Grown wounded child

Are you a "Grown Wounded Child?


 - free your true Self to guide you

How Kids Lacking Early Nurturance
Develop Psychological Wounds

By Peter K. Gerlach, MSW
Member NSRC Experts Council

  • site intro > course outline > Lesson 1 study guide or links, site search, chat, or prior page > here

The Web address of this article is http://sfhelp. org/gwc/gwc.htm

 Updated  02-04-2015

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      This brief YouTube clip provides perspective on what you'll read here: The video mentions eight self-improvement le4ssons in this site: I've reduced that to seven.

      Option - listen to a 1' 20" podcast of this summary on The Progressive Parent's YouTube channel: at https://www.     

      This is one of a series of articles in Lesson 1 in this Web site - free your to guide you in calm and conflictual times, and reduce inherited psychological This article assumes you're familiar with...

  • the intro to this Web site and the premises underlying it,

  • this overview of six common psychological wounds

  • the [wounds + unawareness] cycle that may be stressing your family

  • this brief research summary about "risky" families

  • this research summary about maternal stress and bonding


      I have worked as a family-systems therapist with over 1,000 typical men, women, couples, and some of their kids since 1981. Many of them have been in troubled and/or biofamilies, single-parent families, and stepfamilies.

      I now believe there are up to five interrelated why millions of couples divorce psychologically or legally. Perhaps the most powerful and least known of the five is the psychological effect of early-childhood abandonment, neglect, and abuse (trauma)..

      My research suggests that if young kids get too few of their developmental  needs met, they automatically survive by forming a multi-part (split) personality. This causes several interrelated psychological "wounds":

  • excessive shame, guilts, and fears;

  • major reality distortions and trust problems; and for some. ..

  • difficulty loving, and with some or all other people.

      Unseen, these psychological wounds seem "normal." They significantly stress relationships, careers, parenting, and physical and mental health. Our media uses the vague term "mental illness" to refer to what this site calls "psychological wounds." See this brief research summary and this reprint on U.S. parents' lack of "baby knowledge." 

      Over 80% of the many hundreds of troubled women and men I've consulted with since 1981 have clear symptoms of significant psychological wounds - and most didn't (want to) know it. Once such wounds are understood and admitted, they can be greatly reduced (vs. cured) over time. Lesson 1 here shows you how.

      This article outlines...

  • what a "Grown Wounded Child" (GWC) is;

  • perspective on normal personality subselves, or "parts"

  • perspective on your true Self and "false-self dominance;" and...

  • six psychological wounds many parents inherit and pass on to their vulnerable kids without knowing it.

  What Is a "Grown Wounded Child" (GWC)?

       Premise: families exist to fill key physical, psychological, and spiritual needs of adults and kids - i.e. to nurture. Depending on many factors, families (like yours) range from "very low nurturance" to "very high nurturance."

      High-nurturance families and organizations display a set of observable traits. A GWC is an adult who survived unintended deprivation of too many of these ~30 nurturing factors by their early-childhood caregivers. Usually their ancestors were significantly neglected, wounded, and unaware too, and didn't know it or what to do about it. Family trees show clear symptoms of inherited wounds and unawareness.

      Adults who got enough of the factors often enough (a subjective judgment) can be called Grown Nurtured Children, or GNCs. "Significant childhood neglect" has occurred when a child or adult has "too many" of the six psychological wounds below, in someone's opinion. Ultimately, each adult (i.e. you) must decide what "too many" is.

  About Personality "Subselves"

      To understand "psychological wounds," you need to know how human personalities develop. Here...

personality means "the evolving values, beliefs, traits, reflexes, talents, and limitations that make every person unique."

      Child-development researchers propose that while our personality or character changes across our life, our core beliefs, values, perceptions, and priorities are largely "set" by the time we're about six years old. So how well our developmental needs are met in our early years has a profound effect on how our neuro-hormonal system develops, who we partner with, the work we choose, and our health, productivity, and longevity.

       Positron Emission Tomography (PET) shows living brains at work. PET images show that many different brain areas may act concurrently to produce the simple experience "I see my hand." Different interrelated parts of our brains and neurological systems automatically process and cause sensory stimuli, emotions, thoughts, short term and long-term "memories," and so on. 

      Our amazing brains compose "meaning" from interpreting information from our six senses and accumulated knowledge. One brain area decodes meaning from abstract concepts ("Is Frank telling the truth?"), and other areas do "logical" analyses ("Martha's frowning, so she must be mad at me. ").

      Different brain regions decode colors, visual patterns, shapes, movements, temperatures, touches, sounds, and smells. Decoding meaning from a specific person's facial expression or voice dynamics activates networks of many different brain areas (Parts) without our awareness. Different brain centers control hormone and antibody productions, others direct our muscle-cell activity, and sleep, eating, digestion, and elimination cycles.

