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Cutting the Ties that Bind


“Freedom is independence from externals. One who is in need of the help of another person, thing or condition is a slave thereof. Perfect freedom is not given to any man on earth, because the very meaning of mortal life is relationship with and dependence on another. The lesser number of wants, the greater is the freedom. Hence, perfect freedom is absolute desirelessness.”



Preface of the Editor / First Revised Edition

Preface of the Author



The Method of Working

The Core of the Work

Preparation for the First Inner Session

Ties to Parents

Instructions for Visualizing the Figure Eight

Puberty Rite – Cutting the Ties to One Parent

Relaxation Suggestions

Puberty Rites

Dealing with Negative Parental Archetypes

Positive and Negative Attributes of Parents

Destroying Negative Programming

Connecting to Inner Cosmic Parents

The Tree

Connecting to Cosmic Parents

Symbols for the High C

The Inner Child


Animus and Anima:
Male and Female Aspects within Women and Men

Sirens and Medusa-like Women


Marriage or Bonding

Cutting Ties to Other Relationships

Cutting Ties from Other Family Members

Cutting Ties from Old Relationships

Cutting Ties for Other People

Releasing from Negative Forces

Negative Powers Used by Groups and Individuals

Inherited Family Clouds

To Disperse a Black Cloud

The Inherited Ink Blot

The Inner Enemy

Removing Other Negative Thought Forms

The Inner House

The Mandala


Dreams and What They Mean

Corridor of Doors

Death and Death Rites

Symbols, Exercises and How to Use Them

Protective Symbols

Balloon or Bubble [later Beach Ball]

Plate Glass Screen

Cylinder of Light

The Pyramid

Umbrella or Sunshade

Five-Pointed Star (Pentacle)

Further Symbols

The Maypole

Figure Eight

Yin Yang

Beehive for Energy

Black and White Birds

Further Uses of the Triangle

The Effect of Strong Emotions on the Atmosphere

The Authority Figure

The Torch

The Flame in a Platter



The Wave for Relaxation

How to Deal with Negative Emotions


The Jack for Fear


The Wet-Suit for Removing Guilt


Jealousy and Envy

The Worm in the Apple


Teaching Pictures

Tape measure and Snake

The Knotty Pine Fence

The Swinging Door

The Two Clocks

The Two Snakes

The Tulip and the Chrysanthemum

Dog and Cat

The Three Mountains

The Human Dog on a Leash


Epilogue of the Editor

Main Symbols and Exercises in this Book


Annex: Cutting the Ties to a Person

About the Author

The Editor

I dedicate this book to Sri Sathya Sai Baba who exemplifies in human form the High Consciousness inherent within everyone and everything.

Phyllis Krystal

Preface of the Editor / First Revised Edition

Once Phyllis had received the Method “Cutting the Ties that Bind”, she committed to spread the Method to as many people as possible exactly the way she had been shown. The Phyllis Krystal Foundation is happy to present you the revised edition of the first book published in 1982.

The highlighted in grey emphasized text passages are remarks of the editor and contain additional information given by Phyllis Krystal since the first edition in 1982.

Preface of the Author

It will be easier for the reader to understand this book if he or she will bear in mind that it deals primarily with symbols. A symbol is a device by which a message can be carried effectively to the subconscious part of the mind. Symbols are effective because the language of the subconscious mind is composed of symbols and pictures.

The subconscious mind is primitive or childlike and the symbols used to communicate with it should be chosen accordingly. Just as children learn more quickly and easily in a relaxed atmosphere through play and games, so the childlike part of the mind thrives when appropriate methods are used to impress upon it whatever the conscious mind wishes it to understand and carry out.

Rituals with their underlying messages also impress the subconscious mind, especially if they are charged with emotion and performed in a serious manner. The techniques, rituals and symbols presented in this book are all capable of impressing positive messages on the subconscious mind in order to offset some of the negative conditioning that may have been received earlier in life.

The reader will therefore benefit to a greater degree if criticism or evaluation are held in abeyance: the various techniques should not be dismissed as being too childish to be effective. By consciously withholding judgement, the reader‘s subconscious mind will be allowed an opportunity to participate and benefit from the positive conditioning presented by the symbols. Unless the subconscious mind is impressed, no changes can be made in a person‘s life, no matter how much he may consciously desire to change and evolve.


I acknowledge the help of all the people who have worked with me, whose problems and questions have elicited answers which have resulted in the development of the techniques outlined in this book.


