Primal wounding results from violations of a person's sense of self from mistreatment, large and seemingly small. Wounding may occur from intentional or unintentional neglect, physical or emotional violations, physical or emotional abandonment, or from an inability of significant others to respond empathically to the person, or to aspects of the person, or from a general unresponsiveness in the surrounding social milieu. All such wounding involves a breaking of the empathic relationships by which we know ourselves as human beings; it creates an experience in which we know ourselves not as intrinsically valuable human persons, but instead as non-persons or objects. In these moments we feel ourselves to be "Its" rather than "Thou,"s, to use Martin Buber's terms. Primal wounding thus produces various experiences associated with facing our own potential non-existence or non-being: isolation and abandonment, disintegration and loss of identity, humiliation and low self worth, toxic shame and guilt, feelings of being overwhelmed and trapped, or anxiety, depression and despair.
- John Firman, Ann Gila, A Psychotherapy of Love, adapted