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Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.
Dr. Schwartz's Weblog

The Pain of Rejection By Social Groups

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. Updated: Feb 21st 2011

The Pain of Being OstracizedAs a youngster, I remember all of us being required to read the short story, The Man Without a Country. The historical background is the Civil War. A young soldier, Nolan, a soldier in the United States Army, becomes furiously angry at the trial  of Aaron Burr who is on trial for treason. Nolan, in his rage, yells out, "Damn the United States." As a result, he is sentenced to live out his life in isolation, being transferred from ship to ship. In addition, no one is allowed to speak to him. While he at first remains defiant he ultimately manages to tell a young sailor to love his country and never repeat what he did. What does this have to do with mental health? Let's take a look:

Were you one of the youngsters who sat on the school bus alone because no one wanted to sit next to you? Do you remember sitting at a table, by yourself, in the school cafeteria during lunch because no one wanted to sit next to you? In the present, do you find yourself being ostracized at work, within the family, among a group of "friends?" This is what is referred to as ostracism. As a verb, ostracize means to exclude someone from a group or from society. The experience is extremely painful can have devastating results on ones well being.

Every human being has a powerful need to belong. Belonging to a group has always been a mechanism to help us survive. That is why we are organized into nations, states, counties, cities, neighborhoods, families and groups of friends. We depend on each of these groupings, regardless of how small or large, to meet our emotional and physical needs. This dependence begins in infancy when our mothers and fathers nurture and protect us until we reach adulthood.

Ostracism, or social rejection, is used to punish people. In the nation's penitentiaries, incorrigible and violent prisoners are put into isolation for 23 to 24 hours per day, sometimes for many months. There, they are deprived of all social contact. Some of them cannot withstand the isolation and "crack." They develop psychotic-like symptoms while others develop a full psychosis. The depravation of human contact is devastating and that is why its such a power means of punishment. But, is it effective?

In another and related posting, I wrote about the power of the "silent treatment," used by spouses or families, to punish. The effects are maddening for the targets of the silence. Most often, the silent treatment is used after an argument. The conflict may happen between husband and wife, parents and children, friends against friends. Is it effective?

Many articles on Mental Help Net have discussed the harmful effects of bullying. Its essential for every reader to understand that one of the most terrible means of bullying, used by kids of all ages, is to exclude someone from a group to which they once belonged. The isolation is just as terrible, if not more so, of being physically beaten by a bully.

What makes social ostracism most terrible of all are the frowns, averted eyes, scowls and smirks that the target person receives. It reinforces the feeling and sensation of being alone, not part of, not acceptable, etc.

The result of ostracism is extreme anxiety, depression, self hatred, increased blood pressure, loss of appetite, self injury and suicidal thoughts and attempts. This is not only painful but excruciating.

However, ostracism can arouse anger and rage that approaches and crosses into violence. This is one of the outcomes for those prisoners who are placed in the "hole." Ultimately, they become more difficult to manage than before.

We have tragic examples of High School students who were targeted for bullying, including social exclusion, exploding into rage and violence that resulted in mass murders of other students and teachers.

So, does ostracism effective? I suppose it depends on your definition of "effective." In other words, if the attempt is to cause harm to another, yes, it works. But, does anyone deserve this type of punishment. In my opinion the answer is NO. Even if we have done something to offend another, social rejection is not right. Its just another form of bullying.

What To Do?

This is a difficult question to answer, especially among adults. I suppose one thing to be done is to move on to another group of friends and even to another spouse. But, most importantly, we must know that ostracism is irrational and has nothing to do with anything we have done.

If your child or teen is ostracized, a parent can do the same types of things as with any bullies: confront them, go to school, speak to other parents and advise and support our own child. However, here, too, we as parents are limited, especially when dealing with teens and adults.

In the end, there is psychotherapy. Not therapy based on feeling at fault but at recovering the damaging effects of this bullying. Of course, this includes learning that we are not at fault.

What are your experiences with ostracism, both personally or with your children or others?

Your comments are encouraged.

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.

Readers who live in the Boulder, Colorado metro area, or in Southwest Florida may contact Dr. Schwartz for face-to-face consultation. He is also available for psychotherapy through Skype video for those who are not in Florida or Colorado. He can be reached via email at dransphd@aol.com for details.

    Reader Comments
    Discuss this issue below or in our forums.

    Isolated and Rejected by other Christians - Peter and Natalie - Mar 10th 2015

    To Whom It May Concern,

    Mum & I are true born again Christians from Australia in the city of Melbourne Victoria that love Jesus & have lived in complete isolation for over 8yrs now. We don't have any family or friends. We have been calling so many different Christian churches in our area as well as other areas in Melbourne in regards to supporting my bedridden mum with her illness as well as I having contacted different Mission Organisations in giving  us support & they the so called Christians made so many petty excuses that their church was too far to come & help us & they only help their own flock. Mum & I tried reaching out to them & wanting to become a part of them, but they wouldn't hear if it. 

    I can't take their abuse, lies, false doctrines, & sociopathic behaviours of these so called Aussie Melbourne Christians. Mum & I are all alone on this Earth, even though we have one on one with God, but it's not enough without the support of our brothers & sisters in Christ!! Where are they? My mum as well as myself are trying so hard in memorising our bible scriptures...Our mobile phone never rings...After we beg those Christian churches to give us support in helping us with the bible as well as supporting mu bedridden mum about her health, but But get this, their excuse is always the same"They are 2 busy!" You want to blame me & my mum for staying away from a pit if vipers...Tell you what, mum & I live in the Belt Buckle of the Bible Belt... 

    Not the liberal relative thinking that they say it means let him die. Our only prayer now is"God show mum & I one true Australian believers that knows you" And doesn't lie like a drunk drinks. Mum & I need a place to belong with fellow Christians here in Australia/Melbourne...But until there are true genuine born again Melbournian believers that truly love God & their brother & sister & also Worship God of the Bible, & not verbal a empty Platitudes with Schizophrenic derision of everything good.... 

