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The Story Of The Wounded Child

by Evelyn on July 20, 2009

The “wounded child” is an archetype which contains damaged or negative emotional patterns of our youth. No one tells the story of the wounded child better than Michael Jackson.


(photo by pinksherbet / CC BY 2.0)

In recent weeks, his childhood story has gained a revival of interest, as people search online to understand more about the man behind the cosmetic mask. Perhaps, the clues are way too obvious in the lyrics to his song “Childhood”….

Before you judge me, try hard to love me,
Look within your heart then ask,
Have you seen my Childhood?
People say I’m strange that way
‘Cause I love such elementary things,
It’s been my fate to compensate,
For the Childhood I’ve never known…

Loving The Wounded Child

Loving the wounded child is about healing ourselves through acknowledging the trauma and hurt that we suffered when we were young and then freeing ourselves from them. As adults, we allow these memories to dictate how we run our lives. Actions taken as a result of them are largely driven by fear and may no longer serve us; even if at one stage, they have helped us to cope and navigate through a confusing period during our growing years.

Here is something for you to think about…

The outer story of your adult life, thus far, reflects the inside story of your wounded child.

We hold dysfunctional self images through the stories of our childhood. How we perceive ourselves is pretty much directed by the childhood programming that we have had. Our childhood programming is largely influenced by our caregivers, who represented the world to us while we were young. We form relationships based on what we learn from our parents. Our parents in turn learn about theirs from their parents. So it is in us that we have layers and layers of beliefs, patterns and behavior passed down from generation to generation.

Yet, as much as not wishing to be like any of our parents, we find ourselves having adopted the same patterns, behavior and attitudes. Consequently, it is no surprise that we end up in a similar life situation to theirs. We may not recognize it at first but the pattern is the same recurring theme of trauma.

Negative patterns essentially bear the same emotional pain energy even though they may take on different forms. For instance, a history of sexual abuse can translate into emotional abuse on our own children. Anorexia, obesity or alcoholism may be traced to negative self images perpetuated by our parents during our younger days. It is possible that our current feelings of rejection has a root cause in us being abandoned years ago.

While there are the rare courageous few who rise above their traumas, the vast majority of us carry the wounds of our childhood around. The same patterns manifest in every aspect of our lives; at home, in the office; in the relationships we have with our spouses, kids, parents or friends; or even physically.

Releasing Your Wounded Child

Indeed, the wounds of your inner child can create much havoc in the relationships you have with yourself and others. Through healing, you confront the archetypal force within your psyche. With confronting rather than stifling the voice, you release the little child. You recognize that you have been compelled to grow up too fast.

Carrying the baggage of an openly wounded child keeps you living in the past. You keep alive the story of your past of abandonment, abuse, betrayal, rejection, guilt and shame. Your energy resonates the same vibrational pattern. If you have ever wondered why you attract the same type of experiences, herein lies the reason why.

Your wounded child has no awareness of spiritual lessons. He or she does not understand that the negative experiences hold information about how we can choose to better relate to the world. The wounded child wants to stay hurt, angry and vindictive even. We need to release the wounded child by disengaging in self judgment. As long as you allow your wounded child to be in the driver’s seat, you will not be able to operate without fear.

Self care means caring for yourself so that the wounds of the past no longer hurts you. You realize your need for healing because you are only hurting yourself, most of all, when you carry the baggage around. You do this by acknowledging the wounded child within. You call up the little kid for the unfinished business of loving, nurturing and embracing him or her. Once completed, you stop feeding a “poor me” mentality. You do not allow the wounded child any more power through conscious intent.

You may initially feel resistant to releasing yourself from the pain of your childhood story. You have identified with it for so long that you suspect you will feel lost without one. After all, you need someone or something to take the blame for your current dysfunctional self or life. You are filled with a sense of righteous anger towards your parents, family or friends for the person you have now become. Giving up the story is going to put you in great discomfort.

Well, you need to understand that it is your ego’s need to cling on to a form, a story. Your childhood story is essentially a collection of thoughts of the past. You have to realize that you cannot hope to create an empowering life if you do not first release your attachment to an old script.


Freeing Yourself Through Forgiveness

Healing can be made through forgiveness. You have to forgive wholeheartedly. You not only forgive yourself but all others who have contributed to the situation that you are now in. Taking one or two steps back allows you to see that your parents have also been emotionally hurt as a result of their own childhood experiences. They have unconsciously inflicted on you what they have suffered as children.

The process to forgiveness is not easy, I know. It all boils down to choice. Think about it this way. Decide which you would rather have: continued pain or ultimate freedom?

Your Thoughts Please

I wrote this article in a series of thoughts on self discovery. I had my articles in drafts even before news of Michael Jackson’s death. How coincidental, I thought, to be publishing articles focusing on self love, esteem and worth around this time.

Over to you. Do you carry around with you a wounded child? What does your inner child say to this article? If you have dealt with wounded or inner child issues, do share what has worked for you.

In Loving Kindness,

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{ 44 comments }

Suzie Cheel July 20, 2009 at 6:19 pm

Hi Evelyn,
this is a bueatifully written enlightening article, so many messages. As you say the song “Childhood” in some ways provides the answers for many about MJ.
Have I released my wounded child? yes I have many times and in varying ways through release techniques, the journey, reconnection, your akashic reading, my own self discovery and more. oftem we release one part only to still have a sliver or thread left that still needs forgiveness. This path of self acceptance and self worth is an ongoing choice I make
Namaste
Suzie

Evelyn July 20, 2009 at 6:30 pm

Hello Suzie,

It’s wonderful to read about your efforts in releasing your wounded child. Thank you too for allowing me to contribute a small part to your healing process.

I enjoyed what you said about “the ongoing choice”. Indeed, it is not a one-time healing session as I have personally realized. It is very much a journey! What I can share is that I feel better and better about myself each day!

Namaste
Evelyn

Rosamaria July 20, 2009 at 9:42 pm

I do believe that I have released my inner child and forgiveness has been easy and immediate from the beginning of my awakening and continued awareness and lessons from wonderful people, like you. But as I see my children I wonder what their inner child has picked up from me… What have I passed to them unconsiously. I have a wonderful relationship with them, have loved them, kissed them and hugged them since day one and I will never stop, have been open and shared what I have learned from my experiences (good, bad and in between…). Although each of them have had their own experiences, peaks and valleys… and their own perception of my life… my question is… “how can I help them more?”

Positively Present July 20, 2009 at 10:40 pm

This is a very moving post. I really enjoyed reading it and reflecting on my inner child. This was such an enlightening read and I really appreciate you sharing it with us.

Matthew | Polaris Rising July 21, 2009 at 1:07 am

My reaction is essentially: what is your story about your own wounded child.

It’s really easy for those into personal growth to summarize the healing journey from afar. I find there’s a subtle judgment in there. It’s saying the archetypal wounded child is bad. Not forgiving is bad. You must heal. You must forgive. It’s not phrased like that, of course, but when familiar concepts are repeated with an emphasis on healing, this is the shadow side that is still very real.

Acceptance can only happen when there is a letting go of resistance. Including resistance to the inner hurt child. Forgiveness can only happen when there is a complete permission to *not* forgive for the rest of your life. It’s seemingly paradoxical but true.

witchypoo July 21, 2009 at 1:33 am

I don’t feel it is necessary to examine past pain, just to give that wounded child love whenever you feel powerless, belittled, hurt or frustrated.

Dot July 21, 2009 at 1:46 am

When a child has been wounded to the extent you’re talking about, there’s often a lot of denial, not only on the part of the “wounder,” but also on the part of the victim. Denial is a healthy mechanism that protects our psyche from unbearable stress or pain, although it can continue into adulthood, where it’s not necessarily healthy.

The adult is often completely or partially unaware of what the child experienced, or of how deep their emotions were in response to the problems. At that point, professional psychotherapy is needed to help the person discover what they have repressed, what their subconscious feelings really are, and to begin to work through them. If the subconscious isn’t dealt with, the result is the kind of false cheerfulness you often see, with a lot of strain visible underneath, in people who have tried to intellectualize their way out of the problem without dealing with the subconscious issues, only the conscious feelings.

Healing comes when the person is able to learn to deal with his/her own subconscious patterns and change them into more self-loving ones. Forgiveness of the one who did the wounding is not necessary for recovery nor for avoiding repetition of the abuse. Forgiveness is a separate choice from healing, at least in psychology.

abhijit July 21, 2009 at 2:14 am

Hi, Evelyn.Even though i have been lucky enough to have a heavenly childhood with the most angelic parents, I think forgiveness is the best way to eradicate bad memories from the past.

