On alternate Friday-Saturdays, our 40 student Organizational Behavior class broke-out into quadrilles, to address some touchy-feely topic. This particular day we were charged with date-stamping the most significant event in our childhood from 0-19. Even though we were not required to spill-the-beans on what happened, it was the 'when' of Six Stages of Childhood Development that would help us identify our Achilles's Heel.
Our foursome soon became a trio, when an engineer colleague objected to paying $30,000 in EMBA tuition for public amateur psycho-therapy sessions. After class I learned that our OB (psych) profs, (8 out of 10 graduates of the University of Michigan), were disciples of Erik Erikson's eight stages of psychosocial development,
Stage 7: Care (middle adulthood, 40–59 years) Existential Question: Can I Make My Life Count?
Stage Seven did me in, at 48.2 years, my Existential Question was how to avoid homelessness. My psycho-therapist suggested that Harvel Hendix's "Keeping the Love You Find," could help. I quickly became an apostle of Harvel's Six Stages of Childhood Development or 'Wound Theory.'
As an architect I can read pictures, diagrams, even maps, so the above chart said to me that I never got off of first base, the ATTACHMENT phase. My 30 year relationship had become so incompatible because my partner was also wounded in the ATTACHMENT stage, only on the opposite Achilles's heel.
The AVOIDER: Minimizer, Rigid Boundaries
Basic Fear (Wound): Contact may lead to emotional and physical rejection, loss of self through contact with parent (partner).
Internal Message: Don't be
Core Belief: "I have no right to exist"
Relationship Belief: I will be hurt if I initiate contact with you
Image of Partner: Demanding, all consuming
Relationship to Partner: Detached; avoidant
Core Issue: Too much togetherness; too many feelings; too much chaos
Typical Frustration: You hate me; you feel too much
Recurrent Feeling: Terror and rage
Conflict Management: Hyper-rational; avoidant; passive/aggressive withdrawal and coldness
Growth Challenge: Claim right to be; initiate emotional and physical contact; express feelings; increase body awareness and sensory contact with environment
The CLINGER: Maximizer, Diffuse Boundaries
Basic Fear (Wound): Separation and abandonment; loss of self through loss of contact with parent (partner)
Internal Message Don't need me
Core Belief: "I can't get my needs met"
Relationship Belief: I am safe if I hold on to you
Image of Partner: Unavailable; has no feelings; a rock wall
Relationship to Partner: Clinging; demanding; attempts to fuse
Core Issue: Separateness
Typical Frustration: You are never there
Recurrent Feeling: Voracious rage and terror
Conflict Management: Hyper-emotional, uncompromising; demanding, then giving in
Growth Challenge: Let go; do things on your own; negotiate
EXPLORATION STAGE: (18 months to 3 years)
The Isolator: Minimizer, Rigid Boundaries
Basic Fear (Wound): Being smothered, absorbed, humiliated, loss of parent (partner)
Internal Message Don't be separate
Core Belief: "I can't say no and be loved"
Relationship Belief: I will be absorbed if I get close
Image of Partner: Insecure; too dependent; needy
Relationship to Partner: Sets limits on togetherness; passive/aggressive; acts out absorption fears by distancing
Core Issue: Personal freedom; autonomy
Typical Frustration: You need too much
Recurrent Feeling Recurrent Feeling: Fear and impotent fury
Conflict Management: Oppositional; distancing
Growth Challenge: Initiate closeness; share feelings; increase time together; integrate positive and negative traits in partner
The Pursuer: Maximizer, Diffuse Boundaries
Basic Fear (Wound): Unreliability of others, abandonment; loss of parent (partner)
Internal Message Don't be dependent
Core Belief: "I can't count on anyone"
Relationship Belief: If I act independent, you will abandon me
Image of Partner: Distant; has no needs
Relationship to Partner: Ambivalent pursuit and withdrawal
Core Issue: Partner reliability; support; standing
Typical Frustration: You are never there when I need you
Recurrent Feeling: Panic and anger
Conflict Management: Blaming, demanding; chasing; complaining; devaluing
Growth Challenge: Initiate separateness; develop outside interests; internalize partner; integrate positive and negative traits of partner
IDENTITY STAGE (3 to 4)
The Controller: Minimizer, Rigid Boundaries
Basic Fear (Wound): Being shamed; loss of control; losing face; loss of parental (partner) love
Internal Message Don't be what you want to be, be what we want you to be
Core Belief: "I can't be me and be accepted and loved"
Relationship Belief: I'll be safe if I stay in control
Image of Partner: Unorganized; scatterbrained; over-emotional
Relationship to Partner: Domineering; critical; invasive; withholding
Core Issue: Partner's emotional liability, chaos, and passivity
Typical Frustration: You want me to be somebody else; you don't know what you want
Recurrent Feeling: Shame and anger
Conflict Management: Rigidly imposes will; super-rational with occasional angry outbursts; takes charge; punishes
Growth Challenge: Relax control; mirror partner's thoughts and feelings; develop flexibility and sensitivity
The Diffuser: Maximizer, Diffuse Boundaries
Basic Fear (Wound): Being invisible, self-assertion, loss of parental (partner) love
Internal Message Don't assert yourself
Core Belief: "I'll never be seen, valued, and accepted"
Relationship Belief: I'll be loved if I go along and please others
Image of Partner: Insensitive; controlling
Relationship to Partner: Submissive; passive-aggressive; manipulative
Core Issue: Partner rigidity and dominance
Typical Frustration: You never see me; you want everything your way
