This website represents 40 years of knowledge gathered from my education, psychology practice and personal experience raising children. I discovered a new, elusive factor in psychological development that casts serious doubt on our intuitive beliefs about human nature, defies our deepest instincts, and even challenges our truthfulness about how much we really love our children. DOLF theory suddenly provides a new basis for the study of human psychology where people are no longer judged by their overt behavior. Rather, personality and behavior are interpreted according to the underlying drives and emotions that motivate them. Once these emotions are unearthed and appropriate treatment techniques applied, therapy has a high degree of success due to the accuracy of the method and its findings.
The etiology, or origin of DOLF theory, is simple. When I watched my children and those in other families, I noticed they always seemed to be vying for attention and engaging in desperate sibling rivalry, when there was no apparent need for it. It occurred to me that (a) there must be something children are responding to, but that adults are missing. To my great surprise, this observation was soon followed by another (b) that the personalities and behavior of my first two children turned out diametrically opposite! Yet, I was doing nothing different when I raised them.
Could there be a causal connection between their desperate struggle for attention, and the opposing directions in their personalities and behavior? What could they be needing or wanting? Could it be that their bitter struggle is over LOVE, for what else could possibly be agitating children so young?
After months of pondering, to my amazement, I suddenly came upon a deep unspoken underground world of emotional conflict, in which children are fully absorbed at all times but of which parents and adults are completely oblivious, and often vigorously deny! I found a world governed by pure instinct and emotion, one that continually spurs children’s behavior and personalities, and lasts a lifetime.
Once I identified this secret world where children are on a mission to constantly pursue LOVE, and will fight tooth and nail to stake their claim to the LOVE they sense coming from their parents, I quite suddenly became attuned to why their rivalrous behavior seemed so nonsensical. Clear as day I began to see a standard DOLF pattern of family interaction in the average 4-person family. There are inevitably 2 children with opposing personality traits, and 2 parents with opposite parenting styles. You will find this universal pattern described in detail in the section titled: THE DOLF FORMULA,
BUT NOW I HAD TO CONVINCE PARENTS AND ADULTS THAT THIS UNDERWORLD OF CONFLICT ACTUALLY EXISTS!
At first I observed the DOLF pattern in my family with my children, then tracked it down through four generations: (1) my parents’ generation with my aunts and uncles, (2) my Family of Origin with my own parents and siblings, (3) my Family of Procreation with my children, and now (4) in my children’s families with their offspring, my grandchildren. Since becoming wise to children’s motivations, the unorthodox way they function, and this shocking, classic formula, I began to see this same typical pattern repeated among my friends, neighbors, patients, and now, everywhere I look!
To my amazement, I found that no family escapes the DOLF formula. To date, after nearly 40 years of implementing the method, I can identify the same play of emotions – this desperate, instinctual search for LOVE, and its endless array of behavioral and personality outcomes, in every family in the world – even going back through history! And I will teach you to do the same because, without a doubt, the DOLF method can change your life, and can be used to “cure” one’s mental status. Although the actual model is described in detail in the section titled The DOLF Formula, I offer you some background information here to establish the parameters.
In the Family of Origin, the first family with our parents and siblings, there is a world of conflict that centers around LOVE that children perceive as exuding from their parents, and DESPERATELY compete over and worry about all the time. The overwhelming instinctive thought that pervades the mind of every child every waking moment of life is:
WHO IS GETTING THE LOVE IN OUR HOME, AND WHO IS NOT ?
Although parents do not perceive or respond to it, from their children’s point of view, LOVE in the family emanates from parents like an invisible cloud. Although its hard, just imagine this aura of precious, intangible, gold-like LOVE DUST that floats around freely in every family, with two or more children obsessed with searching for it, constantly competing, sniffing it out like animals, and clamoring to grab it for themselves. However, while the children are so desperately preoccupied with this haze of LOVE every waking minute and fighting bitterly to claim it, parents and adults find it extremely difficult to detect it or even believe it exists, which is probably the reason why it has never been discovered!
Although both parents are integrally involved in supplying LOVE to their children, and whether or not adults are willing to accept it, I found there is always one parent to whom the children respond with MORE emotional warmth, while they respond with LESS emotional warmth to the other.
Once children identify where LOVE is coming from in their family, that is, from the one source parent, they are poised to do whatever it takes – sacrifice everything, and literally move heaven and earth to obtain the LOVE! This includes adjusting all their behavior and personalities and doing whatever their little minds tell them – just to capture and claim that LOVE, attention and human warmth for themselves alone!
As it turns out, this pot of LOVE is the holy grail that children struggle to grasp, and are likely to retain, or lack, for the rest of their lives. So just how far are they willing to go to seize it? Parents must believe that their children are willing to fight literally to the bitter end, sacrificing all their emotional, and often even their physical health and strength, to lay claim to this LOVE. Moreover, they are poised to literally ‘HOG’ it all for themselves, fighting to the finish for what they perceive as a life and death contest, a struggle for survival. And there is little anyone can do to dissuade them!
So what is their motivation for being such hogs? Why can’t they just share the LOVE, as adults continually beg them to do? The reason children are so eager to HOG LOVE, to the detriment of an adjacent sibling, is simply because their inborn INSTINCTS DEMAND THAT THEY DO! DOLF theory teaches us that every child is born with a fixed, unalterable INSTINCT TO COMPETE TO OUST THEIR NEXT ADJACENT SIBLING, an instinct that is as basic as birds flying south or building a nest.
Note that because it is instinctive and fixed into their psyche, this means that CHILDREN CANNOT HELP IT! Their natural instinct simply COMMANDS them, from birth, to search around, locate LOVE, lay claim to it, and STRUGGLE WITH ALL THEIR MIGHT TO POSSESS IT ALL FOR THEMSELVES, shoving aside all others whom they perceive as competitors. From a child’s point of view, THIS IS OUTRIGHT WAR! THEY FEEL INSTINCTIVELY ENTITLED TO THE LOVE, WISH TO KEEP IT ALL FOR THEMSELVES AND WANT TO DESTROY ANYONE ELSE WHO SEEKS TO CLAIM IT, MOST NOTABLY, THEIR ADJACENT SIBLING. This instinct dominates every child’s thoughts and behavior, and EVERY HUMAN BEING BORN TO THIS EARTH IS PROGRAMMED TO BEHAVE EXACTLY THE SAME WAY!
When I demonstrate this in stark reality to parents by pointing out the behavior and personality patterns of their children, they snarl, buck and vehemently resist acknowledging their children’s competitive frenzy. Entrenched in their own lives, unaware and unsuspecting of the emotional intensity of the matter, and the acute, bottomless energy that powers their children’s struggles, they either engage in confrontations with their difficult child, or helplessly sit by and watch the children argue and bitterly fight, draining all the mental, emotional and physical energy from the family. Alternatively, when they see no outright visible conflict in the form of fighting, but just the typical ENORMOUS DIVERGENCE in their children’s personalities, they helplessly sit by and watch as one child loses the battle and gradually becomes anxious, depressed and withdrawn, or angry and rebellious – just as long as it doesn’t interfere with their own lives. And with the support of uninformed professionals, as exasperated parents themselves who are not clued in to the seriousness of their children’s plight, they chalk the competition up to frivolous childishness, label it sibling rivalry, consider it part of their unlucky fate in life, and soon try to get on with their lives, although many couples end up in divorce without recognizing the contribution of the discord that started with their children’s rivalries.
Sometimes there is an artificial harmony, which parents gloat on. “No. This happen in OUR family”. “No. OUR children don’t fight. They don’t even interfere with each other!” Yet every parent will readily agree that their children are “very, very different!”. Challenged about what they believe caused these differences, they inevitably quote the standard reason that this is a difference in genetic inheritance, which often carries the unspoken corollary that they are simply the victims of poor luck having one unruly (Disfavored) child, while taking pride in well-behaved (Favored) child.
But based on my extensive observational and empirical experience and studies, opposing personalities and behavior among the first two siblings is too standard a protocol, and much too predictable. It is a phenomenon that was first documented by Birth Order theorists who reckoned that “If you have a child of one type, you can bet that your next child will be the opposite”. I developed my thesis because I observed that the first two children in every single family I ever looked at in depth are stark opposites. When I look at babies, I always see that if one is very active, the other is invariably slow and passive. By later childhood at the age of about 8 to 12 their personalities take more shape as they begin to display mental/emotional characteristics that become more deeply entrenched as personality traits. The general direction of those characteristics becomes more clear as time passes, so that by adolescence one can have a good sense of the emotional stability or lack of stability in the psychological status of any child. Having made these observations numerous times, there is little doubt that there is no other possible conclusion to reach but that they are initiated by the children themselves!
But there is more. If I tell parents that they themselves might be playing an active and critical role in exacerbating these dynamics, or that they may even be accomplices or instigators of the conflict, they become outrightly indignant. Convinced of the impact of genetics and DNA, nature over nurture, they are adamant that their children were simply born different: “One takes after me, and the other takes after my spouse”, they repeat. Or, they might conclude they are just victims of bad luck with children who happen to hate each other, or that one child is just of bad temperament, the “devil”, while the other is their heaven-sent “angel” who has, as one parent put it, “a heart of gold”. In short, parents find little recourse but to attribute any differences in the personalities and behavior of their first two children either to genetics or random distribution.
