Silent Treatment The silent treatment is a form of emotional abuse typically employed by people with narcissistic tendencies. It is designed to (1) place the abuser in a position of control; (2) silence the target’s attempts at assertion; (3) avoid conflict resolution/personal responsibility/compromise; or (4) punish the target for a perceived ego slight. The result of the silent treatment is exactly what the person with narcissism wishes to create: a reaction from the target and a sense of control.
The target will work diligently to respond to the deafening silence. He or she may frequently reach out to the narcissistic person via email, phone, or text and is ignored. The narcissist communicates extreme disapproval to the degree that the silence renders the target so insignificant that he or she becomes nonexistent in the eyes of the narcissistic person. It is a particularly cruel form of emotional abuseEmotional Abuse is an attempt to control, in just the same way that physical abuse is. Research has shown that the act of ignoring or excluding a person activates the same area of the brain that is activated by physical pain. The silent treatment, even if it’s brief, activates the anterior cingulate cortex, the part of the brain that detects physical pain.