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Loneliness

Concept And Prevalence, Loneliness And Marriage, Parents, Children, And Loneliness, Relationship Endings And Loneliness


Nature did not construct human beings to stand alone. . . . Those who have never known the deep intimacy and intense companionship of happy mutual love have missed the best thing that life has to give. Love is something far more than desire for sexual intercourse; it is the principal means of escape from loneliness which afflicts most men and women throughout the greater part of their lives. (Russell 1929, 122–123)

To shed light on Bertrand Russell's proposition that love is the principle means to escape from loneliness, this entry will examine the links between loneliness and the family. In thinking about loneliness in a family and life cycle perspective, several questions come to mind. What is the relationship between marriage and loneliness? Is loneliness passed from parents to their children and, if so, how? From birth to death are there predictable fluctuations in loneliness due to parents and their children's life stages? Is it true, as is frequently depicted, that the loss of intimate relationships leads to loneliness? Since the mid-1970s social scientists have published a growing number of studies addressing these questions (Ernst and Cacioppo 1999).


Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaRelationships