Reader’s Comments

Here is a sampling of the comments I have received from readers of Running on Empty. To add a comment about the book, type it into the Comments below. To remain anonymous, type a pseudonym into the NAME field.

I heard an interview on NPR today with the author, and it was like someone lifted the blinders off my understanding of myself. I just got off the phone with my wife. I love her very much, but, I always joke around with her and tell her I want a divorce. This is a joke, but now I know where comments like this come from. I have major CEN and my parents died, yes I was there for the burials, but I never felt a sense of loss or anything. Now for the first time I know why. My parents DID NOT KNOW ME, AND I DID NOT KNOW THEM. It’s a miracle I turned out semi OK. 

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The effect of “what doesn’t happen” upon children gave me an answer, for the first time in 60 years, to something I’ve been trying to figure out consciously every single day since i was 3 years old. the first 16 years of my life that my family lived together, i can’t remember a single meaningful or real communication that occurred between any of us in that time. now i know it is that fact that has had the most detrimental outside effect on my life. this is the beginning of a huge black cloud hanging over me being cleared. so i can’t thank you enough or come close to being able to communicate to you the beneficial effect of/that your being has had on me.  thank you again a few more million times…. 

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It took me years to finally meet with a therapist. My life was great–right? Plenty of friends, great career…so why this dark, heavy feeling I always carried around? What WAS it? Well my therapist encouraged me to pick up Running on Empty and I finally have the answer.

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The book’s author, Dr. Jonice Webb, describes and coins the term, “emotional neglect” with such detail and accuracy it’s almost scary. Who knew how common this is and that others feel this way too?? I literally laughed and cried throughout the book. And just when I started to think, “oh goodness, am I repeating this pattern with my own children?” Dr. Webb writes, “The effects of Emotional Neglect can be reversed.  And you’re about to learn how to reverse those parental patterns for yourself, and for your children.  Keep reading. No self-blame allowed.”.  (How did she KNOW that’s where I was going??).

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As you can see, I highly recommend this book. The topic resonated with me and the writing style was flowing, kind and easy to understand. Thank you! 

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This book is wonderful. I finally understand things that have eluded me for many years. Your book has added some tools to my toolbox so I am better prepared to deal with life on life’s terms. 

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This book may be helpful to those who have been racking their brains for some repressed childhood trauma to explain what feels like a lifetime of depression, isolation or anxiety – only to come up empty-handed. While emotional neglect can be vividly evident in certain childhood memories, it’s more often hidden in a series of smaller, missed opportunities that accumulate over time to send a message that feelings are not something to be discussed. In accessible and empathetic prose, the author explains how this one unifying theme can connect seemingly disparate symptoms experienced in adulthood, ranging from suicidal thoughts to issues with self-discipline.

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She really sums it up in her introduction when she says that often it’s not “what happened to you as a child, but rather what did NOT happen” What was NOT talked about. What guidance and issues were NOT addressed. What feelings were NOT labeled and honored. She gives a refreshing new way to think about our childhood so that we can have a new perspective and approach to our own parenting. A must read for parents and practitioners !! 

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This is not a book about blatant abuse. It is about the myriad ways that parents may fail to be attuned to the emotional worlds of their children, and the consequences of this lack of connection. Despite the topic, this is a positive book that offers concrete steps for the reader to heal not only him or herself, but to parent more effectively, too. The content is very accessible, and is written with insight and humor. I highly recommend Running on Empty, and will refer to this resource frequently not only in my practice as a Life Coach, but as a daughter, wife and mother, as well. 

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My childhood was exactly as described in the book — my parents took great care of all of my physical needs, but were completely out of touch with my emotional needs. I was very shy and didn’t have many friends through middle school and high school. My self-esteem plummeted, despite doing very well in school. I was very sad and lonely, but my parents didn’t notice. They were happy that I did well in school, and assumed everything else was fine. Reading this book has given me a framework for reworking my adult relationships with my wife and kids. Luckily for me, it’s not too late. I strongly recommend this book for anyone who has had experiences like mine and wants to overcome them.

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Your book pegged and accurately identified so many problems I have.  In reading your book, I felt like sunlight had crept in under the shades.

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I’ve recommended your book to over a dozen clients already, and they have agreed that no other book has had a greater impact. It’s the most remarkable book I’ve read in a long time.

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I have a very hard time with swinging between self- castigation and procrastination.  I struggle with any task that is boring, difficult or not stimulating.  Your worksheets in the book have really helped me to set a goal of tackling 3 things each day that I don’t want to do. I am so grateful that I discovered this book which put into words something that I have always noticed but could never really describe.  I notice emotional neglect all around me; in adults and in parents and the way they deal with (or don’t deal with) their children.  Reading the book has validated me somewhat and I am empowered to continue parenting the way I have been, with tons of attention, affection and respect for my children and to also ignore the naysayers. Thank you for this wonderful book and I hope it helps more people heal from the insidious effects of emotional neglect.

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I bought this book primarily to help with character development in my writing but discovered a little bit about myself. That’s always a good thing. I’m not one for doing writing exercises while I’m reading, and this book calls upon the reader to do just that. For those of you who like that kind of stuff, or for parents that are having difficulty raising their kids, this book offers some helpful insight. I was prompted to buy this book after listening to an interview with Jonice Webb on NPR. She struck me as a wonderful and insightful therapist. 

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This was an amazing book. As someone who was never physically abused in childhood but who was definitely emotionally neglected, I was so relieved and comforted to know that a lot of what I struggle with is not my fault nor is it weakness. It is simply a result of not getting something which was needed as I was growing up. It is so much easier to help yourself when you know what is really wrong. Especially helpful is reading that many parents who Emotionally Neglect their children are not cruel or heartless but actually love their children and yet are unable to provide the emotional support necessary due to factors possibly from their own childhoods. Very well written and relevant with excellent examples of the different types of neglectful parents and the way we may have been harmed by them. Also great information on what to do to avoid emotionally neglecting your own children.

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This is just the book I needed to help me explain why I support attachment parenting. There are lots of “good enough” parents out there but there are also plenty of people who are walking wounded. Due to almost imperceptible emotional neglect many people are left feeling unfulfilled or confused about their scrambled emotions. The vignettes in this book make it really clear that the failure to tune in to a child’s emotional needs can leave big gaps in development and social/relational intelligence. Until you read it, this might sound like over-sensitivity or blowing things out of proportion. When you read it, lights go off and if you see yourself in these pages, you might be freed of a little unexplained guilt or confusion about how your emotional life has turned out.

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This is a hard topic to face and explore. Dr. Webb does a great job of keeping it from getting too heavy and depressing. She’s matter of fact about the prevalence of childhood emotional neglect, and you will quickly see yourself and your friends in her descriptions of typical people and their symptoms. Then she provides some achievable solutions. They take work and perseverance but they can really help. But one of the most valuable aspects of this book is the relief you will feel when you recognize aspects of your own childhood. It’s affirming and helpful to finally figure out some of the reasons behind troubling issues and feelings you have been living with for so long.

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I found Running on Empty thoroughly informative on the potential pitfalls of unintentional emotional ignorance, not to mention outright abuse. It also answers the proverbial parental question, “What did I do wrong?” For those who have been so blessed to have raised well-adjusted children, capable of taking on challenges and navigating the upheaval of adult responsibility, it also answers the question, “What did I do right?” I like Jonice Webb; she’s positive, curious, and wants to change some really bad behavior that appears to be almost epidemic in today’s society. The book lost me a little with exercises that I was neither interested in doing or reading about. However, I’m certain some readers may find the exercises useful.

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This book is a great read for anyone who is (a) a parent or (b) married. It delves into the problems created when parents (and other relationships) are neglectful. People who suffered from a lot of neglect typically end up having trouble connecting, and probably repeat the pattern as parents themselves. Or they are not able to enter meaningful relationships. Don’t worry — Dr. Webb gives lots of examples and the cases she describes are pretty severe. But I think everyone goes through a little neglect, so it is a great read for all of us who are learning and trying to improve as parents and spouses. I highly recommend this book!

