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The Sound of Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need to Connect and Belong

Submitted by on June 19, 2016 – 4:21 AM

images (2)Loneliness has been defined as “the aversive state experienced when a disagreement exists between the interpersonal relationships one wishes to have, and those that one perceives they at present have “(Peplau& Perlman, 1982).


According to K.holmen et al (2000) Loneliness is a difficult perception that has been considered both theoretically and clinically and that involves psychological as well as social aspects. There are six different types of loneliness, but the patient under consideration in this article is suffering from emotional and social loneliness.


According to Mellor and Edelmann (1988) and Rokach (1989), emotional loneliness is a loss or absence of confiding in and imitating connection to a special and beloved person, and social loneliness is deprivation of social interaction and lack of people available. It is an unpleasant feeling very common in older age.


Numerous epidemiologist studies show that the prevalence of loneliness in old age is 11% to 40 %, According to a Euro barometer study conducted 10 year ago, the proportion was highest in Greece (36%), Portugal(23%), lowest in Denmark and Sweden (4-6%),Germany, Netherland and UK varied proportion(7-9%),and from (10-17%) in Belgium, France, Ireland, Luxemburg, Spain and Italy in Pakistan 16 % “(Victor et al.2009).


Loneliness is a leading cause of many psychological and physical issues including hopelessness, suicide and attempted suicide, drug abuse, cardiovascular disease and stroke, alcoholism, the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, altered brain function and increased stress levels.


My patient’s memory has been affected. He has decreased memory and learning, is Antisocial, has poor decision-making and is depressed. Loneliness is the major cause of depression.


Hence the term is associated with psychological distress. A study by Max et al. (2005) uncovered that the vicinity of discerned dejection helped positively the impact of depression on mortality. Depression and loneliness are considered to be the major problems leading to impaired quality of life among elderly persons.


This paper highlights the role of nurse on how to deal with a patient with loneliness. Being a health professional it’s very important to know the cause, find out the solution and abolish them because we want to prevent our society from further complication of loneliness.


During my clinical rotation, I encountered an 89 year old male patient whose physical appearance was groomed, but he looked anxious and depressed. I began my interview very confidently but the old man would not make eye contact with me and showed utter reluctance in answering my questions.


After some time however, he opened up a bit and shared his feelings with me. While interviewing I asked about his stay in the old age home, he stated that “I am unmarried and have been living here for 15 years. Before coming here,


I was in my brother’s home and for some time at my cousin’s home, then my cousin left me here. Now no body visits me here. I don’t have any one in this world except my God. I want to share my feelings with one who cares, but there is no one to help me when I need support.


I have spent my all life alone. I wish I got married and had children then I would not be alone here.” From the above scenario I came to know that my patient was suffering from loneliness. And now being a student nurse, how are we supposed to treat these patients and abolish these issues from society, country as well as globally.


According to research by John Cacioppo, a University of Chicago psychologist, loneliness is powerfully linked to heredity but many other situational factors also contribute to cause loneliness including ending of a close emotional relationship, that is, widowhood, being divorced and unmarried, physical separation of loved one that is family and friend anddeparture of children.


Economical causes include retirement and unemployment. Loneliness can also be related to internal factors such as low confidence. People who lack confidence in themselves often believe that they are not good enough for the attention or consideration of other people. This can lead to chronic loneliness but my patient’s causative factors were singlehood due to poverty and low self-esteem.


The loneliness theoretical framework proposed by Hawkely and Cacioppo’s (2010) deals with the mechanism and the consequences of loneliness. According to this model, loneliness has both physical and mental outcomes. In physical outcomes the person is not able to take active part in daily activities.


He feels that he is not healthy and chronic disease limits his will and ability to survive, leading to anxiety and depression. This theory also says that if one is not able to standardize his or her own self and cannot order his or her style of living he or she may become the victim of loneliness.


Psychotherapist and therapists can help individuals who are suffering from loneliness by treating  strong subject matters that make it hard for them to structure connections or ones that strengthen their feelings of unhappiness. Talking helps, it can help individuals create acknowledgement towards oneself, making it less demanding for them to identify with others.


Psychotherapist Glen Gibson says: ‘My experience shows that every individual needs to be met where they are at, and no single strategy works for all’. An alternative, more directive, methodology may be to work with somebody solidly about what they are going to do with their emotions of dejection, for instance.


Cognitive therapy is an effective treatment for loneliness, it could help in identifying and changing dysfunctional thinking, behaviour and emotional responses. Through structured learning experiences, therapists teach patients to observe and write down their unhelpful thoughts and psychological images also identify how those ideas alter their mood, behaviour, and physical conditions.


They are also taught important coping skills, for example problem solving and planning pleasurable experiences. It employs many strategies, including Socratic questioning, role playing, imagery, guided invention, and behavioural experiments. A study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that the befriending scheme can help to relieve the impact of loneliness.


It’s important for those who live for a long time in a mental health institute or live alone in the community. Cacioppo said ”Group intervention is more effective than individual based therapies for loneliness”. In conclusion, I would say that there is a heartfelt need to grasp this problem and its consequences.


Responsible administration, proper training about coping mechanism and teaching about the importance and the value of family members is needed. We can create awareness among the people with the help of religious scholars and media about this act.


These depressed people need distinctive devotion and spiritual and psychological support. Through spiritual education and training we can mould them and produce creative minds, which may be strong enough to face problems. In the end I would like to quote: “God didn’t promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow or sun without rain, But God did promise the strength in the day, comfort for the tears and light for a way” -Anonymous.




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