Orphanages from hell – The devastation of the Romanian orphanages.

That love and stimulation are as important for a growing child as food and water. Sadly, it took the Romanian orphanage crisis for researchers to discover this.

Researchers from Kings College studying these orphanages revealed the shocking effect that a lack of love can have on a child. The way it changes their brain is scary.

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Romanian Orphanage: Photographs courtesy of Michael Carrol

Love and stimulation are as important for a growing child as food and water. Sadly, it took the Romanian orphanage crisis for researchers to discover this.

Researchers from Kings College studying these orphanages revealed the shocking effect a lack of love can have on a child. The way it changes their brain is scary.

1966, Nicolae Ceausescu, the Romanian leader, passed a law that would kill thousands of mothers and permanently disfigure the brains and psyche of hundreds of thousands of children.

He outlawed contraception and abortions in a bid to raise the dwindling population. Ceausescu enforced this with brutality. Police would inspect females to ensure all pregnancies were completed. Anyone who didn’t abide was sent to prison.

Here is the problem, Romania was not a rich country. For much of the population, just getting food on the table was a struggle.

Each time a mother became pregnant, that was another mouth to feed. Children were starving, and parents couldn’t afford to feed their children.

In fear of watching their kids suffer, desperate mothers turned to crude abortion techniques. Either the mother herself or a close friend performed these self-abortions. Doctors couldn’t help under the threat of life imprisonment. They involved crude pipes and metal, and there was no sterilization or pain relief. 

The mothers would writhe in pain – thousands ended up dying from infection. These women bore this pain to spare their children from starvation.

The Romanian Orphanages

It was futile. Children were brought into this world with the cruellest fate soon to be dealt to them. With parents unable to feed their children, they resigned to leaving them at orphanages.

These orphanages were run with cold precision. They instructed the carers to show no emotion, no attachment, and no extra attention. Crying children soon learnt that no one was coming.

Kids were tied down, beaten and even starved. But this paled compared to their malnourishment of…

Love, affection and stimulation. Researchers eventually discovered that this was the true evil for a growing brain.

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Romanian Orphanage: Photographs courtesy of Michael Carrol

Inadequate love damages the brain

Researchers from Kings College, London, began studying these children.

Here is what they found:

  • Their brains were much smaller; on average, almost 9% smaller. The longer the children spend in the orphanages, the greater the decrease in brain size.
  • Their IQ was much lower than average – being between 70 and 80.
  • They had severe attachment issues.
  • Their brain activity was lessened, shown through EEG (Basically an ECG, but for the brain).

The worse finding? These impairments were permanent if children remained in the orphanages for too long.

When children were removed in time and placed in a loving home with adequate stimulation, they could repair most of the damage. If not, nothing could be done, and it was permanent.

What young brains need

The young brain desperately requires stimulation, experiences and love to develop properly. In your first few years of life, your brain undergoes far more changes than it will for the rest of it. When deprived of love and stimulation during this crucial stage, our brains become impaired for life.

Love and stimulation are as important as food and water for a child.

Feed your children love as heartily as you would milk.

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Published in Psychology, Relationships, Stories
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