Psychological Self-Help

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A site about Ritual Abuse
Ritual Abuse Resources (
A site for Mothers of an Abused Child
The effects of traumatic early experiences and poor parenting
This lengthy table summarizes some of the clinical hunches about
the long-range consequences of various questionable or potentially
destructive behaviors toward a child. These are speculations about
causes, not proven causes. The speculations usually come from a
therapist interviewing several clients with a certain kind of problem,
say abusing their children. If the therapist observes that many of the
abusive parents were themselves abused as children, he/she may
conjecture that the abuse they suffered as a child lead them to abuse
their own children. There are several problems with this conclusion, as
we just saw: (1) only 30% of abused children become abusers, i.e. the
connection isn't always made, and (2) other research shows that many
abusers were not abused themselves, i.e. there must be other ways to
learn to be abusive. Thus, while the therapist may be reporting
accurately his/her observations, he/she is not accurately describing all
This Table can be considered, at best, a crude, tentative summary
of clinical hunches about several possible causes of your problems or
about possible consequences of your behavior. Let me emphasize this
point again: 
It would be really foolish for an insecure, passive-dependent young
person to see in the table that over-protective parents are thought to
be associated with his/her kind of personality and jump to the
conclusion that his/her parents must have been that way--and that
over-protectiveness was the necessary and sufficient cause of his/her
dependency. Don't make this mistake. The causes of human problems
developing over a period of years are far more complex than that.
Therefore, use this table and your readings about your problems to
consider many, many possible causes. This is just a stepping stone to
greater self-exploration and, eventually, more complete self-
understanding. See chapter 15 for many methods, such as doing an
autobiography, for gaining insight into your life and problems. Don't
despair if you have had a horrible or painful background, many people
have overcome all kinds of abominable life experiences (see Rubin,
1996, for inspiring stories of triumph). Wolin & Wolin (1994) also
describe how many children have survived unfortunate circumstances
and poor child rearing practices.
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