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Difference Between Isolation and Rehabilitation

Isolation vs rehabilitation

When a person becomes a threat to the society he can therefore be isolated or rehabilitated. This is the same for someone who committed a crime or has been over-indulged in drugs, where the felon needs to be confined to prevent further damage to himself and to other people. So how is isolation different from rehabilitation?

In Psychology, isolation can be regarded as one of the many defense mechanisms experienced by psychologically unhealthy individuals. An example is when this same person is being asked about himself. Later on, he expounds by telling the therapist about the murder incident he participated in. He continues by divulging all information concerning the murder in a graphic manner whilst withholding his emotions. In this regard, he is isolating his emotion so as not to affect his narration of the incident.

However, in the criminal justice system isolation has another meaning. Also known as solitary confinement, isolation is a form of punishment or imprisonment done to offenders of the law so as to prevent him from making contact with other persons, except the staff of the prison facility of course. This can be considered as a form of psychological torture, especially for those who will be confined for years or decades (even for life). If you come to think about this punishment, it is actually offering protection to both the prisoner and the society, as the latter is distanced from the criminal, while the former is also protected from the society who is probably asking for retribution. In the cell, the prisoner is more closely monitored, especially if he has suicidal tendencies.

With regard to rehabilitation, you often hear it when someone insane goes to a mental facility or when a drug addict needs to undergo a rigorous therapy regimen. Rehabilitation is different from isolation because it aims to restore the person’s normal functions. Thus, a drug addict will be brought back to a state similar to before he was using harmful drugs, or at least where he becomes sober. Similarly, mentally challenged individuals will be rehabilitated so that they will be taught some important coping mechanisms and exhibit positive behavioral changes. Rehabilitation assumes that the person being rehabilitated can still become useful to society as a whole and that it handles the subject by engaging him in counseling sessions, group therapy sessions, education programs, skills strengthening, physical activities and many other corrective measures.


1. Isolation is more about punishing an individual, while rehabilitation is more about correcting an individual.
2. Isolation can also refer to a defense mechanism that’s popular in psychology.
3. Rehabilitation has a more programmed approach and is considered a lighter form of punishment when compared to complete isolation.

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