"CREATING LOVE" by John Bradshaw 

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Additional thought of Graham White in highlights.

Part II of this book is a process of psychoanalysis.  I have left that part of the book unsumarized as it does not resonate with what helps me understand myself or others.  However, I know that there are some people who are interested in this process and may find it helpful.


Success is measured by results.

Although your problems were created by the ignorance of your past, the solution lies in educating your future, not continuously re-hashing past events.  Let's find what works and then do what works.

Instead, lets determine where you're at in your development and what it is you most need to know in order to experience the success you desire.

It doesn't matter so much why you're where you're at as it does to choose to do something about it.

People who go through relationships the way some people go through potato chips don't know how to satisfy their partner, so they continually rerun the dream of the "ideal person" that they just haven't met yet.  Each new relationship begins with the hope that "This is the one!"


Love is a process.

Our childhood is like the air we breathe - we take it for granted.  We don't really understand it until we are removed from it.  Environments surround us to such a degree that we take them for granted.  We only know them once we are out of them.

A child has a basic need to matter to their parents.  With the best intentions our parents often confused love with what we would now call abuse.  Childhood should be a time of innocence and bliss, but it is often a time of trauma and fear.  Children want to know where the boundaries are, but often their parents don't have firm ones for themselves.  They compensate by becoming overbearing and heavy handed towards their children (or permitting everything in the name of love).

Our parents passed on our culture's values, but we weren't aware this was what was happening.  Our parents were our first experience of higher powers, they were like gods to us.  They knew everything and we had no reason to mistrust them, at least not in the beginning.  (How is a child to know whether their parents are the ones who are actually getting it right?  What's to say my parents are right and yours are ruining you by not beating you when you're bad?  I don't have the reasoning power to understand long-term results.)

You may have been raised to believe that love comes from family.  Your parents loved you (that's what they said, a couple of times anyway) and your duty was to love and obey them.  Love was not a choice, but a duty and obligation.  You could never not love your parents or relatives and loving them meant you could never disagree with them or want something they disapproved of.

Parents can unknowingly give their children the message that they're only lovable when they're not being themselves.  This creates a self-defensive anger.  One of the rules is to never question the rules!

Control - patriarchy, destroys the willpower of the individual.  It hates willful and exuberant children, they are hard to control.  The destruction of a child's will leaves the child with two choices: conforming or rebelling.  This polarized state is the core issue for all adult children.

The patriarchal power structure puts a high value on certain jobs and devalues others.  Be a doctor, be a lawyer, be a banker, it tells us, and you will be a success.  But status is not the same as soul.  Soulful work is that which gives our life meaning.  Work is a way to love ourselves more because of the reality we have created.  In work we create ourselves.  No matter what our job is, it can be truly soulful.

What is frightening to people is the sense of powerlessness they have in a patriarchal system where the dad or the boss has all the power and the child or the employee have none.  The feeling of devastation that one has when the boss gives them a pink slip is overwhelming.  We need to learn that our power and meaning comes from within, not from how someone else defines us.

Anger gives us the energy and strength to protect ourselves.  Yet anger at a parent is almost always threatening to a child.  So in order to dispel this threat, most children will create a false identity which pleases their parent.  The strongest children, however, become rebels and intensify their anger.  (Graham & Phillip)

Parents who married each other because they had deep needs that needed to be met are like two 3-year-old kids trying to negotiate a life together.  Each is a needy child and doesn't have the ability to meet the needs of the other, because their own needs must be met first.  Neither one is capable of starting first, so neither one is fulfilled or able to give to the other.

Some couples create the exact opposites of their parents marriage.  Neither extreme is healthy.  We must find balance.

We must break free of the myth that our parents or spouse love us.  Love is an action - it is measured by results.

A wise person learns to understand what is behind a "monsters" behavior.  Monsters are made, not born.

We need to meet people where they're at and move at a pace they can easily handle (Phillip).  Empathy is what changes people, not strategies.  Strategies are great for after they decide they want to change, but that probably won't happen without empathy.  Build the trust in the relationship before trying to begin offering any solutions or advice.  First, they must feel listened too.  No, not just listened to, but deeply understood.  Then they will be ready to hear what you have to say.

Instead of, "You have credit card debt?  Are you stupid?"

Think this way: "I know how you feel.  I had a sister who had $30 000 in credit card debt and she felt completely overwhelmed.  Her life really turned around after she was able to get that dealt with."

There is a payoff for everything we do.  If we can begin to help educate someone, gently and empathetically, to the loss that they will ultimately suffer.

Children are often set up to take care of their parents' pain.  They are taught, really indoctrinated in, the belief that true love is giving up your self.  Their role in the family is Caretaker, and they often continue to care-take throughout their life.  The more dysfunctional a family is, the more rigid the family roles become.  They aren't aware they have other choices.

If the family is functional, the roles are flexible.  When times change and Mom decides to go to work, Dad doesn't freak out.  One child does not always do the same chores.  No one is chosen to be the scapegoat.  And the traditional roles may be reversed altogether.

In dysfunctional families, the roles are rigid and inflexible.  The patriarchal system created the traditional marriage.  I know many patriarchal men who are threatened by their wives who have careers.  One person gets the job of being the scapegoat.  They may be the one who is continually sick or who gets in trouble all the time.  They occupy the family's attention.  They take the heat off the problems in the family, covering up the lack of intimacy and connectedness.

Families make up all kinds of rules.  Poor families have rules about being poor. In my family of origin the ultimate rule was "There is not enough."  I call it the Scarcity Rule.  Every day I heard, "We can't afford it," or "You can't go because we don't have any money."  This rule becomes an internal voice that says, "There isn't going to be enough love, friends, food, etc to go around"  The rule eventually extends to everything.


Healthy guilt is necessary; it is our moral conscience.  Toxic guilt is a set of voices in our head telling us that we have no right to a life of our own, no right to be happier than our source figures.  These voices can cause us to sabotage our happiness repeatedly.


If you want to positively change someone's life, point out only the things the have done well.  We're all aware of our inadequacies.  What we need is encouragement to pursue the things we're just beginning to do well.


Dysfunctional Families:

Cultic Family:  "To win my love, you must obey without question."

Chaotic Family: "I need you to love me; I'll love you if you do."

Corrupt Family: "Love is lying for each other and sticking together.

Cultic Families

A cult has been defined as a closed system which exerts absolute control over its members' thoughts, feelings, and desires.  The whole system is based on a rigid ideology which is considered sacred.  The system with its ideology is more important than any of the individual cult members.

Cultic families demand blind obedience and are all about control.  They even want to determine who the child's friends are and they dictate black-and-white doctrine between right and wrong.

The children's will is broken and they finally fall into line, mouthing words the family uses, repeating certain phrases over and over.  Everyone watches carefully to make sure no one breaks the families sacred doctrines.  Brothers and sisters tattle to the parents whenever their sibling breaks a rule.

How hard is it for children coming from one type of environment to go into another (school, someone else's home, etc.) and get a message that the rules are different there?  What must it be like to come from an environment of perfection and control to one where more freedom is allowed?  How does a young child deal with these dual realities?

Boundaries In Cultic Families

There are strict boundaries in cultic families.  Perfection, or at least the appearance of it is maintained within the family.  Admission of sin or failure is prevented at all costs, especially by the patriarch and certainly not outside the family.

People outside the family are regarded as potential converts, but one would never go into an environment where they were outnumbered (like someone else's church).

Chaotic Families

Chaotic families are often the result of children who grow up in Cultic (controlling) families.  (Some families reverse the process where they grow up in a chaotic family and so they create a controlling - cultic family as adults).

Chaotic families have rigid, but inconsistent rules.  The parents may discipline the children a lot but lack self-discipline in their own life.  Mystified parents are often adults one minute and needy children the next.  This inconsistency is made worse by divorce, which is frequent in chaotic families, and by a series of new spousal partners.

Boundaries in Chaotic Families

Enmeshment is a state of confusion in which you do not know where you end and another begins.  Physical boundaries are violated - the kids sleep with the parents, family members go to the bathroom while you are taking a bath, your brother or sister uses your things and wears your clothes (without permission)

The driving motivation in chaotic families is learning to please.  Love is based on neediness and emotional hunger.  Children are "spoiled" or taught to be their parents' caretakers or both.  There is a lot of failure in chaotic families.  People try hard but they never quite make it.  Trying is a kind of magical behavior.  In chaotic families, children learn that if you try hard, you don't have to actually get it done.

