Loneliness and Social Isolation

August 3, 2018 – Volume 28, Issue 28
Do they pose a growing health epidemic? By Christina L. Lyons


1830s–1940sStrong community, family ties begin to weaken.
1835French diplomat Alexis de Tocqueville documents prevalence of community, social and political groups in the United States.
1880sPopulations migrate from rural areas to industrializing cities.
1909President Theodore Roosevelt unsuccessfully pushes to rename the Department of Agriculture the Department of Country Life and expand its focus to include improvements to farmers’ social lives.
1938Sociologist Louis Wirth describes changes in every phase of social life, as people continue to migrate to cities.
1946After World War II, city dwellers begin to migrate to the suburbs; observers lament a breakdown of community ties.
1950s–1970sResearchers find a rise in loneliness and say it threatens health.
1950Sociologist David Riesman's The Lonely Crowd describes a decline in Americans’ focus on the family and warns of increasing loneliness among children.
1950sPsychoanalyst Frieda Fromm-Reichmann says loneliness is at the core of most mental illnesses.
1963Congress passes the Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act to replace mental institutions with out-patient mental health centers.
1965National Opinion Research Center survey finds that 26 percent of Americans feel lonely or isolated.
1970Sociologist Phil Slater's Pursuit of Loneliness says more Americans than ever are “alienated and lonely.”
1973Sociologist Robert Weiss in Loneliness says “severe loneliness” is as common as wintertime colds.
1978President Jimmy Carter's Commission on Mental Health says greater coordination of health services and support systems for the mentally ill could strengthen communities.
1980s–1990sNumber of Americans living alone continues to increase.
1983 New York Times health editor Jane Brody declares loneliness a “national epidemic.”
1984 New England Journal of Medicine publishes study saying male heart attack victims have a more than fourfold higher risk of death if they are socially isolated.
1991Harvard economist Juliet Schor says Americans are overworked, spending less time with family and friends.
1995Hundreds of isolated residents die alone during a July heat wave in Chicago.
1998About 40 percent of U.S. households have computers, one-third with internet access, spurring sociologists to question the effect of technology on loneliness.
2000-PresentResearchers link loneliness to physical and mental illnesses.
2000Sociologist Robert Putnam's Bowling Alone cites changes in family structure, civic and community life for the erosion of “social capital.”
2003Neuroimaging reveals how the brain responds to pain of social exclusion.
2008In his book Loneliness, neuroscientist John Cacioppo describes his landmark studies on the effects of chronic loneliness.
2009Survey finds average American's network of family and friends has decreased one-third since 1985.
2013Nearly half of adults in England report feelings of loneliness.
2018Health insurer Cigna concludes that nearly half of Americans suffer from loneliness…. New law requires Health and Human Services Department to devise strategy to help families care for aging relatives at home.

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Document APA Citation
Lyons, C. L. (2018, August 3). Loneliness and Social Isolation. CQ researcher, 28, 657-680. Retrieved from http://library.cqpress.com/
Document ID: cqresrre2018080304
Document URL: http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/cqresrre2018080304
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Aug. 03, 2018  Loneliness and Social Isolation
Feb. 12, 2010  Sleep Deprivation
Dec. 06, 2002  Homework Debate
Aug. 04, 1995  Job Stress
Jun. 23, 1995  Repetitive Stress Injuries
Aug. 14, 1992  Work, Family and Stress
Aug. 13, 1982  Pressures on Youth
Nov. 28, 1980  Stress Management
Jul. 15, 1970  Stress In Modern Life
Aging Issues
Elderly Health Issues
Employee Benefits
General International Relations
Internet and Social Media
Marriage and Divorce
Medicaid and Medicare
Medicaid and Medicare
Mental Health
Nursing Homes and Long Term Care Facilities
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