Emotional Deprivation 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 sometimes feel that we are not being heard, cared for or supported the way we would like to be. If you have developed an emotional deprivation schema, you may experience a persistence expectation that your emotional needs will not be adequately met by other people, including those close to you.


There are three main areas of deprivation: nurturance This may cause you to put up walls and not share your feelings or, quite the opposite, over-share with people in the attempt to get your needs met., empathy and protection. For example, you may feel a lack of affection, attention or closeness with others; a lack of being truly understood; or a lack of safety, guidance, or advice. This can have a significant impact on how you form relationships. When activated, understandably this schema may cause you to withdraw, put up walls and not share your feelings or, quite the opposite, over-share with people in the attempt to get your needs met.


The true need behind this schema is wanting to feel cared for; and have a sense of shared

disclosure and emotional connection. As humans, we are social animals and reciprocity is essential to create a safe haven.


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

Do you have someone in your life you feel truly understood by?

Are you comfortable sharing your feelings and/or vulnerabilities with people close to you?

Are you comfortable talking about your strengths and weaknesses with people close to you?

Do you have someone to turn to for advice?

Do you have people in your life who you feel really know the core you?

Do you have people in your life you care deeply about things that happen to you?

Do you have people in your life who you give and receive warmth, affection and connection with?

If you generally answer yes to most of these questions, you are unlikely to have developed the emotional deprivation schema. If you think the emotional deprivation schema applies to you, start observing how it manifests 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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