Loneliness, A Deadly Disease

The fear of isolation and loneliness pervades every character in this powerful play. It is a commentary on modern times even though it was written during the 1950's.

There is lots of data that demonstrates the fact that anxiety and loneliness exist at epidemic levels today. Even small children experience the kinds of anxieties usually associated with adulthood. This is attributed to the frail social support system in which modern people live. Communities, which many years ago were stable and unchanging, are now characterized by the fact that people constantly move away. The result is that there is no sense of community or neighborliness because no one lives in any area long enough to form strong ties. For the same reasons, the family has greatly weakened as social mobility has brought about the break up of the extended and even the nuclear family.

To further exacerbate the problems of lack of social connectedness and toxic talk, is the fact that people, especially men, are told to bury and their feelings. The use of anti depressant and anti anxiety drugs has increased dramatically worldwide. These drugs along with psychotherapy are valuable tools in the fight against mental illness.

The Medieval Poet, John Dunne, wrote that "no man is an island," meaning that we all need one another. Human beings are social creatures and fare better when interacting with others through friendship, family and community involvement.

Do you isolate your self or do you try to be socially interactive? Your comments are encouraged.

  • seldon (m)

    It seams i can't have a meaningful relationship. Can't find a woman that realy understands me or have enough patience. Not that i didn't try, on the contrary sometimes i even try too hard just to be rejected over and over again. Can't even have a "NOT meaningfull" relationship nor would i like to have one. I fell in love for a woman who stoped talking with me after i told her how i feel, and i felt like my heart is torn to shreds and thrown away. Plus i have a cardiac history in my family. I guess my future is not so bright huh? -)

  • Anonymous-1

    The first step is to become more positive about life. Ways to do that are to find some hobby or volunteer community to participate in. People react to your sense of confidence and if you say you love someone after knowing them for a short time, they will assume you are lying. People cinsist of many layers and women prefer to be loved for their personality not how they look.

    lonliness is like depression, its worse in a crowd 'a disease of cities'

  • J. L. (Male)

    I have spoken to many men and women, even young teens. I have found that many have become isolated from families and friends for a variety of reasons. The one troubling fact that gets me is most of these people dont know where to turn to reestablish valuable connections that would save their lives or their minds. Many were depressed, even suicidal because the isolation took away their ability to have a posative outlook on themselves. It only requires that we the people who have so much to take a look around and see who needs a helping hand. A posative remark, a hug sometimes makes a world of difference. Take a look around, even our own families and extened relationships suffer from our ever quick pace of life. We should all take sometime and slow down, and say a kind word, visit a family member, or help out in our communities.

  • Anonymous-2

    I saw the movie Marty discussed in the article a number of years ago and immediately recognized the characters as a representation of my group of friends. We are all early to mid 30s males, few with any meaningful relationships outside of our group. We all have issues with social isolation, loneliness, substance abuse, depression and varying degrees of self-esteem issues. None have been married, and a relationship lasting more than a year is a rarity amongst us. The odd point is, that we are all fairly successful economically, and mostly what would be considered average or better in appearance and are all above average intelligence. People with no prior knowledge of our circumstances and behaviour assume that we are normal functioning members of society. This seems to be a phenomena occuring more and more often with men that lacked meaningful relationships in their formative years.

  • Curiepoint

    We live in a society that places utterly no value on human interaction. The overwhelming attitude of most people is rampant consumption and fostering an unquenchable thirst for more. The one avenue that most of us have in the pursuit of this is work. Lots and lots and lots of work. For good or for bad or for worse, that is the sole avenue of self-worth for many people dare I even say most people?

    And so that is to where I restrict my social outlet. I have long since given up on relationships because they have become the definition of filling other people's needs with no expectation of any kind that mine will be filled in turn. I know the advice given, if any, will be along the lines of what others have told me:

    - Go out and join a group of people who enjoy the same things as you.

    The modern equivalent of social groups united by common cause is the blog, or the facebook page. Even there, the group is clique-ish and impenetrable to outsiders.

    - Take up a hobby.

    Hobbies by definition are self-pursuit of satisfaction. Everyone has a hobby, even if it's watching 6 hours of TV every night.

    - Go places and do things.

    Going places = spending more money than one has. Doing things = someone trying to sell you something you don't need in order to "improve" the experience.

    ad nauseum and ad infinitum.

    Face it. We live in lonely times. But this does not mean that we have to regard our isolation and solitude as bad things. Humans will adapt as they always have. It's time to stop worrying about whether or not anyone likes us. Chances are, they only want something from us.

    To quote a favorite songwriter of mine:

    From the barred and mesh-floored streets, of a Winter's night, without a moon....I am safe hidden here.

  • WH Miles

    I mvst completely agree with Curiepoint in that the loneliness pandemic is caused by equal parts selfishness stupidity and modern life in general but an easy solution exists in that you should find something that you love and concentrate on that I believe this willingness to belong is weak mindedness but thats just me Follow your heart and everything else will fall into place

  • Leon

    Existential crisis? One day I caught my reflection and the first thoughts I had were What happened? Who put my here? Why? And from that moment on my mind has been in turmoil. Constantly looking for something that so many intellectuals over 3000 years still could never define and never will - because it doesn't exist. There is no reason. Human life has no more (or less) reason to be than any other form of life. The only difference our species have over others is our intellect, and look where that led us! We're on the cusp of our own extinction, after all the evolution our species went through and we're still behaving like the cave people we started out as.

    My point is, Human's are ultimately transitory. Like the Dinosaurs we will disappear and then what will it all have meant? Perhaps the World needs to catch its own reflection, until then love will never unite us.

  • Allan N. Schwartz, PhD

    Hi Leon,

    I do not share your dim view of the world and of life. However, I plan to respond more fully to your very interesting comment in an article. Please look for it. It will be posted in a few days. Thanks for your comment.

  • deborah

    Lonliness is a tough place. I have been there. Loneliness to me however can be your friend. Once you accept and learn about where this came from and then what you can do about it your life will take on a more happy meaning. You are never alone. Spiritually speaking, God is always with you. Or if you do not believe in God....go outside and look around at all the beautiful things and pick something that truly makes you feel serene. Loneliness has its origin from many things in ones life. In the event you are feeling lonely or have struggles with loneliness my suggestion is to educate and learn as much as you can about yourself, about all of it and take loneliness out on the road with you. Before you know it you both will be feeling alot healthier and happier. Loneliness is that thing that tugs at you and tells you it's time to make a change..your job is to get modivated and find the changes that work. So you see it can be a friend. Good Luck and God Bless.

  • Vince

    The plethora of "positive thinking" platitudes such as "believe in yourself" or "find your passion in life" only add guilt and failure to loneliness. Some of us have never found a purpose in life or even discovered anything we are good at, i.e., "gifts". One the chief reasons kids drop out of college is inability to decide on a major. To be able to do so would bring us in contact with those who have similar passion. I have taken every personality and ability test known, with no more insight into this than before maybe even less. "go out there and find friends" makes it sound as if the sufferer is lazy socially. I can walk "out" of my door, but where is "there"? Only bars and church. There's not even the minimal support of fellow isolates depicted in the film.

  • Athena

    For me, loneliness has many causes. Poor hearing as a child. A mother who didn't take me on play-dates. An older sister who criticized everything I did. A lifetime of feeling abandoned. No memory of hugs or reading bed-time books with my parents. A feeling that my sister was loved and I wasn't. A feeling that if I died, my parents wouldn't care. A feeling that if my sister died, that they wished it had been me instead. A feeling that I am unloved, worthless, invisible, unimportant. So why on earth would somebody who feels like this feel worthy of having any friends at all? Why would they even try? After so much rejection, what's the point? Yah, I need help!

  • ReportMe2ThoughtPolice

    I went to 12 different schools in the USA & 3 foreign countires growing up due to my dad's work. I married late to a man I had little in common with -- different religion, different nationality. 17 years later I escaped after enduring a HORRIBLE, vindictive divorce. Nothing has ever been the same. I am alienated from society.

    I HATE HATE HATE multiculturalism and the government's demand that I (the prototypical white, blond-haired, blue-eyed gentile former-majority American) have a legal and moral obligation to socialize with people who hate me and my ancestors. I feel rejected by, and in turn I reject, my fellow white gentiles who believe in Unitarian multiculturalism and want to force me to practice their religion. I scorn charity, since most of the money goes to non-whites who hate me and vote Democrat. I have turned against Christianity and the Republican Party since they condemn white solidarity and white-survival. I could care less about any of the stupid foreign wars America is fighting because the only one that matters to me Congress refuses to fight: stopping the invasion of our national borders. I hate our public school system. I hate integration. I hated my son playing on an integrated soccer team and the involuntary socialization with my domestic enemies. I hate the government double standard that favors non-whites and foreigners over white citizens. I hate the perpetual chip-on-the-shoulder attitude of Blacks especially. I hate wasting tax money educating, medicating, feeding and sheltering these cockroaches. Send 'em back to Africa! I hate those who defend homosexuality (loving your own sex) but condemn racism (loving your own race), but only if it's practiced by whites.

    The government has outlawed freely-chosen GENUINE community in America. It has given us an odious counterfeit in exchange for the real thing, and punishes us if we reject this shabby substitute. The government, political pundits of all stripes, the Church & God's Narcissistic "Chosen People" condemn ordinary people like me who simply want to enjoy the right of freedom of association and ethnic and cultural self-determination. Instead, I am portrayed as some diabolical evil monster like Hitler, the guy my dad fought against while serving in a segregated army, defending his segregated nation full of segregated neighborhoods and schools. Seems like those WWII American GI's fought against the wrong enemy. We thought we won that war, but we lost our civilization in the process. Piss on multiculturalism. Piss on the Supreme Court. Piss on the Democrat & Republican parties, and the Catholic and Protestant churches. Alienation and loneliness, you bet.

  • Allan N. Schwartz, PhD

    Hello Reportme,

    What comes through is that you are a very angry person. From what you wrote, you have some good reasons for feeling angry and that has its roots in your childhood.

    However, anger and rage can greatly distort reality. You make vast generalizations about the way people are and about the United States. This kind of rage is not good for your health, mental and physical. In addition, I suspect that, the underlying reasons for your rage has more to do with the ways you were raised, and with your family of origin, than it doess about the world.

    Dr. Schwartz

  • John Doe

    People always have answers, that is certain, Do this, if you try this maybe a week here. Funny. Funny that the complexity, difference, experience, culture, phycological, sexual, spiritual and moral side of all mortals can be solved by a pitch and put remedy/advice or cure. I read the articles below and found them fitting for a mixed up lost species that has no real way forward.

    I am lonely, depressed lost, married with two great children. I have to remember daily not to chip at the hope, wonder, excitement, trust, love, respect they invest in me. With meditation I deperatley try to remove myself futher from my mental chatter to a place that is safer with less emotional attachment, less introspection and more control. So here is my advice.

    There is none, there is only hope. For me and for us all.

    The lost black man X

  • Tanny

    From my childhood days, I feel hurt emotionally and start crying sometimes. I think a lot. My father has always been stubborn on his decision. And I fear to talk to him because he gets angry. He doesn't understand me.

    I always freely talk to people who are soft voiced, who show sympathy for me. But I feel lowly when I talk to people of strong self-esteem and confidence. I freely talk to anyone when I need urgent help and sympathy. I feel that on meeting a person he will scold at me. Hence I keep myself away from people because they don't ask me and respect me. I used to feel free in childhood. I feel free at home. My self-esteem has destroyed because I feel all the things are good for my career. What should I do and take as my career. But I got two chances in acting but I didn't respond well. Friends say that I should join acting. I go out of my house and start thinking about what should I do. I start moving out whenever someone passes by me.