"Shep’s Best Friend – John. True Compassion & Love Captured by Telephoto Lens."

This 19 year old Shep being cradled in his father’s arms earlier this week in Lake Superior. Shep falls asleep every night when he is carried into the lake. I was so happy I got to capture this moment for John. By the way, John rescued Shep as an 8 month old puppy, and he’s been by his side through many adventures.
Photo and caption by: Hannah Stonehouse Hudson

Note from Richard: It has been said “that a dog is man’s best friend”. This wonderful photo compels us to realize how deep that bond goes between Shep, a 19 year old arthritic dog and his caring owner John.

A powerful example of love and compassion in action as captured by photographer Hanna Stonehouse Hudson. Best Wishes – Richard  

Link: http://www.stonehousephotoblog.com/2012/08/john-shep-on-lake-superior/


Challenging Thought – Two Tough Questions

With the political season in full swing, I think it is important to be reminded how powerful our votes can serve to guide and strengthen our country at these challenging times in our lives. I know as a generation who survived the Great Depression, World War 2 and many other events in our nation’s history, what we do today will have a lasting impact on many generations to come. I hope this simple post of awareness reminds us that every vote matters on the critical issues of today and electing the most qualified candidate to serve this great country best.

Answer both questions before scrolling down.

Question 1

If you knew a woman who was pregnant, had eight children already – three were deaf, two were blind and one mentally retarded and she also has syphilis, would you recommend she have an abortion???

Question 2

It is time to elect a new world leader and your vote counts. Here are the facts about the three leading candidates:

Candidate A: Associates with crooked politicians, consults with astrologists, has two mistresses, chain smokes and drinks 8-10 martinis a day.

Candidate B: He was kicked out of office twice, sleeps till noon, used opium in college and drinks a quart of whisky every evening.

Candidate C: He is a decorated war hero, a vegetarian, doesn’t smoke, drinks an occasional beer and hasn’t had any extramarital affairs.

Who are these candidates and which one did you vote for???

Candidate A: Franklin D. Roosevelt

Candidate B: Winston Churchill

Candidate C: Adolph Hitler

Young Beethoven

How did you answer question one – the abortion question?

If you said yes, you just killed Beethoven.

(Born -12/17/1770  Died-3/26/1827)

Interesting how quick we are to judge and make life-altering critical choices that can affect several generations worldwide and our history forever.

Remember: Amateurs built the ark – professionals built the Titanic.

Best Wishes,  Richard

Why Are We Lonely? Part 1

Article by:  Richard @ AlonelyWorld.Com

I believe an important factor contributing to our loneliness is American cultureour greatest export to the world. Think American films, Hollywood celebrities, MTV, Philip Morris, Boeing  jetliners, Coco Cola, Nike, Apple computers … etc. We export both the best and worst of American culture including our attitudes and values along with the best that America can offer in products and services.

Our attitudes create our reality

So how does this impact our beliefs and how we connect or disconnect with one another? Our culture promotes and supports instant gratification. The “I want it now” mentality, when satisfied, conditions us to repeat the process without understanding or caring about the consequences. We have become self-indulgent, distracted, and impatient. This attitude can cause adverse repercussions including spiritual loneliness, fragmentation and social isolation.                 (Google: China & loneliness)

What is our priority, products or people?

We have re-prioritized our resources and time to enable us to acquire the latest products and material goods. The popular American media is skillful in promoting with cunning repetition the things we need now. This robust consumption of products has replaced our critical need for inter-personal relationships. We are now satisified to spend time to be alone with all the hype, noise, and distraction. When was the last time you took to listen and talk face to face with a stranger, family member, a child, or elderly neighbor?

Have we become a narcissistic society– dysfunctional and devoid of compassion, care, and personal social connectivity?

We all hear of how the world seems to be driven by fear and instability  – leaving us feeling dis-empowered to predict and control our lives. Our primary psychological need to feel safe is greatly diminished. With increasing fear – incivility, distrust and loss of social connectivity becomes the norm. Unless we are aware of these factors, we are conditioned to accept the isolation and disconnection in order to survive.

Psychology Today magazine states:

“In other words, we are built for social contact. There are serious-life threatening-consequences when we don’t get enough. We can’t stay on track mentally. And we are compromised physically. Social skills are crucial for your health.” Quote from: Psychology Today Magazine, Jul/Aug 2003 Last Reviewed 12 Sep 2007 Article ID: 2960

There is hope for a lonely world through awareness, education and personal action– that is why this website is being developed.

This is a brief explanation of a very complex social condition that has become the “silent epidemic.” Loneliness affects us all and can be life threatening!  (See the article: “The Dangers of Loneliness”). Link: http://alonelyworld.com/?p=33

Other factors contributing to loneliness will be explored along with solutions to cope with loneliness. Please check back as we investigate how loneliness impacts all of us and how can we start to understand – “Why Are We Lonely”? — Richard

Deepak Chopra on: Releasing Emotion Toxins

“How do you release emotional toxins?

Deepak details the seven steps to  releasing emotional toxicity, which include:

1. Take responsibility for your emotions.

2. Witness the emotions in your body.

3. Define it: is it anger, fear?

4. Express it: write down what is happening.

5. Share it with a loved one.

6. Do a ritual to release it: write it down and burn it.

7. Bring it to a closure: go out and celebrate.”

Link to video on You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIHbyIf1gT0&feature=player_embedded#at=16

Welcome To: A Lonely World Blog

smiling monkey

                                                         My new selfie!!!

                 Thanks for finding our new home. More to come soon.

                – Richard

World’s Happiest Country?

Article by Maggie Fox

Paraguay is the happiest country in the world, with 87 percent of residents scoring high on an index of positive emotions, according to the latest Gallup poll on well-being.

Not surprisingly, Syria, suffering through a civil war, is the unhappiest and people there are so badly off they’ve hit a new low, the survey finds. 

Overall, 70 percent of adults worldwide say they are frequently laughing, smiling or enjoying themselves. The United States comes in the top one-quarter, with a happiness score of 78, the same as Chile, Argentina and Sweden.

Jon Clifton, managing director of the Gallup World Poll, says he is not surprised at the findings. “We know in Latin America culturally, there are a lot of highly positive emotions,” he said. “It is a pretty emotional culture.”

Image: Gallup finds that a majority of adults worldwide are experiencing positive emotions Gallup 
Gallup finds that a majority of adults worldwide are experiencing positive emotions.

Gallup surveyed 1,000 adults in each of 138 countries to make up the index. They asked five questions: whether people felt rested, felt they were treated with respect, laughed or smiled a lot, whether they experienced enjoyment and whether they had learned or done something interesting the day before.

Gallup then makes up a Positive Experience Index score for each country. Most of the happiest countries are in Latin America, the survey finds.

The five top countries are with happiness score:

Paraguay 87,  Panama 86,  Guatemala 83,  Nicaragua 83, Ecuador 83

At the bottom with happiness score:

Syria 36,  Chad 52,  Lithuania 53,  Bosnia 54,  Serbia 54

Gallup worked with Healthways, a company that promotes and studies well-being, to develop the index. While the five simple questions point to basic well-being, it’s important to take a deeper dive also, says Clifton.

“What we wanted to find out was what was driving those five things,” Clifton said. A big factor is workplace, or school for students, he said. “Another is financial well-being.” Sense of community is also important.

And it’s important to see whether negative experiences outweigh positive ones. It doesn’t happen in Latin America, where people reported both the highest positive emotions and the highest negative emotions — and yet still ended up on top in terms of well-being.

