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The Lonely American: Drifting Apart in the Twenty-first Century Paperback – February 1, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"In today's society the pursuit of individual happiness, materialism, and the frenetic pace of life has led many people unwittingly into lifestyles where they feel lonely and excluded. Yet we know that such states are damaging to physical and mental health. In their important new book, Drs. Olds and Schwartz provide a compassionate and insightful analysis of the conflicting currents that have led to this state of affairs, and they describe ways in which this pattern can be changed through individual and community efforts."—Dr. Bruce S. McEwen, author of The End of Stress as We Know It
"An insightful, important, and comprehensive look at the causes and effects of the pervasive psychological and social isolation within contemporary American culture. The authors offer wise, compassionate, and helpful strategies toward the renewal of our essential human connections."—Janet L. Surrey, Ph.D. Founding Scholar, Jean Baker Miller Training Institute, Wellesley College, and Samuel Shem, author of The House of God
"If you want to know why, in the midst of so many and so much, Americans all too often feel alone and disconnected, this is the volume for you. Drs. Olds and Schwartz have written a book that is scientifically rigorous and socially acute, delving deep into the latest research on the neurobiology behind our need for connection and the adverse effects of social isolation, while also unpacking the dangerous cultural myths that would deny these needs. Hooray for Olds and Schwartz's sagacity, lucidity, humanity, and practicality. Read their book and take their advice for your own sake and for the rest of us, as well!"—Dr. William Pollack, author of Real Boys, Rescuing Ours Sons from the Myth of Masculinity and director of the Centers for Men and Young Men at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School
"Our contemporary situation is one of material affluence and social isolation. Olds and Schwartz provide a thoughtful and important analysis of how we came to cut ourselves off from one another, and what the consequences are."—Daniel Nettle, PhD, author of Happiness: The Science behind Your Smile
Top Customer Reviews
As Spring erupts in my community, a pleasant urban setting, you can walk down the streets and rarely see children playing outside. The most frequently observed people on the streets are young mothers and their children or people walking their dogs. In recent municipal elections, roughly 7% of the registered voters bothered to cast a ballot.
Many people complain of feeling lonely. Studies, such as those cited by the authors, indicate that more and more people have fewer and fewer people in whom they confide, people they think of as friends.
It is argued by some that certain political movements desire this kind of social isolation. The authors don't make that argument and in this review, I won't either.
First, the authors are readable. They write well and clearly intend their work for a general audience. Kudos to them for this.
Second, unlike Putnam's work, the various studies they cite are not the heart of the book, but rather are offered as supporting material. They rely heavily on anecdotes from their respective practices. (Both are MDs.)
The result is a well done summary of the problem, its probable causes, it real and projected effects and a chapter that touches upon what may be done to slow the process.
It is, on the whole, a personal book - and in many ways the better for it.
Reading this book left me longing for people to discuss it with - perhaps proof of the pudding.Read more ›
My husband and I both strongly recommend this book, and we found the section on the neurobiology of attachment fascinating.
Example: socializing. "We treat socializing as if it is a frivolous diversion from the tasks at hand rather than an activity that is essential to our well-being as individuals and as a community." Think about this within the context of dual-income America and Daniel Bell's three axial thrusts, in particular the efficiency thrust which drives modern capitalism. America and Japan have perhaps the two busiest, hardest working citizenry in the world. And the latter, for at least a decade or more, admit in public that they lack a sense of joy in life--a rather extraordinary phenomenon in Japanese culture and equally odd that these feelings are only narrowly admitted in our more permissive American culture.
Another example, feeling left out. "The experience is part of human biology that no one fully outgrows; at best, one just gains a certain degree of mastery over it." One wants two respond on at leat two levels--a sense of relief to have the permission to feel this is a normal condition in life, and to take stock of the condition of one's inventory of social skills.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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I had high expectations of this book, especially since it got so many five-star reviews. Unfortunately he writing is, for the most part, stilted and pedantic--and therefore... Read morePublished on January 26, 2014 by Nina
This is one of my favorite books. If you've wondered why people act so miserable today and can't put your finger on it this book is an excellent start.Published on May 20, 2012 by ThrillCozby
This book follows the contemporary style for mainstream humanities/social science books, meaning that it is written in a conversational style (that more adept readers may find... Read morePublished on May 6, 2012 by Wal-Mart'Queisha Jenkins