Lockdown Reading to End DSM Psychiatry?

A review of the "Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents" books by Lindsay Gibson.


Even before the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted life around our world, doubts about psychiatry’s future exposed its professional identity crisis, which was apparently self-inflicted by its “troubling search for a biology of mental illness.” Other research shows that adverse childhood experiences (emotional-mental, physical, sexual, and financial abuse by a child’s parents or caregivers) cause long-term negative physical and psychological outcomes in adulthood. These non-medical causes of our distress support the views of trauma-recovery psychiatrists like John Briere, Ph.D., who is said to have remarked,

“If Complex PTSD were ever given its duethat is, if the role of dysfunctional parenting in adult psychological disorders was ever fully recognized, the DSM (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders used by all mental health professionals) would shrink to the size of a thin pamphlet.”

During the present pandemic, many who are in hospital, who have lost loved ones and jobs, or who are locked down at home as others quarantine in hotels, will be grieving an enormous sense of loss. Though some might try to replace their loss with on-line shopping, or with marathon mainstream and social media consumption, others are embracing this sudden worldwide disruption as an opportunity to join online book clubs and prayer or meditation groups. Many more are admitting that life was already precariously painful well before this pandemic which is forcing us to change.

In this regard, two excellent self-help books written by U.S. clinical psychologist Lindsay Gibson, Psy.D. are essential reading at this time. Gibson’s books might also help to further shrink the DSM and end the business of mental disorder marketing, by addressing the root cause of why so many people have succumbed to biomedical DSM psychiatry in the first place. These books are: Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents: How To Heal From Distant, Rejecting, or Self-Involved Parents (which I’ll refer to as Book 1) and Recovering From Emotionally Immature Parents: Practical Tools To Establish Boundaries and Reclaim Your Emotional Autonomy (Book 2).

Although there are already many self-help oriented pop-psychology books on toxic parents, physical disease caused by childhood trauma, “inner child” theory, and the latest trend, “narcissism,” by and large, they do not address our current existential crisis of “self” and “identity.”  Whilst academic psychiatry and psychology debate their definitions of “narcissism,” Gibson’s books seem to address the whole “narcissistic abuse” phenomenon without using hackneyed phrases like “the narcissist” or the questionable DSM-5 definition of “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” (NPD). Instead, Gibson employs her notion of emotional immaturity, which she prefers as it is “broader than a clinical diagnosis … more useful and less pathologizing” as emotional immaturity can underlie many psychological problems, including narcissism.

Existential Loneliness (Before Social Distancing)The Cause of An “Identity Crisis”?

In Book 1, Gibson begins by clarifying that even though adults experience emotional loneliness, such loneliness can also start in childhood when we might have felt (and I would submit, actually were) unseen emotionally by self-preoccupied parents. Gibson observes that the most outwardly successful adult parents can lack any capacity for emotional intimacy, which provokes profound emotional loneliness in their children.

Without implying that all children are “ego-centric,” as other psychologists might do (which effectively blames children for “misinterpreting” their parents’ immature behavior), Gibson’s books spotlight parental dysfunction without defending, rationalizing or excusing parents. Such parents “may look and act perfectly normal, caring for their child’s physical health and providing meals and safety,” she writes. “However, if they don’t make a solid emotional connection with their child, the child will have a gaping hole where true security might have been.”

As Gibson also points out, children’s existential loneliness due to feeling unseen by their parents (rendering them alone in the world) is as painful as a physical injury. Gibson’s insights thus do perhaps lend support to valid criticism of censorious parenting trends such as “helicopter parenting” and “safetyism,” “paranoid parenting” or “narcissistic parenting,” as she says that real emotional intimacy is about feeling safe enough to open up to another person about all of our feelings. Whether by words, an exchange of looks, or just being present together quietly in a state of connection (rather than doing constant activities or ingratiatingly “affirming” whatever children say), Gibson says that emotional intimacy between parent and child provides “a sense of being seen for who you really are … which can only exist when the other person seeks to know you, not judge you.”

Gibson’s definition of “who you really are” does not invoke identity concepts derived from role-performance, but rather refers to our core, primal feeling and emotional experiences of our world and the people who are supposed to love and care for us. Emotionally immature (EI) parents, however, do label their children according to pre-conceived roles—according to a child’s actions, accomplishments and choices. EI parents do this because they are so self-absorbed, insecure, dominating, and controlling, that they are unaware of their children’s inner experiences. Gibson further describes EI parents as nervous, angry and punishing, rather than comforting to their children. This shuts down children’s instinctive healthy urge to reach out to their parents when they are afraid and distressed.

Gibson then explains that our sense of “self” and feeling secure in the world, begins in our childhood relationship with our caretakers—our parents. If our parents are emotionally mature and engaged, they will allow us to feel confident that we always have someone secure to turn to. But those of us who were raised by EI parents had no way to know that the hollow, empty and insecure feeling inside us was a normal reaction to our parents’ emotional immaturity. This lonely feeling is said to be a universal human response to a lack of adequate human companionship (for which some governments now appoint “Ministers for Loneliness”). Gibson however, does not psychiatrically medicalize loneliness, instead assuring her readers that it is the predictable result of growing up (and perhaps still living) without receiving sufficient empathy.

Recognizing the Emotionally Immature Relationship System and Emotionally Immature Parents (or People)

Book 1 introduces Gibson’s notion of an “emotionally immature relationship system” (EIR system) and how and why EI parents put their own needs first, ahead of and at the expense of their own children. Gibson describes EI parents’ tactics in an EIR system, such as role coercion, which is forcing someone else to live out a pseudo-self or role-self (which I’ll refer to collectively as a “pseudo role-self identity”) and act in a certain way according to it, because they want them to. 

Emotional contagion is another EI parent (or any other EI person) tactic by which they get other people to feel what they are feeling, by spreading their upset feelings to others, so everyone reacts without understanding why. EI parents use role coercion and emotional contagion to routinely violate their children’s personal boundaries. EI parents also seem to effectively make their children parent them (referred to by other psy literature as “parentification”), by expecting children to soothe their feelings and emotions. In this way, children are forced to fulfill their parents’ responsibility for “emotional work.” Gibson’s practical explanation of emotional contagion by EI parents and EI people complements public self-help information about such parents that is already widely available. Gibson also explains the nature and origin of inner shame and guilt in adults as early childhood emotional distress responses to EI parents.

Book 1 describes the tell-tale behavior of EI parents, which helps readers to discern for themselves, whether they grew up under EI parenting. Readers can then self-assess whether now as adults, they are still attracting and attracted to what Gibson calls “EI people,” who are similar to their EI parents. Gibson’s books may therefore help readers to identify and handle EI people in all areas of life, such as: at work, in marriages and friendships, and in society at large.

EI parents’ other tactics include role-entitlement, such as by demanding certain treatment simply because they are in the role of “parent.” There are also tactics of role-coercion and role-compliance, by which EI parents force their children to act out designated “roles.” Role-coercion tactics can range from shaming, guilt, threats, physical or other forms of abuse, and excessive over-intellectualization, to playing favourites between siblings, emotional enmeshment (parents’ emotional dependency on, or idealization of a child), and shunning or outright rejection of children.

Gibson says that such harmful behavior occurs because EI parents “relate on the basis of roles, not individuality.” Consequently, young children (and adult children of EI parents) learn to respond to their EI parents by becoming internalizers or externalizers.

Internalizers develop a coping habit of solving problems from the inside out, by being self-reflective, trying to learn from their mistakes and enjoying becoming more competent. Similar to pop-culture terms like “people pleaser” and “empath” to “victim of narcissistic abuse” or even “co-dependent,” Gibson describes internalizers as those who believe they can make things better (for everyone) by trying harder and instinctively taking responsibility for solving problems (including presumably, others’ problems) on their own.

Interestingly, Gibson says that internalizers don’t see abuse for what it is, and their main source of anxiety and guilt is “feeling guilty when they displease others and the fear of being exposed as imposters. Their biggest relationship downfall is being overly self-sacrificing and then becoming resentful of how much they do for others.”

Gibson’s contrasting notion of “externalizers” sounds similar to circulating pop-culture memes on “the narcissist” which are the subject of countless self-help books, internet blogs, mainstream media articles, public discourse, and scores of YouTube videos. Gibson defines externalizers as those who are reactive, act before they think, tend not to self-reflect and do things impulsively to blow off anxiety quickly. Externalizers blame other people and circumstances, rather than their own actions, and experience life as a trial and error but rarely learn from their mistakes. Akin to popular self-help concepts like “narcissistic supply,” Gibson says externalizers are attached firmly to the notion that things need to change in the outside world in order for them to be happy, “believing that if only other people would give them what they want, their problems would be solved.”

Importantly, Gibson further describes externalizers as having a self-defeating and disruptive coping style, such that others have to repair the damage caused by their impulsive actions. They may have a sense of inflated superiority (which sounds like the grandiosity trait in the DSM-5 definition of narcissism). Gibson also masterfully draws attention to the fact that externalizing people depend on external forms of soothing, which makes them susceptible to many forms of immediate gratification and addiction (such as, arguably, addictive relationships and substance abuse, or as others might suggest, even addictions to psychiatry and psychotherapy).

People who become internalizers or externalizers are thus not, it would seem, necessarily genetically born this way. Yet Gibson’s books do make some questionable comments about biology, by saying for example, that “some children’s genetics and neurology propel them into impulsive reactivity instead of constructive action.”

Gibson notably observes how living our lives through a pseudo role-self identity is an unconscious survival coping response to EI parents. However, this pseudo role-self (which renowned spiritual writers like Eckhart Tolle call “ego”) replaces our original true self, which Gibson says “has no interest in whatever desperate ideas you came up with in childhood regarding a healing fantasy or role-self.”

As adults, we may still continue playing whatever false, pseudo role self-identity we adopted in childhood “in the hopes that someone will pay attention to us the way we wished our parents had as pretending to be what their parents want, children think they’ve found a way to win their parents’ love.” Gibson’s profound insight here raises other important questions for readers to consider that are beyond the scope of this review, such as whether child psychology needs to re-examine if and how early childhood identity formation is influenced by parents (as some research has found).

The rest of Book 1 explains how to break free of pseudo role-self identities adopted in childhood to survive EI parents, and to grieve the impossibility of what Gibson calls “parent healing fantasies.” Healing fantasies are those which have us clinging to a hopeful story about what will make us happy one day, such as dreaming that our parents can change, will finally love us, make up for the emotional loneliness they caused in us, and become the loving parent we never had but needed and deserved when we were children. Book 1 also describes what it feels like to grieve the death of parent healing fantasies, live a life free of pseudo role self-identities, and learn to find emotionally mature people with whom to now connect as adults.

