• loneliness;
  • alienation;
  • social isolation;
  • estrangement;
  • aloneness;
  • solitude;
  • depression;
  • taboo;
  • detachment;
  • self-esteem

Loneliness: an epidemic in modern society Loneliness is a little discussed concept in today's self-obsessed climate, where it is seen as a negative embarrassing condition. It is unique for every individual, and as such, it is difficult to define. There are other closely related concepts, for example, aloneness and solitude, that further complicate an already complex issue. Loneliness also has various causes and effects that can be one and the same, and so it can be confused with similar but different conditions, for example, depression and self-esteem. But, at the end of the day, if the word loneliness is mentioned in conversation, everybody will understand what it means to them, and how distressing an ordeal it can be. Everyone is lonely to some degree, no matter how much they pretend they are not: it is part of being human. Nursing literature looks at loneliness from a rather basic, superficial perspective, when discussing whether such a traumatic state of being can be solved, but this is not a solution as such. It is such an innate part of the human psyche, that it cannot be solved like a puzzle; it can only be alleviated and made less painful. This can only be achieved by increasing humankind's awareness of this distressing condition that everyone has to endure in some way, shape or form, some time during their lives, about which there is nothing to be embarrassed. If non-lonely individuals could spare a smile or a word for people who might be perceived as being lonely, even if in doing so they selfishly think ‘there but for the grace of God go I’, such a small gesture might just make their day a little less of an ordeal.