CONSEQUENCES OF LONELINESS
Loneliness has a wide range of negative effects on both physical and mental health.
As a feeling that causes people to feel empty, alone and unwanted; it coincides with depression which acts as an invisible barrier that adds to people’s sense of isolation and experience of loneliness.
Loneliness is often the core feeling that gives rise to emotions of:
Lonely people frequently feel that they are disliked, fear rejection and keep themselves at a distance, which feeds the loneliness even more.
It can lead a person to become (or appear to be) become self-obsessed, negative and lacking the ability to focus on anything outside of themselves.
Often undiagnosed by young people, depression linked to loneliness can contribute to many outward reactions such as:
Alcohol or substance abuse
Poor decision-making or rejecting of society/family
Depression and suicidal thoughts “What’s the point in being here”
Cardiovascular disease and stroke
Increased stress levels
Decreased memory and learning
Those who are afflicted by loneliness tend to deny it, ignore it, or simply tough it out.
HARLOWS EXPERIMENT ON MONKEYS
In 1971, psychologist, Harry Harlow lost his wife who died of cancer.
He began to suffer from depression, which was treated and returned back to work with a developed interest in isolation and depression.
Harlow’s experiments involved isolating monkey in cages, where the only connection the monkey had with the world was when the experimenters’ hands changed his bedding or delivered fresh water and food.
Some had no interaction at all.
After 30 days, these monkeys were found to be “enormously disturbed.”
After being isolated for a year, some barely moved. When placed with other monkeys they did not know how to socialise and some of the monkeys ended up dying of starvation.
Although this is a study is on monkeys, it shows how important connection and communication with others is for mammals and in particular humankind.