There exists a class of human beings whose consciousness is pervaded by a profound sense that they are in some sense aliens in this world. They feel that they “do not belong here.” They don't “fit.” Their experience is similar to the culture shock that people feel who find themselves suddenly totally immersed in a foreign culture whose language they have not fully mastered, and whose mores and motivations are in large part incomprehensible. But the people whom I am talking about never become acclimated to their surroundings. They are in a permanent state of culture shock even in the society into which they are born. These people are “psychosocial aliens.” The hyphenated term suggests that the phenomenon of which I am speaking is neither within the person nor within the society. It is between them – in their relationship. It has to do with how they fit together, or to be more precise, how they don't fit together. The psych-social alien feels that s/he is fundamentally at odds with his or her social group – in its entirety. An unbridgeable chasm has opened between themselves and most other people in their culture with regard to how they experience reality, what they most value, their goals, what they hope for, their images of the good life, and how they understand themselves in relation to their world.
Psychosocial aliens may seek out alternative social groups, but often they find they don't belong in any group they are able to find. Some never experience a social situation in which they truly feel “at home.” Others may find find small groups with which they deeply resonate. Because these groups are usually composed of other psychosocial aliens, they are frequently under attack from the mainstream and are often short lived. The biographies of psychosocial aliens are therefore often punctuated with Camelot moments – situations in which they briefly experience what it might be like to belong to a world that makes sense to them. In such fleeing “wisps of glory,” they experience a reality that resonates with their deepest longings.
Language is a social phenomenon. It emerges out of the dominant paradigms of the society. It reflects the world-views of the majority and ultimately serves the purposes of the most powerful groups in the society. Reality is filtered through the language of the mainstream. For this reason it is difficult for psycho-social aliens to find words to name their their experiences. The language for much of their experience simply does not exist. When they do find ways to bring their experience into language typically it is difficult for those in the mainstream to hear and understand what the psychosocial aliens are saying. The chasm between psychosocial aliens and the mainstream groups in society is, in other words, at least to some extent, a language gap.