Take the ENQ

During twenty years of practicing psychology, I started to see an invisible force from childhood which weighs upon people as adults. It’s a “non-event” which is unnoticeable and unmemorable, and yet leaves a profound mark upon the child that endures throughout adulthood. It’s Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN).

CEN is a parent’s failure to respond enough to a child’s emotional needs.

This failure to respond can masquerade as loving parent behavior. It can happen in families which are seemingly healthy and fine. And it can be overshadowed by more obvious child mistreatment or abuse. In any case, it goes unseen and unnoticed while it does its silent damage to people’s lives.

Many people have found answers to problems that have baffled them throughout their lives, by recognizing that CEN is the cause. But because CEN is so difficult to see or remember, it can be very hard to identify whether you are living your adult life in its grip. I’ve devised the Emotional Neglect Questionnaire to help you discover whether you may have grown up this way.

I have found it very useful, but have not yet been able to establish reliability or normative data through research. So please know that, at this point, the ENQ is based upon clinical experience, not science.

Emotional Neglect Questionnaire

Circle the items that apply to you.

            DO YOU:

  1. ž  Often feel disappointed with, or angry at, yourself
  2. ž  Sometimes feel like you don’t belong when with your family or friends
  3. ž  Pride yourself on not relying upon others
  4. ž  Have difficulty asking for help
  5. ž  Have friends or family who complain that you are aloof or distant
  6. ž  Feel you have not met your potential in life
  7. ž  Often just want to be left alone
  8. ž  Secretly feel that you may be a fraud
  9. ž  Tend to feel uncomfortable in social situations
  10. ž   Judge yourself more harshly than you judge others
  11. ž   Compare yourself to others and often find yourself sadly lacking
  12. ž   Find it easier to love animals than people
  13. ž   Often feel irritable or unhappy for no apparent reason
  14. ž   Have trouble knowing what you’re feeling
  15. ž   Have trouble identifying your strengths and weaknesses
  16. ž   Sometimes feel like you’re on the outside looking in
  17. ž   Believe you’re one of those people who could easily live as a hermit
  18. ž   Have trouble calming yourself
  19. ž   Feel there’s something holding you back from being present in the moment
  20. ž   At times feel empty inside
  21. ž   Secretly feel there’s something wrong with you
  22. ž   Struggle with self-discipline

If you circled six or more, this indicates, in my experience, that you may have grown up with significant CEN.


To learn more about CEN; how it happens, why it’s so invisible, and how to heal from it, visit EmotionalNeglect.com, or see Running on Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect.