About this Research Topic
Various psychological, sociological and philosophical approaches have addressed the necessary condition for living and surviving and repeatedly demonstrated that belonging is a central and essential factor in good life, affecting health, cognitive development, emotional functioning, and quality of life. From the moment of birth, the welfare of any human being is dependent upon the protection and care provided by other human beings. From an evolutionary perspective, the ability to survive is largely dependent upon successful affiliation with other people. And so, when people are socially isolated or marginalized, loneliness motivates a reestablishment of social contacts that are necessary to the welfare and survival of the once lonely individual. Loneliness is a basic human experience that is serving a protective function in that it alerts us to our isolation and the needs to ameliorate it. While loneliness is as basic to being human as breathing and feeling joyous, it has an evolutionary function which is to alert us that we are by ourselves [either objectively or subjectively] and need to act to join back ‘the group’. Just like in nature an animal which is alone becomes the lion’s lunch, so are humans – we cannot survive without others. Loneliness has been linked to various physical and emotional ailments, and can not only be salient in causing illness, but can exacerbate present sickness, and is also related to mortality. Hence, knowing how to address loneliness, cope with its pain, and belong to a group are essential to a fulfilling life.
It is said that loneliness is now an epidemic, which is enhanced by technology, and the western culture’s dictates that we need to be independent self-sufficient. Britain’s assignment of a minister for loneliness has brought it to the attention, not only of politicians, but of academicians and the public at large.
Research over the past decades has crystalized that loneliness is an unwanted painful experience, which is a universal and integral part of living, and is experienced when specific conditions are present, such as a significant loss of a loved one, a childhood marred by loneliness, and anxious and avoidant attachment to significant adults in infancy, and fear of intimacy that one may develop. These days, research is aiming to find how loneliness affects various aspects of our lives, such as intimate relationships, choosing a profession, enhancing medical treatment of those who suffer physically and may be helped by belonging, helping the elderly and those struggling with congenital deformities and other illness cope with the loneliness that is often part and parcel of their condition, and addressing loneliness in death and dying.
Therefore, this Research Topic will be devoted to two central themes in human lives: the need to belong, and the loneliness that results when that need is not fulfilled. In particular, we welcome contributions addressing the following subtopics:
• Loneliness in intimate relations
• Belonging and it effects on health and illness
• Loneliness in clinical settings [hospitalization and mental institutions]
• Loneliness in death and dying
• Coping with loneliness.
Articles, especially review articles, are sought from psychologists, social workers or sociologists for instance since belonging and loneliness are present for all, at different times and place.
Keywords: Loneliness, Belonging, Social contacts
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.