Citing John Bowlby’s seminal Attachment Theory, Gibson explains why being raised by EI parents causes us to gravitate repeatedly to familiar situations and EI people who share our parents’ emotional immaturity. We do this because “by denying the painful truth about our parents, we aren’t able to recognize similarly hurtful people in future relationships. Denial makes us repeat the situation over and over because we never see it coming the next time.”

Parent healing fantasies and denial about being raised by EI parents (or medically camouflaging the lonely distress that EI parents cause as a “mental health issue”), can have dangerous implications. As Gibson writes: “Our vulnerability to self-centered authority starts in childhood when EI parents teach us that our thoughts are not as worthwhile as their thoughts and [we] … accept whatever our parent tells us. It’s easy to see how EI parenting could turn out children who later fall prey to extremism, exploitation or even cults.” Gibson’s insights here seem pertinent for the: #MeToo movement, de-radicalisation programs, consent laws and investigations into sexual abuse, all of which might need to ask whether EI Parenting itself constitutes “victim grooming”?

Book 1 explains beautifully how to awaken our “true self,” which Gibson says is a concept that goes back to ancient times when the idea of having a soul first arose. Again, it’s worth noting that when talking about our “true self,” Gibson does not seem to invoke role-performance identity concepts. Gibson says, for example, that “this self is the source of our unique individuality … the consciousness that speaks the truth at the center of a person’s being.” This clear and inclusive explanation of “self” is what arguably sets Gibson’s books apart from other psychology discourse that seldom mentions soul (even though the “soul” was part of the original meaning of the term psyche from the Greek language).  However, Gibson also says that “whatever our true self is, it is based in our biology as human beings” which is a point that needs more clarification.

Change and Recovery (Without DSM-5 Diagnoses and Psychiatric Drugs)

Book 2 is in two parts and expands on the themes in Book 1 by offering new skills with which we can identify and resist emotionally coercive takeovers by EI parents (and EI people at large). In Book 2 Chapter 4, Gibson discusses the tactic of emotional takeovers, by which the EI parent creates situations to project their emotional contagion onto others. Gibson explains our psychological survival response of “dissociation” which is when “you feel psychologically separate from yourself … freeze up or shrivel inside … you feel like you’re detached from your body.”

Gibson says dissociation is where we feel we have exited our bodies, which can occur when facing severe threats and abuse, and then becomes an unconscious habitual response to all emotionally coercive takeovers. As Gibson also says, contrary to dramatic stories about “multiple personalities,” dissociation is a “natural defense … a primitive type of emotional escape … a common psychological defense against threat or danger, especially for children in an unsafe environment.” Gibson explains that such separation from our inner self-connection makes us passive so we are sucked into EI parents’ emotional takeovers.

Book 2 Chapter 7 invites adult readers to effectively re-parent themselves by learning to understand, value, and be responsible for respecting and comforting their own emotions. Gibson here expands on the true self notion she mentions in Book 1, by offering the idea of an inner self which she refers to as our “soul, spirit, heart, the you of you … the internal witness—the nucleus of our being—that takes in all of life but is unchanged by life … your unique individuality, underneath your personality, family role, and social identity.”

Book 2 Chapter 8 then helps us to clear our minds of the incessant, negative critical voices in our heads, which are echoes of our parents’ opinions about us. Using diagrams, Gibson’s book depicts how to silence the intrusion of our parents’ thoughts and criticisms by showing us how to differentiate inner critical thoughts inherited from our parents from those thoughts which emanate from our inner self or conscience. Whilst many self-help social media, pop-psychology, or spiritual writers talk about listening to our “intuition,” Gibson’s advice on this is practical and clear. She says to mistrust any thoughts that give you a sinking feeling, as legitimate conscience guides us, whereas harsh self-judgments are mockeries that echo the rigid thinking of our EI parents when we were children.

Book 2 Chapter 9 invites readers to establish their own authority and sense of self-worth. Gibson’s approach for doing this seems different from Cognitive Behavioural Therapies because here, rejecting and correcting negative critical voices in the head seems to effectively involve disidentifying from the voices (rather than just rationally countering them cognitively), by realizing they are echoes of EI parents’ distorted opinions about us.

Interestingly, Gibson further explains that depressive thinking is promoted by making children feel guilty or ashamed in childhood, through past emotional coercions by EI parents. This chapter is especially intriguing because Gibson cites and adapts Dr. Stephen Karpman’s Drama Triangle Theory to demonstrate how EI parents place everyone (including themselves) into distorted, unconscious pseudo role-self identities.  These roles are namely: Aggressor/Villain (which some pop-psychology might call “The Narcissist”), Victim/Innocent, and Rescuer/Hero. EI parents thus “see every situation as a story populated by victims, aggressors, or rescuers … and jump to conclusions about who’s bad, who’s innocent, and who should step in to save them.” Consequently, Gibson’s book potentially goes further than almost any other book in this genre, by showing readers how to be alert to and break free from every relationship or situation that is actually a Drama Triangle trap.

Letting Forgiveness Happen Naturally (Without Religion or Psychotherapy)

There is a deep presence, warmth, and wisdom in Gibson’s Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents books. Although she is a parent herself, Gibson’s writing contains little to no hint of parental defensiveness or excuse-making. Her books’ compassionate narrator voice gives readers permission to recount honestly their own parents’ emotionally immature behavior, whilst understanding the inter-generational cycle by which EI parents socially inherited their dysfunction from their EI parents. Consequently, Gibson’s books do not seem to mention nor advocate “forgiveness” specifically. Instead, her approach seems to be about allowing forgiveness to happen naturally and inevitably. At the beginning of Book 2 for example, Gibson writes:

“Your parents gave you life and love, but only of the sort they knew. You can honour them for that but cease to give them unwarranted power over your emotional well-being.…”

This sounds similar to the non-sectarian spiritual teachings of Eckhart Tolle, who counsels against trying to let go of grievances because “trying to forgive” does not work. Tolle says that forgiveness happens naturally when you see that grievances have no purpose other than to strengthen a false sense of self. Indeed, akin to Gibson’s books, Tolle himself recognizes that childhood is often a source of pain in adulthood, saying in A New Earth that “Most psychotherapists have met patients who claimed initially to have had a totally happy childhood, and later the opposite turned out to be the case.”

Final Thoughts on Why Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents Is Essential Reading

There are some potential problems in Gibson’s books worth mentioning, such as her brief suggestions of mindfulness and meditation practices as ways to heal emotions. Nothing seems to be said, for example, about the ethical void that might be left by using secular, spiritually stripped, psychologized capitalist forms of “McMindfulness” meditation.

Otherwise, Gibson’s Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents books are stunning because they show how EI parents in dysfunctional family systems are replicated in adult EI relationship systems, which psychohistory might say reappears as dysfunctional political-economic, social and legal systems that cause needless suffering. The genuine respect Gibson shows her readers and clients, viewing them as fellow human beings, rather than as medically sick mental-health patients, is reflected in her warm and wise narrator voice which she enriches with sensitive anecdotes from real cases.

I suggest that Gibson’s books have the potential to help readers end transgenerational cycles of family abuse and resolve lifelong emotional distress, so they are no longer vulnerable to accepting or seeking DSM-5 mental disorder diagnoses and the emotion numbing drug prescriptions that can go with them. Gibson does suggest that some readers might need the support of a psychotherapist when reading her books. However, as some warn of a risk that psychotherapy may cause further harm, if some forms of therapy are unsuitable for childhood trauma from EI parenting, readers may need to seek out only those therapists, counsellors or social workers who specialise in childhood trauma from emotionally immature (narcissistic) parents and dysfunctional family systems (and who have perhaps faced and resolved their own EI parent attachment trauma). Otherwise, readers may find support from other well-informed sources (such as the Crappy Childhood Fairy YouTube series and coaching programs).

Gibson’s books are a delight to read (and re-read) and I cannot recommend them highly enough, especially at the present time. The quiet success of Gibson’s Emotionally Immature Parents books (they are Amazon bestsellers) seems to have even turned the phrase “emotionally immature parents” into a meme spread by pop-psychotherapists and life coaches on YouTube. This might be because Gibson assures anyone who feels lost, alone, and distressed that their feelings and emotions are normal, rational responses to childhood experiences (and, I would add, to the frightened and confused world in which we live right now). By showing us how painful emotions can be experienced, understood, witnessed and calmed (without numbing them with psychiatric drugs, addictive relationships or mindless consumerism), Gibson’s books light a path home to the loving and true inner voice of the conscience in our heart—our soul.



Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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  1. “seems to have even turned the phrase “emotionally immature parents” into a meme spread by pop-psychotherapists and life coaches on YouTube.”

    The Games People Play huh?

    I’d had a healthy relationship with my child and grandchildren until I was kidnapped and tortured by the helpful people who have one way of thinking, theirs. Of course their criminal conduct and inevitable cover up meant those relationships needed to be “fuking destroyed” as a result of me exercising my right to complain. And now they can’t put Humpty back together again (i’m calling for an independent inquiry into the cause of that fall. Humpty was pushed). So I think the convenience killings to conceal the use of torture methods from the public carries some merit.

    Perhaps I should view these people as “emotionally immature” and be done with it. Perhaps they never did get over getting into gangs and molesting the disabled kid at school behind the garden shed? (and the lawyers keeping watch while they did it). They were ‘playing doctor’ even back then, and discovering via the scientific method ways of blaming the victims and the effective use of slanders.

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    • Actually as a lawyer you might be able to appreciate the predicatment I found myself in Magdalene.

      I obtain documents under FOI that detail the way I was ‘spiked’ with benzos and then had a Community Nurse lie to police and make the false claim I was a “patient” of his hospital. Conspire to kidnap, stupefy with intent etc.

      However, I go to the Mental Health Law Centre who were, after a “formal investigation” by the hospital, provided with a fraudulent set of documents, and then made the claim the could no longer help me after sending a complaint to the Chief Psychiatrist, and receiving a ‘poison pen’ letter that they did not read, and merely handed on to me. The bizarre claims in that letter such as the law isn’t the law and “i dunnos” more than confusing. Of course with hindsight I now know they thought they had retrieved the real set of documents and were merely gaslighting me.