Children from chaotic families are often set up to take care of the needs of their families, take care of their parents' marriage, and/or take care of one of their parents.  Since the parents are often immature and childlike, they expect their children to make them happy.  The children learn that they are most lovable when they are caring for their parents - or making another person feel good.

Corrupt Families

In corrupt families, the parents failed to develop a conscience, often because they failed to develop a sense of shame.  The covert rule in corrupt families is "get away with anything you can."  There are no moral boundaries.  It is us against them, and anything goes.  No one counts except the family.  Loyalty to the family is the highest form of love.  This family loyalty may require that you cheat, lie to, beat up, or even murder others.

Corrupt Family Boundaries

In corrupt families there are rigid and absolute boundaries in relation to those outside the family and usually no boundaries within the parent/child relationship.  I put all sexually abusing families under the corrupt family heading.

The driving motivation in corrupt families is "be strong and tough" and "don't feel."  It is us against them and we can never let down our guard.  


Anything that violates a person's sense of self is considered violence.  This may be physical, sexual or mental.  Here is a list of a number of types of violence and abuse:

  • Neglecting a child's health needs.

  • Deserting them emotionally.

  • Use them to supply your own need to be admired and respected

  • Use them to take away your own disappointment and sadness by demanding that they perform, achieve, be beautiful, be athletic, be smart, etc.

  • Use them to keep your marriage going

  • Use them as a scapegoat for your anger and shame

  • Refuse to resolve your own unresolved issues from the past

  • Hitting, kicking, pushing, choking, shaking, pinching, slapping, pulling their hair, hitting them with an object or threatening to hit them.

  • Causing them to witness any form of physical violence.

  • Not protecting them from older siblings or bullies.

  • Teasing them about their body.

  • Demanding things that are unreasonable to expect from a child.

  • Refusing to set limits.

  • Not giving them the sexual information they need or giving them too much too soon.

  • Modeling inappropriate sexual behavior, which includes having a romanticized relationship with them, giving them seductive and voyeuristic looks, exposing them to inappropriate nudity, or kissing them seductively.

  • Touching their genitals in any way sexual or having them touch yours.

  • Exposing them to view any form of sexual behavior by adults or older siblings.

  • Bathe, massage, hug, kiss, dance with, or sleep with them as a form of sexual titillation for yourself.

  • Use them to supply your own


 Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse sends the message that you are desirable and lovable only when you are being sexual.  Many sexual abuse victims believe they must be sexually attractive to be valuable and loved.  Survivors of sexual abuse often excel in lovemaking.

A young woman who develops early and catches the attention of an abuser will go on to use those same assets that attracted the abuse to gain the affection of other boys and men.  If she is abused, not by sexual abuse, but by neglect, she may also use her body as a way of attracting the affection that she isn't provided at home.  Society defines this type of individual as a "slut".  In reality, she is a victim of ongoing abuse.

Obesity can be used as a boundary to hide one's sexual distinctiveness.  The more weight, the more one can hide.

Physical Abuse's Impact on Later Relationships

What a victim of childhood abuse learns is that relationships are based on power, control, secrecy, fear, shame, isolation and distance.

There are four major ways that victims respond to abuse.  The first and worst consequence of physical and sexual abuse is that the victim often grows up to become an offender, doing to others - especially to their children - just what was done to them.  Physical and sexual abuse survivors often become child batterers and child molesters.

The second way is to become an offender to yourself, treating yourself the same way your offender treated you.

The third and fourth responses result from the fact that abuse breaks the interpersonal bridge with the parents.  The child can no longer trust the parent and either builds walls of isolation, unconsciously choosing never to get close to anyone, or continues to be a victim and act out victim roles all through life.  The more that children are abused, the more ashamed they feel.  The more ashamed children feel, the lower the expectations for love and nurturing.  In effect the child concludes: "I'd better settle for anything I can get.  I'm so unlovable, I'm lucky to get anything from anybody."

