Home Ask Dr. Kathleen® What is shunning?

What is shunning?

by Dr. Kathleen Hall

Lia, Shunning is an ancient practice that is still used today in many cultures, and humans have an innate fear of it. When a member of any group disagrees with the norms or the values of the family, the family may expel that person from the group. The Amish and other religions use this practice to maintain control of the group.

In the animal kingdom, shunning can mean certain death. When an animal becomes disabled in the wild, the herd will shun the animal, and the immune system of the shunned animal immediately changes.

The animal risks death in isolation. The animal may die, because in a state of isolation it loses the protection of the herd or it may fall to predators in its weakened state. Research tells us that when humans are isolated or shunned by a group, our immune system starts to shut down.

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