Social Rejection from Wikipedia

rejection can be passive, by ignoring a person, or giving the "silent treatment".

Is it possible to say that the victim of a verbal aggression who hide or repress (negate) the negative emotions like fear, anger, sadness through the emotional detouchment showing himself as secure, not hurted can lead the other to feel impotent and thus become even more aggressive to get an emotional reaction?

Can emotional detachment be considered as a dysfunctional behavior for the victim of a verbal aggression? Opposed to demanding empathy.

Emotional detachment can be considered a kind of hostile / aggressive behavior?


Is there any evidence that most of people would suffer from these kind of other's behaviours so that they can be considered a way to hurt people?


1 Answer 1


It is not clear the context in which you expect an answer. For example, should it be considered from a legal, ethical, survival, or psychological standpoint? I would expect the answers aimed at different philosophies to differ quite a bit. Let me address a few of your questions, at least as I understood them in your posting.

Can the person being "ignored" feel impotent as a result of this "silent treatment"? Of course this can happen. However, this reaction is not something that should be blamed on the person doing the ignoring. After all, if you look at someone funny and they throw a tantrum, is it your fault they cannot control themselves?

"Can emotional detachment be considered as a dysfunctional behavior for the victim of a verbal aggression?" Dysfunctional is not a term that can be legitimately applied here without context. There are many cases where ignoring a verbally abusive person can be extremely useful or even necessary to carry on with daily activities. For example, if people talking on forums got caught up responding to trolls, they would not be able to have reasonable discussions with non-trolls. A troll is a perfect example of a verbally abusive person for which silent treatment is clearly not "dysfunctional". The key thing you have to understand here is the intent of the verbal abuse. If the abuser is simply trying to reason or convey a message, with no hidden agenda, then reasoning in response may be fine. However, if the verbal abuser is socially sadistic, such as a troll, then the worst thing you can do is to get emotional in response to his or her provocation. After all, that would be accepting the damage they are trying to inflict for their sadistic pleasure.

Should a person "demand empathy" instead of ignoring the abuser? Successfully demanding and receiving empathy requires two things: (1) You must be deserving of empathy, which is highly subjective, and (2) the abuser must be able to feel empathy. The former requirement could necessitate skills in persuasion, which not everyone has. Furthermore, if you are being verbally abused because you legitimately did something wrong, you would need to show that you understand your wrongdoing and truly intend to make things right. The latter requirement depends on the personality and mental state of the abuser. A psychopath, for example, would not be able to feel empathy, so there would be essentially no point in trying to demand empathy from them. In fact, it would be dysfunctional to demand empathy from a psychopath. Such would be like demanding a shower head to dry you.

"[Can] emotional detachment can be considered hostile / aggressive?" Hostile perhaps, but I cannot see it being "aggressive" since it is in the very definition of the word that force be involved, which clearly is not the case in reactionary abstinence. Sure, there is such as thing as "passive aggressive", but the term itself is practically oxymoron. A more correct term would be "passive hostility".

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks your answer is really balanced. But may I ask another question. Narcissists and borderline do often hurt people making them feel impotent through emotional detachment, silent threatment and other kind of social rejection or manipulative behaviour. How can those behaviour not be considered as hostile and aggressive? $\endgroup$
    – Revious
    Feb 8, 2016 at 13:26
  • $\begingroup$ In those cases, there is an underlying agenda for which emotional detachment is one of several tools being applied toward a particular end. While the acts of lacking empathy and responding non-emotionally (or not at all) are benign in and of themselves, they could be used after verbal or another type of abuse to amplify the effects of the former. A troll, for example, will often (1) say something offensive, (2) wait for and receive a response, and then (3) respond without empathy or admission of reason -- thereby "invalidating" any legitimate arguments. $\endgroup$
    – Michael
    Feb 8, 2016 at 14:40
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    $\begingroup$ My general answer was with the idea that the person doing the ignoring was doing so in response to an unsolicited attack. This type of attack is common, especially when dealing with sadistic people. In the case of dysfunctional or manipulative relationships, there is a lot of give-and-take, and there are a lot of expectations of reciprocity that may be neglected by abusive parties, who may be narcissistic, borderline, or otherwise. This case of which you speak I see as a case of intentionally neglected reciprocity. With a stranger, there should be no such expectation since nothing is owed. $\endgroup$
    – Michael
    Feb 8, 2016 at 14:47
  • $\begingroup$ It would be incomplete to fail to recognise that there are other types of reciprocity that people abuse in relationships. Any time one party is greedy, trying to gain as much as they can without concern for the other party, there is a lack of proper reciprocity. These may resolve around money, work, chores, affection or care for the other's family members, reproduction, and more. Greed comes in many forms. Emotional greed or failing to consider the other's arguments is one such form. $\endgroup$
    – Michael
    Feb 8, 2016 at 14:52
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    $\begingroup$ Whether someone is in the wrong in a particular case is a very complex question. You would need to understand the entire balance of the relationship, on all fronts. Sometimes each party reciprocates in different forms, so looking at just one element can be misleading. As a result, relationships can be easily abused and misrepresented, especially to the outside world where not all the facts are known. $\endgroup$
    – Michael
    Feb 8, 2016 at 14:57

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