The psychology behind going silent. Why do people give Silent Treatment?

Silent treatment tells more about the person giving it than the one receiving it. Why do people give Silent Treatment?


Has there been a moment where you have gone completely silent, for a period of time, for known or unknown reasons? At that moment, you choose to ghost your closest friend, partner, family, or any other person in your life by simply ignoring them or giving them the silent treatment. Has there been any time when you have gone silent, and are just not able to process your thoughts and emotions for why are you giving a silent treatment? Well, this raises a fair enough question, why do people give silent treatment?

“Most people who start giving the silent treatment never intend for it to go on for as long as it does, but it can be very difficult to stop,” Kipling Williams, a psychology professor to The Atlantic. And while the silent treatment does have someone on the receiving end, it tells us more about the person giving it, than that of the one receiving it. It can have the perpetrator anxious, withdrawn, depressed, and absorbed in thoughts as it is simple psychology that one can’t ignore someone, and if they choose to do, they try to give themselves all the reasons for why they are doing it and keeps reminding themselves the same on loop.

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Why do people give Silent Treatment?

1. In a desire to seek attention, be manipulative and controlling

Going silent is like erasing yourself from another person’s environment, but doing it deliberately. It can be in an effort to seek attention, to identify your space in another person’s life. generally, people, to find their space in another person’s life do this. Otherwise, it can also be a way of being manipulative and controlling. Especially, after events like when you have had an argument, if you are choosing to go silent, it can be a way to manipulate and melt the other person. It is certainly a way of being controlling and imposing authority.

2. To inflict pain

There are reasons for physical pain, but for emotional sufferings and pain, you need to dig into the reason. A person might give silent treatment to inflict emotional pain. It can be in an effort to make you feel bad about the things you may or may not be guilty of. And in fact, it is a way to inflict pain on oneself as well. People often try to control themselves from talking to people they are conditioned no to talk to. And they inflict pain on themselves by doing so.

3. Feeling unimportant

People who give silent treatment often do it because they feel that they are not important, that even if they go missing, there won’t be anything that will get changed from the lives of the people around them. And to validate this fact, they give the silent treatment.

4. For not being able to find  the right way to communicate

There can be times when people go silent when they don’t find the right way to express themselves. Knowing that they are bad at explaining things and emotions, they choose silence as the best way. But with that, they bottle up their thoughts and emotions, which is just not right for their mental wellbeing.

5. Afraid of losing their temper

Some people know their traits, and which are of the form of being on the extremes. Either they go silent, or they lose their temper. And obviously, they don’t want themselves to lose their temper or be violent. Hence, they chose to go silent. But such a way can be really harmful to a person’s mental health.

Hence, these are the plausible reasons why a person can give silent treatment. While the first two might make the person giving the silent treatment, cruel, the last three are sings that tell about the perpetrator’s emotional state of mind. So, as mentioned earlier, Silent treatment tells more about the person giving it than the one receiving it.

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Ishika Aggarwal

Can write, shoot, listen, talk and procrastinate. A feminist at heart, Ishika is an avid writer and multimedia person who loves talking about women, realism, and society. When not working she is either seen watching films or making one.
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