The Silent Treatment is a method of psychological punishment and manipulation that creates more fear than positive emotions like love in us. The Silent Treatment is a root cause of so much of the family and court disorder now happening around the world.
The odds are quite high that you, the reader, have personally experienced some form of short or long-term Silent Treatment from a close friend, family member, or co-worker. Whether the intentional silence lasted for a few minutes, hours, days, weeks, years, or decades, the pain (both emotional and physical) was probably not very pleasant to you. During the periods of prolonged silence, you probably thought of and attempted a wide variety of strategies to end the painful silence.
Why is Silence Painful?
The Silent Treatment, when viewed with neutral eyes by someone not directly involved in the relationship conflict as well as by the person on the receiving end of it, is immature, inconsiderate, rude, cruel, petty, and childish behavior. It is almost akin to a 5-year old child throwing a tantrum after a parent refuses to hand the child another piece of candy. After the child throws a “hissy fit” by screaming and crying hysterically, they may resort to using the Silent Treatment to get their way by ignoring the person who would not give them the candy.
There is a part of all of our brains that is specifically designed to detect various levels of pain. This pain detection region of the brain is called the anterior cingulate cortex; it activates when someone receives the Silent Treatment. Our brains quickly analyze the act of being ignored or in receipt of ongoing silence from someone important to us like a parent, spouse, child, or best friend as the equivalent of being in physical pain. To our brain, body, heart, and soul, the act of silence may be as physically painful or worse than breaking a bone or severely spraining an ankle.
For many young children, the #1 form of punishment inflicted upon them was when one or both parents demanded a “time-out” from the child. With a time-out form of punishment, the child was asked to go stand in the corner while facing the wall and keeping silent. For many children, the pain of silence and isolation was so overwhelming that they learned to act more mature and less like an innocent young child seeking fun. If so, their joy was minimized (or “their joy was sucked out of them”) due to the fear of more pain as they become more fearful than loving. As adults, the Silent Treatment method is not much different.
Divorce attorneys typically do not like divorcing spouses to communicate with one another during the “Family” Court battle partly due to the chance that the two parties may apologize to one another, reconcile, and cancel the divorce process that was making the attorney thousands, tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees. As such, many divorce lawyers prefer working on cases where the Silent Treatment is at the root of the family and court dysfunction.
Within the BPD Family website (free to join: www.bpdfamily.com – Borderline Personality Disorder Family ), one of the most popular websites in the world about the topics of personality disorders (high conflict personality traits) and extreme relationship conflicts, there are seemingly thousands or tens of thousands of message thread posts that were created by the site’s members or visitors who were in desperate need of assistance.
Over the past several years, the #1 most viewed message thread topic in the entire history of the BPD Family website has been “The Silent Treatment” topic. For many family members and former loved ones, they wrote that being ignored, shunned, and never spoken to again for years or decades was perhaps the most painful experience of their entire lives.
What are some of the most common reasons for the Silent Treatment?
First off, let’s automatically assume that both sides in a relationship conflict played some part or role in the ongoing conflict. No person here on this planet is perfect. We are all flawed, and just want to be liked or loved at our true core. Most people are generally not bad or defective. Rather, they may make improper decisions here and there as they move forward throughout their lives that can adversely impact their loved ones and themselves in an unintentional way.
One side cannot be 99% at fault while the other side is only at 1% at fault in the vast majority of situations that aren’t associated with a crime situation like with rape, assault, or murderous acts between two strangers. Not every horrible divorce situation has a Schizophrenic wife and a drug-addicted husband who prefers to physically assault his family members when they don’t listen to them.
For every show that you see on Dr. Phil where many of the guests seem to have some serious emotional health and relationship challenges, there are probably 10 times the amount of families who experience equal painful relationship trauma that have no valid reason for the conflict if analyzed by neutral third parties, family, or friends.
Let’s just take the mindset that each side is 50/50 at fault as we search for the most empowering answers and solutions for our personal situations. Why? Because it will help us heal ourselves sooner rather than later. If you can’t forgive the other person who broke your heart, then how can you forgive and heal yourself? With this 50/50 blame self-identification, then let’s attempt to discover reasons or personal traits that make it likelier that a person may eventually ignore or shun you at the end of a relationship:
1. Abandonment Trigger: If you really want someone close to you to become enraged, then watch how they react when they think that you don’t love them anymore. The #1 fear in the world for most people is abandonment (or lost love). Some people say that public speaking is the #1 fear, but that is just a variation of abandonment where the speaker hopes that people still like or love him or her after presenting their speech.
In the ongoing battle between Love and Fear, Light and Darkness, and Yin and Yang, the overwhelming feelings of passion and love can change almost overnight prior to boomeranging to the other darker side of fear, anger, rage, resentment, guilt, shame, pathological jealousy, and the newfound desire to control and hurt the person who broke our heart. The solution to fear is love, regardless.
2. A person cannot treat others around them any better than they treat themselves. Does the person eat healthy foods, exercise, and laugh a lot? If they take good care of themselves, they will probably take good care of you as well partly since they “see” themselves in you in a figurative sense. If, however, a person eats fast food daily, never exercises, barely gets off of the couch, prefers to not socialize with friends and family, and texts you 50 to 100 times daily asking where you are due to their almost endless need to control that are related to abandonment fear triggers and pathological jealousy traits, then that is potentially a very bad warning sign for future potential Silent Treatment or excommunication risks.
Many people feel unlovable at their true core. Since they think and feel that they are defective, then you must also be defective (you must be the “crazy one” as opposed to them) for loving them which later leads them to attempting to destroy you for this defective love perception. For people who seem to have too many relationship disputes with friends, family, and co-workers while the same person seems to describe others around them as “crazy”, then please remember to focus on the common link (the person casting blame in almost every direction except toward the finger pointed at their own mirrored reflection) in all of those relationship conflicts involving that exact same person who may have some twisted or convoluted perspectives himself or herself that warp the true reality of the relationship disputes in question.
3. The Treatment of Strangers and You: If you want to best understand how a person treats himself or herself when they are alone, please simply watch how they treat others around them. This is especially true when the other person cannot do much for them such as an employer or a person who they wish to date.
A prime example would be to observe how they treat the waiter at a restaurant or a homeless person asking for money on the street. A compassionate, empathetic, and kind man or woman will be nicer to strangers, smile, and offer encouraging words of support. If they will show loving actions towards strangers, they will probably be even more loving to their romantic partners.
4. Where do the perceptions of the problems originate? Regardless of the verbal statements or actions of a family member or friend around us, the problem did not originate by way of their spoken words or possibly clumsy, inconsiderate, or immature actions. No, the problem begins in the eye of the beholder (or the mind’s eye) based upon personal perspectives.
What we avoid in life controls us. Even if you think that giving someone the Silent Treatment helps you think less often of them, it actually can do the exact opposite by keeping you focused on them. Let’s end the painful silence with words like “I’m sorry”, “I forgive you”, and “You are important to me” so that all sides in the conflict can heal equally!