The Primal Wound

This post summarizes my insights from a book that unexpectedly started changing my life:
“The Primal Wound” written by Nancy Verrier.

I was heartbroken from a relationship that ended in 2019. It started promising as a true love story back in that summer of 2019. While there were other differences in our lives to overcome, we basically could not stay together as I had hard times to trust her. I did all what I could do to keep her in my life, but the feeling of distrust was stronger than me. I never had such strong feelings of distrust in previous relationships so I could not understand why it could not work this time.

My world fell apart when she broke up with me and also did no longer want to maintain any contact.

I suffered for months wondering why we couldn’t try again, or at least meet again as friends.

I was now wondering how come that I was suffering so deeply given that our relationship only lasted for a couple of months. She was worth it of course and I still regret to date the end of our relationship, but it’s not normal that I was going through a long and painful period that intensively…

I started looking for videos on how to get my ex back, and later on how to forget about her.
Believe me, a man can do weird things when he wants to get his love back 🙂

Then, I found the video “How to forget about your ex” which was a first step change for me. I learnt that I was suffering because of unmet child needs and surprisingly less because of my ex… It made me think about my adoption and the fact that I was abandoned when I was 2,5 months old.
The video also referred to the phenomenon of “Repetition Compulsion” which explains why I went from one relationship to another.

I consequently continued searching for information on repetition compulsion, unmet child needs, adoption pain etc.  And then, I’m still very thankful for that day, Nancy Verrier’s book “The Primal Wound” popped up.

It was overwhelming to get suddenly all insights to my hard learnings the past years. I gained a full understanding now on why I went from one relationship to another. Why I was so suspicious in that one relationship and especially why the break-up  left me heartbroken more than any other relationship. Hard and painful learnings, but I’m convinced that they help me to prepare for a deeper connection in the future based on trust and dedication.

Below you can read the main insights from that book that changed my (love) life forever.

About the author Nancy Verrier

A psychotherapist, author and lecturer in US. As a mother with both an adopted and biological child she has done research on adoption trauma and written her insights in her ground breaking book The Primal Wound.

My insights

While adoption is in most cases a good deed, the primal wound/trauma created when a child gets separated from his birth mother, should not be neglected.

Even people welcomed and raised in a warm adoption family (like me :-), can/will eventually feel the pain of the primal wound. This can even emerge in a later stage during adulthood (e.g. after 20-30 years and in my case after 40).

The child primarily misses bonding relationship with the biological mother as the biological father in most cases is no longer there or even not aware of the pregnancy.

The child will think that it is his fault that his mother left him and creates consequently an image of “I’m not OK”, “I don’t have the right to be here”…  As a consequence, most adoptees will have a lower self-esteem and can be suspicious.

According to Nancy Verrier, there are two types of reactions to this abandonment:

  • Rebellion, acting out child;
  • Compliant child: wants to be liked, will please, adapts easily to different situations (to avoid being abandoned again), blends into the environment.

The trauma of being abandoned will lead to creating a false self consisting of coping mechanisms to avoid risk of being abandoned again. As a result, the authentic self will get burried deep under this false self.

To find his true self, to feel complete again, fill the emptiness, the child will typically search for the birth mother.

Most adoptees encounter difficulties in relationships: distrust, fear to attach in order to avoid going through same pain of being abandoned. They will eventually unconsciously sabotage the relationship.

But once in a relationship/once they get attached to someone, they will have a hard time to get out of the relationship. They will try to keep the relationship going at all cost to avoid the pain of being abandoned again.

I can imagine that above insights are scary for adoptees and (potential) adoption parents – it was very scary for me anyhow. But these insights helped a lot to understand the pain, the learnings, the why of the past.

With any change, it is crucial to understand and accept in order to be able to move on.

Nancy Verrier has written a second book “Coming Home To Self” in which she describes how to find one’s authentic self and potential measures to deal with the primal wound. I will issue a posting on this book in the near future.

If you have questions on The Primal Wound or my learnings regarding this trauma, feel free to contact me.


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