Home Mental Health & Well-Being There’s a ‘Fatal Flaw’ in Adulthood

There’s a ‘Fatal Flaw’ in Adulthood

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Do you ever experience acute, sudden onset of very low moods or depressive states, seemingly without reason? Perhaps you have all the material items you could want, a wonderful partner, a successful career, yet none of this seems to be enough.

What is this and why does it keep re-appearing? Sadly, the symptoms I mention above are just some of all that can found due of the emotional trauma or ‘neglect’ the majority of individuals I work with are suffering from, year-after-year, for periods of time.

There always seems to be an insatiable ‘itch’ wanting to be scratched. ‘It’ll be alright when’ is a common sense of feeling as we buy the next car, home, holiday, partner, or seek promotion at work in the hope that ‘itch’ will get scratched.

Then there are these other significant side effects that can leave us wondering ‘Where did “that” reaction come from?’

  • Outbursts of anger or rage.
  • Addictions to food, work, substances, gambling, porn, or other
  • Perfectionism
  • Insomnia.
  • Inability to relax, sit and “be”.
  • Anxiety
  • Dysfunctional relationships
  • Difficulty parenting

Childhood emotional neglect

Many clients, when asked, will state their parents as having been loving, and that the childhood was ‘fine’. Maybe it was, and just maybe there is a covert subconscious emotional or physical trauma memory remaining unprocessed and trapped in the area of the brain concerned with emotions. 

When pushed to consider their parents ways, values, beliefs, and styles of parenthood, adults can begin to become a little more aware that perhaps all was not as optimal as it might have been. None of these explorations are seeking to ‘blame’ anyone.

Clues often arrive when we become involved in significant relationships – even more arrive when we ourselves become parents

Overperforming vs neglect

Overpraising our children, or not setting sufficient boundaries can be equally as damaging as emotionally neglecting our children. Too much attention to all their needs can leave the child unable to fully establish his own individuality and independence, typically affecting relationships later in adult life. Not enough attention or praise and the child becomes withdrawn, unable to express themselves, their thoughts or feelings, resulting in attachments styles destructive in relationships, and personal symptoms of depression and or anxiety.

Fatal flaw

Psychologist and author Jonice Webb, describes ‘the fatal flaw’ in her book Running on Empty. The author specialises on the subject of childhood emotional neglect and provides the reader with excellent insight into the adult manifestations of emotional neglect in childhood, via 12 examples of sub-optimal parenting and the subsequent effects manifested in the adult.

As a sufferer myself still working through the behavioural traits, taught and inherited from my childhood – along with multiple traumas, I very much embraced the learning this publication afforded to me and the work I do with my own clients today.

Experience of trauma

As many counsellors will be finding today, clients demonstrate behaviours that may become attributable because of an individual’s experience of trauma. Most people will healthily process such events, but for others, the re-experiencing of such moments in time can become lodged in areas of the brain concerned with ‘fight-flight-freeze’.

A single traumatic event (PTSD) or multiple events (cPTSD) can have devastating effects on the general well-being and behaviours of adults, whether these were experienced in childhood (and often lay in the subconscious), or as adults, until these unprocessed, or incorrectly ‘lodged’ memories can become processed.

My thinking and practice has altered over time in regards to which therapies are helpful, and which appear less so. What has become clear however is that any re-traumatising of a client must be avoided, or at least reduced where possible.

Desensitising techniques appear to be showing consistent and positive results, and the method I have selected that appears to be the kindest in terms of processing trauma quickly is The Rewind Technique, which bears similarities with visual kinaesthetic disassociation (VKD).

I mentioned both trauma and childhood emotional neglect because they arrive so frequently in my counselling office together. Working systematically and sensitively through the client’s life narrative allows for the choice of care unique to that individual and their needs.

Want to explore further?

Time and space to explore both these topics more fully is clearly something for the reader to determine. I write articles for on these subjects, and others, and invite guest writers to share, just as I have here.


Image credit: Freepik

Bob Brotchie is a counsellor providing private services to clients in the privacy and comfort of a truly welcoming environment at Anglia Counselling, located near Newmarket in Suffolk.

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