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「孤獨感」 -- 開欄文
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幼時家中有六個小孩;在我之外,一個堂哥、三個姐姐、一個妹妹。跟我年齡相當的只有二姐和三姐。堂哥大我12歲,所以我小學畢業那年,他已經從台中農學院畢業,在新竹某林務單位工作了。

小學先在新店國小,三年級後(忘了上、下級)轉到景美國小。我是全班唯一的「阿山」言語和生活習慣都有些差異,在兩個結拜兄弟外,沒有什麼其他哥兒們。進了建中後,朋友當然多些;但我生性內向木訥,不擅交談。面目雖然並不可憎,言語確實乏味。稱得上「好朋友」的屈指可數。高中大學和工作期間亦然。我到41歲才結婚。因為這些經歷,我對「孤獨」並不陌生。小時候甚至有自說自話,和幻想有個人跟自己對話的習慣

我感到最孤獨的一刻是19671112月的某個冬天。美國大學生來自全州甚至全國各地,一到週末就做鳥獸散各自回家。校園和圖書館幾乎空無一人。某個星期天同住一個公寓的留學生各有活動我無所事事,下午獨自坐地鐵到到費城市中心。一眼望去,整條街鬼影也沒有,只見落葉與丟棄的報紙齊飛;風聲共陰暗天色襲來。不自覺的想起「前不見古人,後不見來者」這首唐詩。

後來從學長滌清兄處得知,(當時)費城仍遵守「安息日」的律條,星期天所有商店不得營業。  

我不是心理學家,以自己的經驗來說,解除「孤獨感」的方式大概有

1) 
生活要有個重心或寄託它可以包括興趣、目標、志向、使命、家庭等等
2) 
學會如何跟自己相處它可以包括:讀書、思考(特定議題)聽音樂、玩遊戲等等
3) 
參與公共活動,如教會志工、合唱團、讀書會等等找到一些志同道合的伙伴。此處指的不是大家僅僅一起哈拉、哈拉的社交活動

最近在網上讀到兩篇關於「孤獨」的研究報告。摘譯第一篇和轉載第二篇,謹供參考。

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我們應該如何看待孤獨感 ---- Anders Moen Kaste
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Should loneliness become a diagnosis?

Researchers have somewhat different views on what might solve the problem of loneliness.

Anders Moen Kaste, JOURNALIST, 02/11/24

The proportion of adolescents who are lonely 
has increased since the 1990s, a study shows.

Nayan Deepak Parlikar at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) believes the increase may be due to, among other things, more mobile phone use and increased social differences. She is the study's lead author.

What should society do to tackle the problem of loneliness?

Need knowledge about loneliness

Parlikar believes we need more knowledge about loneliness. Specifically what it is, how it is understood and expressed among young people – and their experiences of belonging and exclusion.

She believes loneliness should be its own diagnosis (
診斷程序), just like anxiety and depression, rather than just being seen as a feeling.

“If someone has been diagnosed with anxiety or depression, it should also be mandatory to ask if they are lonely,” she believes.

Loneliness often coincides with anxiety and depression.

Parlikar believes this could indirectly increase knowledge about loneliness.

Measures with limited effect

“Adolescents spend eight hours at school every day. Perhaps school is the most important place where there needs to be a conscious effort to address loneliness,” Parlikar says.

Psychologist and researcher Thomas Hansen at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health has written a knowledge summary on the topic for the Ministry of Health and Care Services.

The ministry has worked on a national strategy to combat loneliness, with special emphasis on adolescents and the oldest population. These age groups have the highest number of lonely people.
 
“The results didn’t bring much clarity. A variety of approaches, including therapy, social meeting places, and digital social networks, have been tested. Most of the measures have proven to have limited effect,” Hansen tells sciencenorway.no.

Not as simple as bringing people together

Hansen believes more research on preventive and structural measures is needed. He thinks these have a greater effect than treating the loneliness that already exists.


“In short: It's not as simple as bringing people together to stop them from being lonely,” Hansen says.

He does not believe in a quick and easy solution to the problem but supports increased awareness of the harmful aspects of social media among adolescents.

Age limits on Snapchat and social media could be beneficial. It might be a good idea to delay this exposure for as long as possible,” he believes.

