Tag Archives | Loneliness

How Loneliness Affects Your Brain

sanoop (CC BY 2.0)

sanoop (CC BY 2.0)

It seems that loneliness can make us more “defensive,” which may perpetuate the cycle.

via PsyBlog:

Loneliness makes the areas of the brain that are vigilant for threat more active, a new study finds.

This can make people who are socially isolated more abrasive and defensive — it’s a form of self-preservation.

This may be why lonely people can get marginalised.

Professor John Cacioppo, an expert on loneliness, speaking about an earlier study on the marginalisation of the lonely, said:

“We detected an extraordinary pattern of contagion that leads people to be moved to the edge of the social network when they become lonely.

On the periphery people have fewer friends, yet their loneliness leads them to losing the few ties they have left.

These reinforcing effects mean that our social fabric can fray at the edges, like a yarn that comes loose at the end of a crocheted sweater.”

Continue reading.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

Loneliness and Social Isolation Are Just as Much a Threat to Longevity as Obesity

via Brigham Young University:

Ask people what it takes to live a long life, and they’ll say things like exercise, take Omega-3s, and see your doctor regularly.

Now research from Brigham Young University shows that loneliness and social isolation are just as much a threat to longevity as obesity.

“The effect of this is comparable to obesity, something that public health takes very seriously,” said Julianne Holt-Lunstad, the lead study author. “We need to start taking our social relationships more seriously.”

Loneliness and social isolation can look very different. For example, someone may be surrounded by many people but still feel alone. Other people may isolate themselves because they prefer to be alone. The effect on longevity, however, is much the same for those two scenarios.

The association between loneliness and risk for mortality among young populations is  actually greater than among older populations. Although older people are more likely to be lonely and face a higher mortality risk, loneliness and social isolation better predict premature death among populations younger than 65 years.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Loneliness Kills: What Do We Do About It?

Picture: Bert Kaufmann (CC)

Picture: Bert Kaufmann (CC)

If you’ve got a few minutes to spare, then you may enjoy this New Republic article on the phenomenon of loneliness and its impact on physical health. It’s full of all sorts of interesting asides about who experiences loneliness and why.

The New Republic:

A famous experiment helps explain why rejection makes us flinch. It was conducted more than a decade ago by Naomi Eisenberger, a social psychologist at UCLA, along with her colleagues. People were brought one-by-one into the lab to play a multiplayer online game called “Cyberball” that involved tossing a ball back and forth with two other “people,” who weren’t actually people at all, but a computer program. “They” played nicely with the real person for a while, then proceeded to ignore her, throwing the ball only to each other. Functional magnetic resonance imaging scans showed that the experience of being snubbed lit up a part of the subjects’ brains (the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex) that also lights up when the body feels physical pain.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Existential Despair? Take Two of These and Call Me in the Morning

Please don't give Tylenol to your existentially-challenged cat.

Please don’t give Tylenol to your existentially-challenged cat.

Interesting research from the University of British Columbia: Apparently Tylenol can also ease aches and pains of the existential kind. Look for new Sartre strength in the “Ennui” aisle of your local drug store:

New research this week found that Tylenol altered the way subjects passed moral judgements. Psychologists used that as a proxy measure for personal distress, a relationship that has been previously demonstrated. Daniel Randles and colleagues at the University of British Columbia write in the journal Psychological Science, “The meaning-maintenance model posits that any violation of expectations leads to an affective experience that motivates compensatory affirmation. We explore whether the neural mechanism that responds to meaning threats can be inhibited by acetaminophen.” Totally. More plainly, “Physical pain and social rejection share a neural process and subjective component that are experienced as distress.” That neural process has been traced to the same part of the brain.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

The Importance Of Being Alone

58728442_8ebe99d8faIn a hyper-connected world, does spending time alone provide a unique and increasingly elusive form of freedom? The Boston Globe extols the virtues of solitude, which a growing body of study suggests is essential for mood, memory, creativity, and sanity:

You hear it all the time: We humans are social animals. We need to spend time together to be happy and functional, and we extract a vast array of benefits from maintaining intimate relationships and associating with groups.

But an emerging body of research is suggesting that spending time alone, if done right, can be good for us — that certain tasks and thought processes are best carried out without anyone else around, and that even the most socially motivated among us should regularly be taking time to ourselves if we want to have fully developed personalities, and be capable of focus and creative thinking.

There is even research to suggest that blocking off enough alone time is an important component of a well-functioning social life — that if we want to get the most out of the time we spend with people, we should make sure we’re spending enough of it away from them.

Read the rest
Continue Reading