Impact of Social, Forced, and Self-Inflicted Isolation

8 August 2016

The experience of isolation has a profound effect on the psychological health of an individual. The first type of isolation, forced isolation, is the least detrimental because a higher command has ordered the isolation and it cannot be changed. Not fitting into the social landscape or norm, and therefore becoming ostracized leads to social isolation, or the second type of isolation. Lastly, self-inflicted isolation is perhaps the most severe because internal psychological factors contribute to it, making it harder to overcome, and, therefore, the most harmful.

In Golding’s Lord of the Flies, Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Huxley’s Brave New World, each of the types of isolation affects characters in unique ways. The three types of isolation all impede an individual’s growth, but self-inflicted isolation is most detrimental to one’s growth and perception of reality because of its internal rather than external forces. Three characters, each from one of the three novels, display the type of isolation and the devastating effects it can have on social and psychological health.

Impact of Social, Forced, and Self-Inflicted Isolation Essay Example

The court system orders the boisterous character named McMurphy to stay in a government funded mental asylum, thus making his isolation forced. The rules and regulations that the Big Nurse enforces on the ward patients seem to have no effect on McMurphy, whose contagious laughter and jovial mood changes the entire mindset of the men. The other ward patients take notice of the way that McMurphy does not allow the rules to hold him down, and how instead he enjoys and lives his life on his own terms. McMurphy does not let his isolation get to him, as he “is .

. . as loud and full of brass and swagger as ever” (Kesey, 107) therefore proving that forced isolation leads to the least detrimental effects. The forced isolation of McMurphy does eventually lead to the complete loss of mental abilities when the Big Nurse orders a lobotomy, but it does not lead to an altered perception of reality like one Simon experiences. When social isolation occurs, it creates a feeling of ostracization, as exemplified when the other young boys ignore Simon because of his seizures and shyness.

Unlike McMurphy, Simon does not revel his isolation and instead chooses to isolate himself further by wandering into the forest wilderness and away from the rest of the group. Simon’s seizures and shyness lead to the other older boys ignoring him when he does try to talk at their meetings, even though Simon has the most insightful thoughts out of any of them. In addition to being the most insightful, Simon also experiences an altered perception of reality when he imagines “. . . Lord of the Flies was expanding like a balloon.

. . blackness within, a blackness that spread” (Golding,143-144). When Simon walks out of the forest with the body of the dead parachutist, the boys, in a social gathering of their own, immediately kill him. By not joining the other boys in the feast, Simon highlights his social isolation. This eventually leads to his death. All of the rest of the young boys, including Ralph and Piggy take part in the feast. The only boy missing is Simon, further exemplifying to what extent his social isolation reached.

In this fatal feast, which Simon does not partake in, the others brutally murder him, mistaking him for the beast. Simon’s social ostracization and therefore isolation from the other boys eventually leads to his savage murder proving that when Simon is not part of the norm, because of his frequent seizures and inability to articulate his innermost thoughts, he will have an altered perception of reality, in addition to poorer mental health. Although social isolation is detrimental to Simon’s psychological health, the self-inflicted isolation experienced by John leads to the most harmful effects.

The most detrimental of isolations, self-inflicted, leads to irrevocable effects seen in John’s character, whose internal barriers have devastating effects on his mental health. In Brave New World, John cannot be understood by anybody in both of his homes, the Reservation and the World State. He fits into neither and loathes both. Once he finds out the World State does not compare to the wondrous place that he imagined, he chooses to live alone in a lighthouse in the desolate countryside. The lighthouse is located where the “skies above them were silent and deserted.

. . Whole days passed during which he never saw a human being” (Huxley, 243, 245). Alone, John’s self-inflicted punishments only worsen as he “. . . [hit] himself with a whip of knotted cords. His back was . . . streaked with crimson, and from weal to weal ran. . . blood” (Huxley, 247-248). This type of punishment, that John decides to impose upon himself only weakens his mental stability and ability to reason. John decides to take his own life: the last self-inflicted punishment he imposes on himself, and the most drastic stance on the matter.

By committing suicide, John does not die a death that was caused by external factors, but rather a death caused by internal conflicts of his own, which he could ultimately not resolve. By committing suicide, John proves that self-inflicted isolation and internal conflicts can be much more detrimental to psychological stability than external conflicts. Self- inflicted isolation, the most harmful type of isolation, leads to the only death caused of a self-inflicted pain: suicide.

Suicide is the ultimate cry that John can possibly utter. It states complete loss and seems to be a permanent “solution” in order to escape his problems. When John realizes that he does not have a place in the world, he turns to self-inflicted isolation as a way for his release. John soon discovers that his self-inflicted punishment may be what he chooses for himself, but he does not have control over the masses of the World State. Throngs of people flock to see the spectacle and treat him like an animal, or “The Savage.

” This contributes to his final decision of suicide and the feeling of being unwanted. Self-inflicted isolation is the most detrimental to psychological and mental stability and can also lead to an altered perception of reality. Though all types of isolation hamper psychological growth, self-inflicted isolation leads to the most dangerous consequences because its internal barriers are the hardest to overcome. When McMurphy is forcibly isolated, he still overcomes the external barriers present using his personality and will.

Likewise, Simon lessens the effects of his social ostracization by ignoring the other boys completely and the way in which they exclude him. On the other hand, John cannot escape his self-inflicted isolation because no external factors are acting upon him, he himself wanted to live in a remote lighthouse in the countryside and he himself inflicts brutal punishments upon himself. These internal factors influencing his isolation are much more detrimental and harder to overcome than other external factors experienced by McMurphy and Simon.

All three types of isolation lead to a decreased state of psychological health and an altered perception of reality, but self-inflicted isolation has the most detrimental effects. Forced isolation of McMurphy and the social isolation of Simon eventually lead to saddening deaths but perhaps the most shattering is the suicide of John. Self-inflicted isolation creates many internal barriers psychologically, which are much harder to break down than external barriers such as the ones experienced by Simon or McMurphy. When McMurphy goes against the instituted rules of the ward, authoritative figures carry

out his punishment. On the other hand, John was his own authoritative figure and was far more brutal on himself than any other person would have been. He did not let himself forget his transgressions easily and brutally punished himself if he did. This internal conflict within the confines of a mind leads to more insurmountable barriers than an external conflict between two individuals. Though present in many forms, isolation, a detrimental barrier that arises because of many reasons, eventually leads to one common effect: the degradation of psychological health and perception of reality.

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