Tuesday, October 25, 2011

New day, new disorder: Emotional Deprivation Disorder

Fill her up!
I’ve discovered a new disorder! Is it just me or does everything have a disorder these days? Anyways, it’s called Emotional Deprivation Disorder.

Emotional Deprivation Disorder is a syndrome which results from a lack of authentic affirmation and emotional strengthening in one's life. A person may have been criticized, ignored, neglected, abused, or emotionally rejected by primary caregivers early in life, resulting in that individual’s stunted emotional growth. ‘Unaffirmed’ persons are incapable of developing into emotionally mature adults until they receive authentic affirmation from another person. Maturity is reached when there is a harmonious relationship between a person’s body, mind, emotions and spiritual soul under the guidance of their reason and will.
Some signs and symptoms include:
Insufficiently Developed Emotional Life

Abnormal Rapport
o Incapable of establishing normal, mature contact with others
o Feels lonely and uncomfortable in social settings
o Capable of a willed rapport but not an emotional investment in relationships

o Childhood level of emotional development
o Feels like a child or and infant and others must focus their attention on the individual just as an adult would focus on a young child.
o Incapable of emotional surrender to a spouse

Reactions Around Others
o May be fearful in nature or courageous and energetic
o More fearful people tend to become discouraged or depressed
o More courageous and energetic persons can become more aggressive

Uncertainty & Insecurity

Fear or anxiety
o Can be in the form of a generalized anxiety
o Fear of hurting someone else’s feelings
o Fear of hurting others or contaminating them (e.g. with germs or a cold)
o Need for frequent reassurance

Feels incapable of coping with life
o Worry that they’ll be put in a situation they can’t handle
o Can be easily discouraged or depressed
o May pretend to be in control in order to mask inner feelings and fearfulness

Hesitation and Indecisiveness
o Difficulty in making decisions
o Easily changes mind

o Overly sensitive to the judgments of others, criticism or slights
o Easily hurt or embarrassed

Need to Please Others
o Pleases others in order to protect self from criticism or rejection and gain approval of others
o Easily taken advantage of or exploited
o Fear of asking for favors or services needed

o Worried about what other people think
o Self-doubt and need for reassurance

o Do not dare to say “no” for fear of rejection

Inferiority and Inadequacy

Feel Unloved
o Believe that no one could possibly love them
o Feel devoid of all feelings of love
o Believe they are incapable of loving others or God
o Suspicious of any token of affection – continually doubt sincerity of others

Physical Appearance
o May have feelings of inadequacy due to physical appearance

Feelings of Intellectual Incompetence
o May have difficult completing projects
o Repeated failure or fear of failure

Show Signs of Disintegration in New Circumstances
o Fear of new situations and challenges
o Difficulty coping with new job, landlord, moving, etc.

Sense Impairments
o Undeveloped or underdeveloped senses (touch, taste, sight, smell)
o Lack of order, disorganization
o Fatigue

Further symptoms found in some individuals with emotional deprivation disorder:

o Deep feelings of guilt
o Kleptomania
o Need to collect and hoard useless things
o Paranoid condition
Essentially, it’s BPD Light without the wild mood swings, anger, impulsivity and penchant for self-harm and suicidal tendencies.

The cure? Simple! All you need is affirmation. Just find one person who can be your personal source of unconditional love and will provide all your emotional strengthening!


I’m sure there’s more to it than that, like say, years of therapy. Affirmation Therapy in fact.
“Affirmation therapy involves the therapist’s affective, not effective, presence with a client—in other words, it is a way of “being” with a person as opposed to “doing” something for him or her. Affirmation therapy can be formally described as a way of being affectively present to another human person in a therapeutic relationship in which the therapist reveals to the client his or her intrinsic goodness and worth.”
Essentially the therapist will be your source of unconditional love in a therapeutic relationship.
I don’t know. My experience with people makes it very difficult to believe that there are people out there that can genuinely love you without really knowing you…. Especially when you’re paying them to love you. It’s like emotional prostitution. This has always been an issue of mine regarding therapy actually. The idea that a complete stranger can generally care about your issues and problems without having any emotional investment in you. You can pay someone to listen, but you can’t pay someone to care. Though to be true, it has been my experience that given time a therapist can and will develop a genuine investment in their patients. A genuine investment based on the very reason they went into the profession in the first place…. A desire to help people. I know my therapist cares about me. I know she thinks about me when I’m gone, though I can’t help but feel that her connection to me is stronger than my connection to her. This isn’t her fault though, it’s my own attachment issues at play. She hasn’t given up on me though and that is exactly the kind of support I need.

