Loneliness

Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection
Narrated by: Dick Hill
Length: 10 hrs and 32 mins
4.2 out of 5 stars (174 ratings)

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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
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Reader sounds lonely

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

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

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.

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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”

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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.

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Insightful

The book had some interesting knowledge and reports on studies regarding loneliness. There wasn’t much “here’s how to overcome loneliness” other than comprehending what they were reporting in the research and utilizing the findings to make changes. It was a little odd in that they described qualities that help fight against loneliness (such as warmth and empathy) and then stayed coldly scientific. A book on loneliness is not going to help combat loneliness but it seemed a little odd they only include anecdotes of loneliness without including anecdotes of comfort and belonging. The book spent what seemed like a long time/portion talking about evolution and different studies regarding animals. Some of it was helpful. However it felt a little redundant. Near the end they speak about social media and this is where they book shows its age. They spoke about people interacting through the media though they noted it would likely not be as beneficial as in person. There have been many studies to come out since publication noting social media’s negative effects on loneliness and this wasn’t touched on at all.

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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

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Long, deep and intense

pretty intense read but love it. need to read it again. not an easy read but I can tell it is awesome