This is to certify that this project is a bona-fide work done by Nisha Parikh
(040414), a student of B.A final year (2006-2007) under my supervision in
St. Francis Degree College for Women (Autonomous) Hyderabad.
Signature of the external examiner Signature of the HOD
Dept. of Psychology
TABLE OF CONTENTS
S.No. Description Pg.No.
Review of literature
Results and Discussion
Loneliness has been defined as quot;a sense of isolation that persists over timequot; (Perse
and Rubin 1990, p. 37). Lonely persons tend to be deficient in communication
skills (Spitzberg and Canary 1985). In turn, these deficiencies isolate people from
the very social activities that might reduce loneliness (Perse and Rubin 1990).
Loneliness is an emotional state in which a person experiences a powerful feeling
of emptiness and isolation. Loneliness is more than just the feeling of wanting
company or wanting to do something with another person. Loneliness is a feeling
of being cut off, disconnected, and/or alienated from other people, so that it feels
difficult or even impossible to have any form of meaningful human contact.
Lonely people often feel empty or hollow inside. Feelings of separation or
isolation from the world are common amongst those that are lonely. The first
record of the word quot;lonelyquot; being used was in a play by William Shakespeare.
Loneliness should not be equated with being alone. Everyone has times when they
are alone for situational reasons, or because they have chosen to be alone. Being
alone can be experienced as positive, pleasurable, and emotionally refreshing if it
is under the individual's control. Solitude is the state of being alone and secluded
from other people, and often implies having made a conscious choice to be alone
Loneliness is one of the main indicators of social well-being. It reflects an
individual’s subjective evaluation of his or her social participation or isolation.
Perlman and Peplau (1981) formulated loneliness as “the unpleasant experience
that occurs when a person’s network of social relationships is deficient in some
important way, either quantitatively or qualitatively”
Loneliness is a situation that occurs from a lack of quality relationships. This
includes “situations in which a number of existing relationships is smaller than is
considered desirable or admissible, as well as situations where the intimacy one
wishes has not been realized” – De Jong Gierveld (1987). In both definitions,
loneliness is considered to be an expression of negative feelings of missing
relationships and occurs in individuals of all ages.
Loneliness is one of the possible outcomes of the evaluation of a situation in
which an individual has a small number of relationships. However, many
determinants work together in explaining why some people with small number of
social contacts consider themselves lonely whereas others feel good and
sufficiently embedded. Among these determinants is the presence or absence of an
Two components of loneliness can be distinguished. Weiss (1973) differentiated
between emotional loneliness, stemming from the absence of an intimate
relationship or a close emotional attachment (e.g., a partner or a best friend), and
social loneliness, stemming from the absence of a broader group of contacts or an
engaging social network (e.g. friends colleagues, and people in the neighborhood.)
Emotional loneliness arises, for example, when a partner relationship dissolves
through widowhood or divorce and is characterized by intense feelings of
emptiness, abandonment, and forlornness. Young people who have moved to
places where they are newcomers frequently report social loneliness. Loneliness is
therefore unwilling solitude. Lonely people who are middle-aged and older tend to
also have problems with alcoholism, depression, weak immune system responses
to illness, impaired sleep and suicide. Loneliness may partly be a genetic legacy,
scientists report in Behavior Genetics.
Psychoanalytic and post-Freudian authors attributed loneliness to a variety of
sources including infantile narcissism and hostility (Zilboorg, 1938), unmet
childhood needs for intimacy (Fromm-Reichman, 1959; Sullivan, 1953), and the
lack of early attachment figures (Bowlby, 1977; Weiss, 1973). Existentialists
displayed equal etiological diversity, seeing it as a normal experience for
achieving deeper self-awareness (Mijuskovic, 1977), a pathological consequence
of not acknowledging one's feelings (Rogers, 1970), and a manifestation of
anxiety that deepens self-rejection (Moustakas, 1961).
More recently, cognitive theorists have suggested that loneliness evolves from a
discrepancy between desired and achieved relationships (Peplau, Micheli, &
Morasch, 1982; Perlman & Peplau, 1982), a constellation of negative, internal, and
stable self-attributions about relationship deficiencies (Anderson & Arnoult, 1985;
Schultz, & Moore, 1986; Snodgrass, 1987), and irrational beliefs about control of
one's life (Brings, 1986; Hoglund & Collison, 1987). Finally, behaviorists have
argued that loneliness derives from deficiencies in skills that are critical for
developing appropriate intimate and social relationships (de Jong-Gierveld, 1987;
Jones, Hobbs, & Hockenbury, 1982).
