Effects of Emotional Neglect

Effects of Emotional Neglect
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  • 0-6months: During Polly's first months in the world, she and her mother lived in a very run down house. Their struggle with money caused a lot of stress for her mother and meant that she was incredibly inconsistent with Polly's care. She could not recognise Polly's emotional cues, and she would often leave Polly distressed for long periods without comforting her. This emotional neglect put Polly's body in a constant state of stress and because she could not predict her mother's interactions, it has impaired the development of her frontal cortex.
  • Babies rely on parental interactions to strengthen neuronal pathways regarding social interactions and how to meet their needs. Without these interactions their brains do not fully develop, affecting their abilities to respond to nurturing or kindness (Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000). Because her mother ignored her when she began to babble at around 6 months, Polly has missed vital growth in her language development, setting her well behind others her age .
  • In preschool, Polly isolates herself from her classmates. Her teacher noted that she was much poorer in social situations as she did not want to play with her peers, her emotions were often unpredictable though normally unhappy and her academic functioning was well below standard (Eckenrode, Laird, & Doris, 1993).
  • Polly often gets sent to the office for not paying attention or disrupting the class. She is in specialised education classes as she struggles with language and reading tasks (reference). She still struggles in social settings and has very few friends. She often starts fights due to misinterpreting situations and reacting aggressively or overly defensive.
  • Because of her underdeveloped cortex, Polly was more inclined to impulsive behaviours and as a result, had many opportunities in her teens to experiment with drugs and crime. This impulsivity has led her to regularly steal from stores and take unnecessary risks. 
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