11: Childhood Emotional Neglect: The Invisible Experience with Dr. Jonice Webb

My guest today is Dr. Jonice Webb, a clinical psychologist in private practice in Lexington, MA, specializing in work with couples and families. She has been featured on NPR and on many radio shows and online magazines. She’s here to deepen our understanding of what childhood emotional neglect (CEN) really is. CEN is hard to understand because it’s about what didn't happen in childhood, and even though it can be subtle and invisible, CEN has a tremendous impact on many individuals. Our conversation will cover how CEN shows up, how to recognize its effects, and how we can begin the healing process. Join us! What you’ll hear in this episode:
  • CEN:  a very common factor in many clients
  • CEN occurs when parents don’t validate or respond enough to the emotional needs of a child
  • How CEN differs from child abuse
  • Examples of parents within CEN:
    • A self-focused parent who looks in the mirror and not at their child
    • Well-meaning, permissive parents who set no limits and seek to be “buddies” with their child
    • Parents who are either absent or preoccupied
  • The biggest problem in recovering from CEN? Not wanting to blame parents, so we blame ourselves
  • Characteristics in adulthood of CEN:
    • Struggling to feel grounded
    • Being excessive caretakers, putting themselves last
    • Having extreme guilt and shame around feelings
    • Feeling unconnected, adrift, and alone
  • Growing up where emotions (good and bad) are not allowed and celebrated
  • The first piece of recovery: recognizing and owning the CEN
  • The biggest myth around CEN? That only bad parents emotionally neglect children
  • First steps in healing: acknowledgment and reclaiming emotions
Resources: www.emotionalneglect.com (Sign up for Jonice’s newsletter and online CEN recovery program. Also, check out her blog on Psych Central.) Running On Empty:  Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect Save Save Save