Emotional Loneliness

I have written many articles on here about loneliness and rejection, mainly because as a social psychologist I believe that these two variables are a root cause of many of our social and psychological problems in the world. One type of loneliness that I have sort of understood intellectually and partly definition wise is emotional loneliness. Emotional loneliness is defined as not have a significant emotional connection with at least one other person. I say at least because we all have different needs and number of emotional connections. But what has perplexed me as a social psychologist is cases in which a person has several emotionally meaningful and connected relationship, but still feels a deep sense of emotional loneliness. This has perplexed me until I realized that emotionally close relationship is connected with parts of our self-definition and identity – that it is not about how many emotional connections we have, but whether or not a given emotional connections bring about a better understanding of who we are and reinforce core aspects of our identity as individuals. Let me provide an example from my own life.

For the last two years, I have been plagued by bouts of loneliness, depression, and anxiety. I have tried all the individual psychology techniques to deal with these issues that included: therapy, medication, self-help books, and yes even negative coping mechanisms such as drinking. But none of these were able to dull or alleviate my sense of extreme emotional loneliness and corresponding depression and anxiety. What bothered me was I had plenty of emotionally supportive and meaningful relationships: my kids and my family, but also some very close friends who would message me right back anytime I felt down or needed help – this was my mental block when it came to the loneliness that I was experiencing: I had very close and emotionally supportive relationships that I knew I could tell and experience anything with.

But recently, I started to look at core aspects of myself and identity, and asked a simple question: what part of who I am is missing and is suffering? I looked at being a dad. The answer was no, my kids love me, and we would do anything for each other. Is it my career and being a psychologist? I looked at my current research, and my current teaching position and the answer was no, my co-workers, even though I only been at my current college for six weeks, already tell me how much they valued my work and excited that I am here. Is it being a son or a brother? Well I know me, and my brothers do not talk a lot but recent events over the summer I know without a doubt we are always here there each other. And my relationship with my mom is very emotionally connected. What about being a friend? Here again, I can say recent events in my life have shown me that I am a good friend, with deep emotional connections, and my friends are amazing in return. Then I turned my attention to the importance of being an intimate partner and the value that has in my life. I know from past intimate partnerships that I placed a high value on being a good intimate partner. I came to realize that this area of my life was an issue. I realized that for the last two years I had failed miserably at keeping and maintaining a close significant intimate relationship with someone else. Indeed, at the time I made this realization, I was trying to maintain a non-existent intimate relationship with someone, and in my desire to maintain that I am a good intimate partner, a lot of dysfunction and yes emotional disconnect arose from that situation.

As a psychologist, I started to understand, my experience started to highlight that other aspect of emotional loneliness, that despite having so many emotionally connected relationship I was: (1) lacking one in a core area of who I was, and (2) I was willing to stay in a dysfunctional situation thinking that if I could make it work it would make everything okay. In addition to this, the relationship had become a self-defeating cycle, where in my mind I had to try harder, I had to impress more – which after rejection – lead to feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness. Loneliness, worthlessness, and feelings of hopelessness are key ingredients in both depression and anxiety.

So, what did I do? I ended the dysfunctional relationship, engaged myself in other emotional close relationships, and for the first time in two years, I have lived with no depression, no anxiety, no emotional loneliness. Not only have I seen the relief of these I feel closer to my other emotionally close relationships – I see my kids, my family, and my friendship in a vibrant and fulfilling new light. I also learned something through this process, I learned that my identity as an intimate partner is not damaged, I only allowed myself to see it as damaged and that there was something wrong with me. I think all too often, especially in intimate relationships, we blame ourselves and feel there must be something wrong with me if the other person does not respond the way an intimate partner should respond.

My journey, I hope this helps others understand what is meant by emotional loneliness, and how it is connected to a part of our core identities. We can have many emotional close relationships, but when a relationship is lacking is a core aspect of who we are it can drive many of our negative emotions and even drive disordered behavior. Letting go of toxic relationships that are not emotionally fulfilling and do not support part of our own core identity can lead to better health and well-being.

Advertisements

Rejection is a pain – 10 ways to reduce it happening in intimate relationships.

 

To start this article, I want to begin with a simple premise: Physical pain and the pain from being rejected are the same. The human brain and the brain of other social animals reacts the same whether someone is dying from a chronic illness, being shocked, or being dumped by an intimate partner or being denied entry into a group. However, we for some reason like to separate the two, and place rejection within the realm of emotions (which as humans we falsely think are controllable) and physical injury in the domain of the uncontrollable (after all it was not their fault the sidewalk was there when they fell off their bike while trying to do a hand stand). What I mean by these statements is we tend to empathize with physical injury and forgive the reasons, but we tend to consider the suffering from reject as a sign of weakness and not being of hardy stalk. However, our world view of rejection is wrong, and by correcting this view, we can heal from the pain of rejection better, heal faster, and regain a sense of stability. To do this I think it is useful to use a common form of rejection and that is intimate partner rejection and I want to compare that to a more long-term physical disease such as cancer. I like this analogy because both rejection of an intimate partner and the development of cancer can occur very quickly or they both can sit dormant for years until an escalating moment. The second, is once cancer and the possibility of the loss of an intimate partner is made apparent both disease states tend to accelerate in their progression. Third, once the cancer is removed or the person leaves there is no guarantee of recovery or that one will not experience the disease ever again. Finally, I think this is a good analogy because we need to be honest both cancer and rejection from a close intimate partner can both lead to death. Indeed, the number one cause of homicide in the United States is intimate partner homicide, and over the past three decades cheating – the ultimate form of rejection – has become the number one reason for intimate partner homicide. Additionally, suicidal behavior is often followed by rejection, especially of a close intimate partner. With these four similarities in mind let us move on and explore how we can heal successfully.

I want to start our comparison by first stating a simple disease step model, I think by using this simple model it will be easier to come to understand how rejection occurs and the pain process:

Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 6.44.43 PM

There are a few qualities of this comparison that I like to make. First is that it is a progression, while it may seem like it at times, when two people are truly intimately connected they do not just wake up one morning and say “I am leaving”. There is always a progression that continually erodes the relationship much like a cancer erodes and destroys a healthy body. A good example of this is research that interviewed divorced individuals and indicated that when the individual really starts to analyze their relationship, the relationship started to erode about two years before the individuals start to realize there is a problem.

The second thing that I hope the reader recognizes is that while this is a very general model, the processes are almost identical – BUT – the major difference is how the individual tends to respond, especially as both diseases progress. This is largely due to our belief systems that (1) a person should have control over their relationship, and (2) if there is a problem one should be able to fix it, if the couple ‘really’ loves each other. I think it is worth taking some time exploring these two faulty belief systems. The first is the illusion of control, the fact is, you and your partner, can do everything perfect. You can follow all the relationship advise, treat each other with complete respect, cherish one another completely, and guess what? – You can still end up being a divorce statistic. Please do not take this as a criticism of humans and our ability to have long lasting relationships. Remember the analogy between physical disease and rejection. A person can eat right, exercise, refrain from toxins and they can still end up having cancer or dying young of heart disease. This same principle applies to human relationships. With that being said, we should not end up be complete skeptics of our health or our relationships. The person who eats right and exercises will have a much better quality of life even if they still end up with a disease. The same goes with relationships, while all relationships may end, the more we invest healthily into them the higher the quality of experiences we have. The second illusion that if two people really love each other they should be able to fix it, I think comes from our overall illusion that we can also control our own fate.

Especially in highly individualistic societies, like the one here in the United States, individuals tend to believe that everything good and bad that a person does OR that a person experiences is solely due to the actions and beliefs of that individual. In other words, we maintain bad beliefs such as “she broke up with you because you are a bad person”, or “If he can’t love you because of who you are, no one else is going to either”. Now we should qualify this, because for much of western society’s history we did this with physical diseases, so once we believed that people got cancer because the gods were punishing them for being a sinner, or a person has a mental illness because they had a weak mind that allowed them to be possessed by some demon. It was not until western medicine and science started to debunk these myths that we started to see physical diseases as we do today – Although there are still some people who believe that diseases are a punishment from god, but that a whole other article.  It is in this same tradition of science that I write this article, in that we know enough scientifically about human relationships, that placing the entire fault for rejection on a single person or a single occurrence or process is ridiculous. So, if it is not because one person changes, that ruins a relationship, then what is it? As you think about this question you probably thinking that it is an unsolvable question, but it is actually fairly simple, change is the culprit to eventual rejection. But before I explain this there is one more faulty belief system that we must first address. That faulty belief is that we as individuals do not change greatly over time, and that our personality, beliefs, and who we are at the core does not change. The fact is you will be a different person five years from now than you are today. Indeed, you probably been a different person several times today already. Let me provide a simple example, what if someone secretly recorded you alone in your bedroom, out with friends at night, playing with your kids, and let us say giving a big work presentation. I am willing to bet if I blurred your face and changed your voice in each scenario and played it back to you, you would report seeing and hearing four (amazing) but different individuals. The truth is we are who we are based on (a) the demands of the situation, (b) our skills and ability to respond to the situation, and (c) our ability to comprehend the situation. Additionally, each situation demands something different from us, and therefore we must respond to a situation differently. However, because it would make us crazy to think we have so many different selves, which would lead us to feeling very unstable, our mind and brain have developed the illusion that we are consistent and stable overtime. In fact, we have gotten so good at this that we can change memories going clear back into childhood to make them congruent with who we are today without even realizing it is happening. The problem is, if I am stable and that is core to who I am, then my relationships remain stable and the same, because they are also core to my own identity. Therefore, any time a person has relationship difficulties, they sadly try to reset the relationship to “how we use to be when we first fell in love”. As you can guess, this almost always ends up failing. Indeed, most successful couples when they reach a point of recognizing their relationship has eroded, recognize first how much they and their partner has changed, and instead of rekindling the old flame, they go through process of courting and falling in love with this new person and leave that old relationship behind. It is as Mignon McLaughlin stated, “A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person” – but should add with the same person as they are today.

Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 6.46.05 PM.png

So the question that remains is given that any relationship no matter of the healthy behaviors the couple engages in, how does one have a long lasting relationship and decrease the chances of eventual rejection and loss.

 

#1 – Engage in healthy relationship behaviors, say “I love you” daily, touch, communicate, be honest with feelings for each other, doing things together, etc. For this there are plenty of relationship books that can help couples learn exercises of a health relationship.

 

#2 – Self-awareness. The ability to recognize one’s own physical and mental state as it relates to one’s situation is what we call self-awareness. We often go through our day with a narrow window of self-awareness because that all we really need to get through the common roles we have in life. However, it is advised to at least once a week for at least 30 minutes a person becomes completely self-aware of their physical, social, and psychological world. After which, engaging in self-reflection about how one is doing, how one is changing, and how one is feeling about their current situation is an important and provides a person with a guide. This can be done through several mediums such as journaling, yoga, meditation, prayer (if your religious), or any form activity that allows you to be aware of where you are completely as a person.

