#2 What is Loneliness ?By: Fred | March 6, 2012 | 0 Comments
What is Loneliness?
The loneliness spectrum is wide, with run-of-the-mill everyday loneliness on one end, and severe depression on the other. Loneliness is an empty feeling. To some people, loneliness brings a powerful sense of solitude and emptiness. Loneliness has also been described and a feeling resulting from inadequate levels of social relationships. However, in the end, loneliness is subjective.
People can experience loneliness for several reasons, and many life events can be associated with it. Scarcity of friendships during childhood and adolescence, or lack of meaningful companions, are a few contributors to loneliness. At the same time, loneliness may be related to another social or emotional problem – chronic depression.
- Many persons experience loneliness for the first time when left alone as babies.
- Break-up or divorce and the departure or death of a loved one. The loss of an important person in one’s life will typically produce a grief response. In this situation, one might seem lonely even in the company of others.
- This drive for solitude can also occur after the birth of a child (postpartum depression)
- After marriage, or any other communally disruptive event. For example, going from one’s natural surroundings to an unfamiliar community can cause loneliness. Loneliness can develop in unstable marriages or other close relationships.
- Loneliness can result from an environment of anger or resentment, or where the feeling of love will not be granted or received.
- Loneliness may constitute a dysfunction of communication and can grow in areas of lesser population.
Loneliness can be thought of as a social phenomenon, adept at dispersing like a disease. Learning to cope with changing life patterns is obviously crucial in overcoming loneliness.
As common and seemly harmless loneliness is, it has been a torture and punishment practice throughout history.
Emotional vs. Social Isolation
One of the popular designations of lonelinesswas developed by Robert S. Weiss. He categorized loneliness into Loneliness of Emotional Isolation, and Loneliness of Social Isolation. Weiss contends that emotional loneliness is rooted in attachment theory. Attachment theory involves the relationship between parents and children. When happy children become separated from their parents, they present separation distress such as crying, searching for parents and withdrawn behavior. Adults bond to romantic partners and become distressedwhen separated from them. Weiss says emotional loneliness is “separation distress without an object”. This means that emotional loneliness is caused by the absence of a romantic partner, and that feels akin to the hollowness one feels when a romantic partner is missing. Likewise, social loneliness is the isolation people experience because of a limited social network. They do not feel that members of a community have included them, or that they their friends will be there for them in times of distress.
Transient vs. Chronic
Add time to the condition and loneliness is often viewed as either chronic or transient.
- Transient loneliness is temporary, with an environmental cause, and easily relieved.
- Chronic loneliness is more consistent, caused by the person, and is not easily relieved. For example, when a person is sick and cannot socialize with friends that would be an example of temporary loneliness. When the person improves, ridding the feeling of loneliness is easier. A person who feels lonely at a family gathering, with friends, or alone is experiencing chronic loneliness. It does not matter what goes on in the surrounding environment, the experience of loneliness is always there.
As a Human Condition
Existentialism contends that loneliness is the essence of the human condition. We come into the world alone, live as a separate person, and die alone. Coping with this, accepting it, and learning how to manageour own lives with some degree of respect and satisfaction is the way things are supposed to be. Pphilosophers, such as Sartre, believe in an epistemic loneliness. This is when loneliness is a vital part of the human condition because of a paradox between meaning and nothingness. Conversely, other existentialists contend that loneliness occurs when people feel isolated from the process of interact with each other and the unknown universe.