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Is the “Inner Child” a New Age Concept?

51437618_sWe have had questions from readers wondering about the “find your inner child” craze that is sweeping through many areas of mental health and whether or not it is connected with the New Age.

The short answer is yes, it is definitely connected with the New Age.

First of all, for those who don’t know what the “inner child” movement is, this is a concept in popular psychology that refers to the part of an adult’s personality that maintains child-like behaviors, memories, emotions, and thought patterns.

“It is generally seen as an autonomous sub-personality with its own needs, desires, issues and goals. In this sense, the inner child functions independently, and sometimes in opposition to, the more mature parts of the adult personality,” this site explains.

A person’s inner child might exhibit one or more characteristics such as that of the abandoned child who feels lonely, insecure and unwanted, and who craves attention. Many people who are overly busy, divorced or separated often harbor this “child” within them.

The neglected child never experienced much love while growing up and manifests itself as a depressed, lonesome and withdrawn adult who believes he or she is unworthy of love.

The fearful child received a lot of criticism from caregivers and grew up needing continuous affirmation and encouragement.

The list goes on and on.

Psychologists who embrace this concept encourage their patients to listen closely to their inner child and to accept, validate and value all the feelings that might emerge when doing so. “Trust yourself and allow the adult to be guided by the inner child’s voice,” the site recommends. "Continue to engage the inner child daily or regularly as it might take a while for her [him] to trust you completely.”

It’s important to understand that this concept originated with Carl Jung, who referred to it as the Divine Child. Jung’s teachings were heavily influenced by Gnosticism, monism, pantheism and occultism.

This could explain why the concept of the inner child is considered to be a part of the popular psychology movement, which includes the New Age’s Human Potential Movement and its league of self-help gurus and motivational speakers.

The term “pop psychology” is used to describe a variety of people from authors to entertainers and is generally used in a pejorative fashion to describe psychological concepts.

It has long been known that childhood experiences can impact adult behavior and some psychologists may use the popular “inner child” movement to explore those areas. If it is used in conjunction with established practice, there is no problem with it. But if it ventures beyond psychology and introduces other New Age concepts and beliefs, then it should be avoided.

 

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