When I suggest that the differences in the personalities of their first two children, and by inference, in their variant behavior, may be due to the attitudes of the parents themselves because they may be directing more LOVE to one child than the other, I repeatedly meet with belligerent rejection! If I attempt to explain that the ANTICS their children are performing, their behavior and personalities, are merely designed with the intention to attract their attention and LOVE, they begin to openly fight with me! Supported by professionals who fear they might be seen as blaming parents for their children’s bad behavior, parents insist that BEHAVIORAL CONTROL, DISCIPLINE AND TRAINING are the only answer to their family’s problems. Because the foremost experts advise them to act as “a team”, they band together scolding, punishing, and depriving their naughty children of pleasures, isolating them, escalating the battle, and in short, pitting their will against that of their irrational, instinct-driven child. Little do they realize that when children are addressed in this way they perceive their parents as bullies and themselves as the tiny, vulnerable victims, exacerbating the problem! The child thinks: “YOU TWO GROWN-UPS ARE GANGING UP ON LITTLE OLD ME? POOR LITTLE ME? EVERYBODY HATES ME!!
NOW THE CHILDREN, WITH THEIR LIMITED INTELLECTUAL AWARENESS, THE SUPREMACY OF THEIR EMOTIONS OVER THEIR INTELLECTUAL POWERS, AND THEIR DRIVING INSTINCTS, ARE PREPARED TO GO TO EXTREME LENGTHS, DISPLAY UNTOLD NEGATIVE BEHAVIOR AND UNRULINESS, AS WELL AS ALL MANNER OF EXPRESSION OF THE 3 NEGATIVE EMOTIONS: ANGER, DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY, TO GAIN THEIR PARENTS’ AFFECTION AND ATTENTION, IN THE HOPES OF CAPTURING AND HOGGING 100% OF THAT INTANGIBLE POT OF PRECIOUS L-O-V-E FOR THEMSELVES. THEIR INSTINCTS TELL THEM THEY MUST!!
In the end, my findings indicate that every child’s attempt to obtain LOVE from their parents indelibly marks their personalities and behavior. I discovered that the outcome of this battle is so deep as to become THE KEY DETERMINANT of all their present and future psychological development. You see, we adults perceive OUR hard lives in terms of our own socialized reality in an intellectually-driven world, with our main preoccupations such as daily events, schedules, proper social behavior, financial and legal obligations and more. But if we picture an ocean, we might say that adults conduct our lives above the water, observing our own social and political reality, while children live below the ocean, surrounded by a wealth of foliage, exquisite colors, and wildlife that is foreign to us. This is a secret, emotion-driven world, where feelings and perceptions are dominated by that invisible, intangible cloud of LOVE.
Given these differences, in order to understand mental wellness and illness we must recognize that children’s blindness to our world and their drive to claim their parents’ LOVE exclusively for themselves is so compelling that it CONSUMES every child’s entire reality, and influences all of their behavior and personality development, now and for all their future!
So why bother to understand this world of a child? First, because there is no adult was never a child. Since every person’s life starts in childhood, in order to understand your adulthood, your personality and the reasons behind your current behavior and your mental wellness or illness, you need to begin by understanding how life felt for you when you were a child – how you sensed the world treated you, and how you responded to it. Secondly, in order to build a better future for our society, we need to understand the motivations behind our children’s behavior, and why some go astray while others, raised in the same environment, do not. Any new insights will give us a clue about mental balance and imbalance, criminal behavior, substance abuse, suicide and more. Thirdly, given a proper understanding of the development of personality and behavior, we will be better able to treat, or even reverse, certain character traits or mental problems purely by changing the emotional dynamics in Families of Origin. When we work with adults too, we should be able to accomplish this in retrospect.
Bear in mind that the DOLF pattern of personality development in siblings is very deeply entrenched in every human psyche. Because it is founded on pure human instinct, it is as fundamental, inescapable and as predictable as salmon swimming upstream to spawn. It is fixed and universal and never fails to appear in every human offspring, cutting across all social barriers such as socioeconomic status, color, creed, gender, intelligence and even ability or disability. It is entirely pervasive, obvious beyond reproach, and quite foolproof once we tune in and start to decipher its effects. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, this behavior pattern exists in every child and in every family, and has been the standard course of human development throughout time and history.
Now, having honed DOLF theory and built a concrete, easy-to-follow model, I offer it here to the public. Not only is the model universal, but to my great surprise it even turned out to be quasi-mathematical, mainly because of its reliance on pure, unalterable human instinct. That is, it ABSOLUTELY MUST TAKE PLACE. This might seem strange in the context of psychology, which is seen as an inexact science because human nature emotion is considered to be necessarily “fuzzy” and unpredictable. I have found on the contrary that human behavior is in fact very predictable. Famous scientist, Stephen Hawking, said that all of life can ultimately be brought down to pure mathematics, and perhaps this is just one more example.