The Importance of Community to Health


People Who Need People
Avoiding Isolation and Loneliness

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the ADD/EFD Comorbids Series – part 1 of 3

Human beings are social creatures. We are social not just in the trivial sense that we like company, and not just in the obvious sense that we each depend on others. We are social in a more elemental way: simply to exist as a normal human being requires interaction with other people. ~ Atul Gawande

Problems before Solutions

As early as 350 B.C, Aristotle described a human being as “by nature a social animal.” For most of the time since, that idea has been considered little more than “anecdotal evidence” by most of the scientific community, since there were few double-blind, placebo controlled, replicated and journal published studies to “verify” the observation according to the rules of the scientific method.

Until verified, according to the science field, no idea has been “proven,” so may or may not, in fact, be true.

Related Post: Science Confirms What we have Always Known – again

The Wikipedia article on the Scientific Method informs us that the Oxford English Dictionary defines it as “a method or procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses.” [4] 

Related Post: Science and Sensibility – the illusion of proof

Meanwhile, the fields of sales and marketing, psychology & counseling, self-help (and relatively recently, even the science field itself), have taken a serious look at Aristotle’s observation, proposing theories and “proofs” in their attempts to explain why something so obvious might really be so – and how we can use it to our advantage, individually and as a species.

As scientists explore the workings of bodily functions at the nerve and cellular level, they are confirming that loneliness – the absence of social connection – is linked to a wide array of bodily ailments in addition to the mental conditions typically thought to be associated.

Easy to see with Extroverts

According to the Myers Briggs Type Indicator [MBTI], based on psychology but considered to be in the self-help field, the energy flow of the gregarious extrovert is directed outward, toward other people.  The MBTI goes on to propose that an extrovert’s energy flow is recharged through interaction with others.

It is said that extroverts generally express great happiness in the company of other people, and are at risk of falling victim to depression should they spend long periods of time without the company of a circle of friends.

But what about Introverts?

Supposedly, while extroverts get their energy from spending time with people, introverts recharge and get their energy from spending time alone.

However, even the majority of people who consider themselves introverts would find it difficult to impossible to navigate life totally alone.

“It’s a mistake to think that most humans prefer the solitary life that so much of modern life imposes on us. We are most comfortable when we’re connected, sharing strong emotions and stories . . . “
~ Nick Morgan for Forbes.

Jeff Kay, Modern Renaissance Man / Quora Top Writer 2015/16, has come up with a wonderful way of explaining it:

“. . . introverts are not an exception, just a variation on the theme. We function just like any other human in society.  The more extreme cases might be seen as the odd duck at times, but they are still just as social as anyone else, just with a different set of rules.”

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 Isolation’s Link with Depression

Social withdrawal is one of the most common signs of depression – which, in turn, fans the flame in ways that increase social isolation, as hopelessness and thoughts of despair worsen over time. Worse still, isolation puts us at much greater risk of suicidal thoughts and urges that become increasingly difficult to overcome.

Stephen Ilardi, PhD., associate professor of psychology at the University of Kansas and author of The Depression Cure, asserts that “When we’re clinically depressed, there’s a very strong urge to pull away from others and to shut down [which] turns out to be the exact opposite of what we need.”

Ilardi further asserts that, “When people are clinically depressed, they will typically spend a lot of time and energy rehearsing negative thoughts, often for long stretches of time.” 

Depressed or not, ADD/EFD readers of ADDandSoMuchMORE.com will recognize that comment as a fairly accurate description of what we refer to as rumination. Rumination can lead to interpreting even neutral events in a negative fashion.

Mark Goulston, MD, psychiatrist and author of Get Out of Your Own Way, says “When you’re in your own mind, you’re in enemy territory. You leave yourself open to [‘What’s the use?’] thoughts, and the danger is believing them.” 

Rumination tends to exacerbate hopelessness and despair, hastening the slide into depression and intensifying the pull to say at home alone with our thoughts, until it becomes a vicious cycle.

