Childhood Trauma : The Manipulative Parent

childhood_trauma_questionnaire

There are many ways in which the parent may manipulate their offspring, including: 

– emotional blackmail

– threats (explicit or implicit)

– deceit

– control through money/material goods

– positive reinforcement of a behaviour which is damaging to the child

– coercion

Because parental manipulation can take on very subtle guises, when we were young we may not have been aware that we were being manipulated; we may only come to realize it, in retrospect, with the extra knowledge we have gained as adults.

POSSIBLE EFFECTS OF PARENTAL MANIPULATION :

If we have been significantly manipulated, it can give rise to various negative feelings such as :

– self-doubt

– resentment/anger

– shame/guilt

– a deep and painful sense of having been betrayed

EXAMPLES OF PARENTAL MANIPULATION :

– causing the child to believe that s/he will only be loved by complying with the parent’s wishes at all times; in other words, there is an ABSENCE of unconditional love.

– causing the child to feel excessive guilt for failing to live up to the parent’s expectations/demands

– with-holding love as a form of punishment to cause emotional distress

– direct or implied threats of physical punishment

– physical punishment

– making the child feel s/he is ‘intrinsically bad’ for not always bending to the parent’s will

– spoiling the child and then accusing him/her of ingratitude

– making the child believe s/he is ‘uncaring’ for not fully meeting the parent’s needs

manipulative-parents

WHY DO SOME PARENTS BEHAVE MANIPULATIVELY?

The reasons a parent manipulates his/her offspring are often subtle and complex. However, explanations may include

– the parent is narcissistic (click here to read my article on this)

– the parent has a grandiose self-view (often linked to above)

– the parent has low self-esteem/feelings of inadequacy and so abuses the power they do have as a form of overcompensation for own shortcomings

– failure of the parent to view the child as a separate, distinct and unique individual, but, rather, to view him/her as an ‘extension of themselves’ so that the child feels responsible for the parent and becomes ‘enmeshed’ in the relationship (this is also linked to the narcissistic personality – click here to view my article entitled :’HOW NARCISSISTIC PARENTS MAY ‘PARENTIFY’ THEIR CHILD’)

SOLUTIONS :

The effects of having been significantly manipulated by a parent in early life can have serious negative consequences in terms of our emotional development ; these consequences may be very long -lasting.

As adults, if we are still in contact with the parent, it is likely that the relationship remains problematic. We may have pointed out their propensity to manipulate, but to no avail – indeed, perhaps only making things worse.

So, what is the best way to cope with the relationship?

Essentially, we are less likely to be manipulated if we :

– develop good self-esteem (click here)

– develop a strong self-concept/sense of identity (click here)

– developing strong assertiveness skills (clickhere)

– being confident enough to refuse to do what we don’t want to do

– being confident enough to ask for what we do want

– have the confidence to act according to our own values and convictions

Many of these qualities can be strengthened through a forms of therapies called COGNITIVE BEHAVIOURAL THERAPY, HYPNOTHERAPY, OR A COMBINATION OF THE TWO.

 

Resource:

Hypnosis download to boost sasseriveness  TEN STEPS TO ABSOLUTE ASSERTIVENESS. Advanced Self Hypnosis Audio MP3.

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

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Development Of Self-Worth And Its Relationship To Trauma

The journey of recovery from trauma is facilitated by our understanding of how our feelings of self-worth (or self-worthlessness) developed and how our experience of trauma affected this development.

THE DEVELOPMENT OF SELF-WORTH IN EARLY LIFE :

Early Childhood :

Our incipient self-concept first begins to develop around about the age of 18 months (coinciding with the initial stages of our language development). Around about the age of 3 – 4 years, the newly formed self-concept is (assuming no maltreatment or abuse has occurred) essentially wholly positive.

Middle Childhood :

However, by middle-childhood the self-concept becomes more complicated and, due to various influences, starts to change; important reasons for this change include the following:

  • the child begins to compare him/herself to others (such as school-friends, siblings etc) both positively and negatively
  • the child develops the capacity to feel emotions such as pride, shame and inadequacy
  • the child is able to imagine/fantasize about an ‘ideal self’ and compare him/herself (unfavourably) to this

Adolescence :

During adolescence, the young person undertakes the difficult task of trying to integrate different aspects of him/herself into a cohesive sense of self (self-concept). This is made especially problematic as adolescence is frequently a period in which young people experiment with different personas, thus adding to their confusion about ‘who they really are.

