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Links below will take you to the non-profit Break the Cycle! Web site. Use your browser’s back button to return.


Premise - psychological "wounding" is epidemic in America because of an unseen inherited cycle of ineffective parenting and ignorance. This book describes the wounds, what they mean, and what to do about them.


This third edition (6/2010) will introduce you to your inner family, and who leads it in calm and crisis times. If you don’t know who comprises your inner crew or who’s in charge of them, you may be living life as a hostage to a false self and not know it. If so, you’re probably living well below your potential, and may also be wounding kids in your life without meaning to. The rest of the book outlines an effective way to reduce any significant wounds, and live a calmer, more authentic, productive, satisfying life.


Notice your reaction to these proposals and to the book´s title. I suspect you think “Well I am running my life!” Sure - but have you ever thought about who “I” is?


Reality check: Have you ever had experiences like these?


• Blowing hot and cold about someone or something?


• Saying “On one hand,… and on the other…”?


• Obsessively second-guessing (doubting) an important decision you’ve made?


• Having “discussions” or "arguments" with yourself inside your head?


• An “inner voice” ceaselessly berating you for being stupid, dumb, weird, or unlovable?


• Loved and hated someone at the same time?


• Wanted to do something and simultaneously not wanted to do it?


• Done something impulsive and later thought “What got into me?


• Known people who seemed two-faced, talked out of both sides of their mouth, and “like two different people”?


• Felt “young” when around an authority figure or perhaps a critical parent?

yellow or mean streak, a blue mood a musical side, a silver tongue, or a way with kids?


These are everyday signs of an invisible condition that shapes the lives of you and everyone you know. It’s based on a marvelous survival feature of our human neural system recently called multiplicity: our brain’s wired-in ability to respond to childhood environmental threat by fragmenting into regions with special abilities.


Using radiographic PET scans, we’re the first generation in history to be able to see these regions operating concurrently. The unitary experience of “I see my child laugh” involves many regions of your brain at once without your knowing it. So does everything you do!


Main Ideas


This book results from my professionally studying and practicing inner family therapy ("parts work") since 1992. It describes what I’ve come to believe without question about average women and men like you:


Normal people have personalities that are composed of a group of subselves or parts, like members of an orchestra or athletic team. Each subself has it’s own talent or gift, it’s own values, goals, and limitations. Our inner families of subselves can range from harmonious to chaotic in calm and crisis times.


The nature of our subselves and the relationships among them are determined in the first several years of life of average kids. If kids are raised in a high-nurturance environment, their inner family is much more apt to be harmonious and led (eventually) by a talented true Self (capital “S”). When you feel some mix of calm, centered, energized, light, focused, resilient, up, grounded, relaxed, alert, aware, alive serene, purposeful, and clear, your true Self is probably leading your inner family of subselves (personality).


How often have you felt that way, recently?


Most of us grow up in moderate to low-nurturance homes, which feels normal. The unintended result is the early development of a set of subselves which control our thoughts and actions without our knowing it – a false self.


If your life is significantly controlled by a false self, (1) you won’t know it, and (2) you’ll have persistent patterns of health, relationship, and other problems. These occur largely because false-selves unintentionally cause a mix of psychological wounds:


• Excessive shame, guilts, and fears;


• Significant reality distortions, like denials, repressions, exaggerations, minimizations, idealizations, and projections;


• Major trust distortions: trusting too easily, or not enough.

These wounds combine for some people to cause…


Difficulty bonding (attaching psychologically and spiritually) with some or all other people, and difficulty feeling, expressing, and/or receiving love. The clinical name for this tragic condition is "Reactive Attachment Disorder" (RAD).


The extreme version of this psychological wounding is Multiple Personality Disorder, now called Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). It’s estimated that about 5% of Americans have this major disability.


You may wonder whether you’re being covertly controlled by a false self. Here are common behavioral traits of people whose wise true Self (capital “S”) is often disabled.


Pause and notice your thoughts and emotions now. Is your true Self leading your inner family of subselves? If not, who is? If you have a partner, which subselves are leading her or his personality in calm and conflictual times? What would your relationships be like if both of you were guided by your wise true Selves and Higher Power?


Part 1 of this book introduces you to your inner family and the six false-self wounds.


Part 2 describes an effective way to reduce the wounds: "parts work," or "inner-family therapy."


Part 3 offers 12 worksheets to help self-assess for wounds, how to "score them," and suggestions for next steps.


Part 4 provides selected recovery resources, including inspirations, readings, and a thorough index.


Here´s more detail:

Table of Contents


For an overview of key concepts, see this.


NOTE - the cross-reference page numbers in this third edition are wrong. For the correct page numbers, see this.

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