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As a therapist, I’ve worked with many people who were seriously emotionally neglected. It’s a difficult concept for clients to understand because it is so hard to grasp the ABSENCE of something. For years I wished there was a book about emotional neglect I could direct them to, but in a win for parallel process, the whole subject of neglect had been neglected. So I was delighted to have a client share this book with me, and delighted to read it.
Webb does an excellent job of making the invisible visible. She shows the different kinds of parents (some even good parents) who leave their children’s emotions and persons out of the family equation. She also assures the reader many times that the emptiness of having been neglected is treatable. Neglect is quite treatable, but sadly, the last third of the book, in which she is talking about treatment, is truncated. It feels like her publisher rushed the book to press unfinished. This book is excellent for understanding the impacts of neglect on your life, but find an empathic therapist to work with to really heal the injuries left by emotional neglect. I hope in a future edition of this book, Webb expands the treatment section.

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I just read Running On Empty on my Kindle and have now ordered the paperback so I can use the charts more easily.Thank you for writing this outstanding book.  After many years of therapy and lots of self study, your book finally gave me a deeper understanding of my lifelong struggles and ways to heal them.  I’m grateful for your compassionate discussion of the way neglect is passed on from generation to generation, and hope to break the chain in my own family.

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Your book was written for me. Has helped me tremendously with my own life and clients, tapping the previously unexplained.

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I have a sudden insight into my husband! I know I can’t “fix” him but I can be more aware and validate his emotions when he shows them, which isn’t very often. Our marriage counselor said he is emotionally handicapped, and we both worked hard to help him identify and express emotion. And then life goes on and things get forgotten, but this is a good reminder. Thanks!

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I’ve been in therapy off and on over the past 8 years. I remember one therapist commenting on my parents’ “neglect,” but I don’t think any of my therapists have understood the impact that has had on my entire life. Thank you so much.

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I found your website on FB from a friend of a friend. I filled out the Emotional Neglect Questionnaire and it was weirdly on spot. I grew up in the “system” ( orphanage, group homes, foster homes, detention centers and homeless) I am not sure I can undo life long damage. I plan on reading the book and hopefully it will at least make me aware of why I feel this way or why I am the way I am. I’m sure there is a “case study” out there with my name on it!

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I feel that I have passed on CEN to my Children. Thank you for helping me to realize this and now my plan is to work on this and free us from the past hurts.

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It was really nice…to know! Yes! I had CEN…but always felt when I grow up I ‘ll put my genuine effort to give my kids “an emotionally secured” environment…where a mother can understand their feeling and ‘hug’ them….they can ideally perceive mom as mom….! I know how it feels…thank you so much! I never knew…it had a name  too!

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I would do anything to help you make, the term emotional neglect a household term. I am a survivor of CEN. I know the crucial importance of it. We need more present parents in this world. Thank you for such amazing insight.

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Hi. I am so glad to have read this article on CEN. I am certainly a survivor of it, growing up in the 1950′s. For me, it was not only a matter of emotional neglect, but a “non-self”- with such a lack of self, that I was invisible; this I still struggle with today very much. Thanks!

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How interesting that this subject is being brought to light. Five decades ago, as a high school student, I carried with all my books, a copy of “Meeting Children’s Emotional Needs.” Not sure I ever read it, but, for some reason, I felt it a proclamation of sorts to those in the field of teaching as well as to my mother, new stepdad, and new half-brothers. Just the black letters upon the white background cover of the book could not be ignored. No one ever asked me anything about it.

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Thank you so much for this article, and your book. I remember a quick comment from a therapist years ago about the harm of emotional neglect/invalidation–but found it almost impossible to believe. I suspected she was making it up to help me feel better!

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It took a long time before I could really embrace this and feel the release that comes with such a profound truth. I felt so much shame about even being in therapy, because there was really nothing “wrong” with me–no physical, sexual or even verbal abuse. You are so correct that this is insidious, and that makes it even worse, as people don’t think they even belong in, or “deserve” therapy.

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I can’t tell you how grateful I am that you put my life long chaos, my struggles into something tangible. For years I have searched and searched for answers as to what is wrong with me. When I started reading this book in the evening, I was so happy I wanted to jump up and down on my bed because someone finally knew me. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!!!

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This book is profoundly changing my life. Every word resonated within me. I asked my therapist to read it so that we can work together in helping me to deal with overcoming my childhood emotional neglect. What a journey.

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Dr. Webb has done an excellent job of identifying the various ways children can be emotionally damaged through neglect. She identifies and names the types of parental characteristics that cause emotional neglect in children and gives examples of how a parent would react in various situations.  A must read for parents, troubled adults and professionals.

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This book changed the way I saw myself. My therapist recommended it and it is the best book I have read by far to help me with why I do the things I do.

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The idea that parents, who really feel love for their children and care for them, can still emotionally neglect them was the reason I bought the book. I have read hundreds of books related to mental health and a sense of well-being; this one is now at the top of my list. Growing up I can’t remember my parents ever really being concerned with my feelings. They responded to my feelings but never in the sense of wanting to validate them. I bought hard copies for a number of people; especially my adult children. I can’t imagine someone not learning something from the book. I have no connection with the sales and distribution of this book.

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I have now received your book and spent a couple of days with it – it is truly wonderful and I am so impressed by how you have written and how you have managed to give advice in a way that I feel tempted to try and adapt your tools.

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The book is remarkable and makes you AWARE of what happen- or of what should’ve and Didn’t happen as a child. I believe many people suffered from emotional neglect and can’t understand the concept until someone opens there eyes and explains it to them. It’s helpful for anyone to read- parents, teens, psychologists, etc, and mainly TEACHERS should make sure they get a hold of this book being they can also cause a lot of damage to there students directly and indirectly.  As a parent After reading the book you think to yourself and realize how much we can influence and have an impact on our children- unbelievable!

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I hate self-help books. They’re an embarrassing reminder of the effing mess I am. Still: what I can better understand, I have a better chance of fixing–or at least minimizing the damage. No book can fix everything (or anything, perhaps), but this is a start. And it was relieving to finally read something I could relate to, to have an explanation for the seemingly endless and no-help-for-it madness.

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Dr. Webb did an excellent job of introducing and organizing the material and sticking to the topic. A compact and straightforward read, there are no wandering rants on theory–and no proselytizing, which is a welcome change from too many self-help books. While the exercises listed here were of no real use to me (too lazy to do them/might be too old for such), the brief descriptions and suggestions of how to help yourself are good and valuable.

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As already mentioned by someone else, the implications of the concepts here are important and far-reaching. It brings up a needed shift in thinking regarding mental health therapy for humans–and now that it’s out there, I have to wonder why it took so long to get to the obvious; although it’s true, the simplest ideas are often the most elusive or ignored.

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All my life I had felt the emptiness so well described in this book.I got so desperate to find out why I felt the way I did I even went to a Reiki master who tried to help.This feeling of on being on a sinking ship or on the losing side and pessimistic outcome was and is hurting me everyday.I knew that my childhood was different.Being brought up by parents who were old enough to be my grandparents (my parents were 60 and 34 when I was 2 years old) my feelings and emotions were the last things on their minds. But I did always ask myself this that despite being wonderful people themselves and giving me everything possible why did I feel so ungrateful angry and tearful…Now I understand and have started taking the steps suggested.I hope one day I successfully create a positive parental voice in my head which I can own.

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My entire life so far I struggled against something that I could not name. Thank you for writing this wonderful book.

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I saw a therapist for a three visit evaluation of my inability to focus, trouble sleeping, low self-esteem, inability to finish my thesis. After two visits, when I said I had never in my life to this day been told “I love your” or “I am proud of you” by either of my parents, he looked at me, raised his eyebrows and said you are suffering from emotional neglect – he explained and I agreed very quickly. Fortunately, I am a good researcher, and found Running on Empty online and bought it for my kindle immediately.

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Thank you so much for your book – I am reading a few pages at a time to ensure I absorb as much as possible, thoroughly. Thanks.

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I am a fan of good pop psychology in general, but Webb’s theory of emotional neglect is one I have not read and that strikes me as wise and worthy. It explains a “something is missing” sense that even people with generally good lives can walk around with, and the anecdotes are very helpful in understanding the many ways we might not have had our emotional intelligence and development nurtured in childhood.