    Mum & I read our Bible, as well as we separately spend time alone with God on our own rooms, we both don't need these so self rationalising abuse from the so worldly Australian so called Christians.

    No one speaks to my son & I anymore. We don't get any messages, emails, phone calls etc. We are usually home on weekends, with nowhere to go. My son & I live together.  Everyone is spending a lot of time with their wives, children, friends etc and my son & I just don't have any of that. We feel like whenever we go out these days, we have a hard time connecting with people and fitting in now. We feel like children and and feel like we've missed out on so many opportunities in our lives because people are 2 busy to make & spend time with us. My son & I don't even know how to act or look "normal" anymore. We both have nothing to say anymore. We want to go out, but we look and feel awkward and people stare at us like we are ALIENS. We've never felt more lonely in our entire 8yrs of our lives being 2 alone.

    It's pathetic to have nothing in my life which i'm at this age (29) and to complain, but I just feel like there's nothing mum & I can do anymore. We just have nothing to say anymore (been alone for too long), and don't have anyone to spend time with. We are both very depressed, and have no self-esteem. We did speak to Lifeline, but at the end of the day, there's only so much they can do. And unless it's a crisis, they make you feel like you're wasting their time. Reaching out didn't get mum & I anywhere with the FAKE CHRISTIANS in our area & all if Australia, and we are still all alone!!

    We are both sick of being alone, and we are starting to go crazy! I don't have any friends, that's the thing. They just never liked me to begin with. I'm 27, but the only people I have in my life are my parents and brother. I'm unemployed. I'm so depressed and lonely I've been drinking everyday. I tried reaching out to people on the internet but they just aren't interested in listening to me. I don't even know what to say to family lately. Feels like we both don't have any connections with the outside world at all.

    Life doesn't go anywhere, and that's the frustrating part! I don't have any friends at all. It gets lonely, and drives me insane, but what can I do? If I go out there, and even if I tried talking to people. How can you make friends, when you don't have any to start with? I am feeling like there's something wrong with me everyday. It's causing me to be depressed.

    How do mum & I break free of social isolation and fit into the community? We have no friends or family!

    Change your thoughts - Change your life - Lisa - Mar 3rd 2015

    My favorite aunt died on February 20th and I went to her funeral.  She was a kind and wise woman and she always said take a negative and make it a positive. I have not participated in a family event in years due to being rejected from my immediate family and even my wise aunt did not understand why I was being rejected. I took me many, many, many years but I have come to the conclusion that God is my best friend and with his love I can rise above the pain of rejection.  He loves me unconditionally and I have daily conversations with him about my life, my friends, my family, my purpose and giving me the strenght and courage to overcome broken relationships, being excluded and finding feels of self worth in the midst of adversity in all areas of my life.  I pray for love and peace in my heart that has been broke but not broken.  I have changed my thought process to empower myself to overcome the devistation of rejection and know that in the midst of it all - That I am a child of God, that he loves and supports me through my journey here on earth. I only have to look for those small, yet significant windows of positive events and keep building and looking for more positive events and moments that bring joy and goodness in a world that is complex and critical.  I read positive books, poems, affirmations and I pray for love and forgiveness to always be in my heart, mind and soul to heal the pain of rejection and being different.  I am unique, beautiful and full of strenght to perserve through life with grace and mercy.  I have found that acceptance of a situation is essential and focusing on the positive aspects of my life that bring me joy, happiness and goodness in life is healing.  Change your thoughts - change your life - believe in your worth - nurture yourself - do something you love - talk positive - God will help you... It's never to late to change your thoughts and life... With light and love

    what to do! what to do! - - Feb 18th 2015

    Just want to add when ur I'll and have good and bad days and can't make social events people stop calling u. It is very hard to keep friends. People just don't understand and really don't listen. I've explained it until I'm blue in the face and they still get mad and drop u as a friend. So frustrating. Many times I really don't want to go, but it would be nice if I was asked. Doc u seem wonderful and very kind and gentle. I wish I could see u.