Americans at Serious Risk

An article on the Psychology Today blog entitled Social Isolation is the Modern Plague informs us that the best research confirms that Americans are now perilously isolated. The article goes on to say that in a recent comprehensive study by scientists at Duke University, researchers have observed a sharp decline in social connectedness over the past 20 years.

25% of Americans have no meaningful social support at all – not one single person they can confide in. Over half of all Americans report having no close confidants or friends outside their immediate family, while others have little to no family contact as they age.

Social isolation is a huge risk factor for the onset of major depression especially in later years, and it has more than doubled in prevalence over the past decade.

Addiction Vulnerability as well

In addition, there’s increasing evidence that isolation increases vulnerability to various forms of addiction, as illustrated by the following study described in a 2006 New York Times Magazine article:

Bruce Alexander, emeritus professor of psychology at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia took 16 lucky rats and plopped them into Rat Park, where they were offered water or a sweet, morphine-based cocktail (rats love sweets). Alexander offered the same two drinks to the control group of rats he left isolated in cages.

The results? The rat-parkers were apparently having too much fun to bother with artificial highs, because they hardly touched the morphine solution, no matter how sweet Alexander and his colleagues made it. The isolated and arguably depressed rats, on the other hand, eagerly got high, drinking more than a dozen times the amount of the morphine solution as the rats in paradise. (from page 5 of 7 of the web-posted Times article)

The UCLA Loneliness Scale, with 20 questions that cover variations on closeness and connection, has returned results that show that as many as 30% of the reports from Americans show that they do not feel close to other people at a given time.

No matter where we look for statistics, the situation today is much worse than when similar specifics were collected in 1985, when only 10% of Americans were discovered to be completely alone.

In a survey published by the AARP in 2010, slightly more than 33% of adults 45 and over reported being chronically lonely – with little social contact or meaningful connection for a significant number of years.  A decade earlier, only 20% reported the same.

Additional Risk Factors of Emotional Isolation

In a fascinating article entitled The Lethality of Loneliness, the science editor of The New Republic, Judith Shulevitz, delves even further into the severity of a number of problems resulting from a lack of meaningful connection to one another.

Recent scientific discoveries are as consequential as the germ theory of disease. Just as we once knew that infectious diseases killed, but didn’t know that germs spread them, we’ve known intuitively that loneliness hastens death, but haven’t been able to explain how.

Psychobiologists can now show that loneliness sends misleading hormonal signals, rejiggers the molecules on genes that govern behavior, and wrenches a slew of other systems out of whack.

They have proved that long-lasting loneliness not only makes you sick; it can kill you.
Emotional isolation is ranked as high a risk factor for mortality as smoking.

A partial list of the physical diseases thought to be caused or exacerbated by loneliness would include Alzheimer’s, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and even cancer tumors can metastasize faster in lonely people.

Solitary Confinement

A number of articles on the effects of solitary confinement in prisoners makes several points that are even stronger and more disturbing about the dangers of the lack of social contact and connection.

The Scientific American Mind article, Solitary Confinement Is Cruel and Ineffective, discloses that about half of all prison suicides occur in isolation cells.

“Extreme isolation and sensory deprivation can take a severe, sometimes permanent, toll on emotional and mental health. Researchers have found that prisoners in solitary quickly become withdrawn, hypersensitive to sights and sounds, paranoid, and more prone to violence and hallucinations.”

The Wikipedia entry on solitary confinement has this to say:

The effects of solitary confinement on mental health are undeniable. Prison records from the Denmark institute in 1870 to 1920 indicate that staff noticed inmates were exhibiting signs of mental illnesses while in isolation, revealing that the persistent problem has been around for decades.[3]

According to the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry online, solitary confinement can cause an array of mental disorders, as well as provoke an already existing mental disorder in a prisoner, causing more trauma and symptoms . . . [and]  no positive effects of the punishment have been proven (Jaapl).

Even Worse Effect on Juveniles

The isolation of solitary confinement (physical and social isolation of 22–24 hours per day for ONE day or more) can … provoke serious mental and physical health problems, and work against rehabilitation for juveniles.[6] Because young people are still developing, traumatic experiences like solitary confinement may have a profound effect on their chance to rehabilitate and grow.[7] Solitary confinement can worsen both short- and long-term psychological and physical problems or make it more likely that such problems will develop.[8]

The ACLU and Human Rights Watch created a report that incorporated the testimony of some juvenile inmates. Many spoke of harming themselves with staples or razors, having hallucinations, losing touch with reality, and having thoughts of or attempting suicide – all while having limited access to health care.[9]

The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture  and other UN bodies have stated that the solitary confinement of young people under age 18, for any duration, constitutes cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment.[11]

An Epidemic of Loneliness

Loneliness is a longing for kind, not company. ~ source unknown

I doubt that many of the readers of ADDandSoMuchMore.com are as isolated as someone in solitary confinement.  But I’ll bet that more than a few are likely to experience a state of social disconnection that dances dangerously close to the loneliness line.

It is unlikely that many of us will be able to initiate a number of close peer relationships surrounded primarily by people who are so unlike us they find it difficult to relate to our challenges or truly understand why we do the things we do – or how hard we really try to adhere to their expectations of what’s “normal.”

Company is not the same as connection.

Online Shopping, Social Media and Texting

According to the statistics, another group of readers is likely to interact most often in relatively superficial volleys of texts, quickie communications online in blog comments or through their participation in a wide variety of other social media – to a significantly greater degree than they spend time talking with connections face-to-face (in the absence of constant attention diverted by cell phone distractions!). 

While their relatively superficial connections are statistically better than nothing at all – and certainly a way to avoid isolation – they too are dancing close to the loneliness line.

In the past five years or so, there has been a significant drop in “retail therapy” – alone or with the company of a friend. We order online, telling ourselves that we are saving time.  But at what cost?

With the increasing preference for online shopping, many of us have shut ourselves off from time formerly spent in an enjoyable activity with a friend or two — and we no longer experience the benefits that even the brief interactions in stores have provided for years.

We ALL do it – it’s endemic!

I fall victim to the convenience of online connections too, even knowing that it’s much better for me to interact with real people in real time.

I came across a quote on Pinterest that is as disturbing as it is humorous:

“If you ever need  to call a family meeting, turn off the WIFI and wait in the room in which it’s located.”

A friend emailed a cartoon showing a woman on her computer, apparently sending out evites (online invitations), with a caption that read:

I having a party! A bunch of my friends will be coming to my house to play on their phones.

No wonder so many of us feel disconnected, if not actively lonely!

The High Risks of Loneliness

Studies show that loneliness increases the risk for early death by 45 percent and the chance of developing dementia in later life by 64 percent. On the other hand, people who have strong ties to family and close friends are as much as 50%  LESS at risk of dying than those with fewer social connections – over any given period of time .

  • Dr. Sanjay Gupta believes that the risks of loneliness are a significant threat to health and life that needs to be treated as a chronic illness.
  • Richard Lang, MD, chair of preventive medicine at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio believes that people need to attend to loneliness in “the same way they would their diet, exercise, or how much sleep they get.”

What makes a difference to our health (and what we are missing, whether we are aware of it consciously or not) is the kind of in-person, back and forth, shared-communication peer connections rarely available in our fast-paced, first-world society — except, for some people, during leisurely vacations once or twice a year.

Unless we have at least a few regularly recurring meaningful interactions of that type, even if we truly enjoy our own company, we remain essentially lonely in the ways that matter for glowing health and immune system resilience.

In Part 2 of this article, we’ll take a look at some of the ways in which many of us slide into loneliness, and in Part 3 we’ll explore suggestions to help us gradually reconnect with others in meaningful ways – upping our communication quotient to a level that makes sense with our lives – so stay tuned.

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About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

33 Responses to The Importance of Community to Health

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  6. L. M. B. says:

    Thank you Madelyn !

    Like

    • You are SO welcome. I hope you will keep coming back and interacting. It’s why I take the time to do what I do here.

      We ALL need connection.
      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 1 person

  7. L. M. B. says:

    I am amazed and left “embarrassed?” By all the knowledge that is around, I stumbled on this Blog and post and feel overwhelmed on one side and dissapointed on the other, so much wisdom, so much knowledge… its like being in the ancient library of Alexander the Great … with all those “sage” people, masters, teachers and books, I now understand a lot more and yet it makes me sad reflecting on how many people are no longer present to be able to take advantage.

