Childhood Emotional Neglect Discussion Page

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**This page is not intended to provide psychotherapy advice or professional services of any kind or to replace a clinical relationship with a psychologist or therapist. It is meant only to share understanding, information and support about Childhood Emotional Neglect.

I’m sorry that I can’t answer individual questions on this page. But I have found that CEN people benefit greatly from sharing their CEN experiences, goals and challenges with each other. I hope you will participate in the general discussion, which is filled with insightful, thoughtful comments and responses.

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Will - September 21, 2020 Reply


I read your book “Running on Empty” and it really helps. On Page 173 in Self-Care Part 4: Having Compassion for Yourself, paragraph 2 you say self compassion is a “…higher order aspect of self care…..that can only come when you care enough to treat yourself.” Can you flesh that out a little more? Could you suggest some literature on the orders of self-care? I think I agree with you and this seems really important. If you don’t practice enough self care, then you won’t care to practice compassion for yourself. What is meant by higher order. fascinated.

Cat - September 14, 2020 Reply

Hi Dr. Jonice,
I am a 50 year old female with my own wonderful family and husband. However, since I left home at age 17 to move in with him, I have had bouts of depression, anxiety, anger and sadness over the dysfunctional family I left (Mom, Dad, 3 sisters) for the past 30 years! I’m sick of it! I came across your YouTubes several night ago and am excited to read your books. I have always struggled with a roller coaster ride of loneliness, lack of confidence, hating myself. Yet other times I am extremely confident and on top of the world. I have a lot of friends but still feel loneliness when I don’t hear from them often. I feel apart and rejected from my mom and sisters at times which sends me crying. My oldest sister won’t speak to me since I left home 30 years ago – I reconciled with my parents 25 years ago but continue to feel a lack of closeness or a connection to them. From the outside it looks fine. I know different from the inside. Now my 2nd sister is rejecting me due to something that is 100% her fault. My father lives apart from my mother and has little to do with our lives. When I phone him he talks about himself, never asks about me or the grandkids (narcissist). These articles and eventually these books will help me not go down tbe rabbit hole of depression and help me realize that it’s them, and not me! I made it out! Your wise words have also made me realize that my sensitive thoughts (HSP) have to change. They are not based on normalcy.
Thank You!!!!!!

Jane - September 11, 2020 Reply

I have to say I’m incredibly let down that you sold out your gender and use exclusive male pronouns. Work that’s no doubt crucial, and you slap women in the face with your 1950s sexism.

    Jonice - September 12, 2020 Reply

    Dear Jane, I was nowhere close to born in 1950. I use pronouns going back and forth between “he” and “she” in order to avoid “they.” However, recently, “they” used singularly has been labeled as proper English so I’ve started doing that which is less clunky. I am the last person who would ever turn my back on women’s rights and empowerment.

Alex - September 11, 2020 Reply

I just listened to a podcast you did with another doc (can’t recall her name). You made a statement that stopped my in my tracks. Something about falling into a marriage that presented itself.

    Jonice - September 12, 2020 Reply

    Yes, I was probably saying that CEN people don’t get to know how they feel about things so they are vulnerable to be taken wherever the tide takes them. If you are not consulting your own feelings, you are vulnerable to falling into careers, marriages, and other choices that may not make you happy or fulfilled.

Kevin - August 16, 2020 Reply

Hi. My apologies… I seemed to have placed my question in your appt. inquiry form. So, I’ll repeat it here.
I noticed the CEN survey lists out all the same afflictions suffered by gifted people. How do you distinguish between two seemingly different foundations… especially with one being largely biological, and one nurture? Or do you? Does one compound the other if both are experienced?

    Jonice - August 17, 2020 Reply

    Dear Kevin, I’m not sure how you are defining “gifted.” I do not believe these traits are afflictions of intellectually gifted people. But I do think if you are a sensitive person, you are more likely to experience a CEN childhood more deeply.

roshan - August 3, 2020 Reply

Hi Dr Webb

Firstly, I wanted to say that I have read both your Running on empty books and they are amazing!

I am writing from New Zealand.

I just wanted to reach out regarding something I am struggling with in regards to my 6 year old son.

