Comforting As A Treatment For Thwarted Belongingness


Comforting isn’t mentioned very much.  But it has powerful effects on people.

There is even a theory of comfort which has been used with people at the end of life.  Interestingly, people contemplating suicide are at a self defined end of life, so I wonder if the theory would work here?

What I’m not sure about is how people determine what is comforting when they perceive that they don’t, won’t, or can’t belong where they wish.

For me, it is about someone else’s deliberate and voluntary – as opposed to accidental and incidental- presence. It includes touching – a pat on the arm or shoulder or reaching out and holding my hand. It is sustained touch – not an air kiss and a phony hug.  It is action and not words.  It is especially not a phony, “is there anything I can do?” question which puts all of the support responsibility on me.  Of course, I always declined because that is the intended and correct response to that question.

But that comfort is totally out of reach for me.  I only imagine what is comforting, because I’ve never received it in my lifetime.  No one voluntarily interacts with me on any basis – except a slumlord who is harassing me in an to force me to move so he doesn’t have to make repairs to this falling apart attic oven.  No phone calls except robo appointment reminders.  No personal mail or email.  No face to face meetings.

What happens when a person presents at an emergency room for help with suicidality?  First, he is placed in a locked environment no different than a prison. Usually an untrained worker is assigned to continually observe, but not interact with, the distressed person. A variety of people – a social worker, a nurse, a physician or physician’s assistant, and students all may ask a battery of questions and become annoyed, angry and retaliatory when the distressed person can’t answer to their satisfaction.  At no point does the person receive comforting, reassurance or care.  Confinement, intense and intrusive scrutiny and the probability of being forcibly medicated, restrained and contained while being denied civil rights, basic humanity, respect and worth are what the distressed person faces. That’s the state of the art treatment for suicidal people.

Not only does this not help to de-escalate suicidality, it reinforces isolation, of being deemed the defective and unwanted “other”, and it intensifies despair.  It is cruel punishment, and it is not right.

What’s comforting when one is experiencing thwarted belongingness?  I can only imagine.

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3 thoughts on “Comforting As A Treatment For Thwarted Belongingness

  1. You’re making *me* want to call you.. and I hate phones and rarely talk about much besides sewing. But if you’d like a lecture on corset construction.. or my confusion as to the technical differences between gussets and gores…
    Is the correct answer to “Is there anything I can do?” really “nothing”? Or is there just no good way for the person being asked to express what they need? There was a thread on PatternReview fairly recently about how to help somebody who is grieving.. and one of the main things that was said was to come up with specific things to do rather than just asking if there’s anything, because the person won’t know what to ask for or how.

    I like the pictures you put in your posts.

  2. I’ve been on both sides of this — I’ve wanted to reach out to someone but didn’t want to be pushy, or intrusive. When I’ve asked “Is there anything I can do?” — I really wanted an answer in the affirmative.

    I’ve been the one who’s wanted help and been too proud to reach out and ask for it.

    Heck if I know the answer!

    I like your blog, aeg, and enjoy your comments elsewhere, too. Consider that a “hug”

  3. This is a very intelligent blog, and I am not pleased for you, but thrilled to find someone who can articulate the situations encountered. In itself it is a reason for being – what is written is a necessary outlet , conversation and information source that displays great maturity and sense… I dont know why you have ended up tasked with this essential blog, but you have, and you are doing it well so really you are a total success in my eyes !! It takes a soul of integrity to disagree with the majority or rationalise the resulting feelings…. I can only say it is a shame for the human race that some one like you is not setting policy for the future human, and people like you and the other readers of this blog need to keep going as you represent the finest example of how people can be, and not the base behaviour currently being encouraged and followed by people with amazing potential who are brainwashed due to their need for safety, which is what is causing this dissonance. In a fear based culture people become cruel and insecure. You are someone who has risen above this mentally and are a bit trapped by the surrounding structure perhaps (I dont know).. It may look like others lives all rosey, but actually they are in a world of pain as their expectations are false and their brains are dampened – how disappointing for anyone with a free thinking open mind who also requires affection and space to be. I know this is a flippant end but I would def recommend a pet, pref a cat – as they know the emotional score and are down with cuddles galore. x I imagine if you stick with yourself you will emerge 10 times more empowered than the average person who stays on the trap that is the wheel of fortune. nil desperandum.

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