How ‘The Silent Treatment’ And Stonewalling Are Abusive.

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Has someone close to you ever ignored you when you tried to have an important discussion or addressed something significant with them? Have you ever been silenced by a toxic person’s silent treatment? You may have experienced what is known as “stonewalling.”

According to researcher Dr. Gottesman, there are “four men of the apocalypse” or four communication styles in a relationship that can predict its inevitable demise. These are criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling.

Stonewalling is when a person withdraws from a conversation or discussion and refuses to address your concerns.

Usually, stonewalling and the silent treatment go hand in hand. After the victim has been stonewalled, the other person is treated to a form of silence that is deafening. Yet the silent treatment can also occur without warning or stonewalling as well.

“In relationships, stonewalling is the emotional equivalent to cutting off someone’s oxygen.  The emotional detachment inherent to stonewalling is a form of abandonment and the effect that it has on a spouse is dramatic.

The initial feelings of terror – which are usually below the water line of awareness – are typically followed by secondary feelings of anger and, then, aggressive efforts to get some emotional reaction – any emotional reaction – even a negative one.  And when these efforts fail, the internal response for your spouse is predictable.  He doesn’t care.  He doesn’t love me.  He’s left me.” – Jeffrey J. Pipe, Psy.D, Stonewalling vs. Empathy

The silent treatment and stonewalling can have actual effects on the brain. Research indicates that such behaviours are a form of ostracism which activates the anterior cingulate cortex, the same part of the brain that detects physical pain.

The silent treatment and stonewalling can have actual effects on the brain. Research indicates that such behaviours are a form of ostracism which activates the anterior cingulate cortex, the same part of the brain that detects physical pain.

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