The Types of Loneliness
Loneliness: a feeling, usually sad and sometimes devastating, that one
needs more companionship than one is currently getting. William Sadler
(July, 1975), in Science Digest, describes five quot;causes of lonelinessquot;:
1. Interpersonal Loneliness
You miss somebody who was once close to you. This type of loneliness is closely
associated with grief. You're always on the lookout for a new loved one. But, if
you find a new potential partner before you heal, you're so afraid of more rejection
or desertion that you watch him or her like a hawk.
2. Social Loneliness
quot;The individual feels cut off from a group that he or she feels is important . . .
ostracism, exile. . .quot; This type of loneliness is often imposed on minority groups.
Defined more accurately, social loneliness is what you feel when you are
unwillingly cut off from a social group that IS very important for your survival or
well-being, and there's nothing you can do about it right now.
3. Culture Shock
The loneliness that happens when you move to a whole new culture. This probably
includes social loneliness, since most cultures reject foreigners at least somewhat.
4. Cosmic Loneliness
Everybody feels cosmic loneliness sometimes. It's also known as quot;existential
loneliness,quot; the sense that it's not possible to achieve perfect, complete intimacy
with another person. It's this type of loneliness that turns our attention to a higher
5. Psychological Loneliness
This is the loneliness that comes from the depths of our being, either from our
chemical makeup or from our reactions to past traumas. In Loneliness, Robert
Weiss (1975) writes that loneliness is NOT the same as depression. Lonely people
fear that they will always be lonely; depressed people are sure of it. The lonely
feel sad and discouraged; the depressed have numbed out and just don't care any
more. The lonely cry a lot; the depressed are quot;cried out.quot; Most important,
loneliness can, potentially at least, drive people to go out and find friends;
depression is more likely to tempt people to give up and just sleep all day.
In recent years, social psychologists have expressed concern about the friendless
male. Many studies have concluded that women have better relational skills which
help them to be more successful at making and keeping friends. Women, for
example, are more likely than men to express their emotions and display empathy
and compassion in response to the emotions of others. Men, on the other hand, are
frequently more isolated and competitive and therefore have fewer (if any) close
friends. Men, in fact, may not even be conscious of their loneliness and isolation.
David Smith lists in his book Men Without Friends the following six
characteristics of men which prove to be barriers to friendship. First, men show an
aversion to showing emotions. Expressing feelings is generally taboo for males. At
a young age, boys receive the cultural message that they are to be strong and stoic.
As men, they shun emotions. Such an aversion makes deep relationships difficult,
thus men find it difficult to make and keep friendships.
Second, men seemingly have an inherent inability to fellowship. In fact, men find
it hard to accept the fact that they need fellowship. If someone suggests lunch, it is
often followed by the response, quot;Sure, what's up?quot; Men may get together for
business, sports, or recreation (hunting and fishing), but they rarely do so just to
enjoy each other's company. Centering a meeting on an activity is not bad; it is just
that the conversation often never moves beyond work or sports to deeper levels.
Third, men have inadequate role models. The male macho image prevents strong
friendships since a mask of aggressiveness and strength keeps men from knowing
themselves and others. A fourth barrier is male competition. Men are inordinately
competitive. Men feel they must excel in what they do. Yet this competitive spirit
is frequently a barrier to friendship.
Fifth is an inability to ask for help. Men rarely ask for help because they perceive
it as a sign of weakness. Others simply don't want to burden their family or
colleagues with their problems. In the end, male attempts at self-sufficiency rob
them of fulfilling relationships.
A final barrier is incorrect priorities. Men often have a distorted order of priorities
in which physical things are more important than relationships. Success and status
is determined by material wealth rather than by the number of close friends. H.
Norman Wright warns: The more a man centers his identity in just one phase of
his life--such as vocation, family, or career--the more vulnerable he is to threats
against his identity and the more prone he is to experience a personal crisis. A man
who has limited sources of identity is potentially the most fragile. Men need to
broaden their basis for identity. They need to see themselves in several roles rather
than just a teacher, just a salesman, just a handsome, strong male, just a husband.