    No matter what I do I just don't fit in anywhere - - Feb 18th 2015

    First of all I like the statement that when people r cruel its BC they see the good and love u have that they don't, but they see the ugliest in themselves and hate u for showing it to them and can't admit to themselves that maybe something is wrong w them. I need to remember it. Were told if u work hard and r nice to people u will be successful. What a lie for the most part!! I think almost everything I have been told has been a lie. I worked very hard my whole life and was so busy I didn't let the bullying and ostracising get to me. Even my siblings hated me just BC I was born. They actually told me that and they were NOT joking. I guess it was BC I was the youngest. They left me out of everything. Throughout all the school years I was not only ostracised but physically bullied by thrown into school fences lockers and threatened. This was back in the 70's when they didn't do a damn thing. We had year round school and what few friends I had I only saw once a week out of 45 days. U see back then the gangs were Indians and Mexicans and the girls were Hugh. I'm tall but then I was really skinny. From there it was just the same in high school, not too much physically but ostracised yes. I couldn't wait to get out and go to college where I thought it would be different. It was a little actually JC wasn't that bad I kept so busy going to school full time and working 2 jobs. I didn't have time for social stuff. Then I made the mistake of moving and going chico state for my major it was supposed to be a great school for my major anyway all it was was a party school and I just wasn't into that then I became so I'll I couldn't go to class. I was ostracised again. To make a long story short. I moved back went to a top university and worked again. I just had no time to socialize but even my professors gave me a hard time. Graduated started working in the entertainment industry behind the scenes. Working 16 or more hours a day it is not glamouors as people think I just didn't have it in me to go out and party like the rest of the crew. Most jobs on commercials were pretty good, but TV and movies sometimes would work u 20 hours and the politics were just crazy. And I really never fit in. I also had no time for a social life simply BC I didn't have the energy. I would go out sometimes and dated off and on but it seemed the one I loved didn't love me and vice a versa. Then I finally couldn't do it anymore and had a hard time breathing went to the doc and told me I only had 50% of breathing capacity and it would get worst as I got older. I stopped working and that's when my siblings really started to hate me and I was! ostracised from all holidays and events. Before I got sick I had work but not steady but I made more money in a week or less than they made in a month. Since I've been on disability it has only gotten worst.  I have very few friends and they r older. Every time I try to make friends it just doesn't work. Plus I'm taking care of my 80yr old mother and I tire easily. Since I was diagnosis other illnesses at least 10 of them has come along and I've gained a lot of weight. I try to walk but at times its impossible BC I have neuropathy and it feels like I'm walking on glass and rocks. Anyway I never really was accepted in the industry. I had one too many of broken promises. Now i'm only 54 and feel like my body is breaking down really fast probably BC of the many years of abuse from my siblings. I keep living BC of my mom and mostly BC of my precious sissy the furry love bug of my life. She is pure love. Many people could learn so much from dogs and animals.  I look back at my life and I read the other comments and wonder what is it that we all have in common that people hate us. It must be the goodness and love we exude is just too much for people to handle and they hate us for it. I look back and I see too many times I tried and tried and worked very hard and still never made it. The only time I'm happy now is in my sleep when I have wonderful happy dreams, but then I wake up and wish I could have stayed there were it feels more real. For right now I have to stay here BC of my sissy and my mom. But just falling into a deeper pit and don't want to do anything but watch TV. Talked to many professionals who say I have to let it all go, but realizing when my mom and pups r gone I'll be all alone. I feel selfish BC there r people out there far worst but I just hate not having my own family and not being accepted by my siblings. And other family BC my sister has turned them against me w her lies.  At times I feel better, but then I try to catch up on things and nothing goes right. When ur ostracised and bullied for yrs and no matter what u do it seems like nothing works, u just give up and do nothing. Then u see people around u who haven't worked that hard or who r really mean and have everything so u start questioning everything. This is just a little peek into my world. There is a lot more abuse I'm dealing with just can't stand it anymore. Once I had a chiropractor who thought when he first saw me he didn't like me at all. I did nothing to him except got a treatment. He did keep seeing me and we became very good friends he was like a father to me that I never had and he told me that and first he really didn't like me and didn't know why, but after getting to know me both him and his wife he thought I was one of the nicest people he ever meant. He said he was glad that he didn't give me up BC he would have let something good past him by. I wish other people for all of us would take the time to get to know us. They might be pleasantly surprised. He passed and I miss him terribly. I feel like people wouldn't ostracize or bully me if they would just take the time to get to know me and u too. Unfortunately some people like my siblings just won't and want to dictate everything. I hate being alone but I'm just about over it. Who wants a broken down overweight by 60lbs 54 yr old. I hate leaving the house or even getting dressed. Maybe after all it is just me and I'm too sensitive. I just hate all the secrets in our family and my siblings won't go to counseling they just want to hate and turn everyone against me. Seriously my sister has a hate campaign against me. Growing up i had no friends in the neighborhood there were no kids and my friend at school lived too far away to walk. I dont think i got any education in socializing.  For many yrs i tried and tried now im done. What to do what to do!

    Town bullying - - Feb 5th 2015

    Anyone in the town will find something wrong with me, whatever it is they can find. What I am carrying will be frowned upon- my music player, the length of my nose, the length of my hair, the jacket I am wearing, most often my perceived social status (that Im becoming rich and winning millions) is used as a public harassment by a psychophile (campaign).My neighbors kids also participate in the campaign, everyone at the shops I go to participates in the campaign even when I make it clear I dont want them harassing me, I don't have a friend, my neighbor who was being friendly with me I tried to be friendly with her and this got me in big trouble- now she gossips about me to every one and they are lies. Incredible lies. Unless I am having a lift from a parent to a shop and mindlessly following them through the isles I get publicly mocked by all of the staff. I was catcalled and a bystander was friendly with my bullies twice.

    Success I make is very often condemned and ridiculed. When I am happy I am most bullied!

    I stay at home most of the time. I started working again and this was another subject for ridicule.

    I was bullied when I went into public places in my home town after going places quite often especially to the big shopping center. Groups of teens would mock me and laugh at me. The bullying quadrupled a few years after moving out of my home town. I've always travelled and didnt grow up in one place.

    I swear if anyone who bullied me about money I won't ever give them any if I ever get the millions they claim I have

    I wasnt happy growing up, now I have what I want I never had anything now Im being bullied without remorse

    SSD Leper - - Jan 23rd 2015

    I receive Social Security Disability Benefits. When I was first awarded it, I thought it was a blessing. Now it feels like a curse. No one will speak to me except to ridicule and insult me. I've literally had pomgroms organized againist me by "God Fearing Repupblicans" with camcorders following me about. My landlord makes sure that each new tenant in my complex is aware I'm a "welfare bum" so no one will have anything to do with me. The police in the small town I live in periodically harass and insult me. It got so bad a couple of years ago that I had to bring suit against a neighbor for harrassing and slandering me. I won, but now the landlord screams at me and insults me everytime I encounter him and refuses to properly maintain my apartment. I don't have a friend in the world and don't speak to anyone for weeks at a time. I rarely leave my apartment now. This is the kind of culture we live in. I feel hunted and must hide to avoid harrasment and insults or worse.

    Ostracism at work - - Dec 13th 2014

    I work in an environment where everyone acts like they are family, the supervisor tells us we should act like family, and the "sunshine club" is always getting people gifts on special occasions or when they are sick.  But I am always ignored by the group.  Recently, I took a sick leave, no one even gave me a card or wished me to get better or to have Happy Holidays.  They routinely leave me out of important decisions of the group and the supervisor will not allow me to do special projects.  It is very disturbing and I feel I have to stay in this position because it is a career job.  But every time I see a coworker being treated with respect, and how I am totally ignored and direspected, I feel sad and angry and depressed, and I don't know how to cope with these feelings.  It makes me ill.

    Ostracised for not choosing Christian school - Meangreen - Nov 16th 2014

    I attend a protestant denomination church and attended a Christian private school when I grew up, but I never attended  the Christian high school.  Now I'm in the same community and I have young children but made the decision to send our kids to the local public school.  Now there are several individuals in our church who have chosen to stop communication with our family.  The painful part is that one is a close neighbour and the other is the husband of a cousin.  They have decided to ignore us at church which we attend almost weekly.

    rejection since 4 yrs old - - Nov 6th 2014

    Bullied verbally since early years. Caused no end of problems in my life. Constant worry of what others think. Depression . anxiety. Failed marriage. I am 39. Facebook is crap. See how others are loved or liked or nominated..... all i done thru life is love others. But hated for it!!! Its just pants! Why are people so horrible?!!! Compassion results in rejection. What a load of b******s!!! All i wanted is to be loved! 

    Being ostracized real badly. - - Oct 23rd 2014

    I'm nearing my twenties and I'm being ostracized for a few comments i made. I wasn't even b**ching about the girl and she herself is one who gossips about people alot. I am no saint either but i believe ostracism is not the way to go as it just proves you do not have the maturity and wisdom to differentiate between talking bad about a person and a somewhat negative comment. I was ostracized too in my teenage days, after a "used to be close friend" supposedly told one other classmate that my mother "scolded" her real bad when it wasn't even a scolding. I've anxiety and do not open my heart easily to people for the experiences over the years has made me harden my heart and suspect people. The world is a very cruel place. When you're ostracized, you will know how it really feels like. People are very 2 faced in this world and I get quite tired sometimes. Even as of now, i wish i would not have toreport to work tomorrow. Bullies get the thrill of seeing a helpless victimless person who knows whose cries will never be seen or heard. The worst part is when this person used to be someone whom you hung around with quite a period of time. I wish all this could end as I'm feeling very tired. Someone, anyone, please help me.

    Just ostracized since birth even now by my own children - Alice - Sep 3rd 2014

    I sithere .... day by day .... I have been very ill and alone .... a victim of battery from my husband .... and ostracised .... me the victim ostracised I was born and my birth was blamed on me since a young child, by family, I was ostracised at school at work in the home everywhere, now a whole town ostracises me ..... I used to go out and "help" people but I dont now because once I have helped people rebuild their lives they ignore me ... Iused to give my daughter money and help her .... I grew to have palpitations when the phone rang knowing if I didnt give her what she wanted she would be abusive .... She sees my ex, not her father, my ex visits them, has accessto my grandchildren .... neighbours talk about me ... I dont much like to talk to neighbours as all they seem to do is say malicious things about other people Idont know.   I have had much malicious things done to my property, I have been reported to Police for neglect  ... to the RSPCA for animal cruelty and many other things ... every time I went out to town for something Iw ould come back and something in my home was broken .... I made so many calls to the Polcie that they contacted my GP to ask if I was mad .... No I am not mad .... I am now nearly 60 years old .... and to tell you the truth Christmas and holidays (I am UK based) are quite traumatic for me .... I thought all this would change .... I am actually a very nice sensitive person and intelligent too .... and as a child did anything Icould be be loved or liked by my mother by anybody .... My Grandfather adored me .... but when he died I felt so alone ..... I adored my paternal grandparents but when Granddad died she changed and went with the family I didnt even know she had died .... I dont understand these people I guess they are like the herd mentality ..... I mean to blame my birth for my Dad's suicide for my mothers early death .... I have tried for too long to build bridges for that happy family ..... but I know I would love to be loved and I am I have 5 cats and alot of visiting animals and the birds sing to me each day and I speak to the Universe ..... Basically I know my current situation is this .... but I cant move as I am in the marital home and am not well enough to seek divorce which he wont agree to anyway ... He has moved on .... he knows all the people in town .... me I live her alone with cats and my books ..... but I shall mention this ostracism when I see my GP ... to tell you the truth I am far happier alone .... and I wont let my daughter impact on my life again ... Ihave decided to live alone and not "Want" them in my life and I am not going to send parcels of gifts to her nor to my grandchildren any more either ..... just like they dont send anything to me, not even a card .... nor am I going to be delighted when they ring me just before Christmas or a birthday ...... I have wised up ....but it is good to know that I am not alone .... and I actually stood up to a neighbour the other day who I found out was the person who called the Police and RSPCA and the local authorities about my cruelty to animals ..... I guess she is pretty sore when her kitten decided to move in with me .... I didnt encourage the kitten I guess at six weeks old out in the cold she wanted comfort and companionship .... It seems to me that the nicer I am the worse these people who are supposed to love me become .... but hey I do have some friends they are people who have known me for years, one is a French Priest who I met in 1984 selling Prison Art in a CAthedral and ocne someone said to me ... a very prestigeious man said "you know why people are so horrible to you ?"  "It is because when people see you they see something that is very good and then they see the ugliness of themselves"  I have to keep remembering that.  Blessingsto you all.

    To Sammy - - Jul 24th 2014

    Hi Sammy, I was so very sorry to read of your personal experience when growing up. Forgive me... I have no wish to appear patronising... but perhaps before taking the drastic step of embracing another culture/religion you could do a little research on the latter. I am from a Christian background; however my view that "man looks on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart" (1Samuel 16v7) would also be held by Jewish acquaintances. Anyone who doesn't acknowledge this as they go through life (whatever religion they supposedly adhere to) and who scorns, bullies, ostracises or takes advantage of people who are 'different' is very shallow in my view and has serious problems. Take for example, the so called "rat children of Pakistan" who are really microcephalics. Their destinies are marked out for them because of their appearance, they are cruelly exploited and used as slaves to beg and accumulate money for their islamic 'masters.' Sammy, I really do hope everything works out for you and you find that happiness that you deserve.