      So "you" are an astounding interconnected network of many organic "mini-computers" programmed by Nature and your early and ongoing experiences. Though we have one body and one brain and feel like "one person," our personality is naturally determined by a dynamic s (brain regions).

       The primal ability of our brain to adapt to the environment by developing specialized regions (subselves) has been described as multiplicity, fragmenting, plasticity, and splitting. Does this modular-personality concept make sense to you? If so, note an implication: having a "split personality" is normal!  

About Your True Self

       Many philosophers and average people agree that we each have a self. There has been rich and raucous debate about what that is, across centuries and cultures. For our purposes, I and other thoughtful researchers propose there are conceptually two or three types of human self which regulate our perceptions, personality, and behaviors every moment:

  • our "self" (lower-case "s") - our body + mind + soul or spirit;

  • our Self (capital :S") - the executive leader of our personality subselves; and. ..;

  • our "Higher Self - a wise entity that transcends our mind and body.

      If our early-nurturance needs are filled well enough, we seem to automatically develop a part of our personality which acts like a talented orchestra conductor, athletic coach, or chairperson our (capital "S"). This subself has clear, realistic, wide-angle, long-range vision. S/He consistently makes effective (healthy, balanced) minor and major decisions based on history and the dynamic input of our five or six senses and other subselves. 

      Ideally, our subselves (brain regions) are steadily directed and coordinated by this naturally-skilled leader. When that happens, kids and adults commonly report feeling some mix of calm or serene, centered, grounded, light, "up," clear, firm, alive, alert, aware, compassionate, strong, resilient, focused, open, sure, confident, decisive, positive, and purposeful - even in a crisis

      But . ..

      If young kids aren't nurtured well enough, their brains and personalities seem to automatically develop a different kind of self (small "s"). Their true Self seems overwhelmed or blocked from growing able to direct their actions by a group of well-meaning but limited, impulsive subselves who want to control the person - i.e. to survive.

       This is like a violinist, tuba player, and lead tenor pushing their conductor off the podium and fighting over who will lead the orchestra. If not nurtured well enough, our personality evolves with different parts of it in competition, rather than in consistent harmony. When did you last experience "confusion," "seeing both sides," "changing your mind," and/or an internal argument.

About "False Selves"

      Kids and adults (like you) can range between grounded, centered, and "together" to "crazy and hysterical" depending on (a) the environment (situation), (b) how many are vying for control, and (c) how much their dominant subselves' values and perceptions conflict. This set of squabbling personality parts becomes a

      If someone has been governed by false selves most of their life, they define that as normal. The idea that there is another Self within them that - if allowed to - can consistently make better life decisions, sounds like low-grade science fiction.

      A common first reaction to this personality-subself idea is anxiety about "being crazy" or having a "multiple personality." Since about 1980, psychiatrists and psychologists have guesstimated that about 5% of Americans seems to have extreme personality splitting.

      Once called Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD), this splitting condition is now dubbed "Dissociative Identity Disorder" (DID) by the American Psychiatric Association. The common clinical word for being controlled by a false self is dissociation.

      Research repeatedly finds that typical highly-dissociated ("fragmented") people were subjected to extreme neglect, abuse, abandonment, or other trauma as young children. Their nurturance deprivations were profound. The great majority of us don't have anywhere close to this degree of personality splitting - and do have some.

       So in this Web site, a Grown Wounded Child (GWC) is an adult who survived a low-nurturance childhood by developing  protective, short-sighted, reactive false selves. We GWCs live some or all the time dominated by a protective group of short-sighted and subselves. We're usually unaware of this, though we're pretty quick to spot false selves controlling other people - specially "toxic" parents, mates, and some coworkers and neighbors.

      Significant false-self dominance has powerful personal, marital, parental, and social I suspect that many (most?) people who are addicted, obese, abusers, depressed, homeless, "mentally ill," divorcing, self-neglectful, bigoted, terrorists, anti-social, paranoid, delusional, criminal, homicidal, and suicidal are unaware trauma-survivors ruled by well-meaning false selves. What's your opinion?

Reality Check

      When you're undistracted and your Self is your personality, clarify your reaction to these ideas with the statements below. A = "I agree; D = "I disagree," and ? = "I'm not sure" or "It depends on (what?)":

Families exist to nurture (fill the needs of) their kids and adults.  (A  D  ?)

All children have a range of developmental needs they need informed adult help to fill  (A  D  ?)

Some families are more effective at nurturing than others. (A  D  ?)

How much psychological and spiritual nurturance a child experiences in their first four to six years greatly affects how their personality develops. (A  D  ?)

Normal (vs. pathological) human personalities seem to be composed of semi-independent "subselves" or "parts." They are probably specialized brain regions. (A  D  ?) If you're curious or skeptical about subselves, read this perspective and letter, and then try this safe, interesting experience after you finish this.

Normal personalities range from fragmented and disorganized to steadily harmonious, locally or over time, depending on which subselves guide them.  (A  D  ?)

The concept of a true Self and a false self sense to me. (A  D  ?)