Jodi at Joy Discovered July 21, 2009 at 3:10 am

Great post! I believe whole-heartedly in the wounded child and I think there is freedom for every one of us in realizing this and exploring our pasts. We just don’t understand the power of unconscious beliefs on our psyches–and we definitely don’t understand how our child-mind interpreted something in a completely different way than we would now interpret it. It is important to go back and reevaluate our beliefs so that we are free to create our own best life, and live life in a conscious manner. Thank you for your insights!

Nadia - Happy Lotus July 21, 2009 at 5:12 am

Hi Evelyn,

I never really had a childhood. My thirties have been more of a childhood than my childhood. So I can relate to alot of what you wrote. I am fortunate that I was able to overcome a lot of the issues and spirituality really was what saved me. I think my life would be totally different if spirituality had not crossed my path.

That said, I look at my childhood as a great gift because it made me who I am and I truly would not want to be anyone else. Sometimes the greatest pain can be the greatest teacher. However, I think it is up to the individual to want to heal. Some people like to be stuck in their pain and I never was like that. I always wanted to rise above it and I am so happy that I have even though it took lots of work.

Vered - MomGrind July 21, 2009 at 5:34 am

This was beautiful and inspiring, Evelyn. I have a friend who had endured a terrible childhood. I am going to forward this to her. Thank you.

Evelyn July 21, 2009 at 9:42 am

Rosamaria,

It’s great to read feedback from a mother who is so aware of how she is affecting the people around her, especially her kids. Thank you for being an inspiration!

With love,
Evelyn

Evelyn July 21, 2009 at 9:44 am

Positively Present,

I am glad that you enjoyed reading my post!

Thanks,
Evelyn

Evelyn July 21, 2009 at 9:57 am

Mathew,

You’ve certainly brought up some very interesting points. It’s true that many in the personal growth sector summarize the healing process. I call it my continued journey. Without confronting any of my personal issues, I doubt that I am able to write any of my posts on this blog. Then again, healing is not a one-session or ten-sessions exercise. It is a journey, a process that unfolds.

I certainly don’t see the archetypal wounded child as bad. I even wrote that whatever actions that have taken may at one stage “helped us to cope and navigate through a confusing period during our growing years”. I guess the thing is that it feeds a “poor me” mentality, then the so-called victim must understand that he or she has to exercise a choice in order to choose to create a more empowering life.

In my own case, I did come to acceptance when I let go of resistance. Thanks for sharing what can possibly obstruct the way for healing.

Thanks for your comments once again!!

With love,
Evelyn

Lisa (Mommy Mystic) July 21, 2009 at 11:20 am

Evelyn, you’ve covered this topic so well, I think. I was thinking of it recently also, when reading about a documentary on Michael Tyson. Another very wounded child, who ended up manifesting his wounds by repeating some of the violence he had himself experienced. What a terrible cycle. I have been lucky that my childhood ‘wounds’ were light, compared to many, mostly related to my parents divorce – internalizing feelings of self-blame and unworthiness from it, as many children do. In my twenties it manifest in a series of poor relationships. I was fortunate I had a teacher/mentor that helped me see these patterns and let them go. I think this has to be the first step for almost anyone on a spiritual journey. Thanks for your insights, as always- Lisa

Evelyn July 21, 2009 at 11:41 am

@witchypoo, I am guessing that you mean that it is not necessary to “dwell” too much into the pain?

@Dot, thank you for sharing your thoughts. I was certainly hoping to learn more about the topic from you. I did learn one or two NLP techniques that could help reduce the trauma of painful childhood events but I was of the thinking that forgiveness was necessary for healing to be complete.

Evelyn July 21, 2009 at 11:44 am

@abhijit, I am not quite sure if forgiveness can actually “eradicate” the memories. The memories are indeed there. But it is how much energy we put into the thoughts and how we actually allow them to affect us negatively currently.

@Jodi, yes…indeed…if we feel stuck or find ourselves in the same pattern of trauma in our adult life, it serves us to relook at some of the events in the past to gain a better understanding of root causes.

