The Lonely American: Drifting Apart in the Twenty-first Century

The Lonely American: Drifting Apart in the Twenty-first Century

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non-fiction, , audiobook, psychology, radio_health_journal, psychology, psychology, re-read, 2020-books, relationships, health, non-fiction, relationships, nonfiction, read-2012, Nonfiction, Psychology, Sociology, Science, Relationships, Cultural

In today's world, it is more acceptable to be depressed than to be lonely-yet loneliness appears to be the inevitable byproduct of our frenetic contemporary lifestyle. According to the 2004 General Social Survey, one out of four Americans talked to no one about something of importance to them during the last six months. Another remarkable fact emerged from the 2000 U.S. Census: more people are living alone today than at any point in the country's history—fully 25 percent of households consist of one person only. In this crucial look at one of America's few remaining taboo subjects—loneliness—Drs. Jacqueline Olds and Richard S. Schwartz set out to understand the cultural imperatives, psychological dynamics, and physical mechanisms underlying social isolation.

In The Lonely American, cutting-edge research on the physiological and cognitive effects of social exclusion and emerging work in the neurobiology of attachment uncover startling, sobering ripple effects of loneliness in areas as varied as physical health, children's emotional problems, substance abuse, and even global warming. Surprising new studies tell a grim truth about social isolation: being disconnected diminishes happiness, health, and longevity; increases aggression; and correlates with increasing rates of violent crime. Loneliness doesn't apply simply to single people, either—today's busy parents "cocoon" themselves by devoting most of their non-work hours to children, leaving little time for friends, and other forms of social contact, and unhealthily relying on the marriage to fulfill all social needs.

As a core population of socially isolated individuals and families continues to balloon in size, it is more important than ever to understand the effects of a culture that idealizes busyness and self-reliance. It's time to bring loneliness—a very real and little-discussed social epidemic with frightening consequences-out into the open, and find a way to navigate the tension between freedom and connection in our lives.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Title:The Lonely American: Drifting Apart in the Twenty-first Century
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9780807000342
Format Type:

    The Lonely American: Drifting Apart in the Twenty-first Century Reviews

  • M0rningstar

    An even-toned book on a timely and important topic, The Lonely American advances a thoughtful thesis: our efforts at stepping back from the light-speed hubbub of our daily lives to reconnect with "wha...

  • Alisa

    This book contains an excellent critique of the cult of busyness that most of us are committed to, and how that negatively affects our relationships. I felt very convicted by my natural tendency to wi...

  • Mehrzad M.

    Chapter 7 of the book covers loneliness in relationships / marriage. Hands down, the best chapter of the book, and without a doubt, best chapter I've ever listened to about loneliness in any book! And...

  • Oswald

    Quotes I found interesting:"gossip plays the same role for humans that grooming behavior does for other primates. It creates bonds between individuals tht go beyond the basic reproductive units of sex...

  • Sarah Dale

    Very readable and a well-informed and interesting reflection on what is happening to many people in Western societies, not just America. Loneliness is often a taboo subject but can have a profound eff...

  • Sue

    If you feel like the only person in the United States with no one to talk to, join the club. In this psychological-sociological look at the growing tendency to sever connections with other people, we ...

  • Tabitha Gallman

    I can't recommend this book enough. It is written by two clinical professors of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. From an appropriate perspective, the doctors have shared their research on the sub...

  • Viewpoints Radio

    Everyone needs some alone time in their lives. Although often times alone time may be nice, research finds that too much alone time can affect our mental health. Loneliness and social isolation can ha...

  • James Ruley

    Robert Putnam’s book “Bowling Alone” sparked a multitude of books discussing the dissolution of communal bonds in America. “The Lonely American” is one of those books. This work discusses ho...

  • Ericka Clou

    Being too busy is bad, but even worse is checking out of social life. When this happens people get depressed, then use alcohol, drugs, or pharmaceuticals to deal with their depression. Therapy is bett...