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podcast and brief YouTube video preview what you'll read in this article:
The video mentions eight self-improvement lessons in this site. I've
reduced that to seven.
My clinical research since 1979 suggests that
most troubled families and the tragic U.S.
divorce epidemic are caused by an
unseen [wounds +
cycle passing down the generations. This cycle promotes five little-recognized family,
marital, and personal hazards. The hazards are specially common and impactful in typical
families. They are:
wounds from early-childhood abandonment, neglect, and abuse (trauma); plus...
unawareness of key
relationship skills and key topics,
from major life
losses (broken bonds).
These combine with...
and ignorance of these hazards to promote courting couples making unwise commitment
these four stressors are amplified by
public and professional denial of them. That promotes public
ignorance and amplifying these hazards' impact in our culture.
This is probably true in all cultures..
Once understood and accepted, each hazard can be prevented or reduced:
My research also
suggests that few committed mates or family-support professionals know these
hazards, what they mean, and what to do about them.
This article provides perspective on
each hazard and links to more detail.
Five Unseen Hazards
This five-hazard theory is not validated by
any formal research that I know of. The most crucial part
of it is validated.
When I’ve proposed this theory to other human-service professionals
and researchers, most say something like "That makes sense." See what
Partners in Protective Denial
My clinical experience since 1981 and these
suggest that well over half of modern
American adults and their ancestors have survived significant early-childhood
"Grown Wounded Children"(GWCs) are often unaware
personality subselves that helped them
unintended abandonment, abuse, and neglect.
GWCs enter adulthood with up to six psychological
wounds which degrade the quality of their health and relationships.
The core wound is a fragmented
personality and the dominance of well-meaning
their wise true Self and causes
excessive shame + guilts + fears + reality distortions + trust and bonding
problems. For more detail on these widespread psychological wounds, see
this after reading this article.
unconsciously pick each other over and over, perhaps because
shame automatically seeks its own level. Current self-help media
call GWCs "Adult Children" of childhood trauma or
Without self-awareness and personal
GWCs often unconsciously
pass their wounds on to dependent
like their ancestors did.
Kids who chronically "act out" or "fail" are often
manifesting false-self dominance and related wounds +
+ personal overwhelm.
Adults' unseen psychological wounds
amplify the next three family hazards.Once acknowledged (vs.
denied or minimized), these wounds can be substantially
(vs. cured) over time.Lesson 1 here proposes
an effective way to do this.
Pause and notice your reaction to what you just read. If you
accept this key "wounds" hazard, go ahead. If you doubt or disagree
that psychological wounds could be a key reason for widespread
personal and family stress and divorce, a protective false self may
family and human-service professionals I've met could talk knowledgeably
about all these interrelated topics...
personalities and psychological wounds (Lesson 1 here)
communication basics and
healthy-grief basics, and how to build a
pro-grief family and
finish incomplete grief (Lesson 3);
healthy-relationship basics and requisites (Lesson 4);
I invite you to
quizzes after you finish this article, and see how much you know about
these vital topics. Then you'll better understand why
I propose that most
troubled people, couples, and families
"don't know what they don't know," and
what this means to them and their descendents.
"what you don't know
can't hurt you" is tragically wrong when it comes
to these hazards, marriage, child-conception, and healthy parenting!
This nonprofit educational Website offers a comprehensive free self-improvement course to help visitors convert lifelong unawareness into knowledge and
+ unawareness + ignorance often combine to promote...
HAZARD3) Incomplete Grief
kids and adults form bonds over time - emotional and spiritual
attachments to valued ideas, living things, places, freedoms, dreams, and
rituals. As we age, we choose - or are forced to - break these bonds,
causingsignificantlosses. Human nature provides a way for
us to process and accept our losses - grief, or mourning. Natural mourning takes it's own time, and can't be ignored or
Unawareness and ignorance of
grieving basics (Lesson 3 here) can impede or block healthy
mourning. Because our feel-good, warp-speed culture minimizes the
primal value of mourning, much
''depression'' is probably normal grief.
