|Home | Other Authors
Notes and Quotes From "Break the Cycle" - The work of Peter Gerlach
I have adapted it slightly for my partner.
* Under construction
|What is a Family
To nurture means to fill the needs of some living thing....
Premises: Families exist in every age and culture because they (usually) fill a set of adult and child needs better than other types of groups - e.g. the needs for security, support, acceptance, recognition, love, shelter, healthy touching, and companionship. Depending on the health, wisdom, and priorities of their adults, some families are more effective at filling their members' needs than others.
To nurture means to fill the needs of some living thing.
So depending on how often all members' needs are well-filled, any family can be judged as being somewhere between "very low nurturance" and "very high nurturance." Here this is called the family's nurturance level.
raised in low-nurturance homes and families seem to
develop up to six personality wounds which can
significantly affect their lives until the wounds are
acknowledged and reduced.
|About Lesson 1
A common stressor in troubled families and relationships is one or more adults or kids not knowing they have significant psychological wounds from a low-nurturance childhood. Un-seen, these wounds combine with unawareness of key topics to promote unwise courtship and child-conception choices + ineffective communication and parenting + unintentionally wounding their own children + incomplete grief + toxic relationships + eventual divorce + illness and premature death.
To lower the odds of these tragedies, Lesson 1 helps adults (a) learn basic concepts, (b) assess themselves and others for significant psychological wounds, and (c) to heal where needed.
"Healing" means reducing old shame, guilts, fears, reality distortions, and trust problems, and improving the ability to bond and love.
About the Guilty Child Personality Subself
Guilt is the normal mental-emotional reaction to believing that we have done something wrong or bad - i.e. that we have violated someone's rules: shoulds, musts, have to's, and ought to's.
Premise - excessive guilty thoughts and feelings often come from a Guilty Child personality subself activating because the stern Inner Critic (and other people) proclaim "You did something wrong!"
This usually also activates the fragile Shamed Child, who is convinced "I am a bad, worthless, un-lovable person."
Normal guilt helps to regulate our behavior and fill our needs. We learn guilts and shame from the way early caregivers treat us, starting before we have any language.
When the Inner Critic and
Guilty Child activate xx , one or more tireless Guardian
subselves spring into action to reduce inner pain. These
can include the People-pleaser, Catastrophizer,
Perfectionist, Addict, Magician, (rationalizer), Joker,
Martyr, Liar, Avoider, Moralizer, Worrier, and others. If
these subselves disable the true Self, they form a false
i dont like all the terms. for example, subself.
seems to mean true self is natural if left alone with your needs met. sub self is something lower, less than the natural or "highest" self.
too complicared, connect, retrain, modwerate,
retrain is ok for me.
About the Lonely / Needy Child Personality Subself
Lonely describes longing for human companionship. Needy means having significant discomforts. Have you ever felt really lonely and/or needy? Do you know a "high maintenance" person who seems dominated by these traits? Such people may be controlled by a young personality subself who causes these normal feelings.
Excessive loneliness and/or neediness may mean that the person is a wounded survivor of a low-nurturance childhood, and has a disabled true Self.
Criticizing wounded people for excessive personality traits is undeserved, because they're unaware of their subselves and how to comfort and harmonize them. An example of criticizing and juding a needy person might be "Jenny is just too needy and childish. She needs to grow up!" This shows a lack of understanding of what Jenny actually needs, which is extra emotional support to help make up for her low nurturance childhood.
Often the young Lonely / Needy subself is activated by a Shamed Child, Lost Child, Scared Child, and/or a Guilty Child, and their devoted Guardian subselves. These inner kids often don't trust their resident Manager subselves to reliably care for and protect them, so they urge their host person to depend on and expect other people to do that.
|Promotion for his Lesson 1
- Lesson 1 offers practical ways to assess
for "false self" wounds, fill the needs of
over-active subselves, and grow internal harmony and
teamwork under the wise guidance of the resident true
Lesson 1 in this site is a way to
empower your Self and harmonize your subselves over time.
About True and False Selves
Premise - one of the subselves that comprise every normal personality is a talented group leader - the true Self (capital "S"), the Natural Self or the "Innate Self". S/He is like an expert CEO, coach, director, chairman, captain, or musical conductor. As this subself matures, s/he increasingly excels at wide-angle, long-range goal-setting; focusing; delegating; confronting; negotiating; encouraging; guiding; analyzing; deciding; acquiring resources; praising; problem-solving; conflict management; and balancing.
When other subselves trust the Innate Self and other Managers to lead, people report feeling notably light, "up," centered, strong, calm, grounded, purposeful, focused, resilient, alert, awake, confident, present, energized, serene, and clear - even in crises and conflicts.
