Can heartbreak turn someone into a sociopath

All bridges broken - when people refuse any contact

All bridges broken - when people refuse any contact

Conversation is no longer possible, neither by email, telephone, and certainly not in person: When people close to you break off contact, it is sometimes even more difficult to digest than when someone has died. Why is that? Affected people and experts tell.

Calls, emails and letters are no longer answered. Chance encounters are choked off with a few cool sentences or an icy silence. Sometimes people end up suddenly and without explanation from those who are closest to them.

Parents, siblings or partners are left powerless and feel rejected. She has seldom experienced "such a bewilderment as with people who were suddenly left without explanation by someone close to them," writes journalist Tina Soliman, who deals with the phenomenon of broken contacts in documentaries and books.

In most cases, when someone radically separates himself from his surroundings, the ground is pulled away from under the feet of those left behind. «Lots of question marks, worries, tears, burning heartache. Our mother in particular suffers and I believe that her health problems are also related to it, ”reports the fifty-year-old controller Elke * about the consequences of her brother's loss of contact.

No goodbye possible

"My parents had to gnaw at it all their lives, even though my father was so angry with him that he disinherited him," is how the 53-year-old social worker Peter * sums up his brother's disappearance. This had left his wife and child.

Such a farewell is particularly stressful because it is difficult to make peace with the separation if the reasons are unclear. Peter says:

"If someone dies, I can go to the cemetery and somehow manage to say goodbye."

Paradoxically, if you lose contact, it is often more difficult to end the relationship and to calm down.

The American psychologist Pauline Boss developed the term "ambiguous loss" with regard to missing persons and other people whose whereabouts are unclear. This includes those situations in which the separation of lost people cannot be mourned because a residue of ambiguity and hope remains.

Often there was a history

"What the abandoned demand is plausibility, the meaning behind the behavior that is inexplicable to them," writes Tina Soliman. When pondering the sharp separation, it often turns out that there was a history. Inept remarks, taunts, omissions or rejections can have a more violent effect than the person concerned wants and can show. In retrospect, it can be seen that something had built up and warning signals might not have been heard.

"A contact is usually broken off due to an emergency situation," says the Bernese psychoanalyst and author Katharina Ley.

"Because one is so offended, so hurt, one thinks: 'Breaking off contact brings me calm!"

In the best case scenario, this is how the relationship problem can be suppressed, says Ley, but it is not a solution. "The basic problem remains, because nothing is ended by the radio silence, and both dropouts and abandoners remain internally occupied with each other," writes Tina Soliman.

The situation of those affected subjectively perceived as distressed usually does not match the perception of the abandoned relatives. After Elke's family had never received an explanation and also took care of the missing brother's unpaid bills, they only received comments about third parties. "We were amazed to find out that he feels like a victim," says Elke of the brother, who has always been inclined to blame others for his fate.

Bonding experiences from childhood are formative

Whether someone tends to break off a relationship abruptly or, on the contrary, to hold on to it at almost any price, largely depends on how attachment experiences were experienced in childhood, says Katharina Ley.

"Often, unconsciously, you repeat something that you have experienced - when it cannot be reflected on."

If there are no words in a family to resolve conflicts or to separate properly, this speechlessness can repeatedly lead to a silent break for generations. Tina Soliman is convinced that radio silence appears again and again as a “solvent” in families in which it has been practiced before.

If there is a break in contact, it is always unfortunate for those who are leaving, says Katharina Ley, because they cut off part of their roots.

"It's like erasing something on the blackboard with a sponge."

Sometimes such a radical step seems to be the only way to get out of an oppressive situation.

She broke radically with her family

Eva *, born in the mid-1960s, grew up with her grandparents for the first few years. When the parents were able to take her in, a season of suffering began for a irascible, flogging father and a mother who did not protect her children, but even made sure that they and not herself got the man's anger off. "I was broken through this upbringing," says Eva today.

«I spent my whole childhood totally frightened. I hardly talked - really, I was nothing. "

She had no feeling for what it was like to have parents. Father and mother have remained strangers to her for life.

During her training, she managed to build a life of her own. "It was a long time that I thought I would get something from them, that is, affection, love, a certain amount of recognition," she says. But after the parents saw their self-furnished apartment and their new hairstyle and the father had just yelled around the whole day, she decided: "I won't do that to myself anymore!"

Since that day more than twenty years ago, Eva had practically no contact with her parents; she only stayed in touch with her grandmother and brother. She radically broke with the family, which was never a real family for her, and even had her last name changed. On the advice of a therapist, she formulated her reasons for the termination in a letter addressed to her parents, which she actually sent at some point, but which went unanswered. As a result, the parents wrongly saw their whole life questioned, she learned later.

Sometimes it's better to say goodbye

A rapprochement is nevertheless possible in many cases. It works particularly well among siblings who no longer have contact, says Katharina Ley. «You don't have to get hurt again, or be annoyed again, but at some point there is a longing: 'That's actually my sister, that's actually my brother!' I have seen many times how it gets going again . "

Many abandoned people, for their own sake, must have at least tried to get in touch again, for example with a letter, says Ley. If that doesn't work, it's better to say goodbye. "Otherwise you just torture yourself - and if it doesn't get an echo, you have to be kind to yourself!"

Elke has found her own ritual to deal with the loss of her brother. Every year, on his birthday, she sends him an email with a report on what has happened in the family over the past year. After great exertion, she realized that all she had left was to accept his decision.

* Name changed by the editor