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Healing the Child Within: Discovery and Recovery for Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families
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Healing the Child Within: Discovery and Recovery for Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  4,435 ratings  ·  142 reviews
Dr. Whitfield provides a clear and effective introduction to the basic principles of recovery. This book is a modern classic, as fresh and useful today as it was more than a decade ago when first published. Here, frontline physician and therapist Charles Whitfield describes the process of wounding that the Child Within (True Self) experiences and shows how to differentiate ...more
Paperback, 176 pages
Published April 1st 1987 by Health Communications Inc
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Average rating 4.11  · 
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 ·  4,435 ratings  ·  142 reviews

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Judy B. Burford
Thanks to Charles L. Whitfield, M.D., and his book, Healing the Child Within: Discovery and Recovery for Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families, I was able to move on to a healthier way of life. When my children were teens, it became abundantly clear that some of the dysfunction I lived with as a teen was filtering into my parenting. That was the last thing I ever wanted to happen. Dr. Whitfield provides a clear and concise way to heal your inner child, the one damaged by your dysfunctional pa ...more
Alex Lee
Jan 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is about psychology, spirituality and coming to terms with the conditions of one's psyche.

Throughout the book, Whitfield talks heavily about integration. The main subject matter is about finding a way to reintegrate the parts of us that have been frozen at the time of trauma... the point being, that a full integration allows us to reclaim parts of our selves so that we are no longer beholden to their mechanisms. Only after we are aware of how those parts of us are trapped in automatic
Five solid stars. Healing the Child Within is an extremely powerful and therapeutic read – one which is perfect for meditation and healing. I highly recommend it to anyone seeking strength and empowerment as well as personal, interpersonal and spiritual growths. Read this and learn to discover, nurture and free your true self!
Joseph Ranseth
Jul 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book is a great read for anyone getting started on their personal journey to finding more happiness. I found it a great return to the beautiful basics of emotional healing and would recommend it to anyone wanting to understand why their life patterns, especially in relationships, are the way they are, and how to make them better.
The book is comprehensive in tools for the discovery of how our early life experiences shaped us in the behaviors and thinking we have now. It helps identify the wa
Jul 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I managed to get on the same mental wavelength as the author 3 or 4 times during the book and really identify with what he was saying. The rest of the time I was lost in a fog of vague psychobabble.

The concept of the book is still quite intriguing, but the book itself did not deliver a whole lot that I could really understand and use.

Instead read The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog: And Other Stories from a Child Psychiatrist's Notebook. While not exactly a self help/therapy book, it does give a goo
Jan 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
The was a really good book. The first few chapters were jam packed with great information. The last few chapters I found a little more difficult to read and more pscyhology heavy...

One particular part in the book that was really an a-ha moment for me was Chapter 13 Transforming. This very same thing had happened to me already so it was really refreshing to see it described as common:

*****Joe came from a troubled family. During his recovery, he was assertive and stood up to his mother who called
Shuyi Chua
Apr 04, 2016 rated it it was ok
It reads more like a personal account, someone sharing his personal experience, than a well-researched book. So there are many claims without evidence or backing up. Interesting is how he transfers ideas from alcoholism recovery to any kind of emotional struggle growing up in a family that did not give enough support. I feel the book lacked impact, or depth of ideas. While it had a breadth of ideas, it did not go into depth for any of them. I found the personal bill of rights interesting!
Majken Emilie
This is written as a sort of textbook to accompany someone who is in the starting phase of looking into their childhood/unhealthy habits/problems. I think it would be absolutely useful for many people unless you have already idenfified most of your core issues, and have worked on your childhood problems for years. This is because for instance, this is full of checklists for example for people who think they might have a drinking problem in their family but are unsure. It also has examples from c ...more
Laura Garrett
Oct 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
One of the first self help books that I read back in 1990. It helped me understand about the little girl inside me. I may have grown up on the outside but I was not grown up emotionally and this book was the beginning of that transformation.
Jun 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-work
Excellent book about recovery from trauma. It's unfortunate that some have misused, ridiculed and misunderstood the concept.
May 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: self-help
I'll preface this review by saying I've never been an avid reader of "self-help" books, not because I don't think they have any validity or value but simply because they've never really clicked with my reading style. That said, Healing the Child Within is an exceptionally well written and constructed book that has given me immense value as I consider my own wellness. It's written in a very easy-to-follow style that, while it does provide numerous citations, is presented in such a way that anyone ...more
Dec 01, 2019 added it
Shelves: dnf
Dnf - boring and too basic.
May 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book has truly withstood the test of time! It was originally released in 1986 and then revised in 2006.

While I don't really get into self help books much, if at all, this one had me entranced the entire time. Fantastic doesn't even begin to describe how amazing this book is. I will be reading it and referring to it again for years to come.

