An Apology to the Children…On Behalf of the Adults

Oh no! Not another media medical correspondent saying what Catherine Zeta-Jones is dealing with – bipolar two – is not curable, but can only be managed and controlled. Not only did one more medical editor say this about Zeta-Jones, but he said it about mental illness in general: “When it comes to mental illness, you talk about it more as controlled and managed*…“

There are those adults in this world who are aware and understand that true healing is possible…who have not given up, and who have been working to help bring true healing to our world. There are those adults in our world who try everything they know, who have not given up, but who just haven’t been able to find the help they need. But there are many more adults in our world who, unconsciously or consciously, collude in the lie that we cannot heal our emotional wounds but can only manage them. It is the actions and inactions of those last adults that have stirred in my heart an apology to the children of our world.

My deep apologies that we, the adults of the world – however consciously or unconsciously – have colluded in the lie that being wounded, experiencing deep pain, suffering in some way and experiencing the profound effects of that woundedness, pain, and suffering…means you are “mentally ill.”

I am so sorry…we, your elders, have closed the doors for you to true, deep healing. That we have, out of our own wounds, created a society in which only quick fixes are welcomed. In which the goal is to get people functional again, never mind the wound at the core. Never mind the need to heal to the root. Never mind the effect on us, on you, and on our world.

I am so sorry …that instead of continuing our own searches within ourselves to find and heal our own wounds, we have once again normalized denial. Once again we have created stigma, this time making anyone who cannot be “functional” mentally ill, creating a society of automatons, who deal with the surface of the outer world, but stay miles and miles away from their inner worlds. We have yet again normalized destructive defenses against our wounds, our pain, our suffering …and those of others.

We have yet again created horrors for you, our children, in your young lives – like bullying – and consider it a children’s issue, blaming you…instead of looking inside ourselves at the bully in each of us from which the bullying in our children has emerged. My heart’s response: Don’t you dare blame it on our children. No child comes out of the womb a bully! Look at yourself!

But no, we “adults” – too, too many of us – have refused to look inside ourselves, have refused to discover our wounds and meet them face to face, have refused to work through the pain we have experienced in our families and in our societies, in order to heal ourselves and our world and to cause you less suffering. We would diminish your suffering if we would tend to our own. We would prevent your suffering if we revealed what is happening in our families, our communities, our countries, our world – the abuse of children physically, sexually, mentally, emotionally, spiritually…sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously, at times straight out in the open and at others under the guise of something supposedly “good.”

I am so sorry we have let the pharmaceutical companies and the managed care insurance companies, with their hunger for money hook into the places within us where we preferred to hide from our experiences, our feelings, our own woundedness. That we let them, encouraged them with our consumption, provide the quick fixes and the limitations and constraints to control us and “make us feel better”…enough to function. And I’m so sorry that we have let them seduce us, where we wanted to be seduced, into settling.

I’m so sorry we became afraid and instead of going through our fear put down the sword of self responsibility that was becoming more common, more welcome, more cultivated through depth psychotherapy beginning in the 1950’s…for that was one of the threads at the heart of the growth of depth psychotherapy – self responsibility.** I’m so sorry we allowed the forces within us and the forces in the world outside us to sway us…so that the inner revolution – which was actually a profound evolution – was stopped in its tracks.

I am so sorry for all that came from that serious, destructive interruption…including new forms of purported “healing” that were, in themselves, quick fixes, seductions, misuses of power, avoidances of consciousness and self responsibility. No wonder the New Age has such a bad reputation! How is a claim to cure depression in one evening any better than a claim that that you should take a pill and learn the signs of an on-coming episode that you’ve been told you need to control and nothing more?

I am so sorry we have hidden the truth…that there is a way to heal to the root. That we create our world – our inner and outer world – from that which lives within us, whether we’re conscious of that or not! That we need to take responsibility for what we are creating in our world – from the inside out – or we will never be able to create what we so long to create. A conscious, self-responsible, compassionate, connected, feeling world that is truly at peace within and without.

It’s true. There is a way to heal to the root. We do create our world from that which lives within us. We do need to take responsibility for what we are creating. It is possible to create what we most deeply long for. I have never given up on the process or the possibilities that come through depth psychotherapy. I have experienced it, witnessed it, been a midwife and guide to it. I have never given up on healing to the root! Not for myself, not for my clients, not for those who read my book, subscribe to my newsletter, read my articles and my blog posts, listen to my interviews and web conferences, not for those who attend my workshops and talks. Not for anyone who is willing to say ‘yes’ to it!

