Sunday, August 31, 2014
Heatlh & rejection
Social rejection has a large impact on a person’s health. An unsatisfied need to belong would inevitably lead to problems in behaviour as well as mental and physical health. Numerous studies have found that being socially rejected leads to an increase in levels of anxiety. Additionally, the level of depression a person feels as well as the amount they care about their social relationships is directly proportional to the level of rejection they perceive. Rejection has an impact on the emotional health and well being of a person as well. Overall, experiments show that those who have been rejected will suffer from more negative emotions and have less positive emotions than those who have been accepted or those who were in neutral or control conditions.
In addition to the emotional response to rejection, there is a large effect on physical health as well. Having poor relationships and being more frequently rejected is predictive of mortality. Also, as long as a decade after the marriage ends, divorced women have higher rates of illness than their non-married or currently married counterparts. In the case of a family estrangement, a core part of the mother’s identity may be betrayed by the rejection of an adult child. The chance for reconciliation, however slight, results in an inability to attain closure. The resulting emotional state and societal stigma from the estrangement may negatively impact psychological and physical health of the parent through end of life.
The immune system tends to take a very impactful hit when a person experiences social rejection. This can cause severe problems for those with diseases such as HIV. One study investigated the differences in the disease progression of HIV positive gay men who were sensitive to rejection compared to those who were not considered rejection sensitive. The study, which took place over nine years, indicated significantly faster rate of low T helper cells, therefore leading to an earlier AIDS diagnosis. Interestingly, they also found that those patients who were more sensitive to rejection died from the disease an average of 2 years earlier than their non-rejection sensitive counterparts.
Other aspects of health are also affected by rejection. Both systolic and diastolic blood pressure increase upon imagining a rejection scenario. Those who are socially rejected have an increased likelihood of suffering from tuberculosis, as well as dying by suicide. Rejection and isolation were found to impact levels of pain following an operation as well as other physical forms of pain. Rejection and exclusion cause physical pain because that pain is a warning sign to help us survive. As we developed into social creatures, social interactions and relationships became necessary to our survival, and the physical pain systems already exsited within our bodies.