Is Anybody Out There?

the Connectery

"Is Anybody Out There?" a podcast series about loneliness brought to you by the Connectery. Join Jeremy Warshaw and Judy D'Mello, a couple of transplanted Brits living in NYC, on their journey to discover what loneliness really is. Why is it that people get lonely? Does loneliness attack us psychologically as well as physically? Is age a factor? Why do we not have a word for the opposite of loneliness? Can we become un-lonely? Or, is it simply a symptom of our disconnected modern-day world? The duo had so many questions but the trouble is, they're no experts. So, they talked to scientists, authors, gerontologists, psychologists, urban planners, and to everyday lonely people from ages 19 to 91. What they learned was truly surprising, and even upsetting at times. Ultimately, it left them facing the biggest question of all: What kind of a society do we want to be?
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Is Anybody Out There?
Feb 1 2021
2 mins
Emperor for the Day
If you were emperor or empress for a day, and you were blessed with superhuman -- but benevolent -- powers, what would you do to eradicate loneliness?  In this, the final episode of "Is Anybody Out There?", listeners from around the United States and Europe shared their answers -- really big, bold ideas for instantly ridding the world of loneliness. These were a mix of magical, wistful, and even doable strategies, but all equally thought provoking and heartwarming in their ingenuity and scope. Most of all, it's clear that people are ready to talk about loneliness, openly and honestly, and to view it as a societal ill that needs to be addressed rather than an existential issue.  Which is why, hosts Judy and Jeremy argue, that instead of thinking of loneliness simply as an evolutionary, unavoidable experience, we must face the possibility that it's partly a modern phenomenon, born of an ever-increasing individualistic society and economic and social conditions. Now is time for policy makers, institutions and society at large to do something about it. Links https://johannhari.com (Johann Hari)  https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Connections-Uncovering-Depression-Unexpected-ebook/dp/B07583XJRW ("Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions")  https://resolution.nhs.uk/leadership/professor-sir-sam-everington/ (Dr. Sam Everington) https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/publications/social-prescribing (Social Prescribing) https://dailyhaloha.com (Daily Haloha) https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/profiles/details/roland-griffiths (Roland Griffiths, Johns Hopkins) https://instagram.com/lookupmovement2020?igshid=1gon27e26i1lg (Look Up Movement 2020) https://www.aarp.org/ppi/info-2017/medicare-spends-more-on-socially-isolated-older-adults.html (Medicare Costs for Treating Isolated Older Adults) https://www.vivekmurthy.com/about (Dr. Vivek Murthy) https://www.vivekmurthy.com/together-book ("Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World")
Apr 14 2021
24 mins
Community Architecture
Why is that some of the world's most bustling and densely-populated cities are often the loneliest? In "Community Architecture," hosts Jeremy and Judy explore this paradox and discover that metropolises around the world were rarely developed with the well being of its inhabitants in mind. Instead, they were mostly built to pack in as many residents as possible in order to grow into economic powerhouses. As a result, looming skyscrapers, a lack of public areas in which to congregate and connect, and a dearth of green spaces, have made our cities such lonely places. And, certainly, following our collective experience of lockdown in 2020, we know now how important connection is to our wellbeing. Three young professionals in the field of community architecture -- an urban planner in Toronto, an urban architect in London, and an urban neuroscientist in Vancouver -- share their thoughts and ideas for designing healthier, more pro-social urban environments of the future. Links https://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html (Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs) https://www.timeout.com/london/blog/london-is-among-the-loneliest-cities-in-the-world-021617 (Lonely Cities Index) https://worldhappiness.report (World Happiness Report) https://www.cnu.org/publicsquare/2021/01/25/15-minute-neighborhood-gets-its-15-minutes-fame (15-Minute Neighborhoods) https://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/olympic-village.aspx (Olympic Village, Vancouver) https://www.makearchitects.com/projects/london-wall-place/ (MAKE, London) https://www.futurespacesfoundation.org/our-work/kinship-in-the-city-report/ (Kinship in the City Report) https://uncommon.co.uk (Uncommon, UK) https://thehappycity.com (Happy City Consultancy, Vancouver) https://davievillage.ca (Davie Village, Vancouver) https://theconversation.com/superblocks-barcelonas-car-free-zones-could-extend-lives-and-boost-mental-health-123295 (Superblocks, Barcelona)
