Saturday, August 25, 2012



I think of how I relate to the people around me and realize I’ve alienated so many.

Alienation refers to estrangement, division, or distancing of people from each other, or of people from what is important or meaningful to them, or of a person from their own sense of self. The concept has many discipline-specific uses, and can refer both to a personal psychological state (subjectively) and to a type of social relationship (objectively).

In sociology, the concept has been summed up as 'the distancing of people from experiencing a crystallized totality both in the social world and in the self' (Kalekin-Fishman, 1998: 6). It was first the writings of Karl Marx in the 19th century and later the works of particularly Melvin Seeman that popularized the concept in sociology, along with Emile Durkheim's anomie.

Alienation is most often represented in literature as the psychological isolation of an individual from society or community. In a volume of Bloom's Literary Themes, Shakespeare's Hamlet is described as the 'supreme literary portrait' of alienation, while noting that some may argue for Achilles in the Iliad. In addition, Bartleby, the Scrivener is introduced as a perfect example because so many senses of alienation are present. Other literary works described as dealing with the theme of alienation are: The Bell Jar, Black Boy, Brave New World, The Catcher in the Rye, The Chosen, Dubliners, Fahrenheit 451, Invisible Man, Mrs. Dalloway, Notes from Underground, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, The Stranger and The Myth of Sisyphus, The Trial, Waiting for Godot, The Waste Land, and Young Goodman Brown. Contemporary British works noted for their perspective on alienation include The Child in Time, London Fields, Trainspotting, and Regeneration (Senekal).

Anyone I’ve ever known must understand and adapt to this condition.

Attachment relationships in adults can also involve feelings of alienation. Indeed, emotional alienation is said to be a common way of life for many, whether it is experienced as overwhelming, or is not admitted to in the midst of a socioeconomic race, or contributes to seemingly unrelated problems.

I’ve always thought this was a psychological issue rather than a social issue.

Self-estrangement is an elusive concept in sociology, as recognized by Seeman, although he included it as an aspect in his model of alienation. Some, with Marx, consider self-estrangement to be the end result and thus the heart of social alienation. Self-estrangement can be defined as “the psychological state of denying one’s own interests – of seeking out extrinsically satisfying, rather than intrinsically satisfying, activities...”(Kalekin-Fishman). It could be characterized as a feeling of having become a stranger to oneself, or to some parts of oneself, or alternatively as a problem of self-knowledge, or authenticity.

Since I like being around other people and behave myself with social manners, I figured it wasn’t me after all.

Quarantine is compulsory isolation, typically to contain the spread of something considered dangerous, often but not always disease. The word comes from the Italian (seventeenth century Venetian) quarantena.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you worry too much.