This book presents a method by which liberation from all the various sources of false security can be achieved. This method enables a person to become an independent and whole human being, relying only on the inner source of security and wisdom which is available to everyone who seeks its aid. This discipline is the culmination of an experiment of more than twenty years, started by another woman and myself. We first met while we were both engaged in investigating various methods which we hoped would help us to find more meaning to life.

We discovered that we were both dissatisfied and disillusioned with the lack of convincing answers to some of our serious questions about life. “Why are we here? Who are we? Where are we going?” we asked, feeling there must surely be some practical way to seek further for answers to such questions. We had both learned a reverie or waking dream technique and decided to use it to ask to be shown anything which would be helpful for us to experience or be taught. We met regularly, alternating roles; one time one of us directed and the other received the impres-sions, the next time the process was reversed.

One of the very first things we were shown was the use of a triangle as a basis from which to work, to link us to the High Self in order to seek guidance from this wisdom within each of us. This source of wisdom is always available but will not interfere in our lives or go against our free will unless we ask for its help.

To set the stage for this, we both visualized a line of light connecting the two of us at ground level, with one of us at point A and the other opposite at B. We then imagined a line of light going up our spines, out through the top of each of our heads, and on up to meet at C, the apex of our triangle. This point C represented for us the meeting place with our High Self, where we are one. In time we began to call this point C the ‘High C’ (for High Consciousness) and, from then on, we always gave over each session to its direction, asking to be given whatever we needed and could handle at that particular time.

Experience from working with many different types of people has proved that this term, ‘High C’, is acceptable to everyone, whatever their background. Most people who are seeking for meaning of life have some idea, however vague, that there is a power within everyone which transcends the limited conscious personality. That they are seeking help in the first place indicates that they have obviously come to the realization that their conscious minds and brains are not capable of helping them handle all their problems. Usually, they gratefully agree to seek further help from the indwelling wisdom when they are shown ways to contact it.

Working with the High C in this way is the basic difference between this and most other methods, in which the conscious mind of the doctor or therapist is usually the authority and the counselling takes place across the base of a triangle, or from one conscious mind to the other.

From our work over the years we have accumulated a large body of material on many different subjects, including answers to questions and techniques to use to help ourselves and others with personal problems.

At first, we rarely mentioned what we were doing as it would have been considered strange in the 1950s and 1960s. But now that the psychic and spiritual explosion has taken place, it has become quite fashionable. Since that early beginning, other interested seekers would join us from time to time, some working for a while to solve their problems and then moving on, having learned effective ways to continue to help themselves. A few people delved deeper into the work, helping to uncover more and more teaching and techniques as they sought help for their own lives.

Now many people, particularly the younger ones, are becoming seriously interested in self-discovery. Some of them are finding their way to this work. It is hoped that they will be the ones who will use the methods we have been taught, in order to uncover more answers and practical ways to help them in their quest for wholeness. They can then pass on their findings to others and thus help to spread the teaching still further. The method is not crystallized or static, but is continually expanding as more people use it.

This book presents the method, the various techniques and rituals for achieving release from old attachments and patterns, as well as some of the teachings we have received so that these may be shared with more people than can be reached personally. This is, therefore, a handbook for lay people as well as professional therapists, because it is absolutely safe to use this method if the directions are followed carefully, and the help of the High C is sought. Many of the people who have benefited from the work have urged me time and again to write a book about it. At first I was dismayed at the thought as I am not a professional writer and had grave doubts about my ability to write a book, so I asked for advice in one of the sessions. I was assured that the book had already taken shape during the years of work and needed only to be put into tangible form in a simple and straightforward style.

So I hope that everyone who reads this book and decides to make use of it will discover that it will lead to as much of an adventure and will prove to be as great a blessing as it has been for all those who have helped it to develop this far.

Phyllis Krystal

The Method of Working

This book describes a method which has been developed to enable two or more people working together to tap into knowledge and teaching beyond the conscious mind of either of them. The state of mind during the work has been likened to a waking dream or active imagination, but neither of these terms gives an accurate description. Those who have experienced it invariably describe the state they are in as heightened awareness and comment on the fact that the emotions experienced are usually far more intense than those encountered in ordinary consciousness, the mental pictures far more vivid.

I must make two points absolutely clear from the start: first, the participants are fully awake and conscious of everything they are experiencing, are never in a trance, and remember in detail everything that transpired during each session. Secondly, it is not necessary to be specially gifted or psychic, that is, clairvoyant, clairaudient, or mediumistic, to do this work. The requirements for each partner are a sincere desire to seek the truth, honesty, dedication, obedience to the inner guidance, and willingness to set aside the ego, personal will and desires, and pet beliefs or biases, so that the teaching from the High C can flow through as untainted by the human vehicles as possible.