Apr 7 2021
29 mins
A Lonely Planet
In 2018, the UK was the first country to appoint a Minister of Loneliness, making the issue a parliamentary priority. Japan followed suit in February, while Sweden and Australia are actively campaigning to appoint a dedicated loneliness official in their respective countries. With such a top-down commitment to tackling the loneliness crisis, change makers in these countries have the necessary support to implement successful strategies to help fight loneliness at official and community levels. Some of these initiatives are highlighted in this episode. Here in the United States, three in five Americans reported feeling lonely or isolated (pre-Covid) with the issue costing Medicare over $6 billion a year. So, why do we not have an official tasked with addressing this problem? Isn't loneliness a significant enough issue that the US government should intervene? And why are this country's loneliness resources mostly aimed at seniors, when younger generations are lonelier than ever? By engaging in this frank and honest analysis of the situation here in America and worldwide, hosts Judy and Jeremy hope it will lead to more powerful narratives of togetherness in the future. Links https://www.cigna.com/static/www-cigna-com/docs/about-us/newsroom/studies-and-reports/combatting-loneliness/cigna-2020-loneliness-factsheet.pdf (Loneliness among millennials and gen Z'ers)  https://sg.style.yahoo.com/kate-middleton-says-motherhood-apos-173000863.html (New mothers and loneliness) https://www.campaigntoendloneliness.org (The Campaign to End Loneliness) https://www.facebook.com/CantSingChoirNT/ (The Can't Sing Choir) https://www.choirwithnoname.org (The Choir With No Name) https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/17/world/europe/uk-britain-loneliness.html (Minister of Loneliness UK) https://www.jocoxfoundation.org/loneliness_commission (The Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness) https://www.theguardian.com/politics/video/2016/jun/16/labour-mp-jo-cox-maiden-speech-parliament-video (Jo Cox speech to Parliament) https://www.timeout.com/tokyo/news/japan-now-has-a-minister-of-loneliness-to-tackle-mental-health-issues-022521 (Minister of Loneliness, Japan) https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/08/health/care-robots-wellness-gbr-scli-intl/index.html (Robots to help with loneliness) https://ourworldindata.org/living-alone (Single person households, worldwide) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLgzDKL9T4s (The Swedish Theory of Love) https://dafilms.com/director/10101-erik-gandini (Erik Gandini) https://www.britannica.com/biography/Zygmunt-Bauman (Zygmunt Bauman) https://colive.se/index-en.html (Colive, Sweden) https://www.noisolation.com/global/ (No Isolation) https://www.thelonelinessproject.com.au/about (The Loneliness Project) https://www.smh.com.au/national/why-we-need-a-minister-for-loneliness-20210224-p575ej.html (Australia campaigns for Minister of Loneliness )
Mar 31 2021
28 mins
PayPal or VenmoEpisode 6: Friendship
After a year of social distancing and isolation, the power and value of our friendships has never been more appreciated. And what's really come into focus is that healthy social connections is one of the best antidotes to loneliness. However, there's a deeper, evolutionary reason behind this longing to see our friends in-person again: face-to-face interactions with a few dear pals actually produces a surge of good hormones that makes us feel happy and less lonely, while boosting our immune systems and staving off viruses and even mental decline.  