Mental Deprivation

Mental deprivation describes the lack of spiritual attention between people who are close to one another. Especially children in the first years of life suffer from this impoverishment of feelings primarily on the part of their parents. Such a mental developmental disorder has a more or less detrimental effect on their later ability to bond with a life partner and also the formation of friendships.

Mental Deprivation

What is mental deprivation?

The children and young people affected only develop with difficulty and delay the ability to fulfill personal social roles with psychological deprivation. They usually lack important prerequisites for forming deeper and genuine relationships with their peers. Negative prerequisites for everyday stimulus sensitivity and goal-oriented learning are also clearly recognizable. See topbbacolleges for Definitions of Bernard Soulier Syndrome.

These young people often show difficulties in their language development, and thus also in reading and writing. The causes of such a mental illness can essentially be traced back to failures in upbringing. The disturbed emotional bonds between father or mother and their own child often arise from depressive states on the part of the parents.

Sometimes the child’s times of isolation and seclusion, for example because of a separation, also play a role. Longer stays in the hospital or children’s home also play a decisive role here, during which regular contact with parents or close relatives breaks off.


The term mental deprivation goes back to the Czech soul researcher and child psychologist Zdenek Matejcek (1922-2004). He summarized the illness as a psychological deficiency of a developing child with little emotional connection.

A distinction must be made between physical deprivation (poor nutrition), sensory deprivation (lack of sensory stimuli), linguistic deprivation (limited stimulation), and social deprivation (isolation). There is general talk of a lack of upbringing, a serious pedagogical deficit. The sooner the treatment of psychological deprivation begins, the better the chances of completely avoiding or curing its many consequences.

Therapy is an extremely lengthy process because it is a very complex mental disorder. The treatment will only be successful if parents, child and adolescent psychologists, educators, social workers, and possibly neurologists work closely together.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

Because the emotional needs of an affected child are so inadequately met, the previous emotional experiences should first be worked through in therapy. The child needs new or first clues for richer, more reliable relationships with other people.

First and foremost, the therapist himself is such a person who can create a basis of trust with the child. In many cases, moving the child to an intact and suitable foster family is also an option.

Diagnosis & course of disease

According to some psychologists, the best chance for complete reversal of mental deprivation is when treatment begins before the age of eight. In the later school years there are usually only favorable starting points for this, but increasingly negative factors also have an impact on successful therapy.

The chances of recovery in adulthood are even lower, especially since one’s own children may then be faced with recurring psychological hazards. Educating the parents in this regard about the prerequisites for a valuable coexistence with their biological children, as well as their own behavioral patterns in their upbringing, is inseparably linked to successful therapy.

Zdenek Matejcek, for example, was convinced that this education among one generation of parents is a preventive measure to effectively counteract the psychological deprivation of future generations of children.


As a rule, this disease leads to various psychological complaints in those affected. Especially in childhood, serious problems can occur in adulthood, so that it may not be easy to establish and maintain social contacts. In many cases, this also leads to psychological problems or severe depression, which can have a very negative effect on the quality of life of those affected.

As a rule, those affected generally distrust other people and are unable to establish a firm bond. Furthermore, this mental disorder can also have a negative effect on the relationship with the partner. This disease can also lead to various phobias or other mental disorders. For this reason, a general course cannot be given. Treatment usually does not lead to further complications.

If treatment is started in childhood, the chances of a complete cure in adulthood increase. However, the treatment is not always successful. For this reason, it is very important to pay attention to physical closeness in parental upbringing.

When should you go to the doctor?

Adults and children who show reduced well-being over several weeks or months or who show problems processing the experiences due to a fateful event should be evaluated by a doctor or therapist. If there is a strong withdrawal behavior, a general feeling of illness, apathy, listlessness or a decrease in resilience, a cause analysis is indicated. If you are tearful, have pale skin, feel weak, tired or have trouble sleeping, you should see a doctor. A decrease in body weight and irregularities in the digestive tract must also be clarified.