“People will take paycuts in order to do jobs they love.”

“You take two middle-aged women, one that has a child and one that does not have a child,” said Clifton. “Which one evaluates her life the higher? It is the one that has the child. Who has the most stress and also the most sadness? It is also the one with the child.”

Ongoing research show the United States consistently scores poorly in workplace happiness, Clifton says — especially on Wednesday. U.S. happiness peaks on weekends. “We need to do a better job of understanding workplace happiness,” Clifton said. “People will take paycuts in order to do jobs they love.”

Gallup takes the measure to heart. Clifton says Healthways came in and assessed Gallup’s employees, and the scores indicated they could feel better on community measurements. So they made changes. “We do a range of things where the office will get together and say ‘let’s choose an emphasis on community well-being’ and we choose five non-profits and get involved in them,” Clifton said.

Did it make people happier? “It certainly improved their well-being,” he said. World’s Happiest Country? Would You Believe Paraguay?

Article Link:  http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/worlds-happiest-country-would-you-believe-paraguay.

Maggie Fox is senior health writer for NBCNews.com/ TODAY.com, writing top news on health policy.

People Need People



Article by: Dr. Gregory Jantz, Ph.D           Posted: 04/17/2014

I’m around people all day: listening to them, talking with them and working with them. Most days, people are great, but at the end of some days, I have to admit, a desert island sounds really good. Of course, that desire for aloneness doesn’t last long. I’m a professional counselor, after all, and people are simply part of the deal; a therapist without any patients doesn’t stay in business long. People are part of my professional health, and it’s becoming more obvious that people are also part of my personal health.

Chicago University’s Center for Cognitive and Neuroscience came out recently with a study outlining the negatives of loneliness among older adults. The research by psychologist John Cacioppo “showed that loneliness has twice the impact on early death as obesity does.” To put a number to that, what the study termed “extreme loneliness” can increase the chances of premature death by 14 percent. The following effects of loneliness were outlined in the study: disturbed sleep; elevated blood pressure; increases in the stress hormone, cortisol; “problems for the body’s immune system”; increased depression and lowered well-being. Simply put, people need other people; we need human connection for health, especially as we age. The results of this study are intuitive; we have a sense that we need to be around other people. I get a bit concerned, though, what our definition of “around other people” is becoming with the rise of technology. Technology creates access but I’m not so sure it creates genuine connection. I remembered reading an article a couple of years ago entitled, “Is Facebook Making You Lonely?” This article started out with the story of an elderly, former, B-grade movie actress who died alone in her house in Los Angeles, becoming mummified before a neighbor finally checked up on her over a year later. This former actress, Yvette Vickers, wasn’t technically alone. She had access to people before she died, mostly fans who found her online. Stephen Marche, who wrote the story for The Atlantic, noted, “Vicker’s web of connections had grown broader but shallower, as has happened for many of us.

We are living in an isolation that would have been unimaginable to our ancestors, and yet we have never been more accessible.” His conclusion reminded me of that classic line from “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” “Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink.” Friended on Facebook may not be the type of connection this study of loneliness would suggest. Cacioppo is quoted as saying, “Older adults, who maintain meaningful, satisfying relationships weather life’s stressors to emerge happier, healthier and wiser than people who do not.” A portion of those satisfying, meaningful relationships can certainly take place online, but I think they also have to include more.

There is a cost to maintaining meaningful and satisfying relationships. They require the classic parental equation of both quality (substance) and quantity (time). This cost is often considered too high. In The Guardian’s take on this study, writer Michele Hanson, asks why we neglect relationships with the elderly and concludes, “Because we haven’t got time, we’re too busy trying to make a living, or too far away.” One day, I won’t be the one making those excuses, I’ll be the one hearing them. If you invert the negatives of loneliness and turn them into positives for relationships, they read like this: deeper sleep, reduced blood pressure, reductions in stress, strengthened immune system, lowered depression and increased well-being. That’s an impressive list. Many people already seek these benefits through things like exercise or nutritional support. We find money to get supplements at the rate of several billions per year. Though Americans don’t exercise nearly as much as we should, one study I read said it still amounted to two hours per week of “sports and fitness activities.” We find the time and money to improve our lives in other ways, so maybe it’s time to add in a prescription for people.

Article Link: HuffPost http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-gregory-jantz-phd/people-need-people_b_5146061.html

Follow Dr. Gregory Jantz, Ph.D. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/gregoryjantzphd

One Is The Loneliest Number

It can make you sick, destroy your sleep, raise your blood pressure, and shorten your life. Loneliness isn’t just a momentary pang—it’s a chronic emotional ache that affects up to 15 percent of us. So who are all the lonely people, and where do they all come from? Answers are finally on the way, now that loneliness is beginning to get the research attention it deserves. O reports on what one expert called “the Antarctica of the soul.”

Read the full article here: http://www.oprah.com/relationships/Loneliness-Research-How-Loneliness-Affects-Health-How-to-Help/1

From the June 2006 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine


Challenging Thought – Lonely and Disabled

Many disabled individuals feel lonely, isolated and marginalized…
Changing this reality takes an awareness and desire to strive for an innate equality for all people regardless the limitations. And, when you really think about it, we all have abilities and disabilities that may be hidden or visible.

In my profession I was fortunate to have many opportunities to learn from those who were physically, emotionally and mentally challenged. I experienced many individuals who shared and educated me in ways I didn’t think possible. I learned to laugh more, became aware of how we are far more alike than different and share in the human experience with a more open, kinder and gentler presence. Loneliness was greatly reduced, friendships forged and the quality of life improved vastly for all who connected with this inclusive attitude.

So this challenge I offer to you…

The next time the opportunity to connect with those who are different, whether it be a disability or any other perceived limitations or stereotype, challenge your immediate expectations. We can break down barriers, feel healthier as a society and reduce loneliness and marginalization to those who have been stigmatized and discarded as too different, limited or incapable to be worthy of our friendships. They deserve no less and you might be truly delighted to realize we have more in common than any dividing differences.

Best Wishes, Richard

I have listed many interesting links and resources on this website including:


Even The Primates Know: "We Need Each Other To Survive"


Feb. 18, 2013: A pair of Japanese macaques embrace at the edge of a hot spring in the snowy mountains in Jigokudani Nature Reserve in Nagano, Japan, on Feb. 15. The pair grabbed the chance to splash around in the natural springs to escape the chilly temperature, which hovered around 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Photographer Stephen Belcher, 45, trudged through the snow for 40 minutes to  watch the special scene at a spot known as Hell’s Valley.

(© Stephen Belcher/Minden/Solent News & Photo Agency)

Link to MSN Photo: http://photos.msn.com/slideshow/photo/must-see-february-2013/23c5gsw5

DO IT ANYWAY! From The "Paradoxical Commandments"

People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway!

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway!

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies. Succeed anyway!

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you. Be honest and frank anyway!

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight. Build anyway!

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous. Be happy anyway!

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow. Do good anyway!


Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough. Give the world the best you’ve got anyway!

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

 —Mother Teresa (Saint of the Gutters)
See the You Tube video ” DO IT ANYWAY“: Link here: watch?v=_90gOmxprhM&feature=results_main&playnext=1&list=PLEBE539C8C3F14B60


Mother Tersea Life in Pictures website: http://www.sify.com/news/Mother-Teresa-Life-in-Pictures-imagegallery-national-ki0pzwagedb.html?html=5

Loneliness and Students

Loneliness does not necessarily mean being alone. For instance, you can feel lonely when you are in a class with twenty other students, in the middle of a party, or at a sports event with hundreds of screaming spectators. Loneliness is a painful and disturbing awareness that you are not feeling connected to others and important needs are not being met.  We are inherently relational beings.  So, loneliness may be a signal that an important basic need is not currently being met such as the need to develop a circle of friends or a special relationship.  People need people.  Mutual relationships are essential to health!  If you are lonely, you feel the need for warmth, understanding, and long to share your feelings and thoughts with others.

