I have seen some text that said some pains in body caused by inner child like this,so i like to know does inner Child is a pseudoscience, so i have seen the Wikipedia, and seen some information :

Further developments Within the framework of psychosynthesis, the inner child is often characterized as a subpersonality3 or may also be seen as a central element surrounded by subpersonalities.[4]

Internal Family Systems therapy (IFS therapy) expanded the concept considerably by positing that there is not just one inner child sub-personality, but many. IFS therapy calls wounded inner child sub-personalities "exiles" because they tend to be excluded from waking thought in order to avoid/defend against the pain carried in those memories. IFS therapy has a method that aims to gain safe access to a person's exiles, witnessing the stories of their origins in childhood, and healing them.

So i googled the and seems is classified as Science, so my result is that inner child is classified as science, so i tied to understand the science meaning and psychology and found this text:

What is the difference between psychology and pseudoscience?

Psychology is a science because it is based on rigorous research and empirical evidence. It can be distinguished from pseudoscience and folk wisdom because it's theories can be followed through with evidence while the other two are mere intelligent

based of this, Their must detected some pains in academic papers that be related to inner child and found some common human situation which inner child react in some specific pasterns, so i googled the inner child pasterns pain and found :

enter image description here

and some others paper ...

So based of this information i think finding some pattern in humans mental behaviors and some software method for cutting the release and happy feeling could be classified as Science, but if you don't mind, i would like to know, your views point about this classification.


  • $\begingroup$ Working with your "Inner Child" is definitely a recognised form of therapy and is found to be very beneficial with those who have suffered trauma. The work has definitely got scientific grounds in my mind and I will put a more thorough answer together soon when I have some time. For more on your search for pseudoscience within psychology, please view my answer at psychology.meta.stackexchange.com/a/2248/7604 along with others in quite a few questions in meta to get a feel for where the grey areas lie on the subject. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 21, 2020 at 9:04
  • $\begingroup$ @ChrisRogers I hope your answer will distinguish between an approach to therapy versus scientific understanding. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Jul 21, 2020 at 17:42

2 Answers 2


The quick answer to your question is that the concept of the Inner Child does have a scientific backing, though not in a traditional sense when following the deliniation laid down by Karl Popper (1959).

When looking at the science behind the concept, you need to unpick it from the pseudoscience put across in many books such as the one mentioned in the Wikipedia article you linked — Lucia Capacchione's Recovery of Your Inner Child (Capacchione, 1991).

The fact pointed out in the book that its roots are within ancient mythology and fairy tales is a little weak. However, the links made later within the same part of the book are more accurate in that they come from Neo-Freudian psychologist Carl Jung, along with Eric Berne's Transactional Analysis ("nurturing parent", "protective parent", "critical parent" etc. in the Parent, Adult, and Child ego states) and Sigmund Freud himself (see: ego-defense mechanisms).

Therories from Eric Berne, Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung are all often dismissed as pseudoscientific because they do not meet the falisifiability criteria within Karl Popper's demarcation between science and pseudoscience (Popper, 1959; McLeod, 2020). However, Sven Ove Hansson (1996; 2008; 2013) points out that Popper's criteria is too tight and excludes legitimate sciences. — See also my answer to the question on pseudoscience within Freudian and Neo-Freudian theories for more information on this.

When reading the synopsis from the jacket of Whitney Hugh Missildine's book Your Inner Child of the Past (Missildine, 1963), notice the sections of text marked by me in bold below:

What was your childhood like? Were your parents always making you do things? Criticizing you? Or did you always get your own way? Were you often punished as a child? Did your parents continually fuss at you with anxious reminders and directions? Did you feel neglected, even unwanted? Or were you the boss of the family for whom all sacrifices were made?

This remarkable book helps you to free yourself from the tensions that can be set up in childhood (even by parents who try hard to do their best) and continue to exhaust you in adult life. By describing — and illustrating with case histories — various child-parent relationships and their results, Dr. Missildine shows you how to recall the forgotten child you once were. He demonstrates how that child — who might have been overdisciplined or overindulged or subjected to any of a dozen common parental attitudes — still persists in the adult You.