My question with this Affirmation Therapy is… How much emotional support can you really expect a therapist to give? To listen, to help you work through your issues, to guide and provide the tools you need in order to learn to deal with your own life… sure. But unconditional love? Maybe they’re like the Grand Master Zen Buddhists of the therapy world.

Personally I would have a really hard time accepting this as genuine. But to each their own I suppose. Hell, if you’re in a place where you can openly accept the unconditional love of a therapist you’re probably a leg up on my stubby little bipeds of emotional stuntedness.


  1. My God! You've just described have of my ex-lovers!!

  2. it is a way of “being” with a person as opposed to “doing” something for him or her. Affirmation therapy can be formally described as a way of being affectively present to another human person in a therapeutic relationship in which the therapist reveals to the client his or her intrinsic goodness and worth.”

    I think this is why child psychologists often just play checkers half the time with the kids. I remember doing that thinking I didn't know what that was for, and then coming out, getting into the car with the parent, having 2 words with them and having a tantrum. You have an uncanny way of bringing back these memories that give ME affirmation, Haven. I really appreciate your posts.

  3. I was looking for Christian psychology books and ones by Dr Conrad Baars floated to the top of many lists. I began investigating and was blown away by the similarity between his understanding of the human person based upon St Thomas Aquinas and Affirmation Therapy with Dr Linehan's and aspects of DBT. I like your assessment of BPD light :).

    Mostly I think about the affirmation (love) that Coley so desperately desired after reading Rachel Reiland's book. (http://healingfrombpd.blogspot.com/2010/06/i-love-it-when-i-can-so-clearly-see-god.html)

    I came across your blog again searching for DBT/Affirmation Therapy. Your comments about a therapist's unconditional love strike me. This is something I want to manifest in my own relationship with my wife. I want to move past bitterness and sometimes despair and be that rock for her that I've always wished I could be. I just don't know how to do it while I'm so affected by her rages. I wonder if the combination of therapist's knowledge, less day-to-day relationship/reliance allows them the detachment necessary to give this type of love.

    I have a difficult time understanding/developing healthy detachment vs maligning/resenting.

    1. I am married for 22 yrs and I can't fathom my husband's behavior until I read Dr. Conrad Baar's book "Healing the Unaffirmed" I participated in open discussion under Bonnie Shane as the moderator then I confided my spouse if he knew about this kind of disorder & he cried and admitted it to me. I was shocked & felt paralyzed. I can't blame him anymore. I thought I was going insane dealing with a husband who has a mentality of a little kid & seems innocent of the adult responsiblity. My rejection & criticizm to him became worst of his disorder because I was not aware & I can't accept his behavior. After our marriage counseling, I was hopeless & was ready to leave him but we have a daughter that is holding us together. I keep praying for Divine Healing for him since he refused to go counseling. This kind of disorder is detrimental to a marriage unless it is revealed for acceptance. I still believe in miracle that my husband will come into sense that my daughter & I love him so much especially now that we know about his disorder & this auhentic love will bring him back into normal life after all our the ups & downs, circumstances & adversity of our life. As I told my spouse, I should have known this on the first stage of our marriage so it should have been dealt earlier & the bitterness, anger, resentment should have been avoided. I applaud you Mr. Circumnavigator of trying your best to find solution but your spouse/family should play a big role on the situation. My prayers are to all of you who has this kind of disorder.

