In the words of Erich Fromm, an internationally renowned social psychologist, "By alienation is meant a mode of experience in which the person experiences himself as an alien. He has become, one might say, estranged from himself. The alienated person is out of touch with himself as he is out of touch with any other person".
Yet, there is so much more to alienation than the physical removal of one's person from a situation, a unit, or society as a whole. One can be physically present and still alienated. Through shallow communication, no communication at all, a lack of fellow feeling or concern, or an obvious disdain for those involved, such displays are tantamount to alienation.
Therefore, the state of alienation embodies not only the physical aspect of one's being, it also involves one's psyche, one's mental and emotional state, as well as one's overall sense of self-worth or the consideration of the feelings of others involved.
Realistically, we've all been guilty of it. Often used as a defense mechanism, young and old alike have alienated themselves for one reason or another. Due to innate shyness, lack of acceptance from their peers, failed relationships, unique personality traits, or disillusionment from society as a whole, children and adults have all resorted to this "survival technique" of sorts, from one time or another.
However, for those who find their way out from under this affliction, it is relatively with ease that they assimilate themselves back into society, their family unit, or whatever situation they alienated themselves from the very beginning. Unfortunately for others, this assimilation is not so easily achieved.
For some, mental and emotional factors may prevent them from achieving this. Yet for others, disillusionment from internal or external factors may stagnate their desire to even make an attempt. In these extreme cases of alienation, not only does one alienate themselves from others, others (through a lack of understanding or know-how in handling such a delicate situation) tend to alienate themselves as well.
To those whom it really matters, such alienation wreaks much havoc on marriages, friendships, and intimate acquaintances. Relationships suffer, jobs suffer, a person's entire lifestyle is effected. Sadly, once the alienation begins, it can be extremely hard to turn back the hands of time.
Ironically, with all the advancements made in communication technology via cell phones, Blackberrys, e-mail, instant messaging, and the Internet, never before have we seen such a surge in alienation. Thereby, proving that one can have all the tools for communication and human interaction readily available, and still not use them to the full.
In conclusion, whether alienation occurs due to psychological or emotional break down, or to inside or outside influences, it's a painful experience that not only effects the estranged person himself, it stands to reason that it effects others as well. Easy to be a victim of, yet hard (for many) to overcome, it's a condition that has a profound effect on us one and all.