Emotional Intelligence | Main Page on Emotional Abuse

Emotional Abuse vs. Emotional Neglect

If I don't feed my child it will die from neglect. But if I feed it with toxic food, it could live a long life, but be deformed and damaged forever. That helps us see the difference between emotional neglect and emotional abuse.

If I am an absent father, if I move away, and I never hug my child or spend time with him or her, the child will suffer to some degree from emotional neglect. But if I live with my child and everyday tell him, directly or indirectly, that he is lazy, worthless, bad, strange, abnormal, disrespectful, selfish, incompetent, a burden, the cause of my problems and unhappiness, this will do infinitely more damage.

A child who has been emotionally neglected at home may still get positive feedback from his or her friends and classmates, or from other adults. This will help shape their self-image and self-confidence. If not emotionally and psychologically poisoned at home, a child may grow to be a functional adult. Thus the child who has “just” been emotionally neglected has at least a fair chance at a relatively happy life. But life will be much harder and more painful for those who have been emotionally abused.