 

#3 – Recognize and embrace change. Accept that change is going to happen and that means you will need to continually work at your relationship. Never assume that your relationship is like a rock and is unbendable or unbreakable.

 

#4 – Continually try new things. Stagnation is like stopping exercise or eating right when it comes to relationship health. Yes there are times in all our lives when we do the day-to-day grind. However, actively seeking ways to engage one’s interest, discover new things, and engage one’s world differently can provide great learning opportunities and relationship bonding moments.

 

#5 – This probably should be number 1 – but remember if you decide to live in a radioactive bucket – do not be surprised if you get cancer. In same vein, if you live your life with toxic people, do not be surprised if you always are experiencing rejection and loss. Sometimes the people we desire  – are reason for our disease – just like I know if I continue eating chocolate cake I will gain weight and run risk of heart disease.

 

#6 – Be human! Often, we think that the perfect relationship is a relationship without conflict and problems. We forget that relationships are made by imperfect people, and therefore are inherently not perfect. Be honest with feelings, do not hide your faults, and encourage your partner to do the same.

 

#7 – Do not ignore other social relationships. Sometimes we can get so caught up in the excitement of an intimate relationship we let other important relationships in our lives weaken or even completely abandoned. Remember that we are a social creators, and we all have a differing needs for both social connections and emotional connections. When we do not maintain the needed level for both, we can find ourselves in deep despair, loneliness, and possibly depression. While it is wonderful to fall in love, remember that you both need to fall in love with each other’s complete world.

 

#8 – Maintain connection through common beliefs. Interestingly the idea of opposite attracts is not true when it comes to long successful relationships. Indeed, individuals who are in long-term relationships – and are still in love – have the same or similar belief systems and attitudes. Identify these early on in a relationship and nurture them together.

 

#9 – Intimate relationship that include sexuality, should be a vibrant sexuality. I often gross out my younger students when lecturing on long-term relationships, because I ask “how many have grandparents who were married for most of their lives and still really love each other?”. I then explain to these students that when it comes to sexuality, your grandparents were – and still probably are – freaks in the bedroom. Indeed, we find that individuals in long-term loving relationships tend to try new things, get adventurous with each other, and never let their sexually intimate life become stagnate. Now there are always those exceptions where one or both partners, usually due to health problems, lose interest in sex and we know that sex interests vary across the life span. We still find that individual who are going through a period of low sexuality or loss of their sexual life, tend to compensate in different ways such as increasing and diversifying other pleasurable couple activities.

 

#10 – Understand your own ‘life space’ and the life space of your partner. A famous social psychologist, Kirt Lewin, introduced the idea of life space, as a way to try and visually represent human behavior. If you can imagine a large bubble, that contains all of a person possibilities, then you understand visually what one’s life space is. But first what is meant by all of a person’s possibilities? Lewin recognized that every situation that we find our self in there is a range of possible reactions to that situation. All of one’s possible reactions is one’s life space. So, let me give an example, a school teacher who is making 40,000 a year, is at a car show where she is presented with the opportunity to purchase a $200,000 luxury car. Is this part of the teacher’s life space or range of possibilities? Given her income, cost of insurance, other financial obligations, the probability of buying the luxury car given the teacher’s current life space is very very small. Now the teacher recognizing that the car is not within her current life space can do things to add to it, life get a higher paying job, pay off lots of bills etc etc. But unfortunately, we do not live in a world of what we could do, we often live in the here and now, and understanding our current life space helps us understand our limits and abilities when it comes to actually engaging in a intimate relationship. Once we are aware of it, then and only then can we recognize how it will impact our current relationship, but also what we need to work at, so that the range of possibilities within a relationship can increase through the expansion of our own life space. The other reason for bring up the concept of life space is we often need to recognize the boundaries of our partner’s life space. If you are approaching a relationship with the intent on changing someone, you might as well start saving for the divorce now. For a person to change they must recognize the limitations of their own life space and have the tools and ability to expand their space. Now this does not mean if someone does not meet all your standards that you should not consider being in a relationship with them, but it does mean that you will need to sacrifice something to have that relationship – and sometimes sacrifice is okay.

Sources

Ang, C.S., Mansor, A.T., & Tan, K.A. (2014). Pange of loneliness breed material lifestyle but don’t power up life satisfaction of young people: The moderating effect of gender. Social Indicators Research, 117, 353-365

Cacioppo, J.T., Hawkley, L.C., Berntson, G.G., Ernst, J.M., Gibbs, A.C., Stickgold, R., & Hobson, J.A. (2002). Do lonely days invade the nights? Potential social modulation of sleep efficiency. Psychological Science, 13(4), 384-387

Cacioppo, J.T., Hawkley, L.C., & Preacher, K.J. (2010). Loneliness impairs daytime functioning but not sleep duration. Health Psychology, 29(2), 124-129

Cacioppo, J.T., Hawkley, L.C., & Thisted, R.A. (2009). Loneliness predicts reduced physical activity: Cross-sectional & longitudinal analyses. Health Psychology, 28(3), 354-363

Cyranowski, J.M., Zill, N., Bode, R., Butt, Z., Kelly, M.A.R., Pilkonis, P.A., Salesman, J.M., & Cella, D. (2013). Assessing social support, companionship, and distress: National Institute of Health (NIH) toolbox adult social relationship scales. Health Psychology 32(3), 293-301

Demir, M., Jaafar, J., Bilyk, N., Ariff, H.R.M. (2012). Social skills, friendship, and happiness: A cross-cultural investigation. The Journal of Social Psychology 152(3), 379-385

Gunn III, J.F., Lester, D., Haines, J., & Williams, C.L. (2012). Thwarted belongingness and perceived burdensomeness in suicide notes. Crisis 33(3) 178-181

Lieberman, M.D. (2013). Social: How our brains are wired to connect. New York, NY: Broadway Books

Olson, K.L., & Wong, E.H. (2001). Loneliness and Marriage, 28(2), 105-111

Segrin, C., & Domschke, T. (2011). Social support, loneliness, recuperative processes, and their direct and indirext effects on health. Health Communications, 26, 221-232

Segrin, C. & Passalacqua, S.A. (2010). Functions of  loneliness, social support, health behaviors, and stress association with poor health. Health Communications, 25, 312-322

Shankar, A., McMunn, A., Banks, J., & Steptoe, A. (2011). Loneliness, social isolation, and behavioral and biological health indicators in older adults. Health Psychology 30(4) 377-385

Zimmer-Gembeck, M.J., Trevaskis, S., Nesdale, D., & Downey, G.A. (2014). Relational victimization, loneliness and depressive symptoms: Indirect associations via self and peer reports of rejection sensitivity. Journal of Youth Adolescents. 43, 568-582

The Inconvenient Truth About Violence and Homicide in the United States

By: Curtis Peterson ©

 

img_2947
Arizona Western College – 2013 – Mentors for Violence Prevention Development Day

16 years ago, I responded to this employment ad for a shelter assistant at a local shelter. The ad required that person have at least completed some course work in social science. Given I was completing my bachelor’s degree in psychology at the time and needed a job, I went ahead and applied. The interview was at the local YWCA, in a large home that was converted into makeshift offices. My interview took place in what was probably once a large dining room, and the director who interviewed me was a large foreboding woman, who when she walked in you could feel and instantly respect her presence. We started the interview with the standard niceties such as greetings and introductions then she asked a question that at the time I did not know but would end up changing my life from that point forward. She asked, “What are domestic violence and sexual assault?” – after a long pause, I said, “Aww umm something my mom and dad said I better not ever do!!??” Well needless to say what was scheduled to be a 20-30 minute interview turned into a two and half hour educational experience on the dynamics of domestic violence and sexual assault. After that, for some reason, that executive director saw something in me that I did not recognize, and went ahead and hired me.

 

 

screen-shot-2017-01-28-at-11-24-23-am
Relationship between age of victim and age of offender for domestic homicides

That interview was a start of a journey that would take me into the deepest minds of victims, survivors, offenders, and psychopathic rapist and murders. It would expose me to violence starting as young as six months of age clear to the oldest victim I worked with who was 88 years old. It would show me the type of violence that doesn’t happen every so often, like mass shootings and terrorist acts, but violence and murder that occurs every day in American households across the United States. In fact, the reason why I titled this paper “The Inconvenient Truth” is because there could literally be a 24-hour news station that just covers domestic homicides and if they didn’t need revenue they could do it commercial free. The reason why this is inconvenient is that what we fear as Americans, such as terrorist and the “rogue” mass shooter, is not what we should be most fearful of, and that is the person living in our house and sleep next to every night. The inconvenient truth is, America does not have a terrorist problem, it has a family problem. A family problem, that has led to brutal violence, torture, and death of millions of Americans, and makes it, so the United States has the highest homicide rate of any of the 26 modern nations. Additionally, in a nation that prides itself on supporting its police forces, every day we place officers in situations that give them the highest risk of not going home to their family: a domestic disturbance call. Notice I did not say a riot, gang shooting, mass shooting, or terrorist activity – no – our law enforcement is more likely to be shot and killed by a married couple who are arguing and it has turned violent. Yes, the bottom line once again even our protectors are not safe in our American homes.

 

If you are reading this, I hope you are feeling the dissonance, and hope that I will say something that diverts the blame of violence in the United States away from families to some group. I know, blaming others, would “feel” nice, but unfortunately, it would just be covering up the truth about the nature of violence in the United States. Sorry domestic homicide and family violence only have one source, it cannot be blamed on minority groups, white privilege, ISIS, Muslims, Christianity, LGBT groups, or yes even those godless atheists. Sadly, the source of domestic homicide is the family, community, and beliefs we hold about each other. I am not talking religious beliefs. I am talking beliefs about what we think we have the right to when something in our family goes wrong. I am talking about when a person loses a sense of power, or when a person does not behave to our expectations – to act out and force those individuals to get them back in line. If you do not believe me scroll through your Facebook and see how conservatives and liberals bully each other because they do not hold the same perspective, or how there is this standard that men and women must hold to be a “good boyfriend” or a “good girlfriend.” Let stop kidding ourselves that we are a good and virtues people and instead let us start acting like good and virtues people. If you value human life, then stop giving a blind eye to people who assault life through their actions and behaviors. Stop doing what a psychopathic serial killer told me once and that saying and thinking “I like you Mr. Peterson, but you should know I could shove that pencil in your ear and through your head and walk away and think nothing about it”. We do this every day, with our insults without understanding, with our ignoring of family problems, and with our focus on things that should not evoke as much fear as what we do to each other in our homes and communities.

 

screen-shot-2017-01-28-at-11-12-24-am
Graph indicates the increase in infant homicides between the 70s and 90s, it has kept that steady increase up to today and is expected to continue unless something changes.

Let us be real about who we are as a nation, while all forms of violence including homicide have been on the steady decrease in the United States since the 1990s, there is one that has been on a noticeable fast increase. The type of violence that has been on the steady increase starting in 2000 is infanticide. Yes, United States citizens are killing more infants than we did since the 1940s. No this is not abortions or some psychopathic murder issue, this is out of mommy’s womb infant under the age of two who are being killed – on purpose – by their parents or primary caregiver. I am hoping this information is sobering, to a Nation that prides itself on peace and freedom. If we are truly a nation that values the life of others, especially children, then why is there no national movement to stop infant homicide, which outnumbers abortions 6 to 1? Or a call on governmental interventions that protect and honor the safety and life of our most vulnerable population?

 

 

screen-shot-2017-01-28-at-11-13-59-am
Relation between homicides and immigration rates in the United States

With this in mind, I like to bring home the point that this is an American issue. I know we have a national movement to limit immigration, but I am hoping by this point the reader is starting to see we do not have an “other people problem” we have an “us problem.” Indeed, when we look at immigration, we find that after a period of increased immigration we see a marked reduction in violence and homicide in the United States. That right, violence comes from the American culture, and when we bring in diversity through immigration we make us less violent. So, if you want to blame our violence problems on Mexican or Muslim immigrants just know you are a source of the problem and not a solution.

 

 

img_2450
Grandpa and Granddaughter – reason I will continue to fight.

If you have made it through this article without getting angry and frustrated and deciding you did not want to read further, I thank you and would like to close with a few remarks about the time I have spent in the field of violence intervention and prevention. First, as the people who are close to me and know me, I have been trying to escape this field since almost the day I started. Most of my personal problems have centered around my desire to not to deal with other people’s violence and the desire to be blissfully ignorant to all the pain and suffering that I heard on a daily life as a professional. Even my education has tried to bail me out, my master’s degree focused on organizational psychology, and my doctorate has focused on social psychology, which I hoped would put a layer of distance between me and violence. Sadly for me, these choices have to lead me deeper into the understanding of violence. Indeed, it has helped me recognize that we do not have a psychopath problem, a mental illness problem, or even a gun problem – no, we have a community and family problem. Every time, I thought I had escaped the field it has a way of dragging me back in kicking and screaming. The latest is my dismay on national attention being placed on the not so real problems of violence and homicide in the United States. All in all, I have experienced what a clinical person, social worker, criminologist, and criminal justice experts only think or dream of having, and I would trade it all to be able to live in a community where neighbors trust each other and strangers are viewed as potential friends instead of threats. I would trade my experiences knowing a child is born into a world where parents and caregivers care and nurture them, a world where intimate partners did not use each other for their own selfish needs but instead lifted each other up and supported one another. Finally, I trade my experiences for a United States that actually care about the humanity and welfare of others on this little planet. But, I have come to the conclusion that unless I keep fighting and helping people those dreams will never come true, my friends let us not get to our death bed thinking “I could have done more, but I didn’t.”. I hope you will join me in this crusade.

 

Sources for this Article:

