After our discussion on Monday about things that are Essential for Life/Helpful for Making Life Easier/Nice to Have to Make Life More Interesting/Pure Luxuries, I looked for some support for my claim in class that "studies show" humans need other humans. Click on the Heading for this entry, and you'll find an example of one such study that shows people do, indeed, need other humans to survive and thrive.
After our discussion on Monday about things that are Essential for Life/Helpful for Making Life Easier/Nice to Have to Make Life More Interesting/Pure Luxuries, I looked for some support for my claim in class that "studies show" humans need other humans. One such study, by psychologist John Cacioppo shows people do, indeed, need other humans to survive and thrive. Here's a quotation from a Psychology Today article reporting on his work:
"Psychologist John Cacioppo of the University of Chicago has been tracking the effects of loneliness. He performed a series of novel studies and reported that loneliness works in some surprising ways to compromise health."
"Perhaps most astonishing, in a survey he conducted, doctors themselves confided that they provide better or more complete medical care to patients who have supportive families and are not socially isolated.
- Living alone increases the risk of suicide for young and old alike.
- Lonely individuals report higher levels of perceived stress even when exposed to the same stressors as non-lonely people, and even when they are relaxing.
- The social interaction lonely people do have are not as positive as those of other people, hence the relationships they have do not buffer them from stress as relationships normally do.
- Loneliness raises levels of circulating stress hormones and levels of blood pressure. It undermines regulation of the circulatory system so that the heart muscle works harder and the blood vessels are subject to damage by blood flow turbulence.
- Loneliness destroys the quality and efficiency of sleep, so that it is less restorative, both physically and psychologically. They wake up more at night and spend less time in bed actually sleeping than do the nonlonely.
So, what do you think? People/social connections as an essential need for humans?
And, what do you think about the fact that we've created a society where this need is not met for many people, or is met only as part of an economic transaction--for example, by paying an assisted living center to do the work of care-giving that families in many society provide to their elders?