Men tend to limit their friendships and thus their own identity.
People can experience loneliness for many reasons, and many life events are
related to loneliness. The first experience of loneliness for most people is the first
time they are left to themselves as a baby. Loneliness is a very common response
to divorce or the breakup/loss of any important long-term relationship. In these
cases it may stem both from the loss of a specific person, as well as from the
withdrawal from social circles caused by the event or the associated sadness.
Loneliness can be a response to a specific situation or event, such as the death or
extended absence of a loved one. Loneliness may also occur after the birth of a
child, after marriage or after any minor or major life event. Loneliness can occur
in marriages or similar close relationships where there is anger/resentment or a
lack of quot;lovingquot; communication. Learning to cope with these changes in life
patterns is essential in overcoming loneliness.
Loneliness can also result from low self-esteem, especially if this causes the
affected person to shun social gatherings.
Paradoxically, loneliness frequently occurs in heavily populated cities; in these
cities many people feel utterly alone and cut off, even when surrounded by
thousands or even millions of other people. It is however unclear whether
loneliness is thus a condition aggravated by high population density itself, or
simply part of the human condition. Certainly, the feeling is well-known even in
societies with much smaller populations. However, the randomness and sheer
number of people that one comes into contact with daily in a city (even if only
briefly), may raise barriers to actually interacting more deeply with them, thus
increasing the feeling of being cut off and alone.
Some say that loneliness has become a major problem of modern times. At the
beginning of the last century families were typically larger, and very few people
lived alone. Today however, the trend has reversed direction: over a quarter of the
U.S. population lived alone in 1998. In 1995, 24 million Americans lived in
single-person households; by 2010, it is estimated that number will have increased
to around 31 million.
Physical separation also often weakens familial bonds. Nowadays, it is not at all
unusual for family members to be separated by hundreds or even thousands of
Effects of Loneliness
Chronic loneliness (as opposed to the normal loneliness everyone feels from time
to time) is a serious, life-threatening condition. It is associated with an increased
risk of death from cancer as well as stroke and cardiovascular disease. People who
are socially isolated also report poor sleep quality and thus have diminished
restorative processes. Loneliness is also linked with depression, a risk factor for
Loneliness can play a part in alcoholism, and in children a lack of social
connections is directly linked to several forms of antisocial and self-destructive
behavior, most notably hostile and delinquent behavior. In both children and
adults, loneliness often has a negative impact on learning and memory. Its effect
on sleep patterns can have a devastating effect on the ability to function in
Some other effects may not be symptomatic for years. In 2005, results from the
U.S. Framingham Heart Study demonstrated that lonely men had raised levels of
IL-6, a blood chemical linked to heart disease. A 2006 study conducted by the
Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience at the University of Chicago found
loneliness can add 30 points to a blood pressure reading for adults over the age of
50. Another remarkable finding, from a survey conducted by John Cacioppo, a
psychologist at the University of Chicago, is that doctors say they provide better
medical care to patients who have a strong network of family and friends than they
do to patients who are alone.
Enforced loneliness (solitary confinement) has been a punishment method
throughout history. It is often considered a form of torture.
Underlying Factors Related to Loneliness
It is generally accepted that loneliness is more prevalent among those who are
widowed. Lopata found that loneliness was one of the major problems of
American widows, and Korpeckyj-Cox found that the widowed reported higher
levels of loneliness than married individuals, regardless of gender or presence of
Other studies have indicated that those individuals who had recently experienced
the death of a spouse had the highest levels of loneliness and those who lived with
a partner, husband or wife expressed the lowest levels of loneliness. Divorced
individuals living alone have also been found to be more lonely than those who
were married and living with a spouse. In addition, Woodward and Queen found
that loneliness following widowhood was intensified by the length of the marriage,
with those married 50 or more years being the most likely to experience loneliness
following the death of their spouse. The length of widowhood also appears to be a
factor, as those widowed for five or fewer years were found to be lonelier than
those widowed for more than five years.
Regardless of the influence of widowhood, older people who live with a partner or
spouse are generally less lonely than those who live alone.4 Those who are
without a spouse but who live with or near their children have been found to
experience greater well-being and lower levels of loneliness in some studies, but
other studies found no connection between interaction with children and the
experience of loneliness.14 In fact, Holmen and colleagues found that those living
with their children experienced the highest levels of loneliness, followed by those
residing with a brother or sister.