This is a book that EVERYONE needs to read from start to finish at least once in their lifetime.
Tom Britz
Jan 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book's first half dealt with describing the various ways trauma affects children, citing professional journals. It was a bit dry reading and tedious in spots. The second half dealt with treatment. Dr. Whitfield is a proponent of the various twelve step programs that are available such as the ones used by A.A. and other groups (Al-Anon, ACoA, etc.) Basically finding safe people to tell your story to.
Bohdan Pechenyak
Absolutely a must-read for anyone with dysfunctional family background, co-dependency or other deeply seated psychological issues. One of the best - maybe THE best - books I've read. It lays everything out very clearly, succinctly yet comprehensively enough, providing a good base of awareness and a framework for recovery. The accompanying workbook "A Gift to Myself" is the next stop on the path.
Oct 08, 2014 rated it liked it
Not nearly as good as I thought it would be. Basically you read the whole book and the gist is he thinks you'll get way more out of it if you go to group therapy. Don't get me wrong, there are a few good things in here, but I was expecting blow me away amazing and I definitely did not get that.
Great book for introducing the concept of inner child/true self/inner self ect.. Very easy to read and understand psychological concepts. This book can help to gain a better understanding on relationship between childhood experience and adult behaviour. What I particular like is that the author constantly reminds the reader to get a professional support.
I found this book similar to a "child adult" book I read prior to this one, find it repetitive in some parts, but still quite insightful if you
Josie Varela
Aug 31, 2019 rated it liked it
This book is a general guide to giving the child within a second chance at life. That child within represents the "real self" and for those from troubled families, the child within is hiding deep deep down. This book points out signs and symptoms one may have when they are or have been mistreated in their past, blocks to healing, and how to overcome those blocks. He talks about group therapy a lot but mostly about the importance of finding SAFE PEOPLE to talk to about everything, people who will ...more
Hannah Grace
This took me sooooo long to read, and I believe it was because it was so dense. But, hurrah, I finished.

One of the most classic, famous books within the CoA community, I had read portions of this book before my therapist told me to read it. I am really lucky in that most of the stuff in this book was stuff I figured out on my own through many, many years of thinking, feeling, processing, etc... But I understand why this book is a classic. It is needed for people like me, for more people than you
Hilary Whatley
Surprisingly still accurate for a book written in 1987. It's an excellent guide.

I love how he stresses the importance of not rushing ourselves through the process. It's so frequent that we get stuck in our stories, stuck in our emotions, and the people we love become tired of hearing about it. Even support groups do this. We need to respect our own timing for moving on (preferably without burdening everyone though - why I am a proponent of self talk).

Through this unconditional validation, we wi
Leonard Wayne
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was ok
More like a personal account, someone sharing his personal experience, than a well-researched book. There are many too claims without evidence or backing up. He transfers ideas from his alcoholism recovery that did not give enough real support. The book lacked impact, and in depth ideas. While it had a small breadth of ideas, it did not go into depth for any of them. I found the personal bill of rights interesting but not real!
Helpful and insightful. Addresses ways that families touched by abuse and addiction can and are likely impacted. Had no idea how deeply my family had been touched by these issues. — Gained insight on how this can be passed down through generations regardless of alcohol/drug abuse and addictions are present or not present in one’s immediate family. A great tool for all reading/learning levels.
May 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Love reading into the psychology of things. This was definitely a book to skim through and still get the gist of what was being said. Every now and then it had personal stories and I loved reading those, there were a lot of tables drawn that were.... just comical. Overall, i found it to be a little outdated but interesting none the less!!
Dec 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wow! As an adult that grew up in an alcoholic induced violent home, there is much to heal from. This book is a beautifully written, and immensely helpful. I will be buying this book, to keep reviewing as I walk through the healing process again, after having children myself. How profoundly insightful this book is!
Phan DiNu
Apr 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"Healing the child within" is so well - written that even a newbie in psychology like me can take a grasp of its main message. Not too much jargons or terminologies, the book offers a bunch of relatable examples with illustrations and diagrams which help you visualize the big picture and of course, ease your reading experience. A practial entry-level book 📚
May 09, 2019 rated it liked it
As the adult child of substance abusing parents who’s still got a lot of healing to do, this book gave a few insights and vocabulary to some of the feelings and behaviors that I experience. It relies heavily on the 12 step programs for advice and information, which personally I don’t like or find helpful.
Naive Dinusaur
Jul 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
"Healing the child within" is so well - written that even a newbie in psychology like me can take a grasp of its main message. Not too much jargons or terminologies, the book offers a bunch of relatable examples with illustrations and diagrams which help you visualize the big picture and of course, ease your reading experience. A practial entry-level book
Joshua Lawson
Apr 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology
Healing the Child Within sat on my shelf for over a year before I finally picked it up because the cover art and title led me to believe that it was a superficial, pop psychology type of book. I was wrong. Much to the contrary, I found plenty of rich, helpful material here — some of it dated, obviously, but no less relevant for that fact. The chapter on grieving was probably the best.
Tích Lang
Oct 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Often we think that we live life according to how we want it to be. In fact, life is actually taking us in the ways we did not plan. One can really live life to the full when we know how to live with life’s interruptions in their planned life.
Mike Northrup
Mar 10, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I couldn’t finish this book. 5 chapters in and I found it to be vague, lacking any real application. The author seemed more concerned with citing research studies than providing tangible action items for his readers. I give up.
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Charles L. Whitfield, M.D., is a physician, psychotherapist, author and internationally recognized expert on mental illness, behavioral problems, and recovery from addiction and trauma. He was on the faculty of the Rutgers University Summer Institute of Alcohol and Drug Studies from 1978 through 2003, and in private practice of addiction medicine and psychotherapy since 1976. He has also been a co ...more

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There's something great about a paperback book: They're perfect book club choices, you can throw them in your bag and go, and they've been out in...
55 likes · 17 comments
“The observer self, a part of who we really are, is that part of us that is watching both our false self and our True Self. We might say that it even watches us when we watch. It is our Consciousness, it is the core experience of our Child Within. It thus cannot be watched—at least by anything or any being that we know of on this earth. It transcends our five senses, our co-dependent self and all other lower, though necessary parts, of us.
Adult children may confuse their observer self with a kind of defense they may have used to avoid their Real Self and all of its feelings. One might call this defense “false observer self” since its awareness is clouded. It is unfocused as it “spaces” or “numbs out.” It denies and distorts our Child Within, and is often judgmental.”
“From the recovery experience of hundreds of thousands of people, we know that there is an effective way out of this constricting and binding effect of shame: to tell the story of our suffering to safe and supportive others. (51)” 9 likes
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