      Point being though, I put forward my case to a Member of Parliament, and show him the real set of documents and the fraudulent ones sent to the Mental Health Law Centre. The MHLC would not accept the documents I had, nor would they correct the errors contained in the response from the Chief Psychiatrist to my original complaint (surely a lawyer would recognise the misrepresentation of a burden of proof that enabled arbitrary detentions under the Mental Health Act? And surely it would seem important to ‘advocates’ that the person with the duty to ensure those protections were enforced actually knew what they were?). So I put it to the M.P. that what if I could actually get a lawyer who would represent my interests rather than accept fraudulent documents, and act according to the wishes of the State? You know, like a lawyer? And of course my main question involved my divorce proceedings which is a Federal jurisdiction. Was the State government going to provide the fraudulent set or the real set of documents to the Federal Court? Because whilst I understood that the MHLC wasn’t actually doing anything other than assisting with cover ups for the State (self interest in maintaining government funding for throwing clients under the bus for them), were they prepared to risk prison by uttering with the fraudulent documents in a Federal Court?

      This meeting with the M.P. was two years after the kidnapping and torture and the subsequent cover up, and of course when I went to police it became obvious from their response that they were aware that they were NOT to accept any proof of the crimes, and were to “stitch me up’ as the saying goes round here. I can explain a ‘stitch’ if necessary. Like the woman who escaped the Burnies (serial killers) and was nearly sent away buy police as a nut job, so “stitch her up” was what the Constable was told.

      I have been denied access to any effective legal representation, which has worked a treat in fuking destroying me. I mean at least they could let me have my share of the property and let me leave rather than hotshot me in an ED? I’b be more than happy to leave them to their torturing, maiming and killing and live out my time in a country far far away.

      The Minister and the Principle of the MHLC both left their jobs not long after (in fact the Law Centre was cleaned right out of staff for some reason. Maybe the ‘workload’ getting to them and causing mental health issues?) and I have been unable to have anyone actually answer any of my, what I consider to be valid and important, questions. I guess like the victims of other institutional abuse one must wait for a good person to come along and say “this is wrong” and they seem rarer than hens teeth. Every 40 or 50 years one seems to pop up but …… we wait.

      I’m not seeking advice here, merely putting forward what is actually occurring in my State with regards the ‘treatment’ of some vulnerable people by those who falsely claim to be ‘advocates’. Sticking it to your clients is not what I consider being an ‘advocate’.

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      • Dear Boans,

        I cannot give any advice, legal or otherwise.

        What I suggest generally, is to perhaps obtain Lindsay Gibson’s books and re-consider whether my review article above, addresses points or questions, like:

        *Were some of us socially conditioned by ’emotionally immature parenting’ when we were children, to unwittingly play an unconscious pseudo role-self identity of ‘victim’?

        *If so, does an unwitting victim role-identity, for example, make some of us as adults (at any age), still vulnerable to being ‘sucked in’ to the ’emotionally coercive’ manipulation and control of others?

        I hope that helps generally.

        Best wishes,


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        • Not really.

          I think I might direct my hard earned dollars elsewhere and stick with the Classics myself.

          I think Steve made a good comment about there being two ways of understanding ‘victim’ in another article. I’ll sell you the link if you like lol

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      • Absolutely correct boans perth is a small insular incestuous village. There is no help or support . The watchdogs are a joke then ur left to deal with it on your own. All lawyers are a joke. Expensive liars.. Documents disappear are rewritten the lies are amazing. The NGO’s mifwa, arafmi, richmond peer support even worse.. So far inserted into the systems backside. All parents are emotionally immature and many of them are psychiatrists, gp’s and clin psyche go figure so again unsure what the point of the piece is and what is in it for the lawyer must be something

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  2. “It’s easy to see how EI parenting could turn out children who later fall prey to extremism, exploitation or even cults.”

    “emotionally immature parents” into a meme spread by pop-psychotherapists and life coaches on YouTube.”

    Thanks for this Magdalene.

    That is the scary part, falling “prey” and then more years on the deprogramming. Eventually one can even thank our parents, not verbally, but internally that we would not have been who we are, despite the confusion. But to deal with confusion, psychiatry and MUCH of therapy, just adds to it.
    And of course is why I’m sorry people jump on the word, and make it “therapy”.

    Therapy is about so much more than just a certain focus or understanding.

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    • Dear Sam,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I hope that the review article, and Lindsay Gibson’s actual books, will inspire readers to question not just their individual ‘interior world’ (as DSM psychiatry and much but not all conventional psychology, tends to do) – but also question the ‘exterior world’ in which we were raised as children (the family) and now live as adults (society).

      You use the phrase ‘falling prey” and I think this is a useful way of looking at things.

      Is the ‘psy’ enterprise (whether it be various forms of psychotherapy, DSM or indeed ICD psychiatry, and Pharma psychotropic drugs) one amongst various ‘predatory forces’, that ‘feed on the fear’ (anxiety, depression) of distressed-traumatised citizens?

      Are citizens across our nations and our world, socially conditioned by (politically endorsed?) ’emotionally immature parenting’ from early childhood, so we do become: compliant, unquestioning, conformist, self-censoring adult ‘prey’?

      I am sympathetic to the view that some forms of psychotherapy and DSM psychiatry at large (supported perhaps unquestioningly by other professions, like the law and our legal systems), may be adding to widespread confusion, rather than solving it.

      Hopefully, more and more people will ‘wake up’ from the confusing ‘drama triangle roles’ we may have been conditioned to play and accept as normal, when we were children – and now keep falling ‘prey to’ unwittingly, as adults.

      For example, here is a suggested ‘drama triangle’: patient (victim), psychiatry-psychology (rescuer-hero) and ‘disordered brain inside your head’ (perpetrator/villain).

      What do others think?

      Imagine if, contrary to the ‘mental health crisis’ (drama triangles?) now springing up (again) with Covid-19 as the new ‘perpetrator-villain,’ people instead emerged from ‘peaceful, quiet solitude’ (rather than ‘isolation’):

      -empowered, connected, whole, clear, grounded, wise, free thinking, free questioning, uncensored, and more inspired than before?

      Why are real physical-virus illnesses being characterised by our political leaders as ‘wars to be fought’ – whilst we are also told that our normal shared human distress responses (to immature parents-people and unjust political-economic policies/laws) are an individual ‘mental health illness’ to be ‘treated’ with mental health therapies, DSM diagnoses (without any diagnostic tests) and Pharma psychiatric drugs?

      Why do so many people, accept this story?

      Imagine if people emerge from this pandemic, as Alex comments below – ‘transformed’?

      Best wishes,

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      • I had and have confidence in your blog and it’s another blog that speaks with common sense and critically.
        You were not simply promoting a book, which is heartening.

        As children, obviously few of us walk unscathed, including psychiatry and it would be a grand day when this can be fathomed by psychiatry. That their hurts (and there must have been) continue to be examined through a false narrative.

        The reasons it hurts, that psychiatry hurts is because it exists by an ideal, and works in a cultlike manner, scooping up it’s ripe pickings.
        Gibson says that children from “EI” parents, can become vulnerable to cults etc. I think if we do not learn some critical thinking, we are more vulnerable.

        I believe we all need some oppositional defiance when it comes to being defined by others.

        So just lots of thanks for delving into more than just “EI” parents.

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        • Dear Sam

          Thanks again. Yes that’s correct, my review blog is not just promoting books.

          But as Gibson’s books have become a real staple of sorts for me, I do sincerely recommend them.

          Wonder why DSM psychiatry decided that children’s defiance of (emotionally immature-narcissistic) parents, is a ‘mental disorder’? Did they go inside the home to research what actually happens to provoke children into ‘defiance,’ when others are not watching?

          Is this akin to how some political regimes – use (and abuse) psychiatry to deem dissidents and citizens who revolt against injustice, as mentally unstable, and then drug and/or lock them up in mental hospitals?

          Why are some psychiatrists complicit in the drugging of children and citizens, who rightly rebel against how they are treated by those in power and authority over them?

          I think the terms used in self-help pop-culture on narcissistic abuse are: ‘flying monkies’ and ‘enablers’. Does these terms apply to DSM biomedical psychiatry, or is that too harsh an analogy?

          I think your comments are spot on:).


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  3. Hi Magdalene,

    Some of this article and your comments offer some valuable insights, but some of it seems like victim blaming. Blaming the “me too” movement on bad parenting, rather than predatory men. Blaming victims of socioeconomic and political injustice, of which the mental health industry is so often a part, on bad parents, rather than the people who perpetrate these injustices. Why not, instead, at least acknowledge the very real pain and hardship caused by these injustices, and to the extent possible work to help people and bring an end to such injustices? Was the Holocaust or slavery caused by bad parents?

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    • I don’t have an issue with Magdalene’s blog so much, but I hear you and it is Gibson’s book that bothers me.
      It bothers me because it keeps many people not focused on their “problems”, but perhaps victimizes them further.
      I read some reviews on a site and people seemed to like the book in general but had the issue of no pointers in “how to not repeat, how to move forward” and “become emotionally secure themselves”
      If a book causes the “victims” of “bad parenting” to question themselves also, it’s not such a good book.
      Not sure if I’m getting my thoughts across lol.

      This is why therapy often results in trauma.
      I think a book that was more geared to how normal it is to have shitty childhoods and how we might be certain ways that affect us or relationships, but that giving your bad mom a kick in the butt can’t hurt. Also to remind people that the reason these books sell, the reason ideas sell is that, golly gee whiz, perhaps the fairy tale childhoods are not all true.

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      • The term “schizophrenogenic mother” is a negative stereotype found in the psychiatric literature of the 1950s through to the 1970s. It refers to mothers of individuals who develop schizophrenia, the implication being that the mother has induced the illness (Hartwell 1996).

        Emotionally Immature Parents is a negative stereotype …….???

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        • Exactly! This is how “advocacy” groups like the drug-funded NAMI sprang up. Parents who had been blamed for their imperfect children clung to psychiatry’s biochemical imbalance theories of “mental illness” and the drug treatments along with them. Humanity is so much more complex than all of that. No parents are literally perfect, but people can encounter so many difficulties throughout life that have nothing to do with bad parents or a fundamentally defective child.

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          • Yes, my fear is, as soon as I “blame” or let’s say “recognize” that my parents were a bit disfunctional, it is because I am obviously thinking I’m not okay.
            So now we have two generations “not okay”.
            This is all good, if it does not lead to that famous unending money pit called therapy.
            We have got to educate people more on the shared imperfections of humanity and how to run through the woods leads to scrapes.
            It’s a good thing to educate people on possibilities or why’s, but also the normality of diversity.
            It’s the subliminal messaging one has to be careful of.

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          • Dear Boans and Caroline,

            Thanks again for your helpful comments.

            I tend to avoid (where possible), terms like ‘stereotype’ or ‘bad’ or ‘perfect’ and ‘imperfect’ and ‘blame,’ as they can be unwittingly divisive, judgmental and polarizing, and may distract attention from the real issues.

