Tag Archives: Emotional Neglect

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

emotional_neglect_epigenetics

childhood_trauma_neglect

Emotional Neglect And Epigenetics.

 

Studies suggest that emotional neglect / emotional deprivation 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 external, environmental factors (and such changes are then heritable).

 

Evidence From The Study Individuals Who Had Committed Suicide :

Poulter, et al., 2008 studied the brains of individuals who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and had subsequently committed suicide. He then compared these brains to the brains of healthy individuals (who had died in accidents).

The result of this rather macabre comparison was as follows  :

In the brains of the individuals who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and had subsequently committed suicide, the genes responsible for regulating stress had been, effectively, SWITCHED OFF.

HOWEVER :

This was NOT found to be the case when the brains of the previously healthy individuals were examined.

It was concluded that the genes responsible for regulating stress in the individuals who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and had subsequently committed suicide may have shut down as A RESULT OF SEVERE STRESS DURING CHILDHOOD AND RESULTANT EPIGENETIC CHANGES

 

Another, similar study, was conducted by McGowan et al., 2009 

In this study, the researchers examined :

1) the brains suicide victims WHO HAD SUFFERED CHILDHOOD TRAUMA

and compared them with

2) the brains of deceased, mentally healthy individuals

and with

3) the brains of individuals who had committed suicide BUT HAD NOT SUFFERED FROM CHILDHOOD TRAUMA.

DNA

RESULTS :

It appeared from the results of these examinations that epigenetic changes had occurred in those who had committed suicide and had suffered childhood trauma, but NOT in those who had been mentally healthy prior to death nor in those who had committed suicide but had NOT suffered childhood trauma.

 

CONCLUSION :

These results add weight to the hypothesis that epigenetic modifications can be caused by emotional neglect / inadequate protection from stress during childhood which may, in turn, increase the risk of the affected individual developing a mental disorder and, ultimately, of committing suicide.

 

Evidence From Animal Studies

A study by Bagot et al., 2012 found that stress genes involved in the regulation of stress in newborn rats ARE SWITCHED ON BY THE ATTENTIVE LICKING AND GROOMING OF THEIR MOTHERS. So, this study, too, suggests that epigenetic changes may well be related the quality of parental care during postnatal development (although further research is required to ascertain to what degree the findings of this study can be extrapolated to humans).

 

Implications For Treatment Of Psychological Conditions Related To Childhood Trauma :

Although such research as described above is in its incipient stages, it is hoped that, as such studies accrue, new, effective and innovative ways of treating adult conditions connected to severe stress during crucial stages of early life, psychological development will be created.

 

 

eBook :

childhood-trauma-effect-on-brain

 

Above eBook ‘How Childhood Trauma Can Physically Damage The Developing Brain‘, now available for immediate download from Amazon

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

 

 

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 an 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 compound this problem, they are also prone to minimising or dismissing altogether, their strengths and positive qualities.

They are also likely to avoid any job that involves significant interaction with other people so are likely to select careers in which they are largely left to their own devices (such as a computer programmer or writer).

Further, they suffer from very low self-esteem and greatly lack confidence; indeed, they are likely to view themselves as profoundly inadequate and fundamentally flawed.

They are highly sensitive and find social interaction extremely uncomfortable, fearing ridicule, criticism and rejection. They feel they have nothing to offer others and that others will immediately dislike them and view them, essentially, as uninteresting non-entities. Often, too, they fear others will see them as ‘weird’, ‘peculiar’ or ‘odd’ due to their self-consciousness and general unease.

If forced to be in a social situation, they are likely to excessively, even obsessively, self-monitor, so concerned are they that they may say or do something that humiliates them. As a result, frequently, they will be taciturn and may speak with much hesitation, stammering and stuttering.

They tend, too, to mistrust others.

In some cases, they may also be agoraphobic, staying at home by themselves living in an internal world of the mind which may well include elements of fantasy.

Avoidant personality disorder can be particularly cruel as, often, those who suffer from it have a deep desire and need to connect emotionally with others.

Causes of avoidant personality disorder (AvPD):

Onset of avoidant personality disorder is usually during the late teens. Those who have suffered childhood emotional neglect (i.e. shown little or no love, affection, approval or interest) from their parents are at higher than average risk of developing it, especially if they have been rejected by one or both parents.

Indeed, my own mother rejected me when I was thirteen years old so I went to live with my father and step-mother for several years who could barely tolerate my presence and essentially ignored me for half a decade (except to point out my faults which were, it seems, inordinate). Apparently I was ‘sullen’, ‘morose’ and ‘hostile’. A ‘clot’, a ‘nincompoop’ and ‘buffoon.’ ‘Ungodly’ and in all likelihood ‘evil’, quite possibly demonically possessed and in urgent need of an exorcism (in other posts I have written of how my step-mother shouted at me in what she believed to be, or possibly faked, ‘tongues’, when I was thirteen and had just moved in with her and my father, and how she would tell me that both she and her biological son could ‘sense evil in the house’ whenever my friend, Steve, had been round to see me). And, it goes without saying, I had no redeeming features whatsoever, let alone any mitigation regarding my abhorrent behaviour.

To this day, I feel like an extremely awkward, excessively self-conscious teenager in the company of others. I suppose as a child, I internalised the view that I was neither likeable nor interesting, nor, for that matter, even wanted.

Once such a self-view takes root, it is very hard to dislodge, almost like trying to change the colour of your eyes by a sheer act of will.

More On Causes

Evolutionary psychology (the study of why behaviours evolve) explains in part the behaviour of those who suffer from AvPD. Our ancestors developed the ‘fight or flight’ response to things that they feared, and, as individuals with AvPD, at root, fear other people, they can become hostile to others (reflecting the ‘fight’ response), or do their best to avoid others (reflecting the ‘flight’ response). However, research suggests that ENVIRONMENTAL factors play a larger part in the development of AvPD than genetic factors (Millon and Everly).

Two main influences on the development of APD are :

1) PARENTAL REJECTION

2) PEER REJECTION

Let’s look at each of these in turn :

PARENTAL REJECTION: according to research conducted by the psychologist Kantor, parental rejection is the environmental factor which is most strongly associated with an individual’s later development of AvPD. This is borne out by the fact that those who suffer from AvPD are far more likely than others to have experienced rejection; furthermore, their experiences of rejection have commonly been found to be particularly intense and frequent.

Parental rejection will often set up the mindset (either consciously or unconsciously) in the rejected individual which runs along the lines of: ‘If my parents can’t accept me, how can I possibly expect anybody else to?’ This can have a catastrophic effect upon the person’s self-esteem, self-worth and confidence. It will often, too, lead the individual to become profoundly self-critical, even to the point of self-hatred.

PEER REJECTION : if, when we are young, our home environment is rejecting, critical, hostile and undermines our sense of self-worth, but, on the other hand, outside of the home we have many experiences which are positively reinforcing to us (e.g. supportive teachers, friends or other social networks), the latter experiences may enable us to develop sufficient PSYCHOLOGICAL RESILIENCE to protect us from the worst emotional effects of our home-life.

However, if a young person is rejected not only by parent/s but, also, by siblings and peer group, AvPD is far more likely to develop in later life, especially if the various rejections continue over a sustained period.

The experience of continual rejection and humiliation can lead to the individual internalising others’ negative view of him/her (ie coming to see him/herself in the same negative light in which others appear to see him/her).

This leads him/her to become yet more self-critical and to feel even more inferior. These feelings of worthlessness lead to even greater withdrawal from others, and, thus, increases to an even greater extent, the person’s loneliness and sense of isolation. In the mind of the person becoming increasingly cut off from society, the rejection by his/her peers seems to justify and validate the parental rejection. In the end, the individual may retreat so far from others that AvPD develops.

OTHER POSSIBLE PARENTAL CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF AvPD :

1) INFANTALIZATION

2) TRANSFERENCE

I briefly outline these two possible contributors to the development of AvPD below :

INFANTALIZATION: parents who infantilise their children (i.e are overprotective and don’t let the child develop a sense of self-responsibility) may make it hard for that child, as s/he grows up, to relate to others outside of the family on equal terms. This may lead to the individual becoming regressive and/or dependent in extra-familial relationships.

TRANSFERENCE :  (‘transference’ refers to the psychological mechanism whereby we transfer a feeling we have for somebody close to us onto a different person. An example would be a person who fears his/her father later transferring that fear onto authority figures in general, such as their boss at work). Transference can lead to avoidance behaviour when the person with AvPD distances him/herself from others who remind him/her of someone s/he was afraid of as a child (usually a parent).

TREATMENTS

As has already been discussed, those suffering from avoidant personality disorder will generally endeavour to avoid social contact with others as a strategy to prevent themselves from being rejected and rebuffed. Over time, others become aware of this aloofness, and, frequently, will likewise avoid him/her (this has been termed ‘reciprocal avoidance’).

Worse still, especially if young (at school, for example), s/he may attract the attention of bullies who may apply derogatory names to him/her (eg ‘loner’ etc) as they see him/her as an easy target and perhaps as too timid to stand up for him/herself. Adults, too, who suffer from AvPD, may be similarly discriminated against, albeit often in a more subtle manner.

Those with AvPD often find themselves trapped within a vicious cycle : his/her withdrawn and aloof behaviour leads to others not being well disposed towards him/her, this, in turn, leads to lowering the self-esteem of the AvPD sufferer further, which, in turn, leads to further withdrawn behaviour…and so on…and so on… As the cycle continues, the problem becomes increasingly intensified.

Because the person with AvPD is hypervigilant for any possible signs of rejection, as well as being hypersensitive to such, this can often lead to him/her perceiving rejection where none, objectively speaking, exists; or else s/he may greatly exaggerate and magnify minor signs of rejection. In the mind of the person with AvPD, any signs of rejection are deeply personal – they see the perceived rejection as confirming the ‘fact’ that they are a bad and worthless person. They assume that the perceived rejection is based on an in-depth and accurate analysis of their personality (whereas, in reality, it is much more likely to be due to superficial reasons, because the perceived rejector is in a bad mood, or for any number of reasons that are not personal in relation to the person with AvPD.

It has been pointed out by the psychologists Millon and Everly that conditioning is at play in the development of AvPD; specifically, a type of conditioning known by psychologists as NEGATIVE REINFORCEMENT. A behaviour which is NEGATIVELY REINFORCED is one which becomes associated with avoiding an undesirable outcome. In the case of the individual with APD, the behaviour which is negatively reinforced is aloofness as it can help the individual avoid the adverse consequence of rejection. The more a behaviour is reinforced in this way, the more ingrained the response becomes.

POSSIBLE TREATMENTS AND THERAPIES :

Three types of treatment available for AvPD are :

1) Behaviour Therapy

2) Family Therapy

3) Medication

Let’s briefly look at these in turn :

1) Behaviour Therapy – this form of therapy involves the therapist encouraging the person with AvPD to interact with others in social situations for longer and longer periods while giving him/her support, encouragement and positive reinforcement.

2) Family Therapy – earlier described how the development of AvPD might be contributed to by the sufferer having been ‘infantilised’ by his/her parents. If this is suspected to be the case, family therapy may be appropriate.

3) Medication – doctors sometimes prescribe anti-depressants to those suffering from AvPD, which can help reduce the anxiety contributing to the condition.

 

RESOURCES :

OVERCOMING SOCIAL PHOBIA :

SELF-HYPNOSIS DOWNLOADS :

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.

Resources:

‘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).

 

 

 

Childhood Trauma: The Possible Effects of Uninvolved Parents

childhood_trauma_effects

The psychologists Baumrind, Maccobyand Martin have, between them, identified four main types of parenting style. These are : a) Authoritarian, b) Authoritative, c) Permissive and, d) Uninvolved. In this article, I wish to concentrate on the fourth parenting style – UNINVOLVED,  as the research indicates that it is this one that does the greatest damage to the child.

images

WHAT IS MEANT BY THE TERM ‘UNINVOLVED PARENTS’?

Whilst such parents provide for the child’s basic, physical needs (ie food and shelter), they will typically display the following characteristics :

– lack an emotional connection to their children

– distant and aloof

– frequently attempt to avoid their children

– indifferent to and dismissive of many of the child’s fundamental needs (eg to be shown love and emotional warmth)

– disinterested in important areas of their children’s lives, such as their friends, their interests/hobbies. their school work/behaviour at school, how much alcohol they drink etc

– uncaring about how their child behaves in general, offering no, or, at best, minimal, supervision

–  often uninterested in their children due to a preoccupation with their own concerns (eg career ambition, relationship difficulties etc)

imagesCAOFLA28

POSSIBLE NEGATIVE OUTCOMES FOR CHILDREN OF UNINVOLVED PARENTS :

The research suggests that being the child of uninvolved parents can lead to a large array of problems touching most of the important areas of life. These include :

– a greater proneness to stress and anxiety

– an increased risk of alcohol and/or drug abuse

– more likely to develop problematic behaviours/delinquancy

– tend to perform less well academically

– more likely to have difficulty establishing and maintaining relationships (theorized to be due to not learning how to display love, warmth and affection from parents)

– tend to have poorer social skills

IMPORTANT NOTE : Of course, not all individuals who have been brought up by uninvolved parents wil experience the difficulties listed above – the research simply suggests such individuals are likely to be more vulnerable to developing such problems. Also, some individuals who are brought up by uninvolved parents have important, significant, strong positive and validating relationships outside of the immediate family which can have a  PROTECTIVE EFFECT.

A NOTE ON THE RELIABILITY OF THE RESEARCH : It should also be noted that the findings listed above, in the main, derive from correlational studies which do not prove direct cause and effect between parents being uninvolved and their offspring developing the problems listed. Inevitably, other factors will be involved, such as how much emotional support the individual has outside of the family, as alluded to above.

child_trauma

Above eBook now available for immediate download on Amazon. CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS. Other titles available

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

The Effects of Emotionally Distant Parents on the Child.

emotionally_distant_parents

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 (i.e, 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 / her  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.

‘Avoidant’ Parenting And Its Possible Effects

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.

 

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.

 

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

 

Recommended Link : ABOUT EMOTIONAL NEGLECT : (drjonicewebb.com)

 

 

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.

POSSIBLE EFFECTS OF EMOTIONAL NEGLECT :

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.

RECOVERY THROUGH ACCEPTANCE :

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.

WHY WE SOMETIMES MISTAKENLY FEEL RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR OWN NEGLECT:

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).

Childhood Trauma Recovery