Isolation is a state of reduced communicative activity characterized by rejection of interpersonal interaction, orientation to one’s own inner world: thoughts, images, experiences. Introverted people prefer to spend time alone, avoid large companies and public speaking, do not take the initiative. Isolation can be a stable personality trait, a situational reaction, or a symptom of a mental illness. A conversation, questionnaires, and projective tests are used for diagnostics. Treatment is carried out by methods of group and individual psychotherapy.
Isolation characterizes the severity of a person’s communication skills. It is the opposite of sociability, often rated as a negative quality. It is more difficult for closed people to make acquaintances, maintain friendly and business ties, and socialize. Children who tend to avoid social contacts often do not have time to master the school curriculum, intellectually lag behind their peers, are more prone to aggression. The basis of this is a negative self-perception, exaggeration of possible failures, inhibition of activity.
It is widely believed that lack of communication is always experienced by a person as a serious problem. However, in practice, various options are possible. Isolation is a cause for concern if it has arisen as a result of internal confrontation – fear, uncertainty, lack of communication experience. Then the general orientation of the personality towards relationships is preserved, but there is no courage or skill to become open, sociable.
Another option is when a person is closed and focused on the inner world – on emotions, fantasies, ideas. Isolation does not burden him, life is interesting, filled with emotions. They say about such people that they know how to enjoy solitude. They are happy to immerse themselves in reading books, watching movies, computer games. Many actively communicate in the virtual space – on thematic forums, chats. Such interaction does not require emotional involvement, the use of non-verbal means (facial expressions, gestures, intonations), therefore it is more attractive for closed personalities.
Relationships between people are changeable, for successful socialization it is necessary to show both sociability and isolation. Openness, talkativeness help to establish contacts, to be realized in the professional sphere, informal interactions, such as friendship. Isolation allows you to pay attention to the internal state, protect yourself from ineffective and unpleasant communication, recover faster after emotional, stressful loads.
Reasons for isolation
Isolation can be pronounced or insignificant, permanent or periodic. Sometimes it becomes a temporary reaction to certain events and is successfully controlled by a person, in other cases it manifests itself continuously in all spheres of life, combined with fears, aggressiveness, distrust. The characteristics of unsociability, the degree of social maladjustment may be due to situational factors, psychological problems or mental illnesses.
For most people, isolation is provoked only by certain situations. It is a conscious choice or arises unconsciously, but is purposefully supported by a person, helps him to function more effectively – to avoid unnecessary tension, unpleasant emotions. The ability to limit sociability from time to time is a sign of plasticity, flexibility of the psyche. Possible causes of situational isolation:
- Absence of interlocutors. A person may seem withdrawn in an unfamiliar or unfamiliar company. His taciturnity is explained by the fact that the necessary level of trust in people has not yet been established, there is no clear understanding of the specifics of the conversation. Observing what is happening is more active than talking directly.
- Lack of interest in the conversation. Closeness may occur when there is insufficient interest in the content of the conversation, its participants, or the whole situation. A person becomes silent when a conversation is boring, incomprehensible, or participation in it causes hostility. Detachment allows you to save energy, maintain a positive emotional attitude.
- Depressed emotional state. In a state of sadness, sadness, apathy, a person does not feel the desire to talk. The reasons are diverse – life failures, accumulated tension, daily stress loads. As soon as the mood rises, the old sociability returns.
- Fatigue. Interpersonal interaction is always a process of exchanging information and emotions. If a person gets tired, then the energy needed to maintain a conversation is not enough. There is a need to rest, recuperate. An example is the taciturnity after a working day, especially in people whose profession is related to communication.
- Preoccupation with thoughts. Sometimes a decrease in interest in the environment is the result of intensive mental work. At the same time, attention is focused on an idea, a problem, and memories. Preoccupation with inner work manifests itself as detachment, closeness, distraction. An example is a scientist developing a new theory.
