Reduction in levels of sensitivity is the primary protection against personal pain, suffering and humiliation. In addition to protection from external threats it can also be extended by people to protect themselves from inner experiences and impulses, including sexual feelings, joy, sadness, anger, pain and neediness. Skill in insensitivity towards personal pain can be extended to include the pain of others. This permits a further destructive development into active infliction of pain on others, whether by word or deed, omission or commission. The borderline between passive numbing and active cruelty is poorly defined and easily crossed.
Emotions are repressed as soon as possible in children's education. These repressed emotions try to carry their message through physical symptoms at the level of the body, as they are not accepted in their original dynamic. Emotions are after all only trying to deliver their message. Emotions are pointing at frustrated or satisfied needs. In shutting oneself off from the message, it is no wonder that we gradually loose track of our own needs. In this system, unconsciousness and repression are lifted to the level of social values. They hold the guarantee of a shaky balance full of frustrations. The image we show to others has more value than our inner state of experience. Health and happiness are surrendered to the more acceptable dis-ease and deviancy.