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What Is Reactive Attachment Disorder?

what is reactive attachment disorder?

REACTIVE ATTACHMENT DISORDER :

 

REACTIVE ATTACHMENT DISORDER may occur when a child is severely neglected where the neglect involves being deprived of close, consistent, stable care and nurturing from those who would normally provide it (i.e. a parent or primary caregiver). For example, a child who is raised in an orphanage in which the child has no sole, main carer, but, instead, a variety of overworked carers who work in shifts would be at increased risk of developing the disorder.

There are two types of REACTIVE ATTACHMENT DISORDER ; these are :

  1. INHIBITED REACTIVE ATTACHMENT DISORDER
  2. DISINHIBITED REACTIVE ATTACHMENT DISORDER

Let’s look at each of these in turn :

 

THE TWO TYPES OF REACTIVE ATTACHMENT DISORDER : INHIBITED AND DISINHIBITED :

INHIBITED REACTIVE ATTACHMENT DISORDER :

A child suffering from inhibited reactive attachment disorder may commonly suffer a range of symptoms which include :

  • a preference for solitary play / no interest in games that involve interaction with others
  • avoidance of / detachment from others (including an avoidance of any physical contact with others)
  • avoidance of eye contact
  • appears sad and lethargic
  • lack of any positive response to attempts by others to give comfort / does not seek comfort from others
  • does not smile
  • failure to reach out when picked up

DISINHIBITED REACTIVE ATTACHMENT DISORDER :

A child suffering from disinhibited reactive attachment disorder may commonly suffer a range of symptoms which include

  • high anxiety level
  • unusually eager to interact with strangers /rarely socially distinguishes between caregiver and unfamiliar adults
  • exaggerating a need for help with basic daily tasks
  • behaving much younger than chronological age / taking part in activities appropriate to much younger children

 

MORE ABOUT THE CAUSES OF REACTIVE ATTACHMENT DISORDER :

I have already touched on the causes of reactive attachment disorder in the opening paragraph of this article. However, to elaborate further, a baby / young child does not only require his/her physical needs to be met (such as being fed or having his/her nappy changed) but also requires SIMULTANEOUS WARM EMOTIONAL INTERACTION WITH THE CAREGIVER WHO IS PERFORMING THESE PHYSICAL TASKS. 

Such warm, emotional interaction is less likely to occur in underfunded and under-resourced orphanages (as already mentioned above). Also, however, young children who are forced to undergo frequent changes in foster homes, or who live with severely mentally ill parents, or with parents with serious substance misuse problems, are also at higher risk of extreme emotional neglect and, consequently, at increased risk of developing reactive attachment disorder.

 

reactive attachment disorder

 

WHO SUFFERS FROM REACTIVE ATTACHMENT DISORDER ?

Research into reactive attachment disorder has focused on babies / young children between the ages of 0 and 5 years of age. It is not certain if the disorder exists in children over the age of 5 years ; more research needs to be conducted in order to establish whether or not it does.

However, some preliminary research suggests that older children and adolescents may express symptoms of reactive attachment disorder through :

  • callousness
  • lack of emotional responsiveness
  • cruelty towards animals
  • cruelty towards people
  • general problems relating to their behavior

CAN REACTIVE ATTACHMENT DISORDER BE SUCCESSFULLY TREATED?

Although there is currently no one, specific, specialized treatment or therapy for reactive attachment disorder, the evidence is that, with the right kind of intervention, children suffering from the disorder can learn to form healthy relationships with others.

As with all psychological problems, the earlier the therapeutic intervention is made, the higher its probability of success.

Therapies likely to be helpful include :

  • individual counselling
  • classes in parenting skills
  • family counselling
  • education of caregivers about the disorder
  • education of parents about the disorder

 

NOTE : The DSM IV refers to the inhibited and disinhibited forms of the disorder as :  emotionally withdrawn and indiscriminately social/disinhibited subtypes  , whilst the DSM 5 refers to them as two separate disorders, namely, reactive attachment disorder and disinhibited social engagement disorder. SEE TABLE BELOW :

 

reactive attachment disorder

 

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

 

 

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Dysfunctional Ways Parents May Seek To Over-Control Children

over controlling parents

I outline some of the most common ways in which parents may attempt to exert excessive control over their children below :

Emotional Enmeshment :

This occurs when a parent is intensely and overwhelmingly emotionally involved with his/her child so that, rather than seeing the child as an individual with his/her own thoughts, feelings, likes and dislikes, views him/her as an extension of him/herself.

The parent who emotionally enmeshes the child may be over-dependent on him/her :

  • in relation to seeking advice that the child is not mature enough to give (e.g. a parent asking a ten year old for advice on romantic relationships),
  • for companionship,
  • for psychological counselling.

