There is one problem that surpasses all others in its impact on men, women and society. It is the paternal wound.
We focus on the importance of mothers in determining the well-being of children. However, the father’s hurt—resulting from the father’s physical or emotional absence—has been largely ignored.
Father’s wound is perhaps the most prevalent, important and least recognized problem facing men and their families today.
Here is how one man described his injury:
“My dad had a ‘nervous breakdown’ when I was about 5. I’m 73 and I still remember the ‘shame’. My mom used to take me with her to pick it up after that he received electroshock – it still hurts today. Not only the injury of the father, but because my mother took me as a surrogate partner, my life was littered with very nice women who could I n never lived up to her expectations, even though she’s been dead for 32 years. I’m fine, but I’m still working on these wounds and doing my best to help others heal too.
The father’s injury does not only impact the lives of men. Here is how one woman described her experience:
“I feel very threatened and I feel like my partner is going to leave me all the time. I have a lot of chaos in my life and nothing seems certain. I was the ‘black sheep’ of the family in more of the dysfunction of a father who was present physically, but not emotionally. I feel like as I got older, I had more fear and more pain. It was very difficult for my partner. I don’t want anymore hurt him. He’s too good for that.”
On May 7, 2016, six months before the presidential election, I wrote the article “The real reason Donald Trump will be our next president“. In the article I concluded, “Mr. Trump appears to have suffered abuse, neglect and abandonment as a child.”
He was raised by a dad who worked seven days a week, whose core value was “winning at all costs” and had little time for parenting. Many people identified with Mr. Trump’s rage, without recognizing the underlying cause, and voted for him.
When injured children grow up to hold important political office, the impact is felt around the world.
As a psychotherapist who has treated over 30,000 men and women over my long career, I have seen the devastating impact that absent fathers can have on the lives of their children and how injury causes problems for all the stages of life.
Boys and girls who experience paternal hurt often become adults who unknowingly hurt their own children. Once I recognized and understood the prevalence and importance of paternal hurt, I was able to help people recover from issues that had previously resisted medical and psychological interventions.
According to the National Center for Fathering“More than 20 million children live in a home without the physical presence of a father. Millions more have fathers who are physically present, but emotionally absent. If classified as a disease, the absence of father would be an epidemic worthy of attention as a national emergency.”
Paternal wounding impacts four critical areas of our lives:
- Our physical health.
- Our emotional health.
- Our relational health.
- Our social and political health.
The effects of growing up without a loving and engaged father ripples through generations and contributes to many of the most serious issues we face in our society today, including:
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Depression and suicide
- teenage pregnancy
- sex addiction
- Broken marriages
In order to help people, we need to understand why most people don’t recognize that they have a father wound or that it is the cause of many of the problems they experience in their lives. It’s hard to believe that childhood trauma can be the root of problems that arise 30, 40 or 50 years later.
The lifelong impact of negative childhood experiences (ACE) has been demonstrated in landmark studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)/Kaiser Permanente.
These studies have been conducted over the past twenty years and show that most people in the United States have at least one ACE and that people with four ACEs – including living with an alcoholic parent, racism, bullying, witnessing violence outside the home, physical abuse, and losing a parent to divorce – pose a huge risk of developing chronic health problems in adulthood such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, depression, anxiety and alcoholism.
Scientists are still debating how emotionally damaging childhood experiences can have physical effects years later, but it’s now pretty well established that they do. One of the most promising lines of research shows that negative childhood experiences damage the immune system.
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The impact of absent or abusive fathers is one of the ACEs that has been largely ignored. For most of us, we block out early trauma. It was painful then, but we survive and move on, hoping to put the memories behind us. However, what we don’t remember can cause problems later in life.
Fortunately, we now have a multitude of treatments to heal childhood trauma and its impact on adults. I wrote about four useful techniques in my book Stress Relief for Men: How to Use the Revolutionary Tools of Energy Healing to Live Well.
These techniques include EFT (tapping), heart coherence, grounding (grounding), and attachment love. They also work well for women.
Healing begins with understanding and accepting father’s hurt and the impact of other ACEs in our lives. To see if you were affected by negative childhood experiences, you can get your ACE score here and you can also read more about ACE studies.
Jed Diamond is a licensed psychotherapist with a Ph.D. in international health and a licensed clinical social worker.
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Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2017.
This article was originally published on menalive.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.