“Solitary Confinement”


It’s strange how those without acne will never really understand the extent to which acne patients suffer. I spoke about elements of this suffering in prior posts entitled, “Control Issues”, “The Agony of Defeat”, and “Do You Feel Unclean”

The reason they will never understand is because many other common ailments of the body do not come with the same type of embarrassment, self loathing, and shame. Think about it, what other condition makes you uncomfortable to show your face to the world for years at a time?
It’s the location, the stigma, the discomfort, and the persistence of acne that make it a more emotionally damaging situation.

In this post, I’d like to address the emotional effects of Social Isolation. Completely isolating oneself from family and friends can be one of the most damaging scenarios for the human psyche. It conflicts with all that is in our human nature to express ourselves and to connect with others. The impact is far more traumatic than people realize.

My hope is that by breaking down and studying these common emotional reactions, future sufferers will be able to observe more, and react less.

Let’s start with a classic example of the power of social isolation:

When dealing with inmates in a maximum security prison, guards and prison operators have difficulty disciplining lifetime prisoners who have nothing to lose and zero fear. Verbal threats are useless, they can’t withhold food, and they can’t use any force that would be considered inhumane. When dealing with fearless inmates, they really only have one main weapon that actually instills real fear in the toughest of souls. They call it, “solitary confinement”, and it has been used in prisons for centuries. The psychological effects of being locked by yourself with only your own thoughts day after day is so unbelievably painful that an otherwise fearless inmate often will do whatever it takes to never go back.

For those reading this who do not yet understand the impact acne has on our culture, imagine this situation for a moment:

It starts when, lets say Tammy, skips a big party with all her friends because she has a big inflamed bump on her face and it makes her feel uncomfortable and unable to act like herself. This initial trauma is not soon forgotten. If she is unlucky, more come and she finds herself skipping all kinds of social events, confining herself in her room while life is buzzing all around her. These days, the computer helps with the loneliness, and Tammy finds herself reading how to eat perfectly and fight her ailment online. Unfortunately, the quick tips and tricks she reads do not bring satisfaction and Tammy begins the downward psychological spiral of social isolation. Her friends are being pushed away and her personality is completely inhibited by either an obsession to be cured or by apathy and resignation. This pain not only keeps her from achieving her dreams, it also deeply traumatizes her in ways that may not shake off so easily, even when her skin problem is fixed.

Just like in the prison, solitary confinement can destroy the mind of an acne sufferer at any age, regardless of the severity. Imagine how many people today are still living in fear of expressing themselves, fear of reasonable food, and fear of being seen by anyone they know. In bigger cases, even completely uncomfortable being seen by strangers in any location.

Imagine how many people are being needlessly traumatized by this condition as we speak. Now imagine the impact that hoards of people being traumatized does to our culture as a whole. I used to say in the videos, “Needless suffering hurts us all”. What I meant by that was with so many people suffering and isolating themselves, the entire culture and community is brought down by apathy, pessimism, depression, cynicism, and fear. When someone creates something new or great, those who are depressed can not see what is possible for themselves or for others. The inability to see possibility certainly hurts us all. How will we improve upon anything from this perspective?

I’d like to say something to our global community as an unrefuted proven reality. I’d like to say it loud and clear in an effort to stop the type of suffering that I call “needless”.

“If you are suffering from an ailment that has been fixed in thousands of other people, know that you are needlessly suffering at this time. The only thing that can keep you from finding relief is the mistaken idea that your case is special. Once you think your case is the magical exception, the pursuit of victory is immediately cut short. It won’t be easy to drag yourself out of the hole, but know that if many others have done it, you can do it too. This reality is irrefutable and has been proven countless times for all types of ailments.”

As I say in the practice all the time…, “I’m sorry, but your treatable case will not get to be special”

I hope this post brings further awareness to the real dangers of social isolation. Please share it will those who don’t yet understand the impact this condition is having on our global community.

be well,
-Dr. Neal

©2011 “Solitary Confinement” by Dr. Neal Schwartz

One Response to ““Solitary Confinement””

  1. Lim patrick Says:

    Thanks for your work, and your understanding it’s really relieving to see that some part of humaity understand and care about acne suffering.

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