    Ostracised out of my beliefs - Sammy - Jul 20th 2014

    At school I was a stereotypical nerd and had some deformities that made me unnatrractive and unwanted. School lunches were eaten on my own, the only friends I had were those who were happy to take advantage of me willing to do or pay anything for their company. I am nealry 40 years old, impotent due to anxiety, bankrupt due to the gambling addiction I developed when the only the friendly and welcoming response I got from anyone was the operators at the casinos and gambling establishments I frequented. I have had years of therapy and been on many different meds for depression and anxiety to no avail. I am now converting from Judiasm to Islam as the community is less likely to ostracise based on looks and more likely to ostracise bad people. This move is contraversial and Rabbi's I have consulted with have gone far to assure me that the children and teenagers who only acknowledged my existence when they needed somebody to pick on are adults now and if I came back into the community I could expect far better treatment now. My questions back is how are these peoples children treating children like me? There are communities far more likely to isolate the ugly and Islam is not one of them

    Ostracised because of a cancer diagnosis! - - Jul 3rd 2014

    I have encountered a strange phenomenon - just last night when I attended my local Cancer Support Group in Ireland. Someone was telling me that they'd had a visit from some Nigerian ladies who were very distressed on account of having been ostracised by their own communities for having a cancer diagnosis. In my experience, it is bad enough having to come to terms with your diagnosis - but having the additional rejection of being treated as if you had leprosy is dreadful. Thankfully there is support for them in the wider local community.

    Ignored - Jim - Jun 20th 2014

    A little less than a year ago I stood up for myself and filed a complaint against a bully in the workplace. It was handled very poorly by the out-going CEO, who happened to think the sun shined out of the person I put the complaint against. As a consequence, she was warned, I was given a lecture by him, and in my yearly review I was told I would not even get a payrise on CPI index (inflation). Yup, it was vendictive, unprofessional, and made me feel I'd made a mistake. Anyway, he was leaving so I decided to say FU and stuck it out. 

    I am no longer bullied by said person, but besides my immediate boss, I am ignored. No one will wish me good morning, no one will wish me good night. I will not be invited to friday night drinks in teh kitchen, to which i sit pretty much 10 meters away from. I am not included in conversations. My attempts to make conversations are met with monosalabic responses. It makes me feel pretty small.. oh.. and I don't work for some no name company.. these people are often in the news.. are supposed to be "role models," when in reality they are small-minded, pseudo-intellects, who judge with their ego and not with their hearts. F**k them.

    Supervisor harassment and ostracism - - Jun 6th 2014

    I was working at a school where a lot of the students were doing very poorly. It was considered a failing school. I was a volunteer coming from an outside organization so pay was very low and I had almost no power to influence decisions. At the same time my role was very taxing and I had almost no support since my supervisors made me feel like I couldn't go to them. I was a mentor to youth in the system so I tried to help them and advocate for them. Oftentimes, I was the only person who was reaching out trying to understand what they were going through. We got almost no training to deal with the things we were seeing from the students. Eventually what happened is things started deteriorating rapidly at the school. More students started failing, being truant, and dropping out. It all started with my supervisors harassing me for things that were out of my control like students not being in class.  I created relationships with students they suddenly considered unacceptable. I got student who didn't trust anybody else to trust me. The whole time I was just trying to help students from 'falling through the cracks.'Some of the nonsensical things that they said were my relationships with mentees/students were undermining the 'systems in place.' During training we were told not to take the role of a disciplinarian and to 'build rapport' however, I was blamed for being too lenient. I don't know why I was tageted for being ostracized my guess is that I was an easy target. First, I had almost no power as a volunteer. I was in a vicarious position because I was a confidant to students who were not conforming to the status quo. When things are going wrong it might be easy to blame someone who is different. I also experienced coldness and rejection from some of the teachers and administration. After the harassment I experienced from my supervisors, I was placed on leave, physically deprived of being at work. The other mentors at site were told not to tell students who came asking for me what happened. They were to say they didn't know and refrain from providing them any means to contact me. A month later I was lfinaly was let go and I thought I would go crazy. All of my hard work, dedication, and initiative as well as the place I had made for myself was being taken a way. It was as if they were trying to make it seem like I had never been there. It caused me to have an identity crisis and to experience major guilt. Recovery has been slow and I think about what happened constantly everyday.

    ostracized child - heartbroken momma - May 25th 2014

    My son, 7y.o., has been ostracized by family, friends and society for years now. Its something we deal with daily. At home, school, in public places, as well as within our circle of friends. I wish society could see how this affects our children. By doing this we are punishing our children as we do extremely violent criminals. We are shaping our future to be criminals. Way to go world.

    ostracism effects - shelly sydney - Apr 12th 2014

    I experienced ostracism for many of my school years from different girl groups. Extreme introversion played a big part. I can relate to feelings of resignation, and loss of self worth. I spoke very little throughout high school. I became very hostile to students in the most popular group to mask hurt feelings from ostracism. On a few occasions when I passed popular students in the hallway and they were walking three or 4 abreast, I refused to back off my path like every other subordinate person in the school would. If they asked me to move I would look them in the eye and say No. This really annoyed them.

    In a class once we went to watch a video. In the row of seats behind me was a group of popular students. One of them a female seated behind me asked me to slide down in my seat as she said she couldn\\\'t see the video due to my head ( I\\\'m 5 foot 2 of small build). I turned around and said no and also said that I\\\'m not tall and my head is not big. I interpreted her request to shift down in my seat as her treating me as inferior to her with less rights. The girl and her friends all muttered about how mean I was and that I did this because I thought I was better than them.  At the time I thought I was standing up for my  rights as a human being and fighting against ostracism against me.

