Why is emotional neglect in childhood so hard to identify? Psychologist explains | Health

When we are brought up in dysfunctional homes, emotional neglect is a byproduct. In childhood, we often face emotional neglect from the parents and the caregivers. Especially when we are brought up around emotionally immature parents, we deal with emotional neglect because of the absence of love, care and affection in childhood. “Emotional neglect is sneaky and stays hidden because it doesn’t leave visible scars. It operates quietly, making it hard for people to realize how much it affects them. The ways people cope, like always relying on themselves or trying to be perfect, cover up the fact that they didn’t get enough emotional support,” wrote Psychologist Caroline Middelsdorf as she shared why emotional neglect in childhood can be hard to identify.

Why is emotional neglect in childhood so hard to identify? Psychologist explains(Unsplash)

Subtle nature: Emotional neglect is very subtle in nature. It does not have definite signs to identify. Hence, it can take years to be figured out. Unlike physical neglect, emotional neglect does not have visible scars.

Normalisation: When we are brought up in emotional neglect for years, we may start to believe it as a normal thing. Hence, we take years to identify that we have been victims of emotional neglect.

Compensatory behaviours: When we face emotional neglect from childhood, we develop compensatory behaviours to mask the absence of emotional reliance. We start to be emotionally resilient and independent from an early age.

Shame and guilt: We start to burden ourselves with shame and guilt – this further makes it more difficult for us to acknowledge our emotional needs.

“Seeing emotional neglect as a hidden hurt is like realizing there’s more going on behind the scenes. It’s a call to notice what might be hidden beneath the surface, how important it can be to face the past, and reach out for support. By understanding this quiet hurt, we can start a journey to heal our invisible wounds, create a better emotional well-being and much needed love for ourselves,” added the expert.

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