Silent treatment

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The silent treatment is the refusal of somebody to speak to another person or persons and is often referred to as sulking, it is usually an expression of having hurt feelings or of disapproval of another's actions. It can be used as a form of manipulative punishment, or seen as such.[1]

The term originated from "treatment" through silence, which was fashionable in prisons in the 19th century; in use since the prison reforms of 1835, the silent treatment was used in prisons as an alternative to physical punishment, as it was believed that forbidding prisoners from speaking, calling them by a number rather than their name, and making them cover their faces so they couldn’t see each other would encourage reflection on their crimes.[2]

The silent treatment is known as tampo in Fillipino culture. Similar related concepts are those of sending someone to Coventry, giving someone the cold shoulder, shunning somebody, ostracism, and rejection.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Braiker, Harriet B. (2004). Who's pulling your strings ? How to break the cycle of manipulation. ISBN 0-07-144672-9. OL 282279W. 
  2. ^ staff, The Kolberg Partnership. "London's most notorious prisons". Life In London Magazine. Retrieved 1 August 2016. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Kipling D. Williams Wendelyn J. Shore Jon E. Grahe, the silent treatment: Perceptions of its behaviors and associated feelings – Group Processes Intergroup Relations October 1998 vol. 1 no. 2 117-141
  • Zadro, L., Richardson, R., & Williams, K. D. (2006, January). The antecedents of interpersonal ostracism: Do individual differences predict propensity to be a target or source of the silent treatment? Presented at the 7th annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Palm Springs, CA.
  • Grahe, J. E., Shore, W. J., & Williams, K. D. (1997, May). Perceptions of the behaviors and feelings associated with the “silent treatment.”Presented at the 69th Annual Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago.
  • Faulkner, S, Williams, K., Sherman, B., & Williams, E. (1997, May). The “silent treatment:” Its incidence and impact. Presented at the 69 th Annual Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago.[Summarized in New Scientist, 1998, April, p. 18]