Instead of medicalising loneliness and calling it an epidemic, we need to find better ways of engaging with ourselves
Loneliness – the sense of isolation, accompanied by the feeling of alienation – has always been a feature of the human condition. References to the unhappy state of loneliness are scattered throughout the Bible. As the 17th century poet John Milton reminded us: “Loneliness is the first thing which God’s eye named not good.” However, it was only in the early modern era that people started talking about loneliness as a standalone problem. Until the 19th century, loneliness tended to be associated with the physical state of being apart from society or company. During the 19th century, loneliness became associated with people’s inner state, and philosophers such as Kierkegaard were preoccupied with the fear of loneliness.