Category Archives: Emotional Abuse Articles

Emotionally Unstable Parents

Emotionally Unstable Parents

The intense and costantly and dramatically fluctuating moods of the emotionally unstable parent permeate and dominate the household and can overwhelm the child, particularly when the intense emotions the parent is expressing are especially destructive ones such as hatred or suicidal despair.

Because the parent’s intense, destructive emotions are so unpredictable and can emerge ‘out of the blue’ the child can be made to feel constantly trepidatious, anxious or fearful, never knowing what to expect.

By definition, the emotionally unstable parent has great difficulty controlling his/her emotions; lack of control over one’s emotions is sometimes referred to as emotional dysregulation

Emotionally Unstable Parents

This emotional dysregulation is likely to be most apparent when the individual is under stress (including minor stress that the majority of people would easily be capable of tolerating with relative equanimity).

Emotionally unstable patents often regard themselves as victims. Also, some may frequently use threats in order to manipulate others (without much in the way of guilt due to their lack of empathy).

Some may be suffering from personality disorders such as narcissistic personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder or borderline personality disorder.

Children who grow up with such parents tend to become psychologically insecure due, in large part, to the the inconsistency and unreliability of the parent’s emotional support.

Such parents often exploit their children, viewing them more as possessions to be exploited for their benefit rather than as individuals with their own specific set of unique emotional and psychological needs.

And, because of this, the child-parent relationship may become inverted; this is sometimes referred to as the parentification of the child – s/he becomes, in many respects, the parent’s parent (e.g. perpetually providing the parent with emotional support; indeed, this happened to me, starting before I became a teenager – in fact, my mother used to refer to me as her ‘little psychiatrist’.

Because the child is often forced to live to fulfil his parent’s needs rather than his/her own, this can lead him/her to develop identity problems as an adult.

Often, the emotionally unstable parent is able to mask their problem outside the home meaning that nobody appreciates the great stress under which the child is forced to live. This makes intervention on the child’s behalf far less likely.

If a child is forced to live under severe and protracted stress, the physical development of his/her brain may be affected; you can read one of my articles on this by clicking here.

For details of eBooks, click below:

Emotionally Unstable Parents.    Emotionally Unstable Parents

 

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

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Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

The Manipulative Parent And Parental Alienation Syndrome

The Manipulative Parent And Parental Alienation Syndrome
In simple terms, parental alienation syndrome (Gardner, 1985), refers to the psychological effects on the child when one parent (in custody of the child) manipulates this child into rejecting the other parent (not in custody of the child) during or after separation and/or divorce proceedings.

At its worst, it involves the parent with custody of the child actively and maliciously attempting to programme and brainwash the child into hating the other parent.

At the other end of the scale, however, it can be that the parent with custody does not realise the effect their negative comments about their ex-partner are having on the child (i.e. causing the child, too, to develop a negative attitude towards the non custodial parent).

In any event, the result is, according to parental alienation theory, that the child internalises the custodial parent’s negative view of the non-custodial parent.

In extreme cases, the custodial parent may even brainwash the child into believing that the non-custodial parent is guilty of having abused him/her (the child) even when this is untrue. A famous example of this is American writer/director Woody Allen’s allegation that his ex-partner, Mia Farrow, was guilty of such malicious manipulation of their daughter.

The Manipulative Parent And Parental Alienation Syndrome

What Are The Effects Of Such Manipulation Upon The Child?

Gardner suggests the manipulated child who develops parental alienation syndrome may be affected in the following ways:

– idealisation of the custodial parent

– demonization of the non-custodial parent

– belief that his/her (the child’s) feelings of unequivocally hatred towards the non-custodial parent stem from his/her own judgement alone and have not been influenced by the custodial parent

– absence of any feelings of guilt about his/her (the child’s) expressions of hatred towards the non-custodial parent

 

Initially, Gardner proposed that, in the vast majority of cases, it was the mother who alienated the child from the father. However, he later retracted this hypothesis and stated that both mothers and fathers were equally likely to practice such malicious manipulation of the child’s feelings, beliefs and behaviour.

Gardner also stressed that parental alienation syndrome only applies when the castigated parent is not guilty of any child abuse.

Controversy:

It should be noted, however, that the validity of Gardner’s theory of parental alienation syndrome is disputed amongst mainstream psychologists and is not an officially recognized childhood psychological disorder at the time of writing.

However, that does not change the fact that such manipulation of children, and such manipulation’s deleterious psychological effects, are very far from uncommon.

Resource:

The Manipulative Parent And Parental Alienation Syndrome Ten Steps To Absolute Assertiveness.

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

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Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

The Trauma Of Being An Adopted Child

The Trauma Of Being An Adopted Child

Children who become adopted have usually previously been orphaned or seriously abused prior to the adoption. Often, too, they will have spent time in an institution such as a children’s home. Also, they may have lived for temporary periods with various foster carers.

Because of such histories, most children who are adopted will have been extremely traumatized during their early lives and, therefore, arrive at their new adoptive parents’ home with serious emotional, psychological and behavioural difficulties.

If , as alluded to above, these children have suffered significant abuse by their parents, they are likely to have developed psychologically difficulties. The same is true of children who have become orphaned. But what about the children who have come from care homes or a series of foster parents? I look at how these experiences, too, may have caused them emotional difficulties.

Possible Adverse Effects On The Child Of Living In A Care Home:

These include :

– lack of funds/resources

– effects of staff leaving if a bond has developed between him/her and the child

– effects of friends leaving (eg due to age or moving to another institution)

– being bullied at school for being ‘different’

 – lack of consistency of care due to staff shift work and the employment of temporary staff from agencies

– inexperienced staff

– failure of staff/management to prevent bullying within the care home

– effects of having to leave the care home to be adopted; this can also be highly distressing if the child has built up strong emotional bonds with care home staff and/or care home child residents

institutionalisation, making it very hard for the child to cope outside of the care home environment

– the child may feel irrational shame for being ‘exhaustive

 

NB These are just examples; the above list is not exhaustive

The Trauma Of Being An Adopted Child

Possible Adverse Effects Of The Child Having Previously Experienced Foster Care:

If the child comes to the adoptive home having experienced living with foster parents s/he may:

– have felt rejected and unwanted by the foster home/s s/he had lived in

– may have wanted to stay with the foster parents, causing a form a grief when s/he found out she had to leave

– inconsistency of care, if constantly moving from one foster family to another

– related to above, inconsistency of schooling and friendship groups if moves from one foster home to another involve constantly changing geographical locations

– experiencing bullying at school for being ‘different’

– the child may feel irrational shame for being ‘different’

Stress And Conflict:

Because the child who arrives at the homes of the people who intend to adopt him/her may well have been seriously emotionally damaged in ways such as those described above, their is often potential for significant conflict to develop between the intended adoptee and his/her intended adoptive parents. I explain why below:

In the new adoptive home, because of the previous stress the child has been under, perhaps causing damage to such brain areas as the amygdala and prefrontal cortex, the child may act out his/her emotional disturbance. 

In so doing, s/he may, for example, regress, spend long spells crying, self-harm, behave destructively, be prone to out bursts of extreme rage, withdraw or act violently. And, if the child is not very young, may start drinking, smoking and taking drugs.

Indeed, if the brain’s development has been disrupted, s/he is likely to be neurologically immature leading to an inability to control his/her emotions or calm down easily when experiencing stress related anger or anxiety.

Indeed, studies reveal that those who have been adopted have higher than average concentrations of cortisol (a hormone related to stress) in their blood streams. This makes such individuals particularly vulnerable to depression, anxiety, uncontrollable emotions and fear.

The adoptive parents too, perhaps feeling they can’t cope, may also develop stress related problems. With both the child and the adoptive parents under such stress, this situation can, sadly, lead to very high levels of conflict between the two parties.

It is essential, therefore, that both the adopted child and the adoptive parents have in place the best social/practical/medical/psychological support systems in place as possible. Indeed, the importance of this is difficult to overstate.

 

Resources:

Issues With Being Adopted? Help From Hypnosis Downloads. Click here.

eBook:

The Trauma Of Being An Adopted Child

Above eBook now available from Amazon for INSTANT DOWNLOAD. Click here

NHS :

Post Adoption Support And Services. Click here.

 

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

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Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

My Humiliating Psychosomatic Response To Childhood Trauma

My Humiliating Psychosomatic Response To Childhood Trauma

I have thought about writing this article previously on many occasions but have been prevented by what I realize is an irrational sense of shame. This helps to illustrate, I think you will see, how pervasive and enduring the legacy of such irrational shame, stemming from a traumatic childhood and universally felt by those who experienced it, can be.

The story I am about to recount relates to the phenomenon of children experiencing psychosomatic symptoms (such as headaches and, in this particular case, stomach complaints) as a result of intense stress and anxiety.

I have mentioned before that when I was about ten years old (about two years after my parents’ divorce) my mother started a relationship with a schizophrenic who was frequently in and out of prison (for things like drink driving – whilst already banned from driving for the same offence – and car theft; he stole cars to visit his family in Scotland – a family we did not know existed at the time of the incident I am just about to relate.

