Soillessness, no soil syndrome

Bottomlessness or no-bottom syndrome (GBS) is an attachment disorder. The child does not feel safe in his environment and does not feel loved. On average, 15 percent of all children experience some form of bottomlessness, of which 1/3 becomes serious. Behavioral disorders arise and the child is unable to show affection. In addition, there are other clear symptoms. The treatment focuses on the abnormal behavior.

Bottomlessness or borderline?

They are also called bottomless children. Children who suffer from bottomlessness are dealing with an attachment disorder. Bottomless children have no bottom in their lives. The environment can put love and attention into it, but nothing ever comes back. It seems as if the child lets everything slip through his hands, has no bottom. When the bottomless child reaches adulthood and is still dealing with this attachment disorder, it is called borderline. Most people are familiar with Borderline, but the youth variant is less known. That’s a shame, because the foundation lies with youth.


The cause lies in the parent-child relationship, where the child has lacked the basis of trust and security. This is more common in stepchildren and adopted children. No close bond has been built with the (foster) parent and the child has missed out on a lot. We already see this happen during the first year of life, but it can also arise later in childhood when the child suddenly has to deal with a foster family or problems at home. This does not mean that the blame always lies with the parents. Sometimes adults are unable to provide the child with a safe and stable living environment due to their own problems or not knowing any better. Adults who have not had their own stable and loving childhood often find it more difficult to offer this to a child.
Women who have experienced a traumatic event or a violent birth are also more likely to have a child with bottomlessness. In addition, lack of oxygen during childbirth can also play a role. Sometimes there is no clear cause at all.

Symptoms of bottomlessness

Bottomlessness, more often referred to in psychiatry as the no-bottom syndrome, can be recognized by a number of important points:

  • The adult puts everything into the child: love, care and attention, but never receives a response.
  • The child finds it difficult to show affection.
  • The child has difficulty empathizing with others.
  • Aggression or taunting parents and brothers/sisters.
  • Rejection towards parents or guardians.
  • Hurting animals needlessly.
  • The child manipulates others around him.
  • The child gets up to the strangest pranks and mischief.
  • The child overhears conversations and observes others.
  • The child lies and makes up stories that are often serious.
  • The child tries to play others off against each other.
  • Only makes superficial contact with others, fear of entering into deeper relationships.
  • Learning problems arise at school.
  • In a public environment nothing seems to be wrong, the child behaves in an exemplary manner.

The symptoms can vary greatly from child to child. Some children know how to keep a number of symptoms well hidden, especially from therapists and other outsiders. Things are completely wrong within the family, while the outside world doesn’t notice anything.

Holding therapy or holding therapy

This method of treatment has both pros and cons. The idea behind this therapy is that the child is forced to bond with the parent or another adult. The child is held tightly by the parent or another until it finally gives up, weakens and surrenders to the adult. In some cases, they go so far as to sit on the child or tie the child tightly. In these cases the following applies: it is either bend or crack. There are cases where this worked (bending), but also where it went completely wrong (cracks). In the year 2000, a 10-year-old girl with bottomlessness died after holding therapy. The child was wrapped in a sheet, which was supposed to imitate the womb. Four adults restrained the girl as she tried to free herself. Finally she gave up. After 70 minutes the therapist noticed that the pain had turned blue. She was declared brain dead a day later. Retention therapy can cause serious trauma to the child.


Bottomless children can be treated with therapy and sometimes with additional medication. This concerns play therapy, emotional expression in drawing or other forms of art, music therapy and talk therapy. In addition, antidepressants can reduce or eliminate the child’s greatest fears. Medicines must always be reduced again. Sometimes the child is not helped and borderline develops later.

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