October 28th, 2011


the silent treatment

i just read a pretty interesting post on the silent treatment (wooo friday night!) personally, i am really not a believer in this method of communication (or, more appropriately, lack thereof) and especially with friends and loved ones, i think it can damage the stability of that relationship because it sets you up to see that relationship with fear of it slipping away rather than seeing it with the flexibility to be able to resolve issues that might arise.

i've certainly been on the receiving end of the silent treatment -- sometimes it's a simple as knowing someone's purposely not picking up the phone or responding to an email. i looked this article up thinking to myself what are people hoping to accomplish when giving the silent treatment?

From the article:
When someone is administering the silent treatment they are trying to show that they are dominant over you. The silent treatment (when it becomes a mutual one) is a power struggle in pain tolerance…whomever the winner is, cares less.

so ultimately, when someone is giving the silent treatment, what they are saying is that you don't matter to them, and resolving a problem with you isn't important to them either because they don't view you as an equal? that they care less than you do? it's pretty messed up. yet reading that quote above, it feels accurate. that's exactly what it's like being on the receiving end.

From the article (though not sure how reliable the scientific info is here):
When someone is ostracized it affects the part of their brain called the anterior cingulate cortex. The anterior cingulate cortex is the part of the brain that detects pain. When you give someone the silent treatment you are causing that person physical pain...This is what the ever popular “time out” with a child is so effective. The child feels ostracized, therefore is feeling pain even though no physical pain was inflicted on them, and therefor they want to behave so they don’t have to feel that way again.

when I read about it in those terms, giving the silent treatment or ignoring someone (someone you care about / want to have a relationship with) on purpose really seems like one of the most absolutely screwed up, manipulative, cruel things you can do to them. though the article above uses the example of parents molding children with it, it really strikes me as one of the most immature ways to treat a fellow human.

personally, i tend to "give in" to the silent treatment and apologize for whatever caused it (even if i feel that i shouldn't have to) or joke with the person to lighten up the relationship, because i hate the feeling so much of being ostracized/ignored. i don't know if there's a "right" way to handle being on the receiving end of it; i pretty much think it's a stupid ritual to partake in.

but i thought i might post the article for anyone out there who's considering giving the silent treatment to someone they actually care about. just don't do it. it's cruel, and the only message you're sending is that you don't care about hurting them. even if the other person is a total idiot, are YOU the kind of person who enjoys inflicting pain on others just to make yourself feel superior? think about it.

anyway, just some food for thought.