I am curious as to how I can communicate or question him when he is expressing anger. He is so young so he does not have the vocabulary to express the right feeling words.

So, is it ok if I say something like “son I can see that you are upset. So daddy can understand are you feeling “angry” or “frustrated” or “unheard”?

Is this OK?

He also called me a “dummy” the other day and when I asked him why he said that he replied by saying “because I wanted to hurt your feeling”. He clearly has a pain body here. But I am not sure how to address it.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Kind regards

    Jonice - August 4, 2020 Reply

    Great questions, Roshan. For a year-old, it may be okay to ask him which feeling he is having. Or you may need to say, “I can see how angry you are,” for example, so that you are naming it for him. You don’t need to over-focus on his feelings, but keep it as casual as possible, conveying to him that feelings matter but we do not let feelings dominate everything. For example, when he called you a dummy, you can say, “We don’t say mean things when we’re upset. Instead say, “I don’t feel you are listening to me.” That explains the rule of how to treat people plus gives him an actual sentence to use in the future.

      Roshan - August 4, 2020 Reply

      Hi Jonice

      Thanks for all the tips. I will try this.

      It is so nice to be able to message an Author or 2 super cool books and have her reply so promptly to questions.

      Many thanks

    Ellen - August 22, 2020 Reply

    Hi Roshan, I wanted to comment because I’ve been struggling with something similar with my nearly three year old.

    I could see she was anxious and worried, but trying to talk to her and ask her about it didn’t seem to be helping her move through it. I found an enormously helpful book called Playful Parenting (I hope it’s ok to mention other books here), which has opened up a whole new communication line with my daughter.

    I’ve found that often when she says something like “go away mummy!”, I can treat it as an invitation to play a game with her (e.g. by responding with fake crying) as a way of helping her process her emotions. Now she often says “go away mummy” when she needs to connect, I respond with fake crying (she says “cry!” if I don’t), and then she gives me a cuddle (and sometimes we repeat the whole cycle several times). It’s a bit of trial and error to find the response she needs each time, but I can see that taking this approach is helping her work through her anxiety in a way that talking wasn’t.

    As someone who got very little emotional validation from my own parents, I’ve been very aware of needing to provide it for my daughter. This playful approach has given me a way of doing that on her own wavelength while she’s little. Children use play to work through their emotions, so it’s about joining them there.

    I do my best to name and accept her emotions too. This has just given me a much richer way of being able to do that.

Beaner - August 2, 2020 Reply

Hi Jonice, I’m a highly sensitive person, I very much resonate with CEN and answered ‘yes’ to all the questions. Still, I see myself as very selfish and am very good knowing what my wants and needs are when I come up against someone else’s. I have no idea what my wants and needs are if I have a blank slate. I’m only aware of two emotions — anger and sadness. Can I be selfish and still suffer from CEN?

    Jonice - August 2, 2020 Reply

    Dear Beaner, I think you need to pay more attention to yourself on an everyday basis. Your wants and needs and feelings matter and it’s important for you to be aware of what they are.

MC - July 18, 2020 Reply

Hello everyone

WOW!!!! Here’s my story:
Generational CEN, age 4-13 sexual abuse (by uncle); age 23 sexual advances i.e. masturbating in front of me while I slept on my sister’s sofa recovering from an ectopic pregnancy (by brother-in-law); age 56 [9.5 months ago] sexual assault (by doctor; I’m a nurse).

That’s the short version. I’m here because my now 4th marriage is failing. Found a marriage coach who suggested my husband may have CEN and said we both may benefit from the 2 books.

So week got the books about 2 weeks ago. We both have CEN.

I’ve always known I was “off” and have had a heavy heart when it comes my my only daughter (now 35 y/o) and the pain she has endured to this day. I want to get better and do better.

My question is for all parents out there. How are you coping with all this information now and how it has affected your children?

Thank you Dr Jonice for sharing your knowledge.. It’s the only we are all going to heal; by educating ourselves.

In One Peace

    Jonice - July 19, 2020 Reply

    Dear MC, thanks for sharing your story. I love your question for all parents out there. I hope you get lots of answers. Take care of yourself.

