Category Archives: Emotional Abuse Articles

Effects of emotional abuse on children

Questionable Reasons For Having A Baby

reasons for having a baby

Questionable reasons mothers and / or fathers may have for having a baby :

– by accident

– for financial gain (in the form of benefits) or to avoid having to work

– to gain access to social / council housing

– to trap the father into a long-term relationship / marriage or to use as a ‘weapon’ or ‘pawn.’

– as a desperate bid to ‘save’ a relationship / marriage (for example, in my own case my mother was persuaded by her psychiatrist to have me to increase her chances of keeping her marriage with my father together)

– primarily for what they can ‘get out of the baby’ e.g. unconditional love and attention to compensate for what they did not receive in their own childhoods

– to have someone who will care for them in later life

to have someone to take care of their emotional needs

– to have someone who will provide them with an identity e.g. to ‘prove ‘ manhood and ‘virility’ in the case of the father

to have someone through whom they can live their lives vicariously in order to compensate for their own lack of success, achievement and fulfillment (e.g. by trying to turn their child into a sports star, movie star or otherwise famous person).

– to have someone who will make them feel powerful and respected.

having a baby

When The Child Does Not Fulfill The Parents’ Expectations :

When the child inevitably ‘fails’ to live up to the parents’ unrealistic expectations, and their fantasies of an idealized family do not materialize, there is a danger that they will start to resent their child and view him/her as an unwanted household guest, annoyance and  a source irritation, as well as a strain upon both financial and temporal resources. Some parents may even hate and despise their child and do their best to avoid interacting with him/her by spending long hours in the office, gardening, socializing, on hobbies which do not include the child etc.

The Unwanted Child Will Sense He Is Not Wanted, Even If The Parental Rejection Is Not Direct Or Overt :

A child will almost certainly sense whether or not s/he is truly loved and wanted by his/her parents. If the parents perpetually do not want the child  around, or to interact with him/her in any meaningful way, s/he (i.e. the child) is highly likely will to pick up on this devastating, often tacitly and unconsciously conveyed, information ; even being occasionally told by such parents that s/he is loved is likely to ring hollow and lead to feelings of confusion and distrust.

RESOURCE :

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

Often Aggressive? Is Your Sensorimotor System Primed To Deal With Threat?

sensorimotor system

Are You Easily Provoked Into Angry And Aggressive Behavior?

After my mother threw me out of her house when I was thirteen years old and I was reluctantly taken in by my father and step-mother (which I have written about elsewhere in this site, so I won’t repeat the details), I was quickly labelled by my unwilling new custodians as ‘morose’ and ‘hostile ‘ (amongst other less than complimentary descriptors); whilst perhaps less than helpful, I am forced to confess that these two adjectives had not been applied to me wholly inaccurately.

Whilst I see now that my ‘moroseness’ and ‘hostility’ were directly symptomatic of my experiences during my early life (I have also written about this elsewhere), this basic inference was emphatically not drawn by my father and new wife. To them I was just a ‘bad’ child, possibly even ‘evil’ (my step-mother was intensely, pathologically religious and, soon after I moved in I recall, as vividly as if it were happening now, her shouting at me in some utterly indecipherable way and in no language I had ever heard before ; she was, in fact, speaking in what she believed, or pretended to believe and wanted me to believe, were ‘tongues’).

But back to my hostility, or, more accurately, to a consideration of individuals in general who are more than averagely  prone to hostile / aggressive / angry behavior.

If we, in our early lives, were habitually threatened and made to feel unsafe  by our parents / primary caregivers then, over time, our sensorimotor system may have become ‘primed for threat’ (this is the case because it would have been evolutionary adaptive for our distant ancestors).  In other words, it may have become highly sensitive and driven into overdrive in response to the smallest, perceived provocation.

This, in turn, means that as adults, when we perceive a threat that in any way reminds us (usually on an unconscious level) of our frightening childhood experiences (even though we are, objectively speaking, in no danger in the present)  our sensorimotor system is liable to become automatically activated (e.g. discharge of the sympathetic nervous system, increased adrenalin production, increased heart-rate, tensed muscles etc, all of which, in turn, stimulate emotional arousal) in such a way that we become, whether we like it or not, disproportionately and inappropriately aggressive.

Such behavior is automatic and beyond conscious control because when such reminders of past dangers occur (often called ‘flashbacks’), cognitive processing is inhibited (i.e. our rational thinking processes essentially ‘shut down’) and we become devoid of the reasoning capacity necessary to realize that we are, at the present time, in fact, safe.

