents      To learn more about personality subselves and recovery from psychological wounds, consider investing in the guidebook "Who's Really Running Your Life?" (xlibris.com; 2011, 4th edition). It integrates most of the Lesson-1 Web articles and worksheets on wound-assessment and recovery, and is available in print and ebook formats.

      Before you decide, try this safe, interesting experience of having a dialog between your true Self and one or more of your favorite subselves. Options - read this unsolicited testimony about doing parts work, and this example of subselves affecting a real family.

      Whatever your subselves decide, I wish you well on your life journey and urge you to guard any kids in your life from inheriting toxic [wounds + unawareness].

 -  Peter Gerlach, MSW

  Learn something about yourself with this 1-question anonymous poll.

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