Marelisa July 21, 2009 at 1:04 pm

Hi Evelyn: I watch my two little nephews and they’re so tiny and vulnerable, and they pick up on everything that is happening and everything that is being said around them. You have to be very careful around children because–like you say–your childhood experiences are something that you carry around with you for the rest of your life.

As you know, I practice EFT and use the Sedona Method, so if I feel a negative childhood memory coming on, I release it with one of these two methods.

yen July 21, 2009 at 2:14 pm

Until I had a few sessions with a therapist a few months ago, it never dawned on me how much our upbringing, our parents and caregivers and our childhood can affect us as adults today.

What you said about fear and the need to nurture the inner child in us so we can let go and move on is exactly what my therapist said and it has changed my outlook on life forever.

I used to keep blaming myself for not being strong enough, for letting fear overcome me and inhibit my life but I now know that I am not inherently bad, there are roots to all these dysfunctions.

The thing is my childhood was not bad or abusive. My parents are great and want only the best for me. But sometimes they can be very conservative and tend to stress too much on doing the ‘right’ thing and all those funky Asian values and I kept bending over backwards — sometimes to my detriment — trying to make them happy.

I’ve since learnt that there is a way to deal with this and break the cycle and not feel helpless and like a victim. Your article was a good and timely reminder of all that.

Davina July 21, 2009 at 2:24 pm

Hi Evelyn. It is interesting how folk may cling to a pattern or belief despite how uncomfortable it is. I guess that in itself is a way of claiming power over something; validating the right to feel wounded and to make everyone else wrong.

J.D. Meier July 22, 2009 at 1:48 am

I like your focus on emotional intelligence (getting smarter with our feelings) and your story teller ways.

Surprisingly, one of the most effective books I ever read on how to let go (vs. suppress) is the book, Poker Face. It’s got a ton of EQ insights.

Megan "JoyGirl!" Bord July 22, 2009 at 2:24 am

Oh, I have a ten-year old in me who’s slowly agreeing to grow up healthier and happier. Last year I realized I needed to raise her myself from age 10 forward, since that’s the place I’d been emotionally stuck at for 20 years. I joked with friends that it’s good I don’t have any offspring. Overnight and after a counseling session, I was suddenly a single parent!

The realization of my own childhood issues and how they’ve affected me makes me super-vigilant around other people’s kids. I find I’m much more observant and careful of how I interact with them.

Like Nadia said, our journeys are gifts and my childhood troubles shaped me in (what I’m learning to accept are) all beautiful ways.

Great post!

taney July 22, 2009 at 3:17 am

Hi Evelyn! I really enjoyed your story. It was a great read! For the wounded child, I feel as though that person has not really grown up. They are holding on to old horrible memories and it forms who they become. As a child, I remember whining and crying a lot for attention and it is perfectly normal at that age. At this point in time, we should learn to grow up and release those traumatizing memories. Time to regain our freedom!

Thanks for sharing about Michael Jackson! I love MJ! He’s truly something amazing! I really think he’s a great person that influenced our world!

You covered it in all this article. When you forgive, you set yourself free! Keep up the good writing! (=

Evelyn July 22, 2009 at 12:40 pm

Marelisa,

Children are sponges for learning. We definitely need to practice awareness when we are around them. I am constantly amazed at some of the things my kids pick up!

Good for you in using EFT and The Sedona Method too!

All the best,
Evelyn

Evelyn July 22, 2009 at 1:24 pm

yen,

I am glad to know that the sessions with your therapist have helped you gain a greater understanding about yourself. I can certainly relate to growing up to following conventional values and belief systems. In a way, our past childhood experiences can be helpful for us in choosing differently for our paths forwards. It’s wonderful that you are creating a more empowering life for yourself, from now on!

Namaste
Evelyn

Evelyn July 22, 2009 at 3:04 pm

@Davina, it has been a challenge for me to change the patterns and habits of some of my clients. While I am totally empathic, I think there must come a time to let go of the wounded child story.

@J.D., poker face? I thought that is a song by Lady Gaga!

Evelyn July 22, 2009 at 3:19 pm

Megan,

It’s great that you are allowing the little kid to grow. Wonderful that you are also practicing more awareness around other children!

Indeed, our childhood troubles help influence the person we have become. We can choose to see the good of our past experiences.

