The therapy I engaged in at the John Bradshaw Center for five-to-six hours a day, seven days a week, for eight weeks focused almost exclusively on remembering and healing childhood trauma. The idea was that we all come from dysfunctional families that caused us pain. If we don’t remember and relive these traumas in a safe setting we will continue to be in emotional pain and, perhaps worse, risk passing all this dysfunction to the next generation, becoming part of the “poisonous pedagogy.” Aphorisms like, “if you don’t work it out you will act it out” and “the only way out is through” were bantered about like gospel.
Through all this group therapy, I was supposed to connect with an “inner child,” confess the traumatic things that had happened to me (because “you’re only as sick as your secrets”), and then show that inner child that she is now safe and I, the adult, will protect her.
I always had trouble with this inner child concept. Like so many of the experiential therapies at Bradshaw, it felt false and forced. I could accept, I suppose, the inner child as metaphor, but I was encouraged to refer to this damaged, pathetic part of myself in the third person and even give this child a name. It reminded me of men who name their private parts. Ewww.
I know that the inner child is a concept with widespread appeal. Many of my fellow Bradshaw patients (as well as my therapist there) formed attachments to an inner child. I’m interested in hearing about others’ experiences. Has connecting with an inner child helped you? What am I missing here?