When he came to live with us, he told us his name was Iain McDonald; after about a year, however, this was revealed to be an alias; his real name transpired to be John Lee.

One day (when I was still about ten years old), I was sitting in the back seat of our car with my mother driving and Iain McDonald (as he was at this time still styling himself) sitting in the front passenger seat.

My mother and ‘Iain’ were involved in one of their terrifying rows and, after a while, I started to feel sharp, excruciatingly painful stomach cramps.

Due to an very urgent need to use the bathroom, I pleaded with my mother to drive me home as quickly as possible, as you might well imagine.

However, ‘Iain’ insisted my mother first drivee him to a shop, involving a time consuming and, for me, agonizing detour, to buy cigarettes.

I protested, screaming my need to get back to our house and its urgently required bathroom post haste (although I did not use that particular expression at the time, of course).

To whom did my mother defer? You guessed it, her deranged, criminal, alcoholic live-in lover (if I may be permitted to employ an expression popular at the time).

The result? Predictable : let’s just say, euphemistically, that on the way to get the cigarettes I had a deeply humiliating ‘accident

Actually, having written this, I feel a strong sense of relief. A relief I was prevented from feeling at the time, sadly.

DH. 16.5.2016.

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Emotional Instability Disorder : The Role Of Parents

Emotional Instability Disorder : The Role Of Parents

The World Health Organization (WHO) describes emotional instability disorder as being very similar to borderline personality disorder (BPD).

WHO list the following symptoms as those used to help diagnose emotional instability disorder :

– extreme mood fluctuations / instability of mood

– tendency to frequently become involved in conflict with others ( including friends, family and work colleagues

– great difficulty controlling impulses leading, often, to self-destructive, risk – taking behaviour with little or no regard for the consequences. If others try to prevent the person from acting on a particular impulse, s/he is liable to become highly frustrated and angry (in other words, the individual has a very strong need for instant gratification and is unable to repress this need).

Emotional Instability Disorder : The Role Of Parents

Furthermore, WHO define emotional instability disorder as being of TWO SPECIFIC TYPES; these are:

1) The impulsive type

2) The borderline type

Let’s look at each of these two sub-categories of emotional instability disorder in turn.

IMPULSIVE TYPE:

The impulsive type is marked, in particular, by the following symptoms:

a) significant difficulty inhibiting impulses

b) severe emotional liability/instability

BORDERLINE TYPE:

In addition to the above symptoms, the borderline type is likely to display some or all of the following symptoms:

a) absence of any significant aims and goals in life

b) a distorted view of self (eg regarding self as ‘evil’)

c) identity problems (including uncertainty as to what one’s values and principles are, what one’s role in society is and and what one’s basic personality characteristics are).

d) oppressed and depressed by a profoundly pervasive feeling that life is empty, futile, pointless and meaningless

e) intense, chaotic and highly unstable interpersonal relationships (eg. propensity for intense and dramatic ‘love-hate’ relationships in which the individual fluctuates wildly between idealizing their partner and then devaluing/demonizing him/her).

f) a tendency to self-harm as a way of dissociating and coping with stress

g) suicide attempts/suicide

h) a general tendency to indulge in self-destructive behaviour such as risky sex, excessive use of alcohol/drugs, compulsive gambling etc.

What Role Do Parents Play In The Causation Of Emotional Instability Disorder?

The latest rearch currently suggests that emotional instability disorder has various underlying causes that may interact with one another to give rise the disorder; these are:

prenatal factors (eg a highly stressed mother-to-be may produce a frequent flood of stress hormones which adversely impact the unborn child’s development)

genetic factors

environmental factors : in connection with environmental factors, how the child’s parents treat him/her as s/he grows up appear to be of paramount importance; therefore, I elaborate on this crucial factor below:

Recent research suggests that two types of parenting, may be particularly likely to contribute to the child being of much elevated risk of developing emotional instability disorder as an adult. These two harmful forms of parenting are :

 

1) LOW AFFECTION PARENTING

2) HARSH PARENTING

Let’s look at each of these in turn:

 

Low Affection Parenting :

– lack of emotional and physical warmth shown to child

– not praising the child, instead focusing on ‘negative’ aspects of child’s behaviour

– poor supervision of child

– little time spent with child

– low expectations of child (eg. academic, vocational)

– poor communication with child

 

Harsh Parenting :

– punishing the child inappropriately and harshly

– mother who disciplines the child in an inconsistent and unpredictable manner

– high conflict between parents (eg. shouting, screaming, threatening, physically assaulting, swearing)

– verbal/emotional abuse of the child

– outbursts of uncontrolled anger, rage and hostility directed towards the child.