Recurrent Feeling: Shame and confusion
Conflict Management: Confused; alternates between compliance and defiance; exaggerates emotions; makes few suggestions; self-effacing
Growth Challenge: Assert yourself; set boundaries for yourself; respect boundaries of others
COMPETENCE STAGE (4-6)
The Competitor: Minimizer, Rigid Boundaries
Basic Fear (Wound): Being a failure, guilt and disapproval, fear of parental (partner) disapproval
Internal Message Don't make mistakes
Core Belief: "I have to be perfect"
Relationship Belief: I'll be loved if I am the best
Image of Partner: Manipulative; incompetent
Relationship to Partner: Competitive; aggressive; puts partner down
Core Issue: Control; battle for who's boss
Typical Frustration: You are never satisfied
Recurrent Feeling: Anger and guilt
Conflict Management: Competes for control
Growth Challenge: Accept competence; become cooperative; mirror and value partner’s efforts
The Compromiser: Maximizer, Diffuse Boundaries
Basic Fear (Wound): Being aggressive, successful, competent, and powerful, losing parental (partner) approval
Internal Message Don't be powerful
Core Belief: "I don't know what to do; I can't be aggressive or express anger"
Relationship Belief: I'll be loved if I am good and cooperative
Image of Partner: Never satisfied; has to win
Relationship to Partner: Manipulative; compromising; sabotaging
Core Issue: Feeling controlled; efforts not valued
Typical Frustration: You always have to win
Recurrent Feeling: Helpless and resentful
Conflict Management: Compromises; manipulates
Growth Challenge: Be direct; express power; develop competence; praise partner's success
CONCERN for OTHERS STAGE (6-13)
The Loner: Minimizer, Rigid Boundaries
Basic Fear (Wound): Ostracism by peers; parental (partner) rejection
Internal Message Don't be close
Core Belief: "I am not lovable"
Relationship Belief: I'll be hurt if I try to be close
Image of Partner: Gregarious and intrusive
Relationship to Partner: Exclude partner from inner world; make unilateral plans; counter-dependent
Core Issue: Partner intrusiveness
Typical Frustration: You don't like me; you won't leave me alone
Recurrent Feeling: Resentment and depression
Conflict Management: Avoids conflict; sulks
Growth Challenge: Develop same-sex friends; join partner in socializing; share feelings and thoughts with partner; become inclusive
The Caretaker: Maximizer, Diffuse Boundaries
Basic Fear (Wound): Having or expressing needs; being excluded; parental (partner) rejection
Internal Message Don't have any needs of your own
Core Belief: "Others need me"
Relationship Belief: I'll be loved if I meet your needs
Image of Partner (IP): Unappreciative
Relationship to Partner: Self-sacrificing; intrusive
Core Issue: Partner's exclusion
Typical Frustration: You don't appreciate me or my efforts
Recurrent Feeling: Resentment; depression
Conflict Management: Tries to be understanding and nice
Growth Challenge: Express needs to partner and others; self-care; respect partner's privacy; take time alone
INTIMACY STAGE (13-19)
The Rebel: Minimizer, Rigid Boundaries
Basic Fear (Wound): Being controlled by others (parent/partner)
Internal Message: Don't grow up
Core Belief: "I am not trusted"
Relationship Belief: I'll be controlled if I give up dissent
Image of Partner: Too nice; counter-controlling; devalues partner
Relationship to Partner: Rebellious; controlling; devalues partner
Core Issue: Freedom to break the rules
Typical Frustration: You are never on my side
Recurrent Feeling: Anger and disappointment
Conflict Management: Rebellious; suspicious of motives
Growth Challenge: Maintain self-identity; be responsible to others; learn to trust others
The Conformist: Maximizer, Diffuse Boundaries
Basic Fear (Wound): Being different from others; disapproval of parent (partner)
Internal Message: Don't make waves
Core Belief: "I have to be good"
RB: I have to hold things together
Image of Partner: Rebellious child
Relationship to Partner: Condescending; critical; controlling
Core Issue : Stability and cooperation
Typical Frustration: You won't grow up; you always want to be different
Recurrent Feeling: Angry self-righteousness
Conflict Management: Tries to impose rules
Growth Challenge: Experiment with being different; take risks, develop identity
Our Childhood Wound is our Achilles's Heel. No matter how successful we are on paper, every relationship in friendship, business or marriage has the potential for a battle with Hector. At least a third of the population gets dipped in ATTACHMENT (no father, nervous mother). CONCERN for OTHERS 7-13 flunks their first away from home game at elementary school. Another third confuses sex with INTIMACY.
Steve Jobs is our classic ATTACHMENT: CLINGER. No father, mother placed him with college educated parents who abandoned him. Jobs abandons his first partner & child goes on to karmically get fired by Apple, his true love.
Obama a classic ATTACHMENT: AVOIDER. No father, absent mother gets to the White House to spill his mid-life transition 45-55 woundedness on the world stage. The problem for Obama and all of us, no matter the stage of childhood development- Yes Virginia, everybody gets wounded - we can't unwind our wound. Our only Hope for Change is self-awareness and focus on our Growth Challenge.
Not to beat a dead horse of a presidential candidate but the quintessential ATTACHMENT: CLINGER Hillary Clinton might have won in 2008 or 2016 if she had responded to her Growth Challenge: Let go; do things on your own; negotiate. Let Bill, Obama, pollsters, celebrities, financiers, and your 'my turn' go. Do things on your own, campaign for yourself where the people are e.g. Wisconsin, Michigan and PA. Negotiate with transparency.