Loneliness: malady and cure | Sunday Observer

Loneliness: malady and cure

23 April, 2023

People are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges. - Joseph Fort Newton

Dr. Paul Tournier, the eminent Swiss psychiatrist, said, “Loneliness is the most devastating malady of our times. It is the seed condition from which sprouts a host of other problems assailing modern man’s spirit.”

Even many other distinguished psychologists agree that there is no human condition so acute or so universal. In a poll of psychiatric patients, over 80 percent of those interviewed admitted that loneliness was the principal reason they sought help. According to media reports, many people commit suicide due to loneliness. Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) said it is the loneliness that drives people to drinking.


Loneliness does not respect your age. It can strike anybody at any time. When parents do not show love towards their children, they feel lonely. The situation of teenagers is even worse. Most of the time, they feel misunderstood by their parents.

Then they try to alienate themselves from parents. Most parents find it difficult to control teenagers. Even teenagers do not like to be controlled by their parents or teachers. The trouble is that when they are given full freedom, most teenagers go astray or fall prey to drug lords.

Even married couples are not immune to loneliness. Many couples feel estranged from their partners even while living together with their children and close relatives. When people grow old, loneliness is the biggest problem they have to grapple with. They feel that they are no longer useful to society. Thus loneliness assails us all at times for no apparent reason. It can affect you anytime anywhere.

However, there is no need to worry simply because you feel lonely. Being intelligent human beings, we should be able to find ways and means to defeat loneliness. In fact there is a science of getting rid of loneliness. Even if you join a club and get busy with its programs, you are unlikely to deal with loneliness. Some people visit places, go to see films or attend carnivals and musical shows to get rid of loneliness. Sadly, such ventures may not produce good results.

Recognise loneliness

Psychologists have come up with many ways to get rid of loneliness. One such way is to recognise loneliness for what it is. A counsellor narrated an incident how he advised a client to start a new project for a group of people who were feeling lonely. When he explained the details of the project, all of them said they did not want to take part in such a project. When pressed for the reason, they said such a project would make their situation worse.

There is a distinction between loneliness and aloneness. Aloneness can produce loneliness. However, there are people living alone quite happily. They know how to use their aloneness for some kind of productive work. For instance, an artist or a musician can live alone while producing beautiful paintings or melodies. On the other hand, most of us need certain time slots to be alone to generate physical and spiritual reinvigoration. Those who meditate at hermitages do so all alone, but they are not suffering from loneliness.

The death of a close relative or friend can cause a temporary feeling of loneliness. When the husband dies, the wife will feel loneliness to the highest degree. However, such loneliness will not last a lifetime. In case it does not happen so, loneliness might lead to a crippling disease. The only remedy is to live a couple of days alone without succumbing to loneliness.

Helping others voluntarily is an effective way of getting rid of loneliness. During a natural disaster, volunteers rush to affected areas to help the victims. Those who do so without expecting any remuneration will reap very good results. If you stay at home brooding over your problems, you will worsen your situation. Your inner floods and disasters can be more devastating than natural floods or storms.

Loneliness hit many parents when their grown-up children move away after marriage. This is the best time to help your neighbours’ children and their aged parents. By doing so, you will not feel loneliness. When you feel lonely, fill your life with meaningful action. I have seen retired teachers giving free tuition to needy children in villages. They are doing a commendable service to the community while getting away from loneliness.

All human beings have many needs. Psychologist Abraham Maslow has discovered a hierarchy of needs. They are food and drink, safety and security, love and belonging, esteem and self-actualisation.

When we have a steady supply of nourishing food and drink, the first need is satisfied. We build houses to live safely from dangers fulfilling the second need. We fall in love with members of the opposite sex and fulfil the third need. When your love needs are satisfied, you crave for self-esteem.

You expect some respect from society for demonstrating your skills. The satisfaction of the need leads to self-confidence and self-actualisation. The relationship of self-actualised people is marked by a free-flowing spontaneity and absence of fear. They are not afraid of speaking the truth.

Miraculous healing

In the 21st century, loneliness has become an epidemic. In many developed countries, a large number of people live alone. Particularly, the elderly and socially isolated are running the risk of embracing loneliness. Lonely people cannot sleep well and they are subject to various infections, depression and premature death.

If you think you are feeling lonely, do not suffer thinking it is your fate. If you can cultivate a friendship with someone, it will lead to a miraculous healing. Turn to friends at the first sign of loneliness. They will come to your emotional rescue. What is more, friendship boosts the hormone oxytocin, a balm for loneliness.

Another cure for loneliness is to embrace spirituality. When you take part in religious activities, meditation or yoga, your heart will be flooded with compassion. Some people claim that when you talk to God, you become spiritual, but when God talks to you, you are psychotic. If everything fails, think of loneliness and connections as energetic opposites. Loving interaction will respond to loneliness in a positive way.

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