21 thoughts on “The Three Faces of Emptiness

  • October 26, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    Thank you for this. You have just articulated everything about me. I’m a 42 year-old man who has struggled with these feelings ever since I can remember. I now have kids and sometimes feel like, despite my best efforts, I am doing this to my kids. I have tried therapy, and while it’s somewhat effective, it’s just not enough. I know I need help; real, professional help from an expert in this field. What can I do?

    • October 26, 2015 at 6:15 pm

      Hi Angel, I wish I had an easy answer for you. I suggest that you try therapy again. Look for a qualified, licensed one, and explain to him or her the type of emptiness that you identify with most from the article. See if he/she feels able to help you with it. Then stick with it, as it can take some time. Keep reading this blog and visit my website to learn a lot more about the cause of emptiness. It’s great that you want to change for your children, and I wish you all the best.

  • October 26, 2015 at 6:58 pm

    What suggestion’s do you have to overcome difficult childhood experiences that seem to follow us long into adulthood? Is there medication that can help along with possibly, therapy?

    Thank you. It was a very informative article.

    • October 27, 2015 at 12:52 pm

      Yes, Sandy! Therapy definitely. And medication as well if you have depression or anxiety as a result. Please try therapy, it’s the first step. Wishing you the best.

  • October 27, 2015 at 3:58 am

    This fills in so many blanks for me. Thank you. Would you say that a family acting like everything is okay, or being unaware that one child is suffering, is CEN? This still happens as an adult and I often feel invisible.

    Also, I had anorexia as a teen and went from 136lbs. to 68lbs. I regained the weight eventually, was never treated, but was watched and weighed regularly so there was definitely concern about my health. And maybe some denial. Is this CEN?

    Thank you so much for your work. It seems like it could be the missing “wound” many of us have been unable to find.

    • October 27, 2015 at 12:54 pm

      A family being unaware that one child is suffering is a perfect example of CEN. And if your family under-reacted to your health risks (as it sounds) that crosses the line over to physical neglect as well. I hope you’re working to heal from all of this and recognizing, now, that you matter! I wish you the best!

  • October 27, 2015 at 8:03 am

    I too have suffered most my life your artical has givi
    N me hope. I am 54 years old and still battle with these demons. Thank you for enlightenment, I will continue to read your arrivals on this subject.

  • October 27, 2015 at 8:38 am

    I was just trying to describe to my identical twin sister the feeling I was experiencing as a person, whom has decided to finally, after 53 years, give myself permission to distance myself from my mother. She was a 24 yr old w/ 5 children, 5 yr old, 4 yr. old, 2 yr old, and had 2 twins newborn, when my father decided to leave for a yr to go to school. Unfortunately, she neglected us, physically and emotionally.. ( I had ” failure-to-thrive” as at 12 mos) became vulnerable in my adolescence to next-door neighbor sexual abuse, and anybody else that could read the sign on my back, that I didn’t know was there, that read, ” Use me, I won’t know, I won’t tell, I just need ATTENTION of any kind will sadly do!!, I’m in trouble right now I want to die, coz I don’t know how to live….

  • October 27, 2015 at 8:51 am

    Unfortunately, your link to the ” fill-in the-blank” zip code threrapist-in your-area finder is coming up with a”501 error” which translates to me….No one , on this God-given earth” can ever help you, try to find a clean, easy way outta here!

    • October 27, 2015 at 12:57 pm

      Dulane, I’m glad to see that you’re using the psychcentral therapy helper. It may be malfunctioning today but please know that is no message to you personally! Google “psychologist” and the name of your town, and call them. There is a good therapist out there for you, for sure. I hope you will do the work to find someone. Take care.

  • October 28, 2015 at 2:18 am

    This is so exactly me that I feel some distrust – is this such a general description that it might fit everyone? Of course, that distrust might be another ‘symptom’. I remember my mother responding when I said I felt this or that: you can’t feel that. You’re not like that. As a grownup I visited several therapist trying to get into contact with my feelings and emotions, but it still is my default mode to deny my own feelings and to believe what others say I should feel. I hope to see your next videos soon and feel, yes feel, even a little hope that at my advanced age I might find some recovery.

    • October 28, 2015 at 8:39 am

      Dear Ceviz, I assure you that this is not generic and does not apply to everyone. I find that folks with CEN often think that the way they’ve felt all their lives is typical of everyone. I’m so happy to have been able to offer you a path to healing. Thank you for your thoughtful comment, and take care!

  • October 28, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    Dulane, you don’t mention your father’s roll in all of this, him leaving his very young wife with three toddlers of ages that require much attention and twin babies. I know you mentioned he went off to college for a year and that sure sounds like a get-away-from-helping-out, exit to me. Your young, exhausted, mother may have been suffering from not only abandonment issues by her husband, your father, but hormonal problems from having too many children in such a short period of time. Before totally giving up on your mother, finding a good counselor may help you, then her, resolve your difficulties with your past and with each other. Good Luck!

