Abandonment syndrome is characterized by: an eternal fear at the idea of being abandoned or abandoned by the other. It can have an impact in professional life (towards colleagues or superiors) and in personal life (families, friendships, relationships between couples). Anxiety can even become ubiquitous and dominate patients’ daily lives, at the expense of their mental health and their relationships. What are the causes of this phenomenon? How to overcome the fear of abandonment? Insights and advice from Manuela Braud, psychologist and doctor of humanities.
What is Abandonment Syndrome?
The fear of abandonment is not a pathology in itself, but “a series of fearful manifestations related to relationships and attachment“, the psychologist indicates. When one suffers from the syndrome of abandonment, one lives in the permanent fear of being rejected and abandoned by the other. It is often a projective fear : There is no objective reason to think that we will be abandoned by our friend or our partner, the source of fear is within us and usually dates back to childhood.
Where does the fear of abandonment come from?
The causes of the separation anxiety depend on each person’s story. To identify them, you often have to go back to childhood:
The fear of being left behind by the people you love usually reflects a childhood wound, real or symbolic, Manuela Braud says.
In other words, it could be related to: a traumatic event, or experienced as such, which changed the child’s relational equilibrium and gave rise to a feeling of instability followed by separation anxiety. For example :
- lack of attention and affection (real or felt),
- physical or psychological abuse,
- the departure of a parent who no longer gives news after a divorce,
- the loss of a parent or loved one,
If the child’s suffering goes unnoticed, it can lead to him feeling guilty: “I am responsible for the situation”, “I don’t deserve to be loved”, etc. Being observant and communicating is therefore essential.
This phenomenon may also be related to: experiencing relational trauma in adulthood, such as a violent break in love or friendship, the psychologist specifies. Our psychic foundations are laid in childhood, but certain life events can destabilize them.
“It is important to identify it as soon as possible because you can pass on the separation anxiety to your kids!“, insists the specialist. Indeed, an anxious parent may have a tendency to develop a fusion relationship with their child, which can jeopardize their relationship to autonomy, especially on an emotional level. Parents should divorce their child in a healthy way. , to “leave” them.
How do you recognize a dropout?
There are two profiles of dropouts: some enter into a relationship, live in fear and do not dare to end it† Others, on the other hand, are very aware of their problem, or even its origin, and prefer to avoid or reject relationships quicklyso as not to run the risk of being left behind.
Wondering if this applies to you? Some symptoms may give you the flea in your ear:
- you try to please others at all costs;
- you tend to have dysfunctional or unbalanced relationships;
- you find it difficult to trust others and you feel betrayed easily;
- you have trouble maintaining long-term relationships and sometimes intentionally sabotage your relationships;
- moves quickly from one relationship to another;
- you experience a sense of insecurity in your romantic and friendly relationships;
- you often need reassurance;
- you sometimes want to control others, express jealousy or be possessive;
Abandoned people are often aware that something is wrong, but are helpless. That’s why supporting their loved ones and encouraging introspection are so essential, notes Manuela Braud.
The Consequences of Separation Anxiety
The fear of being abandoned has many consequences for the lives of abandoned people: a Negative self imagea lack of self confidence, great fear (with all the associated physiological consequences), incessant doubts fueled by fictitious disaster scenariosa strong reactivity to stress… They need to be constantly reassured by the presence and love of the other (affective dependence), which on a relational level can be difficult for others to deal with. In some cases this turns into unhealthy jealousy: the abandoned person can become domineering, even become an executioner and make his partner flee.
People who suffer from abandonment syndrome can also develop greater permeability to addictions and depressive disordersbut also for eating disorders (bulimia, anorexia, orthorexia, etc.). They also tend to completely forget about themselves as they spend all their energy earning the other’s esteem and making sure he or she doesn’t leave them.
“A person who is afraid of being abandoned can accept anything, including including physical and psychological violenceThe psychologist warns. Their emotional dependence makes them very vulnerable to the attacks of manipulators and narcissistic perverts.
How do you get over the fear of abandonment?
Like any fear, you have to face it† Freeing yourself from separation anxiety is a long-term task: “we can’t wait for the other person to reassure us permanently, it won’t work and the fear won’t go away on its own,” underlines Manuela Braud. The first thing to do is work on your self confidence (learning to love yourself for your qualities and your faults, learning to identify and better manage your emotions, etc.).
This includes in particular: therapeutic follow-up to free yourself from the grip of the past and reassure your hurt “inner child”† “If you feel like you’ve been left alone, abandoned, cheated, betrayed, and you think you don’t deserve attention, you need to rehabilitate yourself in your own eyes : learn to love yourself, rediscover your qualities, your passions, etc”, the psychologist recommends. In this way we turn the vicious circle into a vicious circle.
Several activities can also help you reconnect with yourself: