Emotional neglect happens, and the damage it causes can be similar to being abused, in that a child will fail to develop a sense of themselves and their place in the world. As they become adults, they do not have to tools to conduct themselves in the adult world without a great amount of difficulty.
“First, I’d like you to think of an event that happened yesterday. It can be anything, big or small…just something that happened.
Second, I’d like you to think of something that didn’t happen yesterday.
My guess is that the second request was quite a bit more difficult than the first. That’s because our brains record events as memories. Things that fail to happen go unnoticed, unseen, and unremembered.
We have long been aware of the fact that what happens to us in childhood has a tremendous effect upon who we become as adults. But the opposite is also true. What doesn’t happen for us in childhood has an equal or greater effect.”
How many of us have heard someone talk about how their parents didn’t love them, but short of some actual abuse occurring we’ve written them off as whiners. I’d be willing to bet it’s most of us, including me. But in talking to some people with serious addictions and other mental health issues I’ve begun to see that much of this can be tied back to simply not having the tools to deal with adult emotions, and much of that is directly tied back into not having any emotional support and direction as a child.
The damage is real.