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The Big Answer

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Love Is Not Enough: The Treatment Of Emotionally Disturbed Children

a book by Bruno Bettelheim

(our site's book review)

The author has done much work with disturbed children, and this book has lessons for raising emotional healthy kids. You can see from the disturbances in the kids at Bettleheim’s school for emotionally disturbed kids and the type of childhood experiences that brought them on, as well as from the way kids are treated at the school, what good child raising needs to be like. The author says: “The most important of all skills, that of living well with oneself and with others, can be acquired only by living in an emotionally stable and satisfying human environment. If too many families no longer provide it, a vicious circle is created because parents cannot convey to their children what they have never learned themselves. This vicious circle must be broken.”

The way kids felt they had no one safe to talk to and the way they blossomed when there was always a safe person available for them at the school sends a clear message that abuse situations are sustained by steep-gradient nurturance with no alternative nurturers available. When kids had no opportunity to express their pain while living with their parents, they internalized, acted out, and became disturbed—well on the way to mental illness. But when there were safe nurturers to talk with, they were able to get better.

[Applying this wisdom to MCs, PSB use and P.E.T. in MCs are once more given a great boost, as anything that would facilitate expressing important feelings would, as Bettelheim demonstrates, be a boon to emotional healthy living.]