We are all living in the time of technology supposedly connecting through them but we never take a look on how we are getting detached from ourselves. Are digital technologies and media enough to make our social connections? Surely not, but with no doubt we are pitching ourselves more and more in the depth and constant desire of technological connections. This is the basic root of isolation in the 21st century and is also a highly disregarded topic in the society.
Isolation or loneliness is not a single word for “being separated”. It has its own contemporaries, counterparts and substitutes. Researches on loneliness show that it is contagious and people close to someone experiencing loneliness were 52 percent more likely to be lonely. A man can become lonely in a crowd and within a circle of family and friends too. Then the bodily presence of a person in all social and family occasions doesn’t mean that the person is not lonely. It is more mental, biological and psychological than physical, but can also bring physical deformities. In most cases it is not only the choice or interest, it rather becomes an obligation too.
Though loneliness is taken as psychological problem of drug and alcohol abuse, eating disorder, depression and anxiety it has its biological origin too. The isolation of interest is solitude where everybody can enjoy oneself, process of being and the process of becoming. It brings some bliss and enjoyment but there are other forms of isolation that bring chaos in a person and riots in a group. These include:
Interpersonal isolation is taken as the isolation from other individuals. It is one of the common forms and is generally experienced as loneliness resulting from many factors like geography i.e. geographical isolation, personality style, lack of social skills, etc. But in some scenarios the conflicts within person of feeling intimacy also act as a source of this type of isolation. In all these conditions people get detached on gratifying the social interactions and feel burdened by the social norms and values. Subsequently they lessen to become intimate refusing social occasions, festivals, rituals and abandoned social institutions like temple, library, social conferences, tea stalls and local shops. At the peak point they even don’t care about the family gatherings, parties and other social and life functions.
Intrapersonal isolation refers to the isolation where an individual loses himself from self, one’s autonomous organism. Outside the isolation a person is wholly independent of the thoughts of others but in this condition the person is wholly dependent on the thoughts of others. In such context people make certain assumptions laid by others upon him and remain isolated from the group and seem apathetic. Sigmund Freud considered this as a defense mechanism in psychoanalysis, a type of psychotherapy where isolation is made between the thought and person himself but not with others.
It is one of the most severe types of isolations where there appears an unbridgeable gap between the self and others. This type of gap exists even in the presence of deeply gratifying interpersonal relationships where one is not only isolated from others but also makes the world isolated from him. In the state of existential isolation a person is never a free entity and is always guided by own ethics of de-familiarization. The person in existential isolation sees no meaning in life and is facing the ontological dread. Such isolation is higher in men than in women as women value communal traits higher than men. The best way to solve the problem of existential isolation is by softening one’s boundaries (that creates isolation) and melting into another (the opponent force trying to outburst the isolation).
Loneliness in Nepal
Till date, we are growing and fostering in the families with strong familial and parental bond. In the recent years, we are being guided by the effects of globalization and individual priorities of nuclear family. The process of development and young people’s desire to live in the cities and towns has left the old parents in the countryside, subsequently driving us towards rural loneliness. In this situation the elderly people are combating the vulnerability of isolation. Similarly, the inability of the urban old population to cope with the changing effects of technology and globalization is creating a certain level of loneliness in urban old population. Looking into the children and adolescents the domination of the wide use of Internet and electrical equipment has habituated them to live an emotionless screen life pulling them to enjoy the lone life. The developed countries are taking the issue of loneliness as a big social problem and trying to fix it but in our context the government and the concerned authorities are unaware of the threats of loneliness in the near future.
It is estimated that loneliness will kill more people than any epidemic in the coming years. Different studies show that loneliness is the result of poor social network, health, individual characteristics and neighborhood characteristics. Being busy at some work, knowing who you are when you are alone (spiritual awakening), boosting the self-esteem, exploring the interest, enjoying the company and getting aware of the worrisome thoughts and behavior might be helpful to overcome loneliness. Once a person becomes a prey of isolation it is very hard to come out the situation.
Sometimes loneliness might also be the reason of some mental disorders like depression and anxiety but reliable factors are the relationship and social life issues. Healthy relationship and better social life play a pivotal role in getting away from the problem of loneliness. It is suggested that if you think you are alone and it is creating problems do not hesitate to see psychiatrist, psychologist, psychotherapist or counselor on time.
A person suffering from loneliness can seek social and peer support. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is the most widely used and successful methodology used for the treatment of loneliness. A support from the family members, parents, peers, family doctors might significantly help to reduce loneliness.
(Author is a psychologist working at Manodrishti Psychological Services and Research Institute)
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