Wounded Children (GWCs) often
didn't see their (wounded) parents
grieve well, so they ...
can't model and
teach their kids to grieve well, and...
aren't aware of this or what it means.
Incomplete grief appears to
a wide range of emotional, physical, and secondary relationship
addictions, obesity, mood disorders, and some depression.
Nature provides a
three-level mourning process as a healthy way to gradually accept the many
inevitable broken bonds during our lives. This mental + emotional +
process can be slowed or blocked by (a) psychological wounds and lack of (b) awareness and
(c) inner and outer
Unfinished grief has clear
symptoms. Once recognized,
it canbe completed over timeif the griever is usually
(Lesson 1), and lives in a
environment (Lesson 3).
When you finish this article, see this brief
research summary for perspective on this
unacknowledged personal and family stressor.
psychological wounds + unawareness + incomplete grief + public indifference
cause another common
and family stressor...
Many people agree with veteran
pastoral counselor Dr. Harville Hendrix.
After 20+ years’ experience with couples, he feels that despite
maturity, life experience, and "common sense,"
most commitment vows are
largely emotional and unconscious, vs. "rational."
Despite this insight, he doesn't propose that the reason for this is the
three hazards above.
trauma (GWCs) are at special risk of choosing other unaware GWCs. They commit
to the wrong
people, at the wrong
time, for the wrong
reasons. Too often,
partners commit to alluring illusions of who "you (and we) are going
to be: a perfect mate, a wonderful couple, and a happy family."
love-struck couples rarely exchange vows knowing clearly who they are now
- often two
needy people denying major psychological wounds and
unawarenesses (above), heading blithely into an amazingly complex
relationship challenge they
know little about.
This is specially true of couples
joining or forming a stepfamily.
A corollary of this hazard is that many couples
make unwise decisions about
conceiving or adopting children. They do so before they reduce their
wounds and learn how to communicate, grieve, relate, and parent effectively.
Result: low-nurturance, high-stress families and wounded kids who grow up
and repeat the
The current U.S. divorce epidemic
suggests that over half of contemporary American couples
eventually encounter serious relationship problems because of
the four stressors above. If they seek help with these problems,
Local and national media and (I suspect) most communities offer little or
informed, effective support for
troubled (low-nurturance or "dysfunctional") families. By informed, I mean thorough knowledge
of, and experience with identifying and reducing, the four hazards above.
Reality Check - have you ever seen any articles, books, advertisements,
CDs, or programs, that acknowledge these hazards together and offer
resources to reduce them?
Since starting my research in 1979, I have never found a marriage-preparation or
"enrichment" class, book, seminar, article, Web site, or program that proposes these
four stressors and what to do about them. The wealth of popular materials about
courtship and marriage are uniformly focused on surface issues and advice,
this example. This is true of well-researched and tested programs like PREPARE-ENRICH, FOCCUS, PAIRS,
informed support is even harder for average stepfamily adults. Few clergy; teachers; therapists; family mediators, lawyers and judges; and medical
professionals - or their funders, administrators, and program directors -
know how different, complex, and
stressful average multi-home stepfamilies are.
They can't name or describe these
five hazards in any detail
or what to do about them.
In my experience,
most marital and family counselors usually provide well-meant, misguided
(superficial) advice. At best, this doesn't
hurt. At worst, it unintentionally increasesmarital
and family stress, and raises clients' distrust of professional
This nonprofit Website exists to inform lay and
professional people about these five epidemic hazards and help
them break the [wounds + unawareness] cycle that causes them. To
see if the cycle is affecting your family now, see
this after you finish this
and clinical experience with over 1,000 typical adults in several cultures,
I propose that the epidemic of low-nurturance
> divorce >
that causes millions of average adults and kids to live in
misery comes from the combination