With metta,
Evelyn

Evelyn July 22, 2009 at 3:26 pm

taney,

Welcome to my site. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and lovely feedback. Most certainly, we can set ourselves free through the choices we make!

Abundance always,
Evelyn

The Conscious Life July 22, 2009 at 3:51 pm

Thanks Evelyn for the well-written article illustrating the baggage that we often hold on to even though it is not serving our purpose.

Reminding ourselves to live in the present moment, instead of dwelling in our past and future, can also be an effective way to disarm our ego which likes to cling onto forms and identities.

Regardless of which way anyone chooses to release his or her inner wounded child, the fact that one recognizes there is one and takes steps to live authentically, rather than acting out of a conditioned mind, is a huge step forward.

It won’t be an easy road, but the importance is not to give up trying.

Lance July 22, 2009 at 9:00 pm

This is wonderfully written, Evelyn.

You speak to what’s deep within us, and what we hold on to. I’m sure I do. And this has me really thinking of what level of courage it can take to forgive and let go. Thanks so much for writing this, and really touching my heart today…

IvánPérez July 23, 2009 at 3:09 am

What a fantastic post! It’s being a while since I hugged my wounded child and said to him everything was ok and what you wrote really connected with me.

Cheers,
Iván.

Evelyn July 23, 2009 at 12:57 pm

@The Conscious Life, welcome to my site! I certainly agree with living in the present and in not giving up creating an empowered life! It may seem difficult at first but the benefits are worth it!

@Lance, it does take courage to face our inner demons. However, we will be glad for the day that we did take the actual step. We can’t be totally free until we rid ourselves of the things that hold us back.

@Ivan, I am glad to know that you actually hug your wounded child. It is an important step for healing purposes. Good for you!

Chris Edgar | Purpose Power Coaching July 29, 2009 at 1:11 am

Thanks for this. For me, I know that I am repeating patterns of thinking and feeling from when I was a kid when I start feeling the need for someone else to react to me a certain way — “I need this person to like me,” and so on. When I’m needing that I know I’m regressing to a time when I needed others’ love and protection to survive, and just having that awareness helps me to get some perspective.

Juliet August 9, 2009 at 3:21 am

Hi Evelyn

I think we are all wounded by our parents and often those wounds are are greatest gifts. It’s a matter of overcoming them (not always easy) and then seeing the greatness in what we find.

Juliet

Evelyn August 10, 2009 at 10:55 am

@Chris, just having that awareness certainly helps! I know what you mean by needing people to like us. We desire acceptance. I realized that I needed to first accept myself for who I was before gaining it from others.

@Juliet, it will be wonderful if more of us can see the light of our childhood wounds. It’s great that you can perceive them as gifts!

emily August 12, 2009 at 8:43 pm

great post.

something i have been learning from. i think that there will always be an inner child within us who is desperate to experience love and nurture from others. we have to let it know we can give it all it needs, so that insecurities and fear do not dominate our lives.

it can be a challenge though, especially when we so often seem stuck in role playing with family members. it is about being open and honest with yourself and others. you cannot supress the child within.

here is one of my favourite quotes:

‘the truth about our chilhood is stored up in our body, and although we can repress it, we can never alter it. our intellect can be decieved, our feelings manipulated, our conceptions confused, and our body tricked with medication. but someday our body will present its bill, for it is as incorruptible as a child who, still whole in spirit, will accept no compromise or excuses, and will not stop tormenting us until we stop evading the truth. (alice miller)

Melissa August 13, 2009 at 8:44 am

Perfect. Thank you!

Victor Tan August 17, 2009 at 1:30 am

Thank You Evelyn.

Hmm.. What are the ways I can do to release the wounded child in me?

Keith. April 5, 2010 at 9:06 am

I lost my mother at 7 years old and my Father was emotionaly distance so now in my 50s and still single with many friends but I still find it hard to let people see the real me my fear of intimacy and change seems to control me, loving myself seems so hard to do but I must learn.

Melis Malkovitch May 9, 2010 at 12:33 am

Hello. I was wondering if you could help me.

At the moment I’m trying to let go of my wounded child. No matter what I do seems to help though.

