Detached Personality And Freedom

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People with detached personality are highly sensitive to any type of coercion, perceived or real. Their obstinate refusal to go along with this coercion can’t exactly be called rebelliousness since rebels are typically concerned with overthrowing the existing structure of things. Those who are emotionally detached just want nothing to do with the existing structure of things, they wish to be left in peace.

This sensitivity to coercion is why they stay away from groups of all kinds, why they prefer jobs where they aren’t required to work closely with colleagues and where there is little oversight, why they’re unlikely to have many intimate relationships. What does this strategy accomplish from the psychological point of view? If we think of the masochistic solution as letting oneself be put into bondage in the symbolic or literal sense and the sadistic solution as seeking out others to put into bondage in the symbolic or literal sense, we can think of the detached solution as escaping bondage altogether, eliminating existential anxiety through running away from all forms of connection and the supposed coercion these connections entail.

Emotional detachment is usually rationalized as simply the desire for freedom. But the freedom those with detached personality have in mind is conceptualized in the negative sense, it’s freedom from not freedom for anything. They don’t seek out this freedom for the purposes of growth, out of the desire for authentic love or creative work, but rather to avoid being beholden to anything or anyone.

These people were hurt earlier in life, usually by abusive primary caregivers. The route they took to find relief from this pain was to just stop caring about connecting. For them intimate relationships did and still do represent great danger because it wasn’t love and safety they felt in the most important intimate relationship of all, the primary relationship, but rather the feeling of helplessness in a hostile world.

Resisting any type of coercion, avoiding groups, keeping people at a distance, all of these behaviors are fail safe plans designed to keep from getting hurt again. This is because people who are emotionally detached aren’t incapable of feeling, behind the walls they usually have rich emotional lives, emotional lives they feel safe expressing by themselves through art, music, movies, nature, etc. It’s just that they steadfastly refuse to share their emotional lives with anybody else. Sharing emotions led to such bad consequences in the past, in a time where they were coerced to do so, when they didn’t think they had a say in the matter. They do have a say now, and sadly they decide it’s much better to stay disengaged than it is to risk any relationship that could become coercive, where they could once again be forced to suffer through the pain of emotional abuse.