The Inner Child and War


“The gigantic catastrophes that threaten us today are not elemental happenings of a physical or biological order, but psychic events. To a quite terrifying degree we are threatened by wars and revolutions which are nothing other than psychic epidemics. At any moment several million human beings may be smitten with a new madness, and then we shall have another world war or devastating revolution. Instead of being at the mercy of wild beasts, earthquakes, landslides, and inundations, modern man is battered by the elemental forces of his own psyche.” C.G. Jung

War and destruction have always been with us. Ever since Zeus battled for superiority with his father, Cronus, and killed him. Ever since Cain killed his brother Abel. Yet we never learn. Sometimes it feels like the warlike masculine shadow of patriarchy is bent on punishing and destroying all youthfulness, innocence, and hope for new life. 

Why? There are many reasons, but as one who always sees outer events through a psychological lens, here’s my take on it. Childhood trauma and abuse damage the developing ego to the point that some abused children are driven to seek power and revenge to regain their self-esteem and prove their worth to their abusers. This is the mentality of a bully. Or a school shooter. Or a malicious hacker.

In today’s world several political bullies are encouraging divisiveness and making war to intimidate others and gain power over their groups. People like this will never believe it, but at bottom, they’re trying to resolve their own pain and fear by lashing out instead of looking within. Of course this doesn’t absolve them of their crimes, but perhaps it helps us understand them better to know they’re still carrying around an unknown, deeply sad and hurting inner child.

The easiest way for a weak ego to assuage its fear of being vulnerable is to conquer and dominate those who arouse our fears. For example, women, children, and others who remind us of our despised childhood powerlessness are easy targets for bullies. So are other religions that pose a threat to our belief that our religion is the “right” one. Seeing ourselves as the defenders of the institutional groups to which we belong–our family, education, government,  economic status, or religion–makes us feel self-righteous and superior. In our ignorance and fear, we’d rather blame and destroy others than face our hurting child and heal our own wounds. As long as the majority of individuals pass on this resistance to knowing and accepting their true selves, there will always be bullies and never be peace.

The inner child is a timely topic for me. Currently I’m writing a series of “letters” to my own wounded child in an attempt to learn to love her instead of denying her fear and hurt. I was loved and cared for as a child and never suffered any kind of physical abuse;  but some difficult life circumstances like divorce, remarriage, the death of my father, and the prolonged absences of my mother–she had to work–are often enough to damage a sensitive and vulnerable ten-year old girl.  So I know how it feels to want to compensate for my hurt and fear by trying to become a strong and invulnerable warrior. This, too, is an age-old issue that will always be with us. Still, it is the burden and responsibility of each one of us to take the steps to heal ourselves lest we become part of a problem that will be passed on to the coming generations.

What early experiences wounded your inner child? How have you tried to deal with them? What have been the effects of your attempts?

For more stories about the inner child read Excavating a Child with a Wounded Mother Complex and Repairing the Foundation of Psyche’s House. For a story about humanity’s evolution into greater self-awareness, try Who Was Eve: Wanton or Warrior?

With gratitude to for his recent post, “The Psychology of the Child Archetype (P4), which inspired this post.

Image credit. openDemocracy, photographer unknown.

Jean Raffa’s The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon. Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc. Jean’s new Nautilus Award-winning The Soul’s Twins, is at Amazon and Schiffer’s Red Feather Mind, Body, Spirit. Subscribe to her newsletter at


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8 Responses

  1. Dear Jeanie, I’m so impressed by yours and Aladin’s articles, please know they’ve moved me deeply! Alas, I’m in complete agreement with the wisdom you share regarding the power and bullying tactics of how many adults with severely wounded inner children frequently turn into monsters!

    Bravo! What a beautiful creative idea it is to write a series of healing letters to our inner children! In many respects I can now see this is what I’ve been doing as a poet my entire life with poems. And yes, knowing that the abuse and trauma I suffered as a child was motivated by ‘fear’ helps considerably.

    Interestingly, even though my next book is centred on embracing the Crone’s path, it is here in this place that I’m finding myself going back to childhood as I work deeply with my inner child/ren, mostly through John Bradshaw’s writings, in an effort to uncover more profound healing methods.

