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Abandoned child syndrome

Abandoned child syndrome is a behavioral or psychological condition that results from the loss of one or both parents. Abandonment may be physical (the parent is not present in the child's life) or emotional (the parent withholds affection, nurturing, or stimulation). Many countries, like Russia and China, have an alarmingly high rate of physically abandoned children. A 1998 Human Rights Watch committee report found that more than 100,000 children per year were abandoned in Russia. Parents leave their children for many reasons, including trouble with the law, financial insecurity, the child is mentally or physically challenged, and sometimes population control policies. Involuntary loss of a parent, such as through divorce or death, can also create abandonment issues.

Parents who leave their children, whether with or without good reason, can cause irreversible psychological damage to the child.[1] Abandoned children may also often suffer physical damage from neglect, malnutrition, starvation, and abuse. Substantial research indicates that contact with adults of both sexes encourages a child's balanced development.[2]

Abandoned Child Syndrome is not listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (fourth edition). [3]



Symptoms may be physical and/or mental, and may extend into adulthood and perhaps throughout a person's life.

  • Alienation from the environment - withdrawal from social activities, resistance towards others [4]
  • Guilt - the child believes that he did something wrong that caused the abandonment (often associated with depression) [5]
  • Fear and uncertainty - clinginess, insecurities [6]
  • Sleep and eating disorders - malnutrition, starvation, disturbed sleep, nightmares [6]
  • Physical ailments - fatigue, depression, lack of energy and creativity, anger, grief [6]


For children, creative play is a non-threatening way to work through stressful and traumatic situations. Creative play gives children an outlet to make something "better" and helps them overcome feelings of powerlessness. [7]

For adults, writing about the experience (journaling, unsent letters, putting their feelings into words) can often be helpful.[6]


  1. ^ "Orphans and Abandoned Children". Human Rights Watch.
  2. ^ Ward, Peggie. "Family Wars: The Alienation of Children". DivorceSource.
  3. ^ "DSM-IV Diagnoses and Codes". PSYweb Mental Health Site.
  4. ^ Wilder, Mary. "Parenting Alienated Children: Dealing with Parental Alienation Syndrome".
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b c d Myers, Linda Joy (2005). "Connecting the Past and the Present: Healing Abandonment and Abuse through Awareness".
  7. ^ Spaide, Deborah (2001). "Stress and Fear in Children". Soulrise.

See also

Henley, Arthur. "The abandoned child." Deviancy and the family. Ed. Clifton D. Bryant and J. Gipson Wells. Philadelphia: F. A. Davis, 1973. 199-208.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Abandoned_child_syndrome". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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