Loneliness is the experience of feeling psychologically alone. People can be physically surrounded by people, who they may even know, but feel as if they’re alone and amongst strangers. Maybe it’s because they do not share any interests. Maybe it’s because others seem incapable of understanding a different point of view, and the only way to communicate with the others is by talking about the things that interest others. Perhaps the loneliness could be imposed on them by rejection.
In the modern world, social circles have complicated rules of engagement that some may not be willing to meet. People may completely disagree with the principles of some groups, and they may not have found a social setting in which they’re comfortable. They may feel more secure with a lonely life instead. It could be that they’ve been abused by friends or family in the past, so they find it difficult to trust people in a social setting because they expect to be hurt in some way. A defence-mechanism whose aim is to keep people safe, but makes them lonely in the process. There are many reasons for loneliness.
The problems with loneliness are multiple too. The inability to care for others and form relationships with them is one of the most significant. Caring for another leads people to feel positive and negative emotions based on the successes and failures of the other. Likewise, the people who care for one’s self are also bound to the same positive and negative emotions based on one’s successes and failures. At once, people have lost a huge potential for their wellbeing when they feel alone. People look out for their friends and want their friends to do well. When people are completely alone, they have no one in the world to care for or to care for them.
Lack of confidence and inability to relate to others is common for people who have felt lonely for an extended period. Being seen as a loner can invite criticism, and make people an easy target for both physically intimidating and maliciously gossiping bullies. A loner may also be perceived as threatening. This can lead people to withdraw further from society. Being alone reduces opportunities and deprives people of other’s perspectives. In this respect, the effects of loneliness on personalities are similar to those of neglect, which may be the lonely person’s default experience of life – the result of an avoidant attachment style.
Depression is something to be considered regarding loneliness. A pervasive low level negative mood can linger for years and even create a dissociation from society that lasts a lifetime. In epidemiological circles (the science of health and disease in populations) it’s common knowledge that socially isolated people are more likely to get sick and die younger than their peers who have the company of a partner, friends or family.
Partially responsible for this must be the accumulation of stresses into allostatic-load (see Stress) that isn’t dissipated from positive emotions. Gratitude is a positive emotion that has potent anti-stress effects, and it’s part of how humans maintain a healthy balance through emotional change – allostasis. Gratitude neuro-biologically relieves the body from stressed states, thus stopping them from accumulating. When people receive no help from others because they have no one caring for them, they can’t benefit from the gratitude. The case is the same for other positive emotions.
Lack of intimacy means that stresses are more difficult to dissipate.
French. Lone + ly + ness = unaccompanied, all by oneself.
1. Solitary, lone, dejected for want of company.
2. Sad because one has no friends.