When you don't feel some mix of these, one or more distrustful, reactive Inner Kids and/or Guardian subselves (a "false self") has probably blended with (disabled) your Self. This is so common in people raised in low-nurturance childhoods they're usually unaware of it. Given the chance to lead, your Self wants to harmonize and coordinate your other subselves to help you survive and use your natural potential.
7 self-improvement Lessons no one ever taught you
ABOUT the AUTHOR
of this unique online course
Peter K. Gerlach, MSW
site intro > course outline > site search, chat, or prior page > here
I was an engineer (BSME from Stanford), trainer, and manager for GT&E and IBM for 17 years. In 1979, I began my second career by earning a Master's degree in social work (MSW) from George Williams college near Chicago. That led to being a professional family-systems researcher, educator, and therapist in private practice. I began by specializing in work with couples, divorcing families, and stepfamilies, partly motivated by own divorce and experience as a stepfather and stepson.
My engineering training and experience has unexpectedly been of great benefit in my therapy with people and families. It taught me how to analyze complex human problems and break them into manageable projects. Since 1979, I've only met two other therapists with this unusual engineering--business-clinical background.
It has also led me to the systematic study of human communication - including thinking and hypnosis - for over 40 years. Lesson 2 in this Web site and these related videos summarize what I've learned so far. One learning: fewer than 5% of "educated" people (like you?) know how to communicate and problem-solve effectively. They don't know what they don't know, or what their unawareness costs them, their kids, and our troubled society and world.
In 1986 (at age 48), I discovered both my parents had been functional alcoholics, our family was very dysfunctional, and my childhood was very traumatic. That epiphany sparked an obsessive quest to understand addiction, "family dysfunction," the effects of growing up in a low-nurturance family, and how to assess and recover from six psychological wounds. That quest has led me to evolve my life mission and the theme of this Web site - improving personal and family health by educating people (like you) on how to stop toxic wounds and ignorance from passing down the generations.
I have designed and led over 400 classes and seminars for adults and teens on interpersonal communications skills, healthy grieving, anger management, addictions, divorce recovery; effective parenting; and recovery from low-nurturance-childhood wounds.
My sponsors have included the State of Illinois; Cook County States Attorney's Office, the Catholic Diocese (Family Life Office) of Rockford IL, Mothers Without Custody, major Chicago-area businesses; Governors State, Northwestern, Northeastern Illinois, and Northern Illinois universities; and many local schools, churches, and mental-health agencies. I have appeared on local and national radio and NBC television speaking on these topics.
I was a board member of a large suburban-Chicago mental health center for seven years, including a tem a president. I was also president of the local high school's Citizen's Advisory Council
Three decades of clinical study and research, 26 years' personal wound recovery, and seven decades of life experience, have contributed to my forming the premises that underlie this site and my work.
At age 74, I am deeply concerned about Americans' crippling indifference to...
preventing the [wounds + unawareness] cycle;
the right-to-die movement,
personal unawareness of themselves and each other;
teaching kids and adults to think and communicate more effectively,
the pandemic toxic effects of unqualified child conception and parenting,
preventing the tragic U.S. divorce epidemic; and...
the irreversible damage we humans are doing to our Earth.
To do something constructive about several of these issues, I have uploaded over 160 brief, educational YouTube videos corresponding to the 7 Lessons in this Web site. They would take over 20 hours to view. If you would rather listen than read these, survey and sample these clips here.
I have been confined to a wheelchair since 2006 because of an incurable muscle-wasting disease. I had to retire from my private therapy practice in January 2006, and now do phone consultations from Portland, Oregon (USA).
My main focus since 1986 has been on assisting people in...
Recovery from Early-childhood Trauma
As an Adult Child of an Alcoholic family, I began proactive ACoA (psycho-spiritual) "recovery" in 1986. That led to learning about the roots and effects of addiction, including relationship addiction - codependence. Over time, hundreds of students and troubled therapy clients taught me that ACoA problems like shame, depression, isolation, reality distortion, distrust, anxiety, numbness, confusion, and divorce were common to all kids of wounded, unaware parents, not just ACoAs.
My quest to understand psychological wounds and how to prevent and reduce them (lesson 1) has led me to (a) shift from childhood atheism to a firm belief in a benign, accessible Higher Power, and to (b) learn and practice inner-family therapy since 1992. Both of these have profoundly changed my life and work.
My work with over 1,000 average Midwestern-US clients suggests that...
over 80% of the adults in typical troubled American lives, relationships, and families are Grown Wounded Children (GWCs), who...
have little understanding of...:
personality formation and operation, and...
effective communication and problem-solving, and...
bonding, losses, and healthy grief; and...
healthy relationships and families, and...
