What is abandonment syndrome: here are the causes and how to recognize it

There abandonment syndrome it is the excessive fear of losing someone and feeling “lost”, empty and devoid of references. The resulting sense of loneliness is perceived as a threat to one’s person. Abandonment syndrome causes the person to tend to feel lost and vulnerable when a person he loves moves away, or even before thedistancing happen.

Those who tend to have this type of fear do struggles to establish relationships (both friendship and love) lasting, because being afraid of being abandoned he puts in place manipulative mechanisms and anxious and obsessive attitudes that scare others away. The causes of this disorder are multiple, but they mainly begin in the period ofchildhoodwhen the bond is established between child and mother (or with the person who spends the most time with the child). The child whose needs have not been adequately satisfied by the maternal figure, in fact, will tend to fear abandonment and develop anxious relationships over the course of life.

What is abandonment syndrome and how does it manifest itself

THE feelings of anguish and insecurity they constantly pervade people who suffer from this syndrome, who also encounter many difficulties in relationships with others, causing confusion between their own needs and theirs. Additionally, those who are prone to this syndrome tend to have a poor self-esteem (which is expressed with the difficulty accepting criticism) and others accept any compromise just to keep relationships going, indulging the other in the hope that he doesn’t leave. It may also happen that you experience anxiety at the idea of ​​breaking away from certain people or even refuse to leave the house without those people.

Having a distorted picture of relationships with others (in whom she has little trust), when she feels she has been abandoned she implements controlling and manipulative behaviors not only with your partner, but in general in all the relationships you build. In particular, the person may demonstrate feelings of jealousy towards the partner’s relationships, whom she is unable to trust.

abandonment syndrome

In particular, the jealous partner lives with anxiety and fear of not being loved, of losing the other or of being left. Because of obsessive thoughts and attitudes he or she may also react disproportionately when events take an unexpected turn (shattered expectations).

Those who suffer from it may also perceive the sensation of being “persecuted”, and demonstrate panic or anxiety attacks. If left untreated, this disorder can lead to eating and sleeping disorderslowering of the immune defenses and even to depression.

Why are we afraid of being abandoned? Bowlby’s attachment theory

The causes of the abandonment syndrome are mainly rooted in thechildhood: the person who suffers from it, in fact, did not feel adequately protected, loved or desired during the crucial years of development.

In this regard, it is very important attachment theory developed following various research carried out by the psychoanalyst John Bowlby between the 50s and 70s, who took an in-depth interest in the aspects that characterize the relationship between the main attachment figure and the child. The latter, in fact, has a biological predisposition to develop an attachment bond with only one person, namely the one who takes care of him (monotropism), and to internalize the first relational modes implemented by caregiverthat is, the person who takes most care of the child (Bowlby uses the term “mother” in his studies, given that she is the person who generally takes care of the offspring for the longest time), essential during a phase of vulnerability in which the little one must be protected in order to survive. The attention to needs that the maternal figure will offer or not offer will inevitably influence the emotional bonds that the latter establishes throughout his life.

abandonment syndrome

The child who receives adequate care and responses from the mother (affection, satisfaction of primary needs, help in dealing with distressing situations, reassurance) feels protected, is curious and explores, becoming progressively autonomous and independent in various aspects of life (secure attachment). Once an adult, he will be able to adequately evaluate his own needs and those of others.

If the child’s needs have not been met by the mother, she can establish three types of: insecure attachment which Bowlby determined during an experiment in which he observed children’s reactions to the removal and presence of their mothers in the room where the children were playing.

  • Avoidant attachment: the child hides from his mother the discomfort he feels when she is in the room, and focuses on inanimate objects (toys) more than on her, avoiding closeness to keep the feeling of need under control, because he understands that he will not be satisfied as want.
  • Resistant attachment: the child “takes” his behavior to the extreme, manifesting alternately anger and passivity, or screaming and crying desperately (both when the mother leaves and when she returns to the room). This type of attachment develops when the caregiver The main responds unpredictably to the child’s requests, who therefore lives in uncertainty.
  • Attachment disorganized: it is a type of attachment halfway between avoidant and resistant, in which the child tries to get closer to the mother, but then distances herself in both a conflictual and silent way. It is found especially in neglected, mistreated and abused children (physical and sexual abuse), with one or both caregivers resistant to physical contact (therefore perceived as distant and detached from the child) or with mental pathologies.

Abandonment syndrome can also occur in adolescents and adults who:

  • they suffered a serious mourning (especially if sudden) which has left a deep void in the child’s life; in that case, i detachments and the separations they can recall the pain of that traumatic experience not yet faced and with which no peace has been made;
  • have suffered ghosting (abrupt termination of a relationship without giving explanations).

Borderline personality disorder and the fear of abandonment

Among the people who suffer most from abandonment syndrome are those who are affected by borderline personality disorder. These highly emotional individuals experience abandonment (both real and imagined) very intensely and cannot bear to be neglected. They can become jealous, obsessive and controlling towards friends and partners, manifesting episodes of anger even in the face of apparently “harmless” situations: if the other person were to disappoint them expectations (for example arriving even slightly late for an appointment), could become aggressive, only to be privately ashamed later. The bonds of those who suffer from this disorder are unlikely to be long-lasting, precisely because of them outbursts of anger (even verbal) that because of his sensitivity And impulsiveness he can’t control.

What to do if you suffer from fear of abandonment?

To get out of the tunnel of unresolved childhood discomfort and trauma caused by this disorder, it is essential to face a therapeutic path based on the reaffirmation of one’s self-esteem.

psychological session