I obtained my BA at McGill University, and Doctor of Psychology degree from the University of Montreal, and later worked in long term and short term mental health settings, adult corrections, youth corrections, education, employee assistance and private practice.
But by far my most productive years were spent when I happened to stay home for a few years as the family moved from Calgary to Toronto, and had the unique opportunity to intimately observe the growth and development of my two daughters. It was then that I began to seriously question the validity of the two best known psychological theories: Freudian Psychoanalysis, and Behavioral Theory (BT), later dubbed Cognitive-Behavioral Theory or CBT. I was shocked to discover how unrealistic and out of touch both theories are, since Freudian theory had started with mentally ill people, and Behavioral theory had grown out of experiments with animals such as dogs, rats or primates.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that all current psychology is skewed because it fails to take account of a separate, mystical world where only children live. You might say that I had quite serendipitously stumbled upon a fantasy kingdom, a hidden dimension. a secret realm that is governed by pure emotions, driven by instincts, of which adults seem to have no knowledge or insight, and which they apparently find distasteful, annoying, challenging and even offensive! Yet more ironic was the fact that adults should know about this world because we were all once children!! Where then did our memories and knowledge about this separate realm go, and why are they lost to us now? Combining my observations, education and professional experience, I was inspired to depart from conventional practice and pioneer a brand new theory of human mental-emotional development.
DOLF, the Distribution of Love In Families, starts with parent-to-child and sibling-to-sibling relationships in the Family of Origin. It then explains how these early family dynamics are responsible for children’s behavior and personality development far into the future, and into adulthood.
Emerging from an extensive repertoire of case studies gathered over 40 years, DOLF theory admittedly seemed to contradict both common intuition and accepted research. But based on my experience both as a mother and Doctor of Psychology, I felt compelled to rethink the direction that hard, structured research has taken us. By contrast, DOLF came from my own experiences with real families, the test sample spreading from home, through relatives, friends, colleagues and patients, then expanding to apply even to historical and biographical accounts, arts, literature, movies, and finally to every aspect and walk of life!
To be frank, I discovered over time that the disruptive effect of DOLF is so upsetting to parents, educators and mental health professionals, that they argue relentlessly. Unfortunately, they challenge its foundations and rarely fail to respond defensively. Parents especially object to its focus on favoritism, which insults them, and conjures up shame and guilt. They are also bothered by its emphasis on rivalry, jealousy and envy, traits most people view as socially undesirable, especially within the nuclear family unit.
There is no formal research that supports DOLF theory except the observational/empirical work of this author, Vera Rabie, D.Psy. The only structured longitudinal research that bears similarity to the sibling rivalry aspect of this theory is the work of Dr. Judy Dunn, psychologist and professor at Kings College, Cambridge University, London, and later Harvard University. Many years ago Dr. Dunn was in the process of methodically studying young women who had given birth to a first child and were close to giving birth to a second. Dr. Dunn followed this thread of research in an effort to document the real life reactions of a first child to the birth of a sibling. However unfortunately, the flow of Dr. Dunn’s research was interrupted and put aside for unknown reasons when she was recruited to Harvard University. It is the opinion of this author that Dr. Dunn had come closest to discovering the secrets behind sibling relationships, and the everlasting effects on human behavior and personality development that could have been unearthed. Dr. Dunn has since returned to Cambridge University.
The study of psychology and the development of DOLF theory represents my life work. On graduating from university, even after having just one child, I realized there was a huge chasm between my expectations as a highly trained Doctor of Psychology, and the shock of actually dealing with my first child. Who better than I to raise a child? Was I not equipped with the ultimate tools to do the job perfectly? From my Freudian background I had learned that a female child should fall head over heels in love with her father in the throws of an “Electra complex”, as well as take a great interest in discovering her lower parts. But where was that hero Freud when I needed him? Not only did my daughter not show the least interest in her father, but she also showed no interest whatsoever in her lower anatomy. If there was anything sexual to be found, it was her interest in fondling my breasts, which were, after all, her main source of nourishment!
Next my education had provided me with the tools of Behavior Theory (BT), the reward and punishment method that began with animals in the 60’s with Pavlov and Skinner using dogs and rats. It later progressed to being applied to children in the 70’s and ’80’s when parents tried to train their children through operant conditioning by early exposure to flash cards and in utero classical music and reading. From the 1990’s to now, Behavioral Theory morphed into “Cognitive” Behavioral Therapy (CBT), most likely to encompass its application to adults, to whom behavioral methods had not yet been successfully marketed. However, after a few efforts of trying to “train” my daughter out of her babyish behaviors and getting a good laugh when she taunted me to punish her, I began to realize I was more the fool than she was! Where was this Russian animal trainer, Ivan Pavlov, when I needed him?
In DOLF a child’s cognition is not comparable to any animal. In fact, the difference between a human child and even the highest primate is considered a quantum leap! DOLF only makes recommendations for treatment that deal exclusively with human instincts, drives and urges which, as it turns out, are very different from those of any other animal. DOLF treatments, which adjust the movement of LOVE between family members, can never be applied to any other animal. Once we implement DOLF to remedy the dynamics in the Family of Origin and take the necessary steps to change the attitudes of parents and others in the immediate social environment of a child, we cannot help but recognize the enormous chasm between animal training methods, and managing the real personalities and behaviors of human beings, most especially children!
As a result of the pinpont accuracy of the DOLF method in understanding and analyzing the human psyche, and its exclusive insight into the mind of the human child, positive outcomes are achieved with astoundingly few interventions. So it is that some seemingly serious cases such as OCD, ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Eating Disorders, substance abuse and much much more, can be resolved very quickly, sometimes instantaneously. DOLF brings out the resiliency of human nature, once motivations are understood and appropriate adjustments made. Moreover, results are often attainable without the intervention of a therapist, and sometimes even without the participation of the child, adolescent or adult in question, but merely through discourse with one or both parents, an educator, a sibling, or even a close relative!
As described throughout this website, in DOLF the major source of motivation that leads to behavior and personality development in all human beings begins with the universal instinctive desire of any child to capture and “hog” all the parent-to-child LOVE that s/he perceives is available within the boundaries of their own microcosm of family social structure. This puts aside our intuitive belief that there must be some fixed genetic, cultural or other uncontrolled background features that could possibly be responsible for determining individual human psychology. It effectively puts the onus back on society,and parents in particular, to rectify the problem of mental stability and instability. It also pays homage to the standard structure of all nuclear families, and emphasizes the sameness of humankind, regardless of conventional social and physical dividing lines such as race, religion, color, culture, language, ability or disability, gender, intelligence, and even historical era. It does this on the basis of the discovery that family dynamics are governed by the same indelible human instincts, and are standard and universal. It identifies the Distribution of Love in the Family of Origin as the main contributing factor behind all personality and behavioral outcomes, mental illness and wellness in any culture or society.
Please believe that on initial discovery, the findings of DOLF theory were as shocking to the author as they may be to any reader, and that these conclusions could not have been reached without the full measure of education and experience she sustained. The reader is requested to suspend their current system of beliefs, especially in the influence of DNA and genetics, heredity, fate, and reward and punishment methods for shaping the behavior of children, and simply adhere to the recommended courses of action suggested through DOLF. Whether professional or not, you are simply asked to give the recommended actions the time, consideration and privilege they deserve, and have confidence they will swiftly and successfully change your present conditions. At the very least, by adhering to the suggestions made herein, nothing will be lost, and there is the promise of much to be gained.