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Finding Help for Emotional Abandonment

Healthy human development requires physical and emotional care, and if these needs are unmet, the result can lead to feelings of abandonment.

The psychology of abandonment stems from experiences or perceived experiences of ongoing loss during the childhood years. Growing up without feeling protected physically or emotionally can create intense fear that is often internalized, leading to feelings of shame. This may lead to children who grow up more inclined to feel “unimportant”, less valued (regardless of positive feedback to suggest the opposite is true), and more inclined to be reactive to what they perceive as threatening both personally and professionally. Fears of abandonment rooted in childhood experience do impact future relationships, including intimate, social, and professional.

The Psychology of Emotional Abandonment

Emotional abandonment occurs when a parent or caregiver is physically present but emotionally absent, leading to abandonment issues later in life. This could have been experienced in a myriad of ways and may not always be intentional on the parent or caregivers’ part, depending on their own mental health and situation. This creates an internal sense of “lacking” in something, which can manifest later as anxiety, depression, disordered thinking, disordered eating patterns, or other issues relating to fractured ways of perceiving external stimuli. The sense of “lack” that emotional abandonment can cause deep-seated fear, consciously or subconsciously, around building trust in relationships and workplaces as an adult.

Signs and Symptoms of Emotional Abandonment in Children

Child sitting alone at a bench waiting for a parent

When a child feels emotionally abandoned, fear sets in and may manifest into other negative feelings and behaviors. A few of the signs and symptoms of what emotional abandonment is for a child can include

  • Separation Anxiety – This sense of deep loneliness can occur whenever there is a separation from the parent or caregiver from the child, such as being dropped off at school or daycare, and anxiety or panic sets in.
  • A Fear of Being Alone – This fear can be overwhelming and can occur whenever the child is alone for any given time, including bedtime.
  • Clinginess – This sign in the psychology of abandonment can be extreme, especially when the parent or caregiver first appears after being absent from the child for any amount of time.

As the child goes into later stages in life, these uncontrollable feelings go with them and influence relationships and interpersonal relations along the way.

Long-Term Effects of Emotional Abandonment Into Adulthood

Often, we are unaware of the long-term effects because our behaviors are reactions from triggers due to feeling abandoned during childhood. Some of the powerful long-term effects behind the psychology of abandonment include:

  • Low Self-Esteem – Feeling as if you are not good enough as a child stays embedded within the subconscious part of the mind and can sabotage positive and flourishing relationships in the future.
  • Anxiety – Abandonment anxiety in relationships can cause a person to pick fights for no reason, push their partner away, and test boundaries either with friends or co-workers.
  • People Pleaser – The intense need to please others to feel better about themselves due to their low self-esteem and insecurities.
  • Codependency – A dysfunctional relationship where one person is the caregiver and the other person takes advantage, and they both cannot function independently.

So, what is emotional abandonment? It can ultimately hold a person back from truly enjoying life and having satisfying relationships with others.

Therapy for Emotional Abandonment

Woman staring down at reflection of herself

The psychology of abandonment helps to understand where the fear originates and what you can do when you sense your anxiety rising.

Without treatment, abandonment issues in adults and children can manifest and make it more challenging to form positive relationships with others and lead a fulfilling life.

The primary form of treatment is through therapy, where the person can learn to identify negative thought patterns and replace them with more realistic and healthier choices. Learning how to create healthy boundaries helps that person avoid getting into codependency or people-pleasing behaviors.

At Miami Hypnosis and Therapy, we offer individualized treatment plans based on the psychology of abandonment that gets to the root of the childhood issues. We offer a wide range of therapies, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), and hypnotherapy, which are often integrated to expedite the treatment course.

Contact us, and let us help you see the light at the end of your dark tunnel and resolve what emotional abandonment is for you. Take that first step to feeling confident in yourself and know that you are valued, and you do deserve to be happy. Don’t let the mistakes of others from your childhood or your adolescence hold you back any longer. Discover a more fulfilling life when you work with a therapist as your guide.

Anna Marchenko

Anna Marchenko, LMHC, M.A., Ed.M. is the principal therapist at Miami Hypnosis and Therapy. She holds a bachelor's degree from NYU and dual masters degrees from Columbia University. Marchenko’s hypnosis certification is from the only hypnosis program in Florida that has been certified by the state’s Board of Education. She helps her clients by utilizing an integrative approach to psychotherapy, tailored to each individual’s mental health journey, drawing from hypnotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, NLP therapy, EMDR, and more.

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