The Silent Treatment

One of the most damaging types of psychological aggression

Janice Tovey
2 min readOct 24


Photo by Amy Tran on Unsplash

The silent treatment is often used as a form of punishment from people harboring narcissistic traits. The silent treatment can feel like a sentence equal to or worse than death.

The silent treatment can be viewed as a form of gaslighting. This lack of communication can be used to punish, control or “communicate” displeasure. It can also be used as a way to deflect guilt and responsibility.

The silent treatment has a sadistic hue. Often, when people are asked why they are giving someone the silent treatment the response is “they deserved to be punished.”

Psychologists concur that as time passes, the silent treatment can turn into severe emotional abuse. Research has shown that those on the receiving end feel personally threatened, with growing unease about safety, sense of belonging, self-esteem, and a meaningful life.

Why do they do it?

Often the individual lacks communication skills. The silent treatment is one of the most unproductive methods of interacting in a relationship. Sometimes the silent treatment can be employed as a way to self-protect, but most often is a form of emotional abuse.

Photo by Andraz Lazic on Unsplash

The silent treatment:

  • one of the cruelest ways to treat another person
  • is a form of emotional and psychological abuse
  • can make the receiver feel like they are going crazy
  • is a form of control
  • is considered one of the most damaging forms of psychological aggression
  • mimics emotional homicide
  • can be a sign of lack of maturity, narcissism, and insecurity
  • denies the reality of the receiver
  • can be used to make a person feel guilty

How to respond:

  • acknowledge that the other person is engaging in the silent treatment
  • use “I” statements, and let the other person know how you feel when you…



Janice Tovey

My passion is writing. I also love reading, teaching, animals, nature, music, and humor. I am curious about everything and enjoy writing about all things.