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Emotional neglect is not abuse. It is an empty space, not a space filled with hurt, so it’s therefore difficult to pinpoint what it is in our past that leaves us feeling lost and empty. The book is aimed in part at suffering adults, in part at parents wanting to properly nurture their children, and in part at psychotherapists. This is still a theory and Webb hopes to see empirical research take off on it soon, Me too–it’s an extremely compelling approach. This is not a scolding, blaming book. Rather, it is insightful and encouraging.

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To make an extremely long story extremely short, I am an only child who suffers from CEN. Due to the circumstances I grew up with, I honestly don’t remember my parents much at all, though both are still alive and married today. Thank you very much for publishing this, and I really benefited from reading your book.

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I think CEN will provide some deeper answers than “you have depression and anxiety” for a lot of people who know there’s something deeper and more sinister going on but can’t put their finger on it exactly… if you don’t know what the problem is then you don’t know how to fix it or even how to understand why you feel that way.

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I’d just like to thank Dr. Webb for her book. I am so grateful that somehow I learned about the book on the Internet. I feel hopeful that my ability to express my emotions and the overall quality of my life will improve, so long as I am able to follow her recommendations. Now I understand myself so much better, and no longer need to wonder what happened to me. Many blessings to Dr. Webb!

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Thank you so much for writing this book.  I lived my whole life in a depressed state, while publicly trying to maintain a façade of good cheer and happiness.  No one knew about my suicidal thoughts that plagued me at various points in my life. I have the outward appearance of total success, great husband and kids, great job, financially secure. With the help of your book, I was able to “plug up” the holes and start the recovery process of “filling my tank.”  When I read your book, it hit home…I was crying through most of the anecdotes you wrote, because it felt so similar to my story.  Although I am not our of the woods yet, at least now, I know the problem…because knowing and understanding the problem is half the solution.  You have made a very large contribution to humanity in writing this book.

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Hands-down, one of the best psychology/self-help books I’ve read.  This book is AMAZING. I rarely write book reviews, but I cannot say enough good things about this book. The author succinctly conveys difficult content in a clear, compassionate voice. As a first-generation Asian-American woman, I think this book has tremendous applications for the immigrant community. This book gave me the language to reframe how I saw my childhood and parents. It changed my perception of self and others. It helped me understand what my parents’ and my generation never gave or received, and why that can create such pain. It also helped validate many of the choices I’ve made as a parent, in balancing structure and discipline with unconditional love and nurturing. Without generalizing too much, I can also see emotional neglect as one of many explanations for some of the antisocial behaviors I see among my children’s peers. This allows me to not judge or blame people, but rather feel compassion and kindness. I highly recommend this book if you grew up feeling unseen, unheard, unattached, unappreciated, overlooked, or overburdened.

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Thank you thank you thank you an infinite number of times that i can’t even count. Your original article about the fatal flaw was the last brick in my personal wall.  When i read it, it was like the last thing i needed to hear in a good way. Tho i am a survivor of horrid child abuse, marital abuse and abuse from many areas of life, I had been looking for the one brick to pull out of the wall, for decades.  It was the one area of emptiness I had been dancing unknowingly around almost a lifetime.  My neglectful mother never hugged me,never kissed me, never showed me any affection as well as abuse.  I had remembered the anger, the intense indescribable pain, that i felt as a young child when she wouldn’t acknowledge the simple child affection i wanted to give, and the anger i felt at that rejection.  I never would have thought a child could feel such a depth of anger and resentment.  Then I ran across your article. I can’t remember how, but the click happened.  Now, i know what that brick was. I have a term, a word, to describe it with.  Now I no longer revolve around a complete unknown.

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I was very pleased to find this book it did not tell me anything new but it gave a name to what has did not happen to me as a child. I knew i had not been loved and i knew i had been neglected. My neglect was not of the physical type so it was hard to describe or to get anyone to  understand. I hope this book will help the many people like me who knew something was wrong but did not know were to go or how to help themselves.

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I was prompted to read this book after hearing an NPR interview of Jonice Webb.  Her book could be very useful for people who are dissatisfied with their lives, can’t figure out why, and have no idea what to do about it.  She gives practical, doable suggestions and has written her book in a clear style without using the jargon of her field.

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Wow. Where do I start. Firstly, thanks for the insight into how I got to where I am today, emotionally speaking. I have spent years working on the symptoms of anxiety, depression, feeling inadequate, unassertive, lost and empty. Why do I feel like this? Now I have an explanation that makes sense, and gives me a new angle from which to tackle my issues.  I hope I can overlook the past and move forward into a happier future. I got your book last night and have been reading continuously since, completing Parts 1 & 2. Now for Part 3, the recovery. I would dearly love to get my life on track, and now I feel that with your help I can succeed. Thank you.

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I’m on p. 200 of Running on Empty by Dr. Jonice Webb – It’s compassionate, direct, unique, quietly amazing.

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Thank you, for writing RUNNING ON EMPTY. I had come to the same conclusions, on my own, that things were neglected in my childhood.  But I could not explain why, or how. Just the validation of my own insights has been extremely therapeutic. I can’t wait to begin applying some of the recovery exercises.

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Thank you dearly for writing your book Running on Empty.  After over two years of soul searching, realizations, investigations, and collecting pieces of the puzzle, your book helped me put my story together.  These causes and affects are real and debilitating, but correctable, with recognition and a lot of intention and effort.  Most important to me is breaking the chain – stopping the behavior from affecting the way we parent. Well done, and much appreciated.

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After 6 professionals over 12 years who were clueless as to what my real problem has been, I came across your book, which I ate up. Thank you for this.

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Hello, I thank you so much for your book about CEN.  I am 63 years old and have always felt empty inside. A long dysfunctional family story about my childhood and so that is where it stems from. I tell friends about your book if they share with me that they have the same empty feelings. I am having therapy for this and it will be a journey to re inventing myself emotionally. Thank you again for bringing this very important and valuable subject out into the public arena.

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Thank you so much for writing this book.  At age 65 I’m finally discovering what this empty feeling I’ve had all my life is all about.  I truly felt that there was something wrong with me but kept it to myself, it was my dark secret.  I kept trying to figure out why can’t I be happy like everyone else?  I found no answers until I read your book.  It has brought me comfort and understanding.  Thank you again.

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Your article gave me hope, you gave me something I can apply on my own life. Showed me I can change my life into something I like, feel, live. I did something I did not for a long time after reading your article. I asked myself what I feel and “I am happy” right now and I think I am relieved. It is weird for me.  May be it seems a small thing but actually you gave me a great gift. I  am looking forward to read your book.

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I am just coming towards the end of reading your book, running on empty.  I never believed this could be written about, so much that you write about applies to me, I didn’t realize so many people suffer from this,  and that this could actually be put into words! Although it’s comforting to read about, guess what, I can’t find words to describe what to say to you….. It scares me. I keep writing then deleting, deliberating. I’ve been going to therapy for 3 months now, my therapist told me about your book. I feel like empty, disconnected, dark and wish my life wasn’t…. No words…. I can’t see light in this dark tunnel. Draft re draft again… What I write is not necessarily what I feel, as I don’t know what / how I feel. Thank you for writing this book & I hope you are successful in bringing hope to my (&others) being.

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I have been in Therapy for 5 years and now practice as a trainee psychotherapist. I must have read 100 books since I put the word “stuck” into google when I started my search for why I felt empty and unhappy, even though I had been very successful materially and had a loving family. This book is really helpful for anyone who feels the same. The best bit is that the book not only describes examples of what might have created the emptiness but offers practical advice as to how to move forward, something that is very lacking in most academic books. Self-help books are frequently lacking in depth, generalize and are directive rather than empathic. This book tries it’s best to break the mould. The book offers HOPE and I can endorse that true happiness is possible even after the most traumatic of experiences.

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very clear and well written.
i felt she was talking through me and for the first time in years felt validated!
a must for anyone who may feel they are missing something in life!

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Very enjoyable read learnt a lot about myself and also gained an insight into seeing parenting differently and the different types of personalities.

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I just finished reading your book, and I want to thank you for writing it! It’s both encouraging and frightening to see myself and my lifelong struggles outlined so clearly. I finally have a name for what is “wrong,” and I’m hoping to find a therapist I can work with to explore these issues.

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You just explained my entire life.  I took your questionnaire and circled yes for all of them.  Thank you so much, I can start feeling less guilty about who I am.

