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THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PERSONALITY DISORDERS
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Author Topic: What is fear of abandonment?  (Read 31389 times)
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« on: September 12, 2006, 11:11:03 PM »

What is fear of abandonment?
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Skippy
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« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2006, 01:04:30 AM »

Fear of Abandonment is a phobia – an exaggerated, usually inexplicable and illogical fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation.

The Fear of abandonment phobia is characterized by extreme dependency on others. Such people live in the constant fear that their "world will collapse" if their protectors or loved ones abandon them.

Members often confuse fear of abandonment with separation anxiety.

  • Separation anxiety is episodic - someone leaves and the other person experiences anxiety. Think of leaving a dog at home.

  • Fear of abandonment is pervasive - it influences the way a person lives their life. Think of fear of flying - a person builds a life prtecting themselves from their fear -  picks a job, selects a partner, selects a place to live, participates in certain hobbies all influenced by avoidance of experiencing the life crushing event of being deeply connected and being cast off.

Fear of abandonment can lead to different issues that can cause harm to both the sufferer and their loved ones. Often, the phobic tends to counter-intuitive things like threaten or sabotage his/her relationships using statements like I will leave you before you leave me or You love them more than me or You’ve never loved me and so on. This phobia can, in some cases, also lead to domestic violence: breaking or destroying property or even physically hurting loved ones.

These psychological effects are seen in every aspect of the sufferer’s life to an extent that it may impact his/her social, professional and intimate relationships:

  • A spouse constantly suspects his/her partner of having an affair.
  • Autophobic parent does not allow his/her child to form intimate relationships with peers
  • A partner constantly sends messages/calls or texts the other.
  • One attends office functions or other events where one is not invited.
  • Stalks ex-spouse following a divorce.

Causes of Autophobia

Researchers believe that, in majority of the cases, the fear of abandonment phobia stems from childhood trauma when a parent or loved one leaves following a divorce (or dies).  Even in adulthood, the sufferer continues to believe and fear that every significant person in his/her life is going to abandon him/her in a similar way. The phobia stems from behavior learned from childhood experiences.
    
Abandonment in childhood can be physical, emotional or financial. All of these can be traumatic to the young child. Death of a parent gives rise to several overwhelming feelings followed by financial difficulties, change of lifestyle, or change of home etc. This deepens the trauma further.

Sometimes, the fear of abandonment phobia can come on suddenly in adulthood, when one is financially or emotionally dependent on another adult, who dies or leaves leading to significant loss of financial and emotional support.

Individuals with an adrenal deficiency or those with a general tendency towards being overly anxious or ‘high strung’ are also more likely to suffer from such phobia.

Symptoms of the fear of abandonment phobia


Autophobia varies in degree and intensity leading to different levels of symptoms in suffering individuals. Major symptoms brought on by this phobia include:

  • Anger
  • Jealousy
  • apprehension
  • Avoiding intimacy or relationships
  • Depression
  • Anxiety and panic attack symptoms such as shaking, trembling, nausea, headaches, gastrointestinal distress, increased heart rate, shallow or rapid breathing etc at the thought of being left alone.

Overcoming the fear of abandonment

A big part of overcoming autophobia is developing love for self and confidence in one’s abilities. Finding a "safe and calm haven" is a recommended technique to overcome this phobia. This is best done through positive visualization and affirmations as well as meditation and other mind-body techniques.

Family or loved ones of individuals suffering from this phobia also play an important role in the therapy. Loved ones need to be supportive and understating and at the sane time firm and not give in to the phobic’s demands that are unhealthy for them.
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lasagna
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« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2006, 06:33:46 PM »

Early in life, in a phase called "rapprochement" a child begins to wander out into the world. At first, the child will keep returning to caretaker for "refueling'. More and more, the child (about age 3) ventures out there with the need for fewer and fewer refuelings. That child has successfully incorporated an image of caretaker into their brain. They believe the caretaker will be there for them, even if they cannot visualize or hear the caretaker. Abandonment would mean annihilation to the child, and it does to the BPD adult.

Something went wrong in the rapprochement phase. The child did not achieve the idealized image of the caretaker. So the child grows into a BPD adult who is always teetering on the edge of abandonment (annihilation).

For some children, there was some major trauma that interrupted the process. But for others, it was the perception of abandonment that led to their BPD behavior. My BPD daughter was never traumatized or abandoned. But she was somehow wired to feel abandonment during routine separations from maternal/paternal figures. At age four, she was terrified of saying good-night and being away from us. She would demand that we read several children's books to her. We were not overly or under-attached. It was her neurological perception that made her fear annihilation when it was time for us to part while we slept.
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Tigerlily
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« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2006, 11:06:40 PM »

This is an interesting view...

5 Signs That You Fear Abandonment\\

  • Fantasizing Doomsday Abandonment Scenarios
  • Giving My Man Too Much of Everything He Wants
  • Seeing Another Woman as a Threat
  • Unreasonable Demands on His Time
  • Pulling Away and Pushing Him Away

From the vantage point of this collective wound, a woman is always on guard wondering what her man was up to when he comes home late, doesn't answer a text for over an hour, or shows up with little to say to her. She perceives his emotional distancing as a sign he is making plans to move on and no amount of convincing will make her feel secure. Her insecurities defeat her. Rather than living the most fulfilling life she can, one with experiences that validate a her worth, she clings to her man expecting him to be her all.

A woman's diminished worth and the resulting fear of abandonment can cause her to display a variety of destructive behaviors. Here are five behaviors common to women who fear abandonment:

Fantasizing Doomsday Abandonment Scenarios

In those quiet moments when there's little else to think about, it is not uncommon for a woman's phobic tendencies to rear their ugly heads as daydreams of tragic endings. She might imagine receiving a call that her mate has died, run off with someone else, or left a "Dear Jane letter" stating his intention to leave town without saying good-bye. These destructive daydreams represent buried fears and secret wishes erupting as habitual conscious thoughts and can be difficult to control. The fear is, of course, that she will be discarded and alone and the wish functions to perpetuate a deep sadness that she has deeply identified with. In this case, a woman must battle the stronghold of negative thoughts by feeding her subconscious more positive ones. She may have to identify each fear and counter it with a positive affirmation such as, "You are irreplaceable and your partner knows your value to him."

Giving Her Man Too Much of Everything He Wants

A woman who lacks the confidence that she is central in her mate's life, may think she must be near perfect to keep him around. She is likely to go overboard catering to his every need or whim, spoiling him even when he doesn't deserve spoiling. With this behavior she is will lose his respect rather than to gain it. A woman like this needs to step back and notice how much she deserves beyond the relationship. If she starts pampering herself with as much attention as she gives him she will be perceived as a more desirable mate.

Seeing Another Woman as a Threat

The fear of being replaced may lead a woman to believe that every other woman in her man's life, even if only an acquaintance, is a threat. She will become suspicious, try to divert attention to herself and respond rudely to a woman whom she might otherwise like to be friends with. In this case, a woman will have to stop comparing herself to other women and see herself as her mate's natural choice.

Unreasonable Demands on His Time

Women who are afraid that space and time away means her man is trying to escape, usually exhibit demanding and controlling behavior. Calling to check on him every hour on the hour, texting nonsensical messages while he is at work, and intruding on his leisure time with "to do lists" are all signs that she wants to stay engaged and maintain control. Her separation anxiety is likely rooted in her fear of being alone and she may need to dive deeply into the source of this anxiety to gain control of her own behavior.

Pulling Away and Pushing Him Away

Some women, especially those who felt abandoned by their fathers in childhood may find it difficult to trust the bond of a love relationship and will pull away emotionally as a protective response. It is difficult for them to enjoy their lover for fear of losing him. Other women will do everything in their power to push their mate out the door with negative behavior, sabotaging the relationship and creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of abandonment. If they succeed, it confirms they were right – a man's commitment means nothing. A woman who will pull or push away, needs to develop insight into her own psychology and sabotaging behavior. Her efforts at giving love over time will prove that love is worth the effort.
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Randi Kreger
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« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2008, 02:36:04 PM »

There are environmental risks that can lead of FOA (fear of abandonment) such as the childhood abuse someone mentioned. But there are also biological reasons for BPD; new research just came out that people with BPD have a more difficult time trusting people.

Trying to figure out the "why" of it doesn't necessarily help with the "what to do" about it. The "What To Do" varies depending upon whether you're a treating clinician or a family member. As a family member, FOA is something you must always keep in mind when interacting with your family member to make life more predictible.
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A.J.Mahari
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« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2008, 09:15:00 PM »

Those diagnosed with BPD have an intense fear of abandonment because they have had a very psychologically wounding experience of abandonment - perceived or actual - in their early childhoods. The notion that "everything" BPD or "everything" having to do with lack of trust or abandonment fear has all to do with biology negates the reality that trauma, abuse, even unintentional neglect, in early childhood that ruptures attachment and bonding for the borderline has such an impact that it may well be a part of the changes that are now being reported in the biology (in the brain) of the borderline.

It is from what I have termed the "core wound of abandonment" (which Masterson calls "abandonment trauma") and Melanie Klein likened to "the death of the burgeoning authentic self" that is then lost to this abandonment experience that arrests the emotional and psychological development of those who go on to be diagnosed with BPD that the central issue for those with BPD is an intense fear of what they have already survived - this core wound of abandonment - this death of authentic self - this abandonment trauma is dissociated from by those with BPD and it is what all borderline defense mechanisms are designed to keep out of the conscious awareness of those with BPD.

As someone who recovered from BPD I know all about this intense fear of abandonment, the core wound of abandonment, what it is like to live in the absence of a known self and what one must do in therapy to find, re-connect and re-parent that lost authentic self to heal and resolve these abandonment issues and to recover. Borderlines are triggered to classic borderline emotional dysregulation that manifests everything borderline in relationships, especially, as this struggle between fearing being engulfed on the one side of borderline spitting and fearing being abandoned on the other side of BPD splitting manifests itself from the central reality in BPD - intense fear of abandonment.
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waterlily11
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« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2011, 07:31:39 PM »

Does rejection count in the abandonment category? Any slight, any remote sense of rejection about anything sends him into a crazy fit of abuse.
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just_think
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« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2011, 09:10:08 PM »

yes, rejection/fear of rejection counts, but hard to say because im not sure if any of the other PDs have that same reaction.  I can see a narcissist doing something like that. are you still with him?
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Unicorn1259
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« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2011, 05:08:40 PM »

I know I have a fear of abandonment because I feel like I WAS pretty much abandoned by both my parents. I was abused a neglected as a small child. Then at age 7 I was given to another couple. My mother just took me to someones house & just LEFT me as I was screaming & begging her not to leave me. She never looked back. And now I have a hard time dealing with my kids moving away, because I feel abandoned now by them. It is like I have a bad half that feels abandoned & the other half tries to understand that they left to be able to live a good life. As I live in California & it can get very expensive to live here. I know deep down that my kids love me, but there is always that other half fighting with the half that feels abandoned. I hope this all makes sense. 
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Marble
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« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2011, 06:37:25 PM »

Can abandonment fears develop as a result of something that occurred in a BPD's teenage years? My ex BPD's father passed away when he was 17 years old. I honestly believe that he has never gotten over his father's death.
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