 

Resources:

MP3:

Emotional Instability Disorder : The Role Of Parents  CONTROL YOUR EMOTIONS advanced self-hypnosis audio MP3. Click here for further information.

 

eBook:

Emotional Instability Disorder : The Role Of Parents

 

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

 

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

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Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Effects Of Parents Treating Their Children With Contempt

Effects Of Parents Treating Their Children With Contempt

A particularly devastating form of emotional abuse is when parents or primary caregivers treat their children with contempt.

Psychologists define contempt as a blend of two primary human emotions – anger and disgust. Acting contemptuously towards an individual also entails treating him/her as a much inferior being (eg. intellectually, morally).

Sometimes this contemptuous treatment may be relatively subtle and insidious, perhaps involving making, on the surface, seemingly neutral remarks but delivering such remarks in a condescending tone, perhaps with a slight, barely perceptible, smug, superior and self-satisfied sneer or smirk.

Effects Of Parents Treating Their Children With Contempt

Or, at other times, the expression of contempt may be flagrant and overt; at such times, the parent may take a sadistic delight in humiliating their child.

When a child is treated in such a way, his/her morale, sense of worth and confidence are gradually eroded away and destroyed.

Why Do Some Parents Treat Their Children With Contempt?

Often such parents are narcissists who have a powerful need to make themselves feel ‘superior to’, ‘above’ and ‘better’ than others.

Many psychotherapists regard people who feel the need to treat others with contempt as employing a psychological defense mechanism that protects them from facing up to their own repressed feelings of shame, unworthiness and inferiority – in other words, they DENY these feelings about themselves, and PROJECT them on to others.

However, the child, of course, does not realize the parent is behaving as s/he does due to his/her own buried feelings of inferiority and is therefore very likely to end up internalizing the parent’s contemptuous attitude to him/ her.

Treatment

If, when we were growing up, we internalized our parents’ negative and contemptuous attitude towards us, and, now, as adults, and as a result, have come to see ourselves as ‘of little worth’, ‘inferior’, ‘unlovable’ etc, therapy may be necessary in order to rid ourselves of such erroneous beliefs. There is evidence to suggest that, in this regard, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) may be of particular benefit.

More Information On CBT: click here.

Resource:

Overcoming An Inferiority Complex Self Hypnosis Audio MP3. Click here.

eBook:

Effects Of Parents Treating Their Children With Contempt

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

 

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Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

The Relationship With The Sociopathic Mother

 

The Relationship With The Sociopathic Mother

According to the psychotherapist Christine Louise de Canonville, sociopaths tend to follow a particular pattern in their relationship with others, manipulatively guiding the relationship through three specific phases in a Machiavellian manner. These three stages are as follows:

PHASE 1 : The Idealization Phase

PHASE 2 : The Devaluation Phase

PHASE 3 : The Discarding Phase

Let’s briefly look at each of these phases in turn:

1) Idealization:

In this phase the sociopath presents herself in a positive manner, in order to gain favour and admiration. She may use techniques such as extreme flattery.

If she can make the person she is targeting love and admire her, or, better still, as in the case of a child, become psychologically and emotionally dependent upon her, this makes that person highly vulnerable and gives the sociopath great power to hurt and control him/her.

2) Devaluation:

Once the sociopath has successfully completed phase one, phase two may begin : the devaluation phase. In this stage, the sociopath undermines the person’s self-esteem and confidence. She may deride and mock him/her, treat him/her with contempt and disdain, call him/her hurtful and insulting names, humiliate him/her, and become utterly cold, hostile and aggressive towards the person.

3) Having psychologically destroyed her victim, and the victim is of no further use to her, she loses interest and discards him/her like a plastic disposable razor.

The Relationship With The Sociopathic Mother

Case Study From Personal Experience:

Whilst my mother has never been diagnosed as a sociopath (to the best of my knowledge), my relationship with her as a child followed the above pattern so closely that it is somewhat disconcerting, to put it mildly; I illustrate this, briefly, below:

1) Idealizing : soon after my parents divorced, my mother started to use me as a kind of personal counsellor. She manipulatively reinforced this behaviour by telling me how caring, compassionate, sensitive and loving I was. She even proudly declared that I was her own, private, ‘Little Psychiatrist.’

2) Devaluing : however, my mother was highly unstable, unpredictable and and prone to fly into terrifying rages as a result of the most trivial ‘provocations’ (as she perceived them to be).