Loneliness can mean:

  • feeling that you are unacceptable, unloved by those around you, not worthwhile, even if others don’t share these perceptions;
  • feeling alienated from your surroundings: lack the attachments that you had in the past;
  • feeling that there is no one with whom to share your personal concerns and experiences;
  • feeling that you are alone and have no other choice. You may find it difficult to make friends or go beyond mere acquaintance;
  • feeling an emptiness in your spiritual life, distance from God, or disconnection from your faith community.

Good news!  The antidote for loneliness is simple – CONNECT!  Connecting with others and with yourself is the best way to beat the loneliness blues.  It starts with recognizing that loneliness is a common experience, especially among college students.  Feelings of loneliness are your internal cue that your basic needs to enter into relationship or connect with others are not being met.  Here are some suggestions for what to do when you are feeling lonely:

Develop Friendships:

  • Actively look for situations that enable you to get involved with others.  For example, sit with new people in class, join a study group, and eat with new people in the cafeteria.
  • Learn to be assertive.  Join in discussions about classes, learn to say “hi” to someone and start a short conversation.
  • Develop your social skills.  Learn to use verbal or nonverbal cues to let a person know you are interested in getting to know them.  A simple way to start – eye contact.
  • Get involved with clubs and organizations (i.e. service projects, sorority/fraternity, drama club, etc.)
  • Be open to others and reserve judgment
  • Connect with a faith community (i.e. church, temple, or mosque, etc.).

Develop Yourself:

  • Think of yourself as a total person.  In other words, being lonely doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you or you are incomplete.
  • When you are alone, use the time to enjoy yourself.  For example, listen to music, do something creative, or just hang out and watch your favorite TV show.
  • Be patient with yourself.  Recognize that being alone doesn’t have to mean being lonely.  Take small steps to extend yourself to others each day.
  • Take care of your other basic needs like good nutrition, regular exercise, and plenty of sleep.  Strive for balance among all the hats you may wear (student, friend, employee, club member, etc.).

The important thing to remember is that the solution starts with you!  Learn to be comfortable with and even enjoy your time alone.  When you feel loneliness creeping in reach beyond yourself and connect – motivate yourself to take risks to develop new relationships or deepen your current relationships.

Adapted from “Loneliness and the College Student” by Dr. Gregory Hall of Bentley College http://www.campusblues.com/stud_lonley.asp and “Self-Help:  Solutions for Loneliness” from the Student Counseling Center at The University of Texas, Dallas http://www.utdallas.edu/counseling/selfhelp/loneliness.html.

In This Noisy, Twittering World, Loneliness Is Never Talked About


Joan Bakewell:  Commentary© Times Newspapers Ltd 2011Joan Bakewell:  Commentary© Times Newspapers Ltd 
Registered office 3 Thomas More Square, London E98 1XY.
Registered in England No 894646

 December 31, 2009

Loneliness is an inner, gnawing pain born of circumstance and inertia, verging on despair. There is a higher risk the older you get, and no one talks about it. In this all-laughing, twittering world it’s assumed that we can all find a comforting voice of friendship somewhere. For increasing numbers that just isn’t so.

Bereavement is the biggest blow. It leaves an echoing void. After years of intimate closeness the individual spirit battles on wondering what has happened to its own identity. People say kind things at strategic moments — the funeral, the memorial — then vanish back into their own lives.

Retirement is a big jolt. Again, familiar structures of friendship and support fall away. Everyone promises to stay in touch, then goes on as before. Circumstances conspire: families live far apart, village shops, post offices, libraries and pubs are vanishing. Churches offer little warmth and a tired liturgy.

So what is to be done? The world doesn’t make it easy to start up new bonds. You can tell the lonely when you bump into them on trains and buses: they never stop talking, rattling away about this and that as though they’d not spoken to anyone in a week. We need interaction with others to feel fully alive. And it needs effort to take the initiative.

There are ways to find friends: a neighbour, the doctor, the internet can all help. Join groups, volunteer, otherwise the depth of loneliness becomes self-perpetuating; we grow familiar with our isolation.

Learning to be alone is a lifetime skill. We shouldn’t always want to be part of this noisy, chattering world. But a single friendly voice is surely not too much to ask.

Link to article: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/mental_health/article6971866.ece

"Loneliness" – The Greatest Suffering?

“As far as I am concerned, the greatest suffering is to feel alone, unwanted, unloved. The greatest suffering is also having no one, forgetting what an intimate, truly human relationship is, not knowing what it means to be loved, not having a family or friends.” “Loneliness is the world’s biggest problem; more people die from loneliness than from cancer, heart disease, and all the plagues that kill people in the world.”

Mother Teresa

Inspiring videos of Mother Teresa on YouTube:



Remembering Leo


Dr. Leo Buscaglia was the author of books such as Living, Loving and Learning and Born for Love, he was a renowned lecturer, and University of Southern California professor.

Dr. Buscaglia touched untold numbers of people with his insights into how we seek happiness and create loving relationships.

He wrote more than a dozen books and sold more than 11 million copies in 20 languages. At one time, five of his books appeared on The New York Times best-seller list.

Sadly, Leo Buscaglia passed away in 1998. His work continues to positively impact countless numbers of people to this day.

Quotes by Leo Buscaglia …

“A single rose can be my garden… a single friend, my world.”

“Change is the end result of all true learning.”

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

“Don’t brood. Get on with living and loving. You don’t have forever.”

“Don’t smother each other. No one can grow in the shade.”

“I believe that you control your destiny, that you can be what you want to be. You can also stop and say, No, I won’t do it, I won’t behave this way anymore. I’m lonely and I need people around me, maybe I have to change my methods of behaving and then you do it.”

“It is paradoxical that many educators and parents still differentiate between a time for learning and a time for play without seeing the vital connection between them.”

“Life lived for tomorrow will always be just a day away from being realized.”

“Love is always bestowed as a gift – freely, willingly and without expectation. We don’t love to be loved; we love to love.”

“Love is life. And if you miss love, you miss life.”

“Never idealize others. They will never live up to your expectations.”

“Only the weak are cruel. Gentleness can only be expected from the strong.”

“The easiest thing to be in the world is you. The most difficult thing to be is what other people want you to be. Don’t let them put you in that position.”

“The fact that I can plant a seed and it becomes a flower, share a bit of knowledge and it becomes another’s, smile at someone and receive a smile in return, are to me continual spiritual exercises.”

“There are two big forces at work, external and internal. We have very little control over external forces such as tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, disasters, illness and pain. What really matters is the internal force. How do I respond to those disasters? Over that I have complete control.”

“What love we’ve given, we’ll have forever. What love we fail to give, will be lost for all eternity.”

“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.” –

“Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God.”