Hicks feel the experience of living in a nursing home is relevant to the experience
of social isolation and loneliness among older people. In this study, the lack of
intimate relationships, increased dependency, and loss (i.e., friends, home,
previous lifestyle, independence and self-identity) were all found to increase the
level of loneliness experienced among older people in nursing homes. The author
concluded that such factors lead to declining health, increased social isolation, and
feelings of sadness and hopelessness.
On the other hand, Andersson also found that older Swedish people who were
socially isolated, who expressed higher levels of loneliness, and who were
experiencing declining health were more likely to move to nursing homes or
seniors' residences. This finding was confirmed by Russell and Cutrona in 1997,
who found that higher levels of loneliness among rural Americans increased the
likelihood of admission to nursing homes, regardless of age and physical or mental
health status. These researchers suggest that moves to nursing homes may be
sought as a means to enhance social participation and thereby delay further
declines in health.
It remains unclear, however, whether moves to nursing homes are beneficial or
detrimental regarding isolation and loneliness. For example, Hall and Havens
found there was a public perception that nursing homes may indeed be an isolating
environment due to the limited, rather than expanded, opportunity for meaningful
social interaction with others. While there may be lots of people in the immediate
environment, many residents may be virtually immobile in their own rooms or
lack opportunities for satisfying interactions with others. It was also suggested that
family and friends may be less likely to visit a nursing home if they feel the
environment is unwelcome, or when communication is difficult because of
hearing, speech or cognition problems.
Most researchers have found that women are more likely than men to express
loneliness, but some research has found no link between gender and loneliness.
Hall and Havens found gender to be a significant predictor of social isolation, but
not of loneliness. Women were found to be especially disadvantaged because they
are more likely to be widowed and to live alone. Women's advantage over men in
life expectancy means that they are more likely to outlive their spouse, other
relatives and friends, to live alone, and to experience chronic health problems
which limit social interaction.
However, men may have a harder time coping with the loss of their spouse, as it
has been suggested they are often less prepared than women for such an event and
are less likely to confide in others regarding their grief. Women often have a larger
social support system than men and more close confidants to help with emotional
stresses, including the grief experienced after the loss of a spouse. Typically, men
have fewer intimate contacts than women, and have less contact with children,
grandchildren and other extended family members.
When reaching a chronological age of forty, it is believed that an individual
has reached middle age or middle adulthood Many things change during this stage
of life Among the most common changes, the most noticeable are the physical
changes; and these vary from individual to individual Physical changes in middle
aged adults are: baldness, weight changes, mostly gaining, loss of bone mass, also
known as osteoporosis, gray hair and the most noticeable among men and women,
Every individual should be well prepared physically and psychologically for
middle adulthood First of all, the human body is not as responsive anymore
Metabolism is not as fast as before, it slows down tremendously causing a yo-yo
effect in weight Most of the changes have to do with gaining weight and not being
able to lose it It is important to note that not only metabolism slows down, but
there also other physical changes involved with reaching middle adulthood that
can be very harmful One of these problems is osteoporosis, which simply means
the weakening of the bone structure of the body The loss of bone mass can be very
dangerous The foundation frame of the body can lose strength making simple
tasks more difficult A person with advanced osteoporosis may have problems
reaching objects form the floor Moreover, if a person with osteoporosis breaks a
bone, for him or her is more difficult recuperate than for a person who has taken
care of his or her bones.
Middle-age crisis also come into play at this stage People start experiencing more
stress caused by the many different situations that involve important decisions
Also the physical changes people go through put much pressure in their lives
Stress can be very damaging to the body causing heart decease, irregularities with
many vital organs, among other noticeable and harmful problems to the health of
the individual experiencing stress.
Middle-age problems are termed as mid-life crisis and middle age blues. Mid-life
crisis has traditionally been studied and defined in terms of men's experiences and
is sometimes generalized to women as well as it is defined for women in relation
to the physiological experience of menopause. But mid-life crisis is experienced
differently by women not only in relation to menopause and not entirely within the
same framework as men. There are many physical and emotional symptoms that
appear during menopausal period due to changes in the imbalance of internal
hormonal milieu and are self-limiting. Symptoms vary from woman to woman.
