The Loneliness Epidemic and Implications for Mental and Physical Health with J.W. Freiburg

[Episode 45 of the Intentional Clinician Podcast]

Paul Krauss MA LPC interviews Dr. J.W. Freiberg about his work as a Social Psychologist and Lawyer and his expertise on the topic of loneliness. Dr. Freiberg says that there are two different types of lonely people: those who are isolated, and also those who are still socially connected. Loneliness is a modern problem, and his most recent book explores why social people still get lonely.

Dr. Freiberg defines loneliness as an innate signal we get, much like we get sensations of hunger or thirst. Loneliness is a feeling, but then we act on that. However, this feeling is not without consequence. Paul notes that traumatic memories are stored somatically, in the body. Unlike information-focused memories which are stored in our brain, trauma and traumatic feelings like loneliness are stored in the body.

Dr. Freiburg also mentions other relationships that are just as harmful as loneliness. Miscommunication can lead to loneliness in relationships, and Paul and Dr. Freiburg discuss some anecdotes from his book. Also discussed is scientific evidence for the dangers of loneliness. Loneliness is an epidemic in the United States, and it is physically damaging as well as mentally harmful.

Coming out of a stay-at-home order, “no touching” is going to be a new theme. However, the loss of physical touching is only one aspect of being emotionally touched. Children will be highly affected since they are constantly learning how to connect with others. Without unstructured, free play, their development will be altered. We can only wait to see how they are impacted as they age.

Finally, Dr. Freiburg describes the value of social connections–those who have fewer connections value one connection more than someone who has many connections throughout the day. So, although there are changes to our social connections overall, we should try to reach out to others. You never know what that connection will mean to them!

J.W. Freiberg studies chronic loneliness through the unique lens of a social psychologist (PhD, UCLA) turned lawyer (JD, Harvard). A former assistant professor in the department of social psychology at Boston University, he served for decades as general counsel to more than a dozen mental health and social service agencies in Boston, including The Home for Little Wanderers, the nation’s oldest child-welfare organization. In his just released book Surrounded by Others and Yet So Alone (A Lawyer’s Case Stories of Love, Loneliness and Litigation), Dr. Freiberg explores the impact of faulty connections in failing relationships, through the telling of case stories mined from his 30-years as an attorney. His award-winning book Four Seasons of Loneliness, explored the chronic loneliness that comes to isolated, disconnected individuals. The papers presented at his 2018 symposium on childhood loneliness, are collected into his edited work Growing Up Lonely. Dr. Freiberg is a member of the MA state bar and the bar of the Supreme Court of the US. For more information about all of his books, visit www.thelonelinessbooks.com.

Paul Krauss MA LPC is the Clinical Director of Health for Life Grand Rapids, home of The Trauma-Informed Counseling Center of Grand Rapids. Paul is also a Private Practice Psychotherapist, EMDRIA Consultant in Training (CIT), host of the Intentional Clinician podcast, Behavioral Health Consultant, Clinical Trainer, and Counseling Supervisor. Paul is now offering consulting for a few individuals and organizations. Paul is the creator of the National Violence Prevention Hotline (in progress)  as well as the Intentional Clinician Training Program for Counselors. Questions? Call the office at 616-200-4433.

If you are looking for EMDRIA consulting groups, Paul Krauss MA LPC is now hosting weekly online and in-person groups.  For details, click here.

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Original Music:

”Shades of Currency” [Instrumental] from Archetypes by PAWL (Spotify)

“Memory Lane” from From a Basement on the Hill by Elliott Smith (Spotify)

“No World Like the World” from Below the Branches by Kelley Stoltz (Spotify)

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