AR - July 8, 2020 Reply

Dr. Webb,

Thank you so much for this book! I’m in my 40’s a wife and mother and have been dealing with the fallout from my very emotionally neglectful parents my entire adult life. I just finished listening to “Running on Empty” and will listen to “Running on Empty No More” next.
Both of my parents had unloving, dysfunctional parents plus a religious environment that created some unrealistic ideas about mental and emotional health. While I can see why they are emotionally absent/neglectful, my mother has been in and out of counseling for 20+ years and it has only bolstered her self-centeredness. She often made statements about how her therapist confirmed how right she was to take certain actions that only benefited her but left my siblings and I neglected. It has been incredibly hurtful to hear this because I and my sibling were the ones to pay the real price for her decisions. Is there any benefit to confronting her over these assertions?

    Jonice - July 12, 2020 Reply

    Dear AR, it can be risky to trust what some people claim that their therapists say. Self-centered people can sift what they hear so that it matches what they want it to be. I suggest you do whatever will allow you to move forward and grow, and you may want to seek your own CEN therapist for support.

Alice - June 17, 2020 Reply

I’m in my early 20s and I just left a home that I finally realized was emotionally abusive. My parents loved me, but they never understood how deeply I felt things, and they constantly hurt me with things they said and did. I’ve struggled for so long with feelings that I am selfish, lazy, and worthless, because that is what they told me.
While my body is free of that torment, my mind still constantly whispers at me that I will never stand on my own two feet. I’m trying to resist the harsh words it throws at me, and sometimes I am successful, but it is a hard battle I worry that I will never win.

    Jonice - June 18, 2020 Reply

    Dear Alice, I’m glad you’re fighting those old messages that are wrong. You can talk back to them!, You can say whatever works, like, “I can absolutely take care of myself.”

Larry - June 16, 2020 Reply

I am 65, getting divorced, and only now realizing that I had no business having a relationship. I didn’t bond with my parents- when they died I felt nothing. I never learned what emotional intimacy is or empathy for others. I knew I was very different from others but thought that’s the way it’s supposed to be. I’ve only hurt and been hurt by women in relationships.
I was abusive of my wife and my two daughters and only now found out how angry my wife & daughters are at me for how their lives turned out and what they have to go thru now.
I’m giving up relationships, have joined men-only groups, celebrate recovery, and hope to find a new therapist who knows what CEN, maybe help a little?
I’ve read Running on Empty and it’s Exactly who I am, along with HSP.
I’ve been in and out of therapy, doctors, and meds for 40 years. My only successful relationships have been w/ therapists.
Please listen to me as an example to never wait to get the help you need or tell another you love that they need to seek help, I earnestly ask that none of you ever ends up like me.
Glad I could comment…

    Jonice - June 16, 2020 Reply

    Dear Larry, thank you for sharing your story in such a candid and helpful way. I hear accountability and hope in your voice and having these 2 qualities will take you someplace new. I hope you’ll reach out to a therapist from my CEN Therapist List.

Paula - June 15, 2020 Reply

I felt my upbringing was generally good though CEN, now recognized, was there. My father was not raised with warmth and caring, my mother was a perfectionist. I felt that I had to be the “good little girl” and when not, punishment was often the silent treatment. That has been a struggle for me in adulthood. When I don’t hear back from people, etc., it has been like punishment all over again. Relationships are challenging, now I know why. My parents have passed away but I see the results of CEN in my siblings. We rarely talked about anything emotional or deep in childhood and it continues as adults. I’ve been working through this with therapy, meditation and other tools to dissect and reduce the negative thoughts I have. It’s definitely better but after decades. Thank you Dr. Webb for your insights and education.

    Jonice - June 18, 2020 Reply

    You are doing some amazing work, Paula. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us!

