These two topics are complementary. There are two books that I just completed reading that identify the root cause of my personal challenges with relating to myself and others. If you are affected by one of these, you likely have the other.
Childhood Emotional Neglect is the idea that there are things that you didn’t receive in childhood that your parents should have taught you. Namely how to feel and use your emotions to drive your decisions and build your sense of self. This lack of emotional nurturance is passed down generationally. If your parents were neglectful in this area, then their parents likely were also. It comes from an environment of not mirroring or supporting a child’s emotional life and basically teaching them that their emotions are not important or are unacceptable. As a result, the child will push their feelings down and away. This issue is not unique to neglectful homes but if your ability to feel and use your emotions is missing, it will have a significant effect on your ability deeply connect with others and have happy and fulfilling relationships. People with this issue often feel empty.
Dr. Jonice Webb has a several books out on this topic and a great blog that goes over this topic in great depth. She also has an online course on how to address it which I found helpful if you want to explore the steps you need to take to overcome Childhood emotional neglect. I have listed her info below.
Complex PTSD is also closely related to this issue of being out of touch of your emotions. Children who are emotionally neglected in childhood often develop Complex PTSD. This encompasses the behavior a child develops in order to compensate for being in a neglectful environment. The biggest take away from this book are understanding what is an Emotional Flashback, how to recognize that you are having one, and how to overcome a flashback and CPTSD. This is also where you can learn and understand what Pete Walker calls your 4F type. This is the unhealthy automatic response that you go into when you are emotionally triggered. These are Fight, Flight, Freeze or Fawn. These reactions are unhealthy responses to trauma that you used as a child to survive but you carry on into adulthood where it no longer serves you. I cannot over stress how significant this book has been for me and I think that if you had any type of neglect in your childhood you should read this book. If nothing else read chapters 6: What is my Trauma type? and chapter 8: Managing Emotional Flashbacks.
There is no quick fix for either of these conditions but both of these books will get you started in the steps you need to start taking and building a practice to overcome these issues.
Running on Empty: Overcome your Childhood Emotional Neglect – Jonice Webb Ph.D.
Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving – Pete Walker
Running on Empty – Dr. Jonice Webb