Lydia Denworth, a science journalist and author of the book, "Friendship: The Evolution, Biology and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond," helps explain the science behind the life enhancing role of social connection. Sharing human stories and research findings, she brings to life the benefits of friendships. We learn, for instance, that the quality of a few meaningful relationships is more important when predicting mortality rates and happiness in old age than income, education or even cholesterol levels. Ms. Denworth also reminds us that hanging out with friends should never be optional or something that's squeezed in between work and family obligations. Make socializing a priority, she advises, because when we get together with our close buddies, we're doing something fundamentally important -- something that's good for our health and for the health of our friends. Links https://lydiadenworth.com (Lydia Denworth) https://www.amazon.com/Friendship-Evolution-Biology-Extraordinary-Fundamental/dp/0393651541 (Friendship: the Evolution, Biology and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond.) https://news.ku.edu/2018/03/06/study-reveals-number-hours-it-takes-make-friend (University of Kansas research) https://www.adultdevelopmentstudy.org (The Harvard Study of Adult Development) https://www.amazon.com/The-Up-Series/dp/B074MGWDPF (Up Documentary Series) http://www.johncacioppo.com (John Cacioppo) https://www.aarp.org/ppi/info-2017/medicare-spends-more-on-socially-isolated-older-adults.html (AARP survey on the cost of loneliness) Guest Info Lydia Denworth is a science journalist and speaker. She is a contributing editor at Scientific American and the author of three books of popular science, including Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life’s Fundamental Bond. Adam Grant called Friendship one of the top 20 leadership books of 2020 and Booklist called it “the best of science writing.” Lydia’s work has also appeared in The Atlantic, the New York Times, Psychology Today and many other publications.   http://www.lydiadenworth.com (www.lydiadenworth.com)   @LydiaDenworth.   (Photo credit: Jessica Barthel.)
Mar 17 2021
23 mins
Being Alone
Are we in the midst of a loneliness epidemic? Well, it depends who you ask. This week's guest, Dr. Mark Epstein, a therapist in New York City and a practicing Buddhist, believes that loneliness is simply one of life's everyday traumas. A ubiquitous human condition that doesn't only visit the unlucky but almost everyone, much like sadness, fear and even death.  Dr. Epstein is also the author of a number of books that bridge Buddhist teachings with Western psychology. During his interview on this episode of "Is Anybody Out There?" he offers great insight into these two traditions, simultaneously quoting Donald Winnicott, a British child psychoanalyst, and the Buddha. In dealing with everyday traumas such as loneliness, he guides us away from quick fixes and instead, offers an alternative of mindfulness and self-reflection that's grounded in Buddhism. Through anecdotes, Buddhist fables and personal practices, he informs us that meditation encourages us to sit with these uncomfortable and unpleasant emotions in order to understand our feelings of incompleteness and to find solutions to help us navigate a way out. And when we do, we might even emerge more enlightened. Meditation and mindfulness, he believes, are ways for us to unlock the transformational potential of trauma because a hidden kindness often gets woken that we can apply towards ourselves and others who might need help. Links http://markepsteinmd.com/?cat=2 (Mark Epstein) https://psychoanalysis.org.uk/our-authors-and-theorists/donald-woods-winnicott (Donald Winnicott) http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/scrndhamma.pdf (Dhammapada) https://www.danielgoleman.info (Daniel Goleman) https://www.amazon.com/Joseph-Goldstein/e/B00DPSACUW (Joseph Goldstein) https://jackkornfield.com (Jack Kornfield) https://www.ramdass.org/about-ram-dass/ (Richard Alpert)  https://www.sharonsalzberg.com (Sharon Salzberg) https://www.headspace.com/meditation/loneliness (Meditation and loneliness) Guest Notes Mark Epstein MD is a psychiatrist and author of 8 books about the interface of Buddhism and psychotherapy, including Thoughts without a Thinker, Going to Pieces without Falling Apart, Psychotherapy without the Self, The Trauma of Everyday Life, Advice Not Given: A Guide to Getting Over Yourself, and the forthcoming The Zen of Therapy: Uncovering a Hidden Kindness in Life to be published in January 2022 by Penguin Press. He is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Medical School.
