What is loneliness?

The average dictionary would define loneliness as “being without companions; solitariness; sadness because one has no friends or company” to put it simply. It seems like it isn’t a dangerous thing, after all it is just the act of being alone, right? Well, some studies would suggest that loneliness can be toxic for the well being of a person, affecting their life negatively and even their lifespan in some cases it would seem.

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Before I read up on the affects of loneliness, I decided to figure out what it truly was. For a person, loneliness has to be more than being without company. Even with company, one can feel lonely and isolated. I thought that for one to feel lonely they had to missing certain experiences that they wanted. I remember clearly finding a writing one day that talked about people having certain needs to be met in their socialization for it to actually fulfill their need for socialization. I found an article that talked about that exact idea and it confirms for me that people indeed have requirement for their socialization. In says “loneliness reflects the relationship between two factors, the desired and achieved level of social interaction.” In short, perhaps it is true that people have their own expectations and desires for socialization that should be met to actually satisfy them. I then proceeded to find out what would actually happen to a person who was unable to meet their social needs.

Science has shown that socialization is just as important as anything else to the human life. Because people are social creatures and not meeting those needs results in the feeling of loneliness. When one is lonely, their health is at risk, though the consequences don’t usually show until the person is a bit older. According to researchers like Louise Hawkley and Christopher Masi, there is a direct correlation between loneliness and high blood pressure. Heart disease is therefore a risk. By raising levels of the stress hormones in blood, blood flow in arteries are subject to turbulence. Strokes and Kidney problems are also possible. Psychologist John Cacioppo, suggests that loneliness even affect the efficiency of sleep, leaving lonely people with less sleep and feeling less restored after sleep. These negative aspect accumulate as you age until eventually they do affect you, mentally and physically.

In children especially, it can ultimately affect the way they grow up, developing anti-social behavior and even school drop out rates. When they experience being excluded or miss opportunities to bond with peers they often aren’t able to build relationships well or have weak relationships with people. Aspects such as being or having anxiety even can harm their experiences. Leaving them to perhaps even suffer the affects previously mentioned for people who deal with loneliness as they age.

Sources
http://www.peplaulab.ucla.edu/Peplau_Lab/Publications_files/Peplau_Perlman_79.pdf
http://www.livescience.com/697-loneliness-kills-study-shows.html
http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200308/the-dangers-loneliness

 

 

 

1 thought on “What is loneliness?

  1. Max Cohen

    It’s weird to think that being alone can shorten your lifespan. I guess if you are truly lonely for an extended period of time it would bring on feelings of depression and sadness but do lonely people really sleep less than happy people surrounded by others? Sometimes I like to be alone. Sometimes I need to be alone. But I guess for an extended period of time its not so fun.

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