* Visit the web site of Leo Buscaglia @ www.buscaglia.com

Comments from Richard @ Alonelyworld.com
I met Dr. Leo Buscaglia back in the ’80s and was very fortunate to spend some time with him. He had such an impact on my life that I decided to make a major career change and complete my college degree with a focus on counseling and social psychology. 
Leo Buscaglia was unique in all the world. He was one of those rare, divinely inspired, and passionate individuals that always made everyone feel important, valued, and understand the critical need to fulfill our human potential regardless the limitations. His writings are timeless and revered for their humane messages, universal truths, and the innate need for all of us to be loved, connected, and respected. 
Leo was famous for hugging everyone in the long lines that were his audiences. We listened to his powerful and poignant stories of the human condition that focused on isolation, loneliness, and rejection – requiring us to pause, think, reflect, and act with love and kindness to one another. He was often seen on PBS (Public Broadcasting System), made many book tours, and gave numerous university speeches. (This website alonelyworld.com was created and inspired by the lectures, writings and the persona that is Leo).
Today is July 18, 2011, and this day Leo had proclaimed “Love Day” – a day to promote love and kindness toward each other. Find someone close – tell them you love them and give them a “big hug” – that is what Leo would have wanted us to do – everyday! God Bless you Leo! You are truly missed, never forgotten. -Richard.
To see Leo Buscaglia: click on the video below or at the YouTube link. Many archival videos of Leo in action are here to experience and enjoy. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtMp1-gBlJc


Loneliness Can Be The Death Of Us

 Village of Roseto Valfortore, Italy
 Author: By Judy Foreman, Globe Staff Date: MONDAY, April 22, 1996 page 25 – Section: Health and Science – The Boston Globe 

A little over 100 years ago, a small band of Italians left Roseto Valfortore, Italy, a village in the foothills of the Apennines, in hopes of a better life amid the slate quarries of eastern Pennsylvania. Naming their new village Roseto, the group soon recreated the strong community ties they had nurtured in Italy. They lived in three-generation households, centered their lives on family and built their houses so close together that all it took to have in a neighborly chat was a walk to the front porch.

By the 1960s, Roseto stood out like a distinctly un-sore thumb, becoming a magnet for researchers. While Roseto shared the same water supply, doctors and hospital with nearby villages, the town had only 40 percent as many heart attack deaths.

At first, researchers thought the Rosetans might carry some special, protective genes. But this was not the case, for Rosetans who moved away — even to the nearby village of Bangor — lost whatever magic the town possessed against heart disease.

That magic, now known as “the Roseto effect,” is as simple as it is elusive in America today: Close ties to other people.

A growing body of data shows that closeness with other people has a strong protective effect against illness and death. And that the lack of such ties — social isolation — can kill just as surely as smoking, obesity or high blood pressure.

That is one of the conclusions of a new book, “Overcoming Loneliness in Everyday Life,” due out in June by a husband and wife team of McLean Hospital psychiatrists, Jacqueline Olds and Richard Schwartz, and journalist Harriet Webster.

Loneliness is no longer just a painful experience, but a “major public health problem,” says Schwartz, “and most psychiatrists haven’t registered the strength of the medical data on this.”

In 1950, only 10 percent of households consisted of just one person, according to census figures. By 1994, this number had soared to 24 percent. That means 12 percent of the adult population now lives alone.

And this trend is particularly strong among older people, who are more likely than ever before, and more likely than younger people, to live alone. While fewer than 10 percent of people aged 25 to 44 live alone, census data show, nearly a quarter of those 65 to 74 do, and 40 percent of people 75 and older.

While some people certainly maintain a high level of happiness — about three in 10, in fact, according to surveys by University of Chicago researchers cited in the May issue of Scientific American — others are clearly lonely. A 1990 Gallup poll found that more than 36 percent of Americans are lonely.

For many people, the worst part of loneliness is that it is often accompanied by shame. It is not okay in this culture to feel lonely, Olds and Schwartz write in their book, “because American culture prizes self-sufficiency above all else.”

“Our notion of success is being able to purchase what you need and not be obligated to anyone,” Schwartz explains in an interview.

“Yet in other cultures,” Olds adds, “people have always accepted leaning on each other as part of life.”

The mere fact of living alone, of course, does not mean a person is destined to be lonely, though it probably does increase the odds, notes Dr. Gene Cohen, director of the Center on Aging, Health and Humanities at George Washington University in Washington.

Nor should loneliness be confused with depression, he says, though both involve feelings of sadness. Loneliness is a state “you can pull out of,” says Cohen, “and you often maintain the motivation to get involved with other people.”

With depression, “you may lose the motivation to be involved,” he says, and while social support can help assuage depression, some people also need professional help, including “the talking therapies or the judicious use of medication.”

Certainly, the ability to spend time alone happily — creative solitude, if you will — is one of the great joys of life, and a hallmark of a mature personality.

But the evidence is now overwhelming in two directions: Social isolation — having few, meaningful interpersonal ties — can have severe medical consequences, and close ties with people can significantly increase health and longevity.


– People who are isolated but healthy are twice as likely to die over a period of a decade or so as healthy people who are not isolated, according to a 1988 review of studies on 37,000 people in the United States, Finland and Sweden. Among adults of working age, the more-isolated men are one to four times more likely to die of all causes at any age than less-isolated men, and more-isolated women are one to three times more likely to die than less-isolated women, says sociologist James House, of the Survey Research Center at University of Michigan.

– Living alone after a heart attack significantly raises the risk of subsequent cardiac problems, according to a 1992 study of more than 1,000 people by Columbia University researchers published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

– People with heart disease have a poorer chance of survival if they are unmarried and do not have a confidant than if they are married, have a confidant, or both, according to a study of 1,368 people by Duke University researchers in the same journal.

– Women with advanced breast cancer who join a support group live twice as long as those who do not, according to a study several years ago by Dr. David Spiegel, a Stanford University psychiatrist.

– Similarly, people with malignant melanoma who participate in group intervention live longer than those who do not, according to a 1993 study by Dr. Fawzy I. Fawzy, a UCLA psychiatrist.

– While chronic stress, such as taking care of a spouse with dementia, leads to marked declines in immune response, having a strong network of friends offsets this decline, according to studies by Ronald Glaser, an Ohio State University microbiologist, and his wife, Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, a psychiatrist.

“Primates, which we are, are a social species,” says Glaser. “We run in packs, in troops. Social interaction between individuals” is an important “buffer to the physiological changes that stress is inducing.”

And this may be particularly true for older people, whose immune systems decline with age.

“The research clearly shows that social isolation is a major health hazard for elderly people. Socially isolated elders have higher rates of physical and mental illness and even death. . .” said Karl Pillemer, director of the Applied Gerontology Research Institute at Cornell University, in an e-mail interview last week.

An older person who is isolated is also at increased risk of being abused, according to Pillemer’s studies, which show that older people who were abused had less contact with friends and family than those who were not, in some cases because the abuser forbad such contact.

Many Americans, young and old, turn to therapists, self-help groups and medications to combat isolation, but there may be a better way, and it’s not just seeking friends for friendship’s sake.

“The idea is that you need to be willing to enter into relationships of mutual obligation,” says Olds.

“The really naive notion of our time is that the way you make friends is just by being fascinated with someone, that you are drawn by pure attraction,” says Schwartz.

“But the fact is, people’s lives are so hectic that those purely fun relationships often don’t get sustained. It’s the relationships where people are really useful to each other that do get sustained, that deepen and that therefore fulfill people’s needs for longterm intimacy,” Olds adds.

If that has an old-fashioned ring to it, they say, so be it. After all, old wives’ tales often endure precisely because they do contain gems of hard-won wisdom.

Like this one: To have a friend is to be one.

Note: How timely this article is written back in 1996. Loneliness is something we can all relate to- it is part of the human condition. Awareness is key to understanding loneliness. I hope this website can help lighten the burden of how really lonely we feel and what we can do to bring healing to  a lonely world. – Richard.