Mar 10 2021
29 mins
Seniors and Loneliness
Some 12 million Americans over the age of 60 live alone. This doesn't mean they're all lonely, but loneliness is a massive issue for older adults, especially among those 80 and over. So, hosts Jeremy Warshaw and Judy D'Mello dig deep into one possible cause of this problem -- an issue that looms large in our society today: ageism.  Ageism, in terms of popular culture and attitudes, is rife in the West. Truthfully, it's a cultural scandal that often leads to seniors being marginalized and isolated, which, in turn, leads to loneliness. But thanks to the efforts of this episode's first guest, Katie Wade, who works for Covia, an organization that's dedicated to improving life for older adults, there are available programs for seniors to find connections and companionship. She believes strongly, and it’s backed up by research, that seniors need and benefit from being treated as active participants in close relationships. That in fact their brains are fully capable of creativity and conceptual thinking, and they are not just looking for caregiving support.  Additionally, we hear from two older women, who experience loneliness in different ways, about the value and impact these programs have on their lives. Meanwhile, Dr. Louise Hawkley, this week's final guest, who is a research scientist at the University of Chicago and a founding member of the International Loneliness and Isolation Research Network, offers unparalleled insight into loneliness and ageism, as well as resources that can help. Links https://www.apa.org/monitor/2016/05/numbers (Older adults living alone) https://covia.org (Covia) https://covia.org/services/social-call/ (Social Call) https://www.norc.org/ (NORC) https://www.aarp.org (AARP) https://connect2affect.org (Connect2Affect) https://littlebrothers.org (Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly) https://www.aarp.org/experience-corps/ (Experience Corps) Guest Notes Katie Wade, MEd, LPC, is passionate about ensuring we all have access to creative means of connecting with ourselves and others as we grow older. A constant thread in her work, since her very first internship, is our great need for meaningful social connection. After working as a mental health therapist with older adults in an inpatient setting, Katie maintained a private practice while providing social connection programming and other services to older adults and caregivers, and now nurtures and grows innovative creative aging programs. She is the director of Social Call, a social connection program for older adults. Dr. Louise Hawkley is a research scientist at the National Opinion Research Center, affiliated with the University of Chicago. She is a co-investigator on the NIA-funded panel study, the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project (NSHAP), and the Principal Investigator of the NSHAP COVID supplemental study which began in September 2020. Her research contributions are predominantly in the area of perceived social isolation (loneliness) and health during aging. She is a founding member of the International Loneliness and Isolation Research Network (ILINK), and a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee for the Coalition to End Social Isolation & Loneliness.
Mar 3 2021
27 mins
Hashtag Lonely
Did you know that 18 to 35-year-olds experience loneliness at higher rates than older adults? We didn't either until we came across a Cigna 2020 Loneliness survey, which reported that 61% of millennials and gen-Z-ers in America said they often felt lonely. And, that experiencing loneliness in one's 20s is near the top of the list of challenges for this age group.  This was a surprising discovery. But it's also relatively new information, so we knew that finding definitive answers to explain this trend would not be easy. Nonetheless, we wanted to know more, if only to enable young people to talk about their loneliness and provide them with the appropriate support. Our three guests featured on this episode -- Emery Bergmann, a college student, Megan Bruneau, a therapist who specializes in working with millennials, and Dr. Melissa Hunt, a clinical psychologist and author of "No More FOMO: Limiting Social Media Decreases Loneliness and Depression" -- offer great insights and practical advice for young people who might be experiencing loneliness. Some of the topics discussed: Navigating life's difficult transitions, like going away to college. Dealing with self-worth issues during periods of social disconnection. Loneliness is a human condition and nobody's fault. Childhood traumas, like bullying, can lead to loneliness in young adults. Working with a therapist and creating a safe space for discussion. The physical and psychological effects of loneliness. Friendships in a hyper-connected world. Social media. Links https://www.cigna.com/about-us/newsroom/news-and-views/press-releases/2020/cigna-takes-action-to-combat-the-rise-of-loneliness-and-improve-mental-wellness-in-america (Cigna 2020 Loneliness Survey) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAUcoadqRlE (Emery Bergmann Video) https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/09/well/family/advice-from-a-formerly-lonely-college-student.html (Emery Bergmann New York Times) https://johannhari.com (Johann Hari) https://www.researchgate.net/publication/328838624_No_More_FOMO_Limiting_Social_Media_Decreases_Loneliness_and_Depression (No More FOMO: Limiting Social Media Decreases Loneliness and Depression) https://www.imore.com/how-see-whats-using-battery-life-your-iphone-or-ipad (iPhone Battery Usage ) https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07XH573MK/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i0 ("A Biography of Loneliness")
Feb 24 2021
32 mins
What is Loneliness?