More often than not, the impact of the abuse is to teach a child "how to be abused."  In the act of abuse, instead of learning to protect themselves, they learn that they can't protect themselves.  Later in their adult life, they are oblivious to dangers that others would find obvious.

Emotional Abuse

Carl Jung once said, "The most damaging thing for any family is the unlived lives of the parents."

People who failed to get their needs for affection and admiration met by their own parents will often use their children as their major source of narcissistic gratification.  They will develop an exaggerated sense of duty and gratitude into their children at an early age.  The children will feel like they owe their parents everything.  They will feel a toxic and pervading sense of guilt any time they seem happier or financially better off than their parents.

Every family needs a generation gap.  When mom and dad have unresolved conflict an intimacy vacuum can be created and that "gap" is lost.  The parents may use their child's problems as a way to be close, thus bringing the child into the marriage, rather than keeping the child at a healthy distance outside of the marriage, but in the family.


A child usually does not become mystified overnight.  The process takes time and involves several stages.  there are, of course, exceptions.  Severe sexual and physical abuse can have an immediate and lifelong impact.

Abusive behavior is unnatural.  It is not the spontaneous fruit of our human nature.  The abusing person either has learned to confuse abuse with love or is getting even with his or her own abuser.

Until we understand our own rights, we can't understand other people's rights.  Without boundaries, there are no limits.

From about age 3 on, children need privacy for their bodies.  They need a place to be alone when they bathe and dress.  They need parents with respectful boundaries.  Parents also need to protect younger children from older siblings.  

Children are rewarded for finding and naming their body parts.  They are, that is, until they find their genitals - then all hell breaks loose!  The total impact of all this will be that whenever they feel sexual or are sexual, they will feel a sense of badness and shame.  

In cultic and corrupt families, parents demand that the children's will and minds be fused with theirs.  The children lose contact with their own thoughts, fantasies and opinions.  Any time children have their own ideas, they are shamed with sentences like "Where did you get such an idea?"  Or "Don't you ever let me hear you say that again."  The message is: The way you think is not okay.



You must have empathy, understanding the specific needs of your child.  An adult can over-stimulate a child by approaching any process from that of an adult.  You must learn to approach the child from their perspective.

A way to meet children (or anyone else) at their level is to match their language.  We all like people who speak our language.  Really good communicators learn how to match other's language.  Milton Erickson said, "No one understands the same words the same way", so make sure that you know how they understand before you try to communicate.

Understanding Developmental Needs

Children do not mature at the same rate.

Shame-based parents go either too fast or too slow; they try to hurry their children's development or keep them immature.  The child experiences polarized parental demands, which are more than human (stern discipline) or less than human (spoiled indulgence).  Either extreme caused problems.

We learned many things in school that, while interesting, hardly prepared us for real adult life.


Toddlers are supposed to be stubborn and willful, just like teenagers.  "No" and "Mine" should be celebrated just as much as first steps.  They are part of our development of self and separation from our parents.  They are benchmarks of becoming human.

If mom and dad are still children themselves, the clash of will can be ferocious and the child will lose this battle.  In the process, so will his will.  

The parents can't let the children have their willpower and anger, or sexuality, because the parents forbid it in themselves.  The parent's dysfunction is passed on to their children.  They will either re-enact their parents lives or, just as problematic, the reverse.  Very needy parents my refuse to set limits and may let their children do to them what their parents originally did to them.

As the child goes through each developmental stage, the parents will have to deal with their own issues at that stage.

If the issues are unresolved, the parents will age regress.  Many parent-child transactions are really child-to-child transactions.  (Have you ever seen a grown adult arguing with a child?  This is really a child-to-child transaction.  The issues you argue about are the ones you have no power over.  As soon as you come to peace with the concept and can allow other to have a position that differs from your own, you have power over the issue.  If you're still arguing about it, it's your issue.)

The terrible two's are a declaration of war, the child's will against the parents.  The 2-year-old cannot be allowed to go unrestrained.  To refuse to set limits is abusive and often causes severe insecurity in the child.  It's like being on a tightrope without a net.  Firm limits give the child protection.  They provide aid when the little tyrant gets them self into a natural mess of shame and embarrassment.

