Book Review - The Love that Wasn't: a study of personal hurts by Ron Haki, M.D., 2008

Review by John A. Speyrer

The cover of the book and epigraph illustrate that "...The Child is father of the Man."
--William Wordsworth, My Heart Leaps Up When I Behold (1802)

Heaven lies about us in our infancy!. . .
At length, the man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day.

--William Wordsworth, Immortality Ode

The Love that Wasn't: a study of personal hurts, is derived from Dr. Haki's graduate level thesis on the traumas of infancy and early childhood. The topic which he chose to examine is how the study participant's "hurt self" had reacted to their early traumas, both physically and emotionally. The thesis, submitted in 1991 was part of his requirements for a graduate level degree in clinical and experimental psychology which he obtained to enrich and complement his medical profession.

Those involved in the ground-breaking study, were called co-researchers. The ten included, but were not limited to, graduate level psychology students. Each were given printed guidelines which are included in Dr. Haki's book. At a later date, after some introspection, the co-researchers were asked to go as deeply as they could and list and expand upon their most painful personal history anecdotes which they had been subjected to during their early lives.

Eleven guideline questions were posed. The queries comprised various categories of personal hurts, abuses and injuries. The co-researchers were asked whether memories of such traumas had appeared at a later date or had always been a part of their memory and whether they were able to describe their feelings. Those who agreed to participate were sent a formal request for their participation in the study as well as a brief description of how the reseach would be conducted. They were asked to go over the questions over a period of time so that the material could "marinate" in their minds and perhaps become easier to recall during the planned interview. A short description of each of the co-researchers are given, including, sex, age, marital status, and other qualities which were considered to be important. The answers to the questionnaires were to be matched with their name to their initials.

Blest the infant Babe... who with his soul
Drinks in the feelings of his mother's eye
From early days,
Beginning not long after that first time
In which, a Babe, by intercourse of touch
I held mute dialogs with my Mother's breast,
I have endeavoured to display the means
Whereby the infant sensibility
Great birthright of our being, was in me
Augmented and sustained.

--William Wordsworth from The Prelude

Like many others in his field, Dr. Haki explains that his interest in other's "personal hurts" originated from first-hand experience. He writes that his personal hurts began in the intrauterine and prenatal periods of his life and continued through his childhood but like many others, he was not conscious of them.

Nor was he conscious of the causes for his stubborn unhappiness. Like many, he was subjected to the prevailing mythology of the happy family. At age 15, a major loss disturbed the family equilibrium, and although he recognized the void, he was not able to understand his rising symptoms of depression and psychophysiological symptoms.

The healing power of the...therapist or a loving other depends on the revival of the patient's feelings from the past that centered on the parents and then on parental figures
being brought to life in relation to the "healer" in the present."
--Leonard Shengold, M.D., Haunted by Parents

One day Dr. Haki had the good fortune to read a paperback book on clinical psychology. It had contained many case studies dealing with other's early hurts and marked the beginnings of a ten year quest to learn how he could find relief from his symptoms. Although the search did answer some questions, he remained unable to connect his new found knowledge with his own physical and emotional sufferings. He had become insightful but alas, he found that "...even when I saw the hurts and intense suffering in people, and despite reading broadly and deeply about them, I remained personally ignorant, unable to truly see how my life was marred by parental and environmental assaults of all sorts and forms; I still could not see or feel my painful history." (p. 4) He then had psychotherapy for two years, all the while attempting to understand the origins of his asthma, colitis and insomnia.

She gave me eyes; she gave me ears,
And humble cares and delicate fears,
A heart, the fountain of sweet tears,
And love, and thought, and joy.

--William Wordsworth, The Sparrow's Nest

Finally, the work he had previously undergone allowed him to have a breakthrough. What happened was that a woman entered his life in a deep and loving way. This relationship triggered many deep and intense feeling experiences. Dr. Haki became more insightful and much healthier than before. He had become able to get in touch with his real self. As the early memories of his hurts began flowing into his mind, tears were shed; his transformation had begun. With a series of completed insightful revelations, he came to understand how he had become who he was. During the feeling process both his physical and emotional health were being restored.

Feeling his own early personal hurts has allowed Dr. Haki to view his own patients as fellow sufferers. He could then look at both their psychological and physical pain from a different perspective than before - one of acceptance and understanding. This "safe space" allowed his patients to focus intently and directly on their personal hurts, so that their mind could become conscious of what their body had long known. The only limitation to the depth of feeling which is allowed is self-imposed by his patients. This approach would ensure their safety but allow them to go as deeply into their own early pain as was needed for integration.

Since Dr. Haki's thesis was originally written as an academic project, the author begins by defining the words he will be using in describing the project. So, since the study's subject is of "experiencing pain," which produces a "hurt self" Haki defines these words and includes quotes from many sources to explore the nature of pain, self, and hurt - even deeply analyzing the word, "experiencing." The author feels that "the better a theory understands the self, the real and hurt self, and what "frozen in time" means, the more able the therapy techniques will be successful in releasing symptoms." ( p. 23 )

As the understanding of the words "hurt" and "self" form the basis of his study, an in depth analysis is made of their context as they appear in the writings of Arthur Janov, James Winnicott, Ronald Melzac, and other writers who have preceded him.

In Chapter III, Review of Literature, the author looks into the contributions of the major theoreticians in clinical psychology, especially those who have written from a regressive therapy viewpoint. Short quotations from many of these experts are included in this chapter. We are introduced to excerpts from the writings of Freud, Otto Rank, Wilhelm Reich, Michel Balint, Stettbacher, Moreno, Stan Grof, Frank Lake, Arthur Janov, Alice Miller, and others insofar as they relate to the refinement of the theory of how individuals process their personal hurts.

As his thesis was a research project, Dr. Haki writes about research methodologies and phenomenology and how research techniques developed over the years.

Even though the one to two hours interview sessions were not meant to be psychotherapy, relaxation and light hypnosis were used to clear the co-researchers mental fields. Some of the participants, however, did approach intense emotions during their interviews. Three did seek psychotherapy.

I consider the second half of the book to be the most interesting section. This part comprises the reply to the predominate question of Dr. Haki's analysis, "What is the experience of the hurt self?" The co-therapist's interviews revealed certain repetitive themes of the description of the experience of the co-therapist's hurt self. Separate major themes in the interviews were found. Of the twelve major themes found, there also were nine sub-themes. These findings appear in the study results followed by cogent comments of the author. The uncovered themes were as follows:

    Major Themes and Subthemes Analyzed by Dr. Ron Haki

      • Psychophysiological Unity
      • Trauma and Time
      • Categories of Hurts and the Hierarchy of hurts
        • Fundamental Categories
        • Hierarchy of Hurts
      • True Self/ False Self
      • Parents and the Hurt Self
      • Struggle For the Truth
      • Shame and Blame
      • Reactions During Trauma
        • Right and Wrong
        • Occurrence of Altered States during Trauma
        • Inhibition of Reaction and Expression
      • Hot Potato Effect (the Fate of Trauma)
      • Life and Death
      • Handling the Pain
        • Cognitive Storm
        • Soothing the Self
        • Crying and Emotional Expression
        • Healing
      • The Legacy of Pain

The research implications of Dr. Haki's study are that there will be a geometric progression of the advantages which will accrue by treating these hidden hurts. He believes that if we can reduce the strength of these early hurts, or hopefully, even eliminate them, then their pernicious effects on future generations will be checked.

Without treatment, self-sabotage by these "mind parasites" in our subconscious, will remain endemic. Ironically, we must return to the hurt to relieve it. The resultant positive implications of treatment of our individual traumas are wide ranging - from a reduction of psychosomatic ills to the prevention of criminality; to less suicide and drug addiction, to the prevention of child abuse and to the nurturing of our ability to be happy and content.

Many of the ills to which we are heir can be treated by returning to the time when our early personal hurts were encoded in our brains. Feeling deeply about them with a tearful accompaniment will give us relief. Feeling with tears shows that there is a substantial depth in our feeling. Dr. Haki, in writing about the findings of his study, ends his book with these words. "The single most important finding is that the hurt self phenomenon has total organismic manifestations that will not yield or improve with the simple passage of time."

Dr. Ron Haki has conducted a scientifically unique experimental study of the origins of much of the misery of the human race. It is obvious that such sufferings are a significant burden of humankind - one which we all carry. I highly recommend, The Love that Wasn't: a study of personal hurts.

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!

- from William Wordsworth "Ode on Intimations of Immortality"

For sample content of Dr. Haki's book, read,

Order, The Love that Wasn't, from

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