Freedom from Self-Sabotage © Martyn Carruthers 1999

Although I help people resolve emotional issues and change beliefs,
I am told that some people reading this will feel unable to focus
or concentrate on my words. If you feel stuck, email me.

Part 1. Introduction to Bonds  .  Part 3. Resolve Emotional Bonds

Part 2: Identity Loss & Bonds

As I researched the structure of beliefs … again and again I found that loss of personal identity originates in relationship trauma.

I labeled three common varieties of this identity loss :


Do you want to change emotional bonds,
identity loss, identifications or identity conflict?

Relationship Bonds & Beliefs about Identity

We often meet therapists who understand their own development in terms of identity loss. Like many therapists, they experienced its consequences, gained a sense of authority about how they lost identity and now present themselves as role models of whatever method they use to regain it.

Beliefs are associated with compliance. Although beliefs may motivate healthy or unhealthy behavior, beliefs motivate people to continue or survive difficult relationships without going crazy. Consider a fairly common belief: I am bad!

A child who perceives that a parent is bad, may compensate by creating a limiting identity belief that he or she (the child) is bad. Such beliefs are less threatening than “My parent is bad!” and may support a taboo bond, which could be verbalized as something like, “We are connected by our badness“.

The extent to which we maintain close personal relationships, and the degree to which we feel a part of our community or have deep, abiding social and psychological resources, help to determine how protected we are against biological, environmental, or interpersonal assaults
Dr. Lisa Berkman, Psychosomatic Medicine 57:245-254

People often cling to limiting beliefs without being aware of them. If awareness of a belief-bond may damage an important relationship, people avoid this awareness. But, like a mind-virus, whatever people believe about themselves, they communicate to others, especially to their partners and children.

Conscious Bonds & Taboo Bonds

Some relationship bonds are conscious, such as promises, family traditions and professional associations. Less conscious bonds include enmeshments with parents or past partners. Common examples of unconscious bonds are to abusers or to victims of abuse.

Conscious bonds are often associated with obsessions and
obsessive thoughts
, while taboo bonds are more associated
with compulsions and compulsive behaviors.


Feeling Visual Insight
I feel connected to someone or something I can “see” something connecting me with another I know why I obsess about X
I feel that something is wrong I can “see” something dark, close to or in my body I don’t know why I am compelled to Y

Although some people describe perceptions of dark, shadowy shapes in the body as evidence of esoteric phenomena or as examples of black magic, we find that these dark shapes are related to the emotional entanglements that we call taboo bonds.

Existential & Contextual Bonds

I differentiate the consequences of bonded relationships as existential (all of life) or contextual (part of life), in the areas of identity, relationships and global. Global relationship bonds (often at the level of humanity) seem to be associated with mentor damage and spiritual abuse. This table shows how identity bonds support dysfunctional behavior (in this table bad can refer to limiting identity beliefs such as “I am sick“, “I am not good enough” or “I am weak“).


Identity Relationships Global
(All of life)
I am bad. I cannot not be bad. Bad is who I am. I must be with people whose lives reflect my or the world’s badness. Everybody is bad and everybody will always be bad.
I am bad only when X happens or if Y is present. Sometimes I need to be with people who know how bad I am or how bad the world is. The world is only bad when X happens or if Y
is present.

Existential bonds may indicate chronic identification, lost identity or identity conflict; while contextual bonds may be activated by internal or external stimuli. Both existential and contextual bonds can trigger recurring dysfunction, such as:

  • apathy, depression, anxiety or anger
  • symptoms of psychosomatic disease
  • destructive or toxic relationship habits
  • obsessions, compulsions or fixations
Origin of Relationship Bonds

Unpleasant bonds originate in relationship disturbances; either intense disturbances (e.g. a person witnessed an event that the person could not assimilate), or repeated unpleasant experiences (e.g. a trusted authority communicated that a person is somehow bad). Reciprocal bonds are a common consequence of mentor damage.

My wife and I are clinical psychologists and our son has muscular dystrophy. We attended a workshop by a German family therapist who said he intuited our situation, and told us, before an audience of our peers, that my wife and I were “sucking the life from our son’s body”. We were devastated. Since our couple coaching with you we better understood how therapists can abuse clients with careless diagnosis. You helped us dissolve this terrible schema, and we can move on.

Maintain Relationship Bonds

People may maintain and strengthen their relationship bonds by…

  • age regressed or traumatized behavior in the context of the bond
  • ignoring, minimizing or denying information that contradicts the bond
  • seeking and exaggerating experiences that support or confirm the bond
  • dysfunctional relationships that perpetuate the bond through transference

If a person transfers a relationship bond from one person (e.g. father) onto another person (e.g. boss), then expect bonded behaviors (in this example a person could not leave a disliked job). Also, a person may transfer a bond to one person (e.g. to mother) onto many people (e.g. to all women).

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.

Taboo Relationship Bonds

People often avoid acknowledging their unpleasant bonds – often avoiding anything that reminds them of those emotions and thoughts. Such taboo bonds may be perceived as unpleasant feelings, compulsive thoughts and/or horrible visual images. People with taboo bonds often avoid situations that could activate their bonds. They may:

  • suffer psychosomatic or mental health symptoms
  • avoid career success and/or partnership happiness
  • dissociate all emotions to avoid anger, sadness, guilt or fear
  • use drugs to dull their emotions (e.g. alcohol, nicotine, medications)

Taboo relationship bonds can motivate people to dissociate, become aggressive or confused (e.g. “What we were talking about?”) Some autoimmune diseases and psychosomatic symptoms may also be associated with relationship bonds.

It’s like … most of my life I was living my ancestors’ nightmares,
yet since we worked on it I can hardly remember them.

Part 1. Introduction to Bonds . Part 3. Resolving Emotional Beliefs

Do you want to manage difficult emotions or solve relationship problems?

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