About Adoptee Rage

Statistics Identify large populations of Adoptees in prisons, mental hospitals and committed suicide.
Fifty years of scientific studies on child adoption resulting in psychological harm to the child and
poor outcomes for a child's future.
Medical and psychological attempts to heal the broken bonds of adoption, promote reunions of biological parents and adult children. The other half of attempting to repair a severed Identity is counselling therapy to rebuild the self.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN) Common in adopted Children


Childhood Emotional Abuse Common in Adoptee's

This guest blog is from Dr. Jonice Webb, who has a PhD in clinical psychology and has been licensed to practice since 1991. Dr. Webb is the author of the new self-help book Running on Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect. People who have been emotionally neglected can either develop a personality disorder or become involved with people who have a personality disorder.

A child feels sad, and no one asks her, “What’s wrong?”
An upset child’s need for comforting goes unnoticed by his parents.
A child’s feelings of hurt are misinterpreted as willful misbehavior.
No one asks a child, “What do you want?”
A child’s feisty nature goes unnoticed and unchecked by his parents.

Most likely, there is not a child in the history of the world who has not experienced some or all of these here and there. But what happens when a child experiences all of the above, and more, and often?
None of these incidents are abusive acts. None involves parental mistreatment or malice. None leaves the child hungry or cold. None fits the definition of “trauma.” Even a loving parent might fail his child in these ways. And yet I have discovered that when a child goes throughenough of these types of parental failures, she will experience tremendous effects years later in adulthood.
A child whose feelings are too often unnoticed, ignored, or misinterpreted by her parents receives a powerful, even if unintended, message from them: “Your feelings don’t matter," “Your feelings are wrong," or even“Your feelings are unacceptable."

Children are adaptive little beings who respond deeply to their parents’ reactions. A child who receives any of these messages enough from his parents will naturally adapt by pushing his feelings down and away so that they are not visible to others. He may push them so far away that they are not visible even to himself.

I have given a name to this process: Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN). Childhood Emotional Neglect happens when a parent fails to notice or respond enough to a child’s emotional needs.
Notice that a parent’s failure to respond is not an event that happens toa child. Instead, it’s something that fails to happen for a child. Because CEN is not an event, it’s invisible, intangible, and unmemorable. It goes virtually unnoticed by both child and parent. A hundred people could be watching an instance of CEN and not one of them would notice.
Because of this, I have seen that the vast majority of people who grew up with CEN have no memory of it. As adults, they are baffled by the source of their struggles. They may look back upon a childhood in which they were loved, and in which all of their material needs were met, and see nothing wrong.
Yet CEN has a profound effect upon how a child will feel and function in adulthood. As a therapist, I have noticed a particular, identifiable pattern of struggles in adults who experienced Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN) as a child. I have identified 10, which fall into two main categories:
1. Self-care: People who did not receive enough emotional nurturance,discipline, soothing or compassion when they were growing up have great difficulty providing all of these things for themselves as adults. People with CEN struggle with prioritizing their own needs (and sometimes have difficulty knowing what their own needs are), making themselves do things they don’t want to do (self-discipline), and forgivingthemselves for their own mistakes  or challenges (self-compassion). Indeed, I have seen that people with CEN are typically far harder on themselves than they are on others.
 2. Emotional awareness and knowledge: When you grow up with your emotions pushed away, you have little opportunity to learn how to tolerate, recognize, cope with, interpret, manage and express your emotions. So CEN folks tend to struggle with all of these things. In addition, I have seen that they often actually feel the absence of the feelings they’ve pushed away. Since emotion is the glue that binds us to others and the spice of life, CEN folks often express feelings of emptiness, disconnection, meaninglessness and aloneness. 

If you see yourself reflected in any of this description, do not despair. It is entirely possible to heal from CEN. Each of the challenges above can be overcome in adulthood.

All around us there are competent, smiling people with good hearts and good jobs. Stand-up men and women who do their best to provide for their family, friends, children, and co-workers. People who laugh easily at others’ jokes, generously offer advice and compassion, and put others’ needs before their own.
But if we look a little more closely, we might see a flicker of self-doubt in the eyes of these fine folks. If we listen with a little extra care, we may sense a subtle lack of self-worth lurking beneath their surface. If we watch a little more attentively, we may see some effort behind their smiles and a waver in their confidence.
These are the people who are living their lives under the influence of powerful, invisible childhood emotional neglect (CEN).
The definition of childhood emotional neglect is simply this: A parent’s failure to respond enough to a child’s emotional needs. When a child grows up in a household where emotions are not validated, accepted, or responded to enough, he learns how to put his own emotions aside.
A child who grows up this way becomes an adult who doesn’t value, trust, or even know his own feelings. This child may grow into a fully functional, outwardly strong adult. But he will feel a deep sense inside of himself that something is missing; that something isn’t right.
He will feel that a most deeply personal, biological part of himself (his emotions) is invalid, or unacceptable, or missing. He will question his decisions. He will be confused by his own behavior and the behavior of others. He will struggle to feel connected to the people he loves the most, to fit in, to belong.
Yet, this emotionally neglected child, in adulthood, will be perplexed as to what is wrong with her, or why. Childhood emotional neglect is so subtle and unmemorable that she may have no awareness that anything was missing in her childhood.
So she will struggle in silence, put on a good face, and hide from herself and others that deep, painful feeling that something is just not right.
As a psychologist who has helped scores of people become aware of and conquer their CEN, I have tracked it through multiple generations within families. I see CEN as one of the most surreptitious, destructive influences upon the health and happiness of our society. Its invisibility not only increases its power, it also allows it to self-propagate stealthily from one generation to the next, to the next.
Emotionally neglected children grow up with a blind spot about emotions, their own as well as those of others. Through no fault of their own, when they become parents themselves, they’re not aware enough of the emotions of their own children, and they unwittingly raise their children to have the same blind spot. And so on and so on, through generation after generation.
So the world is full of people who always come through for others, who put their own needs aside. They paste those beaming smiles on their faces, put one foot in front of the other and soldier on, giving no hint of how they really feel.
My goal is to make people aware of this subtle but powerful force from their past. I want to make the term emotional neglect a household term. I want to help parents know how important it is to respond enough to their children’s emotional needs, and how to do so. I want to stop this insidious force from sapping people’s happiness and connection to others throughout their lives, and to stop the transfer of emotional neglect from one generation to another.
If you identify with the face of CEN, it is vital that you take it seriously. It is by dealing with our own legacy of childhood emotional neglect that we can not only heal ourselves, but also ensure that we do not pass it down to our own children.