Trauma is our mind and body’s reaction to highly distressing or disturbing events. It not only changes how we think and what we think about, but it also alters our capacity to think. Trauma can result from life-threatening or life-altering experiences such as abuse, accidents, neglect, the death of a loved one, wars, violence, etc.

Childhood emotional neglect can be described as the parent or caregiver’s failure to meet the child’s emotional needs during his/her childhood. Emotional neglect can involve behaviors such as being unresponsive, inattentive, ignorant, unavailable, or invalidating toward the child’s emotional needs for attention, affection, care, and support. Unlike physical abuse or neglect, emotional neglect during childhood is more difficult to recognize since there are no “visible” symptoms of being emotionally neglected. The child may develop well in other spheres, especially if the physical needs are met, however, emotional neglect cripples the overall development. It usually comes to the surface as a child progresses to adolescence and adulthood and starts making sense of how parent-child relationships are supposed to be and the psychological effects of the neglect start showing up. Examples of childhood emotional neglect could be a parent being ignorant or failing to notice when their child is sad, angry, or hurt, or it could be the parent’s failure to listen when the child is talking or dismissing the child’s experiences by calling them dramatic.

Childhood emotional neglect leads to trauma that usually becomes a major part of an adult individual’s life and affects how they regulate their emotions, perceive their memories, form interpersonal relationships, and most importantly, their mind’s perception of everything that happens in their life. It can also present as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress, anger or aggressive behaviors, and attachment issues in adulthood. Some signs of childhood emotional neglect that show up during adulthood are:

-Low self-esteem as an adult due to lack of validation and support as a child

-Difficulty in understanding and regulating emotional experiences

-Inability to ask for help/support and not being able to depend on others

-Feelings of guilt and shame around their own feelings and needs

-Heightened sensitivity to rejection

-Difficulty in bonding with others because of difficulty in identifying others’ emotions and expressing their own emotions

-Feeling “empty” or numb during emotional times

Recognizing and accepting that one has been subjected to emotional neglect as a child is the first step towards healing from the trauma caused by it. The individual needs to work on self-compassion, emotional regulation, awareness towards their own needs and feelings, and their approach to interpersonal relationships. Seeking professional help and collaborating with a therapist on working towards the goals mentioned above can help an individual in dealing with and gradually overcome the trauma caused by their childhood emotional neglect.

Trauma therapy with a skilled professional will help an individual identify traumatic experiences from their past, and the harm caused by those experiences, and will eventually guide the individual to become better at regulating their emotions as an adult and build a healthier relationship with oneself and others.

Importance of Professional Counseling: A friend or family member may listen to you, but they aren’t professionally, technically qualified or experienced to offer you professional advice. If you wish you can contact us at MindTribe to receive help from our team of expert psychologists.


MindTribe Founder Dr. Prerna Kohli, India’s eminent psychologist, established the company to leverage the strength of the online to make counseling affordable and accessible to everyone. MindTribe provides counseling, workshops, support groups, forums, and eLearning.

About the Author.

Harmehak Singh is a psychologist at You can learn more about her by clicking here

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of, the Founders, or management team.

Acknowledgement: All images used are open source and from Unsplash.


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