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Loneliness is an especially tricky problem because accepting and declaring our loneliness carries profound stigma. Admitting we’re lonely can feel as if we’re admitting we’ve failed in life’s most fundamental domains: belonging, love, attachment. It attacks our basic instincts to save face, and makes it hard to ask for help. And clearly the cure is not simply reducing social isolation, because we can feel lonely in a crowd. But getting out and being among people is a good start. Social isolation is often self-imposed because people don’t receive the normal kinds of feel good rewards from social interactions. That is, under ordinary circumstances, we enjoy being with others, we are a social species—and positive social interactions release rewarding feelings. When people have been bullied, taunted, and humiliated by social experiences, their innate experience of pleasure with others may be hijacked by their fear system. It is the need of every single one of us, child or grown-up, to feel wanted, to feel we belong and that we matter to someone else in the world. We all know, from our own experience, that feeling isolated from those around us, alienated from society, makes us sad, even angry. The deeper this isolation becomes, the more hurtful and resentful we feel and the more this is reflected in our behavior. Such behavior only leads to greater alienation. Successful Aging: A Neuroscientist Explores the Power and Potential of Our Lives

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