Meanings of Alienation

By | August 10, 2020

Alienation, which comes from the Latin language (alienatÄ­o), is the act and result of alienating. This verb, for its part, refers to alienate, remove or split.

The concept appears in various sciences. At a general level, alienation can be said to consist of the loss of something that is proper or that constitutes the essence. As a result, the alienated subject acts differently than is expected or anticipated.

Alienation can occur when a person or a group changes their consciousness until it becomes contradictory to what is expected due to their condition. A worker who votes for a political party that promotes the free market, adjustment and cut of state services can be considered a victim of alienation: by the action of the media or by some other mechanism, it is a individual who votes against the interests of his class.

For Marxism, in capitalist society workers suffer an alienation since they do not consider themselves as human beings, but rather as a labor force that is represented through what it costs in money. People, in this way, become usable according to their role in capitalism.

According to psychology, alienation is a state of mind that is characterized by the absence of the perception of one’s own identity or by a distance from reality. Someone under the influence of a narcotic may be alienated.

Alienation, in this context, involves the loss of that feeling that some call self-referentiality or self-consciousness, since identity can be understood as the faculty that living beings have to consider ourselves as individuals separate from the reality that surrounds us, entities independent of that we appreciate through the senses. When this feeling is affected, we stop acting normally.

It is worth mentioning that psychoanalysis does not always relate alienation to a pathology of the mind; so much so that it contemplates the occurrence of this phenomenon in apparently healthy people or without a history of mental disorders.

According to psychoanalysis, almost all people can go through moments of mental alienation if we are subjected to extreme conditions. We must not confuse this state with that experienced in psychosis: while in this the patient experiences delirium instead of the reality that he would normally perceive, during alienation he replaces it with someone else’s speech.

Mental alienation is a disease that can be acquired or congenital, occur in a circumstantial or habitual way. In addition to the characteristics exposed in the previous paragraphs, we can say that it usually presents the following four symptoms, which may appear to a greater or lesser extent, depending on the case:

* inability to understand reality, both concretely and abstractly. By ceasing to perceive oneself as a being with its own identity, the rest of the elements of the world also become blurred and it becomes impossible to treat them adequately;

* inability to judge one’s actions or those of others from a moral point of view, that is, to distinguish between right and wrong, legal and illegal;

* great difficulty in adapting to the normal rules of coexistence, both within the family group, at work or on public roads;

* inability to assume responsibilities and maintain them over time. This can be seen in various areas of a legal and administrative nature, since the subject cannot get and keep a job or respect the conditions of an educational center, but also does not enjoy certain rights and government aid.