“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” Stephen Covey
Are people cruel or are they possibly just frightened? It’s been theorized by many that people who are often viewed as “cold” or “heartless” might actually be protecting themselves from getting hurt emotionally. Though there are no official studies conducted to prove this theory, this trait is often prevalent in people with Pistanthrophobia – the fear of trusting someone. Being “cold” and/or “heartless” is often an emotional defense mechanism.
Philosopher James Kroeger suggests that it’s humanity’s instinct to act coldly to others, as a way of coping with the feeling of being inferior to them. In his report (last edited in June 2013), Kroeger discusses why people are cruel and how fear is prevalent in playground bullies. He states that a bully’s main concern is that they will not receive their peers’ approval, and so inflict pain and provoke fear in others to combat this worry.
Pistanthrophobia tends to be developed when people have repeatedly experienced betrayal. When people trust, they have confided a part of themselves to someone. When betrayal takes place, that person is left to experience grief, frustration, and loneliness. These feelings result in emotional pain. By being cold or heartless, people can avoid the risk of betrayal, and therefore the risk of emotional pain.
To further eliminate the risk of betrayal, Pistanthrophobics often build emotional walls through isolation. However, people are not supposed to be isolated. The human psyche needs to have social interaction with others, as without it depressive tendencies can settle in, and these tendencies can further impose upon them the reputation for being cold and heartless. Perhaps then, self-imposed isolation, from fearing to be hurt could be the cause of unsociable behaviour.
The majority of people I know act in a harsh manner to keep people away in order to preserve their feelings. It works, in the sense they are never betrayed by anyone, however emotional pain arises because of the lack of social activities. Could the pain of lacking social activities be more tolerable than having someone betray your trust, even if it is less healthy as a lifestyle?
Have you ever pushed people away when afraid of being hurt? Do you ever wonder if someone might be “cold” and “heartless” to you because they are afraid?