            This is why alternative terms like ‘emotionally immature’ or ‘narcissistic’ (not DSM 5 ‘NPD’) are helpful, as they call out harmful behavior accurately, with stereotyping or blaming. ‘Emotionally immature’ can also be used to accurately describe other adult people’s (emotionally immature) behavior without medically pathologizing.

            People who unconsciously hold a ‘parent role -identity’ may, as Lindsay Gibson describes, demand ‘role-entitlement’ and thus feel defensive of their ‘parent identity’ by expecting certain treatment (deference, compliance, kowtowing?) because of a parental ‘role’. I thus found it interesting that Lindsay Gibson’s books do not seem to defend ‘parents’ as a group-identity, even though she is a parent herself.

            Scholars from other professions such as sociology-social science, history, psychotherapy and mainstream self-help culture, use other non-medical terms like ‘narcissistic parenting’ or ‘narcissistic mothers’ and ‘narcissistic fathers’ to ‘paranoid parenting’ or ‘helicopter parenting’.

            Large numbers of people around the world, also seem to appreciate and be helped by pop-psychology social media that discusses ‘narcissistic parents’ or ‘emotionally immature parents’.

            Dr Ramani Durvasula PhD (California State University) ‘Narcissism in A Parent’


            Vivian McGrath – ‘Narcissistic Mothers’

            Having also reviewed social media self-help culture in this genre, it seems that various parents have faced and healed their own childhood parental trauma, and bravely acknowledged how they might be unconsciously repeating their parents’ errors, in parenting their own children. Having broken the family cycle, such people offer non-medical coaching services which seem to be without blame, shame, guilt or stereotyping.

            Eg: Lisa A Romano (USA)

            People need to explore these services independently, discern and decide for themselves.

            I don’t know much about NAMI. Is it funded by Big Pharma? If so, it might have a conflict of interest that needs to be reviewed independently.

            Gibson’s books don’t discuss ‘schizophrenia’ as far as I can recall. But she does explain in her books that ‘dissociation,’ for example, is effectively a normal distress response to the trauma of threat and abuse (including emotional-verbal abuse). If children are ‘dissociating’, it would thus be imperative that all possible causes be investigated and ruled out, such as emotionally immature parenting. Parent groups like NAMI, which presumably are only concerned for children’s best interests, would no doubt support this.

            I also try to address your comments in my longer responses to other new comments below.

            Thanks again for your interest in the review article.

            Best wishes,

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          • *Btw – just to correct a typographical error in my reply comments above.

            One of my sentences above should read:

            “… This is why alternative terms like ‘emotionally immature’ or ‘narcissistic’ (not DSM 5 ‘NPD’) are helpful, as they call out harmful behavior accurately, ‘without’ stereotyping or blaming. ‘Emotionally immature’ can also be used to accurately describe other adult people’s (emotionally immature) behavior without medically pathologizing.”

            Best wishes


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      • Dear Sam,

        I didn’t not find that Gibson’s books ask readers to question themselves – but to question how they were socially conditioned by ’emotionally immature parenting’ to see themselves.

        To free themselves from emotionally immature parents’ negative opinions and judgments in early childhood.

        I encourage readers to read Gibson’s books for themselves.
        I hope that helps.

        Best wishes, Magdalene

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        • My point was that sometimes, maybe often, a reader might start to recognize some behaviours in themselves, learned from parents, the parents that the book labels as “emotionally immature”, in essence, not a quality, positive descriptor.

          If then the reader “recognizes” certain patterns in themselves, there is a great chance that it then becomes self examination at a cost, navel gazing, judging themselves as critically as their parents.

          Self help books sometimes do cause people to become stuck, and there is no short supply of self help books and an endless supply of therapists.

          Perhaps it would be helpful to have a follow up book that says, “okay, now that you found out your parents were “emotionally immature”, get on with your life, because it was not just YOUR parents”

          A lot of “help”, helps people stay the victim. I simply find that most books have an element missing.

          Sometimes in my life I found that women loved to get together and talk about the “mental illness” in their family, or the “self help” books.
          I was huge into it also.
          And much of it was driven by mainstream messaging and books. It’s great for those who don’t internalize lol

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          • If you put “healing from narcissistic abuse” or “healing from narcissistic parents” in the YouTube search engine, pages and pages of videos will pop up with all kinds of different people talking about how they addressed and healed this, from their own experience. It’s not one size fits all, and this presents a variety of perspectives and options, based on how it resonates with different people.

            It can make all the difference to address this in ourselves and change these patterns of thinking based on shadow projection abuse. Our neurons are quite flexible and with focused practice, we can transform our thinking. That’s what changes reality because when we think differently, we notice different things and we also act differently, so as a result, we attract different things into our lives and experience, not repeating the past but instead, creating a new future. That’s how I’ve experienced it working and I’ve heard similar testimonials as the result of healing from this particular brand of abuse. It is literally life-changing, at the core.

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          • Dear Sam

            I’m not sure if I’ve already replied to your comments above about ‘help’ (such as self-help books and related services) may actually help people stay as ‘victim’.

            This is a valid and important point.

            In my comments later below replying to Steve, you will see I concur with your point.

            Best wishes, Magdalene

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    • Dear Caroline,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I searched but couldn’t find any part of the article that ‘blames victims’ or the #MeToo Movement? Your comment is still helpful, as it gives the chance to address your and other’s posts and highlight the review’s themes in more depth.

      The review article effectively asks whether DSM psychiatry, blames ‘victims’ of adverse childhood experiences (such as ‘emotionally immature’ parenting)? Your comment also prompts other questions like: are some (but by no means all) parents, ‘predators’ on their own children?

      Some 2019 events that inspired my review of Gibson’s books for Mad in America, were the revelations of Jeffrey Epstein and Harvey Weinstein’s long-term predatory sexual abuse of many people. In Australia’s 60 Minutes interview with Virginia Guiffre, the interviewer said:

      “…at 16, Virginia was emerging ‘from the darkness’ … But what Virginia couldn’t know was that in 1999, her past would make her perfect prey for Jeffrey Epstein… Virginia told the couple of her past abuse…”
      Virginia Guiffre said: ‘that was for them, the key that unlocked the door to knowing how broken I really was…” When the interviewer asked “why did you go back?” Virginia replied ‘as an adult I know it’s right to run – but as a kid who had been through what I had been through in my life already, the last thought I had was, I guess this is what life’s about”.

      The review article thus does not blame victims at all; in fact it does the very opposite.

      The review invites readers to see, listen, hear and understand the full past history of what many may have already been through in their life already – before encountering ‘predators’ outside the family of origin.

      The 60 Minutes interviewer also asked Virginia Guiffre: “you must have been a ball of dread and anxiety?” to which she replied “I was. I was horrified, I was sad, I was angry… the only way I was able to cope … was … taking Xanax. Xanax is an anti-anxiety tablet … it .. took away that feeling of anger, sadness, it made me feel numb, it was a numbing tablet. It helped me cope with what was going on…”.

      She also said that “It took alot of people involved, … doctors, psychiatrists … (hairdressers, chauffeurs…) all these people knew what was going on …It took all of these people turning a blind eye, which they weren’t blind to … they knew exactly what was going on… the justice system failed us then”.


      My review article thus invites readers not to turn a blind eye. But to consider whether DSM psychiatry and psychiatric drugs should continue to be allowed to numb and silence the healthy human distress alarm response of people who have been or are being abused, which for some – may start with ‘emotionally immature parenting’ in childhood that then sets people up as ‘prey’ for future predators.

      Some schools of psychiatry-psychology have and (still do) rightly address childhood-parental attachment trauma. But before the DSM, (neo-Freudian) psychiatry-psychology was apparently criticised for ‘mother blaming’. Some parent groups also actively supported (and still do) the expansion and widespread acceptance of biomedical DSM psychiatry, to medicalise their children’s distress responses.

      Regarding notions like ‘blame’. ‘Responsibility’ is preferred instead of ‘blame’. Criminal justice terms like ‘guilt’ ‘perpetrator’ and ‘victim’ are also discouraged, from being used in health care. Such terms can unintentionally polarise people divisively, into Karpman ‘drama triangles,’ which as Lindsay Gibson’s books explain, cast (and distract) everyone into ‘roles’ of: victim, predator (perpetrator-villain) or rescuer-hero.

      Responsibility – ‘the ability to respond’, applies to everyone, and avoids inappropriately blaming anyone.

      However, DSM psychiatry and pharma drugs may numb our ‘ability to respond’ to trauma, abuse, loss. We are then not free to see and say ‘no’ to what is happening, and cannot see ourselves beyond drama triangle roles like ‘victim,’ put on us by others’ opinions and harmful behaviour.

      Without being numbed, we can as adults, acknowledge, witness, respect and soothe deeply painful feelings caused by traumatic experiences like abuse, without letting that pain or other people, trap us psychologically into a ‘victim’ identity.

      We can then also choose whether to see our true inner self, as Gibson says: “… the soul, spirit, heart, the you of you … the internal witness—the nucleus of our being—that takes in all of life but is unchanged by life … your unique individuality, underneath your personality, family role, and social identity “.

      Other resources that readers might wish to explore for themselves, include: Lisa A Romano (USA) who coaches people (women and men) who have suffered narcissistic abuse (whether by parents, spouses, bosses, friendships, strangers etc), to heal the past which sets people up as prey for abuse, by realising it’s not their fault, it was childhood ‘programming’.


      Regarding ‘predators’, the late Dr Alice Miller (dissident psychoanalyst, author of ‘The Drama of the Gifted Child/Prisoners of Childhood) explained how national dictators who perpetrated the heinous murder of millions of citizens – were abused in childhood themselves (whether by parents or others). This does not excuse their crimes. But Miller’s work and that of psychohistory, arguably shows that predators, victims (and ‘rescuers’) may all be victims of childhood.

      But why do some abused children become victims-rescuers, whilst others become predators-perpetrators? Geneticists, neuroscientists might insist we are genetically programmed; it’s all in our brain before birth. But epigenetics disputes this and dissenting research has apparently debunked Twin Studies. There are also no biomarkers for most or all DSM mental disorders; there is no objective diagnostic test to verify DSM diagnoses.

      *Finally, as many posts on this ‘Mad in America’ website show, many readers are rightly dismayed and disappointed by legal, political and (mental) health systems, finding themselves repeatedly victimized no matter who they turn to or where they go for help. Do our systems have a vested interest in keeping us all trapped in drama triangle roles of: victims and predators, so they can play the heroic ‘rescuer’?

      Until an answer is found, what is suggested (but not advised) meanwhile, is that Gibson’s books may help readers and future generations, to avoid succumbing to DSM psychiatry, numbing drugs (like ‘Xanax’) and legal-insurance systems, in the first place.

