Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN): A childhood characterized by the absence of enough emotional attention, emotional validation and emotional responsiveness from one’s parents.
Sylvia doesn’t know it, but she is living with Borderline Personality Disorder. Another important thing that Sylvia doesn’t know: she grew up with an extreme version of Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN).
Typical (Non-extreme) CEN
CEN children grow up in a household that is essentially blind to emotion. Children whose emotions are not noticed or responded to enough receive the subtle but powerful message that their emotions are invisible and irrelevant. In order to cope in their childhood home, they push their feelings down, so as not to burden themselves or their parents. These children grow into adults who are out of touch with their own feelings. This causes a pattern of adult struggles, including feelings of emptiness, poor self-knowledge, lack of emotional skills, self-directed anger and shame.
The CEN child hears two messages loud and clear:
Your feelings don’t matter.
YOU don’t matter.