- Role-playing behavior. Some situations require restraint and modesty, demonstration of obedience, readiness for submission. The image of a closed person is a social role, the performance of which is most beneficial in the existing conditions. So, a child becomes secretive, whose parents often swear, showing aggression. “Quiet” behavior allows him to remain unnoticed.
Psychological factors of isolation
Lack of communication, shyness, secrecy may not be situational reactions, but persistent character traits that manifest themselves in uncomfortable situations or on a daily basis. The reasons for this behavior lie in previous experience, that is, they are explained by the type of upbringing, the conditions of training and professional activity, the psychotraumatic situations that have occurred. Isolation as a personality trait can be provoked by the following factors:
- Low communication skills. Closeness, lack of communication may be based on an insufficiently developed skill of interpersonal interactions. Common causes are frequent illnesses, long inpatient treatment; physical defects that prevent the establishment of relationships; refusal to attend kindergarten or school by a child. In these cases, the person is closed because he has no experience of positive communication.
- Fear of communication. The reasons for this phobia are insecurity, unstable self-esteem. A person belittles his own qualities, does not believe that people can like him, be interesting. He is afraid of possible negative consequences of communication – conflicts, criticism, condemnation or ridicule – so he prefers to remain unnoticed, does not take the initiative.
- Negative relationship experience. The desire to remain alone can manifest itself as a protective reaction of the psyche. Detachment often develops after a traumatic relationship, allows you to avoid repeated betrayal, disappointment, feelings of shame or humiliation. For example, a teenager becomes withdrawn after a conflict situation with a group of peers or a woman after adultery.
- Features of upbringing. Closed children grow up in families where parents do not develop the sociability and emotionality of the child. The reasons are high employment at work, lack of time for joint activities, emotional coldness of the mother. Another variant of destructive parenting is the frequent manifestation of parental aggression. The child constantly experiences fear, closes himself in order to protect himself.
- Properties of temperament. Sometimes, despite the sociability of parents and the positive experience of friendship, a person remains silent from childhood. This is due to the peculiarities of his temperament, namely, the properties of higher nervous activity. People with low mobility of nervous processes – phlegmatic, melancholic – find it difficult to get used to a new environment, activity, environment. Therefore, they prefer solitude or communication in a narrow circle of friends.
Isolation is a symptom of the disease
A persistent tendency to alienate from interaction with people is a manifestation of a mental disorder. Isolation is based on a suppressed emotional state, expressed anxiety, fears, delusional ideas of persecution. Often, patients are socially maladapted – they do not go to work, do not have friends, and are fenced off from family members. Lack of communication, secrecy are characteristic of the following diseases:
- Depression. With depressive disorders, the emotional background decreases, motivational and volitional functions weaken. Patients feel constant sadness, lose interest in all spheres of life, including communication. They spend most of their time alone, interpersonal contacts are painful, quickly exhausting. With severe apathetic depression, speech may be absent altogether.
- Sociopathy. Antisocial personality disorder is a pathological change in character characterized by ignoring social norms, lack of attachments, a tendency to aggression and illegal actions. The reasons for the taciturnity of sociopaths are suspicion, bitterness, misanthropy. Due to the lack of sympathy and close relationships, it is possible to harm others.
- Schizoid psychopathy. With this characterological disorder, people become withdrawn, unsociable, focused on inner experiences. Loneliness does not frighten them, there is a fascination with their own thoughts, ideas, images. The behavior is distinguished by originality, eccentricity. The creative orientation of the personality is typical – drawing pictures, creating music, unusual clothes.
- Anxiety personality disorder. The disease is manifested by low self-esteem, constant anxiety, the desire for social isolation. Patients are extremely sensitive to the opinions of others, underestimate their ability to communicate, so they avoid contact. The reasons for isolation are the fear of rejection, condemnation, humiliation from others. The disorder is formed at the age of 16-24 years, often provoked by traumatic experiences of communication with peers, high demands of parents in childhood, adolescence.