The psychologist, Harter, proposes that a person’s ‘overall’ self-concept (which she termed ‘THE GLOBAL SELF-WORTH‘) is made up of two parts, these being :

  • ASSETS
  • APPROVAL/DISAPPROVAL FROM SIGNIFICANT OTHERS

 

 

Let’s look at each of these in turn :

  • ASSETS :

These include intelligence/academic ability, sports/athletic ability, physical appearance, popularity/likeability, one’s reflections upon one’s own behaviour/personal conduct

  • APPROVAL/DISAPPROVAL FROM SIGNIFICANT OTHERS :

These significant others include parents, primary carers, teachers, sport coaches, peers, siblings, wider family members and authority figures. Self-concept is especially dependent upon the approval/disapproval of others during the period of adolescence.

VARIABILITY OF SELF-WORTH :

One’s self-concept can therefore fluctuate according to which particular assets one is focused on and the nature of one’s relationships with significant others. However, by adulthood one’s sense of global self-worth tends to be relatively stable (assuming reasonable mental health) as compared to during adolescence.

BASELINE SELF-WORTH AND BAROMETRIC SELF-WORTH :

Relevant to the fact that our sense of self-worth is variable is Harter’s proposal that our self-worth can also be divided up into baseline self-worth and  barometric self-worth.

Baseline self-worth is closely tied to global self-worth, Harter states, and this is relatively stable in comparison to barometric self-worth which fluctuates according to who we’re with (and what opinion we perceive them to have of us) and what we’re doing (eg we might feel competent at work, thus raising our barometric level of self-worth, but this level may dramatically plummet when we get home to spend the evening with our cold and rejecting spouse/partner); like the reading on a barometer, this level of self-worth changes according to the temporary and inconstant personal conditions within which we find ourselves.

TRAUMA AND SELF-WORTH :

Our self-worth derives from our self-concept and as a result of a traumatic childhood we often tend to focus upon global self-worth and view this as very low (indeed, sadly, many people who have suffered significant childhood trauma erroneously see themselves as essentially ‘worthless.’ In relation to this, you may wish to read my article : ‘How The Child’s View Their ‘Badness’ Is Perpetuatedor, alternatively, my article entitled : Childhood Trauma : Destroyer Of  Self-Esteem.

Resources :

Related Article : Recovering Our Self-Esteem : Six Key Elements

Self-hypnosis MP3/CD : Build Self-Esteem With Hypnosis

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

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Signs Of Recovery From Complex-PTSD

According to Peter Levine, an expert on the adverse effects of childhood trauma on our adult lives and the complex post traumatic stress disorder that can result, typically there develops various signs in victims that may indicate the recovery process is underway. The main signs of recovery that Levine identifies are as follows :

1) A REDUCTION IN THE NUMBER, AND INTENSITY, OF EMOTIONAL FLASHBACKS THAT WE EXPERIENCE (an emotional flashback is when an event occurs in our lives that triggers similar painful emotions to those we experienced as a child in relation to our traumatic experiences – such flashbacks may result in regressive behaviour such as extreme, uncontrollable, childlike tantrums. For example, if we had a cold and rejecting father who was always denigrating us, we may over-react when we are criticized by our boss at work).

2) WE BECOME LESS SELF-CRITICAL (those who have suffered childhood trauma very frequently, and erroneously, blame themselves for their terrible childhood experiences and/or internalize the negative view parents/primary carers had of them when they were children – to read my article on how a child can falsely come to see him/herself as ‘bad’ and how this inaccurate self-view may be perpetuated, click here).

3) WE BECOME LESS ‘CATASTROPHIZING’ (many who suffer childhood trauma develop into adults prone to extremes of negative thinking, often referred to as cognitive processing errors.’ One such cognitive processing error is that we may be prone to ‘catastrophizing’ which means we tend to always expect the worst and to interpret situations in their worst possible light. Often, too, we attribute the worst possible intentions and motivations to the behaviour of others. As we begin to recover, this tendency diminishes).

4) WE START TO FIND IT EASIER TO RELAX (one of the worst aspects of my illness was a perpetual, tormenting feeling of the most intense agitation making anything even vaguely approaching relaxation utterly impossible, every medication was tried – and failed; even electro-convulsive shock therapy (ECT) was tried on several different occasions over the years – again, utter failure. When we finally do start to recover, however, the ability to relax gradually returns).

5) WE BECOME LESS DEPENDENT UPON OUR LEARNED DEFENSE MECHANISMS (it is very common for those of us who have experienced childhood trauma to develop into adults who feel very vulnerable to being hurt or exploited by others if we ourselves were hurt and exploited by our parent/s or primary-carer/s during our early lives. In order to protect ourselves, we may have unconsciously learned to develop certain defense mechanisms such as aggression  or avoidance. As we recover, however, we find we become less reliant on these psychological defenses, according to Levine.

6) OUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHERS START TO IMPROVE AND WE BECOME LESS INTIMIDATED BY SOCIAL SITUATIONS (another common outcome of significant childhood trauma is that we can find, in adulthood, that we are quite inept when it comes to forming and maintaining relationships with others. We may, too, find social situations very intimidating, and, even, develop social phobia. A sign of recovery, however, is an easing of such interpersonal difficulties).

 

FOUR MAIN STEPS ALONG THE ROAD TO RECOVERY :

Levine states that the main steps to recovery are as follows :

1) PSYCHOEDUCATION

2) REDUCING SELF-CRITICISM

3) GRIEVING FOR OUR CHILDHOOD LOSSES

4) ADDRESSING ‘ABANDONMENT DEPRESSION’

Let’s look at each of these in turn :

1) The first step, according to Levine, is psycheducation (which is sometimes referred to as ‘bibliotherapy‘. This involves learning about our psychological condition and becoming aware of how it is linked to our adverse childhood experiences. Levine also emphasizes the usefulness of learning about mindfulness).

2) The second step is to, in Levine’s phrase, ‘shrink our inner critic.’  In other words, we need to gradually learn how to stop taking such a negative view of ourselves and of everything we do – one effective therapy which can help us to achieve this is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). (To read my related article, entitled :‘How The Child’s View Of Their Own ‘Badness’ Is Perpetuated’, click here).

3) The third step, says Levine, is to grieve for our childhood losses. These losses may include our missing out on feelings of safety, security, simple childhood happiness and a care-free state of mind as well as a loss of any self-esteem we may have once had. To read my article about coming to terms with childhood losses, click here). Levine suggests that this process may take up to two years.

4) The final step is to address what Levine calls the core issue, namely our ‘abandonment depression.’ An important part of this step is also to learn how to be self-compassionate. (To read my article about abandonment issues which may we may develop as a result of childhood trauma, click here).

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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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How To Calm Ourselves At A Sensory, Motor And Cognitive Level

If we have suffered significant childhood trauma, it is extremely common to find that, as adults, we can become emotionally upset as a result of (seemingly) small provocations, we experience particularly intense emotions when we are upset, and we have great difficulty calming ourselves down (‘calming ourselves down’ is often called ‘self-regulating’ by psychologists) once we are upset. This will be particularly true if, in connection with our traumatic early lives, we have gone on to develop, as adults, borderline personality disorder (BPD) or complex post-traumatic stress disorder (cPTSD).

This tendency to feel intense emotions when upset, together with the inability to self-regulate such emotions effectively, stems from a traumatic childhood that deprived us of developing the normal ‘self-soothing skills’ that those who experienced relatively stable upbringings are usually able to develop (as I have discussed at length elsewhere on this site – e.g. in my article entitled The Effects Of Childhood Trauma On The Limbic System).

THE THREE COMPONENTS OF EMOTIONS :

Our emotions are made up of three components :

  1. THE SENSORY COMPONENT
  2. THE MOTOR COMPONENT
  3. THE COGNITIVE COMPONENT

Let’s look at each of these in turn :

1. SENSORY EXPERIENCING :

When we feel an emotion, one component of it involves biological / physiological alterations within the body, such as breathing (when we are anxious it tends to be fast and shallow and we may hyperventilate (to read my article on the bi-directional relationship between anxiety and hyperventilation click here).

Other sensory aspects of the experiencing of emotions include heart-rate, blood pressure and digestion (IBS and stress are often related).

Being aware of such biological / physiological sensations within our body is technically referred to as : interoception.

2. MOTOR ACTIVITY :

At the motor level, emotions such as anxiety may manifest as physical tension of various muscle groups such as the muscles of the face and shoulders.

3. COGNITIVE COMPONENT :

Emotions also interact with our cognitions (i.e. thought processes). A simple example is that constantly thinking the worst will happen is likely to make us feel constantly anxious and fearful.