I want to learn more about (a) family nurturance and GWC wounds, and (b) whether psychological wounds and my family.  (A  D  ?)

+ + +

  Based on what you just read,

Were either of your parents or their parents?

Is your present or former mate (if any)?

Now What?

      You have many options. ..

  • Learn how psychological wounds and unawareness silently pass down the generations.

  • Commit to studying Lesson 1 in this free educational Web site. It shows you how to assess for and reduce significant psychological wounds.

  • Read several unsolicited reactions to these Lesson-1 concepts

  • Learn three powerful options for preventing psychological wounding

  • Share and discuss these concepts with family adults and supporters

  • Read this example of a real stepfamily stressed by the [wounds + unawareness] cycle.

  • Review these selected research summaries supporting the ideas in this article.


      This Lesson-1 article describes "Grown Wounded Children" (GWCs) - women and men who survived significant early-childhood abandonment, abuse, and neglect and up to six psychological It proposes that normal personalities are composed of three types semi-independent "subselves," including a wise "true Self." Until typical GWCs take proactive steps to reduce their wounds ("recover"), they're often ruled by well-intentioned "false selves," causing many personal - including unintentionally wounding young people in their care.

      The article closes with a status check on what you believe about these concepts, and an array of useful next steps.

      Pause, breathe, and reflect - why did you read this article? Did you get what you needed? If not, what you need? Who's these questions - your or

This article was very helpful   somewhat helpful   not helpful    

 Prior page  /  Lesson 1

 site intro  / course outline / site search / definitions / chat  / contact


The Wounded Inner Child | CPTSDfoundation.


Inner children are parts of all our psyche that remains full of innocence, awe, and wonder. When our inner child is healthy, and we are connected with them, we tend to be invigorated, inspired, and excited.

However, what happens when our inner child is wounded from past trauma, and we are disconnected from them? When we ignore the inner child in our psyche, as adults, we feel disconnected from life, tired, empty, and unhappy.

This article will further explore the topic of the wounded inner child, how these little ones can affect their adult selves.

A Brief Recap What is an Inner Child?

The concept of the inner child was first proposed by psychologist Carl Jung after he examined his own childlike inner-feelings and emotions. Jung postulated that it was this inside part of all of us that influenced all we do and the decisions that we make.

Inner children were us when we were kids that never grew up. They are who holds all the memories and emotions, good or bad, that we experienced. These learned messages are incurred when we were helpless and dependent on our caregivers.

Unfortunately, it is also these inner children who absorb all the negative and harmful words and actions of those who were supposed to keep us safe. Once wounded, these inner kids negatively influence who we are as adults holding enormous power over our relationships and decisions.

The Unsafe Messages Children Receive

All children deserve to feel safe—safe from harm, fear, and lack. Safety does not mean only physical security but also emotional and spiritual well-being as well. When children feel safe within the families they were born into, their boundaries are respected, and that their needs are met so they feel secure.

Childhood trauma, where the child’s needs are not met, destroys a child’s sense of safety, causing them to become hypervigilant and scared. In adulthood, these inner children never go away, and neither does their feelings of being unsafe and that the world is a horrible and dangerous place. When a child feels continually endangered, a massive gaping wound opens in their psyche that is so painful that many adults unknowingly repress it. (Kneisl 1991)

Words can hurt as severely as actions with some of the signals given to children leaving deep scars that can last a lifetime. Some of these statements and actions made by parents that leave open wounds are as follows.

  • Not allowing a child to have their own opinions
  • Discouragement from playing or having fun
  • Not allowed to display strong emotions
  • Punishing for speaking up
  • Continuously shaming by caregivers
  • Not allowing spontaneity
  • Was not given appropriate hugs, kisses, or cuddles

Children who do not receive emotional and physical support grow up to be hurting adults.

The Three Common Ways Children are Made to Feel Unsafe

Children crave and deserve to have their needs met and to feel safe and loved. However, even in today’s advanced society, many kids are neglected and wounded. There are three types of trauma children endure at the hands of their caregivers that cause later adult inner children injury. These include physical, emotional, and psychological neglect.

Physical Neglect. Physical safety and nourishment are basic human needs that are to be given freely from caregivers to children. However, in physical neglect, these rights are violated and are lacking. Unfortunately, physical neglect does not mean only that the child was kept from food and shelter. It also means several forms of abuse are taking place, such as sexual abuse.

The results of this type of neglect are devastating. Below are only a few of the negative impacts physical neglect has on children and the adults they become.

  • Low self-esteem
  • Eating disorders
  • Self-harm
  • Addictions
  • Violent behavior
  • Sexual dysfunction

Emotional Neglect. In this type of neglect, a child’s caregiver did not show enough interest in the child’s emotional needs for support, respect, and love. In these cases, either the caregiver does not pay attention to or condemns any emotional expressions that the child might need.

Like with physical abuse, the symptoms, and outcomes of this type of neglect are dire in adulthood.

