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Excerpted from Homecoming by John Bradshaw. Copyright 1990 by John Bradshaw. Excerpted by permission of Bantam Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.

"When a child's development is arrested, when feelings are repressed...a person grows up to be an adult with an angry, hurt child inside of him."

John Bradshaw, Homecoming, Part 3

Over the years my anger festered in the mildew of my soul. Like a hungry dog in the basement, it became ravenous and turned into rage. Most of the time I guarded it vigilantly. I was a nice guy. I was the nicest daddy you've ever seen--until I couldn't take it anymore. Then I became Ivan the Terrible.

What I came to understand was that these vacation behaviors were spontaneous age regressions. When I was raging and punishing my family with withdrawal, I was regressing to my childhood, where I had swallowed my anger and expressed it the only way a child could--in punishing withdrawal. Now, as an adult, when I was finished with an emotional or physical withdrawal bout, I felt like the lonesome and shame-based little boy that I had been.

What I now understand is that when a child's development is arrested, when feelings are repressed, especially the feelings of anger and hurt, a person grows up to be an adult with an angry, hurt child inside of him. This child will spontaneously contaminate the person's adult behavior.

At first, it may seem preposterous that a little child can continue to live in an adult body. But that is exactly what I'm suggesting. I believe that this neglected, wounded inner child of the past is the major source of human misery. Until we reclaim and champion that child, he will continue to act out and contaminate our adult lives.

I like mnemonic formulas, so I'll describe some of the ways the wounded inner child contaminates our lives using the word contaminate. Each letter stands for a significant way in which the inner child sabotages adult life. (At the end of this chapter you'll find a questionnaire to help you ascertain how badly your own inner child was wounded.)

Offender Behaviors
Narcissistic Disorders
Trust Issues
Acting Out/Acting In Behaviors
Magical Beliefs
Intimacy Dysfunctions
Nondisciplined Behaviors
Addictive/Compulsive Behaviors
Thought Distortions
Emptiness (Apathy, Depression)

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