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Publisher's Summary

John T. Cacioppo's groundbreaking research topples one of the pillars of modern medicine and psychology: the focus on the individual as the unit of inquiry. By employing brain scans, monitoring blood pressure, and analyzing immune function, he demonstrates the overpowering influence of social context - a factor so strong that it can alter DNA replication. He defines an unrecognized syndrome, chronic loneliness; brings it out of the shadow of its cousin, depression; and shows how this subjective sense of social isolation uniquely disrupts our perceptions, behavior, and physiology, becoming a trap that not only reinforces isolation but can also lead to early death. He gives the lie to the Hobbesian view of human nature as a "war of all against all," and he shows how social cooperation is, in fact, humanity's defining characteristic. Most important, he shows how we can break the trap of isolation for our benefit both as individuals and as a society.
©2008 John T. Cacioppo and William Patrick (P)2008 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Top-notch science writing: stimulating and useful information conveyed in accessible prose." ( Kirkus)

What listeners say about Loneliness

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Reader sounds lonely

Very slow narrative pace was painful until I sped it up to 1.75x normal.

4 people found this helpful

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Great book

Great book for the worst disease of 21st century. Makes one question what is a "developed" nation and what is a "third world country"

2 people found this helpful

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Be Ready

Great book and information. During 2020 pandemic and being alone, this helped put life in perspective. I have good relationships and social connections, but listening to this book, I valued them more.

One strange thing happened, I went to meet up a friend visiting from Europe and on the way, I had overwhelming emotions. This book really made me think of friends who are so scared and distant from others and what could be happening to them emotionally and psychologically.

2 people found this helpful

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An eye-opening read

I’ve read a few titles that’ve referenced this book, so I figured it was finally time to give this one a shot. Within it, Cacioppo and Patrick shrewdly break down the evolutionary roots of loneliness and the effects it has on our psychology and physiology.

Those effects include many detrimental factors, but one of the most detrimental, in my opinion, is the fact that loneliness often becomes a trap. That is, we feel lonely, so we shy away from connecting with others, which in turn, makes us shameful and even more lonely, which starts the cycle over yet again.

The key to breaking out of this trap is reconnecting with others, in spite of our negative feelings. That could mean any number of things, many of which are covered in this book. The one caveat to such connection, however, is that it must be real, deep, and, likely, in person; text messages and emails don’t help us connect nearly as much as real-life interaction does.

With this in mind, the authors close the book on something of a warning note: technology and the global economy are changing the way we connect with one another, and if we want to avoid the devastating effects of loneliness in the future, we’re going to have to go out of our way to preserve our social connections in spite of such sweeping societal changes.

In the end, I found this one to be quite an eye-opening read. I recommend it to sociologists, psychiatrists, or anyone curious about mental health in general.

-Brian Sachetta
Author of “Get Out of Your Head: A Toolkit for Living with and Overcoming Anxiety”

2 people found this helpful

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Great information!

I love the author’s research and find that this information pertains to everyone. It’s even more do now in the middle of a global pandemic that has separated individuals and caused people to seek ways to connect.

1 person found this helpful

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If you don't feel lonely, the narrator will help.

What would have made Loneliness better?

I didn't think this book would be cheerful or anything, but the narrator's voice is terrible. Monotone, sad and slow singsongy. I have an academic interest in this subject, but found myself feeling depressed after I listened to it in my car. The book promises to give hope, but I just couldn't take it and stop listening after a few days.

What could John T. Cacioppo and William Patrick have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

I found the book to be a little slow moving. Many of the examples were trite and hokey.

What didn’t you like about Dick Hill’s performance?

His tone and delivery were difficult because his voice is slow and monotone. It didn't fit well at all for a non-fiction book.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

I think the subject is very important, and maybe could have been okay with the voice if the content got to the point a little faster. For example, there were labored, general examples of fictional people experiencing loneliness that didn't seem to serve a purpose.

Any additional comments?

It's mediocre writing and reading -- generally lacking enthusiasm. With some editing and a spark, this could be a very good audiobook.

7 people found this helpful

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does offer any way of dealing with lonely

basically loniensess is proven to be harmful. an one should try avoid to be lonely. you known in case some one was considering taking up lonliness and thinking it wasn't that bad. the book is some what insightfull in describing it, and actually talks about a lot studies that show how loneliness impacts people but offers no solutions!!! essentially this book is useless

7 people found this helpful

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More applicable now than ever given the Pandemic

Devoured this. I've had the physical copy for 6 years and wish I had read it sooner.

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important to read, but the reading is very dry

The information is amazing and useful.
The presentation sucks horrendously.
Will read / listen to again based on the value of the information provided.

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An in depth look at how loneliness impacts our biology

Years ago, I placed a bet with myself that happiness could be achieved while in a state of constant loneliness. After all, emotions are just chemicals floating around in fleshy tubes right?

Well, without boring you with the details, I lost the bet. This book explains why.

Ultimately, after spending years of studying happiness, I’ve realized that being social is one of the most important ingredients to living a truly fulfilling life (assuming they’re good ones). By contrast, living a life of minimal social interaction can be devastating to us in ways that both apparent, and covert.

Having a healthy social life is a keystone trait to a happy life. This book warns of the dangers of being alone, and gives hope for what you can do to fix it.