Karen - June 14, 2020 Reply

My mother was a narcissist, father a passive co-dependant. Grew up in an emotionally abusive and neglectful family environment: mother mean & controlling with strings attached to everything: my needs never met. Father emotionally absent. Unhappy childhood, always feeling lost and empty and alone in life. This handicap of not being in touch with my emotions and doing for others (survival mechanism living with a narcissist) affected my entire adult life in a very negative way. In my 50’s I came across a youtube video about narcissism and when I listened it was about my life: my narcissistic mother and husband. My husband is my mothers emotional twin. That was the flame that ignited my research into the area of what happened to me. I found youtube videos from Lisa A Romano which talks about narcissism and co-dependancy. I found out I am a co-dependant (others oriented person) from learning how to survive living with a narcissistic parent. Being a co-dependant sets you up for a life of taking care of others needs and not your own. You become exhausted throughout life for being unable to say no (no learned boundaries). On Lisa’s youtube shows she has visitors who have books and their own youtube videos. I read all of their books and listened to all their videos. This is how I found Dr Webb, she was on a video with Ross Rosenberg who wrote the book “The Human Magnet Syndrome”. Reading about CEN turned on the lightbulb of what happened to me, and also what happened to my parents: they had CEN too: passed down as it was before them. That is why I no longer get angry at my parents, I understand it happened to them and they don’t know they are neglectful. I’ve been on a long path of self healing, self care, setting boundaries, learning about self worth and my value in this world. Everything that was missing from my life. I feel so much calmer, rested and less nervous and unhappy from figuring out what happened to me (or what didn’t happen to me: nurturing love and guidance). I’m giving that to myself now.
By reading a ton of books, and listening to hours of youtube videos by many psychologists and life coaches, I have the knowledge and tools to heal myself. You can too.

Mary - June 14, 2020 Reply

I grew up in a family that didn’t talk about feelings which as set me up for problems in adulthood. I struggle with making friends and experience loneliness everyday. I have been reading your blogs and find them really interesting and inspiring.
I have learned that my parents were only bringing me up the way their parents brought them up and they was doing their best with what they had but I still feel angry about it and can’t seem to get over it. Is this normal and how can I overcome this? Thanks.

    Jonice - June 14, 2020 Reply

    Yes, it is normal, Mary. Why wouldn’t you be angry? It makes perfect sense. If it persists and is making you unhappy, I hope you will reach out to a CEN therapist from the list so you have someone to help you work through this.

    Anne - June 14, 2020 Reply

    I have found that forgiving my parents and forgiving myself has been my greatest strategy working through my cen. I had to forgive myself first. I forgave myself for not showing up for my children. I forgave my parents for not showing up for me. I realize it’s like abuse of any sort, their is a cycle. In my recognition I have the opportunity to share with my adult children what I know now. I can attempt new ways to communicate, to be aware one can repair. I had no idea what was wrong until I read Jonice Webb’S books.

      Jonice - June 15, 2020 Reply

      That is so wonderful, Anne! Thank you for sharing that.

Joel - June 14, 2020 Reply

I’ve always known that my childhood was “abnormal” but it wasn’t until I discovered CEN that I began to understand just how messed up it was. Although I’ve always known that my mother was narcissistic, after reading Running on Empty, I can now “diagnose” her as having also definite sociopathic tendencies. She was the daughter of a highly controlling, manipulative narcissistic mother (my grandmother). The emotional environment in my grandmother’s household was so abusive that I used to become physically ill after a few days visit there even though none of the abuse was directed at me. Not surprisingly, my mother never associated my physical distress with the events in the household.

As if my mother’s upbringing was bad enough, she had the misfortune when I was just over a year old of to suffer from a debilitating paralytic tumor that took multiple operations and several years to recover from. During this time she was unable to provide me emotional support and my father was ~250 miles away most of the time earning a living. There can’t be anything “worse” for a narcissist than being paralyzed and having people wait on her hand and foot! Coming out of this event she transformed into a totally self-centered individual.

With this kind of background, it’s not surprising that I suffer from CEN. It’s probably worth noting that my father was a smart and caring individual who had, unfortunately, been deprived of his father by death at age ~9. Therefore, he was unable to provide me much first-hand emotional support and what support he he could provide anyone was swallowed by my mother’s narcissism.

All-in-all, it’s amazing looking back at it that I was able to survive and be able to marry and raise a family. I can credit this to my spouse who is one of the few really “good” persons I have met in my life. We’ve just celebrated 50 years of marriage and I credit her with helping me become the person I am today even though we had no idea how much CEN had “marked” my upbringing.

