My question about the current Pandemic of COVID-19 was what did we know historical about pandemics? What else happened to individuals besides being sick and dying?
All pandemics have several things in common. First, they spread quickly when an area is congested, 2nd, they kill, and 3rd, create a basic cure that causes a second pandemic. The self-quarantine necessary to bring the death under control causes loneliness. Loneliness is a bigger disease than diabetes, smoking, and heart disease. It has as big impact on our well-being as any bacterial or viral disease.
To connect with touch others is as much a biological imperative as food and air. Science, (in an actual study in America), is beginning to recognize that more people die from loneliness than ever before, in the last 20 years the death rate has doubled. It answers the question of why so many would not see the importance of staying quarantined and be willing to go into gatherings that could infect them and others? They have food and air, and are not sick with the virus, but are dying from loneliness. The need for contact is as great as it is for air. It is estimated that 1 out of 5 appointments with physicians is based on loneliness. A senior has a 45% increase in mortality if they are isolated.
Before 1800 there was no word loneliness. The word alone existed as meaning only one, but the word loneliness which bares an emotional connotation did not exist in language. There was a meaning of alone for being by-ones-self and a lonely place. Most of the world’s population lived in multi-generation family homes and small communities. Being lonely and missing meaningful, non-sexual touch, was not a problem. Intimacy of contact was built into our society before the early 20th century.
Being in quarantine, living alone, are not the sole causers of loneliness. As many know they can be in a crowd or talking on the internet and still feel lonely. Loneliness is a separation of the whole being of an individual. Starting in the late 19th century schools, churches, and government separated the body, mind, and emotions. Seeking to better understand the individual aspect of a person. Metaphysicians and existentialist such as Jean-Paul Sartre anguished at seemingly degradation of the whole being, as science, began to look with a microscope at the components of individuals. Philosophy sought the soul, the God of an individual. But neither can be found in one aspect of a person.
Without an intuitive knowing of a sense of soul and creator source (God), an individual falls into a state of mortal existence, where they are faced with the physical decaying of life. During a time of separation these feelings increase. Facing mortality is a lonely time for anyone and facing for weeks at a time as the world has done, is truly heart-wrenching.
We have learned what the elements of an atom do and their effect on a molecule. But, unlike Chinese/Ayurvedic medicine, we have not learned that you cannot have a working whole being without all the parts working as unit. The cure for loneliness can only occur when the healer approaches the individual in a wholistic manner.
Loneliness is a backdoor disease being brought on by a lack of knowledge of the body-mind-emotional connections.
We have divided the self, body from mind. We regulated emotional needs to the mind rather than seeing the effect on the whole being. As we left the villages and the multi-generation of family home, we divided the self from others. China is going through this now as children leave their multi-generation home to work in factories and businesses in large cities. Across the world the individual has become more important than the collective, family.
The disease-of-loneliness is physical, we feel it in the gut, heart, and skin. It is also social. Identifying it is difficult as it is a cluster of effects. It is a complex, hard to read on others unlike anger and sadness (crying), fear, there is no real indicators of emotions that go with loneliness. Each person expressing it differently.
Darwinism has been misunderstood by individuals when the survival of the fittest means individual aggrandizement, rather than cooperation. Survival is about adaptation and cooperation within a community, country, and world. Reading the changing manifestation of life from a wholistic point of view produces survival. Perhaps the outgrowth of uneven incomes and life are nothing more than a miss philosophical understanding of Darwinism.
Touch, not sexual touch, but the kind of touch that brings babies and children into the grounding of their body, as taught by Steiner’s anthroposophy is important. Touch connects us. From the time of birth we know this. The baby cries not just to be fed and taken care of but to be touched. It wants to be told it is connected. Every caring mother knows the more a baby is held the happier they are… You can’t spoil a baby by touching it and loving it. The scourge of many of my clients has always been Dr. Spock’s edict to allow the baby to cry. The feelings of rejection and not being loved, the longing for connection starting patterns of separation-of-self for a lifetime. All because good sane women believed Spock rather than their own intuition.
We can detect loneliness by the way an individual interacts with their physical world, addiction to shopping, handling material things more often, sexual and other activities soon leave us hungry for more. Addictions of all kinds should be looked at as a possible result of not feeling connected in some manner.
It is the sensory experiences that connect us to our community, each other and the world. We recall connections Thru nostalgic music of our teens, scent of perfume, favorite things are all about the recall of a connection in some way to others and our communities. We do this with food. There is a deluge of new-old recipes on the internet helping families to recall happy and connected times around eating. The holidays where families reconnect, it is more than the religion, it is the connections of love and caring, that important first hug that drives us to celebrate.
We are starved for touch not food, for signals from others that we have heard, and known.
We know that intimate touch, not sexual, relieves PSTD and traumatic experiences by overriding the adrenalin of the memory with endorphins thus replacing the pain with comfort. Science shows if this is done enough the painful experience will not be triggered as much in an individual and in fact can override it when the memory is recalled. (See my book Radical Forgiveness for more info in a technique that can accomplish this.)
There is a difference between solitude and loneliness. Like many serious writers I crave long periods of time where my thoughts can flow on paper. Where I am with my mind, my intuition my sense of creator. Like Jesus and Monks, I am not alone but rather with my sense of God. Loneliness is the opposite of this you are without that sense of creative source, God, you feel mortal and disconnected. When I am in solitude I amore connected to the earth, others, my pets, my children than ever before. I am lonely when I can’t find that space in my being that is whole and in touch with all that is existence.
There is no pill that can cure the disease-of-loneliness. Loneliness is far more than an individual mental health problem. Time’s magazine cover in the 70s God Is Dead was wrong. Our sense of God and future has been put behind us in a confusion about the Truth of our state of existence.
For more on touch read Sacred Intimacy click on the books in this site and it will take you to amazon.
© copyright Suzanne Deakins