    During progressive dancing for sport, there was a group of boys who ostracised me by refusing to hold my hand. No one else out of 80 students received this treatment. One particular boy made it so obvious that he wasn\\\'t going to hold my hand by holding both his hands up high and waving them around and looking around to get the attention of the popular group. The teach saw this and said that everyone had to hold hands. He motioned to try and hold my hand and i moved my hand away and glared at him. He said to me, teacher said \\

    I like me. - Tamara - Mar 21st 2014

    After years of being included in exclusive events held by the "elite" clique at work, I found myself to be the "persona non grata". Without a word to me the group used passive agressive tacticts to be clear that their door had been slammed in my face. I would see them snearing and glaring at me, their bodies poised with arms crossed, like they were expecting me to make a plea or cry foul. As this wore on, I continued with my life. Weeks went by and still no one in the "elite" club said a word to me. Apparently unable to engage in adult communication skills, they took to the schoolgirl methods. Whenever I was in close proximity to them, I would see hands quickly raise to mouths; and in turn those mouths would be pressed to outstretched and hungry ears. Then, the faces those ears were attached to would feign shocked expressions in reaction to the message contained in dramatically loud whispers. As they all laughed and immersed themselves in their illusion of "elite" superiority, I would be thanking whatever power it was that revealed to me what those people really are. At the onset, I did wonder what happened, but I quickly realized that this group needed a confrontation. They somehow twisted something into an opportunity to proove or show eachother that they had power over me. Somehow they put themselves so high up on a pedestal of "elite-ness", and in considering themselves as so desirable, they expected I would beg to be let back in to be a part of it. I never gave them that. I never asked them, or anyone else for that matter, what it was that prompted my exile. Once upon a time I would have crawled on my knees to be part of the "in" crowd. I used to be caught up in the illusion that if certain people liked me that meant I was OK. But I like me. I think I'm a pretty cool person. I have an open mind, I am empathetic, I love openly, I'm undeniably kooky, and a lot of fun. It took me until I was in my forties, but I no longer worry about, or seek approval from anyone just because they present themselves as entitled to define who I am . I'm very thankful and fortunate that I have people in my life who's opinion of me is very important to me. How they feel is based on who I am. They love me and accept me for who I am. I am confident of that because they have witnessed first hand how I conduct myself in my daily life. That being said, without seeking approval or permission, I follow rules that are governed by beliefs and values that I came to on my own terms. As equally as my beliefs and values are influenced by my interpretation of the experiences that inspired them, I respect and accept that each of us interprets in their own way and makes use of it accordingly.

    Ostracized for not having PTSD - Bill Hall - Feb 21st 2014

    I am a retired soldier. I spent 2 1/2 years in Vietnam as an Airborne Infantryman and Ranger. Time period was June 1967-Feb 1969 and Jan 70-Dec 70. I was 18 years old when my VN tours started. I was wounded in 1968 but recovered in about 6 weeks.

    I do not have PTSD as defined in the DSM. Not even close. The only effect is that if I am preoccupied I will duck at a surprising loud noise. I don't feel like I am disabled and have had no problem staying employed or married. I could only qualify For a PTSD disability if I lied when answering the questions from VA. Most of the guys I served with are getting PTSD related disability payments. I am ostracized from veterans groups in subtle ways because of this. The guys I served with say that I am deluding myself, and that I should apply for disability because PTSD is presumtive in people like me, I reiterate that I do not have a problem, and don't want to lie. I am not popular with these guys.

    A life time - Sean - Feb 9th 2014

    I have been dealing with being osterasized most my whole life. Most notably the last 15 years in my profession. I have left and quit jobs in the order of close to thirty over this time. I now dream almost very night of bing rejected and bullied in the work place. I am now homeless and only have one social contact. I can't keep social relationships because I break them off at the first sign of that I am being manipulated, lied to, or rejected. Suicide has been a constant thought as well as fantasizes of enacting revenge of perpatators from my past. Life is hell for me.

    Ostrasized - - Sep 17th 2013

    I am just entering my twenties and during high school I was kind of socially unaware, but now I realize how catty some people can be. 

    I had a group of friends, we spent forever together and got along and then dynamics started to change a bit (due to romantic things, not dealing with me but between my friends) and it kind of ended up my friends in this weird love-triangle and me out of the loop.

    It started to get more and more reinforced and then I got into an argument with my friend and after that they all didn't want to be around me, even though it was just a silly argument, and I tried to be around them and be nice and thought it would lighten up but they just seemed to get more distant.

    I haven't found another group of friends yet so it's kind of lonely, I talk to them sometimes but it's hard to want to be nice or talk to a group of people when you aren't sure if they really want to be around you.  I've decided to try not to care what they think, and if they want to hang out and it's fun, wonderful, and if they do things to purposefully bug or be mean, then I'll just have to try harder to find other people to be around.

    It does hurt though. 

    Never Good Enough - banned and forgotten - Sep 16th 2013

    Poverty, alcoholic father, broken home was too much for holy church. So, shunned and banned as a teenager, a life-time spent to become good enough to return. College degree, career, oops single woman, not wife/mother. Not good enough. Become teacher, oops world's public school system, not Christ-based education. But have fulfilled preacher's edict of Exodus 20:5. And evil will not continue into future. Ultimate banning of life...

    Lost All of my Friends - Karen - Apr 26th 2013

    I have had the most wonderful group of girlfriends since my late 20's, almost 30 years.  We planned 3 long weekends every year and had the best times.  For 16 of those years, our weekends were spent at my cottage on a lake.  My dearest friend became friendly with my mother after I took her to stay at my mother's beach condo in Florida twice. 

    My mother died Dec. 31 after a 4 year long battle with colon cancer.  I lived with her and was her primary caregiver for the first two years, and when she moved into assisted living, I continued to take care of all of her needs that were not being provided at the home.  My best friend came to me and told me she wanted to buy my mom's car.  She was going to sell her car and take the money she made to pay for some badly needed dental work.  I signed the title over to her with $500 down and she was going to get her car up for sale.  She did not put her car up for sale.  3 1/2 weeks after I had signed the title over to her, she called to say she was going to sell mom's car instead, that it was sold, and that she would deposit the money in the bank the next business day.  It didn't happen. 5 days later, she called to offer 1/2 of the price we had agreed on.  I said no, at that price, my brother or I would come and get the car back and that my brother was saying she could kiss her earnest money goodbye.  I told her I did not want that to happen and said I would help her find a buyer.

    She hung up on me and 36 hours later sent me a facebook message saying I was dead to her and I would never be welcome at girls weekends anymore and that she couldn't believe my threats!  This was 30 days after my mother died, and 3 months ago.  None of my friends will talk to me.  She will not talk to me.  I have sent flowers, cards, e-mails, texts, left phone messages.