During 40–60 years of age, physical changes clearly appear like graying heir,
eyesight weak, fat gain, skin dryness, lack of strength etc. In this period social
changes also take place. Changes in family set-up and responsibility often more
negative than positive, directly affect the psychosocial status of women. A study
on working women, family environment and mental health indicated that there
were significant differences in the family environment and mental health of
working and non-working women. Problems of elderly women are often more
discussed than problems of middle aged women. However, the problems whether
it is physical, social or psychological took birth in middle age which may emerge
in old age. Essential care and some preventive steps if not taken in middle age may
result in serious problems with the onset of old age. The problems of working
class middle-aged women like emotional, physical, familial, and social and work
place environment etc., which may affect their overall health status.
Middle age is a non-specific stage in life when a person is neither young nor old,
but somewhere in between. Various attempts have been made to define the range
and these tend towards the third quarter of the average life span of human beings.
According to Collins Dictionary, this is quot;... usually considered to occur
approximately between the ages of 40 and 60quot;, The OED gives a similar definition
but with a later start point quot;... the period between youth and old age, about 45 to
60.quot; Whilst Erik Erikson sees it ending a little later and defines middle adulthood
as between 40 and 65. Thus, in the western world, middle age is somewhere
between 40 and 65.
In many Western societies this is seen to be the period of life in which a person is
expected to have settled down in terms of their sense of identity and place in the
world, be raising a family (if their lifestyle includes this pursuit), and have
established career stability. It is also a period often associated with the potential
onset of mid-life crises.
Most women go through the menopause during middle age. There is often claimed
to be considerable prejudice against older people in employment and in the media.
This is based on the claim that, given a choice between an old person and young
person (often with less ability), the young person will disproportionately often be
chosen by an employer. The media focus much less on older people because
younger people are influenced more easily, and will most likely remain influenced
for the rest of their lives, for instance choosing brands they are familiar with.
Some people are challenging the concept that middle age is something to dread.
They assert that with the right attitude and careful planning, middle age can be
truly a person's best years.
Development during adulthood was ignored by Freudian analysts for decades. It
was assumed that adult functioning was a static period that followed the dynamic
period of adolescence. There are two major groups of theories regarding adult
development. The first group describes psychological development as a process
that proceeds in stages. It is an extension of the life-cycle. These theories are
called stage demand process theories. The second group of theories describes
development as a process that proceeds in response to situations or specific
stressors. This second group of theories is called situation demand process
theories. In reality the best explanation for psychological development during
adulthood is a combination of both groups of theories. Age related stress and the
accompanying physiologic changes that occur during adulthood produce major
effects on the health of middle aged.
Stage demand process theories
Several theoreticians have described major life-cycle /stage theories of adult
development. The best known is that of Erik Erikson. Erikson's theory revolves
around the concept of periods of crisis in which age and stage specific internal
conflicts occur. Erikson suggested the crisis for middle age could be described as a
conflict between generativity and stagnation. In short this describes the conflict
between the drive to generate and the tendency to stagnate during middle age.
For many persons middle age is the time during which you reach your peak
professionally. Either you have realized that your goals of youth are not yet
attainable, or you have reached them. The result can be similar. The typical
responses to the crisis of middle age are either self absorption or involvement with
the next generation. Involvement with the next generation is seen as an attempt to
leave a part of yourself for society. As such it is not necessarily procreative. The
self absorption is often a response to the realization that your time is finite. A
pressure to change occurs. This may result in a change in the guiding question of
quot;what would my parents have me do?quot; to quot;what do I want to do?quot;. It is a
continuation of the separation-individuation process that began during childhood.
In some ways this time is similar to adolescence. This has lead to the
characterization of middle age as a second adolescence.
At times the pressure to change can be quite intense with the result of what has
been termed the mid-life crisis. Clearly this time has several physiological as well
as psychosocial changes. The ability to adequately confront the crisis and stress of
middle age is determined by the coping resources that were developed during
earlier developmental struggles. As such simplistic explanations of behavior
during this period are inadequate.
