Hurt People Hurt People

Rick Warren? Will Bowen? Yehuda Berg? Charles Eads? Oprah Winfrey? Helen Boyd? Doug Manning? Emotions Anonymous? Barbara Johnson? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: People who have been hurt or damaged in life sometimes respond by striking out and hurting the people who are around them. A concise adage expresses this viewpoint:

Hurt people hurt people.

This statement been ascribed to pastor Rick Warren, minister Will Bowen, and rabbi Yehuda Berg who are all bestselling authors. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: These three influential religious figures have all employed the saying, but only after it was circulating.

The earliest match located by QI appeared in an Amarillo, Texas newspaper in 1959. A columnist described a meeting of the Parent Teacher Association held at a local Junior High. One of the speakers was named Charles Eads. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

Charles claimed the teacher’s job is to take 25 or 30 live wires and make sure they are well grounded. And he said the human anatomy is a most peculiar mechanism. If you pat it on the back it often makes the head swell.

Then he made a statement that might give pause to a student of psychology. It’s worded peculiarly. The statement is, “Hurt people hurt people.” So, maybe before I wound someone next time, I’ll stop and think if it’s because I’ve been hurt, myself.

It is possible that Charles Eads coined the saying; alternatively, he was simply repeating a phrase he had heard previously.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Hurt People Hurt People


  1. 1959 February 26, Amarillo Globe-Times, Polk Street Professor, Quote Page 30, Column 1, Amarillo, Texas. (Newspapers_com)