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I wanted to say thank you so much for your book “Running on Empty.” My sister told me about your book. I had a lot of light bulb moments. I can now put my past behind me and look forward to a brighter and  happier future. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

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I recently purchased and read your wonderful book on emotional neglect. As a therapist I have clients who fit many of your descriptions. One common thread which I see in many clients is their inability to recognize and name the emotions which they or others are feelings. I resonate with the assessment that the reason for this is that emotions and emotional states have never been pointed out to them when they were younger. I think that I would find your very extensive list of emotions and emotional states in the back of the book very useful in moving my clients forward. I would like permission to copy and use the list for the benefit of my clients.

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I just finished your book “Running on Empty” and while I don’t normally contact the authors of many books, I just want to reach out and say THANK YOU! I think your work is brilliant and so very very much needed. I feel … much lighter after reading your book. And also excited as I begin my Masters in Clinical Mental Health this fall. Also, I was wondering if there are plans to have it translated into other languages soon?

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It is a Blessing to have discovered you and your book on the internet this evening. I had very much hoped to be a great parent. . Somehow felt that I needed help with this. I am so sorry that my children’s lives have been negatively impacted by what was missing in our parenting of them. I pray always, and try to be loving and supportive now. One is receptive. The other perhaps is beginning to be. I want the best for them, and am motivated to be the best that I can be now, and to encourage my husband also. Any further comments, instruction, encouragement is so very appreciated. Thank you, and many blessings.

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A letter of forgiveness to myself, what a labor of love, tis the season of gift giving..and the process starts with myself,,,walking, showering, living among others in this life we have been given..love the book, Running on Empty…thank you, Jonice.. thank you..

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I keep the book on a table in my room, since I refer to it often. It’s hard to explain why I find it difficult, yet comforting to read. I suppose the difficult comes from not wanting to confront facts from the past, but the comfort comes from finally knowing you aren’t alone, that you aren’t crazy or broken just for no reason.

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This book really struck a chord with me and was well worth the purchase price. I put the highlighter feature on my Kindle to good use on this book because there were so many good points and parts of the book I wanted to go back and read again later on.

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Life changing. Everyone should read it.

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I highly recommend this book. It hits the nail on the head while giving you tools for recovery. I don’t know anyone who escapes childhood without some form of Emotional Neglect. It’s just a matter of varying degrees. I think anyone can benefit from reading this.

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I’m 49, divorced with four kids, remarried. Late last year I finally figured out that I’d been neglected as a child, not what one might call a severe case, but bad enough. I found your book and the light went on. Since then I’ve been doing the exercises in the book and had what I would call an emotional awakening — its like having a new sense organ. Amazing, exciting, weird. And feelings of vagueness and emptiness and not knowing what I’m feeling are melting away.

69 Comments

  1. Incredulous

    I haven’t read this book yet, but I am ordering it immediately.
    After years and years of keeping a journal and working at my ‘depression’ I suddenly wondered if it was actually an emotional rejection/negligence. I googled it and coming up under “emotional neglection” I found this web site and articles. Dare I hope I have finally found the answer? After wasting my time on CBT,Homeopathy,anti-depressants etc. can this really be the reason I’ve always felt so odd, left out, dead inside,a complete failure and no use to man nor beast?
    I did have a very good upbringing, but my father acted more from duty and responsibility than out of love. My mother being married to such a man had her own issues and was cold and resentful. Consequently all my life I’ve been dead on the inside and putting on an act. An act of coping, an act of happiness.
    Can I finally ‘let go’ and get some enjoyment out of life like everybody else!

    Reply
  2. Atif Jameel

    My parents are also located in “low-intelligence category”.They Think poor and they also make poor.You people “Europeons” have great understanding.The fact is also that i born in muslim word with bad characters.I was a most creative student.But today i am living just like a loser”fuzzy-thinking”.i am now 18+ and i am knowing everything about my psychology and fixing it again it in a natural condition.

    Reply
  3. aptsoh

    Dr Webb,
    I was give your book to me by my son. Having been to several therapist in years past I am reading this with an open mind( not easy), looking to see where your theories are part of my life. Up to this point ( pg 65) I have read no where responsibility has been placed on the child for their actions.
    My childhood is a mix of several of your parenting types, I never blamed my parents for where my life ended up.

    Reply
  4. Rosemary

    Hi, I live in New York City… boro of Manhattan… Do you have referals for my area?

    Reply
  5. linda marie

    I took a look at the table of contents in this book and didn’t see where I fit in. My mom died when I was 3 and my dad when I was 13. Any neglect I lived through was not on purpose, but I thought it might fit…

    Reply
  6. Hopeful

    I just ordered two copies – one for me and one for my therapist. I hope she reads it. 59 years old and checked all but one of the CEN questions. Reading these comments I saw for the first time someone else describe the feeling of having a rain cloud follow them through life, and it was multiple people describing it. Between this and a Claudia Black workbook, with help from my therapist I hope to finally become a whole person.

    Reply
  7. Donna

    I just finished my first read of Running on Empty and am left absolutely speechless by the insight it provides. For the first time in my life, I understood the common thread that ties my experiences. Like many of Dr Webb’s patients, I never attributed my lack of emotional connectedness to my upbringing. I always felt that my parents did the best they could given their limited means and that I turned out – on the whole – pretty good. I’ve had a successful career and raised wonderful kids. But when I took the time to quiet my mind, I realized that my emotions were masked by the constant chatter in my head. What a revelation – 60 years old and I finally allowed myself to feel rather than think. My first conscious feeling was sadness about something in my past that I didn’t realize I was even thinking about, and my second was panic that I may have transmitted this handicap to my kids! Dr Webb’s book is truly a gift and one that I plan on paying forward.

    Reply
  8. Kelly

    Thank you so much for writing this book, Dr. Webb. When reading the terribly sad story about Cal and how he had to get sober in order to really feel, it got me thinking. What is your opinion on antidepressants in regards to healing and starting to feel again? If they have a sort of emotional numbing effect, would it be best to safely taper off in order to be able to participate fully in effective therapy?

    Reply
  9. Name Withheld

    Thank you for the incredible gift of your work in “Running on Empty” and the resources on your website. Your descriptions of characteristics of people who experienced CEN ring true in many ways. If I may comment on one troubling issue, I would like to point out that you describe Beatrice as African-American while not describing the race of any other character in the book. Please do a Google search of “White as default” to understand how problematic this can be. Otherwise, I will continue to reap the benefits of your outstanding work and I hope there will be more to come.

    Reply
  10. Anonymous

    I bought the audio book. I wish YOU had read the book. The actress who is reading the book is sooooooooo dramatic. I feel like I bought spoiled milk. I heard you on the Mental Illness Happy Hour podcast and couldn’t wait to get your book, but this woman’s voice is GRATING. Note to self: listen to preview before purchasing any audio book in the future. Thank you for caring….

    Reply
  11. Gil

    Dr. Webb: After reading about CEN I am wondering if you have any recommendations for a therapist in New York City. I wish I had known about you when I was living in Massachusetts but now that I am in NY, I need to find someone here.

    Reply
  12. Victoria

    Hi Jonice. I’ve been reading about your book on Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN). I have not read the book yet, but I find this topic to be very interesting. I’m in highschool and I do my schooling online. I’ve realized the key to succeeding in an online-schooling environment is self-discipline. However, I have a lot of trouble with self-discipline. You’ve mentioned that people who deal with CEN have problems with self-discipline. Why would this be the case?

    Reply
  13. dee

    Hello,
    cen one here. my love relationships have been.healthy. my last boyfriend was very good to me and made me feel secure. we ended well as he went back to usa. staying good friends is what gives me peace ..since one before hurt me so much n stil doesnt really care for my msgs. i want bows on all ones iv loved.
    after last healthy botfriend i have.a new man who not only became my best friend but whom.is my father figure the right kind for me.and over a year we talk bout my.issues n.deep.things he guides n teaches me and i believes loves me alot. all this tops up my tank n has made me feel less alone than ever. this is great . i feel secure.grounded. but yes we stil hav things to work on as a couple. id like to kno…will one be self secured if given enough love and security over time…how can a anxious insecure girl(tho iv improved) gradually become more sucure? do i need to lean on.the secure partner for rest of my life? or can i after time become secure and stable on my own? my partner understands my constant desire to be self reliant n independent and yes gets hurt when i tell him this. i just never what to feel that alone ness again.