Instead of realizing we are safe, we automatically become hyperaroused and experience strong impulses to lash out verbally or even physically). This can be regarded, as far as our unconscious motivation is concerned) asdefensive aggression‘ ; we are overtaken by a desperate need to ensure we are not hurt again in the way we were hurt as children (I stress again that  we often will not be consciously aware that this is the driving force behind our overly aggressive and hostile reactions).

For survivors of childhood trauma, such automatic responses can cause myriad problems including frequent, destructive, impulsive behavior. This can lead to individual to feel profoundly ashamed and to see him/herself as seriously, psychologically flawed, unstable and often incapable of rational reflection, unaware of the underlying problem : how his/her sensorimotor system has been, due to early-life trauma, conditioned (now maladaptively) to operate.

 

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

‘Avoidant’ Parenting And Its Possible Effects

avoidant attachment

We have seen from other posts that I have published on this site that we develop different kinds of attachment styles as we grow up which depend upon how stable and secure our early life relationship with our primary caretaker (usually the mother) was. In simplified terms, if this early life relationship WAS secure and stable we are likely to develop a SECURE ATTACHMENT STYLE as we get older and pass through adolescence to adulthood; however, if it WAS NOT, we are likely to develop an INSECURE ATTACHMENT STYLE which persists throughout our lives (in the absence of effective therapeutic intervention).

There exist three main types of insecure attachment style which are :

You can read more about insecure attachment and how to overcome it here ; however, in this article I want to concentrate on adult individuals who have developed an ‘avoidant attachment style’ and how this is likely to affect their interaction with their own offspring.

Those with an ‘avoidant attachment style’ tend not to regard emotional closeness within their relationships as being of an special kind of importance. They may well eschew close friendships and intimate relationships, and, in general, prefer not to be emotionally dependent on others.

Furthermore, they tend to be cut off from their emotions and mistrustful of others.

insecure attachment

How Might An ‘Avoidant Attachment Style’ Affect The Individual’s Interactions With Their Child?

Despite the above considerations, some people who have an ‘avoidant attachment style’ do get married and have children. But how do they treat these children?

In general terms, they may keep their children ‘at arm’s length’, emotionally speaking. Indeed, I remember my own relationship with my father during adolescence and beyond – it was rather as if we were two magnets with similar poles : whenever I tried to get emotionally close to him he backed away and distanced himself, seemingly repelled by forces beyond his control.

Parents with an ‘avoidant attachment style’ may utilize various strategies (consciously or unconsciously) to keep a ‘safe emotional distance’ between themselves and their offspring. For example, they may constantly criticize their child over insignificant, trivial and trifling matters.

I recall such a perpetual torrent of such criticisms emanating from my father : I would, for example, be corrected, with tiresome regularity, for my ‘bad table manners’  (eating too fast, talking with mouth fall, failure to hold fork correctly, failure to hold knife correctly, failure to keep elbows off table, making too much noise swallowing…) ad infinitum. These criticisms represented my father’s only verbal interaction with me at the meal table; he was either criticizing me or there was a tense silence between us. Sometimes the stress of these mealtimes would induce in me the symptoms of mild hyperventilation which would, in turn, provoke the all but inevitable criticism from my father that I was ‘making rather a lot of unnecessary noise with my heavy and laboured breathing.’ (delivered in a witheringly condescending, and mildly disgusted, tone). Of course, there are myriad other petty, critical observations the creative, ‘avoidant’ parent can manufacture.

The ‘avoidant’ parent, too, will tend to express little or no affection towards the child, either physically or verbally. And, any such expressions that they do attempt are likely to come across as stilted, artificial and hollow.

Attachment Disorders Get Passed Down The Generations :

Just as ‘avoidant’ parents have developed their maladaptive attachment style as a result of their early life insecure attachments to their own parents, the children of ‘avoidant’ parents are at risk of themselves developing a maladaptive attachment style which, further down the line, will inevitably adversely affect their own children and so on and on…In this way, insecure / maladaptive attachment styles may be passed down through several generations unless this relentless cycle is broken by effective therapeutic intervention.

RESOURCE :

Overcome Insecurity in Relationships | Self Hypnosis Downloads

 

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

 

Dismissive Parents : Effects Of Being Largely Ignored As A Child

dismissive parents

My Experience :

As I have written elsewhere, after my mother threw me out of her house when I was thirteen, my father and his new wife reluctantly permitted me to live with them ; they did not particularly endeavour to conceal this reluctance even from the very first day of my arrival. : ‘When she [my father’s new wife] married me, she didn’t realize you’d be part of the deal’, my father coldly informed me. In other words, my moving in was most unwelcome and I should count myself inordinately fortunate that they were, under sufferance, prepared to tolerate my (implicitly, from their perspective, in some way malignant) presence. I remember my face burning red with shame when my father imparted this invidious piece of information.