  • Low self-worth
  • Repressing emotions
  • Ignoring one’s own emotional needs
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Shunning Emotional closeness or intimacy

Psychological Neglect. This kind of neglect occurred when the child’s caregivers failed to listen, nurture, and embrace the beautiful human beings that they are. This form of neglect includes any or all the following:

  • Name-calling
  • Insults
  • Ridicule
  • Yelling
  • Gaslighting
  • Lack of privacy
  • Making overt threats

The symptoms that occur when the inner child endures this type of neglect and inhabit adults can be:

  • Deep-seated feelings of anger
  • Inability to love themselves
  • The development of low self-esteem
  • Addictions
  • Neuroses
  • Psychological illnesses
  • Physical illnesses
  • Showing a lack of respect for others
  • Problems with sustaining a healthy relationship

As can be seen, the wounds children incur become the wounded inner children adults who have grown up and later have left that home.

Some Signs You Have a Wounded Inner Child

The first step in healing your inner child is to acknowledge it is there and that he or she is wounded. The harm done to your inner child is directly correlated with the ways you feel unsafe in the world. Below are some signals that you have a wounded inner child.

  • A deep feeling that there is something wrong with you
  • Being a people-pleaser
  • Being a rebel and feel alive when in conflict with someone else
  • Being a hoarder
  • Not being able to let go of possessions and people
  • Experience anxiety with something new
  • Feeling guilty for setting boundaries
  • Driven to be a super-achiever
  • Being ridged and a perfectionist
  • Having problems starting and finishing tasks
  • Exhibit constant self-criticism
  • Feel ashamed at expressing emotions
  • Ashamed of your body
  • Having a deep distrust of anyone else
  • Avoiding conflict, no matter what the cost
  • A fear of abandonment

If you recognize yourself in many (not necessarily all) of the above-listed items, then there is a high chance that you have a wounded inner child.

The Influence of the Inner Child in All of Us

The inner children that live in the human psyche directly influence all that we do. Adults are covertly controlled by their unconscious inner child, and this leaves a child in charge of their lives. When wounded, these little ones are full of anger, shame, and sometimes rage because of the maltreatment they endured. Inner children are the lens through which injured adults make their decisions.

Can you imagine your children or a child you see on the street trying to make sense of adult relationships? Or make career decisions? Predictably, such attempts could only end in disaster. However, this is what happens every day in the lives of people who have a wounded inner child.

These small, lost, and lonely parts of ourselves are afraid, anxious, and insecure, and that can make our lives miserable. However, there is hope. Inner child work, including self-parenting, can ease the pain and heal the wounds left behind by caregivers who were abusive and toxic.

“She held herself until the sobs of the child inside subsided entirely. I love you, she told herself. It will all be okay.” ~ H. Raven Rose

“Your pain needs to be recognized and acknowledged. It needs to be acknowledged and then released. Avoiding pain is the same as denying it.”
~ Yong Kang Chan


Dean, M. (2020). Inner child: What is it, what happened to it, And how can I fix it?. Retrieved from:

Kneisl, C. R. (1991). Healing the wounded, neglected inner child of the past. The Nursing Clinics of North America, 26(3), 745-755.

Luna, A. 25 Signs you have a wounded inner child (and how to heal). Retrieved from:

The CPTSD Foundation would like to invite you to their healing book club, where they are beginning to read a new book on July 4, 2020. The title of the latest featured book is “The Drama of the Gifted Child, The Search for the True Self” by Alice Miller.

The book examines childhood trauma and the lifelong effects it has on a person’s management of repressed anger and pain.

Led by Sabra Cain, the healing book club is only $7 per month, the fee going towards scholarships for those who cannot afford access to materials offered by the CPTSD Foundation.

Should you decide to join the Healing Book Club, please purchase your books through our Amazon link to help us help you.

If you or a loved one are living in the despair and isolation that comes with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, please, come to us for help. The CPTSD Foundation offers a wide range of services including:

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All our services are reasonably priced, and some are even free. So, to gain more insight into how complex post-traumatic stress disorder is altering your life and how you can overcome it, sign-up, we will be glad to help you.


Shirley Davis

My name is Shirley Davis and I am a freelance writer with over 40-years- experience writing short stories and poetry. Living as I do among the corn and bean fields of Illinois (USA), working from home using the Internet has become the best way to communicate with the world. My interests are wide and varied. I love any kind of science and read several research papers per week to satisfy my curiosity. I have earned an Associate Degree in Psychology and enjoy writing books on the subjects that most interest me.

Inner child in a panic - in search of a parental figure //Psychological newspaper

Look around: who do you see?

Looking around you, you will almost certainly notice other people: they are in a hurry about their business, they are driving cars, walking with children, writing something on their social media accounts, going to work, planning a vacation, doing repairs, buy things - live, in a word.

And behind this bustle of everyday life, under the masks of adults, children lurk: small, hungry and fearful children.