Sceptical of pathologising problems we all have

Thomas Hansen is sceptical of the idea of loneliness as its own diagnosis, on par with (
一樣) anxiety and depression.

“I am sceptical of pathologising (
病態化視為一種疾病) problems that we all have. When I think of loneliness, I think of it as something other than a mental health problem. At the same time, we know that chronic loneliness is associated with an increased risk of a number of physical and mental health problems, so it’s important to take it seriously,” Hansen says.

He believes we should not diagnose normal and temporary difficulties. Many young people talk about being depressed or having anxiety without having been diagnosed, says Hansen.

According to Hansen, we are inherently equipped with anxiety and negative emotions for a reason.

“Especially historically, but also today, they have important human functions. But beyond a certain duration and severity, it becomes serious,” he says.

Better social ties with a steady job?

Young people carry the greatest burden of loneliness in the UK, according to researchers Julia Morgan and Vincent La Placa. They wrote an article about this in 
The Conversation in December 2023.

Social media has been shown to affect our relationships with other people, they write.

The researchers also mention that more young people are without steady jobs and change workplaces more often. They believe that having a steady job can make it easier to form friendships.

They think it is important that society regards loneliness an epidemic, not as a personal failure.

Morgan and La Placa also believe it is important to get help when loneliness becomes overwhelming. This can feel harder than it should, the researchers write.

“Perhaps because of the mistaken belief that it is something that affects older – not younger – people. It is not uncommon to feel shame or fear being mocked or blamed for feeling this way,” they write.

Too focused on the symptoms?

“By talking about loneliness as a virus or an epidemic, we pathologise it,” says Professor Fay Bound Alberti. She wrote 
an article in The Conversation in 2019. She believed there was a tendency to view feelings as mental health problems.

There is too much attention on symptoms and not causes, she believed.

She attributes much of today’s loneliness to our ideas about the society we live in. We have a conviction that people are fundamentally individuals completely separate from each other and unique, she believes.

Furthermore, Alberti claims that loneliness is more than one thing and that we tend to forget that. For example, she mentions how a single mother in a food queue feels lonely in a completely different way than an old man who has lost all his friends.

A teenager who has a rich social life online, but not so many friendships outside the internet, will also be completely different from the single mother and the old man.

Maybe we are already doing something right. Thomas Hansen says that the latest figures from Ungdata (Young data) may indicate that the trend has reversed in Norway.

** A new diagnosis would increase the knowledge about loneliness, believes doctoral candidate Nayan Deepak Parlikar at NTNU.

** “I don’t think of loneliness as a mental health problem,” says psychologist and researcher Thomas Hansen at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. 

Translated by Alette Bjordal Gjellesvik

Read the Norwegian version of this article on forskning.no

Reference:

Parlikar et al.
 Loneliness in the Norwegian adolescent population: prevalence trends and relations to mental and self-rated healthBMC Psychiatry, vol. 23, 2023. DOI: 10.1186/s12888-023-05404-5

NTNU study: Increase in the number of lonely adolescents

* Among all those asked, nearly twice as many felt lonely in 2017-2019 as in 1995-1997.
* The increase was from 5.9 per cent to 10.2 per cent.
* The increase was greater for girls than boys.
* The study is published in the scientific journal BMC Psychiatry.
*  Between 8,000 and 9,000 teenagers participated in each survey. They were divided into two age groups: 13-15 years and 16-19 years.
* Nayan Deepak Parlikar and colleagues have based their study on Ung-HUNT surveys from three periods: between 1995 and 1997, between 2006 and 2008, and the latest from 2017 to 2019. It thus spans 24 years.


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孤獨病疫以及如何克服它 ---- Taylor Nicioli
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The loneliness epidemic: Nearly 1 in 4 adults feel lonely, new survey finds

, 10/24/23

If you feel lonely, you’re actually in good company: Nearly 1 in 4 adults across the world have reported feeling very or fairly lonely, a new Meta-Gallup survey has found.

The new survey, taken across 142 countries, found 24% of people age 15 and older self-reported feeling very or fairly lonely in response to the question, “How lonely do you feel?”