As I entered puberty, to defend myself against her random, devastating psychological assaults (trying to pacify her, even if I was in floods of tears as I did so, made her worse –  indeed, I used to get the strong impression she derived some perverse thrill from my ‘snivelling’, as she would term it).

In a vain attempt to avoid being psychologically crushed, I started to argue with her and stand up for myself. This she could not tolerate. She began to refer to me as ‘scabby’ (I had started to self-harm by picking at my skin), ‘poof’ (I was extremely sensitive) or simply, ‘that little bastard.’

On my thirteenth birthday, in the morning as I got ready for school, she completely ignored me, as did my sixteen year brother (who would always joyously join in and encourage my mother’s verbal assaults, or intentionally instigate them).

Not a syllable was uttered to me (even an insulting one, but somehow being treated as invisible/non-existant, was, if its possible, even worse).

She would also often tell me she wished I’d never been born or that she would throw me out of the house.

3) Discarding : indeed, she did throw me out of the house when I was about thirteen and a half. I was forced to go and live my father and his new wife. I almost immediately intuited I was not wanted there either.

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

 

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‘Humor’: How Parents May Use It To Emotionally Wound Their Children

'Humor': How Parents May Use It To Emotionally Wound Their Children

How can parents’ use of ‘humor’ potentially hurt their children?

I remember when I was very young, perhaps 3 or 4 years of age, my father would ‘play fight’ with me. For instance, he would ‘scissor’ me between his legs, exerting enough pressure for it to be painful, or, his speciality, hold me down and tickle me relentlessly to the point, in fact, when I would tearfully BEG him to stop. Laughing and crying at the same time was a peculiar sensation.

Most bizarrely, too, and, retrospectively, disturbingly, he once told me (again I’d have been about 4 years old), that if I misbehaved he would take down my shorts and underwear and lift me up over the garden fence so the neighbours could see my naked lower body and laugh at me. Disconcertingly odd behaviour on his behalf, surely?

The ‘tickling’ (‘tickling’ can actually be used as a form of torture, by the way, so don’t underestimate its potential effects – just because the victim’s laughing doesn’t mean s/he’s enjoying it!) was carried out by my father under the guise of ‘playing around’ as, to a much lesser degree (I took the threat seriously), perhaps was the threat to humiliate me in front of the neighbours.

Looking back now, it is clear to me both acts were, in fact, acts of mild sadism, even though my father may have claimed (I never brought the subject up whilst he was alive, which I regret) he was just ‘kidding around’.

'Humor': How Parents May Use It To Emotionally Wound Their Children

Parents Who Use Destructive ‘Humour’:

Indeed, many parents emotionally wound their children under the guise of ‘kidding around’ or ‘just trying to be humorous.’

Destructive, hurtful or harmful humor is usually an expression of underlying negative feelings such as hatred, anger, hostility, resentment or, as in the case of the personal examples that I’ve provided above, sadism. 

Often, too, these underlying negative feelings have not been caused by the victim of the destructive humor, but by others who the user of the destructive humor is not in a position to inact revenge upon – instead, s/he displaces the underlying negative feelings onto an innocent victim.

There are several categories of harmful and destructive humor which include the following:

– ridicule/sarcasm

– put-downs/derision/belittling

– ‘humor’ that demeans and devalues an individual

– sarcasm

– sexist/racist/otherwise offensively discriminatory ‘jokes’

– practical jokes

– tickling

It should be borne in mind, also, that if we complain about being the object of cruel and hurtful humor, we may find ourselves accused of ‘not being able to take a joke’, or of ‘being oversensitive’ , that it was ‘just teasing’ or, especially irritatingly, being told that we need to ‘lighten up.’

There are, however, various methods that can be used to discourage others from using destructive humor. These include:

– don’t ‘play along’ by joining in the laughter just because you feel pressured to do so

– bluntly state you do not find the ‘joke’ funny or that it’s not your kind of humor (people who laugh at everything, paradoxically, often have little sense of humor and certainly lack discernment)

– start defining limits and boundaries if someone continually oversteps the mark by making so-called ‘funny’ comments are hurtful

– ask the individual to explain precisely why s/he considers what s/he said to be amusing

– respond with bored indifference, perhaps even feigning agreement.

 

With all these strategies, it is usually best to stay calm and not to display anger, if at all possible.

Resources:

'Humor': How Parents May Use It To Emotionally Wound Their Children

Above eBook now available from Amazon for instant download. Click here.

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

 

 

 

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