More threads by Mark Shaw

Mark Shaw

Lately over the past two months i have been very aware of a disconnection between myself and everybody else. I do not feel part of anyone else physically or emotionally and feel alone because of it. I struggle to feel 'normal' on any given day, always feeling that something is not right in my life.
I have had a very introverted affectionless past and know some of the reasons why my feelings are aparent, and believe me when i say i have felt a lot worse. The difference is that in the past feelings of insecurity, paranoia, depression, pointlessness were at the forefront of my mind. But since i have slowly managed to understand and eradicate them, my outlook has changed to the feelings mentioned above.
I have never felt connected to the people in this world physically or emotionally or mentally and wonder if i ever will. I also wonder if other people have and do, and if so what is it like.
Maybe i can look for signs along my journey.

Daniel E.
I have never felt connected to the people in this world physically or emotionally or mentally and wonder if i ever will.

In one sense, that seems to be what many existentialists or lonely introverts would say. It can also be due to the sense of withdrawal that seems inherent in depression or social anxiety. For example, when I was a senior in high school with depression, I told my therapist that I felt like an IBM computer in a world of Macs. There's also behavioral aspects to consider. If you aren't engaging in social activities like dating and seeing friends outside of work, it would be normal to feel lonely and disconnected.


The Unhealthy Case of the Lonely Loner

The content introverts' camp closely borders the land of the socially anxious. Matsuoka, for example, says she was "pathologically shy" as a child, which likely laid the groundwork for her current lifestyle, even though she grew much more confident in her 20s. Those who remain "enforced loners" long to spend time with people, but shyness and anxiety inhibit them from doing so. "Introverts are people who like to be alone," says Paula Montgomery, an accountant from St. Louis. "I prefer to be around other people, but because of my shyness, it's difficult for me to join groups and make friends."

Such loners have several stress-inducing strikes against them: They may get butterflies whenever they have to face in-person encounters, and they are subject to outside pressure to be sociable. When major life problems crop up, loners are also less likely to seek out social support.

John Cacioppo, a psychologist at the University of Chicago, has highlighted social isolation as a health-risk factor on par with obesity and smoking. "Loneliness is like hunger and thirst—a signal to help your genes survive," Cacioppo says. "When you're lonely, there's a stress response in your body, and it's not healthy to sustain that for a long time."

Psychology Today: Field Guide to the Loner: The Real Insiders

(On the other hand, your statement sounds very extreme since you are using the word "never," which brings to mind autism-like disorders. I would assume that in childhood, you felt a strong emotional bond to your parents?)
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I just wanted to say how much I can relate. Slowly, through therapy, I am starting to warm to others and life more. I grew up around social isolation and marginalisation, so I know how hard it can be.

Mark Shaw

I agree that we could be talking about dissociation here, and see a lot of similarities.
A lot of the time during conversations i do pull away because i do not know what to do, for example: how to cope with the emotion that might accompany a really honest statement from me. I feel like i want to say certain things to people but as i prepare to do so i sort of am overcome by doubts from within about not feeling worthy enough.

I also struggle to feel clear emotions in relation to other people specifically whilst at college where i am a lot closer to people than in other environments.

In relation to one of the comments above i was not emotionally connected or close to my parents in any way during childhood. I was shown no affection or appreciation and never felt welcome or settled at home.

I want to change and appreciate all the comments from you guys.


I can somewhat understand the feelings you describe Mark.

You ask about feelings of connectedness through. I don't really know if this is connectedness but i think i feel other's emotions strongly. I think this is more like self-consciousness and being highly aware of other's reactions etc to me and to each other. I think i lack empathy at the same time however.

I feel alone much of the time and like you describe feel unworthy of communicating with others.

I did not experience the kind of childhood you describe however and really hope that you can find the signs that you are looking for.

Daniel E.
I want to change...

Even if you have seen a therapist before about this issue, the most effective way to get started would be to see a therapist. Even with relatively mild shyness, habitual patterns of interacting with others can be hard to change on one's own. Since you state you have a history of depression and insecurity, going to therapy could also help with whatever residual negative thinking you may be having.