Although it’s late in life for me to try to “undo” the damage of CEN, it’s helpful to understand how it has affected my behavior over the past decades. I’m not entirely proud of some of my actions and behaviors and I now recognize that many of them were reactions to my past. My one hope is that my trying to “unwind” from CEN I can regain some of the childhood memories that I have repressed. Several years ago I began to realize that I had far less recall of my childhood than did my wife and many others. This, I know realize, was most likely repression due to the unhappiness I associate with so much of my past.

Anonymous - June 14, 2020 Reply

Thank you so much for the work you are doing… I have spent many many many years trying to combat the guilt I feel; your insights into why it’s normal that I feel this way are incredibly helpful.
I grew up in a home filled with emotional neglect. I had a mentally unbalanced other sister who just took up all of the bandwidth in the house. My parents convinced themselves that I was always just fine because my natural disposition was pretty easy-going ( even though when I was 12, I swallowed a ton of pill to – kill myself? Grab some attention ?). After that, I went through periods of doing a lot of drugs, having a ton of sex with men I barely knew ( while underage; continued until my very early 20s) .
There were a million red flags, My parents chose not to notice this. It was until I became an adult and had my own children that this really started to bother me in a different way.( I have fought fiercely against raising my kids the way I was raised). Something happened as they begin to grow, and reached the ages where I started to have troubles myself. I found I became more and more angry and resentful towards my parents…. Because I now knew how much they overlooked, how lazy their parenting was, and by that point I knew how much it had affected me throughout my entire adult life. Finally, at age 48, I told them. I told them why we lead such a distant lives even though we live near each other, why I feel the way I do about them, and how it felt for me growing up. They responded at first with anger, and then benign excuses. I know they wish nothing more than to be a part of my life now, , But it clearly is contingent upon sharing their rose colored view (false) view of our past. Well I was able to stomach doing that when I was younger I just have reached a point where I cannot anymore. I also have learned that the only way to discuss this with them is to ram it down her throat in a big fight. Obviously not interested in doing that over and over again.
I guess what I had hoped was that there would’ve been some curiosity on their part, some genuine sadness about how horrible life was so many years. Some interest? Empathy? They’ve never asked a single question since the few times I force them into an argument about it. They don’t seem capable of it, and I don’t know why.

They are nearing the end of their lives they are in their mid-80s. I try not to feel tons of guilt about this, I really still do, But it’s really pains me to have them in my life. Also they are BIG trump supporters ! An added layer of difficulty! ;p !!

It feels good to write this down, thank you.

Corinne - June 14, 2020 Reply

I’ve been working with a therapist since reading your book Running on Empty, and making strides. I spent time with my brother over the holidays and he’s realizing the effects of our Mother’s emotional neglect. Men won’t go to counseling and I’m still working to understand CEN on myself. I’d like to guide him, but how? One new problem I’ve noticed about myself and my brother is that having worked hard to please when we were young, we don’t feel motivation as we start our 60’s. I’d like to see a discussion on motivation and CEN.

    Jonice - June 14, 2020 Reply

    Dear Corinne, lots of men go to counseling! But maybe you could get your brother to read Running On Empty? Or start reading my blog? For some people, it requires the planting of seeds over time, and waiting until they take root and grow. Thanks for your suggestion. I can write a blog on CEN and motivation. Take care, and keep on healing!

Richard - June 14, 2020 Reply

I would like to share my story. I am only now understanding the inpact it had in my life. I am 56 years old. My mom passed when I was 4 years old. My grandma and grandpa moved close by to help my dad out. My mom died giving birth to my sister. There were 3 kids and I remember that day he brought us into his bedroom and told us she would never be coming home. I remember seeing my sister cry and my dad start crying and then I did. But really, I did not understand what was going on. I recall this. Later I felt stupid about it and that set the pace for my whole life.
My dad remarried and all I remember about this time was being scared and the fighting. They fought everyday and she would throw and break stuff. She may have had a drinking problem. Not sure. I remember one night again that stands out, I hid in my room when the fighting was happening, one night she started screaming and I ran out of my room and my dad had her pinned on the couch choking her. At least that is what it looked like, and ran ran over and pleaded for him to stop. I found out she had taken my mom’s photos that my dad had and ran water over them to ruin them. She was not a nice person at all. They divorced shortly after. My dad remarried again, this seemed normal. They never fought like I had seen and they are together still today.
What I will say is, it was so not normal. I know this now. There were no “i love you” that I ever remember at all. I wondered why nobody liked me. I wondered starting in jr high why i was the odd one or why i didn’t fit in like others. Started into drugs in freshman year of high school. Went into the Marines after high school. That helped a lot I believe. Found a career after getting out and been with the same company 32 years. Great you think. Me, I dont know my own worth. I got out of an emotionally abusive relationship after enduring 25 years of what I thought was normal. Now here I am trying to have a relationship with someone who does so much for me, cares for me and about me, and I don’t hard feel or know what to do. I know what to do by seeing, but feeling things is not there. I plan on reading your book and to see what I can take away that may help me. Since my divorce I have been on a self help self improving mission and that is how I found this site. There were so many things that ring true for me. Thanks

