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The effects of childhood abandonment in adulthood

Abandonment in any form can lead to serious psychological problems. Physically and/or emotionally, it can have lasting consequences on a person’s life. Therapists who are experienced in working with neglected or abandoned children may be able to help these children, and sometimes adults, recognize their dysfunctional ways of viewing the world that can persist into ADULTHOOD and cause problems on the job and in adult relationships.

Emotional abandonment occurs when the caregiver has substance abuse problems, mental issues, or feels overwhelmed caring for another. They are present but emotionally unavailable, which I think is the saddest of all because the caregivers have chosen to put their needs above those of their child/ren.

Death and/or divorce of a parent or parents can create a void in that child’s life, which is not only physical but emotional as well. This can have a lasting effect on a person’s friendships and marriages with others.

There are many common effects of childhood abandonment; the most common is low self-esteem. The child may believe they were abandoned because they were not good enough. This child often tries harder to be well-behaved, so they aren’t abandoned again.

Children with abandonment issues may become perfectionists or seek to validate their self-worth with achievements. If this person fails to reach their often unrealistic goals, they may become very depressed or even suicidal. This child is often easy prey for pedophiles and other abusers because she will do almost anything to please important people.

Attachment disorders may also develop if both parents abandon the child at a very young age because he/she was prevented from attaching to his/her primary caregivers and doesn’t know how to connect with others. The perpetual outcast and loner, this child may grow up unable to empathize with others.

They are likely to be withdrawn and isolated. Many will not be able to identify with these adults and probably won’t understand the deep hurt that took years to fester. They often do not trust others and so may keep a very close eye on the activity going on around them, but he/she is unlikely to engage or try to join in. When a child with attachment problems is upset, they will not seek comfort from others, nor will he/she accept comfort if it is offered.

Another reaction to abandonment is anxiety, like the child with attachment disorder, the anxious child/adult does not trust, however, they may try to cling to others, but live in dread of yet another abandonment.

Unfortunately, these fears can often become a self-fulfilling prophecy as adults and other children may be put off by the anxious person’s neediness or don’t understand why this person has difficulty in large and small groups.

See Article: Abandonment Trauma: Effects and Symptoms in adults and children.


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