Tag Archives: Emotional Abuse

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 

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

 

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Copyright 2017 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

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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Copyright 2017 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

When Parents Threaten Their Child With Violence

I have written elsewhere about how my mother was prone to unpredictable, unprovoked outbursts of extreme hostility when I was very young but it is only now I feel I want to be a little more specific – something has prevented me from going into detail up until now, although that ‘something’ is very hard to define, despite the fact I have (I hope!) gained a fair amount of insight into my past and its effects upon me.

When she was angry my mother’s verbal rage knew no limits ; her frequently repeated threats or hurtful statements included :

  • ‘I feel evil towards you! Evil!’ (The second ‘evil’ delivered in a particularly melodramatic, emphatic and malevolent tone)
  • ‘I feel I could knife you!’
  • ‘I feel murderous towards you!’  (or, if I was ‘lucky’, she’d be slightly more restrained and scream at me the rather more banal phrase, ‘I wish to Christ I’d never bloody had you!’ (though delivered in a tone of devastating conviction and palpable authenticity; one could almost feel the hot waves of hatred emanating from her).

(There may well be still worse examples which I have either repressed or which occurred when I was too young for them to form long-term memories – I simply can’t know; but this, of course, is true of everyone).

At the time, being on the receiving end of these, how shall I put it, rather less than maternally loving statements, I think I felt very little; just numb, in fact, as if everything had gone hazy and foggy. It seems I must have mentally shut down as a form of self-preservation; this is a psychological defense mechanism I now know to be called ‘dissociation‘).

For years, even decades, I kept these memories at the very back of my mind, so to speak, but, of course, that will have only worsened their psychological effect.

It is only now, decades later (I was about twelve-years-old when my mother’s verbal aggression was at its most vehement, just as I was entering puberty) that I feel ready to attempt to mentally process such experiences. However, painful this may be, avoiding doing so is likely to be even more so.

Very few of the articles I publish on this site are so personal and I apologize for, once again, indulging myself. However, my next post will be more objective and its topic directly related this one : ‘The Effects Of Parental Threats Of Violence Upon The Child.’

 

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

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Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

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.

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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:

Hypnosis download to boost sasseriveness Ten Steps To Absolute Assertiveness.

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

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Copyright 2016 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Emotionally Immature Parents : Effects On Their Children.

The Emotionally Immature Parent:

Emotionally immature parents fail to connect with their children on an emotional level.

This can leave their children feeling emotionally insecure, existentially lonely, empty and hollow.

The emotions these children feel remain invalidated by the emotionally immature parent; indeed, the parent is frequently so self-obsessed that s/he fails to notice the child’s feelings and emotional needs.

However, as the child generally has no point of comparison, s/he may remain oblivious to the fact that s/he is being emotionally neglected.

As a result, the child might feel that s/he is somehow very different from his/her peers (perhaps s/he is depressed, anxious, severely lacking in confidence  and withdrawn) without understanding why this is. Very sadly, such a child may, wrongly, blame him/herself, believing him/herself to be somehow intrinsically unlikeable.

When such a child becomes an adult, s/he may continue to be severely lacking in confidence, particularly with regard to his/her ability to form relationships. In fact, s/he may develop a powerful fear of relationships, believing that the rejection s/he experienced as a child would be quickly repeated in any incipient adult relationship s/he managed to develop.

Due to this avoidance of relationships, the individual can perpetuate his/her feelings of emotional loneliness indefinitely throughout adulthood.

Some Typical Characteristics Of Emotionally Immature Parents:

– egocentrism

– poor ability to empathise with / understand emotional experiences their children

– may focus on physical needs of child at expense of his/her emotional needs

– shallow, but intense, emotions

– may ‘parentify’ their children ( click here to read my article on this)

– may have a tendency to ‘over-intellectualize’ (click here to read my article on this) / relate to others on an intellectual, rather than emotional, level

– may keep others shut out emotionally, however hard they try to make an emotional connction

– may induce anger and rage in their child, due to the frustration and hurt the child feels in response to ‘being kept at arm’s length’ (The child may internalize such anger (is re-direct it at him/herself giving rise to depression, anxiety and irrational self-blame)

– may create what has been termed by psychologists ‘emotional contagen.’ ( ie when the parent is upset s/he upsets everyone else to the point where they feel personally responsible for making him/ her feel better – this may take the form, for example, of protracted sulking)

– may be very adept at turning the blame on others. For example, if the child criticised him/ her it is the child who s/he defensively accuses as being the real ‘wrong-doer’ (eg s/he may accuse the child of being ‘judgmental’ and ‘unforgiving’).

– the emotionally immature parent may be so self-absorbed and focussed on his/her own needs at the expense of the child’s that the child fails to form a strong sense of his/her own identity. To use an expression coined by the psychologist Bowen (1976) the child may become psychologically ‘de-selfed’.

 

Types Of Emotionally Immature Parents:

According to Gibson, PhD, an expert in this field, there are four main types of emotionally immature parents. I provide a very brief description of each of these below:

A) Emotionally Volatile:

Such a parent can exhibit dramatic mood swings and may vascillate, unpredictably, between being too involved with the child’s life and being too remote and withdrawn from him/her. Such a parent may also be prone to extreme over-reactions eg becoming excessively, and utterly disproportionately, angry when a child makes a small, innocent mistakemistake.

B) Driven:

For example, such a parent may be a workaholic, obsessed with pursuing his own goals, controlling and a ‘perfectionist’ (click here to read my article on this)

C) Passive:

This type of parent, according to Gibson, minimises (thus largely invalidating) the child’s emotional problems. If the child is being abused by the other parent, this type of parent might even turn a blind eye to this, preferring not to ‘rock the boat.’ Indeed, such a parent generally takes the ‘line of least resistance’

D) Rejecting:

This type of parent may come to view his/her children as a burden, getting in the way of him/her pursuing his/her own life goals. In this way, the child is both resented and essentially rejected.

Therapy:

Individuals who have been adversely affected by having been brought up by an emotionally immature parent and have developed problems such as anxiety, depression, lack of identity and poor confidence can be helped by various types of psychotherapy; in particular, numerous studies have been conducted showing the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT). Click here to read my article on this.

Recommended Resource: FIND YOUR IDENTITY – click here for details.

 

eBook:

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

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

 

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Copyright 2015 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Emotional Cruelty – A New Law To Help Reduce It

emotional_cruelty

The UK government is considering up-dating law whereby more individuals could be charged and convicted of EMOTIONAL CRUELTY against children. Types of behaviour that may constitute emotional cruelty include belittling, isolating, rejecting, humiliating, ignoring and corrupting (eg into criminal and/or anti-social behaviour).

Furthermore, any adult behaviour which impaired the child’s intellectual, emotional or behavioural development could also be included.

A problem, however, will be deciding when exactly an adult behaviour such as those referred to above is significant and damaging enough to be defined as a criminal act – inevitably, a degree of subjectivity would invariably be involved, unless a case is obviously clear-cut.

Research suggests that emotional abuse is at least as damaging as other forms of abuse; however, the picture can become blurred as, often, emotional abuse will occur alongside other types of abuse.

 

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EFFECTS OF EMOTIONAL CRUELTY :

Possible effects of emotional cruelty on the child include :

– effects on mental development

– effects on emotional development

– effects on behaviour

Let’s look at each of these in turn :

1) Mental development

– language development may be impaired

– there may be a link between emotional abuse and the development of ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACIVITY DISORDER (ADHD). However, further research is required in order to address this question further

2) Emotional development

The child may :

– develop clinical depression

– become extremely angry/aggressive (this may be directed at the parents/primary care-givers and/or displaced onto others who are not the primary cause of the anger)

– have suicidal thoughts

– have great difficulty controlling his/her emotions or develop an inability to feel and express a large range of emotions

– increasingly lack confidence (eg due to being constantly belittled and made to feel worthless by parents/primary carer)

– find it difficult in adulthood to form and maintain relationships (eg due to not having received affection and love him/herself during childhood)

– have a lower satisfaction with life in general in adulthood

– lack social skills and have few friends

3) Behaviour:

The child may :

– not care very much about how s/he acts or what happens to him/her (psychologists refer to this as : NEGATIVE IMPULSE CONTROL). Consequently, this may lead to risk-taking behaviours such as running away, stealing or bullying others

– develop an eating disorder

– self-harm

– develop obsessions/compulsions

– develop severe anxiety

– become very ‘clingy’ due to insecurity of home life

– drink excessively/use narcotics

– act in ways that are either consciously or sub-consciously designed to make other people dislike him/her – psychologists refer to this as SELF-ISOLATING BEHAVIOUR.

