Loneliness: Human nature and the need for social connection

John T Cacioppo, William Patrick


Reviewed by Antonia P. Sani

Pioneering neuroscientist Cacioppo reveals the reasons for loneliness and what to do about it. His research topples one of the pillars of modern medicine and psychology: the focus on the individual as the unit of inquiry. By employing brain scans, monitoring blood pressure and analyzing immune functions, he demonstrates the influence of social context, a factor so strong that it can alter DNA replication. He defines an unrecognized syndrome: chronic loneliness, showing how a subjective sense of social isolation uniquely disrupts our perceptions, behavior and physiology.

The syndrome, in this way, becomes a trap that not only reinforces isolation but, can also lead to an early death.
More importantly, the author shows readers how to escape the trap both as individuals an as a society.