Loneliness As Harmful As Smoking And Obesity, Say Scientists

By Richard Alleyne, Science Correspondent in Chicago |16 Feb 2009

Lack of connection with others not only makes us unhappy but it is also bad for the wellbeing of the body and mind, research finds. A sense of rejection or isolation increases blood pressure, stress levels and general wear and tear as well as increases your chances of developing Alzheimer’s Disease.

It also reduces will power and perseverance, thus affecting the ability to follow a healthy lifestyle, according to scientists.

The findings were outlined by Professor John Cacioppo, of the University of Chicago, at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual conference.

Loneliness not only alters behaviour, but loneliness is related to greater resistance to blood flow through your cardiovascular system, Professor Cacioppo said.

Loneliness leads to higher rises in morning levels of the stress hormone cortisol, affects the immune system, higher blood pressure and an increased level of depression.

Loneliness, or perceived social isolation, also is related to difficulty getting a deep sleep and a faster progression of Alzheimer’s disease, said Professor Cacioppo.

Healthwise, he said the difference between a lonely person and a popular person was akin to “a smoker and a non-smoker”.

“That stunned all of us, myself and all my colleagues in terms of the effects it had,” he said. “It shows just how powerful it is.

“The lonely have poor health. They exercise less, are more likely to quit. Eat more calories. They comfort eat more fats and sugars.

“Loneliness lowers the ability to control yourself. It is really easy after a bad day to have a second scotch and a third to get some comfort.”

One of the founders of a new discipline called social neuroscience, Professor Cacioppo, traced the need for connection to its evolutionary roots.

In order to survive in the past, humans needed to bond to rear their children. In order to flourish, they needed to extend their altruistic and cooperate, he concluded.

Just as physical pain is a prompt to change behaviour, such as moving a finger away from the fire, loneliness evolved as a prompt to action, signalling an ancestral need to repair the social bonds.

The problem of social isolation is likely to grow as conventional family structures die out, said Professor Cacioppo, the author of Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection.

People are living longer, having fewer children later in life and increasingly mobile around the world.

Surveys also show that people report significantly fewer close friends and confidants than those a generation ago.

read more…

source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/4636683/Loneliness-as-harmful-as-smoking-and-obesity-say-scientists.html


Stress Vaccine? Don’t Worry, Shot is on the Way, Says Dr. Robert Sapolsky


Stressed out? There’s no app for that, but soon enough there might be a vaccine.

Dr Robert Sapolsky, a neuroscience professor at Stanford, says after 30 years of studying stress, his team might be on the verge of a novel cure.

“To be honest, I’m still amazed that it works,” Sapolsky told Wired in an August profile.

Sapolsky has long theorized that, unlike some animals, humans are unable to turn off stress chemicals used for the fight-or-flight mechanism. A class of hormone called glucocorticoids are one of the chief offenders, according to Sapolsky.

So his team has pioneered a way to bootstrap a “herpes virus to carry engineered ‘neuroprotective’ genes deep into the brain to neutralize the rogue hormones before they can cause damage,” according to the Daily Mail.

Sounds properly science fiction, but will it work?

So far, rat studies have gone well according to the British paper. Human trials are still years away.

Until then, don’t give up your yoga mat.

Read more about Sapolsky’s wild years studying baboon mating or check out his book “Why Zebra’s Don’t Get Ulcers.”

CBS News – Health /Aug.3, 2010

Link to article:  http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-20012469-10391704.html

Lonely, Gay & Suicidal Youth

Article by: Ramond Johnson – About.com

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers, according to the Massachusetts 2006 Youth Risk Survey. A 2007 San Francisco State University Chavez Center Institute study shows that lgbt and questioning youth who come from a rejecting family are up to nine times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers. And for every completed suicide by a young person, it is estimated that 100 to 200 attempts are made (2003 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey). Here are steps you can take to help a suicidal friend:

Lend an ear. Make a call.

Loneliness. Isolation. Fear. Regret. Rejection. These are common feelings a suicidal friend may be experiencing, especially after coming out. Name calling and bullying in school, at home or in the community can amplify these feelings, leading to depression and sometimes suicide.

Lend an unconditional ear. Encourage your friend to share their feelings with you and one of the free LGBT-focused hotlines. The Trevor Project and the GLBT National Help Center provide free and confidential counseling.

Share These Article:
How To Break Free of Post Coming Out Depression
Coping With Feelings Of Loneliness
Suicide Is Not Painless

Their feelings are real. Don’t take that away from them.

Your friend may not be able to communicate how severe their depression is or how far the name calling, bullying or harassment have gone. Check in often and stay alert. Sometimes our tendency as loved ones and friends is to dismiss attempts at reaching out as inconsequential. Be understanding without being judgmental. Take action and take no concern for granted. Even if your friend’s thoughts, fears or feelings seem dramatic or unrealistic, understand that these issues are very real for them—real enough for them to consider taking their own life.

Share These Articles:
What to Do When a Friend Is Feeling Suicidal
After Coming Out: Dealing With Family Rejection

Don’t avoid the topic.

Avoidance isn’t what your friend needs right now. Don’t be afraid to talk about suicide. Ask them if they are considering taking their life. Ask if they’ve made a plan (this will help you gauge the seriousness of their intentions). Their intent may still be there even without an initial plan.

Avoid the common myth that if they really wanted to die they would’ve already done so. Your friend needs help and any thoughts, plans or failed attempts on their life should be taken seriously. Death is final. Remind them of that and encourage them to stick it out. For tips on support call Trevor Project and the GLBT National Help Center.

Read These Articles:
The Gay Suicide Rate
Is An Unsuccessful Suicide Attempt Just a Cry For Attention?

Make a plan.

Sit with your friend and create a plan of action to help them cope with or improve their situation. Write down the issues and come up with plausible short-term and long-term solutions. Develop alternatives together and help him or her see them out.

Remove the tools.

Remove any dangerous items from your friend’s home. You know your friend and their habits and maybe some of their secrets. Is there a gun in the house or do their parents keep a knife collection? What about chemicals or pills? Try and remove any items that may be used to attempt suicide.

Tell an adult. Reach out to a professional.

Unfortunately, now isn’t the time for a pact of secrecy. Don’t promise not to tell anyone. Find a trusted adult that can help you help them. If your friend is considering suicide because of issues with their parents, it may not be best to solicit their help. Try your parents, adult siblings or a trusted community or education professional. You can also solicit the help of your local LGBT community center or a gay-affirmative therapist. Be persistent in your search for help.

Articles to Read:
Find a LGBT Center
Finding a Gay-Affirmative Therapist

Seek emergency help.

In emergency situations where you aren’t able to help your friend and you believe they are going to commit suicide despite the steps taken above, stay with them and call 911 immediately.

Article Link: http://gaylife.about.com/od/informationresources/tp/teensuicide.htm

Note From Richard: This is a difficult topic to post, however it is a reality that many of us may not be aware of. I read a statistic that a gay teen takes his or her life every 5 hours. Suicide is the final desperate act that is preventable. I believe I can speak with some knowledge on this subject having worked in suicide prevention for many years. My hope is that in posting this article, someone who feels alienated, lonely, and in crisis may be helped and stopped from acting out on self-destructive thoughts or emotions. There is help and you are not alone.

Best Wishes –  Richard.

