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In the first part of the blog we discussed the effects that children may have when they are not given the opportunity to be loved properly. In children, the effects might be seen in their behaviour. We often say that the children who need the most love will ask for it in the most unloving of ways by exhibiting social and emotional difficulties. Unfortunately, if no adult acknowledges the needs of these children, as these children become adults, they assimilate strong beliefs against themselves, struggle with equally strong thoughts and feelings about parents, and project much of their pain onto others. Their experience of seeing themselves as worthless and unlovable may then continue being recreated in several other adult relationships as they would be primed to see it even in people who may show them that they are indeed worthy of love.

The mind that thinks it is worthless struggles to protect itself and during late adolescence to mid adulthood, we might then begin to see the primary signs of mental health problems. We begin to see responses, sometimes intense neurotic, and at other times psychotic reactions of the mind that in turn trigger an array of symptoms that may range from panic attacks, to outright psychotic episodes, self harm or even suicide. Essentially, the mind, is in a frantic state to shield itself from the pain of being unloved. This must at least suggest to us, that the very concept of not being loved is so painful, that our psyche has an automatic strategy to ignore it or even reject it.

There is hope, however. Love has the ability to heal. And I hope that my blog does not suggest that love is generally absent or that when love is absent, there is no going back. That is not true. Love in the world is abundant and there are many who are able to provide nurturing, caring and mature love. Therapy, for instance is an attempt to help a person heal through a process that is fundamentally energised by love towards another human being. It is not perhaps comparable to a parent’s love or a  romantic love, but essentially the therapist is extending themselves for the growth of another. Although it might be a long and difficult process, love can help anyone find the peace that has been robbed from their heart. Love waters the seed. Then the seed may begin to grow.

Claire Borg is a gestalt psychotherapist at Willingness. She works with adolescents and adults. She has a special interest in mental health. She can be contacted on claire@willingness.com.mt or call us on 79291817.