Home Interpersonal & Group Psychology Influence / Communication The Wonder of Interpersonal Relationships II: Pushing Away to Loneliness from a Sociological Perspective

The Wonder of Interpersonal Relationships II: Pushing Away to Loneliness from a Sociological Perspective

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The primary challenge for Introverts often centers on the matter of loneliness. When you remain reticent to engage with other people, then it is possible that we end up feeling lonely. And when we are lonely for an extended period of time, then we are likely to be doing damage to our heart and soul. (Waldinger and Schulz, 2023, p. 92):

“When you’re lonely; it hurts. And we don’t mean that metaphorically. It has a physical effect on the body. Loneliness is associated with being more sensitive to pain, suppression of the immune system, diminished brain function, and less effective sleep, making an already lonely person even more tired and irritable.”

Waldinger and Schulz (2023, p. 94) offer an evolutionary perspective on the threats to be found in an act of “going it alone”:

“. . . human beings have evolved to be social. The biological processes that encourage social behavior are there to protect us, not to harm us. When we feel isolated, our bodies and brains react in ways that are designed to help us survive that isolation. Fifty thousand years ago. being alone was dangerous. If the Homo sapiens we mentioned earlier was left at her tribe’s river settlement by herself, her body and brain would have gone into temporary survival mode. The need to recognize threats would have fallen on her alone, and her stress hormones would have increased and made her more alert. If her family or tribe were away overnight and she had to sleep by herself, her sleep would have been shallower; if a predator was approaching, she would want to know, so she would have been more easily aroused, and she would have experienced more awakenings in the night.

If for some reason she found herself alone for say; a month, rather than a night, these physical processes would continue, morphing into a droning, constant sense of unease, and they would begin to take a toll on her mental and physical health. She would be, as we say, stressed out. She would be lonely.

The same effects of loneliness continue today. The feeling of loneliness is a kind of alarm ringing inside the body. At first, its signals may help us. We need them to alert us to a problem. But imagine living in your house with a fire alarm going off all day, every day, and you start to get a sense of what chronic loneliness is doing behind the scenes to our minds and bodies.”

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