  • Akerman, G., & Beech, A. R. (2012). A systematic review of measures of deviant sexual interest and arousal. Psychiatry, Psychology And Law, 19(1), 118-143. doi:10.1080/13218719.2010.547161
  • Allen, T., & Fox, K. A. (2013). Multivariate dimensions of age, gender, and weapon use in spousal homicides. Victims & Offenders, 8(3), 329-346. doi:10.1080/15564886.2013.764952
  • Amada, G. (2005). Review of The Social Psychology of Good and Evil. American Journal Of Psychotherapy, 59(1), 74-81.
  • Aragno, A. (2013). The devil within: A psychoanalytic perspective. Issues In Psychoanalytic Psychology, 35101-123.
  • Aragno, A. (2014). The roots of evil: A psychoanalytic inquiry. Psychoanalytic Review, 101(2), 249-288.
  • Arena, M. P., & Arrigo, B. A. (2000). White supremacist behavior: Toward an integrated social psychological model. Deviant Behavior, 21(3), 213-244. doi:10.1080/016396200266243
  • Aron, L. (2005). The tree of knowledge: Good and evil. Conflicting interpretations. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 15(5), 681-707. doi:10.1080/10481881509348859
  • Baumeister, R. F. (2012). Human evil: The myth of pure evil and the true causes of violence. In M. Mikulincer, P. R. Shaver, M. Mikulincer, P. R. Shaver (Eds.) , The social psychology of morality: Exploring the causes of good and evil (pp. 367-380). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association. doi:10.1037/13091-020
  • Baumeister, R. F., & Graham, J. (2012). Good and evil, past and future, laboratory and world. In M. Mikulincer, P. R. Shaver, M. Mikulincer, P. R. Shaver (Eds.) , The social psychology of morality: Exploring the causes of good and evil (pp. 401-412). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association. doi:10.1037/13091-022
  • Bausch, K. (2008). Practical ethics for group decisions in complex situations. Systems Research And Behavioral Science, 25(2), 277-281. doi:10.1002/sres.885
  • Bergen, H. A., & Ezzy, D. (2009). Mass media and religious identity: A case study of young witches. Journal For The Scientific Study Of Religion, 48(3), 501-514. doi:10.1111/j.1468-5906.2009.01462.x
  • Berguno, G. (2006). The Existential Elucidation of Evil. Existential Analysis, 17(1),
  • Berkowitz, L. (1999). Evil is more than banal: Situationism and the concept of evil. Personality And Social Psychology Review, 3(3), 246-253. doi:10.1207/s15327957pspr0303_7
  • Bonomi, C. (2010). Narcissism as mastered visibility: The evil eye and the attack of the disembodied gaze. International Forum Of Psychoanalysis, 19(2), 110-119. doi:10.1080/08037060903435216
  • Bourget, D., & Gagné, P. (2012). Women who kill their mates. Behavioral Sciences & The Law, 30(5), 598-614. doi:10.1002/bsl.2033
  • Brankley, A. E., Goodwill, A. M., & Reale, K. S. (2014). Escalation from fetish burglaries to sexual violence: A retrospective case study of former Col., D. Russell Williams. Journal Of Investigative Psychology And Offender Profiling, 11(2), 115-135. doi:10.1002/jip.1406
  • Brauer, M., & Chaurand, N. (2010). Descriptive norms, prescriptive norms, and social control: An intercultural comparison of people’s reactions to uncivil behaviors. European Journal Of Social Psychology, 40(3), 490-499.
  • Brownell, K. D., Hayes, S. C., & Barlow, D. H. (1977). Patterns of appropriate and deviant sexual arousal: The behavioral treatment of multiple sexual deviations. Journal Of Consulting And Clinical Psychology, 45(6), 1144-1155. doi:10.1037/0022-006X.45.6.1144
  • Bublatzky, F., Gerdes, A. M., & Alpers, G. W. (2014). The persistence of socially instructed threat: Two threat‐of‐shock studies. Psychophysiology, 51(10), 1005-1014. doi:10.1111/psyp.12251
  • Bunker, H. J. (1932). Review of Nightmare, witches, and devils. American Journal Of Orthopsychiatry, 2(3), 309-312. doi:10.1111/j.1939-0025.1932.tb05188.x
  • Burris, C. T., & Rempel, J. K. (2011). ‘Just look at him’: Punitive responses cued by ‘evil’ symbols. Basic And Applied Social Psychology, 33(1), 69-80. doi:10.1080/01973533.2010.539961
  • Celenza, A. (2006). Sexual boundary violations in the office: When is a couch just a couch?. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 16(1), 113-128.
  • Chadee, D., & Ying, N. N. (2013). Predictors of fear of crime: General fear versus perceived risk. Journal Of Applied Social Psychology, 43(9), 1896-1904.
  • Chapman, D. W. (1942). Review of The psychology of social movements. The Journal Of Abnormal And Social Psychology, 37(2), 273-276. doi:10.1037/h0050537
  • Crane, M. F., & Platow, M. J. (2010). Deviance as adherence to injunctive group norms: The overlooked role of social identification in deviance. British Journal Of Social Psychology, 49(4), 827-847. doi:10.1348/014466609X481416
  • Cross, J. C., & Hernandez, A. H. (2011). Place, identity, and deviance: A community-based approach to understanding the relationship between deviance and place. Deviant Behavior, 32(6), 503-537. doi:10.1080/01639625.2010.481248
  • Curnoe, S., & Langevin, R. (2002). Personality and deviant sexual fantasies: An examination of the MMPIs. Journal Of Clinical Psychology, 58(7), 803-815. doi:10.1002/jclp.2006
  • Davison, S. (2004). Review of Murder most Rare: The Female Serial Killer. Criminal Behaviour And Mental Health, 14(1), 59-60. doi:10.1002/cbm.563
  • DELAMATER, J. (1968). ON THE NATURE OF DEVIANCE. Social Forces, 46(4), 445-455. doi:10.2307/2575379
  • Diamond, H. M. (1926). Property and the cult. American Journal Of Sociology, 32264-270. doi:10.1086/214094
  • Diener, E., Fraser, S. C., Beaman, A. L., & Kelem, R. T. (1976). Effects of deindividuation variables on stealing among Halloween trick-or-treaters. Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology, 33(2), 178-183. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.33.2.178
  • Dogra, T. D., Leenaars, A. A., Chadha, R. K., Manju, M., Lalwani, S., Sood, M., & … Behera, C. (2012). A psychological profile of a serial killer: A case report. Omega: Journal Of Death And Dying, 65(4), 299-316. doi:10.2190/OM.65.4.d
  • Dugan, R. D., & Beaubien, J. M. (1995). Review of Cults in our midst: The hidden menace in our everyday lives. Personnel Psychology, 48(4), 948-952.
  • Ellens, J. H. (2006). Review of The Problem of Evil and the Problem of God. Journal Of Psychology And Christianity, 25(4), 363-364.
  • Epstein, S. (1978). Avoidance–approach: The fifth basic conflict. Journal Of Consulting And Clinical Psychology, 46(5), 1016-1022. doi:10.1037/0022-006X.46.5.1016
  • Everaerd, W. (1983). A case of apotemnophilia: A handicap as sexual preference. American Journal Of Psychotherapy, 37(2), 285-293.
  • Fenchel, G. H. (2013). Good and evil. Issues In Psychoanalytic Psychology, 3578-87.
  • Feshbach, S., & Feshbach, N. (1963). Influence of the stimulus object upon the complimentary and supplementary projection of fear. The Journal Of Abnormal And Social Psychology, 66(5), 498-502. doi:10.1037/h0047016
  • Fisher, G. A., & Chon, K. K. (1989). Durkheim and the social construction of emotions. Social Psychology Quarterly, 52(1), 1-9. doi:10.2307/2786899
  • Freckelton, I. (2013). Review of Cruelty: Human evil and the human brain. Psychiatry, Psychology And Law, 20(6), 942-944. doi:10.1080/13218719.2013.860867
  • Frei, A., Völlm, B., Graf, M., & Ditmann, V. (2006). Female serial killing: Review and case report. Criminal Behaviour And Mental Health, 16(3), 167-176. doi:10.1002/cbm.615
  • Genschow, O., Florack, A., & Wänke, M. (2014). Recognition and approach responses toward threatening objects. Social Psychology, 45(2), 86-92. doi:10.1027/1864-9335/a000163
  • Ginsburg, S. W. (1958). Review of Fear: Contagion and conquest. American Journal Of Orthopsychiatry, 28(4), 837-838. doi:10.1037/h0096669
  • Grant, V. W. (1949). A fetishistic theory of amorous fixation. The Journal Of Social Psychology, 3017-37. doi:10.1080/00224545.1949.9714192
  • Gray, J. D., & Silver, R. C. (1990). Opposite sides of the same coin: Former spouses’ divergent perspectives in coping with their divorce. Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology, 59(6), 1180-1191. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.59.6.1180
  • Grov, C., Parsons, J. T., & Bimbi, D. S. (2010). Sexual compulsivity and sexual risk in gay and bisexual men. Archives Of Sexual Behavior, 39(4), 940-949. doi:10.1007/s10508-009-9483-9
  • Happ, C., Melzer, A., & Steffgen, G. (2013). Superman vs. BAD Man? The effects of empathy and game character in violent video games. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, And Social Networking, 16(10), 774-778. doi:10.1089/cyber.2012.0695
  • Harris, C. R. (2003). A review of sex differences in sexual jealousy, including self-report data, psychophysiological responses, interpersonal violence, and morbid jealousy. Personality And Social Psychology Review, 7(2), 102-128. doi:10.1207/S15327957PSPR0702_102-128
  • Harris, P. L., Brown, E., Marriott, C., Whittall, S., & Harmer, S. (1991). Monsters, ghosts and witches: Testing the limits of the fantasy-reality distinction in young children. British Journal Of Developmental Psychology, 9(1), 105-123. doi:10.1111/j.2044-835X.1991.tb00865.x
  • Haslam, S. A., & Reicher, S. D. (2008). Questioning the banality of evil. The Psychologist, 21(1), 16-19.
  • Hirst, P. Q. (1984). Review article: Witches, relativism and magic. The Sociological Review, 32(3), 573-588. doi:10.1111/j.1467-954X.1984.tb00827.x
  • Hodell, E. C., Wasarhaley, N. E., Lynch, K. R., & Golding, J. M. (2014). Mock juror gender biases and perceptions of self-defense claims in intimate partner homicide. Journal Of Family Violence, 29(5), 495-506. doi:10.1007/s10896-014-9609-2
  • Hogg, M. A., Kruglanski, A., & van den Bos, K. (2013). Uncertainty and the roots of extremism. Journal Of Social Issues, 69(3), 407-418. doi:10.1111/josi.12021
  • Horne, M. (2008). Evil acts not evil people: Their characteristics and contexts. The Journal Of Analytical Psychology, 53(5), 669-690. doi:10.1111/j.1468-5922.2008.00759.x
  • Johnson, D. W. (2004). The Psychology of Good and Evil. Peace And Conflict: Journal Of Peace Psychology, 10(3), 293-295. doi:10.1207/s15327949pac1003_5
  • Joiner, T. J., & Silva, C. (2012). Why people die by suicide: Further development and tests of the interpersonal-psychological theory of suicidal behavior. In P. R. Shaver, M. Mikulincer, P. R. Shaver, M. Mikulincer (Eds.) , Meaning, mortality, and choice: The social psychology of existential concerns (pp. 325-336). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association. doi:10.1037/13748-018
  • Kellogg, A. L. (1920). Crime and social psychology. Psychological Bulletin, 17(3), 103-106. doi:10.1037/h0063705
  • Klapp, O. E. (1948). The creation of popular heroes. American Journal Of Sociology, 54135-141. doi:10.1086/220292
  • Knight, Z. G. (2007). Sexually motivated serial killers and the psychology of aggression and ‘evil’ within a contemporary psychoanalytical perspective. Journal Of Sexual Aggression, 13(1), 21-35. doi:10.1080/13552600701365597
  • Koning, N. (2013). Witchcraft beliefs and witch hunts: An interdisciplinary explanation. Human Nature, 24(2), 158-181. doi:10.1007/s12110-013-9164-1
  • Landes, R. (1940). A cult matriarchate and male homosexuality. The Journal Of Abnormal And Social Psychology, 35(3), 386-397. doi:10.1037/h0061971
  • Large, M., Nielssen, O., Lackersteen, S., & Smith, G. (2010). The associations between infant homicide, homicide, and suicide rates: An analysis of World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control statistics. Suicide And Life-Threatening Behavior, 40(1), 87-97. doi:10.1521/suli.2010.40.1.87
  • Lawrence, R. J. (2002). The witches’ brew of spirituality and medicine. Annals Of Behavioral Medicine, 24(1), 74-76. doi:10.1207/S15324796ABM2401_09
  • Layde, J. B. (2008). Review of Forensic psychiatry: Influences of evil. Ethics & Behavior, 18(4), 392-393. doi:10.1080/10508420802487823
  • Liem, M., & Koenraadt, F. (2008). Familicide: A comparison with spousal and child homicide by mentally disordered perpetrators. Criminal Behaviour And Mental Health, 18(5), 306-318. doi:10.1002/cbm.710
  • Lowenstein, L. F. (2002). Fetishes and their associated behavior. Sexuality And Disability, 20(2), 135-147. doi:10.1023/A:1019882428372
  • Mandel, D. R. (2002). Evil and the instigation of collective violence. Analyses Of Social Issues And Public Policy (ASAP), 2(1), 101-108. doi:10.1111/j.1530-2415.2002.00030.x
  • Martens, W. J. (2011). Sadism linked to loneliness: Psychodynamic dimensions of sadistic serial killer Jeffery Dahmer. Psychoanalytic Review, 98(4), 493-514. doi:10.1521/prev.2011.98.4.493
  • Martin, A. (2014). Review of Wickedness: A philosophical essay (Routledge Classics) 2nd edition. Existential Analysis, 25(1), 162-164.
  • McCall, P. L., Land, K. C., Dollar, C. B., & Parker, K. F. (2013). The age structure-crime rate relationship: Solving a long-standing puzzle. Journal Of Quantitative Criminology, 29(2), 167-190. doi:10.1007/s10940-012-9175-9
  • Meissner, W. W. (2007). Review of The pathology of man: A study of human evil. Bulletin Of The Menninger Clinic, 71(3), 258-260.
  • Messner, S. F., Baumer, E. P., & Rosenfeld, R. (2004). Dimensions of Social Capital and Rates of Criminal Homicide. American Sociological Review, 69(6), 882-903. doi:10.1177/000312240406900607
  • Miller, R. B. (2013). Deny no evil, ignore no evil, reframe no evil: Psychology’s moral agenda. In A. C. Bohart, B. S. Held, E. Mendelowitz, K. J. Schneider, A. C. Bohart, B. S. Held, … K. J. Schneider (Eds.) , Humanity’s dark side: Evil, destructive experience, and psychotherapy (pp. 213-236). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association. doi:10.1037/13941-011
  • Millie, A. (2011). Review of Incivility: The rude stranger in everyday life. British Journal Of Sociology, 62(4), 753-754.
  • Money, J. (1984). Paraphilias: Phenomenology and classification. American Journal Of Psychotherapy, 38(2), 164-179.
  • Nurmi, J., & Oksanen, A. (2013). Expressions and projections of evil in mass violence. Deviant Behavior, 34(11), 859-874. doi:10.1080/01639625.2013.766545
  • Ogletree, S. M., Denton, L., & Williams, S. W. (1993). Age and gender differences in children’s Halloween costumes. The Journal Of Psychology: Interdisciplinary And Applied, 127(6), 633-637. doi:10.1080/00223980.1993.9914902
  • Olsson, P. A. (1985). The psychotherapy of a modern warlock: Rapprochement in a coven of white witches. American Journal Of Psychotherapy, 39(2), 263-276.
  • Öncü, F., Türkcan, S., Canbek, Ö., Yesşilbursa, D., & Uygur, N. (2009). Fetishism and kleptomania: A case report in forensic psychiatry. Nöropsikiyatri Arşivi / Archives Of Neuropsychiatry, 46(3), 125-128.
  • Ousey, G. C., & Kubrin, C. E. (2014). Immigration and the changing nature of homicide in US cities, 1980–2010. Journal Of Quantitative Criminology, 30(3), 453-483. doi:10.1007/s10940-013-9210-5
  • Pampel, F. C., & Williamson, J. B. (2001). Age patterns of suicide and homicide mortality rates in high-income nations. Social Forces, 80(1), 251-282. doi:10.1353/sof.2001.0083
  • Pare, P., & Felson, R. (2014). Income inequality, poverty and crime across nations. British Journal Of Sociology, 65(3), 434-458. doi:10.1111/1468-4446.12083
  • Park, R. E. (1941). The social function of war: observations and notes. American Journal Of Sociology, 46551-570. doi:10.1086/218698
  • Patrizi, P. (2005). Deviant Action and Self-Narration: A Qualitative Survey through ATLAS.ti. Journal For The Theory Of Social Behaviour, 35(2), 171-188. doi:10.1111/j.1468-5914.2005.00270.x
  • Peiró, A. B., Lopez, M. M., & Martinez, J. M. (2009). The Red Mosque: A case study of how religion can evolve into a terrorist cult. Cultic Studies Review, 8(3), 266-280.
  • Perri, F. S., & Lichtenwald, T. G. (2010). The last frontier: Myths and the female psychopathic killer. The Forensic Examiner, 19(2), 51-67.
  • Peters, G. Y., Ruiter, R. C., & Kok, G. (2014). Threatening communication: A qualitative study of fear appeal effectiveness beliefs among intervention developers, policymakers, politicians, scientists, and advertising professionals. International Journal Of Psychology, 49(2), 71-79. doi:10.1002/ijop.12000
  • Pickett, K. E., Mookherjee, J., & Wilkinson, R. G. (2005). Adolescent Birth Rates, Total Homicides, and Income Inequality In Rich Countries. American Journal Of Public Health, 95(7), 1181-1183. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2004.056721
  • Pritchard, C., & Butler, A. (2003). A comparative study of children and adult homicide rates in the USA and the major western countries 1974-1999: Grounds for concern?. Journal Of Family Violence, 18(6), 341-350. doi:10.1023/A:1026249632153
  • Pruitt, M. V., & Krull, A. C. (2011). Escort advertisements and male patronage of prostitutes. Deviant Behavior, 32(1), 38-63. doi:10.1080/01639620903416123
  • Ragatz, L. L., & Russell, B. (2010). Sex, sexual orientation, and sexism: What influence do these factors have on verdicts in a crime-of-passion case?. The Journal Of Social Psychology, 150(4), 341-360. doi:10.1080/00224540903366677
  • Ramsland, K. (2007). When women kill together. The Forensic Examiner, 16(1), 64-66.
  • Reimann, M., & Zimbardo, P. G. (2011). The dark side of social encounters: Prospects for a neuroscience of human evil. Journal Of Neuroscience, Psychology, And Economics, 4(3), 174-180. doi:10.1037/a0024654
  • Rodríguez-Carballeira, Á., Almendro, C., Escartín, J., Porrúa, C., Martín-Peña, J., Javaloy, F., & Carrobles, J. A. (2013). Preliminary taxonomy of psychological abuse strategies: Within partner relationships, at the workplace, and in manipulative groups. International Journal Of Cultic Studies, 41-14.
  • Roscoe, A., Rahman, M. S., Mehta, H., While, D., Appleby, L., & Shaw, J. (2012). Comparison of a national sample of homicides committed by lone and multiple perpetrators. Journal Of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology, 23(4), 510-521. doi:10.1080/14789949.2012.704639
  • Ryan, T. E. (2010). Review of The murderer next door: Why the mind is designed to kill. Journal Of Social, Evolutionary, And Cultural Psychology, 4(3), 203-205. doi:10.1037/h0099289
  • Sagarin, B. J. (2005). Reconsidering Evolved Sex Differences in Jealousy: Comment on Harris (2003). Personality And Social Psychology Review, 9(1), 62-75. doi:10.1207/s15327957pspr0901_5
  • Sampson, R. J. (2009). Disparity and diversity in the contemporary city: Social (dis)order revisited. British Journal Of Sociology, 60(1), 1-31. doi:10.1111/j.1468-4446.2009.01211.x
  • Sauber, S. R. (1971). Conceptions of Man: A Need for a Reawakening. American Psychologist, 26(10), 939. doi:10.1037/h0020326
  • Schmaus, W. (2009). Review of Suffering and evil: The Durkheimian legacy. Journal Of The History Of The Behavioral Sciences, 45(2), 174-176. doi:10.1002/jhbs.20372
  • Schmidt, A. F., Mokros, A., & Banse, R. (2013). Is pedophilic sexual preference continuous? A taxometric analysis based on direct and indirect measures. Psychological Assessment, 25(4), 1146-1153. doi:10.1037/a0033326
  • Sherman, S. J., & Hoffmann, J. L. (2007). The psychology and law of voluntary manslaughter: What can psychology research teach us about the ‘heat of passion’ defense?. Journal Of Behavioral Decision Making, 20(5), 499-519. doi:10.1002/bdm.573
  • Siegel, M., Negussie, Y., Vanture, S., Pleskunas, J., Ross, C. S., & King, C. I. (2014). The relationship between gun ownership and stranger and nonstranger firearm homicide rates in the United States, 1981–2010. American Journal Of Public Health, 104(10), 1912-1919. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2014.302042
  • Siegel, M., Ross, C. S., & King, C. I. (2013). The relationship between gun ownership and firearm homicide rates in the United States, 1981–2010. American Journal Of Public Health, 103(11), 2098-2105. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2013.301409
  • Sinnott, J. M., Speaker, H. A., Powell, L. A., & Mosteller, K. W. (2012). Perception of scary Halloween masks by zoo animals and humans. International Journal Of Comparative Psychology, 25(2), 83-96.
  • Smith, M. B. (2007). The sociogenesis of evil. Peace And Conflict: Journal Of Peace Psychology, 13(4), 463-465. doi:10.1080/10781910701667788
  • Social functions of the individual. (1923). Psychological Bulletin, 20(5), 249-252. doi:10.1037/h0063981
  • Solomon, S. (2012). The social psychology of meaning, mortality, and choice: An integrative perspective on existential concerns. In P. R. Shaver, M. Mikulincer, P. R. Shaver, M. Mikulincer (Eds.) , Meaning, mortality, and choice: The social psychology of existential concerns (pp. 401-417). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association. doi:10.1037/13748-022
  • Solomon, S. (2012). The social psychology of meaning, mortality, and choice: An integrative perspective on existential concerns. In P. R. Shaver, M. Mikulincer, P. R. Shaver, M. Mikulincer (Eds.) , Meaning, mortality, and choice: The social psychology of existential concerns (pp. 401-417). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association. doi:10.1037/13748-022
  • Spencer, J. (1960). Reviews of The cult of authority, The psychology of social class and Human groups. The Sociological Review, 8(1), 134-136.
  • Staub, E. (2012). Psychology and morality in genocide and violent conflict: Perpetrators, passive bystanders, and rescuers. In M. Mikulincer, P. R. Shaver, M. Mikulincer, P. R. Shaver (Eds.) , The social psychology of morality: Exploring the causes of good and evil (pp. 381-398). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association. doi:10.1037/13091-021
  • Stockwell, F. J., Walker, D. J., & Eshleman, J. W. (2010). Measures of implicit and explicit attitudes toward mainstream and BDSM sexual terms using the IRAP and Questionnaire with BDSM/fetish and student participants. The Psychological Record, 60(2), 307-324.
  • Stone, M. H. (2010). Sexual sadism: A portrait of evil. Journal Of The American Academy Of Psychoanalysis & Dynamic Psychiatry, 38(1), 133-157. doi:10.1521/jaap.2010.38.1.133
  • Strozier, C. B. (2001). Apocalyptic visions. Peace And Conflict: Journal Of Peace Psychology, 7(1), 95-96. doi:10.1207/S15327949PAC0701_13
  • Sutton, G. W. (2013). Review of The wisdom of psychopaths: What saints, spies, and serial killers can teach us about success. Journal Of Psychology And Christianity, 32(3), 265-266.
  • Taylor, S., Lambeth, D., Green, G., Bone, R., & Cahillane, M. A. (2012). Cluster analysis examination of serial killer profiling categories: A bottom‐up approach. Journal Of Investigative Psychology And Offender Profiling, 9(1), 30-51. doi:10.1002/jip.149
  • Tcherni, M. (2011). Structural determinants of homicide: The big three. Journal Of Quantitative Criminology, 27(4), 475-496. doi:10.1007/s10940-011-9134-x
  • Terry, L. L., & Vasey, P. L. (2011). Feederism in a woman. Archives Of Sexual Behavior, 40(3), 639-645. doi:10.1007/s10508-009-9580-9
  • Thayer, P. (2015). Review of Living, loving, and loss: The interplay of intimacy, sexuality, and grief. Omega: Journal Of Death And Dying, 70(4), 457-459. doi:10.1177/0030222815573929
  • Tuch, R. (2010). Murder on the mind: Tyranical power and other points along the perverse spectrum. The International Journal Of Psychoanalysis, 91(1), 141-162. doi:10.1111/j.1745-8315.2009.00220.x
  • van Prooijen, J., & van de Veer, E. (2010). Perceiving pure evil: The influence of cognitive load and prototypical evilness on demonizing. Social Justice Research, 23(4), 259-271. doi:10.1007/s11211-010-0119-y
  • Vecchi, G. M., & Conlon, S. R. (2010). The FBI Behavioral Science Unit’s Evil Minds Research Museum. The Forensic Examiner, 19(3), 18-19.
  • Waller, J. E. (2013). Religion and evil in the context of genocide. In K. I. Pargament, J. J. Exline, J. W. Jones, K. I. Pargament, J. J. Exline, J. W. Jones (Eds.) , APA handbook of psychology, religion, and spirituality (Vol 1): Context, theory, and research (pp. 477-493). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association. doi:10.1037/14045-026
  • Weiss, R. F. (1963). Defection from social movements and subsequent recruitment to new movements. Sociometry, 26(1), 1-20. doi:10.2307/2785721
  • Winter, D., Feixas, G., Dalton, R., Jarque-Llamazares, L., Laso, E., Mallindine, C., & Patient, S. (2007). Construing the Construction Processes of Serial Killers and Other Violent Offenders: 1. The Analysis of Narratives. Journal Of Constructivist Psychology, 20(1), 1-22. doi:10.1080/10720530600992717
  • Woodworth, M., & Porter, S. (2002). In cold blood: Characteristics of criminal homicides as a function of psychopathy. Journal Of Abnormal Psychology, 111(3), 436-445. doi:10.1037/0021-843X.111.3.436
  • Yardley, M. (2008). Social work practice with Pagans, Witches, and Wiccans: Guidelines for practice with children and youths. Social Work, 53(4), 329-336. doi:10.1093/sw/53.4.329

Hug and love a child!

By: Curtis Peterson ©

I amchild-parents_2101408a.jpg going to start this blog with a simple statement: children need loves, hugs, and affection! I have been stewing over a conversation I had the other day with a few individuals who feel that problem with today’s youth is they been hugged, kissed, and loved TOO much. That all this stuff about giving infants too much attention and holding a child too much does long lasting damage leads to a child who cannot handle their emotions and behaviors. Too all the people out there, who believe this, I have one begging plead – please stop having children.

Let us look at facts instead of myths. First from a scientific perspective there is a direct association between how much affection individuals show children and the child’s mental and physical well-being. Adults who were held a lot and had affectionate parents have lower divorce rates, make more money, are more satisfied with their relationships, are more physically healthy, live longer, and have less emotional and psychological problems. To emphasize this point in my career I have worked with criminals, abused children, abused spouses, rapist and rape victims, addicts, and homeless. In the great majority of these cases I will tell you it was a very very rare case that the person came from an affectionate home. And in the cases where the child did have affectionate and caring parents, the parents often provided the wrong kind of affection. A good number of them had the stand-off “I teach you how to be a real man or real woman” by not showing any affection method of parenting. Another good portion of these individuals had parents who just simply were not capable of showing affection.

In my own scholarly work, there is a solid foundation of literature that indicates that an infant’s attachment style – based on parent’s affection and attention – determines the socialization of child and early childhood friendships. If the child does not have a secure attachment – created by a responsive, attentive, and affectionate parent – the child is more likely to develop chronic loneliness in early and late childhood. This loneliness inhibits the ability to develop strong social skills that are necessary for survival in adolescents. In adolescents this results in higher rates of depression, suicide attempts, and ending up in bad social crowds. These bad social crowds feed off of adolescents who have weak social skills, treat them with love and respect (often not shown at home) and then encourages them to engage in dangerous and often illegal behaviors.

The bottom line is that we as a society cannot show children enough affection and love. It helps children feel safe and allows them to explore the world – and make the mistakes – that are necessary to become a healthy human being. Please hug your child, hold them close, and make sure they know not only through words but through your actions they are loved completely.  

What is loneliness?


This article is dedicated to my mom (Becky) my daughter (Latasha), my two sons (Taylor and Klinton) my niece (Katie) and my beautiful grandchild (Erin). Also to my wonderful friends (Ashley, Nathan, Rachael, Wendy, Lori, Shayla, Jose, Ramona, Dez, and Jamie) who bring sense of meaning and belongingness to my life everyday.


loneliness

In a previous blog I compared the pain state of rejection with the negative motivational state of loneliness. In this blog I will delve in deeper into the negative motivational state we call loneliness. Loneliness as a motivational state was first described by Psychiatrist Harry Sullivan in 1953, who stated that like many emotional states loneliness motivates us to fulfill one of our basic human drives which in this case is affiliation and the socialization with others. This motivational need he believed first develops in infancy when the infant has complete depends on his or her caregiver. Like the pains of hunger the pain of loneliness motivates us to seek out others who we can have a mutually beneficial relationships with. Indeed, current research supports this early development in loneliness, as we see loneliness in early childhood predicts poor socialization in middle childhood, and loneliness in middle childhood predicts depression and high risk behaviors in adolescence. This is to say, just like eating habits – good or poor – in one period predicts continued poor eating habits in another unless there is some type of intervention.

In furthering our understanding of loneliness Sociologist Robert S. Weiss wrote a seminal book entitled “Loneliness: The experience of emotional and social isolation”. In this book Weiss argued that loneliness can come in two forms. The first form is created when an individuals feels socially isolated from others and subjectively experience less than desirable social interaction. The second type is subjectively lacking any significantly emotionally close relationships and attachments with someone else. Indeed, research since Weiss has indicated that there are two types of loneliness and the intensity of our experience depends on how these two are experienced (i.e. together or separate, loneliness following rejection, or meaning one places on close emotional relationships versus social connection). Additionally, we see the role of each of these based on the age of the individual. Research suggests that through adolescence into early adulthood having several social contacts and friends is important, because this allows someone to experience various types of individuals. These experiences and skills then allows an individual in middle to late adulthood to focus in on just a few emotionally meaningful social relationships. Therefore, it seems social loneliness has more impact on adolescents and young adults whereas emotional loneliness tends to have more of an impact on middle to late aged adults. In my model of social identity – currently being tested – I argue that social loneliness drives us to identify with individuals like us (our in-group social identity) and then through the assimilation and relationship building with those in our in-group we avoid  emotional loneliness, which in turn motivates us to maintain connections and enhance our social identity. Next I want to pause before continuing our discussion on specifically loneliness to discuss the difference between loneliness and depression.

bigstock-Girl-Sits-In-A-Depression-On-T-52227706-300x207

Loneliness VS Depression

Many individuals who are experiencing bouts of depression often describe themselves as “lonely” and “isolated”. However, for our sake I want to make a clear difference between the loneliness an individual says they are experiencing when depressed and the negative motivational state we have been discussing here. As stated earlier loneliness is a motivational state much like hunger and thirst, it drives us to seek out social relationships. Depression on the other hand, drives us away from seeking social relationships through avoidance and the lack of desire to socialize with others. I make this distinction because people can at times mislabel depression as just being lonely. However, depression is a much more serious negative state. Therefore the reader is advised to always look at their motivational state when he or she feels lonely, and ask them self whether they feel the need to have social connection or the need to isolate away from others. If the later it is advised to seek help, as this maybe a more serious condition of depression.

Additionally, we should recognize the relationship between loneliness and later depression. In reviewing the depression literature over the past 15 years, there has been many predicting variables that increase the probability of someone experiencing depression. With the exception of social rejection or loss of a loved one, there in my experience has not been a stronger predictor variable than the experience of chronic loneliness. There is strong evidence that even early long past loneliness can predict later development of depression. For example, the chronic experience of loneliness in one’s thirties, predicts with strong confidence the development of depression in one’s fifties. Additionally it should be stated here that the chronic experience of loneliness is also one of the strongest predictors of obesity, mortality, and morbidity. That is to say the less socially and emotionally connected we are with others leads to unhealthy lifestyles both physically and psychologically.

Loneliness across the lifespan

We have noted throughout this blog about how loneliness influences other states of well-being across the lifespan. The question that comes to mind is, when do we experience the most loneliness and why? First we should say we do experience loneliness across the lifespan just like we experience any other motivational state. However, if we were to determine which groups experience the most loneliness it would be the elderly and individuals who are not well suited for living in rural locations.

Later adults are especially susceptible to loneliness, because as we age our social circles and social connections start to shrink and get smaller, as we disengage from work, social activities, and those who are older or of the same age start to pass away. This shrinkage of social circles along with the increased of loneliness and loss of identity has lead a lot of scientists to believe that this is why we see a stark increase in suicide with men starting at around the age of 50, and has been a increasing concern for women. However, we should note that there are many older individuals who do not experience large amounts of loneliness and the question becomes who? Research is clear that older adults who live in social communities and maintain close friendships – and can develop new ones – are less likely to experience loneliness.

Ever think about leaving the hassle and busyness of the city life for the peacefulness of country living? – you may want to think again. Living in rural areas takes a certain adaptive mindset, that allows individuals to cherish the times they spend with others, and accept that there are periods where one will be alone. This tends to be a native trait, that is a trait of someone who has always or mostly lived in rural locations. We find that when individuals leave larger populated areas for the quiet and peace of rural living they often run the risk of experiencing severe bouts of loneliness and can lead to heighten risk of depression and suicidal behaviors. Indeed, individuals not raised in a rural area are at 4x risk of attempting suicide than native rural livers. For those coming from larger more populated areas where there is always the opportunity for social connection, moving to a place in which one has to work and plan maintaining social relationships, can be lonely, stressful, and depressing endeavor. These combined experiences can lead an individuals to experience the hell and chaos of depression and suicidal thoughts rather than the peace and quiet that they wanted to seek out by escaping from city life.

How does loneliness influence other psychological states?

My colleague Barbara Eastom and I recently surveyed 60 college students on measure of loneliness, happiness, quality of life, meaning in life, and social support. We found when statistical dividing individuals into low, moderate, and high loneliness, that individuals who were in the high lonely group had a significantly lower quality of life, meaning in life, and social support, included a thwarted sense of identity. The following figures and graphs illustrate these stark differences.

Why are these findings meaningful? These findings indicate that loneliness does not only influence our social well-being it also influences many other indicators of well-being. Which means that one experiences loneliness, it important not to continue the cycle of loneliness and to seek out meaningful social connections.

Eliminating loneliness through fulfilling the need of belonging.

Social Psychologist Susan Fiske in 2013 offered a model of social belonging that provides a road map for one to combat loneliness in his or her life. This social cognitive model is based on the premise that individuals are motivated by five social processes: The need to belong, the need for understanding, the need for control, self-enhancement, and the need to trust others. When all of these five needs are met they become a buffer to the experience of loneliness.

Screen Shot 2016-04-23 at 2.54.22 PM

The need to belonging according to Fiske is the need for strong and stable relationships, and over arch the four other needs that can be divided into cognitive needs and affective needs. The two cognitive needs are the need for understanding and control. Understanding is the ability to maintain shared meaning that makes life more stable and predictable. When we engage in conversation with others we often engage in talking about things that are not only important to us but also to reinforce that our beliefs are stable and predictable through shared meaning with others. This is why it is a very lonely place for individuals who are on the fringe of most communities such as LGTBQ individuals, minority groups, the homeless, and many who suffer from mental illness. Because the majority of the community does not share these group’s qualities and challenges it is hard to create shared meaning and thereby making it harder to full fill the need for understanding. However, even within these fringe groups, when we find others that share our ideas, beliefs, and values our level of loneliness become reduced. The second cognitive need that Fiske mentions is the need for control. By her definition, control is knowing the perceived contingency between one’s behaviors today and some later outcome. As for example, showing up at work on time, will reduce the chance of being fired. What controlling is all about really is understanding that, in a given situation, what behaviors will lead to the best outcome. To figure this out we often look towards our social network and those individuals around us. Being able to access individuals who can help us have control and predictability in our world is important and without this it can lead us to feeling lonely, isolated, and ineffective in what we do.

The last two needs Fiske talks about she refers to as affective needs, this means they are less thought driven and more emotionally driven. The first need is the need for self-enhancement. Self-enhancement is our basic need to feel worthy and improvable. In order to feel worthy and improvable this means we must engage others for feedback and support. The second affective need is the need for trust. For Fiske trust means seeing others as benign and harmless. This means feeling little threat by the company we keep, and to seek out individuals that help us feel safe and secure. It should be noted that trust in Fiske terms is an emotional evaluation, and unfortunately in many social setting such as work, school, and public establishments the form of building trust comes in a cognitive form through rules, regulations, procedures, and policies. However, the best policy in the world does not matter unless an individual is affectively made to feel safe and that others are in essence benign. We do this not by reading policies and procedures but by asking others how they ‘feel’ about the situation. therefore, feeling safe trumps even the best written organizational or public policy or procedure. This may explain why cities who have tough on crime policies and militarize their police force actually feel less safe and there are increases and not decreases in criminal behavior, because a militarized police officer is seen emotionally as a threat and not as a form of trust and protection. This in turn increases the propensity for individuals to enter into self preservation behaviors.

Conclusion

This last section has offered four ways in which loneliness can be thwarted. By engaging in social situations that provide a sense of control and understanding and that establish trust and the ability of engage in self-enhancement we are more likely not to experience loneliness and the negative consequences with continued a chronic loneliness. Most important is we need to find ways to engage each other on emotional and meaningful levels, which may mean setting down the smartphone at dinner or at coffee with friends. It means building communities of inclusiveness where everyone has the ability to engage in the community and opportunities. It means centering policies that protect the community by not creating threat through policy but understanding and trust. It means answering the phone, answering the text message even when we don’t feel like it. But probably most important it means when someone has experienced rejection, feels lonely, expresses sadness, that we actually pay attention, not tell them to ‘just get over it’, and give them the same treatment that we seek when we experience those same emotions. Finally hug someone, tell them you love them, tell them you think about them, and thank them for being a part of your life!!!

5977aea84f36dbd4ac2bf73bee203225

Sources for this article

Abrams, D. (2014). Social identity and intergroup relations. In Mikulincer, M., & Chaver, P.R. (Eds) APA Handbook of Personality and Social Psychology (Vol. 2). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Amiot, C. E., & Aubin, R. M. (2013). Why and how are you attached to your social group? Investigating different forms of social identification. British Journal Of Social Psychology, 52(3), 563-586.