      This includes, by courageously facing and healing ‘the past’ (childhood) which sets some of us up as ‘prey’ for predators. We no longer need to be tricked into seeing ourselves as just ‘victims’ of other people and the painful events of life.

      Best wishes, Magdalene

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      • Narcissistic abuse is so insidious and can be really hard to pinpoint as such in a society where it is the norm. This was the final stage of my healing, learning about this, and how to undo it. I learned from one source that we end up gaslighting ourselves as a result of being chronically misled, lied to, and reflected back negatively for the purpose of power and control (especially when it is from people who are supposed to be helping and supporting us), which I could relate to when I heard this, causing doubt and fear of consequences to lace just about every action and interaction. It’s really so very horrible! Causes such internal suffering.

        And yes, this is chronic within the “mental health” industry, in fact it is the foundation of it. The DSM is a book of gaslighting. Being labeled IS narcissistic abuse!

        THANK YOU SO MUCH for writing about this! I think it’s extermely relevant now given what is going on in the world. We’re all being gaslighted now, so this healing has tremendous value in present time if we cherish and are to preserve our freedom.

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        • Dear Alex

          Yes, I think you have nailed the underlying crux of my review article for Mad in America . Responding to both your comments above.

          Gibson’s books use her term ‘emotionally immature’ in place of terms like narcissism, presumably because narcissism (originally a moral religious and spiritual issue; not medical condition) has been nebulously medicalised by the DSM into a psychiatric ‘personality disorder’.

          You now can’t call out narcissism as a moral ethical problem, because it’s been made into a medical personality disorder diagnosis that psychiatrists-psychologists claim only ‘they’ can ‘diagnose’.

          Narcissistic parenting and/or emotionally immature parenting might be seen as similar or the same, depending on your point of view.

          I have also watched and read many YouTube videos and books – on ‘narcissistic abuse’. I encourage MIA readers to search out and watch or read them, for themselves. I have suggested links and resources in my review article and comments.

          Gibson uses her own non-medical term ‘emotionally immature’ (which can be ascribed to anyone, not just some parents). My view is that Gibson has thus been free to accurately describe what really goes on – unhampered by DSM jargon and academic psychology debates about the meaning of ‘narcissism’.

          All of us are arguably now free again, to call out harmful behavior without resorting to DSM-5 medicalised terms like ‘Narcissistic Personality Disorder’.

          Gibson does not seem to use pop-culture self-help mainstream terms like: gaslighting, hoovering, love-bombing, narcissistic supply, abuse cycle, trauma bonding/Stockholm Syndrome – (again psychologists have their own inner circle professional debates on whether even Stockholm Syndrome has been debunked).

          Gibson’s books seem to cover similar notions. But they do not cover it all, so I anticipate she might write a third or further book.

          Overall, I suggest that Gibson’s books do complement and enhance the ‘narcissistic abuse recovery self-help community’ which has many books, hundreds (or thousands) of YouTube videos, coaching programs or counselling services, all around the world right now.

          People need to discern which they consider best or suitable, for themselves.

          Gibson’s books do not focus on just the individual. My reading of her books is that they encourage people to also examine and question the social environment in which they were raised, like their family of origin and present adult relationships which might unwittingly mirror relationships with EI parents.

          *Is the DSM a book of ‘gaslighting’? That was a theme in my review article. To inspire readers to ask this question themselves.

          People who experience en masse anxious distress from: emotional-verbal physical and financial abuse and exploitation, political-economic inequality and/or corruption in society at large – are told that their distress from it all, is just an individual mental health disorder inside their head?

          So yes, I agree, we need to ask whether the DSM-5 is a book of ‘gaslighting’?

          When people ‘witness’ and ‘wake up’ from a lifetime of gaslighting (such as via emotional contagion, role-coercion, whether by emotionally immature: parents, people and an ‘emotionally immature society’ at large) they may also wake up from DSM psychiatry, and the mind numbing drugs that accompany them.

          Best wishes

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          • “You now can’t call out narcissism as a moral ethical problem, because it’s been made into a medical personality disorder diagnosis that psychiatrists-psychologists claim only ‘they’ can ‘diagnose’.”

            Indeed, as I was writing my comment, I was aware of this irony but I didn’t bother to caveat. Using such common vernacular that people understand on a gut level can easily get confused with “non-medical medicalizing.” I also use the terms vampire or energy sucker or double binder. I’m sure in time we’ll have other terms before they become overused and co-opted, as the above have already, no doubt. This can certainly become a game of name calling, which makes me shudder. Kind of immature in and of itself, I’d say. I’ve certainly been guilty of this. It’s tough to articulate, but the feeling is powerful.

            None of these terms are very nice, but then again, we’re talking about people who can have a favorable public/social image, but in reality, whose insidious actions are seriously harmful to others. It can be covert and sinister. And even when this gets expressed and called out, it is not only vehemently denied, it is projected onto another and things only get worse from there. Tons of marginalizing happens this way, true injustice leading to chronic suffering.

            I could also say “deeply wounded people,” but that’s a lot of us, until we heal those wounds. And not everyone with deep wounds takes it out on others, but more so, they take it out on themselves while trying to be as nice to others as possible to specifically avoid the repetition, but that tends to backfire because it is not authentic and comes off as people pleasing. The change has to be internal before outer changes occur.

            When we do heal from having endured such a dynamic, which can only be transformative from what I can see, then we have no reason or desire to act that way any longer or to treat anyone at all with such dehumanizing disregard, which would be a HUGE relief to all of humanity! That would be the most crucial point for me.

            Thank you again for all of this, Magdalene, and for bringing this book and other works along this line, to the forefront. To me this is vital and more widespread that people realize (although I think people are starting to get this and wake up to it more and more), so it’s brilliant information right now, we need this awareness. This is my personal offering on the subject–


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          • I don’t call them “narcissists.” I just call them “jerks.” Or “assholes.” Less clinical, more accurate, no free justifications offered. It’s a way of acting, not caused by anything in particular except deciding to be a jerk. I can have compassion for such people, but only after they decide not to pass their pain on to others.

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          • I’m talking about a much more sinister behavior, which would be part of a person’s relationship dynamic which they carry forward with everyone. Some people are so conditioned to being around this that they don’t notice it unless they wake up to what has been draining them for so long.

            Anyone can be a jerk, we’ve all been that at times. Especially when fighting and standing up to abuse, it seems natural to try to fight fire with fire, but that is only a downward spiral and lose/lose.

            An energy vampire is relentless in their need for control and overpowering others, and will not leave the scene without making a huge mess for innocent people, first, because they THRIVE on the pain of others, and second it feels powerful to an otherwise relatively powerless-feeling person, despite what they might project outward, like a costume. I’d say this behavior shows a lack of moral compass.

            This can be really bad news if that kind of person is in a position of power and authority, and that seems to be the norm nowadays. Why do we put up with it, continuously? It’s all of society participating in this, one way or another, until we don’t any longer.

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          • An excellent and important distinction! All of us can engage in negative or destructive behavior from time to time. What I think we’re talking about here is people who are COMMITTED to negative and destructive behavior, people who genuinely believe that the best way to live is to be selfish and disingenuous and to mess with other people’s success and even their very sanity. To be raised by such a person is a nightmare and has lasting adverse consequences. But even accidental or unconscious role assignments can be extremely damaging. I also appreciate the observation that our larger society creates and exacerbates such negative flows, as they benefit capitalistic ventures. Insecure people buy deodorant, more makeup, and more insurance. Not to mention more “mental health” services!

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          • “What I think we’re talking about here is people who are COMMITTED to negative and destructive behavior, people who genuinely believe that the best way to live is to be selfish and disingenuous and to mess with other people’s success and even their very sanity.”

            Yes, that is exactly what we’re talking about. Nightmare on Earth. How to stop this? would be my question. How do people get away with this, and keep going? How to fight against abuse is a problem in our society, given how we live in an abusive society. Sure is a head scratcher.

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  4. Thank You Magdalene! Appreciate your article. Anything to cease DSM Psychiatry. I’m a family law attorney in California, where the “DSM” is unfortunately institutionalized in our judicial system. Quite often I witness parents in Court’s arguing over medications for the children–parroting the psychiatrist. The parents themselves are on an array of medications. They have swallowed in one gulp DSM—Blindly heeding the advice of “child psychiatrists.” It boggles the mind that any parent would permit there child to be treated by a “child psychiatrist,” as it is equally mind boggling that one would become a “child psychiatrist,” and thereby, spend their days prescribing psychotropic drugs to children. It is equally baffling that even permitted. I recently had a client report that her 4 year old child was diagnosed with ADHD, and was prescribed Adderal. Child was “acting out” in class. Fortunately, parent did not like child’s affect after starting the drug, so she stopped it. I then directed her to this site, and that was that—she now encourages the “acting-out.” 🙂

    I recommend a book that was just released titled “Hidden Valley Road” chronicles a family with 12 siblings, five of which diagnosed with “schizophrenia.” It is 370 page chapter and verse indictment of bio-psychiatry, but more importantly, you get a front row seat in witnessing jaw-dropping emotionally immature parents/systems, which clearly leads to their children’s psychotic breaks, yet the psychiatrist hover around the family like vultures looking for the “gene.” Bio-psychiatry is geared to avoid blaming parents, which remains the elephant in the room. Researchers believe if they find the “gene,” presto, problem cured. Incredulous!

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  5. Magdalene,

    You’re a great writer yourself. I’m going to look out for both of these books.

    As regards ‘Attachment Theory’ I can remember seeing the picture of the little monkey in a cage with its dummy mothers and I thought it was very cruel. I’m concious of ‘Attachment’ myself, but in a ‘Buddhist theory context’ which has a totally different meaning.

    The Pain Body from Eckhart Tolle is an interesting phenomenon:- https://www.newworldlibrary.com/Blog/tabid/767/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/438/DISSOLVING-THE-PAIN-BODY-An-excerpt-from-THE-POWER-OF-NOW-by-Eckhart-Tolle.aspx#.Xpgwhx7TUwA

    I believe this man could completely Dissolve the DSM with a tiny pamphlet from his own wisdom.

    You have definitely opened my eyes in this article to a few things that I knew existed but hadn’t investigated due to the lack of available information.

    ‘Emotionally Insecure’ Parent is a term I’ll remember.

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    • Dear Fiachra

      Thank you for your kind comment about my writing.

      I know some scholars critique Eckhart Tolle’s non-sectarian spiritual teachings, such as by saying he emphasises too much ‘present momentism’. I see their viewpoint.

