It is natural for human beings to dislike the notion of being separated from someone they care about, or feel connected to in some way. The idea of no longer having significant contact, particularly physical contact, with someone that has become a “part of our life,” as some might say, often results in some unpleasant emotional reactions.
This negative emotional response prompts us to attempt to avoid such thoughts and possibilities whenever we can, as a means of preventing or escaping the associated discomfort. However, for some people, the idea of losing someone they care about takes on the form of a near-constant obsession. This condition, known as separation anxiety, is a complex psychological matter.
People who have separation anxiety still feel the usual dislike and discomfort when considering the potential loss. There is still a general sense of sorrow and bereavement when the possibility is brought up, and it is still considered to be a negative event. However, separation anxiety has patients virtually obsessing over that distinct and unpleasant facet of life.
The condition is characterized by behavior that may or may not be considered odd by the untrained observer. It often includes constant worry and anxiety over the possibility of losing an important person, typically a mother or father figure. Some argue that separation anxiety is a sign of excessive dependence on the physical presence of an individual, as a means of reassuring the patient of their own stability. Emotional distress during a period of separation is the most common sign, with a sudden lifting of the patient’s mood once the object of their focus is once again nearby. Another common sign is the patient showing more physical cues that are similar to withdrawal from narcotics or alcohol whenever the target is not present.
People suffering from separation anxiety have a tendency to turn inwards when separated, letting the disorder have an adverse effect on their emotional condition. Cases have been reported where patients exhibit sudden signs of partial social withdrawal, or a sudden drop in one’s ability to interact socially during the separation period. In some instances, it may also have a physical effect, with movements being sluggish and the body having languid, lifeless movements. It is not only during periods of separation that symptoms are exhibited, however. According to recent findings, separation anxiety also manifests itself as an inability to sleep without the presence of the target person or object.
A patient that has separation anxiety is often also diagnosed with various other disorders, such as ADHD and bipolar disorder. Bipolar personalities have been shown to have a statistically high number of patients who also have separation anxiety, with the shifts between manic and depressive behavior being linked to the presence of a certain figure or object.
In rare cases, dissociative identity disorder also stems from separation anxiety. This occurs when the brain gradually develops alternate personalities that are more capable of handling the separation than the actual persona. This is a rare instance, however, as DID sufferers generally develop the second personality to adapt to a specific childhood trauma, such as sexual abuse.
According to some unconfirmed reports, there is a small percentage of stalkers who have separation anxiety. Supposedly, this occurs because the obsession with keeping the person close by has started to form a compulsion to prevent any form of prolonged separation. In essence, the person has become obsessed with staying close to an individual whenever possible, and has taken measures to minimize, if not outright eliminate, the chances of the two being disconnected.