Parental failure to meet dependency needs is, in effect, traumatic for the child, and inflicts what is called an emotional or soul wound, which is too painful to experience. The result in teenage years, especially around the age of sixteen, is a severe lack of concentration in school, where the child’s psychic energy is diverted to protect this emotional wound. Children who have very low levels of concentration carry a severe wound and their behaviour consists of either disturbing the class, fantasising, doodling, or all three. This behaviour does not require any concentration and their class time is almost exclusively focussed on the wound to soothe the emotional pain. This is a core defence mechanism to avoid the pain of rejection and is subconscious. Of course, with the arrival of the digital age all young humans are now in danger of losing the ability to concentrate for long periods. The famous neuroscientist, Susan Greenfield, explores themes such as this in her interesting book, Mind Change. How digital technologies are leaving their mark on our brains.
Children with a severe wound generally drop out of school around fifteen or sixteen. Unfortunately, the wounded inner child remains throughout adult life and the concentration levels do not change, except in activities that the individuals enjoy. My clinical experience repeatedly shows this and clients confirm that the theory is correct. In the initial counselling session I normally ask about the level of concentration at the age of sixteen, and from this I get a general impression of the client’s childhood. In my long experience as a teacher I have also seen the behaviour of wounded children many times, and misjudged it as impertinence or sheer bad manners. In those years I was unaware of dependency needs and insecure attachment. Educating teachers, especially those at primary level, on this aspect of formation would be very beneficial, and prevent some stress in the classroom.
To sum up, therefore, failure to meet dependency needs can be equated to childhood emotional neglect that leads to attachment problems, which in turn breed fear of abandonment and its many toxic offspring. Children can suffer emotional starvation in many ways and it is by no means always a deliberate act by parents. Most parents want the best for their children and would never dream of harming them, but it is not the good intentions of parents that matter, but what happens in the practical situation of child rearing; for example, addicted parents find it very difficult or even impossible to make emotional contact with their children. Parents who are ill, looking after their own aged parents, or nursing soul wounds from their own childhood, are likely to be diverted from their parenting task and generally fail to meet the emotional needs of their children. Severe and constant
depression and its dark world make the creation of an emotional bond almost impossible. Bruce Perry tells a story about a depressed mother who used television as a means of occupying her only son. In effect the child was ‘reared’ by the television, learning most of his language from this machine that incessantly babbled from the corner, unresponsive to his needs. The effect on the child was disastrous, and probably long lasting.
Extract from Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood. Publication 2018
Therapists in Tipperary
psychotherapists in Tipperary
Death of a child
Abuse and Domestic Violence