The stage demand process theories suggest that the stressors are intrinsic to
the specific life-cycle stage. In reality it should be remembered that the middle
aged adults of the 1950's and 1960's had similar situational demands. This cohort
went through the great depression, WW II, Korean war, Vietnam era, and the
generational shift of the 60's. The fact that these people had similar responses to
middle age could be due to a cohort effect and not a product of a specific life
Other than Erikson there are two major contributors to life cycle theories of
middle age. Levinson and Gould developed theories that were probably remnants
of their psychoanalytic training. Levinson emphasized that there were transitional
periods that were separated by relatively stable periods of psychological
functioning. The transitional periods yield to periods of stability following a
consolidation of achievements internally and externally. Gould described a
somewhat similar model but framed it in terms of the change between childhood
and adulthood fantasies. During middle age Gould describes the progressive
concerns with one's health, loss of loved ones and personal status, and ultimately
death. In his model these concerns confronted childhood fantasies of safety and
ultimate justice. Successful transition in Gould's model requires the development
of internal controls based on an accurate assessment of reality and not childhood
fantasies. A common criticism of these models is the degree of 'psycho-babble'
used to describe common events. Generally, these theorists have said basically that
there are characteristic stressors throughout adult life that challenge us to
adapt. Successful adaptation increases your abilities and prepares you for the
Situational demand process theories
Two theorists identified specific stressors as fundamentally important in middle
age. Benedek studied the successful and unsuccessful adaptation of women to
middle age. She identified menopause as a fundamental stressor. The way a
woman handled menopause determined her middle age adjustment. Benedek
identified two basic ways in which women adjusted. For some women, menopause
resulted in a sense of a loss of femininity and loss of self esteem while in others it
resulted in a greater sense of freedom and sexual expression that was accompanied
by a greater drive towards generativity. The role of the physiologic changes has
not been adequately studied.
The other specific stressor seen as fundamental to middle age development is the
realization of death as imminent. The realization of a finite amount of time left
usually appears as the person has to deal with the loss of friends and family and
personal health. Jacques described the increased awareness of death and it's
impact on a person as a mid-life crisis. Successful adaptation is a mellowing and
change in personality that is accompanied by increased decisiveness in decision
making. Such as with retirement planning etc. Attempts to deny the inevitability of
death or being overwhelmed by the futility of life are seen as unsuccessful
adaptations to the mid-life crisis.
Psychosocial Stage 6 - Intimacy vs. Isolation
This stage covers the period of early adulthood when people are exploring
Erikson believed it was vital that people develop close, committed
relationships with other people. Those who are successful at this step will
develop relationships that are committed and secure.
Remember that each step builds on skills learned in previous steps. Erikson
believed that a strong sense of personal identity was important to
developing intimate relationships. Studies have demonstrated that those
with a poor sense of self tend to have less committed relationships and are
more likely to suffer emotional isolation, loneliness, and depression.
During adulthood, we continue to build our lives, focusing on our career
Those who are successful during this phase will feel that they are
contributing to the world by being active in their home and community.
Those who fail to attain this skill will feel unproductive and uninvolved in
Psychosocial Stage 8 - Integrity vs. Despair
This phase occurs during old age and is focused on reflecting back on life.
Those who are unsuccessful during this phase will feel that their life has
been wasted and will experience many regrets. The individual will be left
with feelings of bitterness and despair.
Those who feel proud of their accomplishments will feel a sense of
integrity. Successfully completing this phase means looking back with few
regrets and a general feeling of satisfaction. These individuals will attain
wisdom, even when confronting death.
A mid-life crisis is an emotional state of doubt and anxiety in which a person
becomes uncomfortable with the realization that life is halfway over. It commonly
involves reflection on what the individual has done with his or her life up to that
point, often with feelings that not enough was accomplished. The individuals
experiencing such may feel boredom with their lives, jobs, or their partners, and
may feel a strong desire to make changes in these areas. The condition is also
called the beginning of individuation, a process of self-actualization that continues
on to death. The condition is most common ranging from the ages of 35-50, and
affects men and women differently. Mid life crisis last about 3-10 years in men
and 2-5 years in women, but length may vary in some people.
During middle age, many changing factors can affect personality development.
These factors include:
aging parents/death of parents
physical changes associated with aging
There is some question whether a quot;mid-life crisisquot; is any different from quot;a crisis
occurring in mid-life.quot; One study found that only 23% of participants had what
they called a quot;mid-life crisis,quot; but in digging deeper, only 8% of the total said the
crisis was associated with realizations about aging. The balance (15%) had major
life experiences or transitions (divorce, loss of a job, etc.) in middle age, but they
could have happened at any other stage of life.