    Reply
  14. TB

    Hello all. In her book, Dr. Webb points out to therapists that it is difficult to keep sufferers of CEN in therapy because they aren’t getting what they need from the therapy. This has definitely been my case. I have been to so many therapists and none of them “get it”. I get frustrated so easily because they really don’t know me and aren’t trying to know me. Now, all of the therapy I’m referring to is prior to discovering this book. It has been eye opening to say the least. So, how do I choose a therapist that will work with me on this and understand what I’ve gone through and be able to help me on my journey?

    Reply
  15. Anon

    After reading your book I discovered I am inconsolably angry at my parents. They were so inept and incurious that they did none of the things they were supposed to do for us. And now, in his old age, my dad is so petrified to face the reality that he wasn’t the world’s greatest dad that he can’t even consider the possibility of his epic failure. Goddamn them both.

    Reply
  16. Mama G.

    I just happened across a blog post of yours while surfing the web. I took the survey and all answers were “yes”except for two of them. I am a fifty year old single mom of a nine year old son with classic autism. My so. is with me if he is not in school. I have not been away from him for lnger than a few hours at a time since birth. I have not had any outside hekp, either. I was raised in rge most unloving, verbally, psychologically, and sometimes physically abusive home. My dad is an alcoholic who has been dry for about 20 yrs. My mom is an immigrant who came to this country as a very young girl after WWII. My mother always screamed at us kids and hit us. She was always angry. She never showed us live or praised us. We were always a burden to her. I was a nervous kid, and self medicated with food. Until this day,I am clinically obese. I have battled alcohol and drug use, but thankfully was able to stop on my own. I have only in the last few months cut ties with my family, because I needed to go to the E.R. for the first time in 17 yrs., and my calls for help so that I would not have to bring my son with me went unanswered. My parents never once picked up the phone to find out what wAs wrong with my health. I called me father after the fact and told him how I felt and that I would be severing contact with him and my mm. He seemed unaffected.
    I no longer cry. I no longer wonder why my parents or my ex husband dont care about me. I know I am worthy of love. I placed it all in God’s hands, and he answered my prayers. My true love on this earth is my little boy. He is the only person I care about. He has shown me what unconditional Love is, and I know my worth. My life is not easy, but I am at peace. I am loved by the most loving person in this world, and I love myself as well. Please,readers, dont give up on life. Talk to God. Go out into nature, and feel the beauty of this world. Do somethng nice for someone else. I firmly believe that a lot of depression is the result of dwelling too much on our problems. When we do meaningful work, whether it be as a career, volunteering, or in the home, we will see our worth, our self esteem will strengthen, and the depression will lift. Now I realize that people with a true chemical imbalance will be immune to this, but it doesn’t hurt to try. Dr. Webb is the first professional I have ever heard of to address this issue of unavailable parents. Being raised by parents who are unavailable emotionally causes so much damage. But know that the damage can be reversed. You are the one who needs to do the work. Also, if you need to cut ties with your family in order to be sane, then it is the right thing to do. I personally don’t regret it for one minute. I also plan on getting Running on Empty. I am sure that it can help me on my journey through this life . Thank you,Dr. Webb, I am so glad I have found you!

    Reply
  17. Elise

    I had acknowledged that I had been emotionally neglected for a while, but recently also acknowledged how badly it has messed me up. I feel like I meet and make friends easily, but they usually fade because they never progress beyond the casual. Relationships don’t fare much better. I was excited to read the information about “vertical questioning” because I recognized that I almost exclusively do the horizontal. NO WONDER things don’t go deep! But I was disappointed to find only one example of such questioning. I would love to read a whole book on this. I googled the term and only found references, all to you, so I assume this is a term you coined. What else could I look for? Are there other books that tell how to do this?
    I would also love to read a book on self talk to yOut “inner child.” I’ve noticed that I’ve been doing this, but since I didn’t get patented, I often don’t know how to talk to myself (but surprisingly, wise things DO come out of my mouth.)

    Reply
  18. Martin

    Dr. Webb,
    Thanks for all the newsletters, I have enjoyed all of them especially the last one about validation. Your book definitely validated a lot of my emotions and thoughts regarding my childhood. I told several people your book isn’t just for people who suffered from CEN, but it should be marketed to new parents. The difference in the ideal response and response that causes CEN is so subtle that everybody should be aware of the consequences.
    Thank you so much for your continued work in helping people recover from CEN.
    Martin

    Reply
  19. Irene Carnahan

    Hi. I have written before. I must tell you, as succinctly as I can, a story with a great ending or beginning. I got pregnant when I was 17 in 1969. I had a boy on February 12, 1970. I know that is not considered young now, but then it was. Roe v. Wade did not exist. There were not too many single moms. There were many, many homes for unwed mothers in the US. Hard to believe that happened in my lifetime. A lot of these maternity homes had nuns in charge, and were run by Catholic Charities. The nuns, the social workers, the doctors and others brainwashed and intimidated us enough that if you were at all like me, you believed in a way, that “the best thing for the baby and you is to relinquish him/her” to Catholic Charities who adopted them out. The nuns were the worst. and I had gone to parochial school for 9 years. They could make me feel more guilty than I already felt on my own. As a child of an emotionally abusive mother (she actually said I was a fake when I had headaches and spots in my eyes as a 9 year old; and I had brain surgery a month later after a brain bleed from what is called an arteriovenous malformation.) I also had a wonderful Dad, but he was deaf. The night I told them I was pregnant, she told me I was never coing back to her house if I had a baby with me. She then ran me out of town to a brother’s house, and a few months later to another brother, and then to the Maria Regina Home For Unwed Mothers. I was there for a few months, had a baby boy, who weighed 9 pounds, and I never saw him in the hospital. I did find out somehow that he was in a foster home, and that since he was mine still, I could visit him. I lied, borrowed the car, and went to spend a while with my son at the foster home. I held him and I loved him and I said goodbye. The next day on my lunch hour from work, I went to the court and signed the relinquishment paper.

    When I first got home from the maternity place to my mother’s, I got a job as a a legal secretary. She did not feel one bad thing when she let me know I owed her over $1,000 for the home. I paid her back every cent, and left home as soon as I could.

    I live alone, as my husband died almost 18 years ago when he was 47. I am so lucky to have had a fabulous son from my marriage. This past November, in the middle of the night when I sometimes cannot sleep, I do stuff. I opened the mail from a week before. There was an envelope from the State Health Department where I had lived, telling me my son wanted to have contact or just information about me. I almost fainted, and was crying and so happy at the same time. I had registered many years ago with that State Health Dept. so that he could get non identifying information when he was 18. I was not allowed to find him. Ever. Of course, I raced the notarized papers back to them, and we started communicating.First by email, then phone, and he has been to visit me twice already. A huge cloud that hung over myself is now gone. It was there for so long.

    Irene

    Reply
  20. Mary Jones

    Dr. Webb, Thank you for explaining me to me (in Running on Empty). I answered yes to all questions on the questionnaire except one. As I was reading the book I said many times “she is talking about me!” Could you tell me if there is anything I can do to help my adult children to recognize the possibility they were emotionally neglected as children? (30 year old married son and 28 year old married daughter). I did the best I could.

    Reply
  21. Shalom

    I am coming to the end of two weeks annual leave where I had to throw caution to the wind and take the break despite being seriously behind with numerous tasks at work. It’s now Saturday late afternoon and I have already started to panic about going back in to work on Monday. I foolishly thought i could take the time off, sort most of the mess I am in at work and then go in to the office in the evenings and weekends and up load my work/reports etc on the system. Unfortunately I have done nothing constructive with the two weeks and am even more confused, depressesed and anxious then went I my leave.

    I have been scouring the internet trying to find an answer to the void, the depression the sheer reason for my miserable existence only to be deeply disappointed with the articles I have come across as I have come across similar material…..until now. Maybe CEN is the answer to the pain I have always felt in being alive. Or is it going to be yet another book I add to my collection on how to overcome depression self help books??? I am familiar with utilizing the space between the stimulus and the response and fail miserably due to my lack of discipline and self sabotaging ways.

    However I will order the book – anything that sounds it might help me out of this current episode of darkness as the concepts of the emotional detached mother and my (poor?) parenting of my own children resonates with me.

