Verbal and non-verbal messages given to a young child by the parent or other trusted adult are accepted as gospel and stored directly in the storage bin of the child’s unconscious.  Long after the child is no longer consciously able to recall the words of the parent or trusted adult, the message remains in storage and plays subliminally during times of stress.  A negative introject is like a splinter in the soul.

Introjects could be compared to the plant fertilizer stakes that were sold at supermarkets and drug stores.  Popsicle sticks had been dipped in liquid fertilizer until the stick absorbed the liquid and then hung up to dry.  Then they were packaged and sold to the consumer to take home and put in the soil of their potted plants.  Then, every time the plant was watered, the plant stake would release fertilizer and feed the plant.  Every time a parent acknowledges a child’s effort it is like fertilizer to the child.  Years later, during times of stress, that child (now grown) will play that message subliminally and   will feel heartened.  Acknowledgement, praise and messages of love form positive introjects.

Now imagine that Popsicle stick being dipped in liquid poison and dried and packaged to put in your plant.  Every time the plant was watered it would release toxins.  That would be the equivalent of a negative introject.  Calling our children names or yelling at them or generally treating them with disrespect creates negative introjects.

Since children are so fragile and parents are so human, perhaps some negative introjects are inevitable. Even if one’s parents are perfect, there are still Aunts and Uncles, Grandparents and neighbors, teachers and community people to contend with.

Generally, no one gets out of childhood with out some negative introjects.  If they are sufficiently numerous or painful, one can  see a professional who can help remove them.  Negative introjects are removed much the same as wood splinters are removed.   They can usually be located by following the pain.  Once located, they are dug out and removed through counter programming and reframing.   Susan Forward wrote a book that can be very helpful in that regard.  It is called Toxic Parents and I recommend it highly.