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Childhood Adversity

Childhood Emotional Neglect: Real People, Real Stories

Childhood Emotional Neglect, or CEN happens when your parents fail to respond enough to your emotions as they raise you. This can leave you feeling misunderstood, empty and alone as you grow up, and through your adulthood. Some of the most powerful words are those of real people sharing their stories. Here is a sampling of the real words of people who grew up with Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN). The CEN Childhood The first 16 years of my life that my family lived together, I can't remember a single meaningful or real communication that occurred between any of us in that time. My feelings and emotions were the last things on my parents’ minds. The best they could do was provide a home with basic amenities. I honestly don't remember my parents much at all, though both are still alive and married today. I never heard the phrase "I love you."  There was no one to talk to, no one who cared. I brought myself up in every sense of the word. I remember the intense indescribable pain that I felt as a young child when my mother wouldn't acknowledge the simple child affection I wanted to give.


Childhood Adversity

Robin Williams and Childhood Emotional Neglect

Since Robin Williams’ sad and shocking suicide on August 11, friends, family, fellow stars, and even reporters have offered multiple explanations for the virtually inexplicable: Why did he do it? Some of the many possible factors which have been proposed are depression, alcohol, drugs, and Parkinsons Disease. But I see another potential factor which is never mentioned by anyone. A factor which falls between the cracks just as its sufferers do: Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN).


Childhood Adversity

Why Don’t Therapists Talk More About Emotional Neglect?

Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN): A parent’s failure to respond enough to a child’s emotional needs. "After reading Running on Empty I told my therapist that I’m pretty sure I was emotionally neglected as a child. He understood what I meant but he never mentioned it again". "I’ve been seeing my therapist for a year and she has never mentioned Emotional Neglect to me." "I live in San Francisco. I can’t find a therapist who is an expert in Childhood Emotional Neglect!" Since I first started speaking and writing about Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN) in 2012 I’ve heard the above comments many times, from people all over the world. Yes. In a way, it is puzzling. CEN is so widespread and causes so much pain. Why don’t therapists talk about it more directly and more often? Why aren’t there Emotional Neglect specialists? Emotional Neglect articles and workshops?


Alexithymia

The Most Important Relationship of All

“Although many of us think of ourselves as thinking creatures that feel, biologically we are feeling creatures that think”      -- Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, Neuroscientist and author of My Stroke of Insight. What is the most important relationship in your life? Your spouse? Your child? Your mother or father? If you answered yes to any of those, that’s nice. But you actually have another relationship that is more important than any of them. It’s one you probably never thought about before. It’s your relationship with your own emotions. How we treat our own feelings has a tremendous impact on how we treat others. Your relationship with your emotions is the foundation for all other relationships in your life. Emotions are complex and can be mysterious. Sometimes they do what we tell them. Other times they refuse to obey. We may fall in love with someone we don’t like, or stop liking someone we love. We can lose our tempers unexpectedly, or surprise ourselves by staying calm in a stressful situation. Just as you have to listen to the people in your life, you also have to listen to your emotions. Your emotions are your body’s way of speaking to you. Indeed your emotions provide an invaluable feedback system that can anchor, inform and direct you through life.


Childhood Adversity

Raised By A Narcissist

Few phrases sum up the idea of narcissism better than: It’s all about me.  But the most defining feature of a person with narcissism is actually not his self-involvement. It’s his deeply concealed fear of being exposed as inadequate. Underneath the bluster and arrogance of the narcissist lies a hurt and fragile core. Deep down, narcissists fear others will see that they are not special or superior (they are just human beings after all), so many of their grandiose behaviors are designed to prevent that exposure. Surprisingly, this deeply buried vulnerability is the trait that can do the greatest damage to the narcissist’s child. What is it like to grow up with a narcissistic parent? Meet Lucy, who was raised by a narcissistic father. 


Alexithymia

Three Tips to Teach Your Child Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is your ability to manage and understand emotions and relationships, your own as well as others’. Research has shown that Emotional Intelligence is more vital to life success and satisfaction than general intelligence. This makes EI a very important skill for parents to teach their children.


Alexithymia

Do You Have Alexithymia?

Alexithymia: Difficulty in experiencing, expressing and describing emotions. Every day I hear from folks who have just realized that they grew up with Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN). Often they say, “Finally I understand what’s wrong with me!” Many describe a huge weight lifted from their shoulders. It is a wonderful thing to finally understand yourself in a new and useful way. Unfortunately, however, it is not enough. Step 1 is seeing and understanding the problem. Step 2 is healing the problem. 


Childhood Adversity

Take the Childhood Emotional Neglect Test


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...


Childhood Adversity

Invalidated Child: Invisible Adult

Our childhoods are in the past. As adults, we must put childhood behind us and focus on the now. Right? Wrong. Today we know that our child selves live within us, and that the power of that child is remarkable. Our parents’ view of us as children is the way we view ourselves as adults. The way our parents treated us as children in large part determines how we treat ourselves as adults. This child/adult connection has been proven over and over again by research. I see it every day in my psychotherapy office; and never more clearly than in the case of Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN). In CEN, the child is given a subliminal message, often inadvertently, that his/her emotions are irrelevant. This leaves a profound mark upon the child in adulthood. To see how this works, let’s look in on Zach as a child, and then meet up with him again twenty-three years later.


Welcome to Childhood Emotional Neglect

I'll let Jonice Webb, speak for herself in introducing her new blog with us, because she does so very eloquently:
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....