DOLF Theory

I have a hard time explaining……..

I can’t instruct people in how to access their emotions. They are used to giving precedence to their intellectual reckonings. How should I go about explaining DOLF when parents and educators, steeped in their beliefs about the supremacy of DNA, believe their children were simply “born that way”, or “take after” their parents and relatives? “He’s just like his father!” – (in a bad way of course!). How can I tell them its not a matter of teaching, discipline, or that it has little to do with heredity?

Let’s put all we know in perspective. How is it that good families and upstanding citizens raise children who become criminals, drug addicts and ne’er-do-wells? On the other hand, how come down-and-outers and people from low socio-economic backgrounds can bear and raise fine quality children who become lawyers, teachers, judges, police officers and guardians of our communities and social values?

When I talk with people, first I try to work into the conversation the notion of a Prime parent. I tell them there must be one parent who was more a provider of LOVE in their Family of Origin, than the other. Then I say I assume the other parent is the Additional Love Giver. I say I know this before they tell me how their family functioned, and I insist they search in their heart and gut the answers. Many find they know the difference instantly, but others resist. Through no fault of their own they search, but many times come up with the wrong answer. They base their belief on the time they spent with one parent as opposed to the other, the fact that one was passive and seemed to be doing nothing at home while the other did all the work, or the fact that one, usually the father, spent a great deal of time away from home because he had to work hard to make a living.

Then they offer their explanations. “Oh, my mother was the one we always went to. She was always home, you see, and we had the most time together. My father was always at work. And passive. Yes, he was very, very passive. He didn’t get involved in anything we did. We had to look for him and usually found him in his study. He was always either at work or in his study.”

So after a long discussion about everything they think I might be looking for,nI ask about my client’s, personality as compared with their next-born sibling. More than the Prime and Additional parent split, the divergent personality of the two first-born adjacent siblings is the key, the main indicator of Favor and Disfavor. “Yes of the two of us, my older/younger sister/brother is much more high-strung than me. S/he was always the black sheep, while I was close/not-as-close with our mother/father. Finally some hints!

It’s an extended conversation and always ends by blaming other factors that entered the children’s lives: “We moved around a lot. I/my sibling left home at an early age. My parents split up when we were young and we had a hard life because our step-parent was abusive. He had ADHD and we didn’t find out ’til later. She had a learning disability. He was bipolar, she was a drug addict, and so on.

But regardless of the surrounding circumstances, the DOLF paradigm is firm and absolute. It just takes time to sink into people’s ways of thinking. Resistance sets in merely because people are so accustomed to classifying right and wrong behavior, fuzzying the picture with emotions they believe to be important, steeped in current psychology with the facts of their lives (which are never of concern to children) and adamant about putting people into predetermined and diagnostic categories. Thinking on an intellectual track rather than the instinct-driven emotions of a young child, they are stuck in their belief that heredity and the events of their lives were the main influencers and determinants of their children’s personalities and behavior today.

It is admittedly an uphill battle, but if you have some patience and put the method to use, just wait and see!

The Question of Research

The important question of why DOLF theory grew out of my experience, empirical study and observation rather than hard, systematic, academic experimentation or research is one that I am constantly asked. One answer is that, having been educated to the limit in psychology, I knew there was nothing more to learn from science, that is, that I knew everything there was to know from research, and was sure it was not working on a practical level. Another part of the answer is that DOLF theory began with my empathy with my children who, when they behaved badly, seemed to have no idea what they had done wrong, and when punished such as in Time Out or deprivation of privileges, seemed to feel as if they themselves had been wronged by the adults around them. I felt their sense of distress, bewilderment and sadness, and my personal sense of duty and morality kicked in. I simply felt it was unfair to treat children in the coercive manner that is advised by behavioral methods. I could not help but feel an acute sense of guilt when I or my husband of the time tried to administer punishment to an entity that obviously had little or no capacity to appreciate the reasons behind her own actions, nor was able to understand the consequences that either of us was insisting on imposing on her. It was obvious, amid the flood of tears and yelling, that she was unable to connect the punishment with the logic or reasoning behind the reactions that we had toward her actions.

Consider that in any common situation, when we tell a child to pick up their toys, clean their room or wash the dishes, we are assuming that the child values cleanliness and neatness as we do, and feels it is a desirable goal to work toward. However, this is obviously not the case. Children are not born with a sense of cleanliness or propriety and have to mature and be gradually trained to appreciate the worth of such activities, for example through toilet training, teaching manners, teaching them to wash their hands, pick up after themselves, etc. If they do not value of the act itself and its desirable results then, the only other conclusion that can be drawn as to why they would be motivated to comply with our requests, is to please us!

