Why people avoid their own “bigger me”

Not everyone wants to see inside what is true for them. They know, if they see — they become responsible.

Bruce Dickson
2 min readMar 2, 2024
Collage by the author

John Bradshaw mentions the ridicule he received from the mass media when he first popularized the inner child. He invited people see unresolved childhood trauma, things hidden away, family secrets. Most of us have spent a lifetime trying to forget, suppress or even deny the skeletons in our closet. Bradshaw showed much denialism existed, even in highly educated people; and, more common than imagined.

John Bradshaw heroically countered this culture of denial with a culture of safe, sane, self-exploration and uncovery. I like all of John’s books. Family Secrets (Bantam, 1995), one of his later books, is less well-known; yet, may be one of his best.

Bradshaw likens the ridicule he received from the mass media to a collective reflection of the inner critical parent, afraid to face the inner child who can justly accuse the parent of emotional neglect and/or poor choices and/or abuse.

Our ego, the “critical parent,” is often only strong artificially and superficially — strong — but brittle. Its self-concept is based in part on rose-colored or even manufactured happy images of childhood with mom and dad. (The same can be said about many males’ masculine self-image; hence, the topic of fragile masculinity).

Childhood neglect-abuse was and is so common. Many of us who were neglected-abused prefer not to unearth this buried material. Ridiculing and obfuscating the inner child protects our hidden secrets. Second, many adults were party to perpetrating neglect-abuse on children — including damming and condemning their own inner child. So any mention of child abuse is a loaded topic to both Western and Eastern adults.

The more neutral and whole model of Internal Family System, innovated in 1995, had to wait until the denial-drama of acknowledging the inner child, died down. Acknowledging, accepting and learning to converse with our unresolved internal parts is the starting place for most self-connection and self-healing.

Make sense? Any questions?