Dealing In Loneliness | How To Coupe With Your Feelings


This is a condition that is widely distributed and severely distressing. Yet only a handful of psychiatrist, psychologist, and sociologist have studied the isolation of ordinary people.

Sullivan, the great American psychiatrist, is among the very few who have done so and among the very few in any of the social sciences who have attempted a description of the symptomatology of isolation.

His description is brief and sketchy, but nevertheless notably perceptive.

In particular he commented on the “driving force” of this issue – a force great enough, he pointed out, to cause people who were normally painfully shy to aggressively seek social activity.

Maybe you’ll start up a relationship. If so, then you’ll next have to learn how to deal with jealousy and insecurity.

He concluded that “the fact that loneliness will lead to integrations in the face of severe automatically means that it in itself is more terrible than anxiety.”

Others who have observed the the pressures under which the lonely seem to act by and large have agreed with  Sullivan’s appraisal.

Why, then, has there been so little research on this subject? It is much more often commented on by songwriters than by social scientists. One psychiatrist has suggested that we neglect this issue because we have no theory with which to begin to cope with its manifestations. Is Facebook making us lonely?


            Young Woman Seeking Companion

There may be some merit in this position; scientific attention may be directed in part by the emphases of theory and the established preoccupations of the field.

But Frieda Fromm-Reichmann noted that at least one reason that we have no very good theory about isolation is that we have studied it so little.

She suggested that the absence of attention to be explained not by the challenge isolation is presented to understanding, but rather by the threat it presented to well-being.

She said that this issue is “such a painful, frightening experience that people will do practically everything to avoid it.”

 The frequency and intensity of this feeling are not only underestimated but the isolated themselves tend to be disparaged. It seems easy to blame their issues on their frailties and to accept this fault-finding as explanation.

Our image of individuals lacking company often casts them as justifiably rejected; as people who are unattractive, shy, intentionally reclusive, undignified in their complaints, self-absorbed, self-pitying.

We may go further and suppose that chronic loneliness must to some extent be chosen. Surely, we must argue, it is easy enough to be acceptable to others.

All that is necessary is to be pleasant, outgoing, interested in others rather than in oneself. Why can’t the isolated change?

They must find a perverse gratification in their lack of company; perhaps isolation, despite its pain, permits them to continue a self-protective isolation or provides them with an emotional handicap that force handouts of pity from those with whom they interact.

Thoughts like these may justify professional as well as lay impatience with the isolation.

There may be some small merit in this characterological theory of isolation. But there is also implicit in it a rationalization for rejection of the isolated and the problem of isolation.


                 Lonely Man Taking a Stroll On The Beach.

Each is pictured as easy to understand: the lonely are people who move against others or away from others and of course they then feel bad because they are alone.

Along these lines, advice for the isolated would seem obvious: be pleasant, outgoing, interested in others, meet people; become part of things.

If the isolated cannot behave in these ways, then they ought to enter psychotherapy, change, learn to be more outgoing.

 Yet for those who suffer from ‘lack of company,’ advice of this sort often seems oddly beside the point. There may seem to them to be something in emptiness that is ‘uncanny,’ to use Fromm-Reichmann’s word.

It is peculiarly insistent; no matter how much those who are ‘feeling empty’ would like to shake it off, no matter how much they may berate themselves for permitting it to overcome them, they find themselves possessed by it.

No matter how devotedly they may count their other blessings, no matter how determined they may be to put their minds to other things, the isolation remains, an almost eerie affliction of their spirits.

Isolation is not simply a desire for company, any company; rather it yields only to very specific forms of relationships. Isolation is often uninterrupted by social activity; the social activity may feel “out there,” in no way engaging the individual’s emotions.

However the responsiveness of isolation to just the right sort of relationship with others is absolutely remarkable.

Given the establishment of these relationships, isolation will vanish abruptly and without trace, as though it never had existed.

There is no gradual recovery, no getting over it bit by bit. When it ends, it ends suddenly; one was lonely, one is not any more. You don’t have to be lonely. What you need is to build your confidence  and go out and face the world.

So what do you think? Did you enjoy this article? If so, please share it on your social media page.

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on May 2, 2017 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.


  1. Hi Ronald!

    I believe life is meant to be shared. Friends, family, lovers, partners. They all give sense to our lives.

    I think if we’re alone and do not socially interact, it’s like we’ve never existed. And when I say “socially” I don’t mean social networks, I mean real human contact.

