The Web address of this article is
Clicking underlined links below will open a
new window. Other links will open an informational popup,
so please turn off your
browser's popup blocker or allow popups from this nonprofit Web site.
Follow underlined links after
finishing this article to avoid getting lost.
This brief YouTube video summarizes what you'll find in this article:
This is one of a series
of Lesson-1 articles which exist to help you understand, recognize, and reduce
from early-childhood trauma. This article
summarizes six common impacts of these wounds, and what these impacts
usually imply. It assumes you're
the [wounds + unawareness]
cycle that may be stressing your family
and wounding your kids; and...
of a real stepfamily affected by this toxic cycle.
Effects of Psychological Wounds
a veteran family-systems therapist, I have studied
since 1986. I estimate that
or more of my 1,000+ clients and students showed clear
signs of these wounds. Under 5% knew that or what it meant.
Most of them were in protective
their wounds, and
unaware of how
this was affecting their and their kids' lives. These
attracted to significantly-wounded partners
- repeatedly, despite painful results (like divorce);
low-nurturance family environments
wounding their kids;
Unconsciously choosing low-nurturance
(toxic) work, social, and religious (church)
Having to intentionally reorganize their
personality and relationships to reduce
traits and behaviors (i.e. having to "recover");
Choosing a human-service
occupation and/or depending on wounded, unaware human-service
professionals for help; and...
health problems and dying prematurely without knowing who they
were or could have become.
Notice your reaction to these typical wound-impacts. Could they apply to you? To your
mate? Your parents or siblings? A
child in your life? Here's some...
Perspective on These
Being repeatedly attracted to
significantly-wounded partners despite painful results. The
interaction of wounds in two
people ruled by false selves usually causes mounting relationship conflict
and stress. These promote eventual psychological or legal breakups.
This is specially likely if the mates lack basic information on effective
communication (Lesson 2) and
relationship management (Lesson 4).
One implication is
that a high percentage of potential new partners
after a mate-death or divorce are
significantly wounded. Often, divorcing parents are dealing with a web of
unfinished issues with ex mates and perhaps kin, which complicates
potential new primary relationships.
Other millions of wounded adults simultaneously want and fear relationship
commitment, causing a series of
Still others choose non-intimate or
solitary lifestyles ("I guess Pat's
just not marriage material...") for various surface reasons. Many
clinical professionals believe psychological wounds are best healed in the
context of a
primary relationship. If so, solitary
Grown Wounded Children (GWCs) have lower odds of
freeing their true Self to guide them.
Typical GWCs also are apt to unconsciously prefer wounded associates and
friends. This can promote (a) significant relationship conflicts and
stresses, and/or (b) superficial (non-intimate) relationships, and/or (c)
Another common effect of these six widespread psychological wounds is...
2) Until major progress with personal
wound reduction ("recovery"), typical adults unintentionally
choose and promote
environments. One common result is
psychological wounds to their minor kids, despite fervent vows to "not be
like my (neglectful or abusive) parent/s!" Their
wounded childhood caregivers often felt the same.
Many such kids will begin to show symptoms of
false-self dominance ("act out," and/or get "sick," extra
angry, withdrawn, over-anxious,
"depressed" before puberty.
Other kids adapt to their nurturance deprivations and wounds by becoming super
responsible, obedient, and relentlessly helpful and cheerful. This is usually an unconscious survival tactic,
wholistic health or happiness.
And typical survivors of early-childhood trauma...
unconsciously chooselow-nurturance ("toxic") work, social, and
over and over again. These reproduce the familiar environment
that they grew up
in, even if it was significantly stressful. Such choices promote
ongoing personal anxiety,
frustrations, and distractions. These
wound-recovery and healthy primary and caregiving relationships.
related problem may be frequent chosen or forced job
and/or location changes. These can reduce security and occupational
confidence, hinder income levels, inhibit friendships, and amplify anxiety,
self doubt, and/or cynicism. Wounded people in true (vs. pseudo) personal recoverybegin
wholistically-healthier (higher nurturance) settings and relationships.
Over time, their and their
kids' life quality notably improves.
reduce relentless personal and social stress, psychologically-wounded
people must want to reorganize their
personality (retrain and harmonize their subselves) and release toxic relationships.
wound-reduction requires realizing,
grieving, and accepting
that the person's childhood lacked major psychological nurturances. As old
denials dissolve, recovers must confront
feelings of hurt, rage, and sadness that the caregivers they
depended on couldn't help them fill their
developmental needs adequately.
confronting older family members to release
these long-repressed feelings. Parents' and relatives' reactions can range from family-wide
discovery and recovery (the best case) to major guilt, sadness, and depression, to rigid, angry rejection,
hostility ("How dare you accuse Mom and me of being inadequate or
'wounded' parents after all that we did for you!")
traditions, holidays, dependency, and the media impel typical family members to
congregate, typical recoverers find themselves torn between needing to "avoid toxic
relationships," and feeling obligated to be among kin who usually criticize,
ignore, scorn, and misunderstand them.
If relatives' are too wounded and
cut-offs can occur from recovery-confrontations, causing major losses for
everyone. Recoverers face the implacable reality they
or persuade their family members to accept and support their wound-healing.
A variation of this occurs for some
devout recoverers. As they heal, they may
see that their childhood religion promoted major
shame, guilt, fears, and pseudo
spirituality, so they seek a healthier framework of divine and human
communion. "Honor thy Father and thy Mother" have deep historic, religious, and emotional roots. Breaking with family
religious traditions can be an exceptionally volatile stressor which can
further promote kinship antagonisms and cutoffs.
Other recoverers are blessed with liberal religions, clergy, and
congregations that empathically endorse and support healing from spiritual
and psychological abuses. That can help the whole family adjust to
evolving true recoveries. A sign of real healing is spontaneously finding
and using effective recovery
supports. There are
We're reviewing six common impacts of being psychologically wounded (ruled by a well-meaning false
self). Another common impact is...
human-service occupations like counseling and consulting, medicine, social service, clergy, law,
customer-service, insurance, teaching, nursing, casework, and "human-relations" jobs. Perhaps
this is because providing humanitarian service is specially apt to fill
our longing to feel our lives mean something (have value and worth)
to offset what we were taught as young kids ("You're totally worthless.")
Often the most empathic and effective human-service pros are recovering from
major psychological wounds, and will say so. Others unintentionally
stress or wound their clients because of unrecognized false-self dominance. As I write
this, headlines focus on the latest round of outrage at priests who molest
One implication is that early
recoverers need to learn how to discern whether a potential
counselor, therapist, or mentor is
guided by their
true Self (capital "S") or not.
Wounded adults' false
selves can distort such evaluations for many reasons.
Typically, wounded helpers will overplay or underplay
and its impacts, and/or have distracting or harmful biases.
Possible result: recovery-seekers get little or
even harmful professional help.Conversely, human-service professionals who are
Grown Nurtured Children, or who are well
into true wound reduction are more apt to give effective help.
That may not be true if you're in a divorcing family or stepfamily.
6) Perhaps the most
tragic impact of unseen psychological wounds has been
described by recovery guide John Bradshaw. He said that
unaware Adult Children of Alcoholics (i.e. all survivors of
early-childhood abandonment, neglect, and abuse) risk
major illnesses and
prematurelywithout ever knowing who they really were or could have
been if their
true Self had guided their
lives. If you think this is overdramatic or exaggerated, see
research summary, and this
Pause, stretch, and notice what
you're thinking and feeling now. Do you recall why you began reading this
article? Is this what you expected?
If you're in a
low-nurturance (troubled) family, the odds
are high that you, your mate (if
other family adults are unaware of (a) a disabled true Self, and five
related psychological wounds, and (b) these six major effects. Unless you
assess for significant
wounds honestly, that means...
You and any kids will probably
experience family breakup, no matter how
right, rare, and delicious your adult relationship and situation feels
now. Alternatively you may elect to live alone. That's safer -and lowers your odds of effective wound-recovery.
Your mate (if any), and/or your
parents and siblings and any ex mates are probably also denying significant
wounds and their effects.
That means they...
will probably be steadily
difficult to get along with,
or sabotage your personal wound-recovery, and...
will unknowingly promote
false-self development in
dependent kids, over time. There are exceptions.
And the six wound-impacts above imply...
Any minor kids in your care will probably experience significant unintended
shortages of these ~30 nurturing factors until
honestly investigate true personal recovery from psychological wounds.
If you or your partner have
kids, they'll probably be wrestling with significant health,
parenting, work, financial, and/or
spiritual problems because of their
own wounds +
Because these implications scare
your personality subselves,
they'll want you to defer committing to
Lesson 1 and honestly
assessing your other family
members for significant wounding. Long term, this can be exceptionally
costly for you and your descendents!
See where you stand on these
Lesson 1 concepts now:
T = True, F = False, and ? = "I'm not
sure," or "It depends on (what?)?
I can clearly describe the concept of normal personalities being
composed of talented "subselves" or "parts" to an average high school
(T F ?)
I (a) can describe what a "true Self" and a "false self" are
to an average high school student now, and (b) I believe these concepts
apply to average kids and adults in our society. (T F
I accept that some families nurture their members (fill their
primary needs) more effectively than
other families do. (T F ?)
that (a) typical kids who get too little psychological and spiritual
nurturance in their early years (a) automatically develop a disabled
true Self, which (b)
often causes up to five other significant psychological
''wounds.'' (T F ?)
I can name six personal impacts of
significant psychological wounds, and describe at least one major
implication of each impact now. (T F ?)
I accept that
once a person identifies and accepts their psychological wounds, s/he can
choose to reduce them (recover) over time, with qualified help.
(T F ?)
I accept that
regardless of age, experience, and formal education,
adults who don't seek to
free their Self and harmonize their other
subselves risk unintentionally
passing on psychological wounds to the next generation.
you do about these sobering impacts and implications? You'll find
the answer in Part 3 of online Lesson 1.
This article describes six common
effects of surviving early-childhood abandonment, neglect, and abuse
(trauma) - i.e. of being a Grown
Wounded Child (GWC). It closes with four implications of these impacts, and
key action options. The article closes with a status check to help you see
where you stand on these basic ideas.
If you haven't recently, see
how psychological wounds and unawareness may be silently
passing down your generations;
need to know to convert inherited ignorance
and distortions into awareness and accurate knowledge.
Decide whether to study this free self-improvement
Start or continue patiently studying
Lesson 1in this ad-free non-profit Web site;