I am so sorry that too many of us adults gave up our attempts to truly change the world from the depths of our being and instead, out of fear, hid the truth from ourselves, and our wounds from ourselves. And instead, began to settle for and accept pseudo efforts at change on the outside only. I am so sorry that because so many of us are still defending against the truth of our own wounds and abuse, there are too many who would rather you don’t know the truth of your wounds, your families, your countries and world…and the terrible abuses you have suffered.

Because if you did know…you would change things. You would wrestle with the temptation within you to settle. You would struggle against your own dismissal and hiding of pain beneath functionality. You would fight against the normalization of child abuse – within and without – either outright or under the guise of anything. You would stand up firmly against the suppression and repression of feeling within you and in our world. You would pick up where we left off and gave up out of our own fear and the collusion of so much of the rest of society…bringing yourselves to the deep work of conscious healing within.

You would discover for yourselves that it is absolutely possible to heal to the root. And then you would be able to, from your own personal experience, refute medical experts who consider woundedness “mental illness” and claim it is not heal-able but only manageable and controllable. And then you, too, like those of us, your elders who haven’t given up, would be able to know and say that we are all wounded and we all need to do our own deep inner healing work…for our own sakes, for the sake of our children, and for the sake of our world.

If you knew the truth…you would change things not just on the outer level, on the surface, but from the inside out.

** To read more about true self responsibility . . . please see Chapter Five (”You are Responsible for Everything – Here and Now”) on pages 45-46 of my book, Power Abused, Power Healed.

© Copyright 2011 by Judith Barr, MS, LMHC. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • Hannah

    May 14th, 2011 at 6:06 AM

    Hopefully the more we grow and learn and give knowledeg to our children, the more compelled that they will feel as they grow older to educate others and get the word out. This is a great article for anyone to share with both the adults and childredn in their lives!

  • Kenneth

    May 15th, 2011 at 9:52 AM

    Wow that is amazing, and every bit the truth.

  • brad

    May 15th, 2011 at 7:16 PM

    wonderfully written article about something that is of concern to every single person but also something that is not looked into very often…we humans have turned into machines who go in for a servicing when there is something wrong…we know of medications but have forgotten about awakening our souls,our true selves within us…

  • Madeleine

    May 16th, 2011 at 4:25 AM

    This is such a great step forward. I think that for too many adults they have been afraid to admit that they could be wrong in front of their childredn because they feel like it coud undermine their authority. Whereas I actually think that most kids respect you more if you can admit that you have been wrong before and that we all make mistakes. This makes you more human in their eyes and increases their ability to relate to you.

  • Judith Barr

    May 16th, 2011 at 4:05 PM

    Thank you all for your appreciation for this article.

    Yes…the more we model doing our own inner healing work for our children, the more they will model it for others in their lives — partners, friends, people at their place of employment, and their children.

    And yes, may people share this article across the world and back. And may it have a deep, expansive positive impact on all who read it and all with whom they share it!


  • Star

    May 20th, 2011 at 9:35 AM

    “I am so sorry we have hidden the truth…that there is a way to heal to the root. That we create our world – our inner and outer world – from that which lives within us, whether we’re conscious of that or not! That we need to take responsibility for what we are creating in our world – from the inside out – or we will never be able to create what we so long to create. A conscious, self-responsible, compassionate, connected, feeling world that is truly at peace within and without.”

    Judith, I felt like standing up and applauding when I finished reading! Well said. That is the truth! I believe that our thoughts and beliefs create our reality. It’s a fact and unfortunately so many dismiss statements like that as New Age mumbo jumbo.

    It’s so sad that they won’t strip away any labels they wish to apply to that, really look at what’s being said then compare the idea with how their lives have went so far.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • Kent J.

    May 20th, 2011 at 11:09 AM

    New Age is more dangerous than any of the pharmaceutical companies pushing their drugs because it’s so plausible in its presentation.

    All that touchy-feely stuff that convinces them all you need to do is think everything will be okay and it will be is nonsense! You have to take action, not sit back and wait for your life to improve. Passiveness is the enemy of progress.

  • Jackie Y.

    May 21st, 2011 at 2:22 PM

    @Kent J.: I don’t think the New Age movement is any worse than say accepted religion. I wanted to gain custody of my little cousin when I heard my God-fearing Christian aunt she was relying on faith healing to cure her son’s fever. Her church had convinced her there must be a demon inside him. Luckily he was fine but who’s to say he will be next time? My family’s watching them both closely.

  • Penny A.

    May 21st, 2011 at 2:59 PM

    I’d rather not spill my guts for all to see, thanks. Some things are best kept private and to yourself.

    If I can function fairly well and without feeling stressed, then I’m happy with that. Why keep on digging at old wounds when all you will do is cause yourself more and more pain?

    Let sleeping dogs lie.

  • Tony O.