    It’s sad how people sometimes isolate themselves for no reason. Sometimes it’s good to be alone with your thoughts, but that should be the exception to the rule.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this important topic.

    • Ronald Kennedy

      Thank you for commenting Israel. Yes loneliness is a real killer within itself. Also, on top of loneliness, here comes depression. The second killer. Like you stated Israel, having close family, friends and all those you love present, or even coming in and out of your life, is much better than having no one at all.

      I’ve heard that some people may constantly sit in front of their tv set, thinking this will replace the emptiness in their lives. Then there’s the long hours online (they figure this is the best substitute), regarding meeting someone to just communicate with. Nothing will replace actual human contact. For the folks who just down right enjoy being by themselves, I feel there’s other underlying issues that individual have to deal with. to each his own.

      Thanks again for checking in Israel. Let me know if I can help you with anything else.

  2. This is an interesting quote: “He concluded that “the fact that loneliness will lead to integrations in the face of severe automatically means that it in itself is more terrible than anxiety.” — I tend to agree that loneliness is indeed worse than anxiety and in many cases it may be the cause of anxiety as it was for me when I struggled with it. Thanks for the article!

    • Ronald Kennedy

      Hi Kateryna, thank you for commenting. Yes, that was an interesting quote by the great American psychiatrist Sullivan. Loneliness is a real killer that affects many Americans. Anxiety attacks are hard to deal with. People going through this handle their lonely episodes differently and sometime it could become so severe, the person take themselves out. So sad.

      Those who’s living through loneliness, come home to an empty house and the first thing they do turn on the tv or radio because they can’t stand the silence. It drives them crazy!! You start making calls just to talk to someone who probably don’t wanna talk to you anyway. (Others know what you’re going through, so when they see your name on the caller ID, they won’t answer. You’ll just be rambling anyway).

      I’m glad to hear you overcame your bout with anxiety. The worse case scenario of this would be a hospital stay, if the pills don’t work. Next the person has to worry about overdosing on too many pills. If it ain’t one problem it’s another.

      Thanks Kateryna for sharing your past issues with me. Also let me know if I can help you with anything else.

  3. Definitely true Ron!

    I hate to admit it but working for so long for so many years, I started feeling like something’s missing in my life. 

    I made it a goal to not be with anyone until I reached my objective and grow my business but I found myself having feelings for a girl. I’ve had bad experiences with all my exes which is why I set my mind to be focused fully on my job but something about this girl is just… amazing. 

    It’s a bit off topic but do you think I should take the risk again and go for my crush, or should I dismiss that feeling and try to cope with my loneliness until I reached my objective? I feel like those shaolin monks lol, not being able to be with someone until I passed.

    • Ronald Kennedy

      Loneliness is a real killer to some folks. Some can handle that feeling of long-term isolation and some can’t. There’s a saying that ‘good things come to those who wait.’ In your case Riaz, its best to take it slow. Strive to achieve your objectives, but still communicate with your crush. Let her know your true feelings about her and your plans. If she’s cool with you, she’ll stick around and work with you.

  4. jessie palaypay

    I have gotten used to be alone and I find that I like it a lot more than being with company that I am fond of nor do I have similar interests with. I have learned that I’d rather be alone by myself than alone with company. If anything it has taught me to find validation in myself than to look for it in others.

    • Ronald Kennedy

      Jessie, how long have you been alone? By the tone of your reply, it sounds like its been awhile. Some people choose to be alone by their own decision. Others have been thrust into the arena of loneliness through circumstances beyond their control. This happened to me. My wife died 2015, now I’m a widower living alone. But in no way, am I looking for a wife No time soon. Thanks for posting my friend. Please share!

  5. Whenever I find myself feeling lonely where it seems as if the whole world is busy with other things and people and I am not, I find the best course of action is to get myself busy in a project. For example, recently I set myself a 30 day declutter challenge of my house and it kept me pretty busy and focused for the entire time. I was absorbed in how I could live better and therefore feel I have more flow in my life and therefore feel I am making space for more people to enter my life or just have improved relationships with others. 

    I feel that often loneliness is caused by peoples perceptions of what life should be like and look like and social media plays a huge part in that. But I also feel that loneliness can be caused by simply a disinterest in life and other people, and therefore possibly a form of depression. One condition feeds the other. But, whenever I am feeling lonely, I feel the best way out is to get busy and start making lists of people you may not have contacted for a while and contact them!

