How Being Ostracized Affects the Brain
Another word for being ostracized is being bullied.
“Being excluded or ostracized is an invisible form of bullying that doesn’t leave bruises, and therefore we often underestimate its impact,” said Kipling D. Williams, a professor of psychological sciences. “Being excluded by high school friends, office colleagues, or even spouses or family members can be excruciating.”
“When a person is ostracized, the brain’s dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, which registers physical pain, also feels this social injury,” Williams said.
Williams divides the process of ostracism into three stages:
- Being ignored or excluded
- Coping with this exclusion
- Resignation to being excluded
Being excluded is extremely painful because it threatens our fundamental human need for the feeling of belonging, the core of our self esteem.
“Again and again research has found that strong, harmful reactions are possible even when ostracized by a stranger or for a short amount of time,” said Williams.
K. D. Williams, S. A. Nida. Ostracism: Consequences and Coping. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 2011; 20 (2): 71 DOI: 10.1177/0963721411402480
Purdue University (2011, June 6). Pain of ostracism can be deep, long-lasting. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 9, 2011, from http://www.sciencedaily.com¬ /releases/2011/05/110510151216.htm