    May 21st, 2011 at 3:34 PM

    I disagree on the paragraph about bullying. If a kid picks on another kid, it’s HIS fault he does so. Not the parent. HE is the screwup who can’t control himself. If he blames how you treat him, then he’s making excuses for his own actions to make his family miserable.

    My wife and I went through this with our eldest son and I can assure you we were strict with him from a very early age. He wasn’t neglected, spoiled or ignored and we did everything we could to bring him up well.

    Hearing statements like that hurts us both. Our son is dead to us now as far as we are concerned. He was born with every opportunity in life and chose to throw that away on drugs.

  • F.C. Schroeder

    May 21st, 2011 at 8:41 PM

    @ Tony O. : I feel you’re the exception rather than the rule. I would say that most children who become bullies have issues at home, either parental or environmental. I’m inclined to disagree that the tendency to bully springs out of nowhere with no parental involvement in that surfacing.

    Some crave attention they feel they aren’t getting and act out to get it.

  • Penny Rayas

    May 21st, 2011 at 10:03 PM

    Tony I can hear your pain! Sorry about you son, I sure you were a good parent. I suggest going to Narc-Anon meeting in your city. Drug addiction affects everyone in the family. It is a disease. Sometimes peer presure can be very powerful for children.

  • kirsty wade

    May 22nd, 2011 at 7:02 PM

    What do we do with adults who can’t control themselves through no fault of their own? We put them in a mental hospital and/or we dope them up with drugs until they are shadows of their former selves. That isn’t healing them. That’s covering what’s wrong with them.

  • Sheila Townsend

    May 22nd, 2011 at 9:49 PM

    @kirsty wade – True, kirsty. I agree with that sentiment.

    And worse, if their illness is not spotted soon enough they often end up in jail, receiving no treatment whatsoever. It’s tragic.

    Thank you for an excellent article, Judith.

  • Evangeline R.

    May 23rd, 2011 at 11:44 PM

    The amount of truth in this is staggering. Most of it we realize deep down but simply ignore the existence of because doing so is so engrained in our society.

    Wake up, people! It’s not going to start a civil war if you were to be a little different and challenge the norm by marching to the beat of a different drum.

    Judith, that article was a work of art. Thanks for sharing.

  • Judith Barr

    May 29th, 2011 at 6:55 AM

    Thank you all for responding to my post “An Apology to The Children…On Behalf of The Adults.” I am deeply moved by your having been so affected by the post.

    We each get to decide what to share and what not to share. Protecting our privacy is an important right and need for us individually and communally. And we each have the right to make choices about what inner work we will do. I do want to clarify some things for everyone who reads this:

    *Digging at old wounds does not actually cause us more pain. What it does is bring into consciousness the pain we are already feeling, however deeply buried it is. This buried pain drives us beneath our awareness and in ways of which we are not aware. The sleeping dogs aren’t actually sleeping, they are alive and buried … and they actually haunt us and affect us from deep within.

    *Children aren’t born being bullies or drug addicts (unless the mother was on drugs when she carried the child). Something or some series of things that are painful happen in a child’s life to cause a child to take actions (inside and out) that are distorted defenses against the pain. These painful things may occur at home, in the neighborhood, at school, in religious institutions, in the culture, etc. This process is most often unconscious in the mind of the child. Very often what happens is unconscious in the minds and hearts of those in relationship with the child, even those who have caused the pain. Many parents come to work with me to discover what part they might be playing in the suffering of their children when they realize their children’s behavior is an acting out of the suffering they are experiencing.

    *Actually, anything can be dangerous to someone who is seduced by it. And anything can be used to seduce someone. This is why it’s so very important for each of us to work through and heal our own misuses and abuses of power and the wounds we experienced long ago which impacted our relationships with power from a primal level and age.

    In the preface of Power Abused, Power Healed I begin:
    “Every form of power can be used well or misused.
    “The law has been used to manipulate as well as to serve justice. Parenthood has been used as a means of captivity, and it has been used to nourish a soul, helping it grow into fullness. Sexuality has been used as a weapon to rape and dominate, as a substitute for unmet childhood bonding and physical touch, and as an exquisite sacred expression of love and union.
    “Even God’s name has been used both to destroy and to heal. . .”

    To add to what you have said . . . action alone cannot make everything okay any more than thinking everything will be okay can make it okay. And finding our thoughts and beliefs alone cannot heal what we create in our lives and our world either. In order to heal to the root we need to heal on the level of our feelings, too. That’s what we’re so afraid of. That’s what people defend against. Although action and prayer can both serve wonderful purposes, we can’t just take action, and we can’t just pray. We need to find the help to build the capacity to feel what we have been defending against feeling all our lives. Then we will be offering a new way for ourselves and for our children. Then we will be showing our children the way to end needless suffering in our world. And we will be showing them new possibilities for safety.


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