Latest video – anti-gay bullies drives teen to suicide- MSNBC 9/21/11:


Important Links:






The Surprising Health Benefits of Sadness

New theories suggest feeling depressed may be a positive thing for your mental and physical health

 By Jenny Graves/Prevention Magazine

Lara Honos-Webb, PhD, a clinical psychologist in San Francisco, actually encourages her patients to dwell on their problems. “Depression is meant to stop you in your tracks because, like physical pain, it’s a signal that there’s something wrong and you need to fix it,” says Dr. Honos-Webb, who wrote Listening to Depression: How Understanding Your Pain Can Heal Your Life. “The social withdrawal that comes with depression can help you change something in your life that’s broken–and once you’ve gone through it, you can be stronger and more resilient because of the experience.”

Read the full article here: http://www.prevention.com/health/emotional-health/surprising-health-benefits-depression?page=3&cm_mmc=MSN-_-8%20Things%20NOT%20To%20Say%20When%20Your%20Friend%20Is%20Grieving-_-Article-_-The%20Surprising%20Health%20Benefits%20of%20Sadness

"Lonely Is The Caregiver"

Gail Sheehy: “Passages in Caregiving” The Diane Rehm Show – WAMU & NPRlogo

Thursday, May 13, 2010 – 11:06 a.m.

More than 50 million Americans are caring for a spouse, parent or relative who has a serious illness.

Author and journalist Gail Sheehy identifies eight crucial stages of caregiving, drawing on her experience caring for her husband, founder and editor of “New York” magazine Clay Felker.

Link to listen to the program: http://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2010-05-13/gail-sheehy-passages-caregiving


Gail Sheehy author of 15 books, including “Passages.”

Related Items

Image of Passages in Caregiving: Turning Chaos into Confidence

Link to Amazon.com: Passages in Caregiving: Turning Chaos into Confidence

Related Links:

Note from Richard: Caregiving can be one of the most challenging events in one’s life. To care for a spouse, child, parent or friend is not to be underestimated. The caregiver need not be alone in the all consuming process of caregiving. The program posted above on the Diane Rehm Show link can be a great benefit and resource for those who need the support and information to provide quality care to the ones we love and care for.  Best Wishes,  -Richard.

Twelve Concrete Ways To Live A ‘Compassionate Life’

January 10, 2011  From:  NPR – Talk of The Nation nprlogo

From Confucius to Oprah, people have preached compassion for centuries. But how often is it put into practice? Karen Armstrong believes religion, which should advocate for compassionate living, is often part of the problem. In Twelve Steps To A Compassionate Life, she describes ways to add kindness to daily routines.

In light of recent events — the shootings at Rep. Gabrielle Gifford’s event in Arizona, and the assassination of Punjab province Gov. Salman Taseer in Pakistan — Armstrong’s message is especially poignant. “There’s a mood of despair around, whether we’re Easterners or Westerners,” Armstrong tells NPR’s Neal Conan. “And despair is a dangerous thing, because once people lose hope, they can resort to extreme measures.”

Cover Of 'Twelve Steps To A Compassionate Life'

Twelve Steps To A Compassionate Life
By Karen Armstrong
Hardcover, 240 pages
List price: $22.95

Armstrong admits compassion isn’t a very popular virtue. “People often prefer to be right,” she says. And though she offers these 12 steps, it’s not a get-compassionate-quick scheme. “This is a struggle for a lifetime, because there are aspects in it that militate against compassion.”

For example, it’s hard to love your enemies. We are driven by our legacy from our reptilian ancestors, Armstrong says. It “makes us put ourselves first, become angry, [and] when we feel threatened in any way, we lash out violently.”

Armstrong says she struggles with compassion, “all the time, every day.” She admits to a sharp tongue, and “like everybody, I feel I’ve suffered, I feel I’ve been damaged, I meditate unpleasantly on my enemies and feel this corrosive sense of anger.”

But her religious studies kept guiding her back to the theme of compassion. In histories of Jerusalem, God, even fundamentalism, compassion popped up again and again. And that’s what frustrates her.

“The religions,” she says, “which should be making a major contribution to one of the chief tasks of our generation — which is to build a global community, where people of all opinions and all ethnicities can live together in harmony — are seen as part of the problem, not as part of the solution.”

“Despair is a dangerous thing, because once people lose hope, they can resort to extreme measures.” – Karen Armstrong

The golden rule, a commonality throughout religion and guiding force for compassion, “asks you to look into your own heart, discover what gives you pain, and then refuse under any circumstance whatsoever to inflict that pain on anyone else.” It’s tricky, because each situation and individual must be evaluated differently.

But making space for the other “in our minds and our hearts and our policies” is essential to Armstrong. “We are always talking about the importance of democracy. But I think in our perilously divided world, we need global democracy, where all people’s voices are heard, not just those of the rich and the powerful.”

More With Karen Armstrong

And Armstrong willingly answers the charge that her prescription is naive. Think of Martin Luther King Jr., of Gandhi, of Nelson Mandela, she says. “One sees what one person can do,” the tremendous impact a decision to seek reconciliation, not revenge, as Mandela chose. “You have to be optimistic,” Armstrong says. “Because when optimism fails and despair takes over … then you’ve got a problem.”

Link to NPR ariticle:  http://www.npr.org/2011/01/10/132809627/concrete-ways-to-live-a-compassionate-life

How to Comfort a Friend in Mourning (Link to Oprah.com)

After their three young children were killed in a horrific car accident, Chris and Lori Coble experienced the stages of grief at different times. Do you know someone in mourning? Find out the cliche you should never say if you want to offer comfort.

“Time dosen’t heal anything. It is what you do with the time.” -Oprah Winfrey.

Read more: http://www.oprah.com/oprahshow/Chris-Cobles-Advice-for-Comforting-Loved-Ones-Video#ixzz1Ulh6sm3O

Cobles kids Foundation link: http://www.coblekids.com/Coble_Kids_Foundation/Welcome.html

Oprah.com link: http://www.oprah.com/showinfo/The-Worst-Days-of-Their-Lives-and-the-Miraculous-Twist-of-Fate

People Who Are Lonely Are Twice As Likely To Develop Alzheimer’s Disease

People who are lonely are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, a large US study has suggested.

From: Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2007;64(2):234-240.

A total of 823 older persons free of dementia at enrollment were recruited from senior citizen facilities in and around Chicago, Ill. Loneliness was assessed with a 5-item scale at baseline (mean ± SD, 2.3 ± 0.6) and annually thereafter. At death, a uniform postmortem examination of the brain was conducted to quantify AD pathology in multiple brain regions and the presence of cerebral infarctions.

The study found that the risk of Alzheimer’s disease was more than doubled in lonely persons compared with persons who were not lonely. The study also concluded that Loneliness is associated with an increased risk of late-life dementia but not with its leading causes.

Source link: http://archpsyc.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/64/2/234

Note from Richard: Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating disease, complicating many lives and changing them forever. Loneliness is now being indicated as a direct link to Alzheimer’s disease.

We are all affected by loneliness, it is part of the human condition. Loneliness is most destructive when it becomes chronic and there is no intervention to break this cycle of alienation and disconnection. Please search this website for articles, links and resources to help those who are feeling lonely and forgotten.  Best wishes, Richard.

Alzheimer’s Disease and cargiving support links:






Shocking news, such as learning of the unexpected death of a loved one, has been known to cause catastrophic events, such as a heart attack.

Now, researchers at Johns Hopkins have discovered that sudden emotional stress can also result in severe but reversible heart muscle weakness that mimics a classic heart attack.  Patients with this condition, called stress cardiomyopathy but known colloquially as “broken heart” syndrome, are often misdiagnosed with a massive heart attack when, indeed, they have suffered from a days-long surge in adrenalin (epinephrine) and other stress hormones that temporarily “stun” the heart.

