Thursday Thought: A Bit of Loneliness is Beneficial

Loneliness is an emotion we will all feel at some point in our lives. It is an unwanted emotion that can have many teeter on the edge of depression. But recent research suggests that loneliness has a real purpose, one that is quite beneficial. 

Much of what goes with loneliness—behaviorally, physiologically—is so deep that we’ve got it in our genes. It’s just like if I were to provide a painful stimulus to your arm, you would withdraw and complain of being hurt. That’s not something you learn. The pain withdrawal reflex is in place due to your genetic endowment. And that mechanism is in place because it protects your body from tissue damage.

Loneliness is a mechanism that’s in place because we need, as a social species, to be able to identify when our connections with others for mutual aid and protection are being threatened or absent. If there’s no connection, there could be mortal consequences. Those are threats to our survival and reproductive success.
— John Cacioppo, professor of psychology at the University of Chicago

Basically, loneliness is a defence mechanism that helps to protect us and keep us from harm. It works much in the same way as an immune system, and does so without you really knowing that it's being helpful. 

Of course, as any other human emotion, loneliness is complicated. But it does, at some point, serve a purpose. 

 

H/T Futurity