    I had written other things and “thoughts” and then blew it wasting it all with the tip of a wrong button. This time I will finish and Im not even sure that Im writing on the same post as I was before, but this I would like to leave here before I make the same mistake twice, Its great now to know that you are here … all of you who comment, discuss and try to help … God bless you all!

    We live in a world of egoism extravagance and huge social and mental differences where the distance between wealth and social stand is forever growing between us all, I guess I would be living in a “utopian” ( does the word even exist? ) world to think EVERYONE in our modern day communities would see the profit and advantage of pulling on the same rope … instead of each in different directions. I hope I haven’t upset anyone or stirred anything up?

    I am still sad that people like Robin Williams to say the most and not the least are no longer here to cheer us all up … as he used to say far too often we are not afraid of being alone … but to be left alone in a room full of people! I opened up my blog … as to have a window out into the world to shout out of … because there was no one listening. It sort of worked!

    We build huge and strong walls to be defended from being hurt … but this also isolates us from the rest. Thank you for baring with me and listening … and sorry if I wasted anyones time … it may be even the wrong place to have said all this … but thanks for listening … ( woe … wow do I feel I got that off my chest! ) Live long and prosper ! _/\_ 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • L.M.B. — Before approving, I added a bit of white space to your comment so that readers who struggle staying tracked on long strings of text could read it – smaller chunks work better for them (words unchanged)
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      WHAT a wonderful comment. You made my day! I join you with tears that too many leave the earth because they can’t find an understanding community to which they can belong (even online) – or, sometimes, even a single other person whom they feel really “gets” them. Some of us need that more than others.

      I wish I could have worked with Robin – maybe I might have helped – at least enough to keep him on the planet. I think that about everybody struggling with depression. Unfortunately (in my experience), MOST people try to “jolly them out” rather than walking beside them, mirroring their thoughts until they hear something they think that they can hold onto and build from.

      During periods like my move to Cincinnati and the hatefulness that followed, my reaching out to help others (and their comments in response) made me feel connected enough that it kept me going.

      (I left a link to my Depression post for anyone else reading, but I see you’ve already found it – not depressing for others, I trust).

      I lost many a comment following a finger oops – so I frequently write in a notepad and cut and paste. Thank you for taking the time to come back and start over – very generous of you.
      Onward and upward!
      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 1 person

      • L. M. B. says:

        Above and Beyond, its a wonder that you are even there! I can only immagine … how badly someone MUST FEEL to go as far as Robin did. Logically we can’t “know all the facts” … but just immagine putting an end to ones life! How deep down and how little help? I too wish I ‘de have had a chat with him … but thats all wishful thinking and helps no one! Gone but Not Forgotten that what I say! He left us enough to remember him with … Goodwill hunting and Patch Adams amongst them, thank you unendlessly for your reply, God bless you and give you the necessary strength to help many many other Robins and Nafisas out there. Love and peace to their souls.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Love and peace indeed — to all who have gone and all who are thinking about leaving.

          I CAN imagine the despair that leads someone to take his own life, unfortunately. There have been times throughout my own when I have been to that “what’s the point?” place myself – but I have been able to answer that question in a positive fashion each time. I guess God wants me here.

          Now that I have my darling puppy, of course, I could NEVER think of leaving him at the mercy of someone who might not love him as I do, so I’ m tethered. 🙂

          But Robin? He gifted us with so many wonderful performances. Goodwill is one of my favs, btw. I simply can’t believe that he has left us before his time and there will be no more.

          Thanks again for taking moments from your own life to connect with mine. It means more than I will ever be able to say.

          xx,
          mgh

          Liked by 1 person

          • L. M. B. says:

            Hes Not Gone … he was never there! But he deffinetly IS IM MY HEART. Every single day … and i see his picture branded into my eyes …

            I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel alone.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Great quote from a dear man. I hope that when I get to “the next place” some angel or saint will be there to explain the rationale behind all I see on this planet we share. “God’s plan” some call it. For me, the Bible could be a postcard with a single message: “and the greatest of these is LOVE.”
              xx,
              mgh

              Liked by 1 person

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  18. Jeanie Smith says:

    Madelyn, what skill you have at looking at studies and research and distilling them into bite-sized, interesting chunks that the rest of us can be nourished by! Thank you!