Their method of toleration was, essentially, to ignore me for the following several years, the detrimental effect of which was intensified by the sharply contrasting behavior my step-mother elaborately and ostentatiously displayed towards her own (biological) son (i.e. intensely warm, loving, doting and affectionate, almost to the point of idolatry – the diametric opposite, in fact, of her behavior towards me).

dismissive parents

What Are ‘Dismissive’ Parents?

Dismissive parents are prone to discounting their child’s views, beliefs, opinions, thoughts, needs and feelings as of little or no importance or interest ; indeed, some dismissive parents may respond with contempt, disdain or derision in relation to their child’s expression of such views, beliefs, opinions, thoughts, needs and feelings.

Possible Effects Of Dismissive Parents On Their Children :

As a result, children of such parents tend to feel ignored, unseen and invisible, almost as if they were not physically present at all, but, rather, mere apparitions, banished by some as yet undiscovered law of physics perpetually to inhabit some abstruse spatial dimension.

Such children are constantly receiving tacit and subliminal (or, sometimes, far less subtle) messages from their parents that they are essentially unimportant and valueless.

The long-term, corrosive, ‘drip-drip‘ effect on the child is insidious and the cumulative repercussions upon the child’s emotional development can be quite devastating in terms of their damaging effects on his/her self-esteem, self-belief and confidence (especially social confidence).

‘Acting Out’ In Response To Being Constantly Treated Dismissively :

Children may also externalize their frustrations by acting out‘ ; such ‘acting out’ may well entail behavior that is likely to provoke a negative response from the parent – this can occur because the child is driven to behave in such ways by unconscious forces predicated on the principle that negative attention is preferable to no attention whatsoever ; after all, at least negative attention is cofirmation of the child’s existence.

Driven To ‘Over-Achieve’ :

Another possible response to  being made to feel of little or no value by one’s parents is desperately to try to (over)compensate by achieving great ‘success’ (in terms of money, status, power etc). The problem with this, however, is that such a person’s self-esteem is overly reliant upon external validation (which, of course, is never quite enough) so that, when such external validation ceases to be forthcoming, the individual has no internal resources upon which to fall back.

Other Possible Effects :

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

What Are The Effects Of Trauma On Young Children (0-6 Years)?

 

The possible effects of childhood trauma on children under the age of six years are extensive and can be divided into three main categories. These three categories are as follows :
  • BEHAVIORAL EFFECTS
  • COGNITIVE EFFECTS (i.e. effects on thinking and conscious mental processes)
  • PHYSIOLOGICAL EFFECTS (i.e. effects on physical health and biological processes)

Below, I list the possible effects of being exposed to prolonged and significant trauma on young children :

A) FROM 0 YEARS OLD TO TWO YEARS OLD 

B) FROM THREE YEARS OLD TO SIX YEARS OLD 

 

A) POSSIBLE EFFECTS ON CHILDREN AGED 0 TO 2 YEARS :

 

BEHAVIORAL :

Aggression

Regressive behavior

Extreme temper tantrums

Fear of adults connected to the traumatic experiences

Fear of separation from the parent / primary caregiver (see my article about separation anxiety)

Irritability

Anxiety

Sadness

Withdrawn behavior

Highly sensitive ‘startle response’

Prone to excessive screaming and crying

COGNITIVE :

Memory impairment

Impairment of verbal skills

PHYSIOLOGICAL :

Sleep problems

Nightmares

Reduced appetite

Low weight

Problems with digestive system

B) POSSIBLE EFFECTS ON CHILDREN AGED 3 TO 6 YEARS :

What Are The Effects Of Trauma On Young Children?

BEHAVIORAL :

Aggression

Regressive behavior

Extreme temper tantrums

Fear of adults connected to the traumatic experiences

Fear of separation from the parent / primary caregiver (see my article about separation anxiety)

Irritability

Anxiety

Sadness

Withdrawn behavior

Highly sensitive ‘startle response’

Low self-confidence

Anxiety / Fearfulness

Avoidant behavior

Difficulty placing trust in others

Difficulties making friends

Self-blame in relation to traumatic experiences (e.g. blaming self for parental separation or believing physical abuse ‘deserved’ for being a bad person‘)

Acting out

Imitating the abusive behavior suffered (e.g. by bullying school peers)

Reenacting traumatic event

Verbal aggression

COGNITIVE :

Memory impairment

Impairment of verbal skills

Problems with concentration and associated problems with learning

PHYSIOLOGICAL :

Sleep problems

Nightmares

Psychosomatic complaints such as headaches and stomach aches

Regressive behavior  (i.e. behaving in ways associated with an earlier period of development such as stress-related bed-wetting)

 

Read my associated article :

Signs An Adult Was Abused As A Child – click here.

