Do I Have Loneliness Psychosis?

Dr. Pamela Everett Thompson Psy.D

Loneliness psychosis is a phrase coined by a friend of mine, Dr. Patricia Earley, and is not, by the way, a real psychiatric diagnosis. My friends and I came to use the expression to explain the puzzling behavior of attractive, smart, capable, friendly and likeable women who enter into and maintain relationship with men who dishonor, demean, discourage, drain, deplete, or destroy them. These men may include the unemployed, the addicted, the abusive, the mean-spirited, the adulterer, or the disinterested in anything beyond self who obviously add NOTHING to the woman’s life. In fact, they do NOTHING but take, YET she stays. WHY?

If you’re like most women, you’ve probably had a time or two in your life when you failed to speak up for yourself, and you routinely surrendered to others’ misbehavior, impositions, inconsiderate behavior, ideas, and opinions that significantly impacted YOUR life. Everybody plays the fool a time or two. Take a number and get in line.

It is likely that after yet another powerless encounter with your man who just won’t do right, you later felt anger that oddly was not directed so much at the person who hurt, disappointed or overpowered you but at someone much closer—Yourself! You become the target of your own anger when you realize you have succumbed once again to choices that do not align with your heart’s desire or choices that may be outright destructive in terms of prolonging poor quality relationships, derailing a dream, or draining your finances. After a while, the bad choices themselves become addictive. Even worse, you may attempt to take the edge off of your frustrations with habits of excessive eating, shopping, partying, sex, or drinking among many other indulgences that bring only temporary relief but create a host of additional problems. Self-betrayal always comes at a price.

You may have gained some awareness over the years of your customary pattern to please others at the expense of honoring and nurturing yourself, but still you wonder, “How did this happen to me again?” Moments of frustration and anger about this repeated pattern can turn into a lifestyle of being treated as the convenient doormat for others, and you unwittingly begin to volunteer for the job without a second thought.

Though it may seem hopeless, you actually can say good-bye to passive behavior and reclaim your rightful voice. For starters, minimize the factors in your life that tempt passivity, poor choices, and the resulting loneliness. One of those factors is limitation in choices concerning the overall quality of your life-- employment opportunities, companions, financial options, hobbies that make you laugh and stimulate your mind and passions, skill development, and connection with trusted friends and advisers. The more options you have to exercise, the less trapped you feel in a certain set of circumstances or in certain relationships. Creating or increasing options begins with a self-assessment of your talents and skills, strengths, and weaknesses with brutal honesty. You may want to ask trusted friends or co-workers to help you identify your strengths, or you may begin to listen carefully to those aspects about yourself that people seem to notice or compliment. Once identifying your most positive qualities, maximize them through educational advancement, vocational training, mentors, and hobbies that encourage routine and purposeful connection to others and a sense of competency. The more interesting your life appears to others, the more valuable your input will be considered, which in turn enhances confidence in your thoughts and opinions and attracts healthy others. Here’s a helpful tip: Anyone in your circle not willing to participate in respecting, supporting, or celebrating your desire to expand your horizons is not a healthy match for you. As former Essence Magazine editor Susan Taylor stated in her book In the Spirit, “Everyone does not deserve to have a front row seat in your life.”

Dr. Pamela Thompson is an Atlanta-based clinical psychologist and life coach. Her therapy was instrumental in helping me to overcome a traumatic relationship, and I wholeheartedly endorse her services. Hear more from Dr. Thompson at and

Dionne M. Benjamin, President, Cookies in the Jar, Inc.℠