Who is this amazing character: the inner child?

He lives inside his own active life, which the adult consciousness can ignore, and every time he rises to the surface when it is necessary to build relationships with other people: make difficult life choices, make a difficult phone call, sort things out with a significant other, appoint price for their services, look for a job or clients, raise their own child, etc.

The basic need of this inner child is SURVIVAL and, as a result, safety. And this need has never been satisfied by any of us (and is not satisfied now) completely and irrevocably.

The fact is that from our very birth, this need for survival, security and protection has been made dependent on the parental figure.

What happens between 0 and 2 years?

Mom gives birth to a child and - some twenty years ago - he was immediately carried by strange and irritated aunts in white coats and laid among the same as him, equally swaddled, squeaking and hungry babies. Mom could see the baby only on schedule to feed, and 30-40 minutes were allotted for this, after which the baby was taken from the mother's breast - no one was interested in whether he had time to eat and suck the mother's breast or not. In the maternity wards, children could cry for several hours in a row and this did not particularly bother anyone - only mothers, lying in the general ward, looked at each other, wondering if their baby was crying and hoping that babies (with tags on the handles ) are not confused.

These strange and almighty big figures, who controlled the child's needs and their satisfaction, did not disappear even after the baby's arrival at the parental home. The figures became smaller, but all of them were also omnipotent and absolutely incomprehensible.

In the event of a negative development of events, the need for food, safety, caress for an absolutely defenseless human cub could not be satisfied at all, crying like a baby, the child could lie for hours, waiting for an adult who would feed and caress him, change his diaper and create comfortable conditions in the crib.

And then the development of the conscious, adult part is blocked by these injuries inflicted on the basic sense of security, and from that moment on, some part of the psyche freezes in the preconscious (up to 2 years) age with a feeling of indescribable horror and panic. The panics of a helpless cub, which is surrounded by powerful and indifferent parental figures - the figures of adults. This kid is in shock. The same shock that the cubs of any animal experience when they fall into the clutches of a predator is the shock of anesthesia, the shock that precedes death from the claws and teeth of a powerful hunter beast.

This shock is called the state of immobilization - fading. It forms in adulthood the strongest defenses of the conscious mind. This state of shock is so unbearable (in fact, it is an experience of hopelessness preceding imminent death) that the conscious mind, when it begins to awaken at the age of 2-3 years, will try to get as far away from feeling as possible so that it will never feel this shock again. .

In case of a positive development of events, the baby lives more or less safely during his infancy, feeling that his little bedside world is absolutely cozy and safe, and the large figures of incomprehensible adults are friendly, and he can even feel (he still cannot think) that he is the LORD of these figures: they appear when he begins to cry and satisfy his needs, which become more complex and diverse every day - this is how his consciousness begins to form.

What starts to happen after 2 years?

Between two and three years, the process of an interesting game of life begins: the whole world suddenly blooms with many small and such enticing details and, in general, quite reasonably - the world revolves around the child. Here is my I: and there are multi-colored toys, some are animated, others are not. Some can do everything and dispose of others, while others simply attract with their incomprehensibility.

And what do you want - the animal nature of the biological shell is still the most important thing in this process: to survive at any cost, eat and enjoy life. Only two sensations understandable to him: pleasure and pain.

And this is where parental figures begin to protest against being completely at the disposal of the child: they are not toys. Now you need to explain this to the child, but at the same time do it in such a way that he does not lose this sense of security and does not conclude for himself that the world is aggressive and wants to destroy it.

Everything seems fine, if not for one BUT: such a child's attitude to the parental figure and his EGO-CENTRISM suddenly awaken in parents the unsatisfied needs of their own inner children (of varying degrees of trauma) - and a competitive struggle begins.

"I'll play with you if I feel good," says mom

"You have to be obedient. It's all because of dad, I'm sick, I hope you never act like him"

The child makes the childishly illogical conclusion that his needs, which depend on adults, can be satisfied if he can reconcile his mother and father and make sure that his mother does not get sick. He is looking for ways to do this - but his attempts will never succeed. Because mom and dad will put forward more and more new conditions under which, finally, the needs of the baby will supposedly be satisfied.

It's not dad's fault, because there is no money in the family and mom has to work a lot. There is money and dad - no health, etc.

In general, there are many options for parental figures, on which the satisfaction of the basic needs of the baby depends, instead of enjoying the game of life in the here-and-now moment, make the child try to fulfill the "next condition" for happiness. This list never ends.

And in the end, the child gives up: "everything is useless, I'm helpless." No one needs me anyway, no one will take care of me.

And this is experienced as a true betrayal.

Exactly the age at which the child will stop his attempts to fight for the realization of his needs - and will become the age of his inner traumatized child. From that moment on, his mind will begin to build strong walls of protection from the experience of hopelessness, helplessness, fear and panic of his inner baby.

The child does not think in philosophical categories - he cannot tell himself that these mom and dad cannot figure it out on their own, and therefore they should not give birth to me yet. They cannot give me what I need, because they do not really understand me, but themselves. They themselves need psychotherapy - to treat their internal traumatized children.

Instead, the child puts aside all these unfulfilled needs - forms a kind of bearer account. And you can be sure - the unconscious attempts to find THAT SAME parental figure that will pay the bill will never stop.

But the child's mind already knows that in this life: "EVERYONE FOR HIMSELF".

Unfortunately, by the time the child had this insight, he was already pretty exhausted, trying to solve problems beyond his strength: trying to influence this world (his parents and other figures) to satisfy his needs. And therefore, to all the other joys and accumulated children's manipulation strategies, there is also a state of learned helplessness.

The whole sadness of this stage is that this part of the psyche called "injured inner child" from now on and forever becomes the very tail that will wag the whole dog. The joy and spontaneity of the real child and his ability to enjoy the game of life for the sake of increasing technology of manipulation and influence of significant others in order to satisfy basic needs for safety, survival, food, comfort and closeness are lost.

Over time, the technologies for protecting consciousness from pain, fear, panic and shock of the inner child become more and more skillful and sophisticated. And by the age of 20, we already forget that a traumatized child can live in us.

Someone starts saving the world and helping people, thus trying to make this world more environmentally friendly and safer for their inner child. Others strive to earn as much money as possible - after all, money is the equivalent of survival in the modern world. Once upon a time, their real child made an analogy for himself that if mom-dad has a lot of money, then his basic needs will finally be satisfied.

Still others strive to find such a desirable and significant parent figure for them that will satisfy all their needs in a relationship with a partner.

The fourth choose God (or some other powerful being) as such a parent figure.

Fifths choose an IDEA as a parent figure. While they follow this idea, they feel strength in themselves, it seems to them that they are supported: the country, religion, the direction of psychology, an idol, common goals, and so on, which can create in their psyche a kind of feeling of security and stability.

Anyone and anything for anyone can become a parent figure. Adherents of the "school of the 3rd day after the full moon" or Tsoi's fans, patriots who kill for an idea, or a devoted employee of the "Horns and Hooves" company, an authority who wrote a book, or an announcer on TV ...

Anyone and anything for anyone. The eternal search for a hungry child with a sophisticated adult mind who wants to cling to something that will make him feel just a little more secure.

We try to be perfect, or vice versa - reckless and attract attention with our rebelliousness, fighting and looking for all the same parental figures in the outside world and feeling the pain coming from the parental figures imprinted in the memory of our unconscious.

At any moment, each of us can unconsciously project onto another, who by his behavior has caught the pain and fears of our inner child, his expectations and requirements for the parental figure (at home, in the store, on the road, at work, etc.), exactly just as each of us can become a screen for the same projections on ourselves from other people.

And look around you again:

And once again turn your head around - what and whom do you see? How many people around you do what they do just for fun, as if playing. By playing they work, by playing they create partnerships, by playing they buy and sell real estate, make repairs and even enter into relationships - treating them as the pleasure of a new game (of course, adjusted for adult consciousness and respect for a partner)?

Or, after all, you see that the world is a competitive struggle for the resources necessary for the survival of the inner child, an increase in technologies for manipulating and fighting others - the same hungry inner children - and the search for more and more parental figures with the goal of submit an invoice for payment?

How to heal your wounded inner child?

To begin with, acknowledge its presence and allow yourself to feel its fear, panic, pain. Do not respond to them with yet another strategy of protection and manipulation, rushing into new conflicts for an idea or looking for a more suitable partner, or earning another million (or giving yourself a promise to earn it), or developing another concept for saving the world, but simply LIVING the feelings of the inner child.

You need to start getting to know him - to recognize those moments when he experiences a fit of fear and panic and makes your mind look for a way out.

At these moments, by definition, you are getting younger to his age and make decisions from his level of thinking and consciousness. And these decisions drag you into the funnel of struggle, in which the forces of the "enemy" (the one on whom the needs of the child depend and who disposes of the resources so necessary to him) exceed your own forces. This is how the same stable scenarios play out in life.

It is very difficult to allow yourself to feel the panic of your inner child and live it with him. After all, your adult consciousness can already provide him with positive protection in those moments when he experiences fear and shock, but for this you need to feel what he feels, but at the same time not lose your self in his feelings.

According to my observations, the inner child does not grow up at the order of consciousness: "At-two, lined up, overcame fear and came out of your cocoon - you are already big (big)!"