Test your knowledge of these topics by taking these quizzes.
typical GWCs don't (want to) know this or what it means to them and their kids until they accumulate stress and hit bottom - usually in mid-life; and...
the American (and global?) public is unaware of - and uninterested in - this epidemic [wounds + ignorance] cycle.
I began broadcasting what I've learned about solving stepfamily problems on the Web in 1999. Since then, my nonprofit, ad-free Web site has evolved in structure and content. In May of 2009, I began enlarging the site's scope to all families, and shifting the format to a free 8-module self-improvement course. to help offset the toxic unawareness above.
I've never seen another book, program, or Web site focused on breaking the [wounds + unawareness] cycle. If you know of one, please let me know!
If you don't need to know my background in stepfamilies, go here.
Stepfamily Therapy and Education
I spent two years (full time) researching lay and professional stepfamily literature published between 1979 and 1980 for my social work Master's-degree thesis, and have taken over 400 hours of clinical post-graduate training in a wide range of topics since then. I have consulted with well over 1,000 typical Mid-western divorcing and stepfamily adults since 1981.
I co-founded the nonprofit Stepfamily Association of Illinois, Inc. (SAI) with interested others in 1981. Shortly after that, I was invited to join the Board of Directors of the Stepfamily Association of America (SAA) by its founders, Drs. John and Emily Visher. I later served on the SAA Advisory Council, and was invited to rejoin the Board in March, 2002 by President Marjorie Engel.
After SAA passed it's mission to the National Stepfamily Resource Center (NSRC), I became a member of their Stepfamily Experts Council.
I took over 3,000 calls on the Stepfamily inFormation "warm-line." I moderated the "Stepfamily Issues" chat at Divorcenet.com for two years, and have answered over 500 online stepparenting questions at AllExperts.com. I rejoined AllExperts.com 8/08 as an expert in effective communication and counseling. I'm also a self-actualization consultant at SelfGrowth.com.
I have learned from over 1,000 typical family adults from all walks of life, in over 18,000 hours of personal consultations, classes, and workshops. I have published my learnings in this (evolving) non-profit Web site, several magazines, and a series of guidebooks for lay and professional readers. I was also a contributing editor for SAA's e-magazine Your Stepfamily Online.
I created a modular 18-hour class for stepfamily adults, and led versions of it for scores of groups in the Chicago area. One module is a unique three-hour stepfamily role-play for groups of 12 or more people to raise their awareness experientially. That class is the basis for Lesson 7 in this Web site. I also taught a half-day portion of a stepfamily-life weekend seminar to 40 groups of remarrying couples.
For perspective on consulting with me by phone or Skype, read this and view this brief video. To contact me, click this.
Please help me improve this Web site: invest a minute and
tell me about yourself - totally anonymous, no advertizing. THANKS!
Prior page or...
site intro / course outline / site search / definitions / videos / chat / contact / copyright info
Updated July 23, 2012
Children From 'Risky Families'
Suffer Serious Long-Term Health Consequences,
UCLA Scientists Report
The Web address of this article is http://sfhelp.org/gwc/news/ucla.htm
Updated November 15, 2012
This is a newspaper summary of a report by UCLA researchers Rena Repetti, Shelley Taylor, and Teresa Seeman in the Psychological Bulletin (2002, Vol. 128, No. 2, pp. 330366). Their findings validate a core premise in this Web site: that early-childhood abandonment, neglect, and abuse psychologically wounds dependent kids and reduces their wholistic health and longevity.
Families these researchers label "risky" are called ''low-nurturance families" in this Web site. Hilights and links below are mine. See my comments following the article. - Peter Gerlach, MSW
+ + +
LOS ANGELES, March 21, 2002 (AScribe Newswire) -- In the first study to analyze more than a decade of research showing how a family's social environment influences physical and mental health, a team of UCLA scientists found strong evidence that children who grow up in "risky families" often suffer lifelong health problems, including some of society's most common serious ailments, such as cancer, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, depression and anxiety disorders, as well as early death.
The UCLA scientists found large numbers of studies that reveal a pattern of serious long-term health consequences for children who grow up in homes marked by conflict, anger and aggression; that are emotionally cold, unsupportive; and where children's needs are neglected. Some diseases do not show up until decades later, while others are evident by adolescence.
"Poor health begins early in life, as does good health," said Rena Repetti, associate professor of psychology at UCLA and lead author of the article, in the current issue of the journal Psychological Bulletin. "Growing up in risky families creates a cascade of risk, beginning early in life, which puts a child not only at immediate risk, but also at long-term and lifelong risk for a wide variety of physical and mental health ailments."