In relation to one of the comments above i was not emotionally connected or close to my parents in any way during childhood. I was shown no affection or appreciation and never felt welcome or settled at home.

In relation to that, though maybe to a lesser degree:

Parents often unintentionally play a significant role in perpetuating the stereotypes of what it is to be male (and what it is to be female). Many fathers model the Boy Code that they themselves learned as children from their own fathers, a style which typically does not engage the child's feelings. In contrast, mothers tend to calm and comfort their sons, to "fix" the problem as quickly as possible when their sons are distressed (which again can inadvertently send the message to boys that feelings are "bad", something to be avoided). However, perhaps because young boys tend to be more intense or aggressive in the way they express emotions, it has been observed that mothers tend to hold back and respond less expressively than they would with their daughters.

By the time boys become teenagers, most of them have become so adept at repressing and masking their more tender feelings that they often no longer have a vocabulary to identify or describe these feelings even to themselves.

...Kindlon & Thompson, in Raising Cain, say that ". . . boys typically avoid discussing their feelings with anybody. They struggle alone, often with tragic consequences. . . just as Superman retreats into his Fortress of Silence." As these boys grow into men, their wives and girlfriends complain that, "He never talks about his feelings. I never know what he's thinking. He doesn't share anything with me."

...It is the Boy Code to which boys are socialized that "pathologizes" boys and men. As Pollack says, the intent is not to strip boys of their masculinity but to "give boys back the other half of being human that we've taken away from them".

Growing Up Male - Raising Sons:

...In terms of the supposed lack of emotion in men a more plausible explanation is the number and extent of social experiences men encounter from childhood that inhibit emotional expression. It has been pointed out that men and women live in different worlds when it comes to emotional expression. From early childhood most boys are exposed to fewer emotion-oriented conversations and are not encouraged to express emotions verbally. Yet, for example, the expression of rage if personal possessions or status is threatened, is seen not only as typically male, but in some situations encouraged and admired. The point is that men appear to experience exactly the same emotions as women but their expression is often and typically very different.

A well known psychologist, James Pennebaker, has demonstrated that emotional expressions can benefit health by the simple device of keeping a diary. The diary provides a outlet for emotional expression and not only appears to have a positive emotional effect but improves immune function as well. In fact written emotional expression has been researched in terms of benefits to physical health, physiological functioning and daily living activities; in each case with positive findings. Could the simple act of keeping a diary be a useful compromise for men and bridge the gap between their inability to transmit, receive and manage emotional messages?

Men & Emotional Expression -
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Hey Mark! Belated Happy Xmas (and to the rest of you). I haven't been at the forum for ages but dropped by and saw your post and can relate to such a lot of it. I keep promising myself I am going to sort myself out but then I'll have a good day and think 'Oh, it's gonna be alright.' Then I go down again so it never is. I too feel totally different to other people, I forget whereabouts I posted now but I did post something similar and everyone was so helpful. It's so good to know you're not alone and I wish you well.

By the way, you're not the singer Mark Shaw are you? He's one of my favourites! He was in Then Jerico in the 80's!

Manic x

Mark Shaw

Hi Guys,
Once again thanks for all the replies.

Daniel i can understand where you are coming from in relation to what you are saying and from the quotes you have included. I have seen a therapist for 18 months and only stopped going 2 months ago, i felt that i simply had to walk into situations where i felt uncomfortable and get used to them. We both agreed that if i did this i would advance positively. And i have.

As a student of Counselling skills and theory i am familiar with the work of Bowlby, Winnicot, Laing, Rogers etc and have studied my past and present very deeply over the last two years, and as i stated above have developed endlessly. Whilst at college i have the space to express how i feel emotionally, spiritually and physically, which i take anvantage of, and am gaining confidence in. But there are still some areas that i am uncomfortable about expressing to the group and am aware that i have to work on this.

I believe that a lot of my issues are around owning my emotions, being aware of my real decisions/identity etc, and am about to do some gestalt awareness exercises to try and make this area clearer to me.

Once again thanks for everything guys

P.S I am not the pop star from the 80's
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