Aloneness or Loneliness


A series or recent articles published in The Guardian explore both sides of the experience of being alone.

Why do we have such a problem with being alone?

Personal freedom has never been more celebrated, yet we are terrified of being alone, and regard those who choose to be so with suspicion. Sara Maitland on the joy of solitude  

The Guardian,             

Sara Maitland in Carlin’s Cairn, Galloway Forest Park
‘Happy as a pig in clover’ … Sara Maitland in Carlin’s Cairn, Galloway Forest Park. Photograph: Adam Lee

I live alone. I have lived alone for more than 20 years now. I do not just mean that I am single – I live in what might seem to many people to be "isolation" rather than simply "solitude". My home is in a region of Scotland with one of the lowest population densities in Europe, and I live in one of the emptiest parts of it: the average population density of the UK is 674 people per sq mile (246 per sq km). In my valley, we have (on average) more than three sq miles each. The nearest shop is 10 miles away, and the nearest supermarket more than 20. There is no mobile-phone connection and very little through-traffic uses the single-track road that runs a quarter of a mile below my house. On occasion, I do not see another person all day. I love it.

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Loneliness is killing us – we must start treating this disease

A report says loneliness is more deadly than obesity – the challenge now is to help lonely people connect,                   

A winter walk alone
'Feeling isolated can disrupt sleep, raise blood pressure, weaken immunity, increase depression and lower subjective wellbeing.' Photograph: Ocean/Corbis

That loneliness is a health issue would not have been a surprise to Mother Teresa who once said: "The biggest disease today is not leprosy or cancer or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for and deserted by everybody."

But now doctors have quantified the effects of the loneliness disease, warning that lonely people are nearly twice as likely to die prematurely as those who do not suffer feelings of isolation. Being lonely it seems, is a lot more worrying for your health than obesity.

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