IMPLICATIONS FOR THERAPY :

It logically follows, therefore, that in accordance with the three components of emotions described above, we may intervene therapeutically in an attempt to ameliorate unpleasant emotions such as anxiety at the three corresponding levels : the sensory level, the motor level and the cognitive level.

Treating our anxiety at all three levels can, therefore, be viewed as a kind of triple-pronged attack.

Examples Of Therapies Specifically Targeting Each Of The Three Levels :

At the sensory level, examples of therapies include breathing exercises, relaxation exercises and visualization/hypnosis

At the motor level, examples of therapies include massage, progressive muscle relaxation and physical exercise

At the cognitive level, examples of therapies include cognitive therapy and  cognitive hypnosis

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

 

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‘Incest Panic’

In his immensely helpful book, ‘Healing Trauma’, Peter Levine, PhD., describes a phenomenon that he terms ‘incest panic’.

Levine proposes that it is not uncommon for parents to start to feel an awkward attraction towards their opposite gendered off-spring around about the time the child enters early adolescence (i.e. the father may develop an attraction towards the daughter or the mother may develop an attraction towards her son).

Whilst Levine does not broach the subject, it is also, of course, possible for the parent to develop an attraction towards his son and the mother towards her daughter.

I mention this because a highly qualified and respected therapist once told me (and he was far too responsible a professional to have said this lightly) that he thought it overwhelmingly probable that my father, during my childhood, had behaved inappropriately towards me but that I had repressed the memory of it.

At first I dismissed this out of hand, and he did not pursue it the matter (obviously he would have been aware of the danger of creating false memories through repeated suggestion which, I imagine, is why he let the subject rest).

However, what my therapist had said made me re-appraise certain interactions I had had with my father as a child.

First, when I was about four, I remember I had misbehaved in some way whilst standing with my father by a tall wooden back gate. In order to reprimand me, my father warned : ‘If you do that again I will take down your trousers and pants and lift you over the gate so the neighbours can see you!‘ Obviously, I’d always thought that was a bizarre way for a father to discipline his son, and obviously wrong. But, perhaps naively, I had never, up to that point, believed there may have been some sexual motivation at work. I’d assumed he ‘just’ wanted to deeply humiliate me. (Now I think about this more deeply, my possible ‘denial’ was perhaps related to the idea that, when young, we find it hard to face up to the fact our parents could actually want to hurt us (click here to read a related post about how children idealize their parents).

The second relevant memory is that when I was about nine or ten years old my older brother and I were staying at my father’s maisonette (my parents were divorced at this time and my brother and I stayed with my father every-other weekend). It was quite hot weather and, just before I went to bed, my father said to me, apropos nothing : ‘When it’s hot like this I sleep naked on top of my blankets with nothing covering me.’ At the time, I remember, this struck me as an odd remark (a non-sequitor, in fact, though I wouldn’t have known that phrase at the time, as you’ll no doubt understand). However, after my therapist’s comment, this memory, too, took on a rather more sinister complexion. Was my father encouraging me, in a devious manner, to copy his own liberated nocturnal behaviour for his own nefarious purposes? The simple answer is : ‘I don’t know’).

Thirdly, and this memory most compels me to believe my therapist was might have been right, one night (around the same time, so, again, I would have been nine or ten, I was lying on the top bunk (my brother sleeping on the lower bunk beneath) in the bedroom my father provided for us during our weekend stays with him. I did not have on a pajama top and my father came in  to ‘kiss me goodnight’ and then went on to lower my bed sheets to about the level of my navel and began to not just kiss, but slobber, over my chest and stomach. Again, I remember thinking this odd. However, I don’t remember anything else, including how the incident concluded. It is, I admit, quite possible nothing else happened. It is However, the evidence in support of my therapist’s opinion, when considered as a whole, cannot, I think, be lightly dismissed.

But back to Levine. I think the third memory I describe above at least suggests my father harbored incestuous feelings for me which, at best, he could only just control. Indeed, he may have suffered from the ‘incest panic’ that Levine describes. What further evidence do I have for this? Well, when I reached puberty, my father became extremely cold and distant towards me, as I have written about elsewhere. And, according to Levine, this kind of emotional withdrawal is typical of the parent who suffers from the aforementioned ‘incest panic’ ; feeling deeply uncomfortable with his/her feelings of sexual attraction towards his/her young adolescent offspring, the parent withdraws their affection from the child as a psychological defense mechanism – a kind of shame-based overcompensation.