The survey also found that the rates of loneliness were highest in young adults, with 27% of young adults ages 19 to 29 reporting feeling very or fairly lonely. The lowest rates were found in older adults. Only 17% of people age 65 and older reported feeling lonely.

Over half of adults age 45 and older reported not feeling lonely at all, while the majority of those younger than 45 answered that they felt at least a little lonely, if not very or fairly lonely.

“There is a lot of research pointing to the dangers of loneliness and social isolation among older adults,” Ellyn Maese, a senior research consultant with Gallup, told CNN. This survey “is a really good reminder that loneliness is not just a problem of aging — it’s a problem that can affect everyone at any age.”

While there was little or no difference in the reported loneliness between men and women, some countries had substantial gaps in both directions, depending on the country’s cultural context, Maese said. Overall, 79 out of the 142 countries had a higher self-reported rate of loneliness in women than men.

There is a loneliness epidemic

About 1,000 people per country were surveyed from June 2022 to February 2023, through a mixture of phone calls and face-to-face surveys. The countries represent about 77% of the world’s adult population, according to the survey.

The survey also pointed to a December 2020 report from the World Health Organization and a May advisory from the US surgeon general that illuminate the dangers of loneliness, including a negative impact on mental and physical health that could even lead to early mortality.

Clinical psychologist Dr. Ami Rokach, an associate professor at the Center for Academic Studies in Or Yehuda, Israel, was initially surprised by the low number of positive respondents. But Rokach, who has studied the experience of loneliness, believes there may be even higher global rates of people who feel lonely than reported — particularly young adults. He was not involved in the Gallup survey.

Rokach, who also teaches in the department of psychology at York University in Toronto, said that younger people who are in a transitional stage of becoming an adult experience more uncertainty in many areas of life, including “a tumultuous love life, uncertainty about a professional path, and in the process of separating from their parents.” Young adults are therefore more likely to experience more loneliness than older adults who have already accumulated “wisdom, friends, a family which may be supportive, and a community which cares for them,” he said in an email.

What to do to combat loneliness

While 49% of the total adults surveyed reported not feeling at all lonely, over half had answered that they felt at least a little lonely. Maese said that the findings also served as an opportunity to examine the social connections that people still have a strong drive to make following the pandemic.

“Being alone does not necessarily mean loneliness, and many people need to be aware of it,” said Rokach, who is currently working on an academic paper that will address ways to cope with loneliness.

While being alone could be refreshing and energizing, Rokach said, other people could be a buffer against loneliness or help people not feel lonely anymore. “Making friends, volunteering, taking courses where we may meet people, and learning how to be with ourselves and enjoy it, could be very beneficial,” he said.

“Human beings need social connections to thrive, and being embedded in strong supportive networks can protect our wellbeing when we’re faced with difficulties in life,” said Dr. Olivia Remes, a mental health researcher at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, in an email. She was not involved in the survey.

Social media is often a tool young adults use to connect with one another, but it can be more harmful than it is good, Remes said, if users are participating in “passive scrolling.” She described the behavior as only taking in the rosy posts of others and comparing it with one’s reality. Remes suggested actively engaging instead by sharing a status update or a picture, interacting with friend’s posts, or sending a private message to a friend.

Within your daily routine, Remes — who is the author of the book “The Instant Mood Fix,” which includes strategies for combating loneliness — recommended talking to as many people as possible. “Taking the steps to practice chatting with those you encounter as you go about your day can pay off. It can make you feel better, boost your mood, and even stave off loneliness,” she said.

Gallup is set to release a report focusing on the global state of social connections on November 1. The research will include these findings as well as other detailed country-level findings to further explore similarities and differences of feelings of loneliness across the globe.

Maese hopes the survey spurs further research on how loneliness can vary by country, age and gender, “and will spur deeper dives into what is going on with loneliness and social connection.”

For everyone, there’s an “opportunity to reduce everyday loneliness in their lives and for other people through social connection,” she said.

For more CNN news and newsletters create an account at CNN.com


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群聚不能解除孤獨感 -- Kira M. Newman
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Other People May Not Be the Solution to Loneliness

A new study finds that people feeling very lonely are not necessarily comforted by company.

KIRA M. NEWMAN, the Greater Good Magazine, 08/15/23

If you’re feeling lonely, the natural thing to do might be to seek out company: to call a friend or say yes to a hangout.

But, counterintuitively, a new study finds that if we’re very lonely, being around other people may not actually help us feel any better.

Degrees of loneliness

Across three studies, researchers surveyed over 3,000 people in Germany and the U.K. about their daily experiences. In one study, people recalled events from the day before; in the other studies, people received pings by phone up to seven times a day and filled out mini-surveys about what they were doing and how they were feeling in the past hour.

In each, the researchers found that people who felt lonelier had lower well-being in that moment (in terms of the kinds of emotions they were feeling, like happiness, anger, sadness, and boredom, as well as their sense of satisfaction and meaning). That wasn’t surprising.

What was surprising is that this pattern was even stronger when people were in a social situation, when we might expect to be protected from the pain of loneliness.

“Simply spending time with others . . . may even backfire,” write researchers Olga Stavrova and Dongning Ren of Tilburg University in the Netherlands. 

Here’s another way to look at the findings: On average, people felt better when they were with others. But that wasn’t the case for people feeling very lonely, who either felt the same or worse when they were around other humans.

The burden of loneliness

Why? The third study, conducted five months into the COVID-19 pandemic, suggested two reasons why being around others might not comfort us when we’re feeling lonely.

First, people feeling lonely had a greater desire to be alone—and the more they wanted solitude, the worse they felt, especially when they were in a social situation.

“The presence of others or having to engage in social interactions under these circumstances might feel particularly burdensome and aggravate the unpleasant feeling of loneliness,” write Stavrova and Ren.

On top of that, people feeling lonelier had more negative social interactions, which also seemed to contribute to how bad they felt. When we’re lonely, the researchers explain, we may act in ways that make socializing less fulfilling than it could be.

“Loneliness predisposes people to approach social interactions with cynicism, distrust, and an expectation of rejection and betrayal [which] might in turn negatively affect other people’s behavior towards them,” write Stavrova and Ren.

“Loneliness might make it harder to establish a true sense of connection with others. Having to socialize with others without achieving a sense of connection might feel particularly draining and meaningless, damaging one’s psychological well-being.”

Find a way that works for you

Does this mean that social interaction can’t help the lonely?

Certainly not. This study included all kinds of social interaction, from having a conversation with a friend to simply being in line at a grocery store. It’s possible that certain types of social interactions are helpful when we’re lonely—like getting emotional support from a trusted confidant—and others are not.

We also shouldn’t discount the value of solitude. If lonely people need some time alone to cope and feel better, there’s nothing wrong with that. “Research on solitude suggests that being alone can be functional, allowing individuals to regulate their emotions,” write Stavrova and Ren.

Overall, this study is a good reminder of how complex loneliness is; it’s more of a state of mind than a simple indicator of how many connections we have. The triggers for loneliness change across our lifetime, and it can’t be easily solved by getting out of the house.

In fact, a review of studies found that the best strategy might be to teach ourselves to question our automatic negative thoughts, like blaming ourselves for feeling bad or thinking that no one wants to be our friend.

Hopefully, all this can help us be a bit more understanding to others when they suffer from loneliness, and to ourselves, as well.
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《群聚不能解除孤獨感》摘要
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(原文請見本欄第三篇)

1) 
覺得自己孤獨的人,情緒比較低落。但是,許多覺得自己「非常」孤獨的人/他們的情緒在社交場合更為低落
2) 
覺得孤獨的人,比一般人更需要獨處。但在社交場合,越想獨處,她/他越覺得不自在。在這類情況下,和他人互動成為一種負擔使得孤獨感更難以承受。
3) 
覺得孤獨的人,不擅於和他人互動,往往得到尷尬的結果
4) 
有孤獨感的人在和他人互動,態度或行為往往不得當;從而招致他人的反感甚至厭惡
5) 
由於上述原因覺得孤獨的人很難和他人交往與相處。
6) 
以上研究並不表示「社交場合」不能解除「孤獨感;它強調的是:個人需要調整自己的負面態度和思想
7) 
孤獨有時也能產生正面效益。

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