Ventilen, or “friend to one” in Danish, is an organization that helps 15-to-25-year-olds get together twice a week with two or three volunteers. Together, the people in the group play games, make meals, go to the cinema, and build human connections.
Until a century or so ago, almost no one lived alone; now many endure shutdowns and lockdowns on their own. How did modern life get so lonely? The female chimpanzee at the Philadelphia Zoological Garden died of complications from a cold early in the morning of December 27, 1878.
It is an umbrella term we use to cover for all sorts of things most people would rather not name and have no idea how to fix. Plenty of people like to be alone. But solitude and seclusion are different from loneliness. Loneliness is a state of profound distress.
Primates need to belong to an intimate social group in order to survive; this is especially true for humans. Separation from your group (either finding yourself alone or finding yourself among a group of people who do not know and understand you) triggers a fight-or-flight response.
Loneliness is a universal human emotion that is both complex and unique to each individual. Because it has no single common cause, the prevention and treatment of this potentially damaging state of mind can vary dramatically. For example, a lonely child who struggles to make friends at his school has different needs than a lonely old man whose wife has recently died.
Long before the world had ever heard of covid-19, Kay Tye set out to answer a question that has taken on new resonance in the age of social distancing: When people feel lonely, do they crave social interactions in the same way a hungry person craves food? And could she and her colleagues detect and…
Research showed that after social isolation, subjects' brain scans showed more activity in the midbrain when shown pictures of social cues.
When subjects were hungry but had not been socially isolated, they showed a similar reaction to food cues, but not social ones. This shows that the drive for social contact and for things like food seems to be represented in a similar way.