    Reply
    • Jonice Webb

      Dear Shalom, I can hear how hard you are on yourself. This is a symptom of Emotional Neglect, and is the opposite of helpful. There can be many valid and reasonable explanations for your struggles at work. Have you been evaluated for ADD? Do you deep down hate your job, and unconsciously rebel against doing the work? I urge you to try to get to the bottom of it. Please don’t let it continue as it is. I think you’ll find Running on Empty helpful, but seeing a qualified therapist would also help support you and guide you through it.

      Reply
  22. Darlene

    My entire life I have felt numb. Even now at age 57 i’m still numb. I too never heard my parents tell me they loved me growing up and now when they say it I look into the telephone like what is this and have no feelings at all.Both parents were jealous of me the oldest child going off to college and making something out of herself. Still to this day my mother never has recognized my accomplishments only when she needs me to take care of her.So sad and tired of all this. Now I’ve been married twice to 2 men who were also emotionally stunted ugh . It just keeps getting worse with me and I don’t have the energy to move forward because everyone is narcisstic and has sucked me dry. I plan on reading the book but, I’m scared I’ll just find out more of what I already know

    Reply
    • Jonice Webb

      Darlene, actually few people are narcissistic, but when you have to be selfless to survive in your childhood, you grow up to attract self-centered or overly needy types. I think the book will help. Thanks for sharing.

      Reply
  23. Alice

    wonderful, thank you!

    Reply
  24. Irene

    Sandra: I had a mother who sounds like yours. All I did was try to please her. My called me nosy, but I heard a lot around the big house I grew up in. They called me crybaby. I was and am still very sensitive and probably remember accurately the times I let them make me feel that badly. Then add all the times an anonymous idiot would say something about me that was hurtful.
    My mother was insensitive, never showed affection, mostly you saw the back of her in the kitchen and she never said the word love. She did not like me.
    I am 65, a lonely loner.
    beans

    Reply
  25. Alice

    I bought the book for my Kindle, and am wondering if there is anywhere that I can go to download and print the change sheets? I don’t particularly want to remake them all in excel:)

    Reply
    • Jonice Webb

      I’m working on it Alice! I’m going to have a PDF download of the worksheets available on my website soon. I’ll post a message on this page when it’s ready. Thanks for asking!

      Reply
      • Christina

        I cant find the PDF download.

        Reply
  26. Sandra

    I can relate to all comments! My most memorable childhood memory was when I ran in the house and told my mom I made all A’s on my report card and she just said oh, I knew you would. As if no big deal. It wasn’t my first good report card, but I wanted validation and her to show me excitement and pride. I could give other examples of feeling invisible. Still Today, I’m constantly being told by my parents that I’m too sensitive. I agree, I am sensitive, easily get my feelings hurt and never feel like I measure up. But how do you measure “too sensitive”. My mother is not affectionate and my father overbearing and demanding and gets angry when we do something wrong or not his way. I’m 56 and so tired of feeling this way. My question is, did this emotional neglect cause me to be “ultra” sensitive? Or, am I just sensitive and they are not at all?
    Thank you for any insight! I’m buying the book now!

    Reply
    • Jonice Webb

      Hi Sandra, “too sensitive” is a phrase people use when they don’t want to acknowledge that they themselves are INsensitive. It’s a common phrase in the CEN family. I’m sure you have many legitimate feelings which your parents will never be able to acknowledge or validate. It’s up to you now, and it sounds like you’re ready to take it on. I hope you like the book. All my best wishes for you!

      Reply
  27. Ivo

    You just answered my biggest question I had in my life; “why am I from another planet??” Emotional neglect virtually disabled my taking part in life for a very long time. It was not until about 4 years ago that I started meditating and thus looking and FEELING again inside of me consciously. Working on my emotional blocks with EFT during this time was of enormous help and I am now looking forward the get more detaild understanding from your book!

    Reply
  28. Dee

    Hi,
    iam trying but its days like today where i feel shocked that after 28 years of living i still dont feel i belong anywhere.
    its hard for me to find a home of friends (they keep changing and i have difficulty connecting with people..or they constantly leave this transit city)
    i pray (coz it feels like the last thing to do when u feel down) my prayers have now been a – i pray i dont feel alone…coz even though i know im not…most of the time thats how i feel…im tired…and even the pain that sometimes comes out i feel its not something anyone can understand or can be too overwhelming ..i have expressed it to my councolior but i feel like she does not understand it so still i feel alone and stays in heavy..but i continue going carrying this heaviness

    Reply
  29. Dee

    Hi again,
    because i did not get affection as a child (or when i did it was very spontaneous) so now i have become an adult who does want to be loved more, craves attention and affection. my boyfriend who is now gone gave me all of this which is why i felt whole
    now he is gone, i find myself trying to find another man to fill the void (which i hate) i know this is not the right thing to do and im only feeling this void due to my CEN..so i filled out the soothing list from your book and have tried to do one of the things when i feel that pain/urge (like listening to soothing music) but its a struggle because the yearn for the affection/ comfort/love and attention can be so painful sometimes that it affects me emotionally. i feel like hugs from friends don’t do it but kisses and cuddles from men are more powerful.(or even i guess a comforting affectionate mother (as my mother never really was

    my guess is i should just keep at it/follow the soothing list when i feel this pain until i make it a habit every time i feel it. i hope this is right?
    Thank you

    Reply
    • Jonice Webb

      Dear Dee, yes do keep using your self-soothing list. But also, work on letting down your walls. Make more connections with people. Be careful in romantic relationships because if you’re using one to fill a void, it’s setting the relationship up to fail. Choose worthy people in your life, and put yourself in situations to meet new people. Then deepen those relationships. Also if you haven’t been to therapy, I suggest you do that as well. Keep at it, OK? All the best to you!

      Reply
  30. Irene Carnahan

    Is there a place (website) to talk with some of the people who comment here? You said something about a bog post.

    Reply
  31. Danita Eva Bond

    oh i see. yes i think this is true. its very hard for me to trust people as well because iv been rejected . bullied . hurt in the passed so i do have a wall up
    il try my best to work on this
    thanks very much!

    Reply
  32. Irene M Carnahan

    I wish I knew some of these people who comment. I feel the same as many of them, but I know nobody else like me. Thanks

    Reply
    • Jonice Webb

      Dear Irene, you are not alone. There are many people who feel as you do, I assure you.

      Reply
  33. Dee

    Hi,
    I was wondering if you can tell me how i can fill up my tank for affection, as i don’t get much affection in my life (since i was young)

    my boyfriend who was very affectionate has recently left the county for good (so we are not together now) and i feel my tank starting to empty

    i have one close girlfriend who i share my feelings with but she does not fill the whole tank

    my family members have never offered me the affection i wanted or needed so i don’t turn to them for that..no matter how hard i try ive accepted that they are how they are.

    i see a councilor once every few weeks to understand all this/myself..this issue worries me abit- (i dont want to become vulnerable like i have in the past – to mainly horrible men.

    i’ve read in your book to soothe myself but it is quite hard for me…

    i have a dog but she’s more like a cat who finds cuddles annoying

    (as a CEN child i am currently trying to discipline self, be kind to self working on it all — or at least one thing at a time– so its difficult to handle this lack of affection as well

    are there other things i can do to handle this lack of affection struggle?

    Thanks very much

    Reply
    • Jonice Webb

      Dear Dee, i think it’s very important that you said “I don’t want to become vulnerable like I have in the past,” referring to your counseling. I think the answer for you is not more people but less wall. The wall that’s blocked out your feelings all these years is also holding back your ability to connect fully with deserving people. I suggest you work on taking chances, trusting, and being vulnerable. Put yourself in uncomfortable social situations. Do whatever it takes to chip away at that wall. It will pay off!

      Reply
  34. Brad Robertson

    I have waited over 50 years for your work, Dr. Jonice Webb. Thank you. Finally, a book all about me! In growing up, I just wanted to be acknowledged or recognized for any of my accomplishments. In college, I was so determined to get their attention that I wanted to be a medical doctor. I worked incredibly hard in my final advanced course of Calculus in my 2nd year at UCLA. I earned an A grade and was very proud of myself for it. I could hardly wait to tell my mother & father. When I presented this accomplishment to them, my father said that my “A” was a result from ‘grade inflation’and that I could not possibly be smarter than him. This example barely scratches the surface of put-downs ALL during my life, from young to old. I remember this “what’s-your-problem” type treatment starting at 4 years old, when I started kindergarten. I could probably write a book about it all now that I’m approaching retirement.

