Think of the most cruel punishment our penal system ever devised. That would be solitary confinement. That’s right…the worst torture, if I can use that term, we could imagine was to lock a person in a dark box all alone. The horror of being alone was used to deter inmates from misbehaving. It worked. It was also labeled inhumane and has been mostly banned. Let’s explore, though, the very basic human fear of being alone. We are terrified of being with our self. The lack of connection, the disconnection, is our worst conceivable experience. WOW.
Depression affected about 6.7% of the U.S. adult population in 2016 according to the National Institute of Mental Health. That’s about 16 million people over the age of 18. Mental health experts classify at least six types of depression and say there is no single cause of it. Not to challenge the establishment, but I see a single commonality. The lack of connection. Sad and depressed feelings are very normal. We can become depressed in the grieving process – mourning the loss of a loved one, a connection with a person lost. Other common life experiences can cause temporary depression – divorce, empty-nesting, estrangement – all are the result of a disconnection. So prevalent is depression today that more Americans suffer it than heart disease, cancer, and HIV.
Victims of intimate partner violence often isolate themselves. A third of Americans, male and female, report experiencing domestic violence in their lifetimes. Almost half of those report having the exposure before the age of 25. Unfortunately, the statistics we commonly hear is that most are women because so few men actually report it. Victims, especially male victims, feel an overwhelming sense of shame. The physical, emotional, and psychological abuse lowers the victim’s self-esteem. The legal and social systems are skewed toward female victims which leaves male victims in hopeless situations. To speak up literally means a man must surrender his machismo. With nowhere to turn and no confidence to change the situation, male victims are more likely to hide in silence and shrink into isolation.