Childhood Trauma And Social Isolation:
If, as a result of our childhood trauma, we develop, in adulthood, mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, borderline personality disorder or complex post traumatic stress disorder, we are at greater risk than average of becoming socially isolated. Indeed, I have written elsewhere on this site about how, for several years, I saw virtually no-one apart from those I was forced to interact with (such as doctors, psychiatrists, pizza deliverymen, shopkeepers).
But why do people become so socially isolated? Below, I briefly explain some of the main reasons:
1) We may distrust others or feel fearful or vulnerable when around them
2) We may simply lack the energy it requires to interact with others, especially if it entails pretending to be cheerful
3) Anhedonia : we no longer derive pleasure from being in the presence of others
4) Misanthropy : we no longer like other people and have a very low view of humanity in general
5) Fear of how we might behave : for example, if we have problems with anger, we may fear becoming angry or (especially if we drink heavily in the company of others) violent
6) We may have deep – seated feelings of inadequacy, shame, inferiority or self-hatred and view ourselves as unfit to engage with ‘decent’ society
7) We might feel others look down on us for being mentally ill or feel self-conscious about symptoms such as agitation
8) We don’t want to talk about our illness / experiences that led to it and fear that others may pressure us to do so, or that they may say ignorant things like ‘why don’t you just get over it?’
9) Others may ostracize us and turn their backs on us due to lack of understanding, lack of compassion or an unwillingness to be of emotional support
10) Complete breakdown of social confidence (especially if affected by ostracization – see number 9 immediately above).
11) Guilt – we might see ourselves as such a ‘bad’ and ‘dispicable’ person that we don’t allow ourselves to go out and enjoy ourselves
How Remaining Socially Isolated Can Lead To A Vicious Circle :
If we avoid mixing with others due to feelings such as anxiety, anger, depression and lack of confidence, the emotional pain of our isolation is likely to exacerbate these symptoms thus making it even harder to socialize and, ultimately, leaving us feeling like ‘misfits’ and ‘social pariahs’ and in a general state of despair.
Furthermore, without emotional stimulation or emotional ‘nourishment’ we can find that our feelings shut down and we feel emotionally numb/dead.
Treatments for complex posttraumatic stress disorder include :
– Trauma Focused Psychotherapy (including Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy)
– EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization And Reprocessing).
To help overcome a propensity to self-isolate, assertiveness training can help, as can anger management training if one’s problems are anger related.
Self – hypnosis downloadable MP3s :
Click here for details of above eBook.
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).