According to Cambridge Dictionary, Abandonment is the act of leaving someone or something or of ending or stopping something, usually forever. Losing someone close is inevitable part of human life. People faced with divorce, break up, death or leaving someone behind for better opportunity often leaves them with a scar feeling of fear that they will be alone to deal with the difficulties of life. When this fear settles down in people’s memory and interfere with their life, it could be termed as fear of abandonment. The insecurity of losing someone can influence our behaviour and thereby causing troubles in our inter-personnel relations. For some individuals, fear of rejection by friends, leaving school, college, workplace or social circle can also plague feelings of being unsafe, fearful and alone.
Abandonment can be terrifying, shocking and overwhelming for an individual. It can be caused by a single event, multiple events or a set of events. The resultant emotions can trigger the feeling of fear, horror and helplessness.
Sign and Symptoms
- Feeling of being left alone.
- Inability to form new relationships.
- Holding onto relations even if it is unhealthy or abusive.
- Please people at every opportunity.
- Excessive and pronounced need for control over environment or situations.
- Avoiding all relationships and friendships.
- Anxiety and Insecurity.
- Need for constant reassurance.
- Weakened sense of self-worth.
Causes of Abandonment Issues
Abandonment is not age or gender specific. Men and women have been equally diagnosed with abandonment issues. The foundation of fear of desertion can be found in childhood experience of reassurance that comes from parents. During adulthood it comes from personal and romantic relationships. Sudden traumatic events during childhood and adulthood can interrupt this assurance of emotional and physical needs.
Losing someone close unexpectedly, feeling of neglect or experiencing abuse can create an emotional void that gets filled with emotions experienced in anticipation of some pain or danger. These experiences can lead to development of negative beliefs about relationships and oneself that form the basis for insecure attachments and abandonment fears. These beliefs can lead to self-worth issues like feeling of being unlovable, untrustworthy and believing that people will always end up leaving. Some childhood experiences can also trigger abandonment issues in later life. These experiences may include: –
- Having a parent or a caregiver who is neglectful or unresponsive to the feeling and needs of a child.
- Physical or emotional abuse and intimidation.
- Inconsistent behaviour by a parent or a caregiver.
- Sudden death or separation leading to absence of a parent.
The fear of losing or being deserted can be caused by any of these experiences but not always a result of any particular event. The seriousness of abandonment issue can be traced to a pattern of inconsistently in meeting physical and emotional needs. In other cases, certain environmental factors like violence, low socioeconomic status can also induce a sense of insecurity and fear of attachments.
It is also found that person’s unresolved emotional wounds from one relation is carried over and intervenes in person’s future relationships.
Effects of Abandonment:
Neglectful and insensitive experiences in their bonds with other may cause people to develop characteristics of being distant, private and withdrawn. They may formulate a fear of commitment and avoid conflict by either shutting down, leaving or ending relations.
People who have experienced inconsistently in meeting their emotional needs may start developing intensely close and dependent relationships. They tend to become too needy and highly emotionally reactive. They face difficulty in separating themselves from their partners and any conflict or argument can trigger their fear of abandonment.
Psychologically experiences mentioned above can increase the risk of chronic mental health issues like anxiety, stress, addiction, depression and poor attention. Few people may also experience borderline personality disorder, anti-social traits with decreased ability to regulate and control emotions.
Signs that indicate the need for therapeutic help:
- Difficulty in forming close relationships or friendships.
- Intense anxiety about commitment.
- Facing difficulty in being open and trusting others.
- Intense and violent emotional responses during conflicts and disagreements.
- Perceiving any argument or critical feedback as a sign that relationship will end or the partner is about to leave.
- Patterns of choosing partners who are abusive, controlling, and emotionally unstable.
- Totally losing one’s identity to be accepted in a relationship.
Therapy for tackling Abandonment Issues: –
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR): A psychotherapy treatment that facilitates accessing and processing traumatic memories, relieving affective distress and reformulating negative beliefs.
- Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT): In DBT, people are taught to accept their experiences and behaviours as valid, and bring positive changes to manage their emotions and move forward. It includes practising mindfulness, coping distress, making effective interpersonal relations while maintaining self-respect and regulating emotions.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): A talking therapy that lets you to connect with your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions, thereby helping you to manage your problems by changing negative thought patterns and behaviours. It deals with improving present state of mind with more structured, objective and realistic thoughts.
- Relationship and Couples Therapy: Understanding your partners’ emotions and behaviours can help in developing a better avenue for interactions and communication. Couples and Relationship therapy is focused on healing emotional abandonment problems, solving emotional intimacy issues and reinforcing positive connection to develop a closer bond.
- Child Counselling: Age-appropriate child therapy can help in reducing the effects of trauma, while enabling a child in coping negative emotions through play therapy, art therapy and sand tray therapy.
Psychologists as mental health care providers plays a major role in understanding biological, behavioural and social factors that influences mental health and physical wellbeing. Dr. (Prof) R K Suri, Senior Clinical Psychologist at Psychowellness Center ( https://www.psychowellnesscenter.com/ ), is a trained professional clinical psychologist, having more than 36 years of experience in all kinds of mental health issues and related therapeutic interventions.
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