Recently, the topics of social isolation and loneliness have begun being addressed more regularly. This essay was enlightening in that it states that while sometimes mistaken for social isolation, loneliness is different.
Social isolation is an objective state: Are you interacting regularly with other people? Loneliness, by contrast, is a paradoxical puzzle — an entirely subjective experience of distress at one’s perceived lack of social connection.
Research has shown that a lonely brain is transformedand that such changes in the brain may help to explain why lonely individuals perceive their social environment as threatening.
Vivek H. Murthy, MD, the surgeon general of the United States, is addressing the topic of loneliness as well, often sharing very personal experiences. He explains that the invisibility of loneliness is part of what makes it so insidious.
He also states that addressing the crisis of loneliness and isolation is one of our generation’s greatest challenges. The work will take all of us: schools, workplaces, community organizations, government, health workers, public health professionals, individuals, families and more, working together. But it will be worth it, because our need for human connection is like our need for food and water: essential for survival.