CENT Paper No.10
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CENT agrees with psycho-analysis and the Object Relations School that the earlierst relationships between an individual baby and his/her mother and father are the foundations upon which the personality of that individual is built.  Hence it is very important to be able to examine those foundations to help individuals who are struggling in their adult relationships, and the indicators are that their problems started way back in childhood.

CENT makes use of insights from Freudianism, Object Relations, Transactional Analysis, Zen Buddhist, Narrative Therapy, Art therapy, Music therapy, Gestalt Therapy, Social Constructionism, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy.

Dr Jim Byrne

22nd February 2010


This page presents the opening page and a half of CENT Paper No.10, followed by a link to download a PDF file of the whole paper. 


The Story of Relationship: Or coming to terms with my mother (and father)

Copyright (c) Dr Jim Byrne, January 2010

"Whoever inquires about our childhood wants to know something about our soul.  If the question is not just a rhetorical one and the questioner has the patience to listen, (s)he will come to realize that we love with horror and hate with an inexplicable love whatever caused us our greatest pain and difficulty".

Erika Burkart, quoted in Miller (1983)[1]

1. Preamble

In an earlier paper, I mentioned that I had a partial Freudian analysis at the age of 22 years.  It was incomplete because I could not act upon my analyst's advice:

‘My analyst (had) announced my challenge at the final session we had together:  "You need to examine your relationship with your mother in particular".  This was where the analysis failed.  Why?  Because I had no ‘schema', or map, definition, or any other ‘handle' on the concept of "relationship".  I had no awareness of having something called "a relationship with my mother".  I had no idea what it could possibly mean to "examine" something called "a relationship".'  (CENT Paper No.4[2])

My mother and I were never close - and the situation with my father was no different.  All of my subsequent relationships with women were affected by this central fact of my early life:  Just as my relationships with men were affected by my poor bond with my father.  In Cognitive Emotive Narrative Therapy (CENT) we maintain, in harmony with Freudian psychoanalysis and the Object Relations School, that the earliest family relationships form the non-conscious, mental templates for all subsequent relationships; and that problems in those earliest family relationships need to be corrected as we proceed through life, if we are to achieve reasonable relationships with others.  We also maintain that human beings are essentially emotional beings, and that our reason and thinking skills are overlaid upon a bed of emotional wiring.  Thus our earliest emotional experiences are formative, and set certain limits to what can be done, thought and felt in later life: unless and until we digest those experiences, drain them of their emotive charge, and file them away in inactive stores in background memory.

There is, of course, a deeper level to human existence, which is explored in various spiritual traditions, and that is our relationship to everything that is: to infinity, to eternity, to the absolute of which each individual thing is a small part.  To exist as an isolated consciousness is a problem for each individual, and I will try to look at that aspect of human existence at the end of this paper.

However, in this paper I mainly want to apply some of the ideas of psychoanalysis and Object Relations, in a CENT format, to try to resolve my problems with my mother in particular.  (I will also necessarily have to include some consideration of my relations with my father).  In the process I will be illustrating how seriously CENT takes early childhood experience, which is quite different from CBT and REBT.

[1] Miller, A. (1983) For Your Own Good: Hidden cruelty in child-rearing and the roots of violence.  London: Faber and Faber. 

[2] Byrne, J. (2009d) A journey through models of mind.  The story of my personal origins.  CENT Paper No.4.  Hebden Bridge: The Institute for CENT. Available online: http://www.abc-counselling.com/id166.html

Click here to download a PDF file of CENT Paper No.10