When people talk about abandonment, or fear of abandonment, they often feel it is something that either happened to them, or what happens to other people in childhood, often without a really clear sense of what it might mean.

There is some truth in this interpretation of abandonment, but its long-term effects, as well as its initial impact can have a much more powerful impact on people than they realise.

In order to really understand the nature of abandonment, it is important to understand the nature of how childhood should evolve. Obviously this is a hugely complex area, so this will by its nature be a very simplistic approach. In order for any child to grow in a healthy environment, they need to have some measure of feeling safe within the family they grew up in.

If that safety is there, then the child will feel an inner sense of security, and a freedom to be themselves. This will allow them to grow in a healthy developmental manner.
If that feeling of safety is not present, then the child will, in varying degrees, attempt to compensate for that lack of safety by trying to control the environment around them.

It is that illusion of being in control of their circumstances and their situation that gives them a sense of safety that they need. That feeling of safety is in many ways an illusion, but to the child it is a reality they need in order either to survive or to cope with their situation.

Either literal abandonment, or a fear of abandonment can lead the child to feel this need of controlling their environment in order to feel safe. The fear of abandonment may come from an unstable parent or parents, from a divorce or separation, or simply from a child's ability to pick up on an unease or tension within the relationship of their parents.

There doesn't have to be a real probability of abandonment in order for the child to pick up on it. Any sense of a parental moving away from a child can create this fear of abandonment.

The long-term effects of this can be dramatic for the individual involved. The need of the child to feel safe will continue throughout their adolescent and adult life, and will lead them often to try and control situations outside of their locus of control. They will be for ever trying to set boundaries either for themselves or for other people which a lot of the time will not be particularly healthy boundaries, but will continue this illusion of control that they feel the need to perpetrate.

Much of this development, in fact virtually all of it will be subconscious and the person will be completely unaware that this is what they are trying to do. Only if the person has at some level to deal with a sense of feeling out of control of their lives, will they begin the process of self-awareness and hopefully a realisation of where their emotional drives come from.

It is this realisation of their inner child drives that can lead them to look at where their fear of abandonment comes from, and the subsequent need to feel in control of the external environment in order to feel safe.

The awareness of this will most likely of itself help to free the person from the need to control other people so much, and will at least give them an awareness of what they were doing.

Self-awareness does not necessarily mean that someone will change their behaviour, but it does at least give them a realistic prospect of having a choice about what they do and how they behave.

Author's Bio: 

Peter Main is a freelance journalist and copywriter who writes extensively about all areas of self growth and self development. He has a particular focus on self help issues for people who are in recovery from or who have been affected by alcoholism and other addictions.Some people begin their journey of recovery and healing in a rehab, others in a twelve step fellowship such as Alcoholics Anonymous, others in a religious or spiritual setting. He has worked in this field for just under thirty years and has extensive experience in many areas of different therapeutic approaches, including counselling, inner child work,meditation, spirituality, adult children work etc