In this connection I relate to you an anecdote I saw on television that is a classic model of the behavioral method. On the program was a father who was very determined to teach his oppositional child, about 5 years of age, that he must clean his mess after playing with his toys. After he finished playing with his toy the child, sitting on a chair, had flung it to the ground and refused to pick it up. Now, this was a caring father who was being extremely careful not to harm the child, but was at the same time bound and determined that, by all means humanly and physically possible, this child was going to learn the lesson that he was NOT to throw his toys about. What a dilemma for the father! What should he do? How could he get this unruly child to pick up the toy without harming him, while at the same time teaching him a lesson in proper behaviour? So he picked up the child allowing him to cling to his body, and approaching the toy, bent down and demanded that the child pick it up, at which point the child merely flung it farther in a different direction. Again, with the child still in his arms, this loving father approached the toy, bent down and demanded that the unruly child to pick it up, at which point the child again flung the toy as far away as he possibly could in another direction and waited for the father’s response. This same scenario continued for about 10 repetitions. Now I ask the reader to be the judge: Which of these two is the greater fool?

Other examples concern the harm that has been done to children or teenagers by trying to force them to comply with rules. With the use of Tough Love there are numerous instances where children have been driven to extreme behaviors because they were given ultimatums by their parents who tell them they must either comply, or leave. Such is the case when their children become substance abusers, gang members or display their Anger to siblings, parents and others who are unable to tolerate the disruption they bring, and end up facing them with the choice of either complying with rules or leaving the home.

While some aspects of the DOLF approach may be shocking to readers, they are reminded over and over that the modus operandi it advocates in no way reflects an adult’s sense of propriety. Rather, the recommendations it makes are drawn from the sensitivities and responses of children, who function purely through their compelling drives, emotions and instincts. Even though one might believe we should be aware of children’s thoughts and feelings because were all once children, or that a child is no longer a child because s/he reaches a certain age, or that the author must be grossly mistaken, followers are kindly requested to begin by suspending their conventional thinking. They are asked to trust that the author is intelligent, intuitive and well qualified in the general field of psychology, and that she discovered the facts about child psychology when her educational knowledge and expertise came into conflict with her observations of actual child behavior over four decades, and through four generations. Remember too that she is the witness and conveyor of this new course of information, rather than its creator, and is merely relaying her observations and conclusions through this medium for the benefit of those who are in search of alternate ways to assess, judge, diagnose and treat psychological and behavioral conditions in children, adolescents and adults.

HerE again we remind the reader that the solution proposed by DOLF theory is that the Prime parent, or PLG, turn their LOVE and attention from their Favored child, to their Disfavored child!

In the study of psychology, as with any science, the issue of research is essentially a question that revolves around the historical evolution, or etiology. of the study of the subject itself. In other words, how did the study of modern day psychology come about? Unfortunately in the pursuit of knowledge, once a line of study is undertaken, and even if there is still some doubt about its validity, the commitment is made on the part of researchers and supporters of research, such as grant awarding agencies, to commit money to pursuing that line of belief. In the case of psychology, we should take into account the historical state of this field of study at the point of conception of behaviorism.

First and foremost we should take note that Behaviorism fits in with our natural sense that misbehavior should be punished. Somehow we intuitively feel that if a child does something unwarranted, we must react either with verbal reprimand or with corporal punishment.

Behaviorism was initiated in the 40’s and was give a boost in popularity because of the backlash against Freudianism, which had soaked up so much of society’s time, energy and money with little result. It was after WWII that it actually took hold when more money became available for research, and when there was a demand for post-war related research projects. One such project was the search for a method that could help extract secrets from prisoners without doing visible harm to their bodies that could be detected and incriminate Allied governments. One such researcher was Donald Hebb of McGill University, a psychologist who was my professor for Psychology 101 and was teaching the course based on a book he had written about his techniques that had arisen in defiance of Freudian theory. In fact, the backlash against psychoanalysis was so extreme at the time and the movement to overthrow it so strong that, after Behavioral Theory gained some popularity and Dr. Hebb became the head of the Department of Psychology, there arose an enormous feud between the new Behaviorists and the old Freudian professors such that the Freudians were suddenly, in mid-term, fired from their posts en masse! It was a pitiful scene where dedicated professors who sincerely believed in what they were doing, were suddenly and ungratefully shown the door! Thankfully, when I attended the University of Montreal for my graduate studies, they harboured no such bias, and we were schooled in all psychological theories equally.

A Normal Family

Today I went to see a professional and good friend, and we chatted casually while she performed her artistic trade on me. Because we know each other well, I asked about her family, her husband, daughter of 13 and son of 10. Suffice it to say she is a skilled, highly educated professional who is dedicated to her family life, has the support of her grandparents who raised her, and does everything in her power to manage her home and professional interests to a high level of perfection.

To my generic question “How’s the family?”, my friend replied with the standard “Oh, they’re doing well. The kids are getting on fine in school, do their homework and their lessons. My son is good at math and he likes his martial arts”. Later she continued “There are some challenges…….but its only normal.” “Like what?” I asked. “Well, my son really needs me all the time, and I have a soft spot for him, you know.” She smiled as if to say yes, I’m guilty of favoring him, since we had discussed favoritism before. I tried to figure out whether she or her husband is the Prime parent, but she was careful not to give me any clues. She emphasized that she and her husband are equal partners in raising the children, that each plays a vital role and that there is no difference in the duties they carry out in their routine. She declared unequivocally: “My husband and I both do everything when it comes to the house or the children”.

Soon, to try to appease her guilty conscience she added “But my daughter is really close to her father. That’s the way it works in our family: my daughter has her father and my son has me (smile)”. Then to ward off more guilt she added “They try to play us off against each other. If they want something and one of us says no, they go to the other one. But we’re on top of that! We consult each other and keep things consistent between us” (referring to standard CBT tactics of teamwork and consistency among parents).

All the while, knowing that parents inevitably divide into Prime and Additional Love Giving roles, and that favoritism is always a key issue in any “normal” family, I’m thinking la-de-da-de-da-de-da……, but I said “Okay” and left it at that.

So she continued her treatment on me. A few minutes later she piped up again to say “Yesterday my daughter was upset with me so she started hitting me. She’s bigger than me now.” She shrugged and added sheepishly “I didn’t know what to do, so I hit her back”. Now, I know my friend is far from a child abuser, but since I wasn’t in a position to respond right away I just said nothing and we went on to other small talk while she finished working on me.

As I was preparing to leave I looked at her and said “You know, your daughter is angry with you because you’re too close with your son.” She smiled, a little surprised. But pursing her lips she conceded: “You got it right. I guess that’s why you’re the expert”. “I just listen carefully” I replied smiling. “You said she was hitting you, and you told me you’re too close to him. That’s all I need to know”. Then realizing she was probably now open to listening to more, I continued “Sometimes you really have to grit your teeth and pretend you love them, even in moments when you know you don’t. And that’s tough!”

I didn’t bother to tell her that incidentally she had informed me she is the Prime Love Giver, since I don’t like to delve too far into people’s lives. I know this because of the LOVE she expressed for her son and her daughter’s reaction of anger with her, even though the daughter apparently turns to her father for affection. It indicates her son is Favored, while her daughter is jealous of him and angry with her mother for favoring him. We might touch on that another time, but not necessarily.

Anorexia & Eating Disorders

Anorexia is the most serious of the eating disorders because it deprives the body of essential nourishment, and can bring its owner close to death. When the brain has limited nutrients, thinking and judgement become impaired, and the self image warped. The opposite behavior, overeating, can also become life threatening.

As mentioned in the blog about the 3 negative feelings, Anger, Depression and Anxiety, it has long been known that Anger and Depression are opposite poles of emotion that vary inversely. That is, they act like a seesaw, so that when Anger goes up, Depression goes down. Conversely, if Depression is high, it means that Anger is too low, angry feelings are weak, and the client’s aggressive thoughts and feelings need to be brought to the forefront. For example, we know that Anger is the most prominent feeling in a person who seems constantly irritable and acts out of Anger, such as one who commits criminal acts, has temper tantrums, hurts others physically or verbally, or is otherwise socially defiant and oppositional. We know that Anger is the most prominent motivator or impetus behind this person’s behavior. Therefore in therapy the resolution to an Anger problem centers around bringing the person into greater touch with their Depressive feelings, making them more aware of the emotional pain they may have suffered, in their past, for whatever reasons. For example in working with a person who commits criminal acts we need to work on softening and mellowing her/his Angry feelings by increasing this person’s conscious awareness of her/his Depressive feelings, deep rooted sadness, sense of failure, abandonment, loss, etc. We do this by acknowledging this person’s defeats and losses in life, their attachments to others who have failed or hurt her/him, the unfair circumstances they may have had to bear and in effect, the entitlements they missed out on that happened either randomly or were deliberately brought on by others. These actions and in particular, our understanding and empathy with their losses, humiliations and insults, serve to mellow angry feeling and increase this person’s empathy with the sadness and suffering of others.

