Childhood Emotional Neglect

It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.

—Frederick Douglass

Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN) | Harmful as physical abuse!

It’s harmful. It is an invisible abuse.

Something we often do not talk about. But now science is telling us that it is just as harmful as physical abuse.

Oh yes—I think we need to listen to the medical professionals and experts in this field.

I like to research. And for many years I had no idea how this hidden abuse could be so harmful to people.

Jonice Webb, clinical psychologist, states, “emotional neglect is the silent killer of a child’s spirit.” She also has said that children are born pre-wired with some very specific emotional needs. Dr. Webb states, “Childhood Emotional Neglect is both simple in its definition and powerful in its effects. It happens when your parents fail to respond enough to your emotional needs while they’re raising you.”

That’s simple enough for me. I had one parent laugh while I was bullied and another who offered no protection because it was always, “You kids stop this nonsense.”

A recent article published by highlighted a few very poignant statements from other experts in this field—Dr. Diane Roberts Stoler, a neuropsychologist from Boston, has said that Child Emotional Neglect is the most damaging emotional abuse of all. (Dr. Diane wrote the book, Coping with Concussion and Mild Traumatic Brain Injury.)

Emotional trauma has long-lasting effects! Many people wonder why they have an underlying feeling of emptiness. Could this be one of the answers? I believe it is.

The article also referenced Dr. Rahil Briggs, PsyD, director of the Healthy Steps Program/Behavioral Health Integration Program (BHIP) and an associate professor of clinical paediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine who stated that there is no difference between emotional and physical abuse.

A story of overcoming:

My Courage to Tell

Read the story

So what is emotional trauma?

It is the consistent and repeated neglect of a child’s emotional well being.

These great experts and medical professionals are saying the same thing! And I believe it is important to hear what they are saying.

So what does that mean for you—someone that may have had CEN?

According to the Early Life Stress, Mood, and Anxiety Disorders paper published in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health:  it could mean anxiety; depression; mental health disorders; physical problems (cancer and heart disease); and higher rates of drug use.

Dr. Diane has stated that CEN is likely to cause children to become fearful. Because trauma triggers the autonomic nervous system, there are long-lasting physical effects.

Below is a link to the “Still-Face Experiment”. It shows the interactions between a baby and a mother.

The Adverse Childhood Experiences study that I have written about also includes childhood neglect. I have just recently posted an article on Twitter on how we are wired for fear from toxic stress in childhood. This makes sense to me. I have to continue to monitor my “reactions”. I am definitely wired for fear. I am a work in progress.

I could write much more. But I will leave it to the medical professionals and experts to talk about this in detail.

My puppets help me share information. In this video, they help me talk about this type of abuse. I hope this information helps people understand the long-term effects of Childhood Emotional Neglect.