Many children have emotional illnesses. Therapists who treat them understand that the child’s strategy of relating is governed by the parents’ unconscious instructions. This strategy becomes entrenched in the child’s personality. A child may be told verbally that he is important and loved. However, he may hear a stronger, unconscious message that the parent delivers in deed, if not in words, in effect saying, “You have no significance and I wish you’d stay at a distance.” Or, on a conscious level a child may be told repeatedly the importance of being pleasant and following rules. On the unconscious level he may be given the compelling message to do as he chooses without regard for others. In addition, a child may be neglected or abused, yet given unconscious instruction that such treatment is reasonable and that he is wrong to question his abusers.

With repeated instruction from the authorities in his life, the child learns to choose and follow the unintended unconscious message, not the intended conscious one. Neither parents nor child are aware of this unconscious learning through which parents teach values, roles and standards to their offspring.