Ghosted or Iced Out? What to Do

Narcissism and Scapegoating

I binge-read Daryl Austin’s article in The Atlantic titled: “What You’re Saying When You Give Someone the Silent Treatment.” You’ll see why.

Austin interviewed Kipling Williams who, as Austin writes, “has studied the effects of the silent treatment for more than 36 years, meeting hundreds of victims and perpetrators in the process.”

Also from the piece: “One study found that social rejection provoked a response in its victims similar to that of victims of physical abuse; the anterior cingulate cortex area of the brain—the area thought to interpret emotion and pain—was active in both instances. “Exclusion and rejection literally hurt,” John Bargh, a psychology professor at Yale, told me,” Austin writes.

Everything in the article resonates. And it is a relief to see the silent treatment and cold shoulder being covered in a very serious way. Readers often contact me about how to cope when they’ve endured the silent treatment, are ostracized or shunned by the person with whom they are in a relationship, be it romantic, familial, professional, parental or other. They are suffering. They feel terribly alone. They think it is their fault.

It is not.

“Although a perpetrator might use the silent treatment in many different scenarios, this is what every scenario has in common: ‘People use the silent treatment because they can get away with it without looking abusive to others,’ Williams explained, ‘and because it’s highly effective in making the targeted individual feel bad’.”

No, you are not crazy. And no, it is not your fault. Read Austin’s article in The Atlantic here.

Photo by Dmitry Schemelev on Unsplash.

About the author 

Meredith Resnick

A licensed clinical social worker, Meredith is a member of the International Association for Journal Writing, the C.J. Jung Club of Orange County, California, and an associate member of the Trauma Research Foundation. She has a special interest in healing through the expressive arts.

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