If it is a temporary phenomenon due to stress or life challenges, in many cases no medical consultation is required. However, if the behavior is unusual over a long period of time, the person concerned needs help. A persistent loss of motivation, lack of zest for life or sadness can lead to serious mental disorders.

Therefore, a therapist should be consulted if no life-enhancing measures take effect in everyday life and the person concerned cannot bring about changes on their own. If the usual demands can no longer be met, if a lack of interest sets in or if all events in life are fundamentally evaluated negatively, there is a need for action. If the usual incentives or suggestions for building happy and life-affirming moments do not work, a check-up should be initiated.

Treatment & Therapy

How fundamentally important this can be is shown by the difficult attachment behavior of patients with mental deprivation. In adulthood, they may suffer from an oppressive situation of dependency on a specific, mostly older person.

At the same time, she can be overcome by an almost panicky relationship anxiety, which in turn is based on the acquired emotional poverty. Related to this are typically exaggerated claims to material possessions, tokens of love, and general lifestyle.

These people are very bad at dealing with setbacks, losses and losses. In their professional development, they are often tolerant and shy away from taking on responsibility. On the other hand, they want to compensate for the lack of emotional attention and their social marginalization by conspicuously consuming material goods.


In view of these consequences, it becomes clear how crucial a balanced and trusting family life is, especially in a modern consumer society. Each family member has a specific and multifaceted role to play in meeting a child’s basic physical, emotional, intellectual, and moral needs in life.

At the beginning, the mother is still the decisive reference person, but then the father and the siblings move more into the center. Later, the social environment of the family and its position in the community have a formative effect on a child’s development. These need to be nurtured and developed.

Basically, every small child who lacks a reference person in the family or is lost without replacement is at risk of psychological deprivation. The younger it is, the greater this threat. But by no means is a mother not replaceable by another family member if they can provide the usual loving attention to the child. In this way, children from fatherless or motherless families can grow up happy and healthy.


Mental deprivation in an early phase of life, such as a lack of attachment to one or more attachment figures in early childhood, is not actually reversible and poses a certain challenge for the rest of life. After successful therapy, which at the same time represents a positive relationship experience, it is for It is important for those affected to maintain stable and long-term relationships with other people.

The “traces” of psychological deprivation cannot be completely eradicated even on a physiological level. However, there is a chance that an insecure (usually avoidant) attachment style caused by deprivation will change over time and secure attachments will become possible. However, this is only possible if at least one lasting, trusting relationship develops – in the case of children, this can be a foster family, for example.

Even after successful therapy, patterns of complaints related to the experience of psychological deprivation can reappear later in life. This can happen when memories are updated again by external influences, for example when those affected become parents themselves. Depending on personal resilience, secondary diseases such as depression or anxiety disorders can also occur. In such cases and in the cases mentioned above, renewed psychotherapeutic care can be useful.

You can do that yourself

People who are experiencing a lack of meeting their own needs can seek help and support for themselves by engaging in behavioral therapy. There they learn how to perceive and fulfill their own needs in a structured manner and adapted to their individual requirements. In addition, the development of emotional bonds is learned. Contact with fellow human beings should be consciously promoted in everyday life, even without a therapist.

Participation in change is essential for improving well-being. The use of leisure activities in the immediate vicinity can help to get to know people and thus build bonds. Contact exchanges, social media portals or other forums on the Internet are also an opportunity to expand your circle of acquaintances. Contact can be maintained via chats or the exchange of voice messages with other people. At the same time, it creates emotional bonds. In addition, you can work every day, for example by creating a list with an enumeration of needs. The list should contain easy as well as challenging items.

The person concerned can then objectively check which needs can be realistically satisfied over the course of the day. If this is successful, the focus of attention should be consciously directed to the process from the perception of the need to its fulfillment for a moment.