You see how your 'inner child of the past' continues to act out old habits, old angers, fears and confusions. That 'child' today makes you, perhaps, oversensitive, or unable to relate to people, or subject to rages or procrastination or compulsive spending or being overcritical of others (or of yourself), and in other ways causes you pain or disturbs your marriage or family or working life.

To help you make peace with this 'inner child' and thus free your energies for adult living is the author's purpose. His concept of retraining the 'inner child' has led to happier, more productive lives for many of his own patients. In this book he speaks so clearly and interestingly, and with such warmth and sympathy, that you will find yourself relaxed and eager to begin discovering and coming to terms with your inner child of the past.

Using case histories bolsters claims made and provides the evidential science behind the theory. Maybe not the hard evidence purists around may be looking for (scientific equipment measuring something as evidence of existence for example), but evidence nevertheless.

When the Wikipedia article mentions that IFS therapy (Internal Family Systems therapy)...

calls wounded inner child sub-personalities "exiles" because they tend to be excluded from waking thought in order to avoid/defend against the pain carried in those memories. IFS therapy has a method that aims to gain safe access to a person's exiles, witnessing the stories of their origins in childhood, and healing them.

This is coming from the Freudian concept of ego-defense mechanisms of repression, and possibly denial. Detachment occurs often in abuse, rape and assault, and if occurred in childhood, the sense of "loss of childhood" can come into play.

There are issues with inner child therapy in these cases which I discussed in my answer to Can people improve their memory by training themselves to recall previously forgotten memories?, as trying and recall the whole memory can but not always lead to a change in the memories of what actually happened (False Memory Syndrome). However, if fully trained in this delicate area of inner child therapy and it is carefuly managed, it can be beneficial.


Capacchione, L. (1991). Recovery of your inner child: The highly acclaimed method for liberating your inner self. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Hansson, S. O. (1996). Defining Pseudoscience. Philosophia Naturalis, 33(1): pp. 169—176
Still to find DOI/PMID reference

Hansson, S. O. (2008). Science and Pseudo-Science. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2017 Edition) [Online]
Available at: https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2017/entries/pseudo-science

Hansson, S. O. (2013). Defining Pseudoscience and Science. In M. Pigliucci, M. Boudry (Eds.) Philosophy of Pseudoscience: Reconsidering the Demarcation Problem(pp. 61—77). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

McLeod, S. A. (2020). Karl popper - theory of falsification. Retrieved from https://www.simplypsychology.org/behaviorism.html

Missildine, W. H. (1963). Your Inner Child of the Past. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Popper, K. R. (1959) The Logic of Scientific Discovery. New York: Routledge.

Other source links

Ego-defense mechanisms (Simply Psychology)

Transactional Analysis (Wikipedia)


I Google(-scholared) the term too and indeed I would classify it as pseudoscience.

The hits are mainly books, or dodgy journal papers. No hits that are pointing to the more established journals. While recognizing this doesn't prove that the concept of the inner child is bogus, or that it's not classified a science, it is a strong indicator that the concept has not (yet?) been embraced by scientists.

The term sounds to fit the idea of the 'pure, innocent, unblemished' beings children are supposed to be, not yet molded to fit society. I guess it's an interesting idea, but it sounds New Agie to me.

However, there are people way more proficient in Psychology hangin' around here, so a more authorative answer can likely be expected anytime soon.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Supporting your point, it is also relevant that Wikipedia has flagged the article as being subject to removal due to the lack of reliable sources and verification. $\endgroup$
    – Tony Mobbs
    Commented Jul 21, 2020 at 8:40
  • $\begingroup$ So if that I found some paper with meaningful statistical relation between improving the psychological defender mechanisms like Somatization (said pain on the question!) By activating the inner child therapy methods, it would be a scientific term?!, Also what do you think about @Chris_Rogers answers to this question? $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 11, 2021 at 0:32

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