chapter  1
14 Pages

Introduction

ByTom Mason, Caroline Carlisle, Caroline Watkins, Elizabeth Whitehead

By and large people are social animals, with only a few life-long exceptions of hermit existences. Although most people do enjoy their own social space, time alone and moments of peace, quiet and solitude, there is a strong inherent drive for the company of others. This instinctual urge may be a primitive artefact when pre-historic human groups herded together for safety and protection, or it may be a socio-psychological coupling that is rooted in the drive for procreation. Whatever its heritage, the idea of belonging to a particular social group of our choice is deep-seated indeed. When denied that company, either through forced solitary confinement, exile or banishment, it is often considered a cruel and unkind act of punishment. Consider the testimony of those who were politically exiled, such as Alexander Solzhenitsyn, or those forced into solitary confinement, such as the Beirut hostages, or those transported to foreign lands as punishments for criminal acts, and bear witness to the pain and torment of their troubled emotions on being excluded. It is almost as if the overwhelming need to feel socially included has, as its binary opposition, its most potent punitive counterpart, that of social exclusion.