While two of us were working one day, I was given an interesting picture to illustrate the necessity of being absolutely open, with the ego as much out of the way as possible. We were, as usual, asking to be shown whatever was appropriate and timely for either of us for that day. The only picture I was receiving was of an urn which stayed firmly in front of my inner gaze and did not fade or disappear. As I concentrated on it, I became aware that it was badly cracked and chipped, and the thought crossed my mind that it would leak if water were poured into it. I asked why I was being shown this battered old urn. The answer came like a flash and really shocked me. Suddenly I knew that it represented me, and that we are all chipped and cracked. I then realized with relief that this need not affect our ability to do this work. Since we are making contact with the light within each of us to dispel the darkness of ignorance, this light can be seen even better through the cracks, and can more easily radiate out to others. From then on, I stopped worrying that I might not be adequate to work in this way or be a clear channel.

The requirements for each team of two are, first, a rapport between them, which forms the base of the triangle they will be using to contact the High C. It is also important that they be disciplined enough to work regularly and, above all, have a minimum of competitiveness or one-upmanship, since it is the inner knowledge that is being sought, not that of either partner. Differences in the personalities of two workers can be helpful, as they allow for greater polarity and lessen the danger of either one going off on a tangent. Also, such differences sometimes produce an interesting situation when each partner receives a picture or impression which, at first glance, appears to contradict the other but which turns out to contain the same message expressed differently; the messages are therefore mutually corroborative. Sometimes the picture seen by each partner separately, when put together, forms a whole message, each being but a part.

As we proceeded, it gradually became apparent that the work could be used in many different ways. From the very beginning, we were told that we must be willing to share what we were being taught with anyone who was open to it and would use it. So, in addition to the regular meetings for our own guidance and teaching, which were rather like attending a school of higher learning, we worked with various people who came to us seeking help and advice for their problems.

Sometimes one or the other of us would work directly with those seeking help, either by both tuning into the High C, or often by sharing with them from the teachings we had been given earlier. Sometimes we helped people to decipher dreams or proceeded with whatever seemed applicable for the particular person and problem. At other times, two of us would work together, asking to be shown how best to help those seeking guidance. This method was used primarily for those living at a distance or who were not available to work with one of us directly. In such cases, the results of our work were passed on to them either by telephone or letter and the recommended mental exercises or meditations explained to them. We have been repeatedly warned against taking over and doing all the work for others as this would only strengthen our mental and spiritual muscles instead of theirs.

The many and varied problems brought to our attention were often the means by which we were given new teaching on a very large number of diverse subjects. As we began to use whatever teaching we were given, we learned to trust the source, especially when we saw the many proofs of it working in peoples‘ lives.

Gradually, by word of mouth, more people heard about our activities. Among them were several psychologists who would call on us to help them with some of their more difficult or particularly puzzling cases. My elder daughter, a licensed psychologist, had personally benefited from the work and uses the various techniques and exercises with her clients with excellent results. In addition, she and I meet regularly to ask the High C for further insights and instructions to aid her in diagnosing her clients‘ problems and to facilitate her working with them more effectively. She offers this service only to those clients whom she feels are open to the work, who give their permission, and who are willing to follow the guidance received in this way. Most of them eagerly grasp at the extra help and insight and as a result my daughter is better able to help them help themselves, which is the key to their healing and growth. They soon see how the work accelerates the healing process and we usually have a long list of requests each time we meet.

It is from this work that a pattern has emerged which can be used by psychotherapists and counsellors, and which will be discussed in detail in this book. We are hoping that more therapists will, in time, make use of the greater wisdom which is available when the High C is evoked by both therapist and client.

One situation which is invariably encountered in counselling is that of projection or transference. This is lessened when both client and therapist rely on the High C as the authority instead of on the therapist, and when both practise a visualization exercise which we have been given to reduce this particular problem. We call this exercise the ‘Figure Eight’ (Figure 8) and its uses will be described in detail in the text.

The Core of the Work

It was during one of the sessions with my daughter, when we were about to ask for insight into several of her clients, that, quite unexpectedly, the core or main theme of this book was presented.

As soon as we were quiet, and after she had read aloud the list of names of those requesting insights and we had mentally erected the triangle between us, I instantly saw, as if on an inner screen, what looked like a zoo or circus, with many cages, each housing a different animal. As I watched this inner picture, I was fascinated by the many different ways in which the animals reacted to their confinement. Some of the big cats paced nervously up and down, graceful but frustrated; some animals threw themselves against the bars of their cages in obvious rage and rebellion, frantic and frightened, desperately trying to escape. Other animals would slink into the back of the cage and curl up into a ball like an embryo, withdrawing from all participation in living. Some went on a hunger strike, refusing to eat; while others, like the bears, were performing, doing tricks and putting on a show for visitors to attract attention and to distract themselves from their boredom. Others were ingratiating, rolling over and begging for food from their keepers. As I watched such varied reactions, I wondered why I was being shown this picture and became immediately aware that people, like the animals I was seeing, are all imprisoned in cages, but of their own making. I also knew, with an inner certainty, that they can attain freedom from their cages if they so desire.

Would anyone actually not want to be free, I wondered? In answer, my mind was drawn to several people I knew who would certainly fit that category. As I looked further, I realized that many people resist any kind of change, preferring the security of an habitual situation or condition, however difficult or unhappy, to the insecurity of something unknown and different from that which they were used to handling. There are also those who protest that they want to be free, but when they are offered the opportunity to escape from their prisons they find that they do not really want freedom strongly enough to be willing to relinquish their attachments to people, possessions, desires, security, or any thing which they cannot live without. People will go to great lengths to protect their cherished dreams and desires, and will fight any attempt to show them that these are often at the root of their unhappiness.

I was next aware that, like Ariadne‘s thread, one must allow the process to lead back to the cause, past the smoke screen of protest by the conscious mind, to seek the key which can unlock each person‘s prison; for only by discovering the hidden cause of the symptoms is the healing likely to be lasting. The ego with its ‘I want’ and ‘I don‘t want’ is a deepseated core which is fiercely protected, like a citadel, with anger, fear and desperation before capitulation to the High Self takes place.

This surrender to the inner wisdom is the key to health and wholeness and is the true meaning of “Thy will, not mine, be done”. “Thy will” refers to the will of our own High Self, which alone knows why each person is in this life, whereas “my will” is the compulsive personal will of the ego with its attachments to myriads of desires.

I realized that we are given free will, but look where it usually lands us: in cages! Until we realize that we are free only when we learn to trust the High C, we cannot really know what freedom means. The precept ‘Let trust in that higher wisdom storm the embattled citadel of the small self’, flashed into my mind. I saw that all psychological problems and unhappiness are merely signs to point the way to the inner conflict and, if understood correctly, can lead back to its root cause. As I looked around, I realized that everyone alive suffers from some aspect of this ‘sickness of separation from the High C’. Some people are more severely affected than others, some manage more successfully to camouflage it, or hide from it by resorting to various ploys, such as constant activity, drugs, alcohol, sex, television, books, or eating. How like those animals in their cages we all are! I was awed by the picture.

Then I recalled the Eastern philosophies and their insistence on desirelessness and detachment, and I saw that in our work we have been shown how to cut the ties which bind us to things, people, places, ways of life, to anything which prevents us from being free. I further realized that the techniques which have been revealed to us as we worked all these years are the means by which we can escape from our cages, and help others to do likewise.

Then I was given a brief experience of this eventual freedom and I recognized it as being identical to a level of consciousness I have attained from time to time for short periods during the work sessions, and which I have always referred to as the ‘tapestry level’.

At times, when I was focusing on the images or thoughts I was receiving, I would suddenly be aware of a tremendous change in my attitude. I would feel as if I were floating freely in space in a pink glow, like a bird riding the wind, as I looked down at a most beautiful tapestry. I always enjoyed these brief times at that level of consciousness and felt I was being given a god‘s eye view of the world which never ceased to amaze me. I would sometimes try to go there consciously, but was never able to do so as reaching this state seems to be beyond conscious control. At first, I was also a little horrified at my change of attitude. As I looked down at people’s inhumanity to others, all the wars, murders, rapes, and sorrows, I would really feel that, despite such horrors, as Browning put it, “God‘s in His heaven, All‘s right with the world!” A few minutes earlier I would have been bowed down with depression by the world scene; but at this other level I was, for a moment, free of the world and could observe it all in perspective, knowing that everything is inevitable for the very necessary learning it alone makes possible.

