Anyone can feel lonely, even when surrounded by friends, and loneliness is on the up. How can we curb its devastating effect on people’s mental and physical health? Health 19 July 2017 By Moya SarnerIMAGINE you are a zookeeper and it’s your job to design an enclosure for humans. What single feature would best ensure the health and well-being of the animals in your care? Appropriate access to food and water? Shelter? The thought experiment has only one answer, according to social neuroscientist John Cacioppo who proposed it. The enclosure, above all else, must take into account our need for connection with other humans. Advertisement We are an “obligatorily gregarious species”, in Cacioppo’s words. Yet if so, this is not how many of us live today. We are often far from our families, in homes where we are the sole occupant, socialising, working and shopping online. This can have a serious downside: a gnawing feeling of loneliness to which most of us can be prone, regardless of age or stage of life. We’re just beginning to understand what serious consequences that can have. Loneliness changes the brain, taking hold of our thoughts and behaviours in ways that are likely to… Read full this story
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