The most recent US data studied by John Cacioppo, a social neuroscientist at the University of Chicago, found that almost a quarter of people today are plagued by frequent loneliness, regardless of gender, race, or education levels. A 2010 AARP survey found that of the people age 45 and up who participated in their study, 35 percent reported chronic loneliness, compared with 20 percent reported 10 years ago. Loneliness clearly is on the rise.
This disturbing trend re ects the fact that increasing numbers of people are living alone, as well as reflecting the decrease in people's community. Robert Putnam, PhD, a professor at Harvard and author of Bowling Alone (2001), blames this on the long term decline in Americans'civic engagement. Baby boomers and those younger feelings of belonging to something meaningful. The fact that a person has hundreds – if not thousands – of 'friends' on Facebook may make loneliness worse, because we seem to need to be in the presence of each other's bodies.
The costs of this isolation are linked to serious health problems, such as depression, alcohol abuse, sleep dis …
Catherine Auman has frequently appeared as a mental health expert on the national TV show Extra. Her writings have been published in journals, magazines, and books in the US, Finland, and Norway. She has a BA in English Lit and a Certificate in Creative Writing from Berkeley City College.