Abandonment Schema

Individuals who experience some form of disconnection or rejection may develop one or more of these five schemas: abandonment, mistrust/abuse, emotional deprivation, defectiveness/shame, and social isolation.



We may all have the occasional thought cross our mind that our partners may leave us, that we may lose someone to a tragic accident, or that friendships come and go. If you have developed a schema around abandonment, this fear tends to be more pervasive and persistent. There may be a conscious or subconscious expectation that all whom we love will eventually leave or be taken from us; or that even if they are physically present, they are not emotionally available.


When activated, understandably this schema can cause you to fight hard for the people you love, because you don’t want to lose them: Be it needing more time together, not wanting to let them go away on their own, or unleashing fury at the first sign of mild rejection. The true need behind this schema is often wanting to feel that our emotional attachments are reliable and secure; and a sense that losing the people close to us will be unbearable.



Here are some questions to think about if you are considering whether the abandonment schema resonates with you:

Do you worry frequently about losing your partner, children or others close to you?

Do you experience anxiety, anger or jealousy when your current or previous partner(s)

· Spends time with friends or colleagues?

· Speaks or messages with strangers or ex-partners?

· Goes on holiday or business trips without you?

· Comes home later than expected?

· Comments that a stranger or friend is attractive?

· Is not responding to messages or phone calls?

Do you worry that close relationships could end at any time?

Do you worry that people are unreliable and may walk away from relationships at a whim?


If you generally answer no to most these questions, you are unlikely to have developed the abandonment schema. Take our abandonment schema quiz, by CLICKING HERE.


If you think the abandonment schema applies to you, start observing when it comes up in your daily life. Recognition is key to changing patterns that stop you from achieving your goals. To find out more about your own personal schemas, book a consultation with Dr. Terrighena on (852) 2715 4577 or e.terrighena@mind-balance.org.

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Dr Esslin Terrighena - Psychologist in Hong Kong

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