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John T. Cacioppo (1951-2018) was a psychology professor at the University of Chicago and director of the university's Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience. He was the author of more than a dozen books, including Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connections. William Patrick, former editor for science and medicine at Harvard University Press, is editor in chief of the Journal of Life Sciences. He lives in Ipswich, Massachusetts.


Eleanor Rigby might have been in worse shape than the Beatles imagined: not only lonely but angry, depressed and in ill health. University of Chicago research psychologist Cacioppo shows in studies that loneliness can be harmful to our overall well-being. Loneliness, he says, impairs the ability to feel trust and affection, and people who lack emotional intimacy are less able to exercise good judgment in socially ambiguous situations; this makes them more vulnerable to bullying as children and exploitation by "unscrupulous salespeople" in old age. But Cacioppo and Patrick (editor of the Journal of Life Sciences) want primarily to apply evolutionary psychology to explain how our brains have become hard-wired to have regular contact with others to aid survival. So intense is the need to connect, say the authors, that isolated individuals sometimes form "parasocial relations" with pets or TV characters. The authors' advice for dealing with loneliness--psychotherapy, positive thinking, random acts of kindness--are overly general, but this isn't a self-help book. It does present a solid scientific look at the physical and emotional impact of loneliness. 12 illus. (Aug. 25) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

University of Chicago professor Cacioppo presents scientific research showing that human beings are so geared to cooperation that social context can affect DNA replication--giving us a whole new view of the dangers of loneliness. With a three-city tour. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

"A magnificent expose." -- Frans de Waal
"Wise, beautifully written, and often funny...a tour-de-force." -- Shelley E. Taylor, professor of psychology, University of California, Los Angeles
"Superb." -- Library Journal

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