 

RESOURCES :

HELP WITH EMOTIONAL ABUSE (HEALTHYPLACE.COM)

 

EBOOKS :

 

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Above eBooks now available on Amazon for instant download. CLICK HERE

 

 

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

 

 

 

 

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Childhood Trauma – Signs and Effects of Psychological Abuse

childhood_trauma_questionnaire

ESCAPE EMOTIONAL ABUSE AND REBUILD YOUR LIFE MP3 - CLICK BANNER ABOVE

ESCAPE EMOTIONAL ABUSE AND REBUILD YOUR LIFE MP3 – CLICK BANNER ABOVE

The effects of having been psychologically/emotionally abused when we were children can be devastating, and, without therapy, can last a life-time.

Indeed, we may find, as a result of our adverse early life experiences, that we have significant difficulties managing all the important aspects of our lives, including our social life, our work/career, our intimate relationships and our relationship with our wider family (to read my article about how childhood trauma can ruin our adult relationships, click here).

Because emotional abuse has no one, clear-cut, simple definition, in this article I want to look at some examples of psychological/emotional abuse. After I have done that, I will then list some of the main effects of this kind of abuse.

EXAMPLES OF BEHAVIOURS BY PARENTS/PRIMARY CARE-GIVERS TOWARDS THE CHILD THAT CAN QUALIFY AS PSYCHOLOGICAL/EMOTIONAL ABUSE :

– having significant feelings dismissed as of no importance

– frequently being on the receiving end of rage and intense anger

– being made to feel worthless

– being humiliated and derided

– being treated with hostility

– being threatened with physical abuse/assault

– constantly being criticized

– being ignored

– not being treated as an individual with own unique thoughts, opinions and feelings

– being treated sarcastically

– being treated with contempt

– being humiliated

– being devalued and demeaned

– being treated very inconsistently

– being on the receiving end of unpredictable and wildly fluctuating changes in mood

– being on the receiving end of passive-aggressive behaviour

– being treated with indifference

– being manipulated by being made to feel guilty or ashamed

– being scapegoated for the mistakes of others (click here to read my article about BEING MADE A FAMILY SCAPEGOAT).

As I said at the beginning of this article, being treated in ways such as those outlined above can lead to the individual suffering very serious and long-lasting effects if therapeutic interventions (such as cognitive-behavioural therapy, or CBT, as it is abbreviated to) are not sought out.

Indeed, the earlier therapy is sought for an individual damaged by psychological/emotional abuse, the less serious and less long-lasting its effects are likely to be.

Tragically, some people go through their whole lives without seeking therapy or gaining insight into the cause of their psychological problems, making their lives far more painful and difficult than they needed to be.

So let’s now turn to the possible effects of having suffered psychological/emotional abuse as a child:

THE POSSIBLE EFFECTS OF HAVING SUFFERED CHILDHOOD PSYCHOLOGICAL/EMOTIONAL ABUSE :

– diminished capacity to love (because those we loved hurt us, we view love as risky and as something that will make us vulnerable to further emotional pain)

– a pervasive sense of insecurity (as we have learned that even those with a duty to care for us can be utterly undependable)

– frequent feelings of anxiety and fear with no obvious origin

– hypersensitivity/hypervigilance (always looking out for signs that others are a threat to us or might do us harm, often to the point of seeing threat that only exists in our imaginations – this is linked to our difficulties with trusting others)

– we may start to behave in the very ways those who emotionally harmed us did eg. flying into rages, being aggressive etc.