Such parents may also interfere inappropriately in the child’s life and fail to respect his/her boundaries.

Divorced / single parents may even expect their child to serve as a kind of ‘spouse substitute’ (most frequently in emotional terms).

You can read mt article on EMOTIONAL INCEST, which is closely related to the above, by clicking here.

Parentification :

Emotionally immature parents may expect their child to act as a kind of substitute parent – you can read my article about how parents may ‘parentify’ their child by clicking here.

 

Perfectionism :

Perfectionist parents may constantly insist upon laying down myriad petty, unnecessary and, perhaps, seemingly arbitrary rules and regulations (for example, my father used to be obsessed with making sure I held my cutlery in precisely the right way – apparently I would ‘mistakenly’ hold my knife ‘like a pen’ which would cause my father an absurdly disproportionate level of unnecessary angst more appropriate to me holding a live grenade in a way that would allow it imminently to detonate.

Living in such a household can put the child into a constant state of tension, or, even, hypervigilence, leading him/her constantly to anticipate the next shaming and disheartening criticism.

Perfectionist parents may also psychologically damage their children by expecting them to achieve in sports, academia, music etc in ways that are unreasonable and unrealistic. In relation to this, they may only offer their children love and approval when they excel, withholding such love and approval the rest of the time.

These types of parents may, too, strongly disapprove of their children expressing particular emotions such as anger or sadness, perhaps to the extent that they even ridicule their children for doing so.

Micromanagement :

The parent who micromanages their child may be unnecessarily and inappropriately involved in what a child eats or how a child dresses. Such parents may also interfere in superfluous and counter-productive ways with the child’s school life (e.g. visiting the school to complain to teachers about the child’s grades or about the child not making a particular school sport’s team). Or they may not respect their child’s privacy (e.g. constantly checking their child’s room for no good reason, looking through their diary or unnecessarily texting their child whilst s/he is at school to ‘check up’ on him/her in a way the child finds oppressive).

Such parenting is also sometimes referred to as ‘helicopter parenting’, a term originally coined by Dr. Haim Ginott in the late 1960s.

Coercive Control :

The term ‘coercive control’ was first coined by the Duluth Abuse Intervention Project (DAIP) but the concept can also be applicable to the parent-child relationship. The DAIP propose that coercive control can take many forms which include :

  • intimidation (including threatening body language and facial expressions)
  • humiliation
  • isolation
  • minimizing the level of abuse
  • denying any abuse has taken place
  • blaming the victim for the perpetrator’s abuse
  • homophobia
  • coercion and threats

Parents Who Use Their Child For ‘Narcissistic Supply’ :

The concept of narcissistic supply stems from psychoanalytic theory. A parent in need of narcissistic supply may emotionally exploit his/her children by overly depending upon them to express their admiration of the him/her (the parent), to emotionally support him/her and to bolster his/her self-esteem. To read my article about narcissistic parents, click here.

 

RESOURCE :

ASSERT YOURSELF HYPNOSIS PACK. CLICK HERE 

eBook

emotional abuse book

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

 

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Why Some Parents Can’t Love Their Children

parent unable to love

It is generally assumed that parents (in particular, mothers) have an innate, instinctive, natural and inborn capacity to love their children unconditionally. However, sadly, this is not the case. In this article, I will look at some of the most common factors that may inhibit a parent’s inclination to love his/her children :

 

Factors  That  May  Inhibit Parents’ Inclination To Love Their Children :

  • Parents may resent the responsibility / burden placed on them by having children
  • A parent may resent character traits in their child that , consciously or unconsciously, remind them of aspects of their own personalities that they dislike or aspects of their partner’s / ex-partner’s (i.e. the child’s other biological parent) personality that they dislike
  • Parents may resent being made to feel inadequate by children ; for example, narcissistic parents may find the child’s challenges to his/her (i.e. the parent’s) impossible demands intolerable, especially if the child becomes, due to quite natural, normal and necessary survival mechanisms, rebellious in response to such impossible demands when s/he reaches puberty.
  • The parent may feel bitterly jealous of the child’s youth (e.g. a narcissistic mother may resent being reminded of her fading looks by her daughter’s youthful appearance)
  • A parent may have low self-esteem and a child’s success, or future prospects of success, may serve to make the parent feel inadequate or that s/he has, by comparison, wasted his/her life
  • Postpartum depression : biological changes that a woman undergoes when pregnant can lead to chemical changes in the brain that result in depression and impair  her ability to bond with her new born baby in the usual way.
  • A parent may have been emotionally neglected or abused during his/her own childhood, restricting his/her ability to express and feel love
  • A parent (most frequently, but not exclusively, the mother) may resent his/her child whom s/he perceives as having ‘got in the way’ of his/her career.
  • A parent may resent his/her child if that child does not share, or actively rebels against, his/her (i.e. the parent’s) strongly held beliefs (e.g. religious beliefs, especially in relation to sexuality)
  • Projection: parents who have a poor self-image, low self-esteem and, essentially, don’t like themselves, may off-load their negative feelings about themselves by projecting them onto their children (e.g. a parent who has latent homosexual inclinations and dislikes himself for it may project these feeling onto his son by using deprecating language in relation to his son’s (real or imagined) homosexuality, or, even, by disowning him (and thereby, on a symbolic level, disowning his own repressed, sexual feelings).

