Shared Heart

Healing the Father-Son Wound Shared Heart’s Newsletter 5.29

Dear Shared Heart Friends,

Healing the Father-Son Wound is the topic of today’s newsletter and information about our upcoming retreats.

Summer Couple’s Retreat June 20-23

Would you like your relationship to reach a new level of love, healing, intimacy, and commitment? Couples describe these weekends as a safe and loving place to learn and practice new skills for their relating.

Excerpt from this month’s article:

“Many people don’t realize that the neglect of an absent father can hurt just as much as the abuse of a raging father.”

“A Couple of Miracles is an amazing book by two amazing humans. I was brought to tears many times. I don’t want you to miss a word of this outstanding book.”
—Susan Campbell, PhD, author of Getting Real

Five Very Influencial People Power of Saying Thank You

Semi-Finalist, Book of the Year, Online Book Club

A Couple of Miracles: One Couple, More Than a Few Miracles, available only on as a Kindle e-book for only $6.95 (or paperback for $18.95). Here’s the link: A Couple of Miracles

“I would add to Joyce and Barry’s number of miracles … this book! When two health professionals, despite our training, can open their minds and consciousness to the truth of life, miracles can happen. Read this book!”—Bernie Siegel, MD, author of Love, Medicine & Miracles

“A truly inspirational story that can open our hearts to appreciate the many miracles that can come through love, compassion and wisdom. A real page turner!”
—John Gray, PhD, author of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus

“The Vissells’ latest book, A Couple of Miracles, will bring tears to the eyes of readers: tears of joy, tears of compassion, tears of heartache, and tears of laughter. It’s got everything! Readers who are skeptical about miracles should be warned that this book could turn you into a believer! Read this book if you’re looking for a jolt of pure inspiration!”—Linda Bloom, LCSW, and Charlie Bloom, MSW, authors of 101 Things I Wish I Knew When I Got Married

Unbelievable Book Sale:

To Really Love a Woman and To Really Love a Man (each regular price $15.95) are now $15 for both with free shipping; and if you buy both, as a bonus, just $3 each (and free shipping) for as many as you want of the following books: The Shared Heart, Models of Love, Risk To Be Healed, Rami’s Book, Light in the Mirror, and A Mother’s Final Gift.

Shared Heart Column
Heartfulness June 2024
with Joyce and Barry Vissell

“Healing the Father-Son Wound”

I just had the opportunity to talk with Jed Diamond, mainly about this important topic. You can watch this video conversation on YouTube here:

I feel it is vital for men and women to understand the father-son wound and know how to heal it.

Over the decades, I have watched (and, of course, helped) men become better fathers. I have seen men who have had difficult relationships with their fathers go on to father their own children with much more love and awareness.

Of course, there are father-daughter, mother-daughter, and mother-son wounds. But for this article, I want to focus on the father-son wounds.

Let’s look at two broad categories: the wounds from abuse and the wounds from neglect.

The wounds from abuse include verbal, emotional, and physical abuse. My father would rage. He was like a volcano. The pressure inside him would build when things didn’t go his way. Then he would explode with loud yelling. Sometimes, the explosion would become physical. I particularly remember defying him when I was perhaps twelve years old. He used his fists on me until I was bloody.

The wounds from neglect include not being present enough (physically or emotionally) or withholding praise and love. My father often worked a swing-shift job in the afternoon and evenings, a one-hour drive into New York City, making it ten hours a day. I didn’t see him except for the weekends when he mostly slept. I longed to have him play catch with me, but he never did.

Many people don’t realize that the neglect of an absent father can hurt just as much as the abuse of a raging father.

I didn’t realize until I was well into adulthood that my father was often jealous of me. While my older sister, Donna, and my younger brother, Richard, seemed closer to my father, I was deeply bonded to my mother. A typical evening on the weekend when my father was home involved watching television. There were two couches in our little TV room. My dad sat on one couch with my brother and sister on either side. On the other couch, I have fond memories of lying with my head in my mom’s lap while she stroked my head. Of course, he felt jealous. The way he expressed these feelings was not healthy. At every meal, when he was present, he insisted on being served first by my mom and then by the children after him.

How do we heal these wounds? If our fathers are still alive, we can have important conversations with them, allowing them to hear our pain. Sadly, I never took the opportunity to do this before my father died. I often expressed my anger at him, but this did little good.

I want to offer a powerful method of healing: vulnerability. Here’s an example from maybe thirty years ago. As a child, I learned to cope with my dad’s outbursts of anger by disappearing emotionally. He would yell, and I would be gone. My body would be in the same room, but my mind and feelings were elsewhere. It’s called dissociation. Joyce would be incredulous after these explosions that I wasn’t aware of what had happened. I realized that I needed help to stay in my feelings. I humbly asked the person who was acutely aware of the pain and sadness resulting from these episodes… my wife.

Thanksgiving was approaching in three months. My parents were planning to be with us for a week. I asked Joyce to train me to stay present in my feelings when the inevitable explosions of rage occurred. She asked me how these explosions made me feel. I dug deep and felt the pain, sadness, and, yes, fear. This was my key vulnerability that I needed to feel rather than dissociate. It was like I was training for a marathon. I needed help, and Joyce was a dedicated trainer.

Finally, Thanksgiving came, and my father was in the kitchen, wanting to cook something the day after they arrived. My mantra was “be ready, be ready.” My dad couldn’t find an ingredient in our cupboard, and I watched the familiar build-up of volcanic pressure. The mantra kept going: Be ready. Be ready.

And I was ready when the explosion came. He started yelling at my mother, sitting at the dining room table. I allowed myself to feel the pain and sadness, then quickly approached my dad in the kitchen. I gently took hold of his shoulders, looked into his eyes, and said, “Dad, your yelling is scaring and hurting me!”

It was like I had awakened my father from a dream or trance. He was completely unaware of his behavior. I noticed tears forming in his eyes, and he said, “Barry, that’s the last thing I would ever want to do to you.” Within seconds, we hugged each other while my mom sat at the table, watching and wondering what had just happened.

I was prepared for these explosions to happen often during the visit, but it never happened again, so powerful was my vulnerable intervention.

The key here is to become aware of your feelings. Although Joyce helped me, you may need the help of a therapist.

And what if your father is no longer alive? The healing work can still be done. You can still voice your feelings to him, which will help you.

Here’s another powerful healing tool: nobody is all bad, no matter how difficult your father was. Remember anything positive about him. Once you open to even one good memory, others will follow. I now realize a great quality I inherited from my dad. He took social risks that would sometimes embarrass my mom without caring what people thought about him. Waiting on the checkout line at the supermarket, he would turn around and look into the shopping cart of the person behind him. He would say, “I see you’re buying asparagus. What are you planning to do with it? The person would hesitantly start to tell my dad their plans, but he would interrupt with something like, “Let me tell you what would be better.” And then he would, whether the person wanted this or not.

While I sincerely hope I am more sensitive than he was, I hope I have taken his gift to the next level, where I have spoken what I see, even if it is met with resistance. Thank you, Dad, for this chutzpah!

Semi-Finalist, Book of the Year, Online Book Club

Order our new book HERE.

Joyce & Barry Vissell, a nurse/therapist and psychiatrist couple since 1964, are counselors near Santa Cruz, CA, passionate about conscious relationships and personal spiritual growth. They are the authors of 10 books and a free audio album of sacred songs and chants. Visit for their free weekly inspirational video and monthly e-heartletter, updated schedule, and inspiring past articles on many topics about relationships and living from the heart.

Our schedule at a glance (details below — All events are now in-person):

June 20-23: Summer Couple’s Retreat
July 19-21: Esalen Couples Retreat
November 6-10: The Greatest Journey (Mentorship Program)

Quote of the Month:

“The only way to close the door permanently on one relationship and open to a new commitment is to close the door with love, forgiveness, and understanding. Negative feelings, however buried, are like a foot in the door of the old relationship.” –The Shared Heart, p. 45

Please join Joyce and me in holding a vision of a world where women, men, and children of all nations, races, and religions can see and feel the divine in themselves and one another. Here is our current 2024 workshop schedule. Joyce and I would love to see you at one of these events. Please remember how important this spiritual-emotional growth work is. Together, let’s take another step on this journey into the heart of love and deeper awareness, where real-world healing begins. Peace be with you all.

June 20-23: Summer Couple’s Retreat

Would you like your relationship to reach a new level of love, healing, intimacy, and commitment? Couples describe these weekends as a safe and loving place to learn and practice new skills for their relating.

July 19-21: Esalen Couples Retreat
Learn skills to dramatically improve your relationship while luxuriating at one of the most uniquely beautiful retreat centers we have ever visited.

November 6-10: The Greatest Journey (Mentorship Program)

Find and live your dream, your passion, and your purpose! Individually and together with a small, carefully chosen group of 8-14 participants, these 6 months will help you transform your life.

spiritual erasure secret power of need

We are excited to offer our first musical recording, “I Stand for Love,” a FREE album of sacred songs and chants. You can download the whole album for free or listen to it on YouTube. Wait until you hear the exquisite harmonies added by our son, John-Nuri.

Free Album Download
Listen on YouTube

Volunteers Needed.
The Shared Heart Foundation needs volunteers. If you would like to support our vision and work, no matter where you live, email

Counseling with the Vissells.
For individuals or couples who want help, you can choose from one hour to a two-day intensive with either one or both of us.

Our love and blessings to you all,

Barry and Joyce Vissell

Please click on for inspiring articles about relationships and consciousness and our updated schedule.

If you missed our last Newsletter from Shared Heart, it is here.


BeckyWillis is a "glass is half full" type of person, so she decided that she would share that with others. After going on 15 years in the blogosphere she decided it was time to make a change and in doing so help uplift others. Her husband is her biggest cheerleader; you can visit his site at

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