Seen from above, the tapestry was always very beautiful, with brilliant colours, both dark and light, all woven harmoniously together to create an intricate pattern; everything in its proper place. However, this same tapestry looked at from below, from our limited conscious view, was very different: the pattern looked blurred and indistinct as the many knots and loose ends of thread obscured the beautiful design I had seen from above, and all the colours seemed to run together. It became clear that from the High C view the real pattern is visible.

Our lives intertwine with one another‘s for our mutual learning, and we attract to ourselves those people and experiences we need to teach us whatever it is we need to learn. Because we cannot see beyond our limited view, the pattern seems to us to be ugly and untidy and, therefore, wrong. But seen from above, where the design is clear, all is as it is, and must be, and as we have all woven it. Even the negative aspects are inevitable parts of the whole.

Then I realized that ‘even the knots are right’, a phrase we have used many, many times to illustrate the point that seemingly negative experiences are often exactly what we need to push us out of our ruts and force us to grow. There is a strong tendency in most people to relax and take life easy if things go too smoothly for them. This leads to stagnation and prevents growth. It is only because we cannot see the beautiful woven pattern we are all hoping to make, but see only the negative-looking underside, that we judge it wrongly.

When I was sharing this picture one day with a young woman who had come to see me while still in deep sorrow over the loss of a loved one, she asked, from her anguish, “But wouldn‘t the view you describe make us all uncaring and indifferent?”.

I knew exactly what she meant, because that had been my own fear at first; but experience has proven otherwise. On the contrary, it actually brings out more compassion and a greater understanding, and it reduces criticism of others, which are the only attitudes with which to offer help.

One young man who found himself at the tapestry level while we were working one day had a different reaction. He did not want to leave it and return to “the ordinary drab consciousness of daily life”, as he expressed it, any more than those who take drugs to escape the tedium, dullness, fear and ugliness of their lives want to give the drugs up.

We have been cautioned over and over again that only by living in a human body in this mundane world can we work on ourselves to attain the goal of freedom glimpsed at the tapestry level. We must work to earn the right to stay there permanently. If we withdraw from life in any way, we only delay our progress.

The key which opens the door of the cages in which we are trapped is found only in the cage which itself is imprisoned in the world in which we live. The way to find the key is to dig deep within ourselves to discover where we are holding on to the bars and, therefore, to what things, people or beliefs we are attached.

As soon as I understood the significance of the caged animal scene, I realized that the instruction and tools which we had already been given over the years were perfectly designed to help all those who seek freedom from false security to release from whatever was keeping them imprisoned in a cage.

The caged animal scene is indeed the core of the work and provides the central theme around which it can be described. In order to be completely free, we need to be detached from anyone or anything which binds or dominates us, or in which we seek to find security in preference to the High C within each of us.

I then recalled that Jesus told the rich man to leave his parents, wife and home and follow him. I now understood that this does not necessarily mean to leave them literally or physically by deserting them and neglecting responsibilities which have been assumed. Rather, it appeared that it can also refer to detachment from dependence on family, which often prevents absolute reliance on the High C and the freedom to follow its will and direction instead of the will of the ego or that of another person.

A major part of our work involves cutting the cords or ties connecting us to anything or anyone in whom we place our trust and which therefore become gods for us. Because these lesser gods are impermanent and can be taken from us, they are unreliable as a source of security. It is not important whether these bonds were forged by love, need, pity, fear, hate or any other emotion. What is important is that they have the power to keep us dependent on the things to which they attach us instead of on the High C.

During the years of work a pattern or sequence of steps emerged, which formed a method that can be used by pairs of people working together to free themselves for mutual growth. This method provides a system which can be used by professional therapists with their clients, the High C adding an important dimension that can greatly accelerate the process of healing.

When a human being is willing to reach up in consciousness to make contact with the indwelling source of wisdom and healing, the work, whatever its nature, is necessarily refined and strengthened as it is raised beyond the domination of the ego. It is just as necessary for the therapist as it is for the client to ask the High C for guidance because help can be found more easily when they are both sincerely willing to seek the aid of the High C common to both of them.

We have been shown many different ties or bonds which will be discussed in the following chapters, together with instructions for detaching from them, which often include the revival of old puberty rites which have been allowed to fall into disuse in our present culture.

The first ties are those forged during childhood to parents or guardians, close relatives, siblings, teachers, friends and any others who help to influence, or programme the child. Later ties are formed to friends, lovers, marriage partners, other family members, children, and anyone on whom we rely for security, whether living or dead. There are also more subtle attachments, to having one‘s own way or to one‘s own opinions, as well as to strong emotions such as anger, jealousy, fear and pride. Attachments can also be formed with appetites for such things as food, alcohol, drugs, money, jewels, clothes, houses, cars, power, social status, education, success to name but a few. And lastly, attachment to life itself makes so many people so terrified of death.

