Jul 30, 2014 3:40 AM GMT
NYT: What does it mean to be lonely? It’s tempting to equate the feeling with a dearth of social interaction, but some people are now saying that it’s more complicated than that — and that true loneliness might be dangerous.
At The Wall Street Journal, Elizabeth Bernstein writes that the share of lonely Americans has doubled since the 1980s, to 40 percent, perhaps because we’re now more likely to live alone (though as Ms. Henig points out, living with someone isn’t necessarily protective).
“Just as we once knew that infectious diseases killed, but didn’t know that germs spread them, we’ve known intuitively that loneliness hastens death, but haven’t been able to explain how. Psychobiologists can now show that loneliness sends misleading hormonal signals, rejiggers the molecules on genes that govern behavior, and wrenches a slew of other systems out of whack. They have proved that long-lasting loneliness not only makes you sick; it can kill you.”