    • Ronald Kennedy

      Liz, I like the solutions you made for yourself to combat loneliness. You’re right that a serious case of loneliness could possibly lead to some form of depression; and in some extreme cases even suicide. Liz, you seem to be a sane person, so I know you won’t go that far. Loneliness can take ‘the wind out of your sails.’ You’ll walk through your apartment doing all type of crying shit. It’s good you do things to keep your mind occupied. Please  share this post with others.

  6. Interesting post thanks for sharing this information . I believe there is a difference between being alone and wanting to be alone . I sometimes isolate myself when I want to have time to reflect on whats on my mind , I would say this is wnating to be alone . Being alone in my opinion happens when people are somewhat interacting and still feeling alone . Is this a sign of depression . 

    When looking at the question is Facebook making us lonely  , I believe it’s true , people are getting so used to interacting on social media using memes and such that the art of conversation is be coming a “lost art ” . How many times have you walked into a room of people and most of them are on their cell phones …. isolated and alone while with a group of people? 

    Just my opinion … keep on sharing , thanks 

    • Ronald Kennedy

      Hey Rick, you bought up some interesting points that make much sense. Social media seems to have taken over our society. Texting is what everyone wants to do, as opposed to picking up the phone. Talking one on one, by phone seem to have gone out with ‘horse n’ buggy.’ (maybe not quite that bad, but it’s getting to that past era.)

  7. loneliness they say kills faster than most deadly diseases, it’s the start point of self hatred and can lead to anxiety , depression most people tend to be okay been alone only for them to realize what they left behind by been alone,  I myself used to want to be alone just to get a perfect peace of mind it turned out I was a victim to my circumstances when I needed help and no one was going to render help all because I wanted to be alone. Changing been alone is important it could even lead to wrong thoughts.

    • Ronald Kennedy

      Yes Seun, I agree that loneliness is a ‘killer.’ Some people seem to accept this killer. I don’t know why folks enjoy  isolating themselves from the world. Being alone by choice is ok, just to clear your head and get things done. But once done, you’re back in the swing of these. They won’t let loneliness get the best of them.

  8. This is a great article about a serious dilemma. I suffer from a form of loneliness which turns into border depression.  The fact of the matter is that its even worse because I am lonely even though there is always people around me.You don’t have to be alone to feel lonely but actually just have to feel alone.  I really suggest if yu feel this way you get someone to talk to that will listen.Thank you for a great article. I might just share it on one of my websites. Dale

    • Ronald Kennedy

      Yes Dale. Some folks choose loneliness as their best friend. They rather deal within this quiet situation, than mingle with others. They may turn to social media for a short while, but hardly any human contact. These folks need professional help. Dale, feel free to share this  

  9. Isn’t it ironic that in a world that is more socially connected than ever before that loneliness is still very much alive. In fact I think it’s worse and that’s because people interact less and less with real people, favoring digital socializing, which can never take the place of real people connection. 

    Unfortunately social media has also led to increased polarization between the ‘in’ and ‘out’ crowd, heightening the pain for those who feel like they don’t fit in.There’s also the role it plays in bullying, which also leads to loneliness. 

    I feel sure that social media plays a large role in driving some people to choose to opt out and isolate themselves. This is not a problem if they are content to be alone, but if not, then they experience the pain of loneliness which is quite different.  

    Thanks for the thought provoking article.   


    • Ronald Kennedy

      I agree mark that social media is providing a strong connection when it boils down to why people are remaining to be alone. No human contact necessary, and at the same time you feel you’re not alone. But this is not reality! It’s mentally unhealthy and in the long run cause devastating, unhealthy mental effects.

  10. Wow…great topic! Loneliness vs. being lonely is an excellent topic to discuss. We’ve all experienced both, and I wholeheartedly agree that social media has added to it:( 

    Not only do people get sucked into it for hours on end, removing themselves from the rest of the world…they also get caught up in comparing themselves to everyone else:( This just isn’t healthy. 

    The video was great too!

    Thanks for the great article!


    • Ronald Kennedy

      Thanks Chris for checking in with me. As I’ve stated before, and as you’ve touched on it as well too, social media is a real killer! It continues to separate people from the real world. No human contact is just fine because in their mind, they’re really not lonely. They are satisfied with this form of communication. This is their escape route. 

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