Taylor - June 3, 2020 Reply

Hi jonice, your insights have helped me learn a lot about myself, I am working on healing myself in so many different ways,
Although I’m having trouble letting go, my mother was very abusive towards me as a child and when I was 17 I decided to leave on my own, before I left my moms I had all my family’s support, but then slowly they stopped talking to me unless it was to tell me to talk to my mom, I no longer get invited to birthdays, thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. I finally don’t feel like everything that happened with my mom is my fault, but I just don’t understand why they did that if I didn’t do anything wrong. It made sense before when I thought I ruined everything, and it’s possible my mom lied to them about some things, but then what could she say that would be worse than anything she did, why wouldn’t they stop talking to her when they’ve
seen my living conditions, (I’d often not have food, water, electricity) but now I just don’t have any family, since my dad isn’t around either. It just seems to be something that I can’t let go of no matter how hard I try.

    Sabrina - June 14, 2020 Reply

    Hi Taylor, I am so sorry for all the pain you have endured. Myself, I have learned that dysfunctional families do not often work in ways that make sense. It is a hard thing to accept because we keep trying to make sense and understand and keep believing that everyone wants to do better and make things work. Sadly, this is rarely reality. The good news is, you see the difference, and want healthy relationships. I think focus on those types of relationships that are in your life right now. Acceptance doesn’t mean giving up, though. Maybe letting go, instead.

tiffany - May 16, 2020 Reply

I was wondering if it is common for CEN adults to have a desire to search out individuals who need to be ‘fixed’? My CEN Husband is always trying to find individuals with issues to help fix them.
Thank you for any input,

    Jonice - May 18, 2020 Reply

    Dear Tiffany, that may be a product of living too much for other people and not requiring enough for yourself, which surely is an aspect of CEN.

    Sharon - June 14, 2020 Reply

    I don’t know if it’s common for many or most CEN adults, but this is definitely true for me. I grew up being “ignored” as I had a sister, 1 1/2 years younger than I, who is deaf and has other disabilities. I became the interpreter and mother’s helper. Sometimes when my mom couldn’t handle my sister, somehow, I was able to step in and take over.

    Pretty much my whole life has been devoted to helping other people. I’ve worked in the mental health field for almost 30 years and am still very much involved in my sister’s care (my mom has since passed away and my father has distanced himself from my sister).

    Unfortunately, I believe helping others is my purpose in life and still have great difficulty taking care of me. I think there is also some “survivor guilt” going on, too (I feel guilty that I was born “normal” and my sister has had to deal with so many challenges and difficult situations in her life.

    So, did you have any similar experiences growing up?

Anonymous - May 10, 2020 Reply

I just finished reading Running on Empty and will next read Empty no More. I want to thank you for your help in seeing myself. I was a child who was not allowed to have emotions. I felt ridiculed and ignored and grew ashamed of being human. I never realized I’ve been hiding myself for decades and how this hinders me from experiencing the relationships I long for. Reading this book has begun to set me free. It is painful to look back and relive some events, but necessary to understand why I feel the way I do and what truth is needed to counteract the erroneous thinking. So again, thank you.

    Jonice - May 11, 2020 Reply

    Dear Anon, I’m so sorry you went through that. And I’m very glad to be giving you answers and a path forward. Keep up the good work!

CHRISTINE - May 3, 2020 Reply

Dear Dr Webb,
Thank you for writing both your books. I feel a solid, long lasting positive movement in my life is inevitably coming my way. Thank you.