    While the Crone’s path is dangerous, uncertain, and destructive for the ego, it feels necessary for that tower to fall! Yet in the process, a miracle is occurring as I’m discovering a set of keys that’s allowing me to heal my wounded child. I plan to write more about this when things have calmed down.

    Finally, the thing that most amazes me is how in ‘tune’ so many of us are here with each other, as I’m too working deeply on healing my inner child/ren. Hmm, I didn’t know what being a Crone was all about and now I do, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom my dear friend! Love and light, Deborah.

    1. Dear Deborah, speaking of bullies, I just looked up the childhoods of Putin and Hitler. Putin grew up in dire poverty in a rat-filled slum and was bullied by the neighborhood kids. Hitler’s father was harsh and distant. Trump has often been called a bully by people who know him. His father was a brutal man with little emotional intelligence. And so it goes.

      Like you, I now realize all my books and writings have been motivated by my strong need to understand and heal the parts of myself that make me uncomfortable. As an adult I was embarrassed to still feel her hurt. Shouldn’t I be over that by now? But after I began writing to and about her, she started showing up in dreams as a little girl who adores me and whom I adore. The more I write about her/my memories, the more love and compassion I feel for her and my adult self. The results of just listening and responding to her are amazing.

      I agree that the Crone’s path is dangerous for the ego! It brings so many humbling little losses and questions and stressors and fears. Sometimes it’s hard to keep stepping forward, and tempting to stop, or try to turn back. But then I’d be missing the nourishing treasures that still lie ahead: like the set of keys you’re discovering, or like me learning to love my inner child.

      Yes, it is interesting that so many of us are ‘on the same page’ right now. But I suppose it’s no surprise. We were drawn together in the first place because of our similarities. Thank you back for being my friend and sharing your wisdom. Love, Jeanie

  2. Jeane, my adorable teacher, You uttered the right words that I wanted to express in my article. It is like you wrote my thoughts off in a much better way! Thank you for that. I’m still astonished at our synchronisation and similarities in observing the world.
    I will be waiting to read your letters, and as I see this issue spread among us all three—you, Deborah, and me—I might try to do the same. Let see!🤗💖🙏🌹

    1. Thank you, Aladin. Sharing our thoughts and responding to the thoughts of each other always seems to be helpful to those of us with similar goals, experiences, and life challenges. I’m very grateful for your friendship. Jeanie

  3. Thank you, Trish. It helps to have similar-minded friends to communicate with. They provide so much inspiration and motivation to clarify and express my thoughts. That brings me a lot of pleasure.

  4. There’s so much wisdom in this comment and perspective, Jeanie. I don’t know how else to take in what’s happening in our world or why so many people have chosen to rally around a selfish bigoted narcissist. Then I look at the segregated world I lived in as a child in Missouri and imagine how much anger must have been brewing from those who lived in the poor parts of town. It was all underground in the 1950s, but it’s underground no more. I hope we find a way to integrate the rage before it destroys all of us. What a great idea to write letters to the wounded child. I’ll consider doing a little letter writing to the sick child who has taken residence in my body. She’s getting better, but could probably use more encouragement rather than disappointment and scolding. Love and light to you.

  5. Thanks for writing Elaine. I think that so many people have chosen to rally around a selfish bigoted narcissist because the world is changing so fast its scary—global warming, the pandemic, rising racism, student protests over war, pollution, women losing their rights, rising costs for insurance and health care, economic injustices that create poverty, computer hackers, school shootings, the pervasive power of the media, etc., etc., not to mention corrupt politicians. When people are frightened they look for strong, confident leaders to guide and protect them. For some, that includes selfish bigoted narcissists who want to be dictators and use bully tactics to “prove” their power. The masses have always been sucked in by lies and propaganda. For me the only answer is to educate the masses into the critical need for self-knowledge and self-acceptance. We can’t fix the world until we fix ourselves. We can’t love each other until we love ourselves. I’m very glad to hear that your sick child is getting better. So is my wounded child!! Love, Jeanie

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