“Our study should help physicians distinguish between stress cardiomyopathy and heart attacks,” says study lead author and cardiologist Ilan Wittstein, M.D., an assistant professor at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and its Heart Institute.  “And it should also reassure patients that they have not had permanent heart damage.”

In the Hopkins study, to be published in The New England Journal of Medicine online Feb. 10, the research team found that some people may respond to sudden, overwhelming emotional stress by releasing large amounts of catecholamines (notably adrenalin and noradrenalin, also called epinephrine and norepinephrine) into the blood stream, along with their breakdown products and small proteins produced by an excited nervous system.  These chemicals can be temporarily toxic to the heart, effectively stunning the muscle and producing symptoms similar to a typical heart attack, including chest pain, fluid in the lungs, shortness of breath and heart failure.

Upon closer examination, though, the researchers determined that cases of stress cardiomyopathy were clinically very different from a typical heart attack.

“After observing several cases of ‘broken heart’ syndrome at Hopkins hospitals – most of them in middle-aged or elderly women – we realized that these patients had clinical features quite different from typical cases of heart attack, and that something very different was happening,” says Wittstein.  “These cases were, initially, difficult to explain because most of the patients were previously healthy and had few risk factors for heart disease.”

For example, examination by angiogram showed no blockages in the arteries supplying the heart.  Blood tests also failed to reveal some typical signs of a heart attack, such as highly elevated levels of cardiac enzymes that are released into the blood stream from damaged heart muscle.  Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans confirmed that none of the stressed patients had suffered irreversible muscle damage.  Of greatest surprise, the team says, was that recovery rates were much faster than typically seen after a heart attack.  Stressed patients showed dramatic improvement in their hearts’ ability to pump within a few days and had complete recovery within two weeks.  In contrast, partial recovery after a heart attack can take weeks or months and, frequently, the heart muscle damage is permanent.

The researchers collected detailed histories and conducted several tests, including blood work, echocardiograms, electrocardiograms, coronary angiograms, MRI scans and heart biopsies, on a total of 19 patients who came to Hopkins between November 1999 and September 2003.  All had signs of an apparent heart attack immediately after some kind of sudden emotional stress, including news of a death, shock from a surprise party, fear of public speaking, armed robbery, a court appearance and a car accident.  Eighteen of the stressed patients were female, between the age of 27 and 87, with a median age of 63.  The results were then compared to seven other patients, all of whom had suffered classic, severe cases of heart attack, called a Killip class III myocardial infarction.

When results from both groups were compared, the researchers found that initial levels of catecholamines in the stress cardiomyopathy patients were two to three times the levels among patients with classic heart attack, and seven to 34 times normal levels.

Catecholamine metabolites, such as metanephrine and normetanephrine, were also massively elevated, as were other stress-related proteins, such as neuropeptide Y, brain natriuretic peptide and serotonin.  These results provided added confirmation that the syndrome was stress induced.  Heart biopsies also showed an injury pattern consistent with a high catecholamine state and not heart attack.

A hallmark feature of the syndrome was the heart’s unique contraction pattern as viewed by echocardiogram, or ultrasound.  While the base of the heart’s main pumping chamber, the left ventricle, contracted normally, there was weakened contraction in the middle and upper portions of the muscle.  Other characteristics included a distinctive pattern on electrocardiogram, or EKG.

“How stress hormones act to stun the heart remains unknown, but there are several possible explanations that will be the subject of additional studies,” says study co-investigator and cardiologist Hunter Champion, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor at Hopkins and its Heart Institute.  “The chemicals may cause spasm in the coronary arteries, or have a direct toxic effect on the heart muscle, or cause calcium overload that results in temporary dysfunction.”

The researchers also plan to study whether certain patients have a specific genetic vulnerability for developing stress cardiomyopathy, and why it predominantly strikes older women.

While the folklore of “broken heart” syndrome has been around for decades, the prevalence of the condition remains unknown.  According to Wittstein, some reports exist, mainly from Japan, and describe similar syndromes, but no biochemical analyses have previously been performed that link the condition to elevated catecholamine levels.  The researchers contend that while stress cardiomyopathy is not as common as a typical heart attack, it likely occurs more frequently than doctors realize.  They expect its numbers to increase as more physicians learn to recognize the syndrome’s unique clinical features.

Funding for this study, conducted solely at Johns Hopkins, was provided by the Bernard A. and Rebecca S. Bernard Foundation.  Other researchers who took part in this study were Trinity Bivalacqua, M.D., Ph.D.; Jeffrey Rade, M.D.; Katherine Wu, M.D.; Gary Gerstenblith, M.D.; Steven Schulman, M.D.; Kenneth Baughman, M.D.; João Lima, M.D.; and David Thiemann, M.D.

Johns Hopkins Medicine
Office of Corporate Communications
February 9, 2005
Link: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/Press_releases/2005/02_10_05.html

A Grandfather’s Message To His Autistic Grandson

June 25, 2010

From:    Fresh Air & WHYY

Dan Gottlieb

Dan Gottlieb hosts a mental-health call-in radio show on WHYY. In 1979, was in a near-fatal car accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down.

Family therapist and call-in radio host Dan Gottlieb has helped many people through some of the most difficult passages in their lives. He’s also endured a great deal of physical and emotional pain of his own: More than 30 years ago, a car accident left him paralyzed from the chest down.

Four years ago, Gottlieb wrote a series of letters about being different to his young grandson

The Wisdom of  Sam

By Dan Gottlieb
Hardcover, 168 pages
Hay House
List Price: $19.95


Family therapist and call-in radio host Dan Gottlieb has helped many people through some of the most difficult passages in their lives. He’s also endured a great deal of physical and emotional pain of his own: More than 30 years ago, a car accident left him paralyzed from the chest down.

Four years ago, Gottlieb wrote a series of letters about being different to his young grandson Sam, who had been diagnosed with autism. The letters were collected in Gottlieb’s book, Letters to Sam.

Gottlieb has now authored a second book about his unique relationship with his grandson, called The Wisdom of Sam: Observations on Life from an Uncommon Child. Gottlieb details how seeing the world from a different perspective is illuminating for both grandfather and grandson.

In a 2006 interview on Fresh Air, Gottlieb explained to Terry Gross how surviving his car accident changed his way of looking at the world.

“When my neck broke, my soul began to breathe,” he says. “I became the person I always dreamt I could be and never would have been if I didn’t break my neck. And with each time I faced death, I became more of who I am and less worried about what others might think of me.”

Gottlieb hosts a weekly call-in counseling show, called Voices in the Family, on WHYY in Philadelphia. He also wrote a column about mental health issues in The Philadelphia Inquirer from 1993 to 2008.

This interview was originally broadcast on April 25, 2006.

Link to Dr. Dan Gottlieb’s Website: http://www.drdangottlieb.com

Link: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128086851

Online Social Networks – Instant Messaging

“Is online social networking socially enhancing or socially isolating?”

Article by: Stella Lau, U.C. Berkeley Edu.