The Importance Of Showing Love :

Some parents may believe they love their children but the way in which they act towards these children does not reflect this ; in other words, despite the parents’ beliefs, their children do not perceive themselves as being loved – such parents may not be properly attuned to their children’s emotional needs ; this, too, can be very psychologically damaging to the child. Indeed, children who are not loved or perceive themselves not to be loved, especially in very early life (but at other stages, too) can incur damage to the physical development of their brains which, in turn, can lead to serious psychiatric problems.

You can go to the section of this site that contains articles on childhood trauma and brain development by clicking here.

 

eBook :

 

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

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The Manipulative Parent

the manipulative parent

 

The Manipulative Parent :

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

emotional blackmail

– threats (explicit or implicit)

– deceit

– control through money/material goods

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

– coercion

Because parental manipulation, by the mother, father or both, 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 THE MANIPULATIVE PARENT:

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

– 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.

 

DEALING WITH A MANIPULATIVE MOTHER OR FATHER :

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 manipulative 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 (click here)

– being confident enough to refuse to do what we don’t want to do (click here)

– being confident enough to ask for what we do want (click here)

– have the confidence to act according to our own values and convictions (click here)


Resources (Self-hypnosis downloads).

 

  • Dealing With Narcissistic Behavior : Click HERE for further details.

 

  • Escape Emotional Abuse : Click HERE for further details.

 


David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

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Why Psychological Abuse By Parents Can Cause Greater Psychopathology In Children Than Extreme Poverty Or War

Psychological abuse by parents

Silvano Arieti, in his classic book Interpretations Of Schizophrenia, emphasized the view that it is childhood adverse experiences, such as psychological and emotional abuse by the parents that cause anxiety which hurts the ‘inner self’ are the ones which are most likely to lead to severe mental illness in the individual whereas traumatic experiences that many might consider worse, such as war or severe poverty, may well NOT lead the child to develop severe mental illness if they do not lead to the aforementioned damage to the ‘inner self’.

What Is Meant By The ‘Inner Self’?

This can be defined as one’s personal sense of identity, self-concept and integrated personality.

We Are Most Vulnerable To Psychological Harm From Those With Whom We Have A Strong Emotional Bond:

Arieti stresses that children are at most risk of being psychologically damaged by being maltreated by those with whom they have a strong emotional bond (most commonly, of course, their parents). He also believed that a major cause of schizophrenia was a childhood during which the individual’s sense of self was seriously undermined by one, or both, parents. The Scottish psychiatrist, R.D. Laing, who wrote the famous book entitled The Divided Self, thought along similar lines, stressing the importance of the family environment as a cause of schizophrenia.

In essence, when we are betrayed, or significantly mistreated over a protracted period of time, by the very people who are supposed to love us, care for us and protect us, we are thrown into a state of extreme psychological torment, confusion and conflict, the effect of which is uniquely pervasive and perfidious; as a result, our sense of inner self may be shattered and our personality may disintegrate.

Psychological abuse by parents

Above : R.D. Laing, author of The Divided Self

This idea is encapsulated by the trauma model of mental disorders which contends that early life psychological trauma is a very major cause of several different adult psychiatric disorders.

Proponents of this view include Sigmund Freud (as illustrated by his psychoanalytic theories) and John Bowlby (as illustrated by his attachment theory).

 

Resources:

.

The above eBook is now available from Amazon for instant download (other titles available). For more information or to make purchase, click here.

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

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Effects Of Parents’ Own Unresolved Trauma On Their Children

unresolved trauma

 

 

Alice Miller (1923 – 2010), the world renowned psychologist and psychoanalyst, theorized that many victims of childhood trauma are unconsciously driven to deny and repress the psychological damage done to them by their parent/s as if the knowledge were to fully permeate their consciousness it would result in overwhelming and unbearable emotional pain (to read my related article : Why Children Idealize Their Parents, click here).