Now looking forward, I still am unsure on one thing, I was hoping you may be able to help me?

My mother is a narcissistic and authoritarian parent, my father is a permissive parent. My problem is I am not sure how to answer my mothers negative statements about me as she is speaking to me. For example on my wedding day she was commenting (it was more of a statement) about the makeup I had professionally paid for, she said ‘your make up will look good on photos, but in real life you look ugly’. I believe what she meant was that with the makeup I had on I looked like a drag queen but in photos I will look good. I was shocked and I could feel my mouth fall wide open. My aunty and cousin were there and heard it too, I looked to both of them and they just looked away silent. I was silent too, still stunned.

Then my mother continued and said calmly while nodding her head ‘it’s true’. Then some welcome distraction from someone happened and that was how it ended.

This is only one example of my dealings with her. But in this example I am confused on what my reaction should have been. If I did say something, I am not sure what I should have said.

Kind Regards

    Jonice - May 3, 2020 Reply

    Dear Christine, in some situations when people say hurtful things, a simple, “That’s hurtful,” can suffice. I recommend you get a book on assertiveness — there are lots to choose from — and work on learning this incredibly powerful skill.

    Ursula - June 18, 2020 Reply

    Dear Christine,
    My sister had the same experience as you on her wedding day. Sometimes it is really hard to give the `right`response if you have been undermined so many times, especially if you are not used to support. You hoped for another response because it was your wedding day. My parents ruined part of the event for my sister too. I too struggle with CEN but working on it. It is time to focus on yourself. with kind regards, Ursula

Sherril Munroe - May 1, 2020 Reply

I am a recent graduate of Vancouver College of Counsellor Training in Vancouver BC Canada. I am a Certified Counsellor, and specialized in Family and community counselling. I would love to add a CEN Certification to my resume. When I came across your book “Running on Empty No More” through “Bookbub” I was blown away to learn about CEN. In my 25yrs of on and off personal counselling I have never heard about Childhood Emotional Neglect. I can say that doing some personal family of origin work has touched on CEN in a very indirect way, however, did not come anywhere near dealing with CEN as its own entity. I have been reading both of your books and I am fascinated by this new discovery. In my personal opinion CEN goes deeper and gets closer to the roots of a persons issues, more than anything I have studied to this point. I am so excited to learn ALL I can, for myself personally, as I suffer from CEN , my husband who severely suffers from CEN and therefore our relationship suffers, and to help my future clients with CEN in my private practice.

My questions are:

1) Which one (or more) of your programs would you recommend I take that would give me all that I need to be a Certified CEN therapist, as well as personal healing?

2) The credits gained from your courses, would they be recognized in Canada?

    Jonice - May 2, 2020 Reply

    Dear Sherril, I would be so happy for you to become a CEN therapist. We need more, for sure! I recommend the Fuel Up For Life program for which you can earn 12 CE credits. (You’d need to check to make sure the credits will be honored in Canada.) The Fuel Up For Life walks you through all the steps of recovery, using the techniques, includes all the homework. You’ll learn how to heal others in the process of healing yourself. Here’s a link to the page that describes it: If you have any more questions you can email me at Take care and stay safe!

Gina - April 20, 2020 Reply

After realising what CEN is and facing the truth about my childhood, I am for a year now struggling with an idea that I chose wrong profession in life. I was made quiet, believed I am shy and silent type, only to discover there is so much more in me, as soon as I was on distance from home. I was always out of touch with my emotions, with life, everything. I now believe even my reproductive organs have taken the toll. (Never in my life had my period naturally, only with help of medicament. Being out of touch with yourself as a person, as a girl, woman, probably did the trick).
When the time came for me to go to university (I do think 18 years old kid cannot make such a big decision for life), I choose what at that point made sense (I guess). It is a nice profession, and I achieved a lot. I studied abroad, changed few offices, and now working in, what seems to be, really good office, again abroad. But, still, even when I finally have it all on paper, to be happy and enjoy work, I really do not. It brings me sense of accomplishment, of course, and for most part is even fun. But it is not my passion, I do not find satisfaction in this, other then proving that I can do it. I want to follow my true passion, be an illustrator, but I seem to sabotaging myself buy not working on my porftolio in my spare time.

