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September 2017

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curiosity

"Only the Lonely"

This article made me cry a bit. I often feel lonely and I don't really have "one good bedrock relationship" or a feeling of "secure attachment".

Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection by John T. Cacioppo and William Patrick

Love At Goon Park: Harry Harlow and the Science of Affection by Deborah Blum

The Smart Set: Only the Lonely - August 14, 2008

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"“We aren’t meant to be alone,” Blum writes. “Isolation is only a punishment. Social species — and we are undeniably that — thrive only in a garden bed of relationships and connections. Not all of us need large gardens, not all of us need traditional families. Most of us — and this comes right out of attachment theory — need at least one good bedrock relationship.”

Factors such as whether we were raised by a cloth or a wire monkey and the strength of our social network, coupled with what John T. Cacioppo and William Patrick in Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection call “genetically influenced major personality characteristics,” determine how much social stimulation we need. If the balance tips, we can fall into periods of loneliness. If those periods last too long, a chronic loneliness that can ultimately prevent you from developing the social network you need sets in. Loneliness, like hunger, is less a passing mood and more a warning signal. Ignored, it can be damaging to both your psyche and your body.

Cacioppo and Patrick write, “We had a hunch that what mattered was not the number of social interactions, nor the degree to which other people provided practical benefit, but the degree to which social interactions satisfied an individual’s specific, subjective need for connection.” They spend a lot of time explaining why they think the individual’s specific need — along with other personality traits — is genetic and not born out of circumstance, to the point of starting to sound like the new astrology. “Sorry I have such a temper — it’s just that I have a Mars in opposition to my Ascendant,” has become “It’s just that I have a 48 percent genetic predisposition to being an asshole.” Whatever the source of our needs, not having them met can tear a person apart. Loneliness can alter your patterns of behavior and thought, creating personality traits you never had, whether they are trying to blend into the furniture at a party or dominating a scene in a desperate attempt to be noticed. Either way, it will leave you even less likely to make secure connections with others, which will feed your loneliness and begin a circle of hell.

As Cacioppo and Patrick start to outline the symptoms and consequences of serious loneliness, I started to notice how frequently the word “loneliness” could be replaced with “depression.” Loneliness depresses your immune system and decreases your life expectancy, just like depression. Long periods of loneliness can lead to feelings of helplessness, just like depression. Of course loneliness is one of the boxes you tick off on the depression scale you fill out at the doctor’s in order to get your SSRI prescription. But many of the other questions (having poor sleeping patterns, being fearful about the future, feeling less worthy than others, reporting that other people seem unfriendly) can be linked back to loneliness, in addition to depression. Cacioppo and Patrick report that 20 percent of the population report loneliness as the major source of their unhappiness. It made me wonder how many people are needlessly taking antidepressants when maybe all they need is a “secure attachment” and a hug.
[...]
The word “community” gets thrown around a lot these days, as if neighborhood block parties will save us from a world of loneliness. But you can still be lonely in a small town where everyone knows your name. You can be lonely in a marriage, or in a tight-knit family. Harlow’s own loneliness led to alcoholism, a failed marriage, and a period of depression so unconquerable that he was institutionalized and treated with electro-convulsive therapy. “What are the costs of belonging to a species that can never quite go it alone?” asks Blum. “How much can we actually bear? Everyone can take some loss and some loneliness, but there seems to be a point, different for each, when the burden becomes too much.”"

Comments

*HUGS*

I had hoped that Wolf and I were becoming your bedrock. I'm sorry if I've failed you.

Re: *HUGS*

Aw. You are so sweet.

You and Wolf are good friends. but that doesn't change the fact that I don't have anyone in my life the way you two have each other.
*hug* I miss you my friend.
I wish we lived closer to each other.
{{{HUGS}}}

I wish we lived closer too.
It's official - I was raised by electrified barbed wire. So, how do we find those baby monkeys that need cuddling? **sigh** Going back to blending in with the furniture now.
Well, I try to cuddle all the baby monkeys I can. :-)

Having cats helps.
Cats are nature's way of giving friends to those that don't have social skills.

They don't come to you unless they WANT to, they have their own schedules, and if they really care, they'll come cuddle with you when you really need it. **smile**