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    Openminded
    Participant

    Would love if someone could write on this forum on the topic of emotional neglect as a child

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    Chavy
    Participant

    I would love to hear as well! Do people who didn’t get enough love and affection and didn’t experience a healthy attachment, suffer from feeling emotionally dependent on others? Like, does Dependent Personality Disorder have to do with emotional neglect?

    Thanks!

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    melissa
    Participant

    Emotional neglect is when a child grows up with emotionally checked-out caregivers and never learns basic emotional skills. This means they are not loved, are not taught about emotions. Their parents may take care of all their physical needs, but treat them like an object more than a person.

    Furthermore, emotions are not encouraged. Crying, laughing etc. are met with indifference, or worse, disgust, and in cases that already border on emotional abuse, they may be taunted for having emotions.

    The extent of the damage caused by emotional neglect correlates the time it started (it will be the worst if it started immediately after birth).

    What makes emotional neglect so pernicious is that it’s something that didn’t happen. Versus something that was inflicted and you can pinpoint. It makes it harder to pin down, so much harder to face, and therefore grieve.

    It’s like having a hole at the very core of your existence.

    Chavy, it generally manifests not as dependence, but anti-dependence — the desire to be self-sufficient and not rely on anyone for anything.

    Emotional neglect is usually very closely related to attachment disorders and relational trauma… all which probably are intertwined. It cuts a person off from their emotions in a way that hurts them in so many ways.

    Can I recommend some reading?

    The Emotionally Absent Mother is the best book I read on the topic. It is comprehensive, very readable and truly gets how emotional neglect effects a person for life.

    Jonice Webb is very big on emotional neglect. You can check out her website, and her book Running on Empty is also a great resource.

    Pete Walker’s amazing book Complex PTSD touches the topic from a different angle, but is also priceless healing.

    I’m currently reading more books on the topic. I can update you when I’m done if you’d like!.

     

     

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    Chavy
    Participant

    Hmm, so I wouldn’t have experienced ’emotional neglect’ even if I tend to be very emotionally dependent? I do have attachment issues… I guess I want to have this “label” and feel validated for what I’m currently trying to work on: being more emotionally independent.

    Those are great book recommendations!

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    melissa
    Participant

    Don’t take my post as diagnosis of any sort – please!

    I’m not a professional or anything of that sort. Just sharing what I read.

    There are many ways in which people handle lack of normal development, and I’m not sure what exactly emotional dependence is, but there are so many ways things manifest themselves.

    There are those who will be codependent, definitely one of the offshoots of growing up in an unsafe emotional place.

    There are those with anxious attachment, who definitely have this coping mechanism of needing others because of insecure attachment in the past.

     

    And then there are many of us with avoidant attachment, or anti-dependence, for whom therapy and the first safe holding enviroment ever sparks attachment in such an agonizing way that you are suddenly feeling so dependent on a therapist. (sigh)

     

    Yes, I do recommend that you read the books. Maybe start with Complex PTSD. That addresses much a broader range, and you will probably find yourself.

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    Chavy
    Participant

    No, I’m not taking it as a diagnosis, but you def sound very knowledgeable.

    I think I’m the anxious attachment. When I say emotional dependence, I mean feeling very dependent on one’s therapist because it’s safe and she provides with needs that weren’t provided with.

    In regard to your 2nd to last paragraph, I find that I’m def attached to my therapist in a way that feel agonizingly painful at times, but I don’t have an avoidant attachment.

    Again, I’m taking all this info as just info and trying to better understand myself. Isn’t Complex PTSD for people with PTSD? I’m just guessing that it is.

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    melissa
    Participant

    Aww thanks 🙂

    I guess I did a lot of reading, because like most of us here, I so want to understand what makes me be the way I am and how I can understand my story…

     

    The fact that you see your dependence on your therapist as something to work through so you shouldn’t be dependent, makes me think that, in fact, you may not be as “anxiously” attached as you say.

    The question is: How are you with other close people in your life? Do you also find yourself dependent on them? That will answer the question, because a safe therapy relationship is meant to allow for that attachment that you couldn’t get before, so it’s hard to judge based on that alone.

    Complex PTSD is actually not the same as standard PTSD. It’s known as “relational trauma.”

    It’s a “diagnosis” (though I think not an official one) for those who grew up in an environment that may not have been overtly abusive, but it was very damaging nontheless, because there was no one present to take care of the child in the way any healthy child needs.

     

     

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    Chavy
    Participant

    Hmm… So I am quite clingy with others too and have had relationships that weren’t the best… I still think it is an anxious attachment, but I’m curious to hear why you think it may not be.

    And, you’re welcome! Learning more about ourselves is def very important and validating! 🙂 And, while I’m at it, I have to add that your writing is very, very professional! 🙂

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    melissa
    Participant

    Yes, you know yourself best.

    Sometimes in therapy the need for a therapist is a new thing, and so one is desperate to do away with that, and that’s what made me say that it may be an original avoidant-turned-clingy-in-therapy attachment. But it was definitely just my biased, definitely not professional assumption 😉

     

    Thank you for your kind words!

    And really a (good) therapist is the best person to work through all these attachment issues. And to discuss it with them! Did you ever try broaching it with yours? It’s not easy, I know…

     

     

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    melissa
    Participant

    By the way, I got totally sidetracked with the “emotional neglect” aspect.

    But I just read your original question (as opposed to the OP’s questions, which I was sort of going with), and absolutely.

    Inconsistency in care and reliability as a child will bring about anxious attachment.

    If it gets the direct “neglect” label, I don’t know, but it’s definitely caused by lack of stability, attunement and care/love in childhood.

     

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    Chavy
    Participant

    In response to melissa's post #14093:

    Yup! We’ve discussed it many times and are working through it.

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    Chavy
    Participant

    In response to melissa's post #14093:

    Yeah, we’ve discussed it.

    Thanks so much!

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