Exploring the Humanity Behind the Zeigarnik Effect

The willingness to heed what’s unfinished

Rev. Sheri Heller, LCSW, RSW
ILLUMINATION-Curated
7 min readMay 19, 2024

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Photo by Giulia May on Unsplash

Although psychologists, Columbia’s Adam Mastroianni and Harvard’s Daniel Gilbert proclaim that the pervasive consensus of moral decline is an illusion, recently in peer supervision I and a group of other trauma informed psychotherapists found ourselves discussing the decline of old school values of sensible decorum. Indeed, our exchanging of personal stories of everyday occurrences in which cold indifference and disconnectedness have become more prevalent than ever before, reinforces our perspective that trends of incivility and moral decline are real.

Sometimes the disheartening interactions we mull over occur within therapy sessions. Other times they happen out in the world.

Specifically, within sessions we are witnessing ghosting, interpersonal avoidance, hostility, rudeness and outrage cropping up with greater frequency. Often clients compartmentalize and even ignore regrets. People are nullified and vilified without any sort of clarifying discourse. Using the wrong pronoun, erecting a boundary, having a differing opinion or even exercising outmoded chivalry such as a male opening a door for a female, can be cause for attack.

That cyber culture, characterized by volatile, aggressive bickering has become a…

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Rev. Sheri Heller, LCSW, RSW
ILLUMINATION-Curated

Complex trauma clinician and writer. Survivor turned thriver, with a love for world travel, the arts and nature. I think outside the box. Sheritherapist.com