“…man cannot live without attachment to some object which transcends and survives him…he is too little…we have no other object than ourselves we cannot avoid the thought that our efforts will finally end in nothingness, since we ourselves disappear” (Durkheim 210).
– Emile Durkheim

Sociologist Emile Durkheim (April 15, 1858 – November 15, 1917) is one of the originators of modern sociology. One of Durkheim’s most famous works is “Suicide” in which he describes his four theories of suicide: egoistic, altruistic, anomic, and fatalistic suicide. Durkheim’s theory of egoistic suicide, as described in the quote above, explains the cause of depression due to social isolation and loneliness.  This theory says that too little integration with society or a community leads to suicide.  There are no goals set outside the self, and people feel that life is meaningless; there is nothing greater than themselves to live for.  For example, Durkheim compared widowed people with children and widowed people without children.  He found that widowed people with children are more protected against suicide than their counterparts because they have something greater than themselves to live for, their children.  When you have something you’re obligated to outside yourself (i.e. a network of friends or family), you’re more protected from depression and suicide.  Social integration provides goals and meanings for people to live for.  For someone who is depressed, there is little to no meaning left in life.  Everyday activities, such as eating and exercising seem meaningless.  They are constantly mourning on their own dead inner selves.

Social Isolation, loneliness, and depression are all interrelated.  Studies have shown that the more time spent on the Internet leads to social isolation and loneliness, which in turn leads to depression.  Even though online communities and instant messaging allows a person to stay connected with their friends and family as well as expanding their social network, the more time spent socializing online is time spent away socializing in the real world.

Online Communities

In a survey I conducted with 500 people, ages ranging from 18-25, the results showed that forty six percent of the subjects have spent three or more hours browsing through people’s pages on the various online communities.  This study shows that people spend hours in a virtual world where the people of the pages they are browsing through may not even know of them.  Just reading about other people and their lives already takes time away from actual socializing with your friends.  By browsing these pages, people become so absorbed into a virtual world that they become disconnected from reality.

They feel like they are getting to know someone without actually knowing them.  The friends on one’s friends list may not even be a friend. They could be acquintances or people you just met. However, many people consider these as “friends,” however, many do not even see or talk to them after adding them. People try to gather the most friends on their list to look popular. The physical contact and presence of being with a friend thus fades and one slowly becomes disconnected with reality.

The Stanford Study illustrates there is a correlation between the number of hours used on online social networks and one’s social isolation. The more hours spent leads to an increase social isolation in all three categories: usage of the phone, time spent with family, and social events.

Instant Messaging

Instant messaging also causes social isolation and disembodiment because you are simply having conversations that are not real.  You start losing social skills in the real world as you master your social skills chatting behind a computer screen.

Online communities correlates to instant messaging and further add to the impediment of one’s social life.  Since you can browse other people’s pages and find out their interests, it makes it easy to find people with similar interests as you.  You can then message them and ask for the screen names, and start chatting online.  From there, you start building a virtual friendship with the other, comfortable to talk to a complete stranger because you are protected by the space between your computer and the stranger’s computer

As this process repeats itself (finding people with common interests as you), people find this more convenient than finding someone in the real world with such interests as you. People then become comfortable to this process and are likely to socialize in the virtual world rather than with real people.  As well, a person can easily alter their identity behind the computer screen.  When put in real social situations, the person that has been accustomed to the online social life will not know how to behave and act around other people and will likely find it difficult to socialize with others.  This, in turn, will lead to social awkwardness and furthers the desire to comfortably socialize on the Internet.  As this social awkwardness strengthens in the real world, people more and more desires the comfort of the ease to chat online that they soon become disembodied from reality, and therefore, isolates themselves from the world.

Link to article: http://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~stellal/Cons.htm

Einstein’s – "Circles of Compassion"

“A human being is a part of a whole, called by us the Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”   –Albert Einstein

The Trevor Project – 24 Hour Crisis Line for Gay Youth

Daniel Radcliffe PSA for The Trevor Project -“Saving Young Lives”

Link to YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/trevorprojectmedia

With the tragic and recent gay youth suicides in the United States, I believe it is critical I provide important resources to help gay, lesbian and transgendered youth who are feeling suicidal, in crisis or lonely. The Trevor Project is a 24 hour, 7 day a week toll-free crisis/suicide helpline and website. People care and our gay youth are not alone.   –Richard.

Important and Helpful Resources:

The Trevor Project Crisis Line Toll-Free: 1-866-488-7386

Link to: The Trevor Project – http://www.thetrevorproject.org/

Excellent article from National Public Radio, (NPR) : “Three Words For Gay Teens: It Gets Better”.  Link to NPR article – http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130268587&ft=1&f=100

Stop the Suicides: Help End Anti-LGBT Bullying sign the petition. Link to: Care 2 – Stop the Suicides petition website – http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/875/847/271/?z00m=19893543

Link to: We Give A Damn.org – http://www.wegiveadamn.org/

Rise In ‘Lonely Children’ Calling Childline

From the The BBC World Service – May 16, 2010

Link: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/education/8569799.stm

sad boy
There has been a sharp increase in helpline calls about loneliness

The number of UK children calling the national helpline Childline because they feel lonely has risen sharply.

From April 2008 to March 2009, 5,525 children called the helpline due to loneliness, sadness or isolation, compared to 1,853 five years earlier.

A further 4,399 children were counselled about loneliness as an additional problem, bringing the total to 9,924 – 6% of calls to the helpline.

Counsellors say changes within families and society could be behind the rise.

Analysis of calls by the NSPCC, which merged with Childline in 2006, found family relationship problems, school problems and bullying were the most common issues that came up alongside issues of loneliness.

The report said many of the children counselled in relation to loneliness lacked a network of social relationships or group of friends.

Take your child’s feelings seriously
Let your child know he/she can come to you with problems
Set aside times to hear about his/her day
Make sure your child does not feel isolated within the family
Remind them it is natural for friendships to come and go

“This indicates that it may be the inability of children to relate to people around them that is the problem, rather than the absence of people,” it said.

The analysis found one in six loneliness calls were from a child aged 11 or younger.

And girls were more likely to call with issues of loneliness – 6,835 girls and 3,089 boys were counselled.

The report said while loneliness can be part of growing up, it could affect some children in a “debilitating and devastating” way.

Not eating together

Childline counsellors say changes within family structures and society as a whole could be behind the rise in these calls.

“Everyone’s so busy all the time,” said one counsellor.

“The fact that families and people in general increasingly don’t eat together, and then go off and do their own things… I think that social skills among younger people are not being encouraged,” said another.

They also suggest the rise may also be down to youngsters being better able to talk about feelings of loneliness.

My mum died three weeks ago and I really missed her today
– Jessica, 8

“I think loneliness has always been there. People are now beginning to be more open to talking about it,” one counsellor said.

Sixteen-year-old Ravinder told Childline: ” I would love to have friends.”

Jessica, 8, told the helpline: “My mum died three weeks ago and I really missed her today, because I’ve broken my arm and want my mum to hold my hand. I feel lonely.”

Jade, 14, had been abused and told the helpline: “I have problems at home. My mum doesn’t listen to me.

“My uncle raped me when I was 10. My mum still sees him and talks to him. I feel invisible. I feel unloved and like no-one cares.”

‘Deeply worrying’

Head of Childline, Sue Minto said: “Loneliness has always been a part of some children’s lives but it is deeply worrying that more children are contacting us about this.

“Some of the children who contact Childline are lonely because their parents are rowing or divorcing. Others are lonely because someone they love has died.

“Yet others say they are being bullied or have no friends. Nearly one in 10 lonely children report being abused or neglected.

“Lonely children often feel worthless and lack self-confidence and some struggle to cope.

“Calls to Childline show that in the worst cases children became so desperate that they self-harm or even contemplate suicide. The sadness of their stories can be heartbreaking.”

Link to Childline U.K.- http://www.childline.org.uk/pages/home.aspx

Note: “Loneliness Links” on this website can provide important resources for those needing help.

A Destination for Healing, Sharing and Caring About Loneliness and Beyond