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Ask the Mental Health Expert Archives 2001-2004

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Emotional Deprivation Disorder

Q. I'm looking for information about Emotional Deprivation Disorder. As far as I know this disorder is included in DSM-IV Text Revision, but I couldn't find any information about that. I only saw it under "Healing the Unaffirmed: Recognizing Emotional Deprivation Disorder" by Baars & Terruwe. I couldn't find any diagnostic of it. Can you tell me more about this?

A. So far as I know, the use of the term "Emotional Deprivation Disorder" (EDD) is not found in any edition of the DSMs, and is really the exclusive offspring of Conrad W. Baars, M.D and Anna A. Terruwe, M.D. For more information on their construct, you can go to the website http://www.conradbaars.com.

Formerly called Deprivation Neurosis, EDD is described by the authors as follows: "A person is unaffirmed when he or she has been deprived of authentic affirmation. He or she may have been criticized, ignored, neglected, abused, or emotionally rejected by primary caregivers early in life, resulting in the individual's stunted emotional growth. Unaffirmed individuals are incapable of developing into emotionally mature adults without receiving authentic affirmation from another person. Maturity is reached when there is a harmonious relationship between a person's body, mind, emotions, and spiritual soul under the guidance of their reason and will."

EDD individuals are described as "?incapable of establishing normal, mature contact with others. This abnormal emotional rapport with others causes the person to feel lonely and uncomfortable in social settings--he or she feels like a stranger, not part of the group. In essence, the person feels like a child or a baby, and others must direct themselves to the individual just as an adult would with a young child. The person can usually establish a willed rapport with others because intellectually the person believes they should be interacting with others, however, friendships are superficial as the person lacks the capacity to have an emotional investment in relationships."

I think the closest DSM-IV comes to EDD is with the diagnosis of Reactive Attachment Disorder of Infancy or Early Childhood (RADI). This involves, "...persistent failure to initiate or respond in a developmentally appropriate fashion to most social interactions, as manifest by excessively inhibited, hypervigilant, or highly ambivalent and contradictory responses (e.g., the child may respond to caregivers with a mixture of approach, avoidance, and resistance to comforting, or may exhibit frozen watchfulness)."

There are also some features of EDD suggestive of the DSM diagnoses of avoidant personality disorder and social phobic disorder.

Other Resources:

August 2003

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