by Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT,
As a species, we are more herdlike than we are hermetic. Both tendencies exist in our society, but we tend to be happier and healthier when we herd as a group together than when we isolate ourselves. In fact, it has been established that even individuals without a history of mental illness are more likely to develop symptoms if they experience too much isolation, loneliness, or withdrawal from social connections.
Not only do isolated individuals become sicker both in body and mind than do connected individuals, but the same applies to couples. Couples can become isolates who are cut off from social engagement outside their tiny, exclusive orbit. These couples, I have found in my practice, become crazier and crazier the longer they isolate themselves. Sometimes one partner is crazier than the other; however, when they become socially isolated as a couple, both descend into madness together. This is known as folie à deux,* or shared...