  • November 11, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    As I read this article it feels like my story in #3. I was raised by my grandmother having lost my mother as a 9 month old child. My father had moved overseas. I felt a sense of emptyness as far back as about 3 or 4 years old. My household was Chaos mostly. I felt like survival of the fittest. My grandmother did her best trying to raise me and my brother along with other grand children, and young adult children while working. My father and I were reunited when I was 19 but our relationship was strained because it was me now getting to know him for the first time. I lost him about 4 years ago at which time things had improved a great deal. Your article is another aw ha moment for me. While reading a book on parenting by Dr Daniel Amen, an ADHD specialist,he discussed the same feelings of emptiness in connection to not being raised by your mother from birth. He explained it like how important it is for a newborn to get the colostrum or first milk from it’s mother for immunity. How do i reconcile the information from you both. I have a 7 year old now so it’s important to me to teach her differently than how I was raised. I received a lot of physical and emotional abuse which destroyed my self esteem. So I am keen to learn how to heal so I can raise my child better. Thank you for your material.

  • June 8, 2016 at 8:40 pm

    Dear Jonice,
    Thank you so much for being available to write to.
    I’m 58yrs old and have the Types 1,2 & 3 causes of emptiness. I’ve had nearly 30yrs of all types of therapy and several failed suicide attempts to rid the pain. Do you write on the process of eliminating the Type 3 emptiness please. In a few weeks I will be taking on Equine Therapy which sounds the most promising.
    Included in my therapies is Dialectical Behavioural Therapy. Mindfulness and mindfulness meditation doesn’t touch the pain. My borderline diagnosis was based on fluctuating mood, which can be accounted for by my complex PTSD. I don’t have the BPD destructive traits. I find people overwhelming but loneliness painful. I”m really stuck and in this failing pursuit to die. I am also exhausted. PLease help thank you, Jilly

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  • October 14, 2018 at 10:14 pm

    I’m a female 29, the youngest out of 7 growing up my schedule to like this. Wake up go to school come home (to an empty house, parents working and siblings @ friends houses) so I’d make a sandwich and go to friends houses till dinner. We’d all eat and then go to sleep. I remember always feeling invisible. I use to rock and cry a lot, I never knew why but it was an emotion I couldn’t out run. “One day I told myself just turn it all off” I’d rather feel nothing than feel invisible. To this day I feel such a disconnect from not only life but my family. Like I don’t feel closer to them than I do distant relatives. I once told my dad when I was 10 that I was depressed. He gave me a noogie and said “you don’t know what that is, go play.” I asked my mom a few months later “was there something wrong with u when u were pregnant with me”? She laughed and said no, then preceded to tell my older sister who told my whole family I thought something was wrong and they all laughed at me and made fun of me. That day was the last day I ever attempted to talk about my depression. I was in special classes for reading and writing, yet nobody ever attempted to help with homework nor did they ask if I had any, there were a few time my sister told my mom Kathy has homework and she would help me. . I was forging signatures by fifth grade despite the fact that it got me out of trouble. It also opened my eyes to the fact that they didn’t even realize my report cards were coming in. I started doing drugs @12 to self cope, I stopped @20. But to this day I feel sooo empty. I hate taking meds because of when I was younger and self coping so it just hard mentally and emotionally.

  • November 14, 2018 at 3:50 am

    The link to the video seems to be broken…

  • April 16, 2019 at 2:59 am

    What medications are recommended to help with CEN? Therapy doesnt seem to be helping. 15 year old child with no emotion whatsoever. I would describe her as being “dead inside”. She is empty, does not talk with therapist at all. She sleeps all the time. She has no friends. She has no interest at all or if she does she certainly does not share them. She will not open up to anyone. She goes to school, comes home sits on the couch watches TV, eats, and sleeps.
    Nothing more than that. Everything that come out of her is pure negativity. I dont know how to get through to her. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!

    • April 16, 2019 at 1:17 pm

      Dear Lynn, please do have her evaluated for depression. There are no medications that help with CEN per se, but she sounds like she could be depressed and there are some great medications that help with that (SSRI’s). If you don’t have access to a psychiatrist, her PCP can do an evaluation.

  • April 22, 2019 at 1:10 am

    Very informative article, thank you. I am a 60 year old female and I firmly believe that my childhood was filled with emotional neglect. I lived in a nice home, had nice clothes, everything I needed but meaningful attention. I spent most of my time as a child in my room by myself. I felt I was not seen or heard.
    In my family appearances to the outside world were very important and I felt that I didn’t measure up. I was told that I had a “rotten disposition” . We never discussed emotions. If problems came up between myself and siblings, my toxic mother would yell “shut up”. I felt unseen and unheard. I learned not to express myself and do what was necessary to please others and not rock the boat.
    Until just recently, I’ve had little sense of who I am. About 4 years ago I started to speak out a little. I no longer felt the need to live to please my toxic family. Well, this didn’t sit well with the family and I have been scapegoated by them and blamed for all the family problems. They had no problems with me for the past 40 years. In their minds, I became a problem when I started to gain a sense of self and requested that I be treated with respect. I broke out of my assigned role. I have no contact with them.
    As a child I could never name what was wrong with my family. As an adult, I now know. Thank you for the insight on CEN. It has helped me understand myself a little better.


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