Having said that, my father was, putting it mildly, not an emotionally demonstrative man in general, so I remain wholly unenlightened.

The book I refer to above is called ‘Healing Trauma‘ by Peter Levine PhD.

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

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Childhood Trauma May Accelerate Aging Process And Reduce Life Expectancy

Research conducted by Puterman (University of Columbia, Canada), a specialist in stress and aging, suggests that those of us who suffered significant trauma and consequential chronic feelings of stress as children may :

a) be more prone to disease and illness as adults

b) live shorter than average lives

Why Might This Be?

According to Puterman, this may be due to the adverse effects the stress of our childhoods had on our body’s cells.

More specifically, Puterman suggests that early, protracted exposure to stress may shorten our telomeres (telomeres are located on the end of our chromosomes).

Above : Telomeres under the microscope.

 

Above : Childhood trauma may prematurely age telomeres.

Why Do Shortened Telomeres Matter?

Telomeres serve to protect our chromosomes and, if shortened by early life stress, do not perform their task so effectively ; this may lead to the cells in our body aging and dying prematurely, Puterman suggests.

Puterman is careful to point out, however,  that experiencing stressful events in childhood does not necessarily cause the shortening of telomeres in any simple, direct way, but, rather, the greater the number of traumas we suffer, the greater their duration and the greater their intensity, the higher our risk is that our telomeres will incur damage.

Puterman’s research findings also suggested (based on the study of 4,600 individuals) that social and psychological stressful events that occur during childhood have a more damaging effect on telomeres than do stressors relating to the particular family’s financial situation.

Other Ways Childhood Trauma Adversely Impacts Upon Our Physical Health :

We know, too, that those who have experienced significant childhood trauma are more likely than average to :

 

All of the above, of course, may significantly undermine our physical health, and, even, ultimately, lead to terminal disease and illness.

 

TO READ MY POST ENTITLED : ‘How Childhood Trauma Can Reduce Our Life Expectancy BY 19 Years‘, CLICK HERE.

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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

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Crying Helps Re-Engagement With Authentic Feelings

As a child, even well into my teens, I cried extremely frequently. Usually this was alone at home, but, on occasion, at my prep school (which I attended until I was eleven) I was removed from the class for crying (there was little compassion on offer from the teachers) when I was particularly upset about what was going on at home.

Once, even, to my acute embarrassment and shame (at the time), I started to cry (or quietly whimper) in a second year (now it would be called Year Eight)  English class at my secondary school when I was about thirteen, desperately trying to conceal this inconvenient outburst of emotion from both my teacher and classmates.

Also, at about fifteen years of age, I once even rushed upstairs at home after one of my frequent arguments with my family and shut myself in my bedroom wardrobe where I stubbornly and emphatically insisted upon remaining (not that anyone encouraged me to come out), sobbing copiously, for a not inconsiderable period of time. It is quite clear to me, and, presumably, will be to the reader, too, that my emotional development had been arrested at a much younger age.

William Wordsworth, in his poem ‘Ode : Intimations Of Immortality From Reflections On Early Childhood‘, refers to ‘thoughts  that  often lie too deep for tears‘ and, when one is especially afflicted by profound depression and/or traumatized, this line of poetry is often most apposite  – one simply becomes numbed and internally deadened by the sheer intensity of one’s chronic and unrelenting mental suffering. In such a condition, as a psychological defense, all feelings and emotions shut down ; however desperately one wants to cry, one is unable to do so.

Something deep in our soul is blocked or frozen.

Being Finally Able To Cry Can Be A Breakthrough Moment In The Process Of Recovery :

The psychotherapist, Pete Walker, in his excellent book entitled : Complex Trauma – From Surviving To Thriving, explains how finally being able to cry after a long period of emotional numbness (emotional numbness is a key feature of complex post traumatic stress disorder) can signify a major turning point in the recovery process, marking our re-engagement with our long suppressed feelings.

Relevant Research :

There also exists a body of research supporting the idea that crying is beneficial. For example, the biochemist, W. Frey, reports that crying helps to rid the body of chemicals that are produced by stress and, therefore, when we cry, by lowering the concentration of these chemicals within our biological system, we reduce our stress levels ; this not only makes us feel better mentally but also has physical benefits (for example, by lowering our blood pressure).

Also, research carried out by Gracanin et al at the University of  Tilburg in the Netherlands supports the idea that crying can improve mood.

Conclusion :

Unfortunately, males in our society are often discouraged from crying on the erroneous grounds that it is ‘weak’ or ‘unmanly’. In fact, though, crying can be of immense therapeutic value, particularly when one has been feeling emotionally ‘dead inside’ for a long period of time due to having experienced severe trauma.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

 

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Parenting Styles And Their Potential Effects On Children

The psychologist Edith Dewey, building on ideas originally put forward by the famous psychotherapist and psychiatrist Alfred Adler (1870 – 1937) – who collaborated with Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) and is perhaps best known for developing the concept of the ‘inferiority complex’ – described a range of parenting styles and their potential effects upon children. These parenting styles were as follows :

– DISENGAGED (An extremely damaging form of ‘parenting’ – or, perhaps, non-parenting might be a better way of putting it- that frequently entails the parent/s being aloof/emotionally-detached/unloving/uninterested in the child/indifferent to the child/neglectful/distant).

Children who grow up in such environments are at high risk of developing serious emotional/behavioural problems, poor self-image / low self-esteem as well as drug/alcohol dependence

– OVER-PROTECTIVE

Children brought up in over-protective environments may lack the opportunity to take on reasonable challenges, test themselves and make mistakes from which they can learn. As a result, they  may experience difficulties coping in later life when inevitable problems do arise, and fail to become sufficiently self-reliant / independent.

DEMOCRATIC (Fair, reasonable, respectful, equitable and taking account of child’s views, opinions and arguments; the best style, according to Adler)

Alfred Adler Biography - Childhood, Life Achievements & Timeline

Above : Alfred Adler (1870-1937)

– Being raised in a democratic atmosphere helps the child develop a sense that his/her social environment is reasonable, fair, safe and equitable, providing him/her with the foundations necessary to flourish in a democratic society.

AUTHORITARIAN (Demanding obedience at all times, irrespective of child’s protests)

Children of authoritarian parents may develop into adults who are overly conforming, lacking initiative and overly reliant on others for guidance and direction. A veneer of obliging politeness may overlay feelings of tension and anxiety when interacting with others.

MATERIALISTIC (Parent/s regard gaining wealth and material assets to be of primary importance, to the detriment of relationships)

The child may develop a sense of entitlement and become overly psychologically dependent on material possessions. Over- emphasis on external, material resources may lead to poor development of internal mental resources (such as creativity) and consequent superficiality.

– MARTYR (Parent/s portray themselves as powerless victims, bravely and virtuously suffering for the sake of others/their oppressors/those who exploit and take advantage of them)

Child may come to view suffering as ‘morally worthy’ and become self-righteous; s/he may, too, constantly cast him/herself as a victim, thus facilitating evasion of responsibility.

CRITICAL

Children who grow up with overly critical parents may become rebellious and learn to treat others as they themselves have been treated by demeaning and disparaging them. Sometimes, one child in a family with two or more children may become the target of the bulk of the parental criticism and become the family scapegoat. (To read my article entitled : The Dysfunctional Family’s Scapegoat’ click here.)

– INCONSISTENT (Especially in relation to enforcement/non-enforcement of discipline. Absence of stability and routine. Such an environment commonly arises as a result of a parent having an alcohol / narcotic related condition)

If brought up by inconsistent parents, the child may experience difficulties developing self-discipline, self-control and self-motivation.

COMPETITIVE

The child’s self-esteem can become overly linked to success in various aspects of life, such as accumulating wealth and achieving career advancement. Because his/her self-view is so closely dependent upon such success, s/he may suffer severe anxiety if s/he fails, or believes s/he will fail, living-up to these self-imposed exacting standards. (This is linked to ‘perfectionism’ – to read my article on how childhood trauma can lead to ‘perfectionism’, click here.)

PITYING

Children who are overly-pitied may have problems developing self-respect and prone to dwelling and ruminating on their problems. They may also start to regard themselves as specially entitled.

RELENTLESS EXPECTATION OF HIGH STANDARDS

The child may suffer from severe feelings of ‘inadequacy’ when s/he perceives him/herself as having failed to live up to the high standards expected by his/her parents. Even during periods of great achievement and success, s/he may constantly, anxiously anticipate imminent failure. (This, too, is closely related to perfectionism‘.)