    The pain I am feeling is real and devastating.  I have been unable to pull myself out of the hole of depression.  I am sinking deeper and I don't know what to do.  Any suggestions?

    Sorority Ostracism - Diana - Apr 26th 2013

    After nearly two years of being active in a sorority, I developed severe anxiety and depression. I was convinced by the sorority executives to take "medical leave", which they described as "a way to help me heal". They promised I would still be a sister, and that they would help in any way they could. The difference being that I would not be paying dues and would not be required to go to our numerous mandatory events. Very quickly, I began to realize that things were not going to be as great as I'd imagined. I had recently aquired my own single bedroom on campus, which helped me enormously; but no one had offered to help me move, nor had they checked in on me to see how the move was going, which I felt was odd.

    A few weeks later, I discovered that I had been removed from the social facebook page without any warning. I asked my contact within the Executive council what it was all about, and she replied that "THEY" had made the decision that they thought was best, and that since I was no longer an "active" sister, I wouldn't have need to be in contact with the chapter anyway. -I feel like if only they had let me remain on the page, things wouldn't have gotten nearly as bad as they have. 

    Still having had no contact from my sisterhood, other than those frustrating conversations I had with the executive board member, I recieved a facebook message from ANOTHER on the executive board. "Stop talking to new members and stop friending them it's werid and your going to freak them out."

    My little (sorority sister), whom I thought I had a great relationship with, has left my side and favors the decisions of the executive council, to which she was recently added to. My big (sorority sister) has been the only one of all 80-something of my sisters to keep in constant contact.

    Lately I found that my whole sorority "family" including my big, little, and my "grand-littles" had gone out to dinner. They didn't invite me. They claim they assumed I would be asleep, being that it was at 1 AM, but come on, we're all college girls, and we're all up late for our finals this week. This just killed me. And they haven't even appologized, but instead are trying to justify not having invited me, and are trying to tell me that I'm being too sensitive.

    I'm just sick of this. I was depressed to begin with, and now in a way I feel worse. Maybe they thought they were doing me a favor by leaving me alone..? Either way, I've definitely got trust issues going on. I don't know if I can focus on my finals now, and I'll probably have to take my writing class for a third time. Everything feels so hopeless. (I have a counselor and doctor who are taking care of me, so I'm not worried about hurting myself, but this wound is hurting pretty badly all the same.) 

    I wish I could change this so that it never has to happen again to someone who is already sick, but I don't think I have the strength to stand up to them alone... Alone is an ugly, ugly word.

    Ostracized/Bullied "in the dark" - Debbie - Jan 3rd 2013

    3 years ago I had a great group of friends that I traveled with.  I'm actually a big traveler and showed my friends many cool places to go and stay and eat and visit.  They loved it and we had such a great time for so many years.  These were all single friends except for 2 girlfriends who got married in the meantime and, of course, their husbands were accepted and joined in on our fun.  

    Then I met a man who is the "love of my life".  It started to get really serious.  One of the friends who I usually roomed with started to get upset.  She told everyone she hated him and they should hate him too.  She made up lies about him.  She told my daughter he was after my money.  She tried all kinds of tactics to break us up.  It was truly disgusting.  These comments were made behind my back to all of the other friends. 

    Then one day, she decided I should be completely ignored.  She wouldn't speak to me and would not partake in any acitivities with me.  I called and tried to reason with her, asked her what this was all about, sent her some presents now and then to try to get her to calm down.  At many birthday parties, if I was there she would not show up.  Over time it got worse and worse and many friends were caught in the middle.  I could just feel how uncomfortable everyone was and then I started to noticed that my other friends weren't contacting me much.  They chalked it up to their jobs and busy work lives.

    This December there was a "divine intervention".  In the past, I had exposed my friends to all of my favorite Chicago spots.  I had been traveling there and having fun with my daughter since she was 8.  I went to my favorite hotel and ran smack dab into them.  They looked like they wanted to crawl in a hole.  I went to my favorite restaurant and after I was 75% through my meal, they were seated at the table next to me.  Again, they looked like they wanted to crawl in a hole and die....except for the person who started it all...she was very pleased, I think.  What are the chances?  Same hotel with 24 floors and I ran into them.  Same restaurant?  At exactly the same time.  Anyway, I realized I was being "bullied" in the dark.

    This has hurt me so greatly I'm struggling with what to do.  I think I must make a 100% break from the entire group.  It's really hard but I have been working on making new friends.  But I can attest that the pain is right up there with the pain I felt when my dad died and that was 12 years ago.  How can I feel better???

    Stop the bully cycle - - Nov 19th 2012

    My father was a bully.  He was able to do ostracize his children from each other and from their mother.  He was the only one who was allowed to have emotions everyone else had to revolve around him and his needs and feelings.  In school I was heavily ostracized.  I didn't know how to stand up for myself.  I didn't know what boundaries were and allowed people to consistently cross them with me.  I was taught I didn't have the right to stand up for myself.  As an adult I decided to end this for my children.  I have spent a considerable amount of time making sure my children have healthy proper attachment to me and are very secure in themselves.  We talk at length about how they are feeling and I am very honest and open with them about people and what makes them tick.  It seems to have worked.  When somone crosses boundaries with them (puts their hands on them, verbally attacks them) they stand up for themselves.  My son is in middleschool and seems to be handling all the bulllying and horrible verbal abuse that seems so prevelant in middleschool like its nothing.  He mentions it as a minor irritant that he deals with and it ends.  Many of my kids friends seem like they might break under the pressures of school and the emotional relationship conflicts.  My kids are confident yet still sensitive.  Teachers and parents tell me my kids are wonderful and considerate and especially good with their peers.  I think it starts early.  Teaching good boundaries, making sure they know they are loved, allowed to make mistakes and encouraged for the effort before actual results seems to work.

    the picture for this article - - Apr 24th 2012

    Who was the creator of the picture included in this article. Where did you get the photo. please reply to e-mail.

     

     

    Editor's Note: For the past several years, we have purchased all photos used in blogs and articles on the site from www.Fotolia.com. 