If you shame and punish everything they do, you will block their new drive toward individuality.  Setting limits means that you must do some blocking, but minimize the shaming.  Don't tell them, "You're being a brat." or "One more sound and I'll spank you!" or "You don't really feel that way" might not be disastrous, but it greatly increases the risk of shaming your child.

You will create anger and resentment under the surface.  You are telling them what they're allowed to feel or not feel.  No one transgression towards your children will ruin them, but over time it will kill their spirit or create a rebel.  Kids develop their spirit by facing challenge, knowing you are there to support them and catch them if they fail.  

Children do not develop consistent logical thought until around age 7, but they are emotional beings from the very beginning.  Parents need to identify their own emotions - "I'm sad right now," "I'm angry," "I'm very happy" - and they need to name their child's emotions - "I see and hear that you are angry right now."  Instead of punishing a child for expressing anger, we should acknowledge the anger.  Like saying no, anger is a boundary.  when children are angry, they are defending themselves.  Anger is the emotion that moves our energy to fight for what we want.

Children cannot always have what they want, but their anger needs to be acknowledged.  Anger is the stuff of revolutions and the passion for confronting evil and injustice.  Without anger a child becomes a doormat and a conforming people pleaser, often standing up for nothing.  This is what every patriarch wants - a person who obeys and who will not make waves.

Anger is often confused with behaviors such as hitting, destroying property, name calling, and cursing.  These destructive behaviors are not the same as the feeling of anger, although they often accompany it.  We can teach our children (and ourselves) to feel and express anger without acting it out in destructive ways.

Many mystified parents who have had their own anger repressed try to be nice moms and dads till they can't take it any longer and then they  explode with rage.  Their child gets the accumulations of parents' past anger also.  When a parent rages and yells, the child represses their own anger.  The more the parent controls the child this way, the more the child is being set up to rage at their own children later on.

Numbing out also leads to addictions.  Children may be taught to eat put things in their mouths when they cry and lead to eating disorders.  They are taught to eat for sadness and anger, or they may numb their feelings with alcohol or drugs.

Developing Values

We have failed miserably with moral education because of our literalistic, moralistic patriarchal methods.  You cannot command value.  Values are based on freedom.

Functional parents are able to respond.  They've developed the personal skills and the solid personal discipline that it takes to solve most normal life problems and they get help when they don't know what to do.

Healthy Shame

Good parents don't know everything, but they work to find it out.  In contrast, many people act "shameless"; they present their opinions and actions as if they were perfect.  Many parents never admit making a mistake.  When we don't have all the answers, but won't look for them, we engage in power trips.





-Has perfect marriage without conflict (Ozzie and Harriet) -Deals with marital conflict. -Chaotic marriage  Corrupt marriage
-Always knows what is best to do -Sometimes is confused and asks for help -Never knows what to do
-Personally fulfilled and happy -Mostly happy   Experiences normal human emptiness   Sometimes in crisis -Repressed and miserable
-Always patient and in control -Sometimes loses temper or acts impatiently -Violent, rageful, out of control
-Aware of feelings and models them -Does best to be aware of and model feelings -Numbed out and unaware of feelings
-Superb teacher -Works at learning and growing Teaches nothing
-Super responsible -Able to respond -Irresponsible
-Lets child separate without struggle -Struggles with child's separating -Won't let child separate





-Perfectly obedient -Often rebels during toddler0-hood  Gradually obeys more and more until adolescence -Rebels against everything
-Never gives any trouble -Occasionally gets into trouble -Always in trouble
-Speaks when spoken to, Never interrupts -Speaks out of curiosity.  Interrupts a lot during preschool -Always interrupts.  Needs center stage.
-Rarely needs discipline of punishment -Needs limits.  Does not need to be spanked. -Needs frequent discipline and spankings.
-Never needs. -Has dependency needs. -Always whining and needy.


Although occasionally inconsistency is human, consistency is very important for children.  Consistency gives children a sense of security.  Children have a lot to cope with.  Inconsistent parents create a lack of predictability and add to a child's confusion.  Wise and soulful parents allow their children to take risks.

