Tag Archives: Effects Of Emotional Neglect

Psychological Maltreatment Most Harmful Form Of Abuse, Evidence From Major Study Suggests

A major study (Spinazzola et al.) on the effects of child maltreatment provides strong evidence that psychological maltreatment of children is the most harmful form of abuse.

The study analyzed a sample of 5616 young people who had histories of childhood trauma in the form of :

– psychological maltreatment (i.e. emotional abuse / emotional neglect)

– sexual abuse

– physical abuse

Each young person who participated in the study was then assessed on whether or not he / she had experienced particular behavioral problems, symptoms and disorders (12 in all) , a list of which I present below :

– substance abuse

– alcohol abuse

– other forms of self-harm

– skipping school or daycare

– behavior problems in the home

criminal activity

attachment problems

– academic problems

– running away


– behavior problems at school

– sexualized behaviors


The researchers found that those young people who had a history of psychological maltreatment were more damaged  by their adverse experiences (as measured by to what extent they were affected by the above listed behavioral problems, symptoms and disorders) than were those who had suffered physical or sexual abuse.

More specifically, of the above 12 listed behavioral problems, symptoms and disorders, those who had suffered psychological maltreatment were equally likely, or more likely, than those who had suffered physical abuse to have been affected by :

– substance abuse

– alcohol abuse

– other forms of self-harm

– skipping school or daycare

– behavior problems in the home

criminal activity

attachment problems

– academic problems

– running away


– behavior problems at school

Furthermore, of the above 12 listed behavioral problems, symptoms and disorders, those who had suffered psychological maltreatment were equally likely, or more likely, than those who had suffered sexual abuse to have been affected by :

 – substance abuse

– alcohol abuse

– other forms of self-harm

– skipping school or daycare

– behavior problems in the home

criminal activity

attachment problems

– academic problems

– running away


– behavior problems at school


In response to the above findings, the authors of the study emphasized the need for it to become a matter of public policy to develop and implement childhood trauma interventions in ways that recognize just what a devastating effect psychological maltreatment in one’s childhood can have upon a person’s quality of life.

They also draw attention to the need for the child welfare system to improve their ability to detect cases of child psychological maltreatment (which frequently occurs ‘under the radar’) so that effective interventions may be implemented.

eBook :

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

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

Childhood Emotional Neglect :The Possible Repercussions.

childhood emotional neglect

Childhood emotional neglect tends to operate ‘below the radar’ as it’s more a matter of what the parents don’t do than it is about what they do. In other words, it tends to be an act of omission as opposed to an act of commission. Because of this, it frequently remains undetected, and the child, not knowing anything different, may well not be aware that s/he is being mistreated.

Nevertheless, the adverse effects of childhood emotional neglect / emotional deprivation can be very serious and when the neglected child becomes an adult s/he may find s/he has a number of psychological problems but remains oblivious as to their origins (i.e. the fact that they significantly stem from the emotional neglect s/he suffered as a child).

So what are the psychological symptoms of having been emotionally neglected as a child? According to a leading authority on this area of study, Dr Webb, they include the following:

– a deep sense of being a fundamentally flawed individual

– difficulty self-soothing (comforting self when distressed)

– a preference for solitude/own company

– feel like an outsider

– often feel unhappy without knowing why

– often feel irritable without knowing why

– find it easier to express affection towards animals than towards humans

– have a poor view of self

– feel inadequate and essentially inferior to others

– highly self-critical

– feel awkward in social situations

– regarded by others as being distant and aloof

– feel a strong need to be self-reliant/ find it difficult to ask others for help and support

– frequently feel angry and/or disappointed with self

– when with family and friends have feelings of not belonging


NB : Webb (see above) concedes that these observations come from her two decade experience working with those who have suffered emotional neglect as children, rather than from rigorously controlled scientific experimentation.


‘Meet Your Human Needs’.   Click HERE for more information.


eBook :

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



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




Combined Effects of Divorce and Emotional Abuse on The Child.


Sometimes, when parents divorce, the child finds s/he is left to be brought up by a dysfunctional parent, perhaps because the single-parent is under enormous stress and/or suffers from mental illness. Indeed, this was the situation I found myself in from the age of eight, so I know how serious the effects on the child may be. Specifically, in this article, I wish to look at the potential adverse effects on the child of being brought up in a single-parent family in which the single-parent is emotionally/verbally abusive towards him/her. In my own case, my mother would refer to me as ‘scabby’ (due to the wounds I incurred through self-harming) and ‘poof’ (I was ultra-sensitive), amongst much else.


About 80%of those who go on to develop borderline personality disorder (BPD) have been the victims of child abuse – the most common form of child abuse that BPD sufferers experienced during their childhoods is EMOTIONAL AND VERBAL ABUSE. Such abuse can absolutely devastate the individual’s self-esteem.

Three common forms of emotional and verbal abuse are :

1) Unavailability

2) Domination

3) Degradation

Let’s look at each of these in turn :

1) Unavailability – this refers to when the parent is much more concerned with their own lives than with the emotional welfare of the child. Such parents show their child little encouraging interest or positive attention, and very little warmth and affection, even in times of need.

2) Domination – this occurs when a parent controls the child with menacing behaviour, threats and general intimidation.

3) Degradation – this is when the parent constantly undermines the child, including over-focusing upon, and over-emphasizing, misbehaviour. Very often, this results in the child becoming convinced that s/he is a ‘bad’ person (see also my article on this by clicking here).

Often, too, the abuse is directed at the child more indirectly and subtly (though, often, it’s not all that subtle!) through body language and facial expressions (eg by looking contemptuous – being treated with contempt is especially devastating – of the child or full of hatred towards him/her). Such treatment can be extremely damaging (especially, of course, if it is frequent and repetitive), and the potential psychological damage it can do should in no way be underestimated.



The picture below shows some of the psychological conditions the child may eventually develop as a result of emotional/verbal abuse.




What if the child who is suffering such verbal and emotional abuse lives in a one parent family, due to divorce, so that there is no other parent around to protect him/her? Clearly, in such a situation, it is overwhelmingly probable that the psychological damage done to the child will be all the more profound.

Many studies have been conducted upon the effects of divorce on children ; these include :

– deep distress

– extreme separation anxiety

– depression

– anxiety

– anger / anti-social behaviour

– intense fears of further abandonment

– greatly increased neediness

– age regression (click here to read my article on this)

If, on top of the effects of divorce, not only does the child not receive support and affection, but is actually verbally and emotionally abused by the remaining parent, the result can be massive psychological trauma.


Overcome Divorce Bitterness | Self Hypnosis Downloads

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

What Are The Effects Of Emotional Neglect Of A Child?


What Are The Effects Of Emotional Neglect / Emotional Deprivation On The Child?

A child who is emotionally neglected / emotionally deprived may be treated with indifference, as if s/he is of no importance, ignored, or almost as if s/he does not exist. It is the absence and withholding of the attention and approval the child expects and needs that does the damage. It may involve the child often being given ‘the silent treatment‘( one of my own mother’s inexhaustible supply of specialities in psychological torture when I was a kid), not being listened to, not having his/her views and feelings acknowledged or validated and frequently experiencing his/her parent/s turning their back on him/her (either literally or metaphorically).

One of the main effects such treatment will often have upon the child is that s/he will start to seek attention through ‘bad’ behaviour (e.g. confrontational behaviour, outbursts of rage and temper etc). The reason for this is often that even negative attention is better than nothing (although frequently this ‘reasoning’ will be operating on an unconscious level). This is because total withdrawal by the parent/s and the complete withholding of any type of relationship, and the consequent feeling of total and utter rejection, would be psychologically catastrophic for the child.

Such neglect / emotional deprivation is particularly confusing for the child when his/her parent/s, despite their emotional neglect of him/her, meet his/her material needs more than adequately or even extravagantly. This is because the child may feel intense guilt criticizing his/her parents when they do so much for him/her in financial terms. Indeed, some parents who are aware that they are emotionally neglecting their child may overcompensate  by materially spoiling the child as a way of diminishing their own feelings of guilt, or, in a sense, in order to ‘buy the child off.’ Such a situation produces intense psychological conflict in the child’s mind. Obviously, the child requires both physical AND emotional nurturing.


Children who are emotionally neglected may be so adversely psychologically affected that they experience developmental delay. They may, too, become so hungry for an emotional attachment that they start to cling to other adults outside of the family. Eating disorders may also occur; food, or the control of the intake of food, becomes a substitute for a proper emotional relationship. Also, the child may start to self-harm – this may take the form of self-biting, cutting, scratching etc.

Sometimes, in adult life, the person who was neglected as a child may become an ‘over-achiever’ and accomplish a great deal in life; it has been theorized that, at the root of this, is an unconscious desire to finally attain the interest, approval and admiration of the parent/s which could not be obtained during their childhood.


Eventually, it may be necessary for us to realize and acknowledge that the person/s who neglected us was a flawed human being with their own psychological difficulties. It may have been the case that, as children, our presence was not sufficient to over-ride these psychological difficulties our parent/s had, especially, for example, if they themselves were mentally unwell or had a serious substance abuse problem. It may be that the person we wanted our parent/s to be, or believed they could be, never existed except as an idealized image in our own minds.


It is extremely common for those who were abused as children to feel responsible for their own ill-treatment and to believe that they must be a ‘bad’ person. Why should this erroneous belief arise so frequently? The main theory that seeks to explain this is that if we can deceive ourselves into believing that the abuse we suffered was our own fault, and not the fault of our parent/s, we can delude ourselves into clinging onto the hope that there is a chance that, if we change, our parent/s will become the person we want them to be, that they are good parents after all. It seems that, on some level, we would prefer to believe we ourselves are bad than to believe that our parents were.

In order to shake off this delusion and rid ourselves of the guilt of believing we are bad and somehow ‘deserved’ our abuse, it may be necessary for us to finally come to the realization that our parent/s will never become the person we want, no matter what we do. In this way we may perhaps finally be able to rid ourselves of guilt and start to rebuild a sense of our own worth as human beings.

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