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The habit of avoiding contact with others
In time of the Coronavirus, to what extent was necessary to avoid contact with others? Here is an example taken from “The Power of Targeted Choices”:
“… Catherine had taken care not to let her gentle, friendly nature emerge, adhering to the pattern her family had imposed upon her. Their criticism, always lurking within them, had made her insecure, which led her to be wary of anyone who offered her any form of contact. She saw others as enemies, she viewed the world around her as threatening, and she felt the need to protect herself; defending herself had become a habit which she could no longer live without. Her defensive tension, even in muscular terms, had over time become permanent–it felt almost a necessity…”
(The Power of Targeted Choices, Luis Pisoni and Aurora Mazzoldi).
An emotional closure
Catherine, living in her family, had got a habit of avoiding contact with people. Do we feel sympathy for her? Doesn’t that remind us of another non-contact system, because of coronavirus? People on the street often walk around the long way; someone looks at us with reproach if we have the mask down. And if one feels sick, will somebody be willing to help him, or will they bypass him as a potential source of infection?
“But the danger is real: others can infect me!”
It’s true. We should avoid physical contact during virus time. Even Catherine had to defend herself from an environment that despised and criticized those who got too close. She, too, had to consider the hostile environment. But things change. She now lives in another environment and, soon, we can also turn to our usual relationships; will we then get rid of a lockdown that is no longer required? Or will we maintain the habit of avoiding contact with others, keeping an emotional closure, perhaps without even noticing?
Selective or permanent closure?
It happened to Catherine that “Her defensive tension, even in muscular terms, had over time become permanent—it felt almost a necessity. Nor did she resort to selective closure, limited to certain people or situations.”
It is easy to get into a habit, and we must observe to notice it, but is it so important to notice it? What happens if we neglect it because we are absent-minded or too caught up in problems? “The Power of Targeted Choices” answers this question: “All of us have automatic closures, and”—referring to those who do not realize it—“some of these can affect our daily lives and contribute to the reinforcing of limiting fears.”
What is the consequence of that?
“In the emotional world, closure can prevent us from getting closer to people with whom we would like to stay in touch. Even when everything is leading us toward another person, this protection mechanism can prevail…”
Evil choices are often unconscious. Like Catherine, we do not realize that we are making them, but we must, even though, suffer the consequences.
Lockdown and Emotional Closure—a psychologist’s opinion
We recognize that physical lockdown has given us the great opportunity to see in practice how closing works. We had to lock ourselves in our homes to avoid virus transmission, and there was a deep change in our relationship to others because they were potential carriers of viruses.
In the frenzy of closing, we shut down even to ourselves. The result was a strange detachment towards one’s own emotions and those of others. In this period, the mask leaves our eyes unprotected, and those often avoid contact with the eyes of others; as if a simple eye contact could cause who knows what problem.
We closed the contact with our inner world and the consequence was that avalanche of emotional malaise that, some more, some less, we perceived in the phase 2.
Of course, emotional closure is not an exclusive of COVID-19 is a physiological habit of life.
And why people shut down emotionally?
In virus’s case, we are concerned with our health, and this leads to a proper state of alertness, but when we come to a deep emotional closure for others, what is the cause?
The cause is in the emotional world and in the incorrect management of our emotions.