Gersten Gersten
The Inner Abuser


Dennis Gersten, M.D.

"The Inner Child" - one of the buzz-words of "serious" psychology as well as "pop" psychology. Everybody has one and needs to find it and nurture it. The past decade has seen a plethora of books on the subject. The "wounded inner child" is rich with symbolism. He carries "the wound" and "the secret," two important images and experiences needing exploration. But he does not live in isolation. To my awe and amazement, one of my patients introduced me to a first cousin of the "wounded inner child" - the "inner abuser." I have since explored this inner state with many patients and found it to be a crucial part of the inner life of those who have been abused.

Our modern western world is filled with broken homes as well as abusive and neglectful homes. The end-product of such painful childhoods is adults who live on the edge, whose emotions are out of control, and whose relationships are chaotic. At the extreme, these people suffer from borderline personality organization.

It is extremely important, in my opinion, to begin to map out the inner states that people must traverse on their journey toward wholeness. I believe that there are certain predictable images and inner states that are associated with different emotional states and illnesses. Thus far, in regard to people with borderline organization, I have found a ubiquitous presence of three profound and lasting states: 1) the wounded inner child, 2) the void, and 3) the inner abuser. And there may be more such states that remain un-discovered at this time.

The Wounded Inner Child

The Inner Abuser

The Void

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