    I loved your side note on introverts. Although I don’t consider myself a true introvert, much of it ressonated with me!

    As you know, I for one go kicking and screaming into each new wave of technology. However, I can’t claim the moral high ground on that (limiting my technology exposure keeps me more connected with real life relationships) but rather my ineptitude at dealing with the confounded machines!!! But, once I am finally drafted into the “new” mode of communicating, like everyone else, I find myself too easily sucked into it’s grip, and it can easily sqeeze out real relationship!

    I can’t wait to hear what you have to say in Part 2 and especially Part 3! I love getting the ANSWERS!!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • lol – answers? More like *suggestions.* Reconnecting is a step-by-step process that doesn’t happen overnight, but every little bit helps enough to chance the next step. (Just like coaching, the only answers are within – and different for every person, depending on how they got disconnected in the first place).

      I’m with you on what I now refer to as my “technical alzheimer’s” — it seems that my brain only hangs on to what it learned long, long ago and barely recognizes the more recent info! (No disrespect to those struggling and their care takers, btw, but I swear it feels that way – especially where smart phones and their aps are concerned!) Nothing can make me feel dumber (or older!) than not even being able to work a phone anymore!

      I’m so tired of technology’s rock-face learning curve I could scream. Just give me my old Edsel and leave me alone to wipe the drool off my chin! 😀

      My motivation to figure out at least enough to be able to manage some kind of connection using the rapidly changing field, at least at a rudimentary level, is different from yours, however. As you know, my real-life two-way relationships are scattered around the country, and none of them are in Cincinnati. So I have a love-hate relationship with virtual socializing. Except for my puppy and a few jaunts to the “Cheers” bar down the street, without the use of technology I’d be isolated to the point where depression might feel like a step UP emotionally. (This city is a tough one for folks who grew up elsewhere – it seems as if you need an introduction from a local before anybody will even return a smile.)

      Thanks for reading – and for your kind acknowledgement. Looking forward to speaking together on Wednesday.
      xx,
      mgh

      Like

  19. Dizzy Chick says:

    Reading this makes me realize just how isolated I am. I find social interaction, in person, difficult at best. I can’t hear well, I get lost, I have little to nothing to add to the conversation. I simply don’t feel comfortable, but I miss it. Yet I’m much better about it than I ever thought I would be.

    I used to be a very social person, I needed interaction. Not so much now. Or do I and I just don’t want to admit it because I can’t have it? I do miss real relationships. I care so much for my on line friends but most I have no idea how to reach them if they drop off the face of the earth…no, the computer.

    I adore you, feel like I know you, but it’s different. We only communicate through our blogs.
    If something happened and you were gone, I wouldn’t know why.

    My old friends left when I got sick. Letting people in now, well I’m much more picky.
    Sometimes I get way too anxious when I have to be around people.

    It’s confusing, as you can tell.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TALK ABOUT TIMING! This comment notification popped up as I was working on a section of the second part of this article: 8 Ways Loneliness can creep into your life. I was thinking of YOU as I typed #1: Relocation and #8: Accident, illness & physical impairment. (Clearly, I will have to try to link to your comment to add content to that one! You practically wrote that section for me.)

      Unlike many others with similar circumstances, however, you have regular, ongoing community and connection with one of the most effective buffers against the kind of loneliness that further endangers your health: a loving, understanding & helpful partner willing to listen to your fears and celebrate your triumphs. In addition, you share your life with a dog – another great source of connection.

      You are also reaching out to others on your amazingly helpful blog – another buffer. Still MORE are your mindfulness meditation practice and your amazingly positive-seeking approach to life. (Only YOU would think to name a blog Picnic with Ants!!)