Psychological research shows that keeping secrets, especially distressing ones, can
make the secret keeper sick. But we do not know if keeping a secret per se causes
more illness symptoms or if it is something about the type of person who is
secretive that tends to make them sicker.
For a century, psychiatrists, psychologists, and other clinicians have noted that
patients often hold back important information from their therapist. This is so even
if they want to get better and they know the therapist wants them to get better too.
This is called quot;self-concealmentquot;. The quot;self-concealerquot; keeps secrets that are
perhaps too painful to recall, too stressful to reveal, or even too frightening to
describe. In On the Beginning of Treatment (1913), Sigmund Freud described the
physical and psychological consequences of patients concealing information from
the analyst. It is now known that patients quot;self-concealquot; in both long-term and
short term therapeutic situations. And they keep both large secrets as well as small
ones. Secrets seem to be of all kinds too. Judging from what patients do, more
people are quot;self-concealersquot; than not.
This particular problem is part of a larger topic, namely the importance of
concealment as a condition of civilization. Concealment includes not only secrecy
and deception, but also reticence and non acknowledgment. There is much more
going on inside us all the time than we are willing to express, and civilization
would be impossible if we could all read each other's minds. Apart from
everything else there is the sheer chaotic tropical luxuriance of the inner life. To
quote Simmel: quot;All we communicate to another individual by means of words or
perhaps in another fashion -- even the most subjective, impulsive, intimate matters
-- is a selection from that psychological-real whole whose absolutely exact report
(absolutely exact in terms of content and sequence) would drive everybody into
the insane asylum.quot; As children we have to learn gradually not only to express
what we feel but to keep many thoughts and feelings to ourselves, in order to
maintain relations with other people on an even keel. We also have to learn,
especially in adolescence, not to be overwhelmed by a consciousness of other
people's awareness of and reaction to ourselves -- so that our inner lives can be
carried on under the protection of an exposed public self over which we have
enough control to be able to identify with it, at least in part
Kelly and Achter (1995) investigated the relationship between a newly recognized
psychological construct, Self-Concealment, and a person’s actual and perceived
likelihood of seeking professional psychological help. Borrowing from Larson and
Chastain (1990), Kelly and Achter conceptualized Self-Concealment as a
predisposition to hide distressing and potentially embarrassing personal
information. Understanding the construct of self-concealment is highly relevant
for counselors, because the focus of psychotherapy often involves the client’s
revelation of his/her most intimate and disturbing experiences.
Self-concealment is also important because not sharing intimate distressing
information has been found to hinder psychological adjustment, physical health
and healing processes e.g. (Berger and Kelly 1986; N.S.Evans 1976; Ichiyama et
al. 1993; McCartney, 1995; Pennebaker & Susman, 1988). For e.g. keeping
intimate information secret has been associated with more interpersonal conflicts
(Straits-Troster et al, 1994), greater depression, (S. Evans and Katona, 1995), and
inferior recovery from severe psychological trauma, (Harvey, Stein, Olsen and
Roberts, 1995; Orbuch, Harvey, Davis, & Merbach, 1994).
Kelly and Achter (1995) found that high levels of self-concealment predicted
negative thoughts towards psychotherapy but that both positive attitudes towards
psychotherapy and high levels of self-concealment were predictive of greater
perceived likelihood of seeking counseling. Moreover high self-concealers were
over 50% more likely to have seen a counselor than were low self-concealers.
They also reported that neither distress nor social support was a significant
predictor of perceived likelihood of seeking help (cf. Barker, Pistrang, Shapiro,
and Shaw 1990; Cunningham, Sobell, Sobell, & Gaskin, 1994; Deane &
Chamberlain, & Braithwaite, 1994; Ying, 1990).
Kelly and Achter (1995) explained that high self-concealers “represent an
enigmatic group of individuals: they are more likely to seek counseling but less
likely to view the counseling process favorably than are low-concealers. These
authors hypothesized that the self-concealers’ less favorable attitudes towards
psychotherapy were a reflection of their fear of having to reveal intimacies to a
therapist. Kelly and Achter speculated that although high self-concealers were
more fearful of psychotherapy, they were more likely to seek professional help
because they lacked access to help from social support networks.
