Passive neglect: feeling invisible

Passive neglect: feeling invisible

Having grown up as if you were invisible, as if your emotions, desires and personal events were not important. Upon reaching adulthood, many people find that they have been victims of passive emotional neglect on the part of their parents.

Passive neglect: feeling invisible

Last update: July 18, 2022

Is it worse to be ignored or criticized all the time? It is not easy to answer this question because both realities constitute a clear form of abuse. An example of this is passive emotional neglect, a form of psychological abuse where the child grows up thinking his or her feelings, thoughts and needs are not important.

This experience has a devastating effect on psychosocial development, as it means being invisible to one's parents. Parenting is marked by negligence, which translates into abandonment, which plunges the child into emotional void, poor communication and the absence of a love that nourishes and educates.

Children who are broken inside and feel very lonely. The mere fact of not having a presence in the emotional fabric of the parents invalidates them. Few ideas are as harmful to a person as the one who claims that whatever he does will not matter to anyone.

Emotional neglect can be active or passive. The first is characterized by different forms of psychological violence, such as criticism, devaluation or manipulation. The second is manifested by simple indifference.

Passive emotional neglect is based on ignoring all of the child's emotional needs.

Characteristics of passive emotional neglect

Passive emotional neglect refers to total indifference to the child's emotional and psychosocial needs. As a result, the child grows up feeling invisible, believing that any feelings and needs felt are irrelevant to the parents. Everything that she feels, does or expresses goes unnoticed, is not validated nor is it given any importance.

It is important to distinguish passive from active neglect. The first occurs by criticizing the child, invalidating his feelings about him by saying, for example, that he is weak because he cries.

It is also common to belittle or ridicule the child for his fears or worries, labeling them as mere nonsense. In the latter case, the minor is diminished directly and repeatedly.

In the case of passive emotional neglect the interaction is almost completely absent and there is great neglect; adults are physically present but emotionally absent. They do not give affection, they do not criticize or support or belittle.

Children who have been raised under the umbrella of passive emotional neglect end up developing low self-esteem and a very critical self-concept. They feel at fault, as if there is something wrong with them because they have not received parental attention and validation.

Sadness, tears, fears and unexpected frustrations

Passive emotional neglect is a form of psychological neglect. The presence of the parent is useless if it does not console the baby's crying.

The child will soon learn that his feelings are irrelevant to his parents, as are his problems. They are not aware of the emotions that tend to capture the attention of others, they do not give importance to the sense of frustration or investigate their passions.

Such a dynamic leaves a residue in the mental substrate that alters the development of identity and self-esteem.

Parents who apply passive emotional abandonment feel uncomfortable whenever the child bursts into tears or throws a tantrum. Faced with these reactions, they prefer to ignore them.

A house where communication is poor

A characteristic of passive emotional neglect is the particular communication that is established in family dynamics: conversations are superficial, hasty and devoid of content and feelings.

There is never a genuine interest in getting to know children, in knowing what they think, what they feel about certain problems or what their dreams are.

Problems solve themselves (yes you can)

Parental emotional neglect has clear detrimental effects on the child's psychosocial development, who learns from early childhood that no one will help him solve difficulties. Lack of emotional support during childhood and adolescence leads the person to profound loneliness.

It assumes that all difficulties and problems, large or small, must be solved by themselves. Similarly, there is a tendency to develop a certain social distrust, as they believe that no one cares about him or her and that it is better to face the difficulties of life alone.

Many people reach adulthood realizing that they are victims of passive emotional neglect.

What are the effects of long-term passive emotional neglect?

The University of Illinois and the University of Ohio have conducted some interesting research on physical and emotional neglect, both active and passive. In the long term, there is a clear risk of developing more than one psychological disorder.

Depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction tendency or risk behaviors… The impact of these dynamics experienced during childhood and adolescence is severe and persistent.

It alters the way the person sees himself. In light of this, it is common to hide feelings and repress emotions by believing they are not important.

We cannot forget that few realities are more harmful for the human being than growing up in conditions of emotional abandonment and detachment from parents. It is then that those psychological supports that allow one to build a positive and valid image of oneself disappear.

Only in adulthood do we realize the problem, of being victims of a distorted education in which no one has validated needs and emotions; this has clear consequences.

Emotional wounds that need to be treated with the help of a trained professional. We do not hesitate to ask for help to repair the fabric of our ego and make it shine.

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