I know where I am, and I know I do not want to be here. I know where I want to be, and how to get there. But I am still not doing that work.

My questions for you, Dr Webb would be:
– Is it possible that my childhood affected me so much, I chose the wrong profession?
– Is it possible that my body rejected seeing itself as a female body, due to CEN? (I grew up fully developed etc, but with amenorrhea and PCOS)
– How do I start working towards my new career? How to push myself? I know all the steps, all in theory, but I simply don´t do it…

Thank you in advance!

    Jonice - April 21, 2020 Reply

    Dear Gina, I’m so sorry I cannot advise you on these big questions here. I encourage you to contact a CEN therapist from the list and start seeing someone who can help you. It can be a huge help to have a therapist.

      Gina - April 21, 2020 Reply

      Unfortunatelly there are no CEN therapist in my area, but I am considering a therapy. Even just writing down those facts and questions helps a little.

        Jonice - April 22, 2020 Reply

        Many of the CEN Therapists do online treatment so that’s a possibility for you too.

LizaH - April 8, 2020 Reply

Hi Dr Webb.
I am a female, U.K. late 40’s and only recently discovered words like codependency, narcissism, CEN being the most important discovery. My parents are alive and well, my siblings also yet I have been disowned for bringing up neglectful childhood, for ‘raking up’ the past.
Only in the last 6 months have I realized I have lived simply for them. I don’t know my dreams or ambitions or what they ever were – it’s only through my husband teaching me love with patience. I realize now I am emotionally ungiving and I am still hurt and so not know how to process this rejection by my family.
I am so angry with the world it’s consuming me up… please advice which book would be the beat place for me to start to heal?
My depression and hurt is affecting my marriage as I am so serious constantly.
Thank you so much.

    Jonice - April 9, 2020 Reply

    Dear LizaH, I recommend you read Running On Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect first. It will give you a good understanding of your own childhood and how emotional neglect happened to you and affects you. Then read Running On Empty No More: Transform Your Relationships and it will help you work on your boundaries with your family, your feelings about your parents and siblings, and also your marriage and your parenting. all my best wishes.

Noway hozay - March 30, 2020 Reply

I am 19. I am not big with words sorry. I knew that I had cen and my brother used to hit me a lot in the head and my parents doesn’t do anything about it so my older brother hits the brother that hits me and so my mother would take care of “the brother that hit me” and he gets angry and hit me more. I think I have troubles in studying as I study all day for the minimal result and studying is a big part of my life… I suffered the effects of it when I was 17. I got over it and the biggest challenge is to be nice to my mother. I never confronted her and I will never will and honestly I am not mad or anything. Like I honestly don’t care. The biggest problem that I feel like I can’t presue a relationship because (1.sadly I am gay/2. Where I live its not okay to be that and I respect that). I have friends though. Maybe because I tell jokes all the time and I don’t want to brag or anything but I do t think I am someone that is rude. I joke a lot and I dont mean everything I say.. And I got over my past because of it. Honestly I feel like I would ended my self if I don’t have that leap of faith and I still do. Amm I just read ur book like 2 days ago and honestly well done. I don’t like for ppl to know who I am and u caught me! . I am shooock. Anyway am I know that it will effect my life and I don’t mind. I just want my future.. Ooh there is a point that I think you didn’t mention. I hope it’s helpful. : it’s hard to change some habits in front of ppl.. For example if I am someway to someone in the first time we meet. I feel like I have to be like that for ever Infront of them.. And that still applies to my parents. Just a week ago. My electric ammm the thing that shaves the beard. Just somehow got broken and I didn’t shave my face for like 5 days and I didn’t want anybody to see my face so at night I stacked food in the fridge that is near my room upstairs and just ate from it. So nobody sees me. I know wtf. Anyway I find ur book really helpful so thanks!!!!!

    Jonice - March 30, 2020 Reply

    Dear Noway, first, please know that it is okay to be gay, and you are right, you will have a future when you can be who you really are. It sounds like abuse that you have experienced in your family. I hope that as soon as possible you will seek a therapist to help you work through your experiences and learn that it’s okay to be who you are, no matter how you appeared yesterday or any other day. Humans are complex beings and we all appear different to others all the time. Take care of yourself.

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