    Reply
    • Jonice Webb

      Dear Brad, “what’s-your-problem” is a great way to describe many CEN parents. I’m so glad you are able to see how this was wrong, how it harmed you and how unfair it was. Thanks for your comment!

      Reply
  35. Angela

    Sorry perhaps too many comments, but just stumbled on the concept of CEN and I’m an internet nerd, which means I start to research asap and thinking. Amazon-ed your book…

    Your quiz:

    Question 1: Are the statements in your quiz identifiable problems that I can work on?

    I ask this because, I started to think about –

    What are the most debilitating things on this list for me?

    Which lead to:

    What is most important problem I’d like to solve in life right now?

    Question 2: Is the above, compartmentalizing the process too much?

    Brief comment on my previous LONG self-discipline rant.
    Self-discipline is mystifying to me….

    Reply
    • Jonice Webb

      1. Yes! Most of them are.
      2. Perhaps. First, read the book with your mind open to understanding and less on fixing; it will help you sort out what to work on first.
      3. Thanks for your thoughtful comment and questions.

      Reply
  36. Anonymous

    I will read your book. I have much to say but only will touch on just a small smattering of my background. I have written then deleted my story here twice, I have said yes to all except for a couple of you statements in your quiz. I’m the youngest of five and grew up on a farm. When I was two years old my brother lost his leg in an accident. My other siblings were all on the cusp of entering their teens at the time. My sister turned rebellious, she was the squeaky wheel and my injured brother was the focus. The other three children’s job was to be no bother. As the youngest I had the most time spent in this indoctrination. My name is Angela. My mother still frequently and with affection pronounces it, Angel-ah, the expectation was for me to be good, for me to be “low maintenance” to be an angel. I signed my own report cards from grade 6 onward. I quit clubs and activities as soon as my parent’s complained about them. My brother who was in pain was abusive, it was always excused because of his leg pain. Turn the other cheek was drummed into me. The hermit question hit home, I wrote that as an answer to “what I want to be when I grew up” when I was 12. I was unpopular at school. In high school I was bullied to the point I failed every grade 9 class I had. I was scouted by a modelling agency when I was 15 but could not do it because my parent’s did not want to drive me into the city or pay for the requirement for pictures. I did not object I didn’t know how to. My self esteem then was low, still is. Usually school was the culprit when I stepped out of line, which was when my parents had become involved, which they were never happy about. It was never about behaviour, but I got bad grades and my parent’s never once (not 1 time) helped me with school work. Therefore my relationship with school has been flawed. I escaped into TV. My teenage crush was a TV character called Data, an android who was incapable emotion. I had a 10 year relationship with a man who was pretty emotionless. When I was 28, I spoke back to my mother, I told her, “I’m 28, you can’t tell me when to go to bed”. She refused to speak to me for 2 days afterwards. Though I suffered depression episodes, I had a three year period in my 30’s where my depression was so bad that I was emotionally blank and experienced full lost of pleasure in all things. I went on medication and that time passed. I’m currently struggling with a new bout of depression for the past year, I wish life would just stop and I do constantly think about ending it. Not to worry, I could not subject my loved ones to that pain. However, the thoughts and feelings remain. I’m procrastinator and self-sabotager. I’m very very hard myself, my expectations of myself are high, I’m emotionally abusive to myself pretty much 24/7. I am low maintenance in terms of my appearance, never makeup and have a weight problem. I became involved with an man who has social anxiety who for the first 5 years of our relationship did not work, as he could not leave the house. I still married him two years ago. Miraculously our roles reversed this year where he works and I don’t leave the house. I see he is getting better and his life is turning around and my energy has helped that happen. My most productive time in my life was when I lived in an non-english speaking country for 2 years, away from family duties, isolated by culture and language. Is alone such a bad thing? I’m turning 40 soon and the struggle with my depression, weight and finances prevents me from going forward, ie having children. I have already given so much of myself away…my energy already so depleted, I can’t do it now. I’m in no condition. I sit here in my 2 room rental apartment, with no kids and no house, over-weight and think the bullies were right I am a loser. Depression talking. But the belief is there. I seeking medication tomorrow. Will look for therapist, will read your book. Thanks for listening

    Reply
    • Jonice Webb

      Dear Angela, despite your extremely CEN childhood, I can read between your lines that you have fight left in you. You don’t have to go to another country to put your family of origin “away” and move forward, focusing upon yourself. You deserve this time, and there are answers for you. Please do find a therapist and read the book and follow everything it says to do, and the light at the end of your tunnel will grow gradually brighter. Thank you for your comment; it will help others, who will see themselves in your story. Wishing you all the best. You deserve it!

      Reply
      • Angela

        Thanks for your encouragement. It’s certianly an eureka moment when I have listened to you videos about and read your articles. Though this question should be posed to you after I read your book as I am sure you address this issue. I find it so difficult to stick to ANYTHING..I’m teflon-plated when i comes to taking care of myself and environment ( normal routines that others seem to be able to follow. ) Examples – exercise routine, a beauty regiment, taking vitamins, sleeping at regular times, a diet,cleaning schedule…the list goes on. Anything that requires habit, structure…I have an inabliity to self-impose. I read The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, an informative read about the nature of habits. I seem habit resistant. (Because I Quit before it becomes habit) ..have little stick-to-it-ness. I assume it’s because I deny my own needs….but now even when I want to do something for myself…I quit it..sabotage the process. How can I circumvent the training? This component has affected my life.
        I started my own business with good potential, but my adversion to schedule, this lack of self-discipline is disabling.

        Reply
        • Jonice Webb

          Angela, you’re right, there is a lot in the book about this. Self-discipline problems definitely go along with CEN. Let me know if you have any questions after you read it, OK? In the meantime, take care!

          Reply
  37. Jennifer Morrison

    …….I had two children-a boy and a girl.Neither were neglected-and as for emotions-the one I disregarded emotionally-turned out a college professor. The other one on whom emotional and physical care were on “overload”-disappeared 20 years ago-when I needed him the most.
    Thanks for sharing-Jennifer.

    Reply
    • Jonice Webb

      Dear Jennifer, parenting is so complicated! Many different factors play in. The huge majority of parents do their very best, as I assume you did. I hope you will be able to have more relationship with your son at some point. Thank you for your comment!

      Reply
  38. Gina

    Thank You for your wonderful work. I have been in therapy for years and went from one therapist to the other with no real results.

    With your help, my current therapist finally found the problem and gave me your book to read. I felt myself really described in detail when reading it.

    I am now suffering from overwhelming emotions due to childhood emotional neglect. I have unfortunately passed it on to my kids. I am now in therapy. My Therapist is recommending DBT. This is a hard, painful, and long process. Do you think it’s necessary? What is your take on this?

    I find the coping and mindfulness skills really helpful but am mastering that do I need to continue? I’m burned out by now and only want to do it if it is really really necessary.

    Reply
    • Jonice Webb

      Hi Gina, I think it depends how uncomfortable your feelings are and how much difficulty you’re having managing them. If your therapist suggests DBT, it’s probably because he/she believes it would be helpful for you for that. DBT will teach you how to mediate between your emotions and your responses. If you’re feeling burnt out, maybe you could take a break. Often treatment is best taken in segments. Good for you for doing all the work you have done! I wish you happiness and health in 2015.

      Reply
  39. lynn

    I have been searching for answers to why I feel the way I do and along my search came across, “Running on Empty,” its put a label to most of my feelings that I have dealt with my whole life. It’s a relief to know that I’m just not crazy with how I was feeling all of my life. Now that I know why and what it is I can begin to apply some of these new skills to my life. I have seen counselors since I’ve been a teenager, not one of them pin pointed my grief/emptiness/etc or dismissed how I felt. Thank you Dr. Jonice Webb for informing us and other counselors regarding this information. It’s been a life perserver for me!

    Reply
    • Jonice Webb

      I’m so happy to help, Lynn! Now that you know what you’re struggling with, you can stop thinking that something is wrong with you. It’s all fixable, and I believe you will do it. Wishing you the happy, healthy future you deserve.