HOPELESSNESS

Parents who constantly generate an atmosphere of hopelessness may, unsurprisingly, put their children at risk of becoming extremely pessimistic and negative themselves, seeing no escape root from their circumstances (this is linked to the concept of learned helplessness‘).

It is also suggested that children brought up in such environments may attempt to mentally dissociate from it by entering a world of mental fantasy; or, alternatively, by acting out feelings of inner despair.

NARCISSISTIC (An exceptionally damaging form of parenting. A parent who suffers from narcissistic personality disorder my view the child as a possession who exists solely his/her own benefit. This involves exploitation of the child (e.g through parentification of the child) and a stifling of the development of the child’s identity due to the narcissist’s manipulation of the child into becoming an ‘extension of him/herself’ (i.e. the parent) together with fear and/or jealousy of the child’s attempts to gain independence and achieve his/her (i.e.the child’s) own personal ambitions’)

For a detailed look at the effects of being raised by a narcissistic parent, click here to read my previously published article)

SUPPRESSIVE (Parent/s strongly discourage the child’s expression of genuine emotions, such as anger or sadness, as they find it threatening/inconvenient)

This type of parenting can lead to the child mistrusting his/her own feelings, experiencing problems relating to others on a meaningful level, and becoming dependent upon false persona that conceals his/her ‘true self’.’

– OVER-INDULGENT

A child who is over-indulged may develop problems taking the initiative in life and may also become over-reliant on others. S/he may, too, develop a sense of entitlement.

HIGH LEVEL OF CONFLICT

A child raised in an environment in which there is disharmony and a high level of parental conflict may become rebellious, aggressive and impulsive / prone to taking high risks

– REJECTING

A child rejected by his/her parent/s is grows up to feel fundamentally unlovable and worthless. S/he are also highly likely to develop serious problems trusting others. (To read my article on the long-term effects of parental rejection, click here.)

NB : The above is based on Alfred Adler’s (1870 – 1937) ideas and theories.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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Harmful Effects Of Labelling The Child As ‘Bad’.

Many children who have been emotionally hurt and traumatized ‘act out’ their intense feelings of confusion, pain, fear, loneliness, isolation and vulnerability, which are too strong and powerful to contain, by expressing these feelings through negative behaviour such as getting into fights, extreme verbal aggression, vandalism, getting drunk or numbing themselves with drugs.

This is, of course, commonly known as ‘acting out’ and children express their pain in this way as they are unable to articulate their feelings, understand the cause of these feelings, or mentally process their traumatic experiences in a meaningful way.

Acting out’, then, is an unconscious, desperate expression of inner turmoil and of a profound need for help, love, compassion and understanding, however counterintuitive and paradoxical this may sound to some.

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Tragically, instead of receiving the help they so desperately need, such children are all too often criticized, disparaged, rejected and labelled as ‘bad’ by the very people (i.e. their parents) who are responsible for inducing the child’s highly distressed condition, rather like injecting a person with a cancer causing agent and then blaming them for being ill ; or punching someone in the face and then blaming them for bleeding over you.

This, of course, can be psychologically crushing for the child, destroying his/her confidence and self-esteem, inducing depression, anxiety, self-harming behaviour and alcohol/drug dependence.

Additionally, the child may go through the rest of his/her life (in the absence of effective therapy) feeling utterly unlovable, intrinsically and irrevocably flawed in terms of character, unable to form healthy relationships, deeply mistrustful of others, cynical, pessimistic and intermittently suicidal.

Also, being labelled as ‘bad’ is likely to intensify the child’s sense of injustice, isolation and rejection, increasing his/her feelings of anger ; this anger may then become a protective shield – a thin and flimsy veneer, unconsciously engineered, to conceal deeply entrenched feelings of powerlessness, vulnerability and despair.

Alternatively, the child may try to cope by ‘shutting off’ emotionally (when this reaches a clinically significant level it is referred to as dissociation‘) and may, as a psychological defense, affect a kind of indifferent, insouciant, disinterested, ‘couldn’t-care-less’ attitude in an attempt to conceal feelings of vulnerability and a fear of being perceived as ‘weak’.

The earlier children suffering in this way can be identified, and remedial, therapeutic interventions instigated, the greater the chance that psychological damage is minimized, allowing the individual to go on to live a satisfying, fulfilling and productive life.

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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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