We have often observed that when a person has really achieved detachment while still living in this world, death is a very simple and nonfrightening event. As the dying person releases from the physical body, they are free to move on into another dimension of consciousness without the temptation to remain too close to the attachments to the earth scene, as well as to the emotional pull exerted by those people who are about to be deprived of their physical presence.

Thus, it can be seen that the work is a continuing process, whereby a person can go as far as he or she wishes in the relinquishment of ties. If followed all the way, it can lead to release from all desires and, finally, from the wheel of rebirth. However, few people accomplish this in one lifetime, and not everyone would want to; but that need not deter anyone from using this method to free themselves sufficiently to handle their problems, improve their situation and relationships, and lead a more fulfilling life.

Preparation for the First Inner Session

Ties to Parents

When meeting with a new person, we first try to discover why they have come for this type of help. People hear about this work only from others who have benefited from it, so they are, to a certain extent, aware of what is involved. As soon as we begin to see the nature of the problem, we explain that the person must look at their own attitudes first, as they can be helped to gain control over them, which is often sufficient to improve the situation.

We then explain that most problems stem from often unconscious reactions to early training, and we invariably start a person to work on these by helping them to release from their parents using what we loosely call ‘puberty rites’ or ‘cutting the connecting cords’. Not only does this free them from unhealthy dependence, but also from the often negative programming by parents, which had still been active on a deep unconscious level, preventing them from knowing themselves. This first session gives the person an opportunity to experience the different state of consciousness which we refer to as waking dream or reverie, and at the same time gives the person who is conducting the session a good idea of how the person is likely to participate in this kind of work.

Naturally, the very first bonds are formed to the parents because they were the channels through whom we achieved birth. A strong early link is very important during the first few years of life when the child needs this security as a firm base from which to develop.

A custom is now being revived called bonding, by which these ties are reinforced shortly after birth. It has been found that a baby is fully conscious, its eyes open and able to focus, for about twenty minutes immediately following birth. With the various natural childbirth methods now being used, in which both parents are present and the mother is fully awake, the baby is locked into both parents by direct eye contact as soon as possible.

However, at puberty, when the young person is about to enter the world as an adult, the early ties to the parents used to be severed so that the youth is free to develop as an independent individual. Unfortunately, in our society, many of the old customs and rituals have fallen into disuse. This is especially true of the puberty and death rites. When still used, they are often so diluted and superficial that they are useless for all practical purposes, and continue to be observed only as empty shells, lacking the original symbolic meaning and therefore reduced to the status of social functions.

We describe to each new person how we conduct this ritual and explain that it can be performed at any time after puberty regardless of age, since it is rarely accomplished in depth at the normal time. We refer to the old customs still in use in some primitive societies today, which are closer to their original form, and we stress how important it is for a young person about to attain maturity to be taken from the parents and the world of childhood and introduced into the life of the village as a young adult.

When these ties have remained uncut beyond the age of puberty, an unhealthy situation often develops where the child, whatever their age, is either too dependent on one or both parents and therefore incapable of expressing their own true personality, or has rebelled violently and broken away from the parents with hard feelings on both sides. The latter situation can result in extra negative ties which can bind even more tightly than the original more positive ones.

When presented with this information, people react very differently, depending on their experience and background. Some will protest that they have already broken away and achieved their independence, often describing the drastic means they used to accomplish this. However, we have found that they are rarely free and that estrangement, distance and even death of the parents do not necessarily free them. In fact, such a person is often even more strongly attached, despite their belief to the contrary. Others, when they are told about the need to cut the cords, react very differently and express great relief at hearing that it is never too late to be free, whatever age they are.

I recall one woman in her forties who has a particularly domineering matriarch of a mother, blurting out, “If you can help me break away from my mother, most of my problems will be solved.” Another person, a young man, reacted with, “I moved three thousand miles to get away from my father, without success; I can still feel him criticizing me across the miles.”

Still others recoil at the very idea of separation, believing that close family ties are sacred, despite the often smothering and stultifying effect the ties may have on the different individuals who make up the family group. Then there are a few who hate the very thought of being pushed out of the nest, preferring the security it provides to the independence of being out in the world on their own.

Sometimes a person will have been brought up by relatives, family friends, or by foster parents or institutions.

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