      So, my dear friend, although you are often alone MUCH more than you would prefer (unfortunately) you are not technically “isolated.” I also want to make sure you know that YOU are one of my own loneliness/isolation buffers – since, except for my darling puppy, I too am alone much more often than I would prefer.

      The two of us exchange authentic communication & connection online – we keep up with each other’s lives & offer empathy and support more often than some of my “friends with bodies” who have known me longer. Rather than the one or two line exchanges that we see all over blog-land, we sometimes “chat” back and forth at some length – and I know I’m not the only online friend to whom you extend this kind of connection.

      So, although I was thinking of you for the second part of this article, you never crossed my mind as I wrote Part 1 – unless, of course, it was to look forward to what you would say about it.

      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dizzy Chick says:

        I will have to say more when I am on my computer. We could really have a detailed conversation about isolation. Sometimes it is preferred. Will talk more soon. My friend.
        xoxo
        w

        Liked by 1 person

        • *Solitude* is a positive frame, yes (and preferred by some) – although isolation beats abuse. More later – thanks for checking in and commenting.
          xx,
          mgh

          Like

          • Dizzy Chick says:

            I’m glad you mentioned “solitude” as apposed to Isolation. I do know of a few people who really prefer solitude. Not necessary complete, they do have one or two people in their lives, but they prefer to be alone. These are people who have been housebound for a long time.

            The rest of my thoughts are better on your next post.

            However, I do want to say how much I value our friendship. I hope to expand on it even more in the future.

            xo
            w

            Liked by 1 person

            • I, too, know people who prefer a great deal of solitude. Most of us need at least *some* – but many of us get a lot more than we want – and that frequently leads to feelings of loneliness that can easily slide into isolation.

              Ditto on the expansion – and how much I value YOUR friendship. As I’ve said before, when my own days look particularly bleak it helps me cope to think about what you deal with, still remaining essentially upbeat. And I know I’m not the only one – just read the comments on your blog!
              xx,
              mgh

              Like

  20. bethbyrnes says:

    Well, interesting. From a social science perspective, human social requirements are actually axiomatic. That is, they have been proven for a long, long time. We are similar to other hominids and hominoids who have lived in groups for protection and division of labor for hundreds of thousands, if not millions of years.

    I don’t think there is any scientific dispute about human social requirements. What is probably disputed is more at the level of what the role is for social groups in modern life when homo sapiens has become so evolved and independent. We can do a lot of things without speaking to another human being.

    Women have been especially freed up with the post WWII advent of household appliances.

    So the issue is, how does the relatively recent advent of the nuclear, as opposed to extended family/social unit, give rise to feelings of anomie, isolation, and hopelessness. We no longer live near elders. Very young children have restricted contact with people of other ages. So both young and old are left to figure out for themselves the solutions to life’s problems in modern society, that used to be shared in large kinship groups.

    In any case, it is a fascinating subject. I always enjoy revisiting topics like this!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for adding this content to an article that I feared was too long for many people already. With the notable exception of research into Rumanian Orphans and Affective Disorders, most of the serious research into the effects of lack of human connection has come since the advent of Affective Neuroscience as a field. Until then, much was extrapolated from studies on other mammals, which “indicated” that humans deprived of community would suffer similarly. (Although I will admit that I probably stand on my “we need to respect anecdotal evidence” soapbox too often! 🙂 )

      In compiling my research into the topic, I spent as much time trying to decide what NOT to include as drafting the article itself. If I thought that as many people were fascinated by the topic as you and I, I could probably have come up with a TEN part series.

      Not only do very young children have restricted access to people of all ages (as you pointed out), even those whose parents arrange a great many play-dates where parents are present too, the lives of many school-aged children have become so regimented that free-play time is in short supply as well. Kids are missing out on the experience of having to make up games as they interact with each other – and I can’t help but believe that has a negative effect, even BEFORE they begin to spend so much time on their cellphones.

      I always look forward to your comments, Beth (as well as the many ideas you cover in articles on your blog). I will say again, I wish we lived close enough to facilitate some face-to-face discussions of so many topics that, currently, must remain online.
      xx,
      mgh

      Liked by 1 person

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