Encyclopedia of Immigrant Health

2012 Edition
| Editors: Sana Loue, Martha Sajatovic


  • Susan Hatters Friedman
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-5659-0_470

Loneliness means much more than merely a state of being alone. Environment alone does not define loneliness. Loneliness includes unwanted feelings of solitude; it may occur in the presence of others. It may include feeling forsaken, lack of identification with others, or feeling abandoned by others.

Loneliness is based on the person’s subjective view, rather than necessarily being related to the objective view of others. Some feel lonely for psychological reasons, some for sociological reasons, and some for biological reasons. A review of over 8,000 people in twin and sibling studies found that genetics accounts for approximately half the difference in loneliness. The rather large research on the importance of attachment and bonding in early childhood has potential implications for loneliness later on in life.

Those who are experiencing true loneliness may experience an overwhelming feeling of separateness from others. They may experience anxious symptoms, depressive symptoms, and feel...

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Suggested Readings

  1. Cacioppo, J. T., & William, P. (2008). Loneliness: Human nature and the need for social connection. New York: W.W. Norton.Google Scholar
  2. Ponizovsky, A., & Ritsner, M. (2004). Patterns of loneliness in an immigrant population. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 45(5), 408–414.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Ritsner, M., Ponizovsky, A., & GInath, Y. (1997). Changing patterns of distress during the adjustment of recent immigrants: A 1-year follow-up study. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 95(6), 494–499.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Russell, D. (1996). The UCLA Loneliness Scale: Reliability, validity, and factor structure. Journal of Personality Assessment, 66, 20–40.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan Hatters Friedman
    • 1
  1. 1.Departments of Psychiatry and PediatricsCase Western Reserve University School of MedicineClevelandUSA