On the other hand, when faced with an individual who is displaying signs of Depression as demonstrated through pervasive feelings of deep sadness, low mood, discouragement, poor self-image, inertia and such, the task of the therapist is to try to bring more Anger into this person’s consciousness by gently but cautiously accelerating their sensitivity to and expression of Angry feelings toward those who may have hurt them. Thus we investigate the instances when this person felt disgraced, put down, or less worthwhile than others, such as during instances of bullying in school or at work, or discrimination by parents as compared with a sibling. Then, either by means of direct instruction or by using indirect means such as validation of injured feelings or gentle suggestion, we help the person come in touch with the feelings of Anger they must have experienced when they felt wronged, humiliated, and needed to find revenge; or situations where they must have felt Angry, but did not respond with sufficient aggression toward their opponent when they were unjustly treated, such as in a case when they were outnumbered, or overpowered by older or more aggressive opponents. There is a need to increase the sense of self-esteem, enhance the appreciation of the self and the self-image, and advance the feeling of entitlement as compared with others.

Most often, the therapist’s recognition and validation of the client’s feelings of unfair treatment by others, belittling, bullying, neglect or physical or verbal abuse, that have resulted in their sense of inferiority is sufficient. Depressed people typically show a lack of will to assert themselves or affirm their needs, and are characterized by meekness and self-deprecation, making the job of the therapist that of bringing about the appropriate reaction of Anger and self-righteous entitlement either for the hurt feelings, or for the actual reality of having been treated unjustly.

When we can combine these strategies with our empathy about their plight, strangely in the mystery that is life, and that is the process of healing, an essential component of recovery from Angry or Depressive feelings seems to be that they must become intertwined with the love and understanding of an outan outside human sympathizer. External validation of the suffering that an emotionally ailing or needy person endured, coming from us, like the caring they must have missed from a loving parent in their past, expands their capability for empathy with the plight of others. Most difficult of all, we must put aside our anger with them and their actions, restrain our accusations and punishments for their deeds, and allow them to cry for themselves and their losses. Through our empathy, they will develop the capacity to feel for others, feel remorse and take responsibility for their actions, and even come through by feeling apologetic. The process culminates in making them better, more charitable human beings, better members of society and better parents themselves for future generations.

The essential concept that is missed in the understanding of eating disorders such as anorexia and obesity, is that the struggle is not a matter of eating at all. To believe that the anorexic has an eating problem and that it is best treated by teaching the subject how to eat and spend countless hours, amounts of time interacting, and research monies on devising various methods of feeding and “coaching by the spoonful” is nothing less than nonsense. In essence and in regard to their motivational sources, we must first acknowledge that ANOREXIA AND OBESITY ARE FIRST AND FOREMOST A WISH FOR DEATH – A DISGUISED ATTEMPT AT SUICIDE. The depression is genuine and profound, and the self-image is so negative that no matter how many compliments come from others, or to what degree the ideals of beauty are achieved, the self-hatred and sheer amount of Anger turned against the self remains unflinchingly primary.

In one case of severe anorexia a 19-year-old young woman had been a psychiatric in-patient and under treatment with two different therapists for over 2 years and was close to dying, with little change in her status. Concerned about her welfare, the chief psychologist solicited help from an online psychologists’ listserv. I contacted him by phone, at which time he mentioned he was very grateful since nobody else had contacted him, not even by email. I asked him about his patient’s background, and he informed me that she had been sexually abused by her stepfather.

In a brief conversation that lasted about 10 minutes, I explained to this concerned professional that the thrust of therapy should be first to validate her Anger with her stepfather, providing empathy with her genuinely serious and the admittedly horrendous plight she had faced at home. Secondly in order to bolster her Anger, I advised him to let her know she is, in reality and in fact, entitled to the moral support of those around her, the staff and society in general, for the heinous situation she had endured. I advised him that staff should even assure her that if she chooses, she need never return to her abusive home environment, where her mother had neglected her abuse, or worse yet, been jealous of her. Moreover I recommended that hospital staff should support her in finding a new residence. I told him he could even suggest to her that staff would support and assist her in laying criminal charges against her stepfather, if she chose to do so.