      But having read Tolle’s work myself, I tend to agree with your favourable view of his teachings.
      I have also listened to his many videos independently and critically. I understand that Tolle avoids terms like ‘mindfulness’, and his explanation of ‘present moment’ seems to be different from those of other secular mindfulness practitioners.

      I thus presently agree with you, that Eckhart Tolle’s books could also help to dissolve psychiatry’s ‘DSM’.

      I also tend to cite Eckhart Tolle because he himself was chronically depressed and suicidal throughout childhood and into his 20s. According to interviews, Tolle was raised in an unhappy home with rageful (emotionally immature) parents. In an interview with Larry King, I think Tolle described his father as an ‘unexploded bomb’ – but also as someone who was a victim of his own childhood/family of origin.

      Tolle was not diagnosed with any psychiatric DSM disorder, at least not as far as I am aware. He apparently went through his intense dark period in the 1970s, before DSM psychiatry was launched. On a night when he felt ‘I cannot live with myself any longer’ that part of his psyche-mind which identified itself as a victim of his past (childhood) conditioning, the pseudo role-self identity that Tolle calls ‘ego’ – spontaneously ‘died’ if you will, and totally dissipated.

      Tolle has apparently been in a state of peaceful awareness ever since (without psychotherapy or psychiatric drugs) that has stayed despite challenging life situations (he slept rough for a time, and existed in poverty for a while – after quitting his PhD and scholarship at Cambridge University. He apparently sat on park benches in central London, in a state of complete bliss).

      Tolle later felt the inspiration to write his books and to become the spiritual teacher he is today. But he also says in interviews-talks, that this could not have happened – without first experiencing the suffering that forced him into his ‘essence identity,’ or what Lindsay GIbson calls ‘our true inner self’ which religion would call our ‘soul’.

      Whilst suffering can be an aid, we are not meant to stay in a state of suffering. A question that then arises however is – does DSM psychiatry numb people-citizens to tolerate injustice, so they stay ‘victims’ in abusive situations or relationships, and comply with exploitive political-economic national systems?

      The spontaneous total awakening Tolle experienced, has been experienced by other people. It may not be what most of us will experience. So, the challenge for most of us may be to transcend (but not ‘spiritually bypass’) unconscious role-identities we have been conditioned to adopt from painful childhoods, and/or unresolved painful experiences, like abuse, loss and other traumas.

      Paradoxically, it may be hard (or impossible?) to free ourselves from past and present painful traumatic experiences, if we are ‘numbed’ by psychiatric drugs and deny what we have been through, under the cover of a DSM mental health label?

      Another writer suggested to readers is Dr Steve Taylor (transpersonal or spiritual psychologist) in the UK. Steve has written various books about consciousness, and researched cases of people who have had profound spontaneous spiritual awakenings – triggered by immense loss and suffering.


      Btw Gibson’s term is ’emotionally immature’ parents-people. But perhaps your term, ’emotionally insecure’ is a fair way to describe it too?

      Best wishes,


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  6. Below are other similarly themed resources and writers on social media, that might interest readers to explore and discern for themselves:

    Dr Ramani Durvasula PhD
    “Narcissistic Family Roles”

    Dr Gabor Maté MD (8 April 2020)
    Don’t Numb Your Feelings: How Your Past (Childhood) Is Affecting Your Present (response to the pandemic)

    “No More Victims” (Education Charity for Children, Houston Texas):

    Kyle Cease (meditation coaching group)
    ‘The Abuse of Comparison’

    Melanie Tonia Evans (life coach who originally coined Emma Watson’s term ‘self-partnering’)

    ‘Traits Narcissists Look For In Victims”

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  7. General reply to various comments above:

    My independent review of Gibson’s books found that they can help people to look at their social environment, rather than just navel gaze inside their own heads. Her books invite us to question courageously: our whole environment, the family system in which we were raised, and to query others’ rigid and incorrect opinions about us.

    I did not find Gibson’s books to lead people to stay victims at all – in fact the very opposite. This is why I recommend her books to all Mad in America readers.

    Best wishes Magdalene

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  8. Responding to Steve’s helpful question earlier above. Hoping this also responds to various comments above.

    My current view is that our human distress response to loss, trauma, injustice, abuse etc (whether it be emotionally immature parenting, people or other life challenges) is not a ‘mental health issue’. Some say that ‘mental health’ is a term which can depoliticize and medicalize, our non-medical human distress.

    My original drafts of this review, quoted the late Bonnie Burstow. Bonnie Burstow apparently eschewed the term ‘mental health’. I also don’t use the term, and have heard that some academics shun the term ‘mental health’ entirely. ‘Mental health’ can be a depoliticizing word that distracts attention from social causes of human distress, by separating our distress from its social-environmental and political-economic causes (such as EI parents and family systems).

    By characterizing human distress as a ‘health sickness’ inside our ‘mind-head,’ the term ‘mental health’ may side-track some people to navel gaze for causes of their distress individually inside themselves; in their body and brain. However, the body-brain may just be the effect – not the cause.

    Lindsay Gibson’s books do guide people on ‘what to do’.

    Book 2 seems different in this regard, from other books in this genre. I like her approach as she describes how to undo pseudo role-identities unwittingly taken on in childhood (which society may still encourage and endorse), and to instead find the true inner self again. From there, we find new people, new relationships, new opportunities.

    But this ‘transition,’ may feel like loss and thus be very painful for some people, especially if they prefer to cling to a life-long pseudo role-identity and keep ‘parent healing fantasies’. Using an analogy, removing a dagger can be as excruciatingly painful, as when the dagger was thrust in. Some may prefer to just live with it.

    The fantasy of a ‘happy childhood’ is one to which some people may cling, where societies enforce or require them to. E.g. In some cultures, arranged marriages and entire fortunes, involved (or still involve) scrutiny of family background and parents. Jane Austen’s famous novel ‘Pride and Prejudice’ arguably dramatized this well. It is trite that this still operates to a degree, in royal marriages and marriages in elite circles.

    As Ramani Durvasula explains, some people feel ‘shame’ about coming from ‘narcissistic families’.

    This society endorsed ‘shame’ about coming from a narcissistic family or emotionally immature parents/parenting, might be why some people prefer a DSM label and numbing drugs?

    Instead of de-stigmatizing the distress of having been raised by narcissistic or emotionally immature parents (or society’s stigmatising of those who experience: abuse, rape, death-grief, unemployment, homelessness, or who are unmarried, childless, in poverty etc etc) DSM psychiatry has sought to ‘de-stigmatize’ their mental disorder labels, without addressing the social causes of people’s distress.

    People who are shamed by families and societal norms, may feel compelled to seek out and accept DSM mental disorder diagnoses, and the pharma drugs that can go with them.

    Letting go of society’s shame, a pseudo role self, parent healing fantasies and myths of a ‘happy childhood’ (if childhood was in fact miserable) can feel like ‘death’ to a part of the psyche. This death, is not something which conventional mental health services and ‘ego’ based psychology, may understand or be equipped to handle.

    ‘Surrendering’ a pseudo role self from childhood to please parents and fit into a family Drama Triangle system, could be frightening if it means all current (dysfunctional) relationships and people fall away – as they want you to stay the way you are. Again, rather than face the loss and uncertainty, many people feel they have no choice but to stay, as there is little to no support (under the roll back of the welfare state under neoliberal capitalism) for people to leave abusive situations, relationships, jobs and homes.

    A DSM label diagnosis and numbing tablets, may thus be seen by some, as the only way to cope with the pain of the status quo.

    It might thus be also argued, that DSM mental disorder diagnoses are compelled by neoliberal capitalist political-economic systems which comprise of dysfunctional Drama Triangle human relations at large, and refuse ‘time out’ for anyone who is not ‘functioning’ and ‘competing’ in the ‘economy’ – unless you are ‘sick’.

    (Now the coronavirus pandemic has given millions of people – ‘time out’. Even tennis No 1 Novak Djokovic has apparently expressed on Instagram, how the pandemic has helped him see, that when the constant adrenalin rush of tennis competition life is over, he will be fine).

    Those life coaches, counsellors, therapists, psychologists and others, who have honestly healed their own childhood parental attachment trauma (both mother and father, including adopted parents) who understand society’s dysfunctional systems, and the adverse impact of various political-economic policies on human beings – might offer services in a non-mental health way, and be better placed to listen, understand and witness. They can do so without medically pathologizing people, or over intellectualising with psy ‘theories’.

    People need to explore all services responsibly for themselves, as I don’t give advice nor endorse any services. I have suggested videos and links for others to consider and decide independently.

    I also recommend that people read Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth” alongside both of Lindsay Gibson’s books.


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    • Thank you Magdalene, well said.

      I don’t believe psychiatry wants to destigmatize “mental illness”. I believe psychiatry owns that word, and to the innocent, it looks to be a kind gesture.
      If they themselves give the labels, they cannot talk about “stigma”. And it’s not even “stigma”. It’s outright discrimination.
      If anything, any word used by them is a ploy to keep the cult believable.

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      • Dear Sam

        I think you make a good point, that would be useful for researchers, independent scholars or MIA writers, to explore further.

        There is alot of scholarly academic writing and research about ‘stigma’. One wonders, however, noting other MIA reader comments about ‘gaslighting’ – whether de-stigmatisation of DSM mental disorder diagnosis labels, has itself been a form of population wide ‘gaslighting’?


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        • Yes it is gaslighting. It appeals to many that do not understand how psychiatry works. There would be no “stigma” if not for labels, or forced treatment. We will always have “stigma”, it is part of society. We will always opt to ignore people, shun people, and kids will continue to get bullied, and we will have scars.

          What psychiatry contributes is the final blow. Here is the tag, wear it well, and no more visiting your grandkids if a mean son in law decides to use it against you when he divorces your daughter. (not my situation, but it happens)

          That is not “stigma”, but DISCRIMINATION, and it is something psychiatry refuses to address, because they know THEY are at fault, not their client.
          And the lawyers in these cases are “pretend”, as in, a right to defense, yet with no crime committed.

          The discrimination happens in healthcare even more so. So the word “stigma”, is a purposeful word.

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  9. Dear Alex and Steve

    The blog does not seem to permit direct replies to your comments above, so just a general reply here.

    I agree with your insightful comments. The topic of ‘narcissism’ (not DSM-5 NPD) is a key underlying theme of my review blog. Lindsay Gibson’s books use the term ’emotionally immature’ and in my view, helpfully go beyond current ‘narcissism’ definitions. My question however, is whether large numbers of people in our world, are in fact experiencing trauma distress responses to what self-help communities call ‘narcissistic abuse’ (emotional immaturity)? Does the dynamic (Karpman Drama Triangle) begin – in the family, and then replicate and repeat over and over, from there?