– find forming and maintaining relationships with others highly problematic

– we may become preoccupied with the notion of obtaining ‘justice’ for the wrongs perpetrated against us

– we may develop various addictions to cope with our inner pain (this is a psychological defence mechanism known as DISSOCIATION – click here to read my article on this)

– periods of intense anger followed by periods of apathy and depression

– irrational feelings of guilt and shame (sometimes because we have been scapegoated by our family – see above)

– a view of the world as being hostile, threatening, dangerous and unpredictable

RESOURCES :

 

MP3 – ESCAPE EMOTIONAL ABUSECLICK HERE

EBOOKS :

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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

 

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Dealing With Emotional Abuse : The Emotional Insulation Technique

childhood_trauma_questionnaire

 

Just because we are now adults, it does not necessarily follow that we will be completely free of emotional abuse by our parent, perhaps because s/he suffers from borderline personality disorder (BPD), narcissism or some other disorder of personality.

This is especially true if our relationship with our parent is still operating according to a parent-child dynamic because it has become ‘stuck’ at this stage due to its dysfunctionality.

THE EMOTIONAL INSULATION STRATEGY :

The EMOTIONAL INSULATION STRATEGY involves creating a mental ‘barrier’ to protect ourselves from the potentially devastating effects of our parent’s psychological assaults on us. By putting up this ‘barrier’, it reduces the chances that our parent will be able to manipulate us and hurt us.

Before I describe the technique, it is worth giving a word of warning : it is important to remember that we should not use the technique indiscriminately (i.e. in situations with people other than our parent who are not prone to being psychologically abusive) as this would have the undesirable effect of limiting our ability to empathize with such people.

Below I give some suggestions about how to ‘build’ an emotional ‘barrier’ and thereby achieve emotional insulation. However, the particular strategy that you personally employ should be determined by what you feel works best for you :

STEP ONE – THE USE OF VISUALIZATION :

The first step is to use VISUALIZATION to ‘construct’ a barrier that will serve to protect you from anything threatening from ‘outside’ (e.g. a parent’s verbal abuse). Types of barriers that people mentally construct often include, for example :

– a wall of mirrors which reflect back onto the abuser what is being said

– a thick, concrete wall

– bullet proof glass

– a force field

– a large, steel shield

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list, and you may well have other ideas which you think will work better for you

STEP TWO : PRACTICING VISUALIZING THE BARRIER :

To use this strategy effectively, it is very helpful to invest some time practicing the visualization technique you are going to use prior to when you think you will need it. This is because, simply, the more you practice it the easier and more effective the technique will be for you.

NB You are more likely to be able to use this technique effectively if you incorporate detail into the image you choose to visualize, such as its shape, colour, texture etc.

It is also very helpful to imagine the image of the barrier (and ‘put it in place’) just before the start of your interaction with the difficult parent as it is more difficult to initiate the strategy in the middle of a conversation which is becoming/has already become unpleasant.

RESOURCES :

 

ESCAPE EMOTIONAL ABUSE AND REBUILD YOUR LIFE MP3 – CLICK HERE

UNDERSTANDING EMOTIONAL ABUSE  (FOCUSONTHEFAMILY.COM)

 

EBOOKS :

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David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

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Copyright 2014 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

The Effects of Emotionally Distant Parents on the Child.

childhood-trauma-fact-sheet

Clearly, the child has both physical and emotional needs that the parents have a responsibility to meet. Both are obviously of vital importance. Often, however, a child may be well provided for in a material sense, but utterly deprived of emotional nurturance; this can be regarded as a form of child abuse.

This places the child in a state of psychological conflict, even turmoil.  He may be grateful on the one hand (for having his material needs met), but angry and hurt on the other (due to emotional deprivation).

So what are the effects on the child that result from him not having his emotional needs met, or, as occurred in my own particular case, not having one’s emotional needs met AND being expected to meet the emotional needs of the parent (ie, the child is compelled to act as his parent’s parent) ?

First, let’s look at some of the child’s most important emotional needs :

THE CHILD’S EMOTIONAL NEEDS :

needs to receive love/affection and attention

– needs to have personal feelings and emotions respected

– needs to be free of burdensome adult responsibilities / spontaneously enjoy self / play in care-free manner

– needs to be encouraged and helped to develop a sense of self-worth

– needs behaviour to be guided by compassionate discipline which does not cause physical or emotional damage

– needs to be protected, as far as is reasonably possible and desirable (some knocks in childhood are clearly unavoidable and can provide valuable learning experiences)

This is not a definitive list, but, I think, covers the main areas.

Both verbal and tacit (non-verbal) messages from parents are absorbed by the child, as water into a sponge, both consciously and unconsciously, and have an enormous impact on his self-image and identity.

