The isolation of the individual within a social conext removes the difinition of the self through affirming interaction with others. This may be imposed when society or its representatives, for instance a pier group, seeks to limit the behavior of that individual. The individual may be vilified with supposedly "objective" critisism. The individual will be objectified through a process of ridicule and thus come to be seen as other, as different, as not worthy of consideration in the same way that we are, not one of us. This effectively excludes the individual from group activity. The group will seek to spread its view of the individual, usually through dominant members who gain the most status from the existance of the group and thus have the greatest vestid interest in the maintainance of the group, something that may be accompished through its definition by the exclusion of individuals. This also serves as a warning to others perhaps tempted to wayward behaviour.

Subdifuse may be actively used to undermine the individual. Pains will be taken to conceal the true nature of the groups behaviour towards the individual, especially if the groups activity may be judged morally by some powerful individuals outside the immediate peer group but who are not marginalised. If the behaviour of the individual is not legally sanctioned or may easily be classified as mental instability then this will be used as a powerful weapon against the individual, also allowing the group to act against the individual in an almost completly open manner. Isolation of the individual may then more easily be extended. Extension of the isolation inflicted may include its inducement in other peer groups, perhaps moving from work to friends or to different groups of friends.

The progressive isolation inflicted on the individual undermines the selfestime and confidence of the individual. The aim is to make the individual ineffetive. Since we all to a greater or lesser extent rely on feedback from others for self-definition this will to some degree be successful. Attempts to argue againest the group's behaviour may be labelled rebellion or agressiveness, in an attempt to dismiss them and maintain the isolation. As the individual becomes more entwined in the trap it becomes more difficult to maintain a level head. Loss of a calm compossure may then be further evidence of the individuals mental state, allowing further marginalisation and vilification. This will instill a sense of powerlessness that if not recognised and confronted will grow to such a degree as to threaten the sense of self. It is the ultimate dissolution of the sense of self that is the aim of the exercise. Once achieved this would make the individual impotent, unable to effect change in their life. Without a strong sense of self who can achieve anything? The trap of marginalisation is thus a potent one.

What is the motivation to marginalise? A deep seated fear of the unknown perhaps. A fear of a self-motivated individual, with a view on the world not derived from authority in its traditional forms. "Where does she get her energy from and where is she taking it?". A fear of what is not understood. A fear that social structures may alter and those who gain now may not gain so well in the future, at least comparatively. A fear of moving from what is known to what is not known. Such a fear drives so selfishly as to warrant the virtual destruction of another.

Matthew W. Martin
November, 1995.

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