Emotional Deprivation in Childhood
Emotional deprivation is failure of the parent to provide a child with the experiences that make them feel loved. It’s very difficult to detect emotional deprivation at first because there aren’t many clear and obvious signs like we see with child abuse or neglect. With emotional deprivation the child may be fully functional, eating, going to school, dressed properly, and looking like every other kid, yet feeling empty and vulnerable inside. This emptiness is created by unfulfilled emotional needs.
Emotional deprivation is like slowly starving to death. No one can see it from the outside and no signs or symptoms show up until the person starts to shut down. Starvation it is much easier for a child to talk about. A child knows what to say. “I’m hungry.” But with emotional deprivation a child doesn’t know what to say. He is starving for something he has never had. He has no words to describe it in a way that would make others understand.
Count the number of statements below that are true for you.
____ Your parents were emotionally distant or absent.
____ Your mother was not emotionally ‘in tune’ with your needs.
____ You had all your physical needs met, perhaps you had toys to play with, but no one who actually paid attention to your feelings and emotional needs.
____ Your feelings and emotions weren’t acknowledged as a child.
____ You were not cared for at a deep level.
____ As an adult you rarely share feelings with other people.
____ You don’t really understand your emotions or needs.
____ You feel like there is a void- something missing but not sure what.
____ You haven’t really felt special to anyone.
____ You feel invisible.
____ You feel unimportant.
____ You feel like you don’t matter.
____ You don’t feel connected to the people around you.
____ You never really feel emotionally supported.
____ You don’t expect emotional needs to be met in relationships.
____ You haven’t had anyone to rely on for advice or guidance.
____ You feel like there must be something wrong with you, since no one loves you.
____ Because you don’t feel important you try hard to get the approval of others.
____ Because you don’t feel important, you put the needs of others first.
If you can identify with more than 5 of these statements, there is a high probability that you you are struggling from emotional deprivation.