 

eBooks :

emotional abuse book   childhood trauma damages brain ebook   effects of childhood trauma   

Above eBooks now available on Amazon for immediate download. Click here for further details and to view other available titles.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vast Majority Of Parental Maltreatment Of Children Unacknowledged

majority of child maltreatment unreported and unacknowledged

Parental Maltreatment Of Children

Except in very extreme cases, such as severe physical abuse, the vast majority of parental mistreatment of children not only goes unreported, but is unacknowledged and, essentially, ignored (although this situation is gradually improving as people become more educated about the potentially devastating effects of bad parenting).

Emotional Abuse :

In particular, emotional abuse can be very subtle yet profoundly insidious and damaging (more so, even, than physical or sexual abuse) and very frequently goes ‘under the radar’. However, the UK government have recently started to take steps to rectify this travesty (in connection with this, you may wish to read my previously published article entitled : EMOTIONAL ABUSE AND THE LAW),

Examples Of Unacknowledged/Ignored Parental Maltreatment Of Children :

The above list, of course, is not exhaustive.

eBook :

 effects of childhood trauma ebook

Above eBook, The Devastating Effects Of Childhood Trauma, is now available for instant download from Amazon. Click here, or on the above image, for further details.

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

Being Constantly Humiliated By Parents May Damage Brain’s Corpus Callosum

damage to corpus callosum

What Is The Corpus Callosum?

The brain is divided into two halves called the RIGHT HEMISPHERE and the LEFT HEMISPHERE. These two halves are connected by a structure called the CORPUS CALLOSUM. (It is located above the thalamus, underneath the cortex, see image below)
corpus callosum
Above : The location of the corpus callosum (marked in orange). Of all the brain’s white matter structures, it is the largest.

What Is The Function Of The Corpus Callosum?

The function of the corpus callosum is to allow communication to take place between the left hemisphere and the right hemisphere ; it facilitates this communication by transmitting neural messages between these two parts of the brain.

What Does The Corpus Callosum Communicate Between The Brain’s Right And Left Hemisphere?

The corpus callosum is responsible for the communication between the two hemispheres of emotion, arousal, sensory information, information relating to motor functions and higher cognitive abilities (including working memory, imagery and consciously controlled – or willed’ – action, amongst others).

The Effect Of Parental Maltreatment On The Corpus Callosum :

A study conducted by McCrory et al., 2001, found that children who were significantly maltreated by their parent (or parents) over a protracted period of time had corpus collosa that were, on average, significantly  smaller than those found in children who had been fortunate enough to have experienced relatively stable and happy childhoods.

 In more specific terms, their (i.e. the maltreated children’s corpus callosa had less thickness of the white fibre area.

Children Who Are Constantly Humiliated By Their Parents May Be At Particular Risk Of Incurring Impaired Development Of Their Corpus Callosa :

Subtle, emotional abuse by parents, due, not least, to its particularly insidious nature,  can be just as damaging, or even more damaging, than more blatant forms of abuse.

Indeed, studies suggest that children of parents who frequently mock and humiliate them are especially likely to sustain damage to the development of their corpus callosa. (To read my previously published article : Humor : How Parents May Use It To Emotionally Wound Their Children, click here.)

The effect of this is to impair communication between the brain’s left and right hemispheres and it is theorized that this may explain why such  children are frequently found to lack confidence in their linguistic skills and/or  to develop difficulties controlling their emotions.

eBook :

emotional abuse book   childhood trauma damages brain ebook

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

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

Divorce : Signs Children Are Being Used As Pawns Or Weapons

Signs child used as pawns or weapon

Introduction :

I have already published on this site articles which examine the potentially very psychologically damaging effects that divorce, particularly a  divorce that is acrimonious, can inflict upon the child. My own parents divorced when I was eight years old, so I do have some personal experience in relation to this subject.

When parents who separate feel extremely bitter, hostile, or, even, vengeful towards one another, it is a sad fact that some use their own children as pawns, or weapons, in an attempt to hurt and punish one another (or, of course, just one parent may act in this way). When this occurs, the distress the child feels as a result of his/her parents’ divorce is likely to be compounded and potentially induce in him/her a state of profound mental conflict and confusion as a result of split loyalties that are impossible to resolve.

It is important to ask, then, what are the signs that a child is being used as a pawn / weapon in such a manner? I list some of these below:

Signs The Child Is Being Used As A Pawn / Weapon :

  • preventing the child from seeing / speaking to / contacting the other parent
  • deceiving the child into believing that the other parent is to blame for the collapse of the marriage
  • exploiting the child by making him / her a ‘go-between’ / messenger to relay messages, particularly hostile, critical and disparaging messages, to the other parent
  • pressurising the child into taking sides
  • asking the child whom (i.e. which parent) they love more
  • questioning the child about the other parent’s behavior / using the child as a kind of ‘spy’ to gain ‘ incriminating’ information about the other parent
  • cancelling visitation at short notice to punish the other parent
  • causing, on purpose, the child to be late for visitation to punish the other parent
  • undermining the other parent’s reasonable rules, decisions and discipline merely to antagonize and frustrate the  him/her (i.e. the other parent)
  • openly displaying aggression and hostility towards the other parent in front of the child

children used as pawns in divorce

Using The Child As An Emotional Crutch :

When my parents got divorced, my mother started to use me as a sort of personal counsellor ; she even, shamelessly, referred to me as her ‘own Little Psychiatrist’ ; it was always her life we discussed, never, or extremely rarely and briefly, mine. For this reason, and many others which I have written about elsewhere on this site, I feel I was largely robbed of my childhood ; this has had terrible repercussions on my adult life (which I have also written about elsewhere on this site).

Indeed, it is not uncommon for parents, in the wake of a stressful divorce, to treat their child as a confidante, a friend, a spouse or even a parent (click here to read my article about the phenomenon of parentification and its potentially extremely psychologically damaging effects) and use him/her for emotional support that s/he is not developmentally mature enough to cope with and at a time when s/he (the child) is him/herself in particular need of emotional support. This is particularly the case if such confiding in the child involves spitefully ‘turning the child against’ the other parent.

eBook :

emotional abuse book

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

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

Why A ‘Love-Hate’ Relationship Develops Between The Abusive Parent And The Child

why a love-hate relationship develops between the parent and the abused child

If we were significantly maltreated by our parent/s when we were children we may well, as a psychological defense against the intolerable dilemma this put us in, have unconsciously developed a ‘love-hate’ relationship with them.

In such cases, feelings of love and hate for the parent are compartmentalized / separated because the state of mind required to both love and hate the parent simultaneously is an impossible, contradictory and paradoxical concept that the child does not have the emotional resources to materialize.

Therefore, in order to allow an emotional attachment with the parent develop that will allow his/her (i.e. the child’s) psychological survival, the child has no choice but to hold the feelings of love and hate for the parent in ‘separate mental compartments’). This leads the child to perceiving his parents in terms of black and white’ rather than in ‘shades of grey’. Indeed, this was a psychological defense I unconsciously developed as a result of my own childhood experiences, vacillating between idealizing my parents and demonizing them. It is only now that I understand more completely why this occurred that I am able, I hope, to hold a rather more balanced view (although, admittedly, I still don’t always succeed in this ; however, the psychological warfare, borne of profound, emotional conflict, that rages on is, these days, restricted to the confines of my still grievously injured, but recovering, mind).

love-hate relationship between parent and child

Anger Turned Inwards :

Often, the anger and hatred that the child feels towards the parent may, as another psychological defense, be turned INWARDS, leading to the child experiencing self-hatred and self-loathing ; this defense mechanism occurs when the child perceives (on a conscious or unconscious level) that feelings and expressions of anger and hatred towards the parent would lead to the him/her (i.e. the child) being put in danger (e.g. liable to incur severe psychological and/or physical damage). And, as Freud pointed out, anger turned inwards may lead to serious depression (as well as numerous other undesirable psychological conditions).

Goal Of Therapy :

According to this theory, in order to help the individual overcome his/her love-hate conflict, it is necessary for the therapist to help him/her to integrate the two ‘separate compartments’ of his/her mind (i.e. the ‘compartment’ that holds feelings of love for the parent needs to be integrated with the ‘compartment’ that holds feelings of hatred for, and resentment of, the parent) so that s/he may start to see his/her parent, more realistically, in ‘shades of grey’ rather than in terms of either ‘black’ or ‘white'(See above). Individuals, too, are likely to require help with understanding how and why their negative feelings towards the parent have arisen and why such feelings may have been hitherto largely repressed / dissociated.

This is usually a long process and often does not occur until near the end of the course of therapy.

eBook :

 emotional abuse book

Above eBook now available on Amazon. Click here for details. (Other titles available).

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

 

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).