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  • Writer's picture Zalman Nelson - Therapist

Were You Emotionally Deprived?

Updated: Aug 18, 2022

emotionally deprived

The experience of emotional deprivation is harder to define than some of the other Life Patterns (there are 11 in total), because it's often not crystallized into thoughts. The original deprivation began so early before you had the words to describe it.

The Experience of Being Emotionally Deprived

Your experience of emotional deprivation is much more the sense that you are going to be lonely forever, that certain things are never going to be fulfilled for you, that you will never be heard, never be understood.

Emotionally Deprived = Like Something is Missing

Emotional Deprivation feels like something is missing. It is a feeling of emptiness. Perhaps the image that most captures its meaning is that of a neglected child. Emotional deprivation is what a neglected child feels. It is a feeling of aloneness, of nobody there. It is a sad and heavy sense of knowing that you are destined to be alone.

For one client, when he came for support he struggled to share what was disturbing him. At first, he said things like, “I feel alone,” “I feel detached.” Later, he said that he has experienced such intense feelings of loneliness and disconnection that he has considered suicide. “I am emotionally dead,” he said. “My lack of feeling a connection applies to all my relationships. I'm not close to anyone, not to any family members, not to friends.”

For him, the world is an emotional desert. His only respite from isolation is in the very early stages of relationships. And, these are short-lived.

Some people with this Life Pattern show a tendency to be demanding in relationships. No matter how much people give you, it never feels like enough. It is a persistent feeling of deprivation in the face of clear evidence of caring.

Emotionally Deprived at Work

Some express their Emotional Deprivation Life Pattern by choosing a field of work that involves meeting the needs of other people. "I am always the listener...Other people tell me their problems and I help them as best I can, but I don't tell anyone my problems. I understand people better than they understand me, or care to understand.”

Perhaps you are in one of the healing or helping professions. Giving nurturance to others may be a way for you to compensate for your own feelings of unmet emotional needs. Similarly, you might exert great effort toward meeting the needs of your friends.

Emotional Deprivation in Relationships

Finally, it is a sign of the Emotional Deprivation Life Pattern to feel chronically disappointed in other people. You experience emotional deprivation in your relationship with others as being let down repeatedly by people. If your conclusion as a result of all your relationships is that you cannot count on people to be there for you emotionally – that is a sign that you have the Emotional Deprivation Life Pattern.


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