Small lies are a big part of our lives. We tell them for convenience and comfort, to
smooth things over for others as much as for ourselves. “It is alright with me,” we
say when its not. “I’ll call you,” we insist when we won’t. And perhaps the most
pervasive prevarication of all, we say we’re “fine” when we aren’t. “The most
common lies are told to avoid conflicts,” says a psychotherapist Susan Campbell,
Ph.D., author of Saying what’s real: seven keys to authentic communication and
Relationship success. “People want harmony. But this compulsive quest for
harmony gets in the way of true harmony.”
To admit the truth to oneself and speak it out to others can be difficult. But the
reward far outweighs the risks. “The most important thing that you can do for your
own personal growth is to be honest with yourself.” Says life coach Harriette Cole,
author of Choosing Truth: living an authentic life. Living truthfully is an avenue to
self-healing says Campbell. It’s a crucial tool to help people face old fears of
rejection and abandonment and wounds that they may have acquired in childhood.
“Being honest helps you stop avoiding emotional pain so you’re more able to be
with what is,” she says. “Getting real is an inner practice for bringing you into the
moment.” The result can be a clearing away of psychological clutter, greater
freedom from fear, and a kind of clarity that leads to a stronger sense of well-
Research on the benefits of disclosing versus suppressing feelings suggests that
doing the former can reduce your susceptibility to illness. James. W. Pennebaker,
a PhD, a professor of Psychology at the university of Texas and an author of
Writing to Heal: a guided journal for recovering from trauma and emotional
upheaval, has conducted numerous clinical studies on the psychological and
physiological effects of talking and writing about emotional experiences. His
conclusion, “emotional expression may have important links with the functioning
of the immune system.”
Dale Larson, PhD, a professor of Psychology at a university in California,
developed a self-concealment scale that is widely used in the helping professions.
“We have found that self-concealment is associated with more physical symptoms
and higher levels of depression and anxiety” he says. Apparently both body and
mind have to work extra hard to lie and keep secrets.
Review of literature.
Women face different problems at different age group. Gender differences led
women to bear dual role responsibility, which starts affecting health status in
middle age with the onset of physical decline. Working women's problems are of
three types viz., environmental, social and psychological. In each of them the
problems emerge due to the stained situations at home and work place. In turn
they are due to two factors, one is the inner conflict due to dual commitment and
concern, and the other is the practical difficulty of combing the dual commitment.
The aim of the present work was to assess the psychosocial and family status of
middle aged (45-55 yrs) women working as school teacher. Total number of
subjects selected for study was 50 (n=50). An interview schedule and Psycho
Social Stress Scale questionnaire were simultaneously administered to the selected
subjects. Results indicate that women's psychosocial health status may likely to get
affected during middle age due to psychological changes occurring in this phase
primarily because of biological changes and changes in the familial environment.
Programmed interventions like, meditation, relaxation and other sensitization
programs, aiming at lifestyle changes will change their attitudes, behaviors,
cognitions, quality of life, thereby maintaining their overall status
Department of Psychology, Iowa State University Ames 50011-3180, USA.
In this article I evaluated the psychometric properties of the UCLA Loneliness
Scale (Version 3). Using data from prior studies of college students, nurses,
teachers, and the elderly, analyses of the reliability, validity, and factor structure of
this new version of the UCLA Loneliness Scale were conducted. Results indicated
that the measure was highly reliable, both in terms of internal consistency
(coefficient alpha ranging from .89 to .94) and test-retest reliability over a 1-year
period (r = .73). Convergent validity for the scale was indicated by significant
correlations with other measures of loneliness. Construct validity was supported
by significant relations with measures of the adequacy of the individual's
interpersonal relationships, and by correlations between loneliness and measures
of health and well-being. Confirmatory factor analyses indicated that a model
incorporating a global bipolar loneliness factor along with two method factor
reflecting direction of item wording provided a very good fit to the data across
samples. Implications of these results for future measurement research on
loneliness are discussed.
Social support and positive health practices in young adults.
Loneliness as a mediating variable.
The purpose of this study was to examine the extent to which loneliness mediates
the relationship between perceived social support and positive health practices of
young adults, ages 22 to 34, