Category Archives: Emotional Abuse And Neglect

It is now understood that significant emotional abuse and neglect can be at least as damaging to childhood, psychological development as physical and sexual abuse. These concise articles examine the various forms that such emotional abuse (including very subtle forms) and neglect can take, as well as the potentially devastating consequences for the individual affected.

Covert Incest : When The Child Becomes The Parent’s Surrogate Partner

I have written elsewhere about how, after my parents’ divorce, my mother increasingly used me as her emotional caretaker, even referring to me, quite brazenly, as her ‘Little Psychiatrist’ (a role foisted upon me that I see now, with hindsight,  I was all too willing to fulfil to the point of preoccupation and even obsession) until I was thirteen and our relationship broke down in such a way that I was forced to go and live with my father and his newly acquired wife.

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Emotional Neglect And Lack Of Love In Childhood May Switch Off Crucial Genes

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Emotional Neglect And Epigenetics.

Studies suggest that emotional neglect and a lack of warm, affectionate, loving nurture in childhood can, in effect, switch off crucial genes that help us to regulate stress.

This is thought to be due to a phenomenon known as epigenetic modification.

What Is Meant By The Term ‘EPIGENETICS?’

Epigenetic modification refers to the mechanism whereby the way in which genes express themselves can be altered by

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Privileged Abandonment? Emotional Effects Of Boarding School On The Child

privileged abandonment

‘Privileged Abandonment’ :

Whilst attending a boarding school is frequently regarded as a privilege by many in society, research by Duffell highlights the fact that the child’s experience of undergoing such schooling can all too often also involve inducing in him/her profound feelings of abandonment and neglect.

Indeed, Duffell, who has worked with many ex- boarding school pupils who have been adversely psychologically affected by their experience,

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Vast Majority Of Parental Maltreatment Of Children Unacknowledged

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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

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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?

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Divorce : Signs Children Are Being Used As Pawns Or Weapons

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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

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

Psychological abuse by parents

Silvano Arieti, in his classic book Interpretations Of Schizophrenia, emphasized the view that it is childhood adverse experiences, such as psychological and emotional abuse by the parents that cause anxiety which hurts the ‘inner self’ are the ones which are most likely to lead to severe mental illness in the individual

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Early Childhood Trauma : Early Life Neglect Damages Brain

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 callosumAbove : 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 :

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Emotionally Unresponsive Parents

emotionally unresponsive parents

My parents divorced when I was eight and I spent much time between then and the age of thirteen acting as my mother’s ‘psychological counselor.’ As I have written about elsewhere, she even referred to me as her ‘Little Psychiatrist.’

As I have also written about elsewhere, she permanently expelled me from her house when I was thirteen, and I went to live with my father and stepmother, neither of whom wanted me there and did little to hide these sentiments. My

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What Factors Increase Child’s Risk Of Emotional Maltreatment?

emotional maltreatment

According to the National Incidence Study Of Abuse And Neglect (NIS 4, 2010) children are more likely to be emotionally maltreated if (all else being equal):

  1. they live in a household in which there is parental unemployment
  2. they live in a household of low socio-economic status
  3. they live in a household in which there has occurred a family-structural breakdown
  4. they live in a family in which there are many other children
  5. they live in a rural county

Let’s look at each of these in a little more detail :

1) They live in a household in which there is parental unemployment : children who live in a household in which neither parent is employed are at double the risk of being emotionally abused and are 3.5 times more likely to suffer emotional neglect than children

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Emotionally Unstable Parents

The intense and constantly 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 constant trepidation, anxiety or fear, never knowing

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Emotional Instability Disorder : The Role Of Parents

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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

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‘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

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Were You The Emotional Caretaker Of A Parent As A Child?

I have written elsewhere that, not long after my parents divorced when I was eight, I, in effect, became my highly unstable mother’s emotional caretaker – a kind of pint-sized, fledgling, incipient counsellor, if you will. Indeed, even before I had reached my teens, my mother would, not infrequently, refer to me as her ‘Little Psychiatrist’ (apologies to those readers who have read that in other articles on this site – I mention it again for the

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Childhood Emotional Neglect And Avoidant Personality Disorder (AvPD)

The Link Between Childhood Emotional Neglect And Avoidant Personality Disorder :

It is thought that about 2-3% of individuals within the U.S. suffer from avoidant personality disorder (AvPD).This disorder can often be linked to childhood emotional neglect.

Those who suffer from the disorder tend to be preoccupied with the faults and failings they perceive in themselves and to exaggerate, in their own minds, these faults and failings (if, indeed, they objectively exist rather than being the imaginings of a self-lacerating personality). To

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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

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