Psychosocial integration refers to the deep interconnectedness between the individual and their social world which grows and develops throughout the lifespan. Bruce Alexander writes that a lack of this type of integration leads to ‘dislocation’, an experience that is painful for the person and destructive for society. Psychosocial integration is experience as a person’s place within society and their identity; it is also experienced as connection with nature and the divine. Another way of talking about psychosocial integration is in terms like ‘community’, ‘belonging’, ‘wholeness’ and ‘culture’.
‘Dislocation’ is not primarily about geographical dislocation, but is more accurately understood as psychological and social separation from one’s society. It can also go by the terms ‘alienation’ and ‘disconnection’. Dislocation can be endured for short periods, but prolonged dislocation leads to despair, shame and anguish. This leads to self-destructive actions like suicide and addiction. This is why exile and ostracism is viewed as the most feared throughout history.
Poverty can be endured more lightly if psychosocial integration exists while material wealth, in the absence of integration, leaves people degraded. Hence, dislocation is a kind of ‘poverty of the spirit’. Dislocation can occur in many ways: A natural disaster, a culture the looses its traditions, when a child is abused or perhaps even when children are under-cared for. The globalising free-market economy creates dislocation because it curtails psychosocial integration for its members.