Mental Health Moment: Isolation is alienation

Get out and about or stay in and be grim!

WE USE SOLITARY CONFINEMENT to punish people. In fact, we put a limit in this country to how long we can impose it in a prison due to the adverse effects of it. It can cause psychosis. They use it to calm down violent people, but they often come out of it more violent.

Remember Tom Hanks’ character in the movie Castaway? If not for the ball, on which he drew a face, called it “Wilson,” and could communicate with it, he would have lost his mind. He almost did anyway.

There are psychiatric conditions such as social anxiety where people are so concerned about being judged they don’t talk to others or they limit time. They are miserable and can become agoraphobic. There are people with avoidant personality disorders that prefer to be alone, but they suffer, too. Some of these people are the ones you see spending time alone in the wild, but they can turn a little wild themselves in time. With no human contact, they lose social skills or get killed by the very animals they have been living with and studying.

The cure for loneliness is one of those simple, yet harder-than-it-sounds things to do. Fear is what keeps people in and makes them want to shut people out. It is the fear of getting hurt again and again. We all get hurt. We all hurt others. But that is life. We are herd animals, like horses. We don’t survive well in a vacuum. People who live alone actually have a shorter life expectancy, so … Get out there and live! There are people who need people. They are everywhere.

Volunteer, get in a group, ask a co-worker to lunch; at the very least, get a dog and go to a dog park and meet people there. That’s why mental health professionals advise emotional support dogs for people with anxiety that leads to loneliness. It buffers the pain and provides a way to start a conversation with someone. Everyone loves a cute dog with a wagging tail. A good support dog can change your life if you’re lonely.

There’s a writer’s group here that I go to as often as possible. Writing is lonely and after a while, you feel like a castaway, too. You get lost in your thoughts and can’t talk to anyone while you’re working. But when we come together as writers and share our work, we get feedback and validation. It doesn’t change the way we write, it just takes away the loneliness. We love to share with caring people!

If you can’t find someone you love, then find something you love. Get together with those of like mind, and you’ll get happier in time!


article by by MARY JOYE, LMHC, PA

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary Joye, LMHC, PA, is a licensed mental health counselor with offices in Lakeland and Winter Haven. She holds a Master of Arts in Counseling from Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, Tennessee. For more information, visit

Posted May 17, 2016

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