Publisher synopsis: “In The Lonely American, cutting-edge research on the physiological and cognitive effects of social exclusion and emerging work in the neurobiology of attachment uncover startling, sobering ripple effects of loneliness in areas as varied as physical health, children’s emotional problems, substance abuse, and even global warming. Surprising new studies tell a grim truth about social isolation: being disconnected diminishes happiness, health, and longevity; increases aggression; and correlates with increasing rates of violent crime. Loneliness doesn’t apply simply to single people, either-today’s busy parents “cocoon” themselves by devoting most of their non-work hours to children, leaving little time for friends, and other forms of social contact, and unhealthily relying on the marriage to fulfill all social needs. As a core population of socially isolated individuals and families continues to balloon in size, it is more important than ever to understand the effects of a culture that idealizes busyness and self-reliance. It’s time to bring loneliness-a very real and little-discussed social epidemic with frightening consequences-out into the open, and find a way to navigate the tension between freedom and connection in our lives.”
Books website here.
Google Books preview here.
- It is astutely aware of the relevant literature and discussion on social disconnectedness and provides both a handy summation of that and direction for further development.
- It is attentive and not naïve to the power of technology to shape both social and culture connectedness and disconnectedness.
- It provides both helpful cultural commentary and observations that could be the basis for further analysis and study.
Nolan, James I. Jr., review of Jacqueline Olds, and Richard S. Schwartz. “The Lonely American: Drifting Apart in the Twenty-first Century.” The Hedgehog Review 12.1 (2010): 94-97. Academic OneFile. Web. 6 July 2010.
Biola access here
Review synopsis: “The book builds in new and interesting ways on such previous works as Philip Slater’s The Pursuit of Loneliness and Robert Putnam’s Bowling Alone. Olds and Schwartz examine evidence suggesting that social capital continues to wane in American society … To explain this condition of disconnection, the authors discuss the demands of two-income work schedules, the frenetic pace of modern life, the perceived virtue of being overly busy, the growing reliance on technologies to stay socially connected, the persisting cultural resonance of the American ideal of individualism and self-reliance, and increasing levels of narcissism or self-centeredness in American society. One cause of narcissism that Olds and Schwartz overlook is society’s preoccupation with and relentless promotion of self-esteem over the past several decades … Olds and Schwartz cover new ground in discussions of their own profession. In a style similar to that found in Peter Kramer’s Listening to Prozac, the authors draw on their own clinical work as psychiatrists to illustrate the realities of loneliness … The Lonely American is a valuable resource for those wishing to stay (or become more) limber in this sense–as it is also for those wanting to make sense of a time and place where limberness, as such, is an increasingly rare quality of human social life.”