In this 6-part series, Dr. Baker will provide a summary of the topics discussed in the book.
Bonded to the Abuser: Part 4
The fourth type of childhood abuse discussed in Bonded to the abuser: How victims make sense of childhood abuse” is emotional neglect, a form of psychological maltreatment. Twelve memoirs were read in which emotional neglect was the primary or only form of child maltreatment perpetrated by the parent.
The memories of emotionally neglected children are stories of unbearable longing. They are stories of love and loss. They are stories of attachment and separation. They are stories of yearning against improbable odds for a parent to awaken from the slumber of self-absorption to once again look upon the child with love and affection. The stories are dreams of longing that never end, not even with attainment of adulthood nor the death of the parent.
As revealed in these stories, emotionally abused children want nothing more than for their parents to awaken from their self absorption and see them for the adoring children that they are. Unable to be seen through the fog of their parent’s depression, mental illness, and/or addiction, the emotionally neglected children were stranded, desiring the love and attention from a parent who was unable or unwilling to provide it. They were trapped by their desire to reclaim the love of a parent who was no longer emotionally present.
These descriptions of the child’s longing for the mother are consistent with what is known about how infants form and maintain attachment relationships with their first caregivers. Infants are born with a pre-determined capacity and need for attunement and connection with a caregiving other. This is a basic emotional need that is part of the human make up. Thus, the longing in the infant for the mother/caregiver is hard wired and present from birth, and remains of paramount importance to the child throughout childhood and beyond. The longing described in the memoirs is a poignant reminder of the power of the attachment bond, regardless of the quality of the parenting the child receives.
The New York Foundling’s Dr. Mel Schneiderman and Dr. Amy Baker are the authors of “Bonded to the Abuser: How Victims Make Sense of Childhood Abuse” – available May 16th. To purchase or view the book on Amazon.com please click here: Bonded to the Abuser: How Victims Make Sense of Childhood Abuse
To visit the author’s website: http://www.amyjlbaker.com/
Acknowledgments: Selected by Rowan and Littlefield for a book signing at the 2015 Book Expo of America