This process takes place gradually, sometimes over several years, when you, with your adult consciousness, again and again allow your inner child to tell you about his needs, experience fear, anger, panic, go through shock, convincing him again and again that :

  • you can get angry;
  • you can talk about your feelings;
  • can be uncomfortable for others;
  • can be afraid;
  • you can ask for help;
  • you can refuse and say "no" without excuses;
  • you can not try to please and please others;
  • you can be inconsistent and change your point of view, change your mind;
  • you can forget about something;
  • you can dream about what you want;
  • you can experiment;
  • you can rejoice for no reason and be sad without explanation;
  • you can pamper yourself for no reason;
  • you can make mistakes;
  • you can give and receive something without any conditions;
  • you can admit to yourself the most unpleasant thoughts, actions and feelings and not feel guilty or ashamed for it;
  • you can not justify yourself to anyone;
  • one can be sincere and vulnerable and not be ashamed of it;
  • you can just live, play and enjoy.

Sometimes this requires long-term therapy, where the psychologist becomes a fellow traveler who again and again says the word “can” to the client’s inner child, helping the client form an adult and accepting (patronizing) part of his psyche, which will take on the role of a caring and reasonable assistant, on which his inner child can lean on.

The need to be accepted (our inner child) is lived in relationships with others.

And very deep - at the level of our inner child - we no longer believe that we will be accepted as we are. Our inner child thinks like this: "If my parents did not understand and accept me, then who can I trust in this world? Even they did not cope with this task - probably then I have no chance of being loved at all. "

The inner child is so sure of this and so distrustful of being cared for by other people that in response to their concern, he may begin to give them a real test, a test of whether they can still endure it and take care of him if he "gets out".

And, of course, other people do not pass this test, because they have their own traumatized inner children that take a lot of strength, plus they (from their adult position) see in front of them not a small child, but an adult (as they seems to be a person.

In this sense, an attempt to present your childish account to a real other (partner, friend, boss, God, country, ruler, etc.) is always doomed to failure, and this injures the inner child even more.

It's just a question of what the energy is spent on: more and more attempts to find a parent figure in the outside world and bill it, or to grow and develop an adult part of oneself that can take care of the inner child and help him heal and start again play and enjoy the process of playing in life.
How to understand how traumatized the inner child is?

To do this, it is worth observing how many of the children's patterns of behavior and thinking we manifest in our daily lives.

[The following is a list compiled by my colleague Galina Orlova based on the books of Thomas Trobe, with my comments]



2) Inability to ask, to openly declare one's needs and desires. Trying to achieve what you want through "guess for yourself", and if you cannot give me what I need without my prompting, then this is no longer valuable.

3) Inability to accept refusal, to hear "no" (without looking for reasons for refusal and demanding excuses from the one who refused). The desire to make the other justify, the desire to make him a debtor for his refusal.

4) Inability to say "no". An attempt to be good (good), to veil your refusal for various "objective" reasons.

5) Fear of mistakes and their avoidance (including the fear of drawing attention to oneself once again). Fear of punishment, fear of losing love and attention, if I turn out to be uncomfortable, wrong, I will not do what is expected of me.

6) Unreasonableness: the inability to distinguish the useful and important from the insignificant and secondary. "Obsession": obsessive behavior, obsessive thoughts, constant analysis of the past, the desire to be perfect in everything. Inability to prioritize, fear of missing something, greed (fear of losing something, spilling even a drop, spilling even a crumb, missing at least one client).

7) Blaming others and the desire to "correct" them ("I was angered" (offended, misunderstood), "I want him (she, they) ......"). The desire to remake the world so that it becomes safer for the inner child.

8) Inability to forgive and accept people as they are. Resentment (vindictiveness).

9) Demands and expectations ("they should"). Shifting responsibility to others.

10) Ignoring the feelings, desires, moods of other people, childish egocentrism ("I WANT, no matter what"). Entering into a struggle with the inner children of other people.

11) "Magic" thinking: idealization of people (endowing them with super-duper abilities of a parent figure), ignoring reality (illusions, fantasies).

12) Inability to see the consequences, take them into account and take responsibility for them.

13) "Reactive", unconscious behavior (anger, resentment, guilt, envy, revenge), manipulation of others and pretense.

14) The tendency to draw global conclusions and generalize ("always", "never").

15) Inability to be "on an equal footing", a huge need for praise and pity.

16) Dependence on the opinions of others, desire "to be good for everyone", "to please everyone".

17) Inability to support and encourage oneself, dependence on external strokes.

By the number of these patterns manifested in everyday life, you can see how much your inner child is scared and needs the protection and development of adult consciousness.

The situation in the modern world of a large number of injured and competing for resources children under the masks of adults and the absence of any security guarantees gives rise to almost hysteria at the level of the collective unconscious, in which the search for another external parental figure that will protect (well, or at least guilty, which can be destroyed and then everything will supposedly be fine again), will only lead to another wound of betrayal and disappointment inflicted on one's own inner child.

Only an inner loving parent under the auspices of an inner wise adult can heal the inner child.


Psychologists - about teenagers with experience of orphanhood

What questions do applicants and adoptive parents ask psychologists of the Change One Life Foundation when it comes to accepting and adapting a teenager?

