Recovering from severe ostracism can be a challenge because it affects a person on so many different levels. It impairs four basic human needs: belonging, control, self-esteem, and meaningful existence. It dramatically raises anxiety levels and causes depression and hopelessness. Physical pain often accompanies severe ostracism since the part of the brain handling pain management is activated. When prolonged, ostracism causes many people to withdraw from social connections and activities that they previously enjoyed. Ostracized people feel isolated and lonely. They often become less physically and emotionally active.
Meanwhile, the depth and the gravity of ostracism symptoms are usually not understood. There is a tendency to minimize and invalidate the pain of people experiencing ostracism. Occasionally, some ostracized people will act in inappropriate ways to get those excluding them to notice them in any way they can since even negative attention feels better than no attention. In the most extreme cases, ostracism can lead to violence or suicide.
According to Dr. Kipling Williams the process of ostracism includes three initial stages:
We have found from personal experience that there are other vital steps in processing Ostracism to feel better. Not everyone experiences everything the same way. Yet, we encountered a few processes during adjustments to our situations. Here are just a few of them:
Recovery from ostracism requires an approach from many angles. It should address strategies for dealing with stages of the ostracism process and provide a way of re-acquiring the lost fundamental human needs of belonging, self-esteem, control, and meaningful existence. This website contains resources organized by topics that relate directly to ostracism recovery or assist in the reacquisition of a need compromised by ostracism.