      Reply
  40. Irene Carnahan

    i would love to get an appointment to see you, but I live in Sarasota Florida, don’t drive, and wondered if you know of someone like you in my area. thanks.

    Reply
  41. Mary

    It is a Blessing to have discovered you and your book on the internet this evening. I had very much hoped to be a great parent. . Somehow felt that I needed help with this. (My 2 children are now mid-30’s and 40.)
    I was not able to connect as I had wished with parenting support groups, largely because my husband does not care to be involved. (He experienced a greater degree of emotional neglect than I did as a child.) I am so sorry that my children’s lives have been negatively impacted by what was missing in our parenting of them. I pray always, and try to be loving and supportive now. One is receptive. The other perhaps is beginning to be. I want the best for them, and am motivated to be the best that I can be now, and to encourage my husband also. Any further comments, instruction, encouragement is so very appreciated. Thank you, and many blessings.

    Reply
    • Jonice Webb

      Mary, what a wonderful story to share. I’m so happy that you’re in the process of reversing CEN in yourself and your children. Keep doing what you’re doing and your children will benefit tremendously, as will you. Consider having your husband (if he will) and your children read Running on Empty. It is a non-blaming book and can give your family a way to talk about what’s been missing for you all. I wish you all the very best!

      Reply
  42. Dianne Goode

    I was very pleased to find this book it did not tell me anything new but it gave a name to what has did not happen to me as a child. I knew i had not been loved and i knew i had been neglected. My neglect was not of the physical type so it was hard to describe or to get anyone to understand. I hope this book will help the many people like me who knew something was wrong but did not know were to go or how to help themselves.

    Reply
  43. Anon

    Hi Dr. Webb,
    Thank you so much for writing this book. I lived my whole life in a depressed state, while publicly trying to maintain a façade of good cheer and happiness. No one knew about my suicidal thoughts that plagued me at various points in my life. I have the outward appearance of total success, great husband and kids, great job, financially secure. I sought out therapy after moving from house to house in search for the “perfect” neighbors, who would be able to supply me with the emotional support I needed. When one location didn’t do the trick, we moved and moved and moved. Finally, after much heartache, I realized that there never was anything wrong with any of the houses we lived in. I could never be happy because I was so totally emotionally neglected as a child. As the sixth child of nine, whose mother was depressed and non-communicative and whose father was highly critical, impatient and busy with trying to put food on the table, I never heard the phrase “I love you.” There was no one to talk to, no one who cared. I brought myself up in every sense of the word. I was in and out of therapy for years. When I mentioned the suicidal thoughts, I was told to do some CBT exercises, which helped, like a bandaid would help a wound that needs stiches. I also always wondered why I ran away from people who showed the slightest bit of emotional neediness. I couldn’t give anyone any emotional support, because my tank was not only completely empty, it was leaking with big holes. With the help of your book, I was able to “plug up” the holes and start the recovery process of “filling my tank.” When I read your book, it hit home…I was crying through most of the anecdotes you wrote, because it felt so similar to my story. Although I am not our of the woods yet, at least now, I know the problem…because knowing and understanding the problem is half the solution. You have made a very large contribution to humanity in writing this book.

    Reply
  44. Sally

    I saw a therapist for a three visit evaluation of my inability to focus, trouble sleeping, low self-esteem, inability to finish my thesis. After two visits, when I said I had never in my life to this day been told “I love your” or “I am proud of you” by either of my parents, he looked at me, raised his eyebrows and said you are suffering from emotional neglect – he explained and I agreed very quickly. Fortunately, I am a good researcher, and found Running on Empty online and bought it for my kindle immediately. My mother is pretty narcissistic, and my father would do what ever she wanted because they both wanted no emotion, or arguments to occur.
    After the third visit, the doctor said, you are depressed because of the emotional neglect, I will tell your family doctor to prescribe some pills for you I asked if I should continue counselling to work out the problems with the CEN and he said, well, if you find the pills don’t work get your doctor to see about it.
    So, I am searching for someone who will do some counselling with me to talk things through, and I don’t think I will take the pills. This seems to be a pretty new area you have brought into the literature, so I will look carefully for someone to help.
    In the mean time, thank you so much for your book – I am reading a few pages at a time to ensure I absorb as much as possible, thoroughly. Thanks Heather

    Reply
    • Jonice Webb

      Heather, I am glad that you have the good judgment to not take what seems like the easy route. Medication can surely be a help, but it cannot fix CEN. But you can, with some motivation and effort. You sound like a motivated person who will find a way. Please do find yourself a good, capable therapist who will ready the book and help you work through it. I send you my best wishes!

      Reply
  45. Anonymous

    All my life I had felt the emptiness so well described in this book.I got so desperate to find out why I felt the way I did I even went to a Reiki master who tried to help.This feeling of on being on a sinking ship or on the losing side and pessimistic outcome was and is hurting me everyday.I knew that my childhood was different.Being brought up by parents who were old enough to be my grandparents (my parents were 60 and 34 when I was 2 years old) my feelings and emotions were the last things on their minds.The best they could do was provide a home with basic amenities.Having suffered from meningitis herself my mother was depressed and emotionally unavailable.But I did always ask myself this that despite being wonderful people themselves and giving me everything possible why did I feel so ungrateful angry and tearful…Now I understand and have started taking the steps suggested.I hope one day I successfully create a positive parental voice in my head which I can own.
    My entire life so far I struggled against something that I could not name.Thank you for writing this wonderful book.

    Reply
    • Jonice Webb

      Priya, it warms my heart to read your comments. Your description of your parents as wonderful people who gave you everything possible illustrates why Emotional Neglect is so hard to see or believe. I may use your next-to-last sentence in my monthly newsletter, as it says a lot in only a few words. I’m glad my book was helpful to you. All my best wishes to you, as you keep working on healing from your CEN.

      Reply
  46. Betty

    Continued

    I do see that I never got to learn my own feelings, my own body language, the fact that
    I can choose what emotions to share or not share by being in control of handling my emotions
    effectively and to trust my own emotions and thoughts. Now that I have better learned,
    I can handle the emotions better and get to more effective problem solving. I did think
    That perhaps I feel emotions stronger than others and more hurtful than others because
    That’s what everyone always told me and still tell me which matches the definition of the
    HSP (highly sensitive person). I think my high sensitivety made my parents give up on explaining myself and my emotions to me. They couldn’t understand why I was so observant and worried about other’s looks
    And stares and judgement. They would tell me to be strong and that } can be ANYTHING in the world that
    I wanted to be instead of really seeing what strengths and faults I have and helping me define myself and my
    Personalty. They would give me a false bloated sense of self that I am the best being on earth. They would never
    Recognize ANY fault with me. Whatever I would tell me about any weekness or shortcoming that I felt I had,
    They would say that I should be strong and that I don’t have any weekness or faults and can be
    The nobel prize winner in anything I decide I want to do. If a teacheror relative would point out
    A problem, they would not accept…

    Reply
    • Jonice Webb

      Hi Lili, thank you for sharing your experience. I think it was very smart of you to write to yourself in your diary as a child. You must have felt very alone in the world. Part of emotionally attuned parenting is truly observing a child, and giving her clear and honest, but supportive, feedback on her true strengths and weaknesses, preferences, quirks, etc. This seems to be at least one way in which you were emotionally neglected as a child. I hope you will keep working on these issues and moving forward in your life. Best wishes to you.

      Reply
  47. Wilma Marie

    Hello. I read about your theory from your webpage. I have not read your book yet. I
    have always thought that something is different in me than everyone else, the inferior feeling
    was always with me. At times in my childhood I did feel like “people don’t really know
    how I think, if they knew the real me they wouldn’t like me”. I grew up friendless in childhood.
    I tuaght myself and changed myself. I wrote to my diary in highschool with loving words,
    caring for myself, with the expression “my dear daughter”… I did get better and better but
    The way I relate to people and socialize is probably still not normal. I have low self confidence
    and problems deciding which probably also come from trusting myself. A few years ago
    I encountered the theory of the HSP (highly sensitive person)and it immediately resonanted with
    me. In that theory the major description is also that you constantly think something is wrong
    With you.

    Reply

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