    After the event - Angus - Nov 28th 2011

    After suffering the pain of losing a child and then almost losing my wife, I developed PTSD. My behavioural changes were such that almost 4 years on, I am no longer part of the "social network" even though I have had treatment (extremely painful trauma therapy). They see me as a threat to their inner security, they don't want to experience or be associated with the ignamony of being a "sufferer". They enjoy their comfort. I look upon the "social network" with suspicion as they seek to ensure my continued ostracisation by actions which would befit a dog who has bitten a child out of spite. Guess this is my life now, like it or lump it. We don't exist in a caring society, it's whatever I can take it's mine and your not getting a piece of it.

    Family Ostracism - Susan - Nov 7th 2011

    I am the middle of 4 siblings. I am not the oldest, the youngest, or the only daughter. In short, I hold no special place in the family. Now at age 58 I am realizing how true that is. During my lifetime, I left the church which all of my family attends. When my mother died a few years ago, I was not included in any of her funeral plans because I was no longer Catholic. After my mom died, I cared for my dad who was very ill with heart disease and kidney dialysis. I gave up my career as an attorney to care for him and thus made it possible for my siblings to continue working. While I cared for my dad, I had a role to play in the family. However, when he died a few months ago, the ostracism began in earnest. My dad's estate is to be divided up 4 ways. But I have found that my siblings have been lying and deceitful with me as to my dad's estate. They have stolen estate property and given money out of the estate to themselves. When I confronted them that they were violating the rules of the Probate Court, they all stopped speaking to me. It is as though I no longer exist. I am trying to move on by finding ways to be of service to those in need. I am finding that helping others who are in pain is helping to heal the hurt of losing my dad and losing the rest of my family. To anyone out there who is suffering rejection by their family, please know that you do not deserve it and that you are a worthy person. Try reaching out to those in need and maybe it will help you feel better.

    adult patterns of ostracism - - Jun 25th 2011

    it's such an odd thing. i am a private person. but i had a decade long relationship with a man who has a very big personality on the public stage and a great many anxieties and fears in intimate relationships. he emotionally blackmailed me and my children but was very subtle about it.  he seemed to know to separate us when he was being manipulative and i honestly don't know how fully aware he was of how damaging his behaviour was.  i think he was looking at it from the perspective of one who felt left out so he justified every action to himself. it left us hurt and confused because we had welcomed him in, but he turned it on its head and treated us as though we were keeping him at arm's length.  we were not. we had a family history but we had wanted to be family with him. he needed to be the center of attention. it worked beautifully for him in large groups where everyone thought he was bigger than life and fun and generous. but none of these people knew what we were dealing with at home. talking with him went nowhere. he was ignorant of his own motives. i tried patience. he used that time to demonize me. and the rare times i tried to share with a few people i thought were my friends too it was clear they were so enamoured of him they could not conceive of him being anything other than big-hearted. of course, this meant the problem must be me, or my children and i.  it became worse. we are no longer together but i have come to be aware he planted ideas with other people that were about his insecurities and had no basis in fact. now i am finding in the smallish town i live in that it has carried even into circles where he is not directly involved but knows people. he lets the rumor mill flourish on his behalf.  it has been horrible.  i don't know how to deal with it.  i know talking with any of the people who have been cold and shunning me would do no good because it has been my experience that a person who is part of the group doing the shunning can continue to be part of that group only if they keep the shunning in the dark.  a direct question will result in an "i don't know what you are talking about!" response, and some trailer about how i might be a little paranoid.  i have no intention of sharing stories about him because frankly now that i have some distance from that situation looking back on what we went through it was clearly the kind of subtle abuse that i had become numb to. talking about it would most likely get me responses somewhere between, "what is wrong with you that you stuck it out so long!" or "you are fabricating that...i have never seen him act like that!"  the loneliness is truly excrutiating.  it is unfair. and wrong.  knowing now what i did not know then means i will never be in such a relationship again. i know what to look for now.  but it continues to poison my well water.  it makes me sad for the insensitivities and weaknesses inherent to human beings, too. i treasure my true friends. but i will not lie down and die over it.  I am saddened by how people will use the bullying of another they DO NOT KNOW to give them a sense of purpose and bonding.  all because we are social animals? well, they've got the animal part right.

    a very sensitive child - - Mar 20th 2011

    My 13 year old daughter, who is a very sensitive child, has always suffered from bullies who ostracise her - even more than ever now.  She has already suffered from a period of extreem anxiety, which presented as OCD.  She is keen to befriend children but is constantly faced with the covert bullying behaviours of other girls her age. It is heartbreaking, as a parent, to see your only child feel so isolated and rejected by her peers. One prays that she is strong enough to endure it and build a belief in herself by participating in activities which build her confidence.

    a family display - Phyllis - Mar 2nd 2011

    My husband and I talked this morning about how he was bullied and ostracised, and how our 33 yr. old son had to deal with that all his life, even now.

    I thought that early negative experiences made reaching out more difficult as an adult. We know that our son has to deal with this mainly on his own, but our reaching out to those who are different may give him more hope that there are people out there risking themselves - we have to risk ourselves to find them.

    I am hoping that adulthood will be easier as it has been for his parents.

    My Daughter - athena - Feb 22nd 2011

    My 9year old daughter has suffered from this form of bullying on and off for the past three years.  She is very sensitive so is a target.  It is heartbreaking to witness and the bullies' parents and teachers don't seem to be able to turn it around.  I finally decided to get her into a choir where I knew there would probably be a bunch of other sensitive kids her age.  She made a wonderful friend the very first day.  They are like soul mates.  And a classmate that I thought she would get along well with also joined the choir.  She has done a couple of solos i front of the whole school in the face of bullies who say she can't sing.  I just keep reminding her that two very respected music teachers say she is very gifted and has perfect pitch, so don't listen to those snotty kids who don't know what they're talking about!  She has managed to gain some respect and self esteem.  

    I think special interests like sports, music or hobbies can give kids (and adults) a sense of belonging that they may not be able to get anywhere else.   

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