- Autism. The disease occurs as a result of disorders of brain development, manifested by the lack of need for social interaction, specific deviations of speech development and behavior. The main symptoms are the desire to get away from contact, extreme loneliness, stereotypical movements and actions. There may be a complete absence of speech, immersion in the world of their own experiences, incomprehensible to others. Patients may react inadequately to external stimuli, to attempts to start a conversation.
- Schizophrenia. This mental disorder is endogenous – it develops as a result of certain internal changes in the brain. The reasons for the isolation of patients are a change in personality, a distortion of thinking. There is a destruction of the integral image of the “I”, interests and motives weaken, autism increases – a departure from external contacts to internal images, feelings, reasoning. Thinking disorders can include delusions – ideas that others want to cause harm. This also becomes the basis of stealth.
- Delusional disorder. The causes of the disease may vary, the key sign is the presence of a systematic delirium devoid of whimsicality. Patients become silent, withdrawn, if such behavior corresponds to the subject of their disorder. So, in the delirium of persecution, they stay at home all day, close the doors, do not let anyone in, do not talk to anyone.
Mild forms of isolation do not require special treatment and diagnosis, and are usually successfully compensated by strong-willed efforts and the organization of suitable living conditions. Psychological examination or examination by a psychiatrist is necessary in cases where a person’s secrecy seriously hinders his socialization: visiting an educational institution, a place of work, official and informal meetings. To determine the severity of shyness and its causes, a group of methods is used:
- Clinical conversation. During the survey, patients respond briefly, in monosyllables. Their speech is devoid of an emotional component or anxiety prevails in it, a negative attitude to the examination. Severe mental disorders can be accompanied by a complete inability to establish contact, build a dialogue. Then obtaining clinical information is impossible without the participation of relatives or other accompanying persons.
- Observation. Isolation is expressed by the patient’s behavior – his posture, gestures, facial expressions. Stiffness of movements, general physical tension is characteristic. The pose is often “closed”: arms crossed on the chest or on the abdomen, one leg lying on the other (the pelvic area is closed). Patients often use a bag or a folder with papers as a “shield”. Most of them look down or to the side during the conversation, visual contact is rarely established. Emotional reactions outwardly manifest themselves very weakly or are absent altogether.
- Projective techniques. Drawing methods and tests of interpretation of situations are used to identify mild forms of disorders of the communicative sphere, which are not determined by conversation or observation. The data obtained indicate alienation, the preferred role of a person in the group (participant, bystander). Additionally, the presence of shyness, low self-esteem, aggressiveness is established.
Isolation, which prevents the socialization of a person and reduces the quality of life, requires correction. In severe mental illnesses, the restoration of communicative function is possible only with complex treatment, including drug therapy, psychotherapy, rehabilitation. If communication difficulties are associated with characterological disorders or psychological problems, symptomatic help provided by individual psychotherapy, group trainings, purposeful creation of conditions requiring conversation maintenance gives a good effect.
Individual sessions allow you to get the experience of positive communication. They are necessary at the initial stages of treatment – the psychotherapist creates the most optimal conditions for interpersonal contact, helps the patient to open up, overcome fear, feel approval, support. After establishing a trusting relationship, a plan is developed to transfer the positive experience gained in a situation of communication with another person or group of persons. Also, self-training, visualization skills, relaxation, and positive thinking are taught at individual therapy sessions.
Group psychotherapy is the most effective method of dealing with shyness and isolation. To develop sociability, communicative trainings are conducted, where patients lose situations of various interactions – conflict, friendly, official. Feedback after the lesson allows you to share feelings, learn about the experiences of other participants. Additional methods of work are sessions of art therapy, dance therapy and other similar areas focused on the development of self-acceptance skills, the development of non-verbal ways of communication.
For independent work, patients are recommended to purposefully create communication situations – attend family dinners, cultural events, meetings with friends. It is worth finding a job that requires daily contact with different people, then situations of forced conversations will form a communicative skill and a desire for communication. At the initial stage, parallel work with a psychotherapist may be required, the use of relaxation methods that reduce uncertainty or unwillingness to contact others.