Mary Ann O'Grady & Lonny Douglas Meinecke
Journal of Societal and Cultural Research, Volume 1, Issue 1, March 2015, Pages 1-25
Publication year: 2015


What is silence? Is there a psychology of silence—and what does the literature reveal? The exploration of the concept of silence in the psychological literature reveals an almost biological entity—that speaks, grows, hurts, and conceals—despite being nothing at all. Humans are a verbal species, so verbal in fact that the very absence of sound seems to make humans uncomfortable. This verbal world—so dependent on manifest explanation—may make silence one of the most effective means of communication (even though it appears to communicate nothing). This research paper will explore the psychological literature, and show that silence speaks though it says nothing, grows though it has no substance, hurts though it can touch nothing, and conceals though it cannot hide from perception. Though it consists of nothing in particular, it generates psychological phenomena such as pressure, anxiety, suspicion, isolation, rejection, inner conflict, ambiguity, and agitation. Despite its lack of sound or meaning, the language of silence is spoken by all—and once silence is here, its missing explanation is too absent to ignore.