Psychologists of the Change One Life Foundation Irina Grabuzenko and Jessica Frantova told about this to the participants of the All-Russian Forum for specialists in the field of prevention of social orphanhood "PRO-teenagers", which was held in Moscow. The organizers of the forum are the charitable foundations "Sunny City", "Opening Horizons", "Change One Life".

Fears multiply several times

Teenager - child 10+, because Around this age, characteristic difficulties begin with his family arrangement and living in the family, caused by the beginning of physical maturation and the presentation of “adult” ways of responding to difficulties to society.

The child seems to be too big for adoptive parents, they are afraid of the bad influence of the blood family and other people, the "horrors of adolescence", possible bad habits. There are also concerns about illegal behavior, the use of illegal substances, early onset of sexual activity.

If we summarize the fears and fears that arise, we can say this: the traditional fears of the puberty of an ordinary child multiplied several times.

And we suggest future adoptive parents to deal with these fears in the same way as they would in the case of natural children: to find out their cause, to assess their ability to influence the child's behavior.

We explain the mechanisms of formation of "difficult" behavior of a teenager, ways of constructive response to it. On closer examination, we come to the conclusion that what is incomprehensible seems difficult and scary, and when there is understanding, fear becomes less.

Age is no barrier to change

And here I would like to mention one stereotype that is accepted in society and is often talked about at our consultations - “before adolescence, a child’s behavior can be changed, corrected, and after that it’s not anymore, his character has formed, the girl or boy has already grown up, nothing can be done ".

Actually, this is not the case at all. Age is not an indicator of the possibility or impossibility of change. Many difficulties and difficulties are surmountable, because a child in need of a family arrangement most likely did not receive enough love, care and attention during the first years of life.

Just like a preschooler or elementary school student, it is important for him that his feelings are accepted and named, that he is taken in the arms, spoon-fed, stroked on the head - and then he will be able to respond to the world with what adults are waiting for - love, empathy , sympathy.

And the changes that are expected will take place. Maybe not right away, but they will. However, it will be the same with younger children - an instant miracle does not happen, rollbacks and gradual changes happen to a child throughout his later life, regardless of the age at which he was adopted into the family.

A child continues to live in a teenager

A more harmonious course of adaptation processes is facilitated by the willingness of the family to support the child in experiencing his trauma, to help him cope with difficulties, only the proposed methods of assistance can depend on age.

Therefore, one of the important thoughts that we, psychologists, want to convey to those adults who interact or are going to interact with a teenager with an orphan experience is that a child who needs help continues to live in his soul.

And while interacting, it makes sense to address this particular child, because it is he who needs to be heard.

A wounded child in the body of an adult - perhaps this metaphor can characterize a teenager with the experience of orphanhood.

When this child becomes visible, many necessary words and actions come by themselves, for example, is it natural to hug a child when he feels bad, to take him in his arms when he cries? And yes, a teenager may also need such care, and he will respond to it.

Relationship with the blood family is important

Candidates for new parents are afraid of the teenager's blood relatives, his possible friends. There is an assumption that if something does not add up, the teenager will run away to other houses and to other people, attract a blood family, be under its influence.

In fact, for a child with experience of orphanage of any age, the connection with the birth family is important.

It is important to have an idea that there are people who gave life and realized that they cannot give their child the best. People who asked other adults for help and adults provided this help.

Talk directly, without fairy tales and games

The difference between a teenager and younger children is that he seems to be able to say with the words: “I love my blood parents”, “I want to go home”, “Why did everything happen like this?”

But all these questions are asked by children of different ages, but they do not always speak about it in words. For example, they play their toy story, trying to figure out what happened. Or they begin to interact with a new family in the same way as they interacted with them before, demonstrating aggression and destroying everything around them.

A child has many ways to show what is bothering him. And the difference between a big child lies precisely in the fact that you can talk with him about many things directly, without inventing fairy tales and games, you can understand a lot by saying the situation, and not guess and interpret.

What to be for a teenager?

And here to single out one more group of questions that arise in the adoptive parents of a teenager - who should we be for him? He may not accept us as parents, he may keep in touch with his blood father or mother. Does he (she) need adults at all?

We answer: “Yes, we need it!” No matter how experienced and sophisticated a teenager may be, he is not yet one.

An adult will still be smarter, more prudent, more careful, more cunning and more experienced. Therefore, the most logical answer is to be just an Adult - someone you can rely on. Because it so happened that now there are no other adults next to me as this teenager.

To be the one who helps to understand, the one who can offer a way out, reflect emotions, just be there and support.

It is not so important whether the child calls new parents "dad" and "mom" (we know that children can put a completely different meaning into these words than adults themselves), but it is important that he feels his parents as a support and home like a place where you can return, where it is safe.

It is difficult to take the first step - to sign up with a psychologist

After working with a psychologist, many people understand that they talked in time, received the necessary knowledge, support, faith in themselves and recognition of their own capabilities.

Sign up and get online consultations with psychologists of the Change One Life Foundation.

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