Baumeister, B. F., & Leary, M. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 117(3), 497-529. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.117.3.497

Bizumic, B., Reynolds, K.J., Turner, J.C., Bromhead, D., Subasic, E., (2009). The role of the group in individual functioning: School identification and the psychological well-being of staff and students. Applied Psychology, 58(1), 171-192

Bogart, F.R. (2015). Disability identity predicts lower anxiety and depression in multiple sclerosis. Rehabilitation Psychology, 60(1), 105-109

Burke, P.J., & Stets, J.E. (2009). Identity theory. New York, NY: Oxford Press.

Cacioppo, J.T., Hawkley, L.C., Berntson, G.G., Ernst, J.M., Gibbs, A.C., Stickgold, R., & Hobson, J.A. (2002). Do lonely days invade the nights? Potential social modulation of sleep efficiency. Psychological Science, 13(4), 384-387

Cacioppo, J.T., Hawkley, L.C., & Preacher, K.J. (2010). Loneliness impairs daytime functioning but not sleep duration. Health Psychology, 29(2), 124-129

Cacioppo, J.T., Hawkley, L.C., & Thisted, R.A. (2009). Loneliness predicts reduced physical activity: Cross-sectional & longitudinal analyses. Health Psychology, 28(3), 354-363

Cacioppo, J.T., Hawkley, L.C., & Thisted, R.A. (2010). Perceived social isolation makes me sad: 5-year cross-lagged analyses of loneliness and depressive symptomatology in the Chicago health, aging, and social relations study. Psychology and Aging, 25(2), 453-463

Cacioppo, J.T., & Patrick, W. (2008). Loneliness: Human Nature and the need for social connection. New York, NY: W.T. Horton & Company

Carter, M.J. (2013). Advancing identity theory: Examining the relationship between activated identities and behavior in different social contexts. Social Psychology Quarterly, 76(3), 203-223

Cicognani, E., Klimstra, T., & Goossens, L. (2014). Sense of community, identity, statuses, and loneliness in adolescence: A cross-national study on Italian and Belgian youth. Journal of Community Psychology, 42(4), 414-432

Dong, L., Lin, C., Li, T., Dou, D., & Zhou, L. (2015). The relationship between cultural identity and self-esteem among Chinese Uyghur college students: The mediating role of acculturation attitudes. Psychological Reports, 117(1), 302-318. doi:10.2466/17.07.PR0.117c12z8

Durak, M., & Senol-Durak, E. (2010). Psychometric qualities of the UCLA Loneliness Scale – Version 3 as applied in a Turkish culture. Educational Gerontology, 36, 988-1007

Epley, N., Akalis, S., Waytz, A., & Cacioppo, J.T (2008). Creating social connection through inferential reproduction: Loneliness and perceived agency in gadgets, gods, and greyhounds. Psychological Science, 19(2), 114-120

Fiske, S. T. (2010). Social beings: Core motives in social psychology (2nd Ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Ford, J., O’Hare, D., & Henderson, R. (2013). Putting the ‘we’ into teamwork: Effects of priming personal or social identity on flight attendants’ perceptions of teamwork and communication. Human Factors, 55(3), 499-508. doi:10.1177/0018720812465311

Gentina, E. (2014). Understanding the effects of adolescent girls’ social position within peer groups on exchange practices. Journal of Consumer Behavior, 13, 73-80

Hansson, R.O., & Jones, W.H. (1981). Loneliness, cooperation, and conformity among American undergraduates. The Journal of Social Psychology, 115, 103-108

Haslam, S.A. (2014). Making good theory practical: Five lessons for an applied social identity approach to challenges of organizational, health, and clinical psychology. British Journal of Social Psychology, 53, 1-20

Hawkley, L.C., & Cacioppo, J.T. (2010). Loneliness matters: A theoretical and empirical review of consequences and mechanisms. Annual Behavioral Medicine. 40, 218-227

Jones, A.C., Schinka, K.C., van Dulman, H.M., Bossarte, R.M., Swahn, M.H. (2011). Changes in loneliness during middle childhood predicts risk for adolescent suicidality indirectly through mental health problems. Journal of Clinical and Adolescent Psychology, 40(6), 818-824

Kawakami, K., Dovidio, J. F., & Dijksterhuis, A. (2003). Effect of social category priming on personal attitudes. Psychological Science, 14(4), 315-319. doi:10.1111/1467-9280.14451

Kumar, R., Seay, N., & Karabenick, S. (2011). Shades of White: Identity status, stereotypes, prejudice, and xenophobia. Educational Studies: Journal of The American Educational Studies Association, 47(4), 347-378.

Lieberman, M.D. (2013). Social: Why our brains are wired to connect. New York, NY: Broadway Books.

Mehrabian, A., & Stefl, C.A. (1995). Basic temperament components of loneliness, shyness, and conformity. Social Behavior and Personality, 23(3), 253-264

Most, T., Ingber, S., & Heled-Ariam, E. (2012). Social competence, sense of loneliness, and speech intelligibility of young children with hearing loss in individual inclusion and group inclusion. Journal Of Deaf Studies And Deaf Education, 17(2), 259-272. doi:10.1093/deafed/enr049

Mummendey, A., Kessler, T., Klink, A., & Mielke, R. (1999). Strategies to cope with negative social identity: Predictions by social identity theory and relative deprivation theory. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76(2), 229-245

Peterson, C.N., & Eastom, B.A. (2015). Non-cognitive contributors to student success among first generation students. Manuscript Submitted for Publication.

Segrin, C., & Domschke, T. (2011). Social support, loneliness, recuperative processes, and their direct and indirect effects on health. Health Communications, 26, 221-232

Segrin, C. & Passalacqua, S.A. (2010). Functions of  loneliness, social support, health behaviors, and stress association with poor health. Health Communications, 25, 312-322

Shankar, A., McMunn, A., Banks, J., & Steptoe, A. (2011). Loneliness, social isolation, and behavioral and biological health indicators in older adults. Health Psychology 30(4) 377-385

Simon, B., & Hastedt, C. (1999). Self-aspects as social categories: The role of personal importance and valence. European Journal Of Social Psychology, 29(4), 479-487. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1099-0992(199906)29:4<479::AID-EJSP939>3.0.CO;2-M

Smith, J.M. (2012). Towards a better understanding of loneliness in community-dwelling older adults. The Journal of Psychology, 146(3), 293-311

Sullivan, H. S. (1953). The interpersonal theory of psychiatry. New York, NY: Norton.

Tajfel, H., & Turner, J. C. (1986). The social identity theory of intergroup behavior. In S. Worchel & W. G. Austin (Eds.), Psychology of intergroup relations (The Nelson-Hall series in psychology) (pp. 7–24). Chicago, IL: Burnham.

Turner, J.C. (1982). Towards a cognitive redefinition of the social group. In Tajfel, H. (Eds.) Social Identity and Intergroup Relations. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Turner, J.C., & Reynolds, K.J. (2003). The social identity perspective in intergroup relations: Theories, themes, and controversies. In Brown, R., & Gaertner (Eds) Blackwell Handbook of Social Psychology: Intergroup processes. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, Ltd.

Vassar, M., & Crosby, J.W. (2008). A reliability generalization study of coefficient alpha for the UCLA loneliness scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 90(6), 601-60

Victor, S.R., & Bowling. A. (2012). A longitudinal analysis of loneliness among older people in Great Britain. The Journal of Psychology, 146(2), 313-332

Weijters, B., Baumgartner, H., & Schillewaert, N. (2013). Self-Esteem Measure [Database record]. Retrieved from PsycTESTS. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/t30379-000

Zimmer-Gembeck, M.J., Trevaskis, S., Nesdale, D., & Downey, G.A. (2014). Relational victimization, loneliness and depressive symptoms: Indirect associations via self and peer reports of rejection sensitivity. Journal of Youth Adolescents. 43, 568-582

Zhou, T., & Li, H. (2014). Social Identity Scale [Database record]. Retrieved from PsycTESTS. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/t36230-000

Loneliness VS social rejection

rejection-main  – VERSUS –  Lonely-Woman

Understanding the fundamental difference between emotions of social rejection and the emotions associated with loneliness is vital in understanding the experiences of individuals. First lets start with a definition of loneliness, it is important from the outset to understand there are two different types of loneliness: social loneliness which is the perceived lack of social connection; and emotional loneliness which is the perceived lack of emotionally and cognitively close relationships. In later posts, we will delve into these further, for the moment lets look at how we define social rejection which is the negative state due to the withdraw of another individual (or group of individuals) in our life. Emotionally the feelings we have when we experience loneliness and social rejection can be very similar, however, they differ on their motivational purpose.

Loneliness while it may be seen as purely an negative affective state, is better characterized as a motivational state. When one is experiencing loneliness the negative emotional state motivates the individual to seek out missing social connections. This state is more associated with the motivational areas of the brain rather than the emotional pain  states of the brain. Rejection however, is directly associated with the pain centers of the brain. That is to say social rejection is more analogous to a physical injury, like a cut or broken leg, versus the negative motivational states of loneliness. So the question becomes, what should we do when we experience rejection? (further blogs will focus on loneliness)

Letting go of bad information

If you have ever been told “get over it, and move on” you will understand the title of this section very well. The problem with rejection is we have been “treating” it wrong all our lives, by treating it as an emotion rather than what it is – physical pain. Like physical pain, rejection needs to be cared for in an appropriate way (1) emergency care, (2) continued maintenance of the wound, and (3)  time to heal. In the following sections we will look at all three of these in detail.

1465838235

Emergency Care

Think back to the last time you hurt yourself physically – what did you do? – how did you respond? – what was your first action? If like me, it probably included, verbal cries of pain, coddling of the injured area, and search for an immediate pain reducing activity or agent. I think in many ways this maybe the basic responses of most individuals. First we need appreciate this process, because what are we doing when we are engaging in these behaviors, (1) we are verbal to alert others of our injury and draw attention to the possible hazard, (2) we try to reduce the immediate severe wound by assessing the wound and apply some method to reduce the pain that the injury is causing, and (3) we start the process of long-term healing by stopping any bleeding, splinting the broken bone, and stabilize the body to prevent any further damage.

How can this same process be applied to the pain of social rejection? First we need to recognize that social rejection is an internal injury that is caused immediate external environment – the rejector. Therefore diagnosis of this pain can be similar to being poisoned by a potent chemical. The first thing we do when we are poisoned (hopefully) is identify the poison, seek help, and attempt to purge the poison out of the body. The poison in this case is usually the rejector, however, sometimes it can also include what the rejector represents and not just who the person is. This can help us determine the severity of the poison, that is the more the person represents (intimate partner versus a stranger) will determine the potency of the poison, and the amount of injury care the person will need to engage in. Purging can occur in many forms include emotional, physical, and cognitive purging. But the immediate response should start with making sure the poison can no longer be ingested, this can take form of changing ones situation and removing traces of the rejector.

