Loneliness is the feeling of solitude, of isolation from "the others". Researchers describe loneliness as perceived difference between desired and existing contacts. On this definition of the Young Gierveld, most research on the prevalence of loneliness based.
There is a distinction between social and emotional loneliness (Weiss) and between situational and lasting loneliness (Stevens). It is good to realize that loneliness is something other than social isolation. Loneliness is a feeling, social isolation, a situation. That is, there is substantial difference between being alone, and feel alone.
Most people who call it loneliness describe a feeling of sadness, of emptiness. Many people who have experienced the loneliness suffered by the first time they were separated from their parents or guardians.
The feeling of powerlessness that occurred while still linked to the feeling of loneliness. That means that loneliness is persistent: people feel (wrongly) their situation and unable to change their emotions.
It may mean that someone living in such a way that those feelings are avoided, by avoiding contact with others. Contact is very threatening, and this should therefore not be sought solution for loneliness.
The function of loneliness
Feelings of loneliness, like pain, a signal that something is wrong. When loneliness is about the experience of being alone, a dangerous situation for a man. It is a signal to look for 'the others', to less alone in life. 'The others' are those in whom they could feel at home, by whom one feels accepted and appreciated.
Every person learns in early childhood experience what is solitude. If that experience does not go well, for example by a disturbance in childhood, a lifelong search for the avoidance of loneliness as a result. Any disruption of established patterns in living conditions can lead to difficult to handle feelings of loneliness.
Disturbances in the pattern of life are often the occasion to experience loneliness. Circumstances such as having to get used to a new job, ending a relationship, getting a child, moving from family or friends, or death of relatives, but even small disruptions can cause feelings of loneliness.
Also disruption of lifestyle at a young age, such as hospitalization and inadequate or absent parents, hear this. Whoever fails again after a disturbance at a satisfactory lifestyle can build persistent feelings of loneliness love. If that feeling at a young age can occur, not always right, thinking that being alone is an integral part of one's personality.
Those who suffer from loneliness does certainly not isolated. Loneliness is a feeling, no situation. Alone does not mean that you feel lonely. But the phenomenon that people are alone and feeling alone, takes in the western individualized society does matter.
It occurs among people of all ages. In the Netherlands would be 4 to 22% of the elderly regularly or often suffer from loneliness (1997). 2004 study indicates that roughly one in four Dutch own (sometimes) called lonely. Striking is the relatively high scores in the age of thirty-to forty-five year olds.
Many factors such as physical health, social skills and competencies, living conditions, living environment, life events, personality factors and social network influence feelings of loneliness. This is directly related to the content of relationships one has and which one would wish. If it does not balance, loneliness can occur.
Prolonged loneliness is unhealthy. Shown that people who suffer from loneliness have an immunocompromised. Loneliness is associated with several diseases, the most striking depression.
Dealing with loneliness
Especially because many people feel themselves to be powerless, it is sometimes difficult to do something about loneliness. Recognize that the problem exists for the individual needed for successful influence. A next step to greater participation in society is to participate in certain activities.
It is not that always take part in social activities can offer the solution to loneliness. In this context, the need to distinguish between social isolation (a situation) and loneliness (a basic sense). From a social isolation can come into contact with others. Tackling loneliness always requires individual approach. Sometimes just making contact with others not identified.
Helpers sometimes try by making house calls and filling out questionnaires to find out how loneliness arose and what can be done as a solution. These questionnaires are used by other people from home care.