    Not all parents or people are narcissistic or emotionally immature.

    However some scholars from various fields (not just the ‘psy’ industry) would argue that many parents and people are (please see my various links in my review article which were preferred by Editors instead of footnotes).

    Scholars say that more people are narcissistic and/or emotionally immature (if we prefer that term) and that ‘narcissistic parenting’ has increased in recent decades (under neoliberal capitalism). By contrast, others say that certain prior generations (such as Post WWII ‘baby boomers’) were the most narcissistic.

    Whilst again, other scholars disagree further with such views, perhaps because there is still disagreement on core definitions of terms like ‘narcissism’ at the outset?

    Gibson offers a new perspective, and I found her approach an interesting and helpful way to look at the whole issue of ‘narcissism’. I wonder how EI dynamics, from a family of origin, may accurately describe what is happening all around us in society, and why for example, many people, support and /or succumb to DSM psychiatry?

    *Do our social political-economic systems reward the most narcissistic and emotionally immature? Are we all placed in incessant Drama Triangles of victim, rescuer and perpetrator? Are those who are ‘victims’ of ‘perpetrators’ the ones who are shepherded to ‘mental health’ narratives and a DSM-5 diagnosis with accompanying numbing drugs? Are ‘victims’ numbed so they stay ‘victims’? Does DSM-5 psychiatry and the mental health zeitgeist, thus get to keep playing the pseudo role of ‘rescuer’?

    I suggest that Gibson’s books might offer some readers, a way out of this ‘Drama’.

    Other books people might read are by by Alice Miller ‘The Drama of the Gifted Child: The Search for the True Self’.

    (Although Martin Miller, Alice Miller’s son, himself a psychotherapist has revealed that Alice Miller was herself playing a ‘role’ and was a harmful parent. See “The True “Drama of the Gifted Child”: The Phantom Alice Miller — The Real Person” (2018) and interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=768c6rukXTs).

    Is censorship and the silencing of dissent in the family of origin and across society at large – based on role-coercion, emotional contagion and ‘role-entitlement’? Do people have to censor and silence themselves (and numb their trauma distress responses) for fear of ‘offending’ other people’s pseudo role-self, their sense of ‘role-entitlement’?

    Is ‘identity politics’, due to pseudo false ‘role-self’ entitlement? (Some scholars say that identity politics manifests ‘narcissism’).

    What is ‘identity’ and ‘self’? Can we disagree with ego based psychology and assert that we are more than just our ‘ego’? Spiritual communities dissent with traditional psy definitions of ego. They might perhaps say that ‘ego strength’ – is synonymous with pathological narcissism?

    So what is ‘narcissism’ really? Is it just the traits listed in the DSM-5? If so does that mean what is considered ‘grandiose’ in one culture, may not be grandiose at all in another? If so, then even the DSM-5 needs to be examined as to whether it’s more of a cultural document of social moral values, reflecting the subjective moral socio-cultural opinions of those who voted the DSM-5 into existence – rather than a list of objectively tested medical diagnoses?

    Are we able to move ourselves, in and out of a DSM-5 medical diagnosis – by simply moving around from culture to culture, community to community, country to country?

    What is ‘self’ and ‘identity’? Are we just our: our name, roles, education and job titles, ‘achievements’, relationship status, our post-codes, status, income, possessions, nationality, skin colour etc? Do we think we will find who we ‘really are’ by swapping these all around, inventing new ones or polishing and ‘perfecting’ them?

    Or, are we this ‘true inner self’ Gibson talks about in her books: the”internal witness—the nucleus of our being—that takes in all of life but is unchanged by life … your unique individuality, underneath your personality, family role, and social identity”?

    As people transcend and emerge from what some call the ‘age of narcissism’ or ’emotional immaturity’, in all its forms and however it is defined – will this undo the entire DSM-5?

    Thank you for this interesting review blog discussion. I hope the review prompts readers and scholars to consider Gibson’s books, and to explore these and other questions about narcissism, much further.

    Best wishes,

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    • “If so, then even the DSM-5 needs to be examined as to whether it’s more of a cultural document of social moral values, reflecting the subjective moral socio-cultural opinions of those who voted the DSM-5 into existence – rather than a list of objectively tested medical diagnoses?”

      I think you have described EXACTLY what the DSM manuals are, and I don’t know how anyone examining the DSM-5 honestly can’t see this obvious truth.

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      • Dear Steve,

        Yes – that’s basically the point of my Review Article Blog .
        I am glad to see that you and other MIA readers – are ‘getting it’.

        I agree with you that it is unclear how any industry, government or profession, which subscribes uncritically to the DSM ‘mental health’ zeitgeist, can independently examine the DSM honestly? This includes – the law.

        If your and my observations are correct, the opportunity is still there for each person, to stop turning to others to ‘rescue’ them ( lawyers, politicians, psychiatrists, hospitals, psy-mental health services etc) and instead ‘witness’ the Drama Triangle system – and then choose whether to step out of it.

        Alot of self-help books are indeed rightly criticised for effectively keeping people trapped in never ending ‘self-help’ and ‘self-improvement’ and ‘mental health’ zeitgeists (like a never ending therapy treadmill, at least according to some MIA reader comments above, with no clear end in sight).

        The other conundrum is – what ‘self’ are people ‘helping’? A pseudo role-self (that spiritual writers call ‘ego’)? Or, their true inner self, their essence, their heart-conscience – soul?

        *Yet, I do come across a rare self-help book, which I consider does help people to, step out of the Drama, to get off the self-help/mental health treadmill, as it were. My review here for MIA, has thus suggested two such books by Lindsay Gibson, a clinical psychologist herself.

        Best wishes Magdalene

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    • Magdalene, not sure if I said it, but thank you for the all the responses to all who commented.
      It’s nice to see the dialogue.

      As far as “life coaches”, I realize that when psychiatry was noticed by many to be the big floppy fish in polluted waters, “therapists” offered their services, and they are constantly reinventing the “therapist” word, but one thing that I never failed to notice is the cost. They are hardly affordable by most. It seems they felt that income should be half of what a shrink makes, or something like that?

      I get it. Everyone needs a paycheque. I’m also aware that some offer a sliding scale, for those who are on SI 🙂
      I don’t much care what the costs are, as far as I am concerned. However, there are many who cannot possibly afford “life coaches”

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    • I did an online workshop with Melanie, she’s the one who introduced me to this topic. She is excellent!

      Teal Swan posted a video recently about this called “Gaslighting (What is Gaslighting and How To Heal From It)” which some might find helpful, she covers quite a bit in 23 minutes–


      Honestly, I think this is the best topic to explore when it comes to our well-being. It’s the hidden beast in our society, what I’d call “a silent killer.” This kind of crazy-making abuse leads to suicide, easily, if we don’t wake up to it and do the healing work to address this.

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      • Yes, Alex you are right!

        I’ve followed some of the links Magdalene has provided and (I’m kinda shocked) found them informative and validating. Melanie’s you tubes speak to me in a very scary way–I was mesmerized!

        And then I wonder about what her real goal is here. To make money! The raison d’être of our capitalist system.
        Just someone else making money off my misery.

        Hearing from you, Alex, that you’ve had a good experience with Melanie soothes the cynicism a bit. A tiny bit.

        Magdalene you have left us a treasure trove of things to explore as this story winds up to it’s final conclusion. Thank you.

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        • Dear Furies

          You are welcome. This ‘story’ as you put it, has however, not necessarily concluded for it now begins, for MIA readers.

          It would be good to see more MIA readers question what they have been taught to believe about themselves and others, whether by – emotionally immature-parents or people, as well as by: psychiatry-psychology-psy enterprises (‘mental health industry’) and the legal and political systems which have endorsed DSM psychiatry.

          I had originally considered putting the word ‘narcissism’ in the title of my review. But decided not to, because the social-spiritual-ethical-moral phenomena of ‘narcissism’ has been medicalised by the DSM into a disorder to be ‘treated’.

          *Regarding videos and services for narcissistic abuse recovery, you raise a very important and valid question about whether this too, has become another money-making industry?

          Whether they be psychologists/therapists-social workers-counsellors, or independent life coaches, there are many service providers around the world and on the internet, offering various therapies, retreats or programs for dealing with narcissistic parents-people (other terms in self-help culture include: ‘toxic parents-people’, ‘self-absorbed’, ‘psychopath’ ‘energy vampires’ etc).

          Psychologists seem to be now adopting and borrowing urban language terms on narcissism – from mainstream general public self-help culture. Some life coaches/independent service providers, in turn, reference Freudian ego psychology theory (unaware perhaps of the criticisms).

          However, there are some life coaches who openly distance themselves from DSM-5 definitions of narcissism and rightly discourage the general public from accepting mental disorder diagnoses as medical illnesses to be drugged for life.

          Suggestions (not advice) are to:

          – decide whether watching free videos and webinars, reading books and discussing what you have learned in a book club for example, might be enough for some people? Not everyone necessarily needs to spend money on costly psychotherapy or other programs.

          -check to see if there is a clear set time-line and end goal for therapy/counselling sessions or programs? People may prefer to avoid ambiguous never ending therapy-counselling bookings for months and years. “Witnessing’ whilst experiencing the distress of past adverse experiences/abuses/trauma (without bypassing pain by talking, cogntive intellectualising or Pharma drugs) – might be preferred to those psychotherapies or programs which keep people ‘identified’ with past experiences and pain.

          -check whether a psychologist-therapist or other service providers, have faced and healed their own childhood-parent attachment trauma (parents, adopted parents and any other caregivers, or other challenging life experiences-losses)? Someone with the wisdom of experience in transcending their own past (role-identities), may be preferred to someone who has only studied psy theories intellectually and holds paper credentials?

          – look for testimonials, and also consider any adverse reviews and discern for yourself.

          -check whether psychologists, therapists or life coaches etc, offer information on healthy diets-nutrition, sleep, regular exercise, or a non-dogmatic/non-sectarian spiritual practice if that appeals to you, etc as additional ways to help the body to recover.

          – perhaps be conscious of ‘not’ depending on psychologists-therapists (psychiatrists-doctors), life coaches (lawyers, spiritual teachers or any service provider) as a surrogate parent (or as a saviour-rescuer-hero-guru-idol).

          – check that any service provider (psychologist, therapist or life coach etc) does not use fear based coercive marketing tactics to sell services. Also check that they do not rigidly adhere dogmatically to a particular spiritual-religious belief system (unless you prefer that they do), or to one psy theory or preferred ‘therapy,’ such that they censor disagreement, questions or dissent by you.

          Eg. if a psychologist was trained to believe that CBT or ACT or MBSR etc is the ‘gold standard’, or they are a strict adherent to ‘inner child/ego psychology theory’ etc and refuses to brook questions or disagreement, you may wish to find someone else. If you are atheistic for example, you may not be helped by a psychotherapist or counsellor who is religious – and vice versa. The same goes for any life coach services or programs. If a program does not allow you to question them, their views-beliefs and methods – you might wish to move on.

          -check that life coaches are not uncritical adherents to DSM psychiatry and mental health/wellbeing zeitgeists. Have a conversation with them about their understanding, views and their approach – before deciding whether you feel comfortable to proceed with their services. You may find that those who have ‘role-entitlement’ and don’t want questioning, independent clients who can think individually for themselves, may turn you away anyway.

          -check whether a psychologist-therapist, life coach or other service provider, acknowledges social-environmental and political-economic causes of human distress without medicalizing distress as just mental health issues inside your head-brain.

          *Some psychologists (Dr Jay Watts in the UK for example), do assure clients that it’s normal and appropriate to feel distressed, lonely, anxious and depressed in an unfair-unjust society. There are dissenting psychologists who appreciate the adverse impact of (neoliberal capitalist) political-economic and legal systems on citizens and do not gaslight medicalise social-political problems (abuse, low paid exploitive work, homelessness, debt, govt, austerity, death-loss, poverty etc) – as a mental health issue inside your own mind-head.


          All the above are suggestions, not advice.

          (I suggest links below. But re-iterate that I don’t endorse any particular service provider, therapy or programs, as readers need to discern all service providers and their services, for themselves).

          I hope the review article which has recommended books to read (which might be accessed for free via a public library), and the comment discussion here, helps MIA readers to explore, question and find alternatives to DSM psychiatry and drugs.


          Other suggested (not endorsed-advised) links/channels to consider and decide for yourself:

          Meredith Miller
          “Why the Science on Narcissism is Wrong”

          Dr George Simon (USA) Character Disturbance/Global Pandemic of Narcissism

          Dr Linda Martinez-Lewi (Psychotherapist USA)

          Dr Les Carter (Psychotherapist USA)

          Lisa Romano (Breakthrough Life Coach, USA )

          Melanie Tonia Evans (coach, Australia)
          “Have You Been Told You’ll Have PTSD For Life?”

          Crappy Childhood Fairy (USA)

          Dr Jay Watts (UK) ‘Mental Health After Neoliberalism’

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        • furies, I’ve never paid anything I just watched all the free videos and workshops that I could find and did the work on my own. Had I needed help with the work I’d have paid for one of the more in depth workshops but I know how to do neural shifting and all that, so the validation and info was enough to get me started, opened up a healing path for this.

          But I think many of these are legit, these folks really do want to help others, we know what a challenging issue this is. The comments on these videos really show what a hidden issue this has been, as well, now coming to light in a significant way. This helps the world, the greater good, because it’s a big problem, this is more common than not and causes undue suffering, absolutely no need for this, screws everyone up simply to satisfy ONE person’s ego.

          Trust instincts as always of course but I’m glad to hear this is an awakening for you. This topic took me far, really undid a lot of my confusion and FINALLY the pattern stopped! I can see clearly now, huge relief! Keep going, you’ll be so glad you did.

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  10. *”Have You Been Told Have PTSD For Life?” – Melanie Tonia Evans (Australia)


    Whilst there are calls from some psy professions, for life coaching services to be ‘regulated’, it’s interesting to observe that one possible benefit with (some, but not all) life coaching services, is that by and large, they do not tend to offer ‘mental health therapy or services’.

    As some life coaching services, do not label non-medical social environmentally caused distress as a ‘mental health issue’, they are arguably free to disagree with, challenge or outright reject – DSM psychiatry.

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  11. Hello Everyone

    Thanks again for your interest in the book review blog article, and for all the follow up online public discussion.

    I will try to respond to the various new comments, below.

    Unless anyone has any more questions on Lindsay Gibson’s books or the content of my review article itself, I won’t reply to future comments, but will read any new online discussion with interest.

    *I agree that all professions, whether they be law or the psy enterprise, need to remain open to scrutiny. The legal profession (lawyers, judges, legal academics) has a ‘legal ethics’ tradition of scrutinising lawyer and judicial ethics. Legal ethics involves critiques not only by lawyers-legal academics, but also by the public and scholars from other disciplines. For example, a legal ethics topic that might merit exploration is whether lawyer/legal profession independence is compromised, if the legal profession is too closely aligned with DSM psychiatry and mental health zeitgeists, uncritically?

    Noting Gibson’s explanation of ‘role-entitlement’, lawyers and psy professionals ought to perhaps be similarly careful not to demand or expect ‘professional role-entitlement’? Like the field of legal ethics, it might also be good to see a ‘psy ethics’ field emerge. Psy ethics (perhaps already addressed by critical psychiatry-psychology) could examine the ethics of all psy professions/services, including critiques by the general public and scholars from other disciplines

    *Narcissism (in a non-medical/clinical or non DSM-5 sense), is a topical and important issue that some MIA readers might want to explore further themselves. I have suggested that Lindsay Gibson’s alternative lens of ’emotional immaturity’ (as explained in her books), is worth considering in this regard.

    *Various videos, books and links are suggested in the review article and in the comments/discussion above. I don’t give any advice, nor endorse any particular services or programs. Instead, the suggested links to authors and videos, along with sample questions, perspectives and ideas, are offered so that MIA readers can investigate, enquire, consider and decide responsibly for themselves.

    *I won’t respond to comments that tend to denigrate or ridicule any named individual author-writer personally, so that online conversation and debate remains focused clearly on the actual issues, viewpoints, arguments, ideas and different perspectives.

    Finally, the Covid-19 Pandemic has challenged many political and economic assumptions around our world. Many narratives and beliefs that were once assumed, are now being increasingly questioned.

    An example of a possible current shift is how whether by phone, zoom or skype, there are still opportunities for people to connect with each other – via good conversations. Good conversations usually involve mutual listening to each other’s individual viewpoints and ideas, along with respectful agreement or disagreement. The best conversations tend to be where people are not playing ‘roles’. Such conversations can be very therapeutic without being therapy and without being medicalized as ‘treatment’.

    Thanks again for all your interest in this review blog.

    Best wishes

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  12. Review author’s update June 2023.

    Since the author wrote the above (favourable) review of Lindsay Gibson’s ‘Emotionally Immature’ Parents books for Mad in America in 2020, subsequent online audio interviews with Lindsay Gibson have been heard while accessing other research (e.g. by Feldman Barrett) and noting further research that dissents with western developmental psychology assumptions about ’emotions’ and ‘ego-centrism’ as being biologically innate and universal to ‘all’ humans across all cultures-races-ethnicities, countries and civilisations.

    The new information accessed, causes the author to rethink their original review of Gibson’s books.

    What Gibson (and other psychologists-therapists who have since adopted her concept of ’emotional immaturity’) seems to be describing in her popular self-help books – are moral standards of conduct and behaviour that are considered appropriate or inappropriate and acceptable or unacceptable, in a western societies like the US.

    As describing cultural social and moral standards of ethical and unethical human conduct, Gibson’s books do seem to accurately pinpoint and describe why certain patterns of behaviour (and antics) of difficult (hurtful-neglectful and abusive) parents and adult people at large, are experienced as deeply unpleasant and painful (by children and others) and so are considered increasingly, to be unacceptable in western societies.

    However, due to other research scholarship since accessed, it is no longer clear (to the review author) that the concept of ’emotional immaturity’ is a robust or valid explanation for such parents’ harmful, hurtful or otherwise unacceptable behaviour.

    Consideration of different research scholarship calls into question whether a notion of ’emotional maturity’ or ‘immaturity’ properly accounts for undesirable (abusive-hurtful-harmful) behaviour by any adult aged person, including ‘parents’.

    Instead, what Gibson may instead be describing in her books on ‘Emotionally Immature’ Parents (People) – is a socio-cultural-moral-ethics dilemma reflecting rapidly changing values and social norms in western (and eastern) societies operating under late stage (neoliberal) capitalism.

    *In simple lay terms – whatever is defined as being ’emotionally mature’ (by Lindsay Gibson and others who adopt this concept) may suit US western culture (and US-western psychologists). Yet any notion of ‘maturity’ might be understood and defined in a completely different or opposite way in non-western nations and cultures outside the US.

    This is fine.

    But ’emotional immaturity’ thus seems not to be about human biological maturation, but rather: morals, philosophy, ethics and social norms in the (nuclear-extended) family and in the community-society in which the family exists and interacts.

    What Gibson’s books seem to be also talking about (especially noting her first book ‘Who You Were Meant to Be’) are spiritual-religious notions (that may ‘not’ be rooted in biology) especially ideas that (all) humans have an innate ‘soul’ (inner- true self) of individuality, that is best nurtured under preferred or optimal social environmental and cultural conditions that involve a certain new way of parenting that diverges from the conformist authoritarian parenting traditions which prevailed in prior societies, civilisations, eras and decades-centuries.

    Otherwise, any contemporary western (US) developmental psychology based concept of ’emotional immaturity’ risks being a form of US-western psychology ethnocentrism.

    As the research of Feldman Barrett seems to have found – human emotions are apparently not biologically innate, at all, and nor are they universal across all human cultures, races and civilisations:


    This (controversial) research is the subject of criticism by other psychologists, for it seems to challenge dominant hegemonic psy-orthodoxies and perhaps the whole field of western developmental psychology as well.

    If human emotions are culturally made; not biologically born – then the notion of ’emotional immaturity’ may have little to no ‘basis’ in ‘biology’ at all (contrary to those quotes which the author’s review above, cited from Gibson’s books).


    If human emotions are culturally created and formed – not biologically born, then Gibson’s concept of ’emotional immaturity’ may be describing cultural maturity or immaturity depending on the values and ethics of our parents and their own parents, their family, peers, community , social and professional networks and the values, ethics and social norms of all the people in their and our tribe-country-society.

    ‘Emotional maturity’ or ’emotional immaturity’ may thus not be about whether or not parents have ‘biologically matured’ to certain western developmental psychology decreed milestones.

    Instead, ‘emotional maturity/immaturity’ may be more about (as said above), the cultural values, morals and ethical conduct standards in which parents were raised and socialised *including during the gestation period in the womb where maternal nutrition and maternal stress (nurture) affects the biological ‘development’ of the human brain and nervous system (nature) all ‘before’ birth:


    Gibson’s books on ‘Emotionally Immature Parents’ have apparently sold over 300,000 copies.

    A revised and up-dated review of Gibson’s books may be needed.

    Magdalene L. D’Silva

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