Understanding loneliness was the first step in trying to figure out its solutions. So, hosts Judy D'Mello and Jeremy Warshaw pondered these questions: Is there a universally accepted definition for loneliness? Is loneliness an emotional or physical pain? Can you feel it in your mind, your body or both? What's the tipping point at which feeling a bit lonely turns into into a chronic condition? Can you measure loneliness neurologically? Can you identify where it occurs in the brain? The duo decided they needed expert help and turned to Dr. Fay Bound Alberti, a cultural historian and the author of "The Biography of Loneliness," for her expertise and knowledge of this incredibly complex human emotion. Dr. Alberti takes us on an enlightening journey, from the provenance of the word "loneliness," to the emergence of mind sciences, to Hollywood's version of loneliness, and to a future where we we might be able to pop a loneliness pill. She also speaks about her personal encounters with this often painful issue, and offers people who are not suffering from chronic loneliness, some practical advice. Her techniques include meditating, taking a warm bath, or doing something creative like doodling or writing -- all ways to re-engage the senses and re-gain that feeling of belonging in the world.  Links Editor: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/christian-sawyer/261105607 (Christian Sawyer) Music: https://seaplanearmada.com (Seaplane Armada) https://www.fayboundalberti.com (Dr. Fay Bound Alberti) https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2020/aug/06/loneliness-cure-pill-research-scientists (Loneliness Pill) Guest Photo and bio:  Dr. Fay Bound Alberti is a writer and cultural historian who works on medicine, health, the body and emotions. Her books include A Biography of Loneliness: The History of an Emotion (2019), This Mortal Coil: The Human Body in History and Culture (2016) and Matters of the Heart: History, Medicine and Emotion (2010). Fay is Reader in History, co-Director for the Centre for Global Health Histories and UKRI Future Leaders Fellow at the University of York, U.K. where she is working on the history of face transplants. http://www.fayboundalberti.com/ (www.fayboundalberti.com)  https://www.theconnectery.com (Let's Stay Connected)! If you have stories of loneliness and social isolation, please share them with us. Drop us a line or pass this along to a friend. And please do subscribe to "Is Anybody Out There?" wherever you download your podcasts.
Feb 17 2021
23 mins
Snapshots of Loneliness
In this, the first of 10 episodes, we hear from regular people, ages 20 to 91, about their experiences with loneliness and social isolation. These stories underscore the undeniable fact that loneliness visits just about everyone -- married and single, social butterflies and introverts, seniors and teenagers. And it's been this way, long before Covid-19 and it will continue long after we've all been vaccinated. We are also introduced to our hosts, Jeremy Warshaw and Judy D'Mello, a couple of transplanted Brits living in New York who, after becoming aware of their own feelings of disconnection and loneliness, decided to embark on this journey deep into the heart of loneliness. They knew that to get to the bottom of this often crushing disease, they would need to talk with experts, scientists, and academics in this field. But before that, they wanted to simply listen to regular people describe their experiences with loneliness -- what better way to really understand how debilitating loneliness can often be? Links Editors: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/christian-sawyer/261105607 (Christian Sawyer) Music: https://seaplanearmada.com (Seaplane Armada) https://covia.org/services/social-call/ (Covia) https://today.yougov.com/topics/lifestyle/articles-reports/2019/07/30/loneliness-friendship-new-friends-poll-survey (YouGov Survey on Loneliness): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oAUcoadqRlE (Emery Bergmann Video) https://www.micaelablei.com (Micaela Blei) https://www.theoppositeofloneliness.com (The Opposite of Loneliness) https://www.theconnectery.com (Let's Stay Connected)! If you have stories of loneliness and social isolation, please share them with us on the link above. Drop us a line or pass this along to a friend.
Feb 10 2021
24 mins
Is Anybody Out There?