Repetti and her colleagues spent six years analyzing more than 500 psychological, medical and biological research studies, and integrated the findings of psychologists, pediatricians, biologists, neuroscientists, social workers and other scientists. Her co-authors are Shelley Taylor, UCLA professor of psychology, and Teresa Seeman, UCLA professor of medicine.
While many people separate physical and mental health, research shows that physical and mental health may not be as separate as is often assumed, and that our brains and bodies may be more closely connected, Repetti said. The research studies reveal that a child's genetic predispositions interact with the environment, and in risky families, a child's genetic risk may be exacerbated. This combination can lead to the faster development of health problems, which may be more debilitating than they would be in a more nurturing family, Repetti said.
Children who grow up in risky families are also more likely as teenagers and adults to engage in drug and alcohol abuse, smoking, risky sexual behavior, and aggressive, anti-social behavior, the UCLA analysis showed. Many of the studies analyzed provide evidence that teenagers who abuse drugs and engage in risky sex are more likely to have hostile, unsatisfying and non-supportive relationships with their parents, Repetti said.
"Substance abuse and risky sexual behavior may help these adolescents compensate for their emotional, social and biological deficiencies," Repetti said. "Early and promiscuous sexual behavior and substance use may help adolescents manage negative emotions and feel accepted in the absence of adequate emotional coping strategies or social skills. Some of these risky health behaviors, such as substance abuse, self-medicate some of the deficits in brain neurochemistry that may occur in risky families."
"It may be the kids who are most lacking in social skills, problem-solving and conflict-management skills who are most likely to turn to substance abuse or risky sexual behavior as a way to gain acceptance," she said. "If the family environment was supportive and nurturing all along, they would be more likely to have the social skills to gain acceptance by their peers and the ability to regulate their emotions. Healthy families enable children to grow up without the need for risky behavior to address these deficits."
Children who observe family members responding to conflict by yelling and hitting often grow up without learning the problem-solving skills that other children learn, Repetti said. Children who grow up in high-conflict or abusive homes are also much more vigilant to threats than other children and may overreact to minor threats. That vigilance, which may protect them from dangers at home, can cause them social problems later when they make hostile attributions to what may be innocent actions by others.
"When they trip over another child's foot on the schoolyard, they are ready for a fight because they believe the other child did it on purpose," Repetti said. "They make the hostile attribution, while a child who grew up in a less angry and aggressive family is more likely to consider the possibility that it was just an accident. That vigilance and those hostile attributions may get children in trouble in school, but in high-conflict and aggressive homes, vigilance for threat and assuming hostile intent may actually protect them from harm."
The studies show that in addition to suffering from a wide variety of physical health problems, children from families marked by conflict and aggression are at an increased risk for behavioral and emotional problems, including aggression, delinquency, depression, anxieties, and suicide, Repetti said. She added that the accumulation of evidence from many different kinds of studies is "overwhelming." Poverty and the descent into poverty often "appear to move parenting in more harsh, punitive, and coercive directions," Repetti said, although risky families are also found in middle- and upper-income homes.
+ + +
The gist of this reputable summary of research summaries supports a major premise in this Web site: that the nurturance level of typical families (low to high) has major effects on the short and long-term wholistic health and welfare of dependent kids.
The researchers did not investigate or guesstimate why this is so. After researching the question professionally since 1979, I propose that parents who survived early-childhood abandonment, neglect, and abuse ("trauma") themselves develop significant psychological wounds Because of unawareness and/or denial, they unintentionally pass these on to their descendents, unless (a) they hit true personal bottom and (b) commit to personal learning and wound-reduction (
Lesson 1 in this site focuses on...
assessing for symptoms of six psychological wounds from too little childhood nurturance (ineffective caregiving), and...
a practical way to reduce any such wounds over time, and protect minor kids from inheriting them.
My experience is that significantly-wounded adults don't hit true (vs. pseudo) bottom until middle age - and many never do. That means that even if caregivers commit to personal wound-recovery, they probably have already passed on versions of the wounds and ignorance to their vulnerable dependents, including foster, step, and/or adopted kids and grandkids.
The way to break this tragic cycle is for adults (like you) to proactively assess themselves for significant wounds, (b) take responsibility for reducing any they find, and for (c) intentionally evolving a high-nurturance family with their partners and supporters. For extra credit, recovering adults can alert other people in their community, region, or nation about the vital need to break this cycle to protect the coming generations and our society.
Also see these online questions from real teens, and these related research reports