Purging can especially difficult because sometimes the poison was something we were attached to. for example looking at the intimacy literature, the beginning phases of an intimate relationship is very similar to addiction with the same brain regions in full operation during both processes. Therefore, being rejected by an intimate partner can be like being addicted to a drug, but that drug has become toxic for us, and despite our desire to continue using it, it has rejected us. Therefore, going with the analogy of a drug overdoes or the beginning phases of addiction recovery the first purging process is to go through the pains of withdrawal and purging the toxin out of our bodies. This should include feeling the pain of the rejection and understanding what the rejection object meant to the individual. By understanding the poison we can learn how to avoid it in the future, but we can tell the difference between future poisons and future healthy individuals. It only when we avoid the pain and understanding of rejection that it can lead us to relapse in the future with similar poisonous people. But just like withdrawing from drugs and the pains associated with drug withdraws needs to be done in a safe and controlled environment with supportive individuals. It is important to recognize that severe pain can lead us to further self-injury if not done in a healthy environment with healthy non-toxic individuals. If you have difficulty finding healthy individuals, your community can be a great resource, such as professionals such as counseling services, or online support system can help, and these individuals and groups can provide the healthy support to help recover from severe rejection.

The final phase of first aid is to start the process of long-term care, by dressing and cleaning the wound. This can start during the withdraw phase when one understand the pain associated with the poison, and can include protecting the individual from further injury by cleaning and dressing the wound. This can look like surrounding oneself with friends and family, changing the environment by getting rid of environmental triggers such as gifts and pictures (cleaning the wound and reducing continued infection). Finally, one must start a plan for further recovery.

The final note I want to make in this section is to remind the reader that social rejection is a physical injury, and research has shown that the same medicines that reduce physical pain can reduce the pain associated with social rejection. This also means, more dangerous substances such as alcohol and other drugs can also numb the pain. The reader should be careful of engaging in these vices to manage their pain. Taking prescribed doses of acetaminophen maybe a safer pain reducing alternative to alcohol or elicit drugs.

broken_leg

Continued Maintenance of the Wound and Time to Heal

The main goal of the continued maintenance phase is the continued protection of the wound until it is fully healed. This means making sure no further injury occurs by not allowing further toxins into one’s life. This maybe the most risky point of recovery from rejection, because the more one feels better, the increased chance of engaging in the same habits and behaviors that resulted in the injury in the first place increases. When it comes to social rejection this can look like trying the engage the rejector back into one’s life or engaging individuals who are just if not more toxic than the original rejector.

During the maintenance phase, the analogy of a leg cast is good because the cast stabilizes the wound and protects it from further injury as it heals. This also means committing to a set of time to allow for healing, and surrounding one self with individuals, activities, and places that can act as the cast. Note that this is an active process just like a leg will not heal or will not heal correctly if it is ignored or one cuts the cast off too soon, the same goes with being rejected.

Best-friends-walking-with-007

Learning to Walk Again

I named this section learning to walk again to emphasize the final phase of recovery, which is to re-engage in the the social world from a healed perspective. Just like it takes time to walk normally after a broken leg it may take time to feel like one can engage in the social world the same after being rejected. However, there are some features of being recovered that we should discuss (1) just because the wound is healed, doesn’t mean the memory is still not painful, and (2) learning from experience.

Just because we know the causes and the situation in which caused rejection in our life, does not mean that the memory of the rejection will not hurt. This also includes good memories, if someone injures their leg skiing this does not mean they will have all bad memories of skiing. The same goes for social rejection, the problem is the combination of bad and good memories could lead us to engaging in risky behaviors that could lead us to being injured a second time. For addiction we call  this relapse, for broken leg we call this not learning our lesson the first time, either way it is during this phase that we can be at most risk of injury again. This is why learning from our experience and having reminders of the pain that it caused is important.

Literature on the difference between knowledge and actual behavior is very clear in that we can know better, but it doesn’t mean we will behave in a healthy way. I know for example a second helping of chocolate cake is not healthy, but sometimes given the opportunity my behavior will be different then my knowledge. This is a common mistake individuals experience when rejected is assuming they now know better, so they trust themselves not to engage in the same behaviors. Therefore, to truly heal from rejection we must engage in the hard work of training one’s self to engage in new behaviors and not assume we know better.Just like learning to walk after a serious leg injury this can take time and hard work. One needs to be committed to changing and assuring they do not get re-injured. This means engaging in new activities, learning different socialization skills (AND practicing them), finding new groups, and surrounding one’s self with healthy friends and family. Additionally, remember that this may not feel good and normal in the beginning, developing new habits consciously never does.

Before concluding this blog, I want to close with one last thing we need to know about social rejection. A person can remove all the knives in their kitchen, but this does not mean one will never cut their finger ever again. The same goes with rejection, we can go through the healing processes, and remove the current toxin in our life, but this does not mean we will never experience rejection ever again. Rejection like physical injury is part of life and is the amazing part of life that includes taking risks and sometimes receiving rewards and sometimes feeling pain and loss. But unless we take those chances and risks we never fully live as individuals and we live life with no meaning.

At this final point you may ask Curtis most of this article was on rejection and not loneliness as well. I wanted to start this article by differentiating the two because they are often mistaken for one another. Further blogs will focus solely on loneliness as we learn how to create a social connected and meaningful world for ourselves and the people we love.

 

 

 

Thoughts on Love (4 of 5)

IMG_Barbara_2

I hope that everyone has had a wonderful start to their new year and that your new year resolutions include finding or maintaining close intimate relationships. This post is a continuation of common questions that I am asked when I lecture on the topic love. If you have any questions you would like answered in the final fifth series of this article please email it to psycguypeterson@gmail.com.

Q: What causes people to have such strong emotional bonds for each other early in a relationship, and then, later on, they lose the “spark” in their relationship down the road?

A: For this question, I will turn to chemistry. First, we are biologically wired to have a deep neurological connection with someone only for about seven years, mainly because throughout our history, around the seventh year is when children became less dependent on mom and dad and more dependent on community and peers. But there are two chemical phases we go through when falling in love. The “Spark” at the beginning of a relationship is caused by a natural form of amphetamine produced in the brain that causes the euphoric and very focused, sometimes obsessive and paranoid motivations which last for 18 months to 36 months of a romantic relationship. Somewhere during this time, the amphetamine stops being produced by the body and is replaced by a natural opioid that the body starts to produce. The opioid gives us our sense of stability, reduced feelings of stress, and general close emotional connection with someone. Now real quick it is expected that it is the withdrawal from the amphetamine that may cause the four-year spike in divorce rates. That basically because the high of a new relationship being replaced with the calm of close human connection, we crave for the return of the high. Some people can actually get addicted to this phase of love, especially when they have an addictive personality. Now for individuals who move successfully to the next phase of love, we find that successful relationships are due to the individual’s interest in each other, they continue to learn and discover new things about each other and respond to each other’s changes in life positively.

Q: Why do people fall out of love? Were they not completely in love in the first place? Is love a measurable feeling or is it different in every situation?

A: As I have said, love is not a feeling, it is a drive, which is different because feelings and emotions can change whereas drives are fixed needs that we all have to in some ways satisfy. So is love different in every situation, no, but just like the food we all have our preferences and different tastes, and some of us want a lot and some very little? But in the end, we all need to eat, just as we all need to experience love. For your first question, there is no such thing, at least on a scientific basis, of falling completely or not completely in love. What we often find is people getting lust mixed up with love. Again I use the example of food. We lust over the food we should not have, we are driven towards the food that will best satisfy our needs (which can be bad or good as well). Lust is an emotion, and it is produced in the amygdala area of the brain (which is the emotional area of the brain), just like a craving for a tempting slice of your favorite pie or cake. Whereas the drive for love is produced from the tegmental area of the brain, which is associated with our primary, drives. During our teen years and into our early twenties, we often lust after someone, because of their looks, and because of the sexual desires they produce. But unfortunately what we have found is this is not love. This is an emotional experience produced by desire and the emotions associated with sex and attraction. So this mistaken identity of love, yes you can fall out of very easily because it is an emotion and not a drive. People can fall out of love, and it usually occurs during the transition phase when neurochemicals that reinforce your attachment to someone starts to naturally wane between the third to the seventh year of the relationship. However, this only occurs if the couple stops developing their relationship and they stop learning about each other.

Q: Does everyone “love” differently? For example, is a person’s definition and how love feels different than other persons? Or if I love someone and they love me back is it a different feeling?

A: Let us return to the analogy of food. I like using food because it is regulated by the same region of the brain that regulates love. This also points out an important concept, that love is not a feeling emotion, it is a drive and motivation. But to your question, using food, we all have different appetites; we all have different tastes and different needs to consume. Some of us like our food bland and need very little, some of us like our food hot and spicy and we like having a lot. Love works on the same principles as food consumption, But where it differs is that it involves two people who probably have slightly different appetites. And when our tastes are too different, our relationships are bound to fail. This is why most research finds that long lasting relationships are based on two individuals who have similar interests, personality, attitudes, beliefs, and physical appearance. This matching assures that the individuals will have similar love appetites.

Q: My questions are that if two people have been together for 10-20 years and then they end up in divorce, is this because that one or more of the romantic love traits have failed to be satisfied in either one or both of the individuals? Also is this what marriage counseling is supposed to unveil so that each person in the relationship can start to repair the “broken” parts of romantic love?

 A: First of all, let’s dispel a myth, there is no such thing as love “traits.” I know books that make a claim and have made a lot of money claiming to fix many relationships, but it is a pseudo fix, and I would encourage you to throw away your love trait books and five languages of love. It is pseudo garbage. As far as your question to the end of 10-20 relationships, first, we should take this in perspective, because there can be varied reasons why individuals divorce. Yet, when we look at the core motives, in general, we find most relationships that end after 10-20 years do so because the couple gets to the point that they feel that their relationship no longer needs work, development, and growth. As individuals, we are constantly changing throughout our life. But we for some reason get in the mindset that our relationships somehow defy this rule of life. So we stopping developing our relationships as we develop and literally wake up one day with a stranger sitting next to us.

Couples counseling is more about discovering whether you or your partner can actually love the person that you have both become and let go of the person you and him/her will never be again. It is an attempt to see if you can fall in love again with someone familiar but different. Interestingly, research on the success of marriage counseling indicates that marriage counseling is only successful if you and your partner had good communication skills before you became committed to each other.