  4. Most often than not those who contributed to the sufferer did so out of ignorance. Bear in mind this disorder according to available research is

    "not yet included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association and provides diagnostic criteria for mental disorders."1

    1 http://psychology.wikia.com/wiki/Emotional_Deprivation_Disorder

  5. I think I know someone who has EDD and would like to help. I tried joining the group moderated by Bonnie Shayne, however she said that they don't accept new members anymore. It's very hard to find info and support for EDD. I hope someone could refer me to a group or forum on this important topic. I can be reached via email lalamzx@hotmail.com

  6. Finding this was a god send for so long I have struggled with this my entire young life and as a adult I feel so empty and devoid. I never knew what the problem was but I happened on this site and begin to read. The more I read the more everything began to make me think back on my childhood and to not get the love you need growing up really takes it's toll on a child. Now as a adult I have never had meaningful relationships I have become the loner but not by choice. The friendships I did have I was very dependent on that person for every emotional need I had and finally it tore it apart. I think the worst part is feeling like you are so unloved and nobody cares. I am 28 now and I feel like after reading this article I may be able to feel better about myself and hope some good can come from knowing what I do know.

  7. I have never heard of this until now. It's really fascinating and I can see the parallels of BPD as well as Complex Trauma and PTSD. It's not in the DSM manual either which might be a good thing since the new DSM5 makes it so most people are now mentally ill.

    Affirmative Therapy in simple terms is like Rogerian therapy, which to some extend all therapists use. The core idea that the client comes first and is the expert and owner if their own life. Although this could be useful. I could also see how clients who feel "stuck" will remain so without more guidance.

    Excellent Post.

  8. I am intelligent enough not to self diagnose myself after reading posts on the internet, however, I have suffered from 99% of the symptoms listed here (other than kleptomania) and could never find resolution or answers in the past. This could very well be a starting off point and put me on a road to healing. Time will tell.

  9. I was diagnosed with emotional deprivation disorder at age 11, after spending a month in a children's hospital, and I can tell you it is a real thing. I am now 18, and it affects my life. I have bad anxiety issues because of feelings of inferiority around people, with criticism, I become abnormally worked up, and can dwell on the slightest comment for weeks. I sometimes get so bad I cannot leave my room. People joke a lot about this, but it is real, and it can be as hard to live with as any other syndrome. The need to please someone can spread me thin to the point of exhaustion, and I have not in my life had a stable relationship with anyone, even people in my family. I worry every day about every little thing, and it can get so hard sometimes that I literally do not know what to do, and can cause panic attacks. I have all of these symptoms, and I hope one day people will find an actual helpful cure, rather than affirmation. It does not work long-term, but rather causes a brief 'high' of confidence. I can say personally, that it fades.

    1. In life we all have our own experiences and just because it hasn't worked for one person it doesn't therefore mean that it doesn't work. clearly there is a lot to it. Each person needs to be looked at individually and assessed so to speak.

      its a bit like one person saying that they tried to make a cake and it didn't work. one could say that it is therefore impossible to make one. But if they were to step back, they could look at why it didn't work. What was stopping them from being able to complete the cake? What were the blocks?

  10. I am a 22 year old boy diagnosed with Emotional Deprivation and Abandonment Issues. My "father" abandoned me when I was little, mom went to work abroad when I was in 1st grade...I was left to my "father"'s family, I was neglected and abused.
    Now I hate my family, I would rather set myself on fire rather than accept someone's help, I have no ideea what love and affection are, I can't make bonds with people, I don't care about other people, I don't care what others think about me. I'm very energetic and curageous, but I can get easily discouraged. I never talk to anyone about my problems. Not even my mother. I don't trust anyone when they show me affection, but sometimes I'm happy like I see children when they're happy. I never was happy when I was child.

    This is what being Emotionally Deprived means.

  11. please consider talking to a caring therapist. the things that happened to you were not about you! they were about the the emotionally deprived people around you who were so broken they had nothing to give. i have my own story of emotional neglect and deprivation. i feel for you.

  12. My dad has been the cause of EDD in my case.He was never there for me.He is overly critical and it has broken my confidence and my trust in others as well as in myself.I feel i will be alone for the rest of my life as i have always failed in relationships.There is no one in the world who can provide me with the kind of affirmation that is needed to get out of this mess.


Leave me a comment! It makes me feel good and less paranoid about talking to myself =)

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