FINALLY ON A PSYCHOLOGICAL LEVEL, I explained that if she were to come to terms with her Anger, SHE WOULD WANT TO EAT IN ORDER TO BE ABLE TO CONFRONT THAT HORRIBLE MAN WHO HAD PERPETRATED THESE EGREGIOUS ACTS ON HER! This young woman was discharged from the hospital in a few weeks.

Rather than a disorder of consumption or eating then, anorexia is a problem of Anger turned inward, of self-punishment and self abuse. Once Anger is redirected toward the appropriate target on the outside, symptoms miraculously disappear. Anorexia, not unlike many other mental and emotional disorders, is a disease of self-hatred, sometimes more extreme and sometimes less so.

A Case of Identical Twins

The mystery of identical twins is one that has long baffled theorists. How can two people have identical genes in every cell of their body and look so alike that people can hardly tell them apart, yet be so completely different in their personality and behavior?

Like ordinary siblings, parents will tell you that, for those who know them well, their identical twin children are as different as night and day. The plain truth is that no matter how much they may look alike on the outside, identical twins are almost never the same in personality and behavior. In fact, most often they are diametric opposites.

These differences are most stark in some astounding cases, such as when one identical twin, who carries the same DNA, becomes a criminal while the other is an honest, law-abiding citizen. Or when one twin is distinctly heterosexual while the other is a confirmed homosexual. One case I cited in my book is that of a pair of Siamese twins in the 1800’s, Chang and Eng, who were conjoined at the hip, but whose personalities and behavior were diametrically opposite. Even though they became wealthy plantation owners, one of them smoked, drank, hung out in bars, sought out wanton women and followed all the vices of the 1800’s, the other was straight-laced, well-mannered, well behaved and an upstanding, model citizen.

Numerous research studies have been done in an effort to explain the reasons behind these differences. The movie “Three Identical Strangers” illustrates the extreme alienation between a set of identical triplets who were separated at birth and reared apart, but came to know each other during adolescence. It was a failed experiment that sought to research the age-old dilemma of nature vs. nurture.

An example from the Dr. Phil show told of a set of 8-year-old identical triplet boys whose ambitions were widely varied. One wanted to be a sportsman, and decorated his room with everything he could find about sports. A second brother aimed to join the military and collected as many military souvenirs as he could. The third had the ambition to become a girl, and this child did everything he could to emulate the female gender, including painting his nails, coloring his hair, putting on make-up and decorating his room in pink. To ask how this could happen if DNA were the sole determinant of personality and behavior is a fair question.

The Artists Have It Right

Art mimics life and artists are themselves intuitive and emotional. So we find that many movies, fictional books and even fairy tales reflect the essence of real life, sibling rivalry, favoritism and jealousy. A perfect example is the movie East of Eden, where a father distinctly favors one son over the other, making his Disfavored son’s life miserable, arduous and painful. More good examples are found in fairy tales where a wicked stepmother favors her own children over her husband’s, such as in Cinderella, or is jealous of her stepchild as in Snow White, or otherwise tries to rid herself of the burden of caring for her stepchildren as in Hansel and Gretel.

Besides the issues of sibling rivalry, sibling jealousy and fighting that plague every household, these stories actually bring to light another real problem that is sacrilege to discuss – the taboo topic of parental envy and parental jealousy of their own children: mothers who are jealous of their daughters and stepchildren, and fathers who are envious of their sons and stepchildren! Soap operas supply ample grounds for these types of situations and the convoluted emotions they stir up that mainly center around Anger and Anxiety. As stated elsewhere on this website, the main 3 negative emotions in human experience are Anger, Depression and Anxiety, with Anger least dealt with in our traditional diagnostic categories and least recognized as a driving instinctual force in human psychology. Unbeknownst and unrecognized is that Anger is the emotion that is most closely associated with rivalry in any context, and can in fact be considered the behavioral aspect of personality, That is, when internal Anger, which is part of personality, is acted out behaviorally, it results in some kind of damage to the object of the Anger, whether this be overt fighting, conniving, accusing, stealing from, taking attention away, undermining, teasing, belittling or otherwise harming its target.


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,


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:


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!!


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.