The feeling of being ignored…Why ostracism is dangerous ?

I would always tell people ‘Punch me on my face if I ever hurt you, but don’t ignore me’.

Because the wound from physical injuries will heal with time. But the feeling of being ignored never goes away. It is sickening. It angers even the most patient of people.

The psychological effect on humans when someone ignores you can be devastating. It change your personality.Not many realize that ignoring people is the worst form of abuse ever that can lead to dangerous consequences for the person ignored.

Ostracism can have a lot of negative impact on an individual’s health. As social beings, we love interaction with other humans and like to be accepted especially with people we are likely to work with.

Through out history, exclusion has been used as punishment. Perhaps, it was understood for a long time that social isolation is the best form of mental torture.

When a person chooses to ignore you at social level or in office meetings or does not bother to respond to e-mails or text messages or interrupts you during a conversation or abruptly ends a conversation, s/he is exercising control over you. It is almost like saying ‘You don’t matter to me.’

Ostracism can be more dangerous than being ridiculed or humiliated in public. It can lead to targets go in self-isolation mode, chronic depression and even feel suicidal.

It would be naive to say it is done unintentionally. It is a universal truth that silent treatment or ignoring people has become a socially acceptable response to people who are less important.

However, the psychological damage ostracism has on people is being understood only in recent times.

Children are the truest form of human behavior. They know it when they feel ignored and express their anger in the best way they can. They won’t pretend that everything is fine with them. Hiding emotions is what adults learn over a period of time to present an image to the world that everything is hunky dory.

Children have a deeper impact when they are ostracized than adults. They grow up with low self esteem and often suffer from teenage depression. Parents who give silent treatment to children for not behaving like grown ups (ironically, grown up can’t behave like grown ups) are actually damaging the confidence of a child when s/he grows up that has a life long impact.

Adults  face ostracism in friendship and romantic relationship. Whenever relationship goes down south either partner ignores the other and this is the worst possible to end a relationship.

Workplaces are notorious for ostracism. This is typical in dysfunctional workplace where bullying, back stabbing and a blame culture is the norm. Isolating an employee typically happens when s/he is an immigrant or has been transferred from another department.

The biggest challenge with ostracism is it is difficult to prove. It is difficult to document too. The perpetrators usually do not invite their target for meetings, they are kept out of the loop for most of the important decisions.  They are not given information to do their job and hence setup their target for failure.

The targets are accused that they are not liked by others in the team for unknown reason which then creates a self doubt and low morale which then results in poor performance and an excuse to fire the target. However, being fired is not what affects the employee.

Ostracized employees become very aggressive as a result of being isolated and they carry this behavior home and often neglect family and children. Ostracism can lead to shame and anger and the individual starts neglecting his own health.

Will education help eliminate this nasty behavior from society ?

It is the responsibility of parents, teachers, corporate HR’s to educate people about the harmful effects of ostracism.

The society has accepted that ostracizing certain individuals is a way of life. Nothing can be further from the truth. That is not the reason we live in society among other humans.

‘Treat others how you want to be treated yourself’, is not just a quote meant to be forwarded on social media just to make ourselves feel good. We are meant to practice what we preach.

Humans, irrespective of age, gender, race, color and social status are meant to live in harmony and peace.


16 thoughts on “The feeling of being ignored…Why ostracism is dangerous ?

  1. Very true! Ostracism is a social mould that needs to be eradicated. Today’s society is selfish and not only adults but even kids face this issue often. Respect is the word! Give respect you get back respect. And this is something important for people to realize in today’s world.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ostracism is the most insidious form of bullying/emotional abuse …..very difficult to prove and yet extremely damaging to an individual on the receiving end as you rightly say ….the ‘silent treatment’ does indeed lead to people feeling ‘useless/worthless’ which in turn can lead to thoughts of suicide.
    I guess ‘communication’ is the key …..not easy tho ….as those who tend to ostracise or give the ‘silent treatment’ seem to get some kind of kick from the power and control
    Another interesting topic rarely discussed Sidhir 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for this article. I agree that ostracism is brutal and strikes at our core human need to belong. I have a friend(1), though, who became obsessed with another friend(2)’s wife. And in response to that couple’s attempt to create safe and healthy boundaries, friend(1) is crying “ostracism” and barraging everyone with articles like this. Any thoughts on the distinction between ostracism and boundaries? For example, is un-friending someone on Facebook clearly a case of ostracism?


    1. Though it may be considered as ostracism, this behavior may be morally wrong and not justified. The damage to the brain is the same.
      Friend (1) must learn to let go and find someone else.
      I wanted to highlight the impact of ostracism which we all experience to some degree, but most people find someone to connect with.


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