If, however, the child is essentially emotionally abandoned, family roles become confused and blurred ; indeed, if the child is expected to provide for the emotional needs of the parent, role-reversal can occur. Not only does this place the child under immense psychological strain, it also deprives him of a parental role model. The child is then likely to develop a very shaky and uncertain self-image and low self-esteem as he has learned that his own psychological well-being is of no importance, or, at the very best, comes a poor second to that of the parent.

EFFECTS CARRIED INTO ADULTHOOD.

The adult who has experienced a childhood such as described above is likely to repress, or shut off from, his emotions as he has learned they will be dismissed as unimportant ( due to the fact that they were invalidated by the parent). There can be a sense of emotional numbness, or of being ’emotionally dead’.

Such people are likely to be very poor at expressing, or even identifying, their emotions as they were unable to assimilate an ’emotional language’ as they grew up. The loneliness and emotional deprivation they suffered in youth will frequently lead them to deny their own needs as adults.

If the child was expected to fulfil the parent’s emotional needs in youth,  at the expense of his own, he is also likely to carry a heavy weight of guilt into adulthood, as well as a deep sense of inadequacy. This is because he was given an impossible task which was thus impossible to succeed at : to be his parent’s parent.

Psychological scars inflicted in such ways may be very severe, leading to much anger and pain in adulthood, in which case an appropriate form of therapy should be given serious consideration.

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

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Copyright 2013 Child Abuse, Trauma and Recovery

Why Is Emotional Abuse So Harmful?

child emotional abuse

effects of emotional abuse

Research shows that emotional abuse is just as damaging as physical or sexual abuse (although it is only relatively recently that this has been acknowledged). In this article, I want to look at some of the reasons that its effects can be so devastating.

Emotional abuse not only negatively affects the child at the time it is going on (by lowering his/her self-esteem and causing him/her to live in a constant state of uncertainty and fear, for example), but, if there is no therapeutic intervention, leads to a deeply unhappy adulthood as well.

When a person has grown up in an environment which is emotionally abusive, his/her adult experiences will be viewed through the negative filter which was laid down during his/her childhood. This, in turn, is likely to lead to maladaptive (unhelpful) behaviours in adult life which may well jeopordise his/her career prospects, relationships and physical health, for example.

EFFECTS OF AN UNSTABLE EMOTIONAL ENVIRONMENT

If as a child, you lived in an emotionally unstable environment, as I did with my mother until I was thirteen (when I was made to leave to go and live with my father and step-mother) you may, as I did, have felt that you were robbed of security and value.

As children, we desperately needed consistency and the knowledge that we were unconditionally accepted and valued by those who were supposed to deeply care for us. But, because an emotionally unstable environment is one which is devoid of consistency, children brought up in such a home never learn what to expect (their parent’/carers’ behaviour can wildly fluctuate in unpredictable ways) they are never able to feel the environment is under control – they never know what might happen next or what lies ahead; there is constant uncertainty and fear about how they will be treated. Anything seems possible. There exists in such children a permanent state of nervous anticipation, if not outright terror.

If there seem to be no boundaries on the parents’/carers’ behaviour, fear is the result. There is never a sense of safety. There is never a sense of securiy. The child can never relax. At any moment, unprovoked, can come verbal or physical violence. There develops a never ending sense of dread, there is always the question of how far the abuse might go. There is never a truly safe moment.

I will end this article with a short list and summary of some of the possible main damaging effects of emotional abuse. They are:

– a necessity to be in a state of constant hypervigilence; this will often lead to acute sensitivity and easily triggered hostility (attack, in this case, being a form of defense)

– if, as children, we are constantly told we are in the wrong, this can lead to procrastination, indecision and inaction (we become constantly concerned anything we try will turn to disaster)

– if we are constantly provoked, we may start reacting with outbursts of rage

– being constantly treated in an unfair way can lead us to become obsessed with getting justice

– the constant psychological strain can lead to a state of emotional exhaustion – this can easily result in apathy and depression (including losing motivation and an inability to derive any pleasure from activities or social interactions)

– being perpetually criticized can lead to feelings of insecurity, shame and guilt

 

I hope you have found this post of interest.

Best wishes, David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

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