Negotiating Conflict

Conflict is the most difficult area of any relationship.  Sometimes we are only able to agree to disagree.  Ultimately, we must confront our differences, if only to accept them.  If our friendships are growing, they will move us towards deeper levels of intimacy.  If friends make this choice, they must be willing to deal with conflict. 

No matter how much two friends have in common, each is unique and sees the world from their own perspective.  So both must commit to deal with their differences.  we can grow by experiencing another person's point of view.  A friendship can be a great arena for this kind of growth.

EXERCISE in Negotiating Conflict

Sit facing each other with a piece of paper between you.  Decide something valuable that you both want that the paper represents.  Each of you grab a side of the paper holding on to the two corners.  

Take five minutes a piece to try to get the paper away from the other person, but know that if the paper is torn, neither of you gets it.

You can learn a lot about your style of negotiating conflict through this exercise.  It can be an amazing breakthrough to realize that you try the exact ways you used as a child to get what you wanted.  Some people just give up, turn their backs and pout; others try to trick their partner by distracting their attention.  Men often try to overpower their partner; women sometimes use seduction to get the paper.  It's good to talk things over and share feelings after you do this exercise.

Developing Deeper Levels of Intimacy

Partners may have achieved a high degree of sexual, emotional, recreational and work intimacy but they can develop more intellectual, aesthetic, and spiritual intimacy.  The couple can find a sense of renewal and adventure they never dreamed was possible.

  • Sexual(erotic or orgasmic closeness)

  • Emotional (empathy or empathic listening)

  • Intellectual(sharing the world of ideas)

  • Aesthetic (sharing the experience of beauty)

  • Creative(sharing acts of creating together)

  • Recreational(having fun and playing together)

  • Work (sharing common tasks)

  • Crisis(coping with problems and pain)

  • Conflict (facing and struggling with differences)

  • Commitment (mutuality derived from community service)

  • Spiritual (sharing ultimate concerns)

  • Communication(the source of all types of intimacy)

The Dark Side Of Friendship

Jealousy, envy and betrayal are the dark side of friendship.  When a friendship is deep and soulful, it has less jealousy than almost any other love.  But precisely because we cherish someone, jealousy is always lurking.  Jealously comes from the "Scarcity Rule", the idea that there isn't enough to go around.  

Envy is the desire for what another person has and it is much more likely to arise in friendships and affectionate family relationships.  We want our friends and family to do well, just as long as we're doing as well or better than they are.

Balance in Marriage Relationships



-Allowing the other to know us as we really are.  Expressing our feelings, needs and wants. -Allowing the other his/her solitude and privacy.  Not having to share everything.



-Asking for what we want.  Having a sense of duty to the other person; being accountable to them for our time and activities.  Spending time together.  Listening to each other. -Being able to say no.  Being able to negotiate our own private interests and growth needs.  Pursuing separate interests.  Spending time by oneself.  Enjoying solitude.

Love Of God

The difference between soulful and mystified love of god:  The majority of churchgoers - of whatever religion - are extrinsically religious.  The extrinsically religious person uses religion.  Going to church is useful to boost one's status, to bolster self-confidence, and to win friends, gain power and have influence.  Some people use their religious belief as a defense against reality.  Most often, people use it as a super-sanctioning of their own formula for living.  

This kind of religious love assures people that God sees things their way, that their righteousness in God's righteousness.  The extrinsically religious person turns to God, but does not turn away from self.  Religion is actually a shield for self-centeredness, serving the persons deep need for security, status and esteem.

Extrinsically religious people tend to be prejudiced and bigoted, regardless of what religion they belong to (anti-gay, patriarchal, prejudiced against all religions but their own, prejudiced against other cultures, ethnicities or skin colors etc.)

Intrinsically religious people are a much smaller group.  They have a deeply internalized religious faith and are totally committed to it.  their love of God is integral and all-encompassing.  It is an open faith, with room for scientific and emotional facts.  Intrinsic religious love is a hunger for commitment to oneness with others and God.  The intrinsically religious person has little prejudice or bigotry.  They practice what they preach and evidence a striking humility.

 Creating Love 

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