Only recently I’ve left my mother who has had such a horribly negative influence in my life. My mother never showed any gratitude or happiness to any of my siblings. Anything I did for her was never good enough. She drinks, smokes and would constantly insult me if I didn’t pick her up alcohol or cigarettes or some other task that she was perfectly capable of doing. Constantly we would get into arguments and she would always put me through guilt trips and start crying saying that everything was my fault because I wasn’t good enough.

Both she and I were sexually abused when we were younger and when I brought this up to her she made it seem like I was trying to compete. It was as if she was trying to make it into a game of “who was worse off”.
Just before I left she began saying things like “You wouldn’t care if I died in my sleep.” “You don’t love me.” or “I don’t care what happens to you because that’s how you feel about me.”

I want to forgive my mother for her behavior and I even tried helping her but she is far too stubborn and rude.

I’m now living with my father who is the exact opposite of my mother. He’s kind, patient and an honest person.
Yet even though my situation is so much better off I find it hard to be happy.

I always insult myself and never find any good in what I do. I know I must have some good qualities but I just can’t accept any compliments. I find to be nice to myself feels selfish.

I want to grow stronger and believe in myself but I always feel guilty and angry with myself for being better off than my mother. I pity her and hate her and love her all at once.
I did not want to become like her but I find myself in the same situation she’s in. I’ll never smoke and I don’t see the point in drinking but I still can’t love myself or enjoy myself.

I feel stupid for writing this on here. I feel pitiful and weak. I don’t know what I want to do with myself or what I want to be when I’m older.
I’ve always been childish and wanted people to fawn over me or praise me but when they do I shy away from their compliments.

Every time I go to look for a job I’m turned down because I’m not confident enough. When I talk to people, my voice becomes childlike. Tiny and soft. I’m afraid of what people think of me and I can never be myself.
Any time I’m with people I change myself to suit their personality and I hate it.

I hate myself for being so foolish. I hate my mother for being the way she is and for my grandmother abusing her. I hate how negative I am and how I’m so weak willed.
I want to stop being so hard on myself but I just don’t feel strong enough.

Please. Can you help me to love myself? And to trust myself and forgive myself and my mother?

Sorry for such a long rant and thank you so much for your time.

Best wishes, Melis.

Evelyn Reply:

Hello Melis,

Please look out for an email response from me.

Hugs,
Evelyn

Katie May 15, 2010 at 3:01 am

Thank you so much for this article. I was raised by a severely alcoholic mother who was finally able to clear her life up when I was 12. But there was always this feeling that something was missing and I became a very angry, self-destructive teenager. It wasn’t until I was 20 and had my own daughter that I realized that the anger and resentment that I held for my mother, my father (for leaving my mother and not helping me), and all the other adults in my life who looked the other way, was eating me alive. It was ruining my jobs, my relationships and every good thing I ever tried to accomplish. Now, at 47, with my amazing life (not perfect of course, but it is to me) when I see these adults that were never there for me, they comment on how amazing I turned out and how wonderful and well adjusted my daughters are, “considering my upbringing.” I just smile and say “Yes, I did do a good job. Thanks for saying so.”

krish June 16, 2010 at 4:14 pm

It was great reading this article . i think i have got an answer to myself for th ekind of existence i got or my apperance.

i feel i will read this article atleast once a week so that i don forget it n also i overcome my questions as these are since almost 23yrs old so wud take time,

thank you

Trent June 22, 2010 at 1:17 am

“Taking one or two steps back allows you to see that your parents have also been emotionally hurt as a result of their own childhood experiences. They have unconsciously inflicted on you what they have suffered as children.”

Evelyn, what if they did not suffer the same pain as children? What if, hypothetically, they had a really good childhood?

Evelyn Reply:

Hi Trent,

It may not be exactly the same pain but it may be manifested in different ways. There may also be certain life lessons that the parents and children need to learn together. So the child may need to help the parents learn something. And likewise, the opposite.

Best regards,
Evelyn

Trent June 27, 2010 at 1:38 pm

Evelyn,

Thank you so much for everything. This article.. I’ve never been able to relate more closely to anything. I’ve been thinking a lot. My relationships today are waning and I’m blaming it on my past. It needs to stop. I have issues, and I need to fix them. My friends are my world and I can’t lose that. I have to make things right again. This article has deeply inspired me, and for that I sincerely thank you.

Sincerely,
Trent

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