And, according to Miller, when such individuals become adults, the negative feelings associated with the unresolved trauma are :

1. Directed outwards at others (e.g. violent crime or war – to read my related post about Hitler’s Childhood, click here). This is also known as externalization or displacement.

or

2. Directed inwards against the self (e.g. self-harm, depression, addictions). This is also known as internalization.

or

3. Directed at their own children (by repeating the abusive parenting that they themselves originally experienced).

 

In this article, it is the third response above (when negative feelings associated with unresolved trauma are directed at the individuals own children) that I wish to expand a little upon :

Alice Miller’s view on how abusive behaviour can be passed on from one generation to the next can be elucidated by the following quote :

‘Children who are lectured to, learn how to lecture; if they are admonished, they learn how to admonish; if scolded, they learn how to scold; if ridiculed, they learn how to ridicule; if humiliated, they learn how to humiliate; if their psyche is killed, they will learn how to kill – the only question is who will be killed: oneself, others, or both.’

Alice Miller

unresolved trauma

 

Photo Above : Alice Miller

In the same book from which the above quote is taken, For Your Own Good (the title is ironic, obviously), Miller proposes that even when parents genuinely believe they are acting for the child’s ‘own good’, beneath the surface of consciousness lurk darker motives; she provides seven examples of these motives which I summarize below:

1) To displace the feelings of humiliation they (the parents) experienced as a result of their own parents’ behaviour onto their own children (to reiterate – this need not be conscious and frequently occurs on an unconscious level, according to Miller).

2) A drive to vent repressed emotions.

3) A drive to possess/manipulate the child (to read my related article about manipulative parents, click here).

4) An idealization of their own parents’ behaviour (the underlying thinking be along the lines of: ‘it [their parents’ way of bringing them up] never did me any harm…’ (to read my related article on why children idealize their parents, click here).
5) Fears about allowing the child freedom

6) The need to eradicate in one’s child behaviours/feelings/attitudes that remind the parents of aspects of themselves they fear and have repressed

7) Revenge for the emotional damage they suffered at the hands of their own parents (again, most frequently this occurs on an unconscious level).

Views Of Dr Saul Krugman

Another expert in this field, Dr Saul Krugman (1911-1995), an American pediatrician, echoed Alice Miller’s view in 1989 when he stated that many individuals who were abused in childhood do not consider themselves as victims and that this attitude is frequently found in those who go on to abuse their own children and contributes in part to the explanation to the question of how the intergenerational cycle of abuse is (sometimes unwittingly) perpetuated.

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

 

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Early Childhood Trauma : Early Life Neglect Damages Brain

Romanian orphanage study

This article considers the effects of early childhood trauma with a focus on the Romanian Orphan Study.

The Romanian Orphan Study :

This research studied 125 teenagers who lived in (adoptive) loving and stable families BUT had, as infants, had suffered early childhood trauma as they had lived in the NEGLECTFUL ENVIRONMENT of ROMANIAN ORPHANAGES (renowned for their extremely poor conditions).

The Findings :

Using brain scanning technology, it was found that these teenagers had brains which contained LESS WHITE MATTER than the brains of a comparison group of comparable teenagers who lived in similar family environments BUT HAD NOT LIVED IN ROMANIAN ORPHANAGES AS INFANTS.

The brain’s white matter is involved in learning and facilitates the communication between different brain regions ; it is located deep within the brain. (Its volume can also be depleted as a result of excessive use of alcohol and aging.)

Romanian orphanage study

Above : Brain scans showing anatomical differences between the brain of a normal three-year-old and that of a three-year-old who has experienced early childhood trauma (extreme neglect).

Deprivation :

It is suggests that the SENSORY DEPRIVATION that the teenagers experienced as infants in the appalling conditions in which they were kept (‘caretakers’ worked in factory- like shifts and the infants might have up to 17 such carers each week, thus depriving them of sustained, one-to-one, loving contact), anatomically, adversely affected brain regions involved in :

– cognitive processing

– attention

– emotional processing

Specifically, Which Brain Regions Were Damaged?

PET scans (PET scans – or positron emission topography scans – are a type of brain scan) revealed that the main regions of the brain that were damaged by this early life neglect and deprivation were :

– the amygdala

– parts of the hippocampus

– the brain stem

– parts of the prefrontal cortex

– the orbital frontal gyrus

The PET scan revealed that all of the above brain regions had abnormal activity in the teenagers who had lived in the Romanian orphanage during their early lives compared to the comparison group of teenagers.

To read my eBook on how neglect and other forms of early childhood trauma can affect the physical development of the brain, click on the image below:

romanian orphanage study

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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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)

 

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

Parenting styles that 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

One of the most damaging forms of all parenting styles 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)

Parenting styles of this type 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 article on parenting styles is based on Alfred Adler’s (1870 – 1937) ideas and theories.

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

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Copyright 2017 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Harmful Effects Of Labelling The Child As ‘Bad’.

 

harmful effects of labelling 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 behavior 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.

 

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.

harmful effects of labelling child as bad

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.

Resources :

eBook:

Above eBook now available on Amazon for instant download. Click here for further information.

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

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Copyright 2017 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery
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