Learning to Recognize Types of Alienation

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There are different types of alienation that can occur within your lifetime that can lead you to feeling stressed, depressed, and ultimately lonely. The effects of alienation can take a toll on your mental health and have unexpected physiological effects, such as weight gain, insomnia, and depression, among other symptoms. It is important to be able to recognize different types of alienation, so as to identify how you can make changes to improve your quality of life.

Workplace Alienation

Workplace alienation is a concept initially explored by intellectual Karl Marx. He called this type of alienation “Entfremdung”, meaning ‘estrangement’ in German. He believed that due to the nature of some people’s jobs based on their social class, modern workers experienced ‘Entfremdung’. This can be seen with factory type positions, where workers are estranged from the products they make. Another type of workplace alienation is from co-workers and employers, if an individual does not conform to the workplace standards or social scene in an expected manner.


Familial Alienation

Alienation from one’s family can be emotionally painful and confusing. Children sometimes attempt to deal with a divorce by parental alienation, creating more parental friction on how to raise a child who has alienated themselves from the main caretaker(s) in their life. Children caught in a divorce or abusive situations can also be manipulated by family members to pursue estrangement from a particular family member based on ulterior motives. Individuals can be alienated from their family if they go outside the family values or do something that is considered unforgiveable by those close to them.

Social Alienation

Social alienation is quite common, and is the aftereffect of bullying. Social alienation mainly stems from an individual who is considered “different” than the group, and either due to misunderstanding or callousness, the group will reject the individual. This is usually done by people who are ignorant to truly understanding the character of the individual, although sometimes social alienation can be brought about by friends.

Sometimes, in a mixture of social and self alienation, an individual can feel lost in society and unable to feel like they truly belong. Some might feel powerless to any making any true social change or feel isolated from the social norms of the society that they live in.

Self Alienation

Self alienation is an internal struggle. Oftentimes, after a traumatic event, an individual can wonder who they are as a person and what their purpose is in life. Soldiers with PTSD or who have seen horrific acts of war may estrange themselves from participation in such acts, and attempt to push that part of them to the back of their minds. Alienation from oneself is particularly prevalent with teenagers, as they go through puberty and create their own identity separate from their parents.

Alienation in all forms can be debilitating and decrease an individual’s participation within a society, affecting their overall happiness. While some types of alienation are unavoidable or brought on unexpectedly, self alienation is the type that is most within your control. Reversing the effects of self alienation – through different types of therapy, positive thinking, and hard work – can bring out the confidence to deal with other less changeable types of alienation.