The Bad Child:
The “bad child” does not fare as well as the “good child” because the “bad child” becomes the target of the hatred of the borderline parents. This is the type of adult survivor of child abuse I have frequently worked with as patients in psychotherapy. Typically treatment takes a long time because of the amount of damage that has been done to this person’s self esteem and dignity. The steady and systematic physical and emotional abuse heaped upon this child is devastating. Physical scars fade and vanish but the emotional scars that this individual carries around with them remain deeply imprinted. Long after they are adults these patients report dreams that stereotypically deal with the themes of being pursued by Nazis, animal predators, murderers of all types and of having no place to hide and find safety. The world does not feel safe to someone who has survived such massive abuse. For these people feelings of depression, guilt and fear run deep. These emotions are accompanied by low self esteem and difficulty functioning in the world of work and intimacy. One of the great psychoanalytic writers of the 1980’s referred to this type of abuse suffered by the child at the hands of the borderline parent by term soul murder.