Mental Health Professionals Reveal The Saddest Cases Of Childhood Trauma They've Treated

Trauma - some of it can't be fixed, and the people on the front lines of therapy confront the worst of the worst. Brace yourself, these are some harrowing stories.

LetsArgueAboutNothin asked mental health professionals of Reddit: What is the saddest case of "wow this person really fucked up because of how they were treated during their childhood" you have ever come across?

Submissions have been edited for clarity, context, and profanity.


One of my first cases when I first started in the mental health field and I'll never forget. I was providing therapy to a young girl who was pooping on herself after holding it in for as long as she could. Mom originally thought it was some kind of anxiety or fear of the toilet but after a couple more sessions I found out that the girl was being abused by her step father... it was heartbreaking to find that out and a hell of an introduction to the field.

Edit: Not sure if this is ok to do here but as a way to help people that don't have access to mental health services I started providing free mental health advice/ answering psychology related questions a few months ago through the form of social media and videos. If anyone is in need of assistance feel free to inbox me and I will provide you with my information. Thank you!


He is in jail for a long time, the investigation discovered several other things that sealed the deal for him. He won't be bothering the family for a good long while.


Money is not love.

Looked after a 14 year old, she was in hospital for her 15th birthday. Multiple suicide attempts (I'm talking 20+). On her birthday she wanted to call her mum, I let her but had to listen in (standard procedure). Her mum didn't say happy birthday but asked what she wanted, telling her she'd buy anything she wanted. Daughter said she just wanted to see her. Mum said she couldn't do that but she'd send presents. This girl was the daughter of two 'successful,' very wealthy lawyers. All she wanted was to see/spend time with them but they thought they could just throw money at her until she was 'better.' Money can't buy happiness. It's been a few years now and I wouldn't be surprised if she's had a completed attempt by now.


It's so sad how resigned your last sentence is.


There's this twisted thing.

I worked in corrections and on Sundays there would be coffee with breakfast. One of my female inmates always vomited and basically it turned out that as a teen her dad would assault her then buy her coffee to make himself feel less guilty about it. The sight or smell of coffee made her projectile vomit even a decade later.


What kind of sh*tty gesture is that ? How is coffee supposed to make any of this better ?


This is called "love bombing." The abuser gives gifts or attention to their victim as a way to alleviate their guilt about the abusive episode. We were poor, so my dad got me ceramic cat figures from the dollar store the day after he abused me. It gave me quite a bit of satisfaction to smash them as an adult.


When you've simply had enough.

Had a kid show up in my office saying he had not eaten all day. He missed his bus and just seemed to not want to leave. I call home and mom was not answering. The parents were divorced, so I called Dad. It was about 8:00 PM by this point. Dad answers and is obviously drunk off of his @ss at a bar (I heard the noise and music). I explain the situation and the dad says he will get someone to drive him to come pick him up. He never showed up.

About 10:00pm on a Tuesday or some sh*t now, so I call the police and they assist. Learned that the mother had overdosed on heroin and was found dead in the house. The father never showed up, and I was told he never tried to be a part of the kids life.

This kid had some terrible facial disfiguration from birth due to the mother using drugs and drinking during pregnancy. I have no idea how the kid was never removed from custody. I spent a lot of time with him because he didn't like people looking at him throughout the school day. I didn't give a f*ck about his grades, I just wanted him to enjoy something in life. We would watch old WWF clips because he loved wrestling.

He's dead now. Killed himself.

I switched careers after I heard that. F*cked me up. I tried to help.

Edit: thanks y'all.. I hate thinking about it sometimes, but I love thinking about some stupid little moments with em.


You tried and he probably remembered you for that. It's not your fault that he was in that situation or that no one else did their job to get him out. Something that you have to remember is that you can't control anything beyond the classroom, you gave him something safe and good while he was with you that's what matters.


"Fun time cuddles."

Working in group care, I had a client whose parents would sell her body, from to 'regular' travellers through town in exchange for drugs and money. Her family and extended family would tell her these people were friends and needed 'fun time cuddles' and that she was the best daughter that anyone could have because she was special for doing this.

When I was working with her in her teens she didn't trust anyone that ever gave her compliments, and would often have panic attacks when people said she did a good job at something or was skilled at something. Was the saddest fallout of abuse I think I've ever seen. She had several suicide attempts and a lot selfharm.

Last I heard (years ago), she's doing a lot better now after finding a good match for a therapist. I sincerely hope her family never sees the light of day again, and that some bad things happen to them in prison.



When one of my best pals was little, his parents used to inject him with heroin and crack cocaine... He said his social workers think it was because they wanted to test the drugs to be sure it wouldn't kill them before they used. He can't even see needles now almost 20 years later because they upset him so much and it crushes me as a friend.

That being said? He's now the most proud and protective father I've ever met. He'd do anything for that little girl of his and is one of the most loving parents I've ever seen. It's really amazing to see all the good that he's brought into the world as a person when dealing with so much f*cking pain.


Humans are depraved creatures.

While doing my psych clinical's over 20 years ago, we had this poor patient that was so abused as child. This took place in the 70s. Her father had a casket at his house. I can't remember if he worked at a funeral home or how he ended up with a casket. He drilled a hole just big enough so a straw could go through it. He would put his daughter in there and close the lid and gave her a straw to put through the hole so she can breath through the straw. He left her in there for extended of time. The poor girl was destroyed. As the psychotherapist was telling our group the story, our group were in tears. How can someone be this f*cked up to do this to their own child. The poor girl is so messed up and cannot live a normal life due to all the trauma this has caused her.

Edit: Many asked how she was destroyed. This abuse took place over her childhood till adulthood. In the 70's, child abuse was overlooked and often not believed by the child. Who would believe that a person would have a casket in their home. She was placed in a lock down facility and as students, we never had her as a patient. The psychotherapist explained that she did not meet her milestones and acted as if she was in the wild in away. She was probably oxygen deprived that also affected her brain. The poor girl basically grew up throughout the years being put in that dark airtight casket with a straw to breath through. It was so long ago and cannot remember the details how she turned out other than she is in this locked facility and has trigger points that sets her off. Our clinical group was crying all day after hearing this case. This broke me and realized that I cannot ever be a psych nurse. I am sure she suffered other abuse. Most of the patients in the psych facility were from an abusive parents. The next population was drugs, alcohol and chemical imbalance. To be honest, I felt in my own mechanism, I shut down after hearing the casket and straw bit. I could not handle it and felt sick all day.


Yeah this would mess me up too.

I worked at a psychiatric hospital for guys who had successfully argued Not Guilty for Reasons of Insanity pleas. One guy had murdered his neighbor after they had some kind of normal neighbory dispute. He told me, in detail, how he grew up on a farm and his dad would kill one of his dogs in front of him every time he acted out as a child.


The state psych hospitals are the worst of the worst. We keep shrinking the size and displacing people, pretty much anyone crazy enough to warrant a bed will have a backstory that gives you nightmares.


Inescapable pain

I'm a security guard on a psych unit. I once had a patient refuse her medicine, which is a fairly common occurrence. Normally, that's fine. The doctor will convince them to take their meds the next day. However, this girl was extremely psychotic. In some cases, we have to hold patients down for a shot. As soon as we walked in the room, this girl started screaming "Daddy please don't! I promise I'll stop! No! I'll be good!" She got the shot and just curled up and started bawling. This was the saddest forced shot we've ever had to give and all of us left the room completely silent.


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