During twenty years of practicing psychology, I started to become aware of an invisible factor from people’s childhoods which weighs upon them as adults. I saw that this factor quietly sapped their joy, and caused them to question the meaning and purpose of their lives. It made some feel empty, and others feel alone. It caused problems in relationships and made people angry at themselves. It caused unnecessary guilt, low self-confidence, and a sense of being deeply, personally, flawed.
Once I became aware of the factor, I started to see it everywhere: in the grocery store, at the mall, and even on reality TV shows. I saw it in my own life, in the way I sometimes treated my family, friends, and children. I realized that many parents who are loving and caring can still raise their children with this factor, and be totally unaware. I noticed that people who grew up with it had no knowledge of it. They couldn’t remember it, name it or see it, even though they lived every day of their lives under its influence.
As I saw the power and pervasiveness of this invisible factor, I felt strongly compelled to raise awareness of it. So I named the factor “Childhood Emotional Neglect,” (or CEN) and wrote the bestselling book, Running on Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect. To help the scores of people who can’t recall the Emotional Neglect they grew up with, I created The Emotional Neglect Test. Then, when I realized that CEN people needed help and support to heal and deepen their relationships I wrote my second book, Running On Empty No More: Transform Your Relationships.
What exactly is CEN? Simply put, it’s a parent’s failure to respond enough to a child’s emotional needs. It may sound like nothing, and it often looks like nothing. But actually, a parent’s failure to act can have as great an impact on a child as abuse, even though it’s not noticeable or memorable like abuse is.
In my efforts to raise awareness I have been interviewed on NPR and CBS Boston Evening News and spoken to thousands of people about CEN.
This blog will be about the invisible power of Childhood Emotional Neglect: how it happens, what it looks like, how to see it in yourself or in your own parenting, how it affects you as an adult; and, most importantly, how to heal.
About Jonice Webb, Ph.D.
Jonice Webb has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and has been licensed to practice since 1991. Bestselling author of the first two books ever written about Childhood Emotional Neglect, Webb has been interviewed on CBS, NECN, NPR and over thirty radio shows across the United States and Canada about the topic. She has been quoted as a psychologist expert in the Chicago Tribune, and currently has a private psychotherapy practice in Lexington, MA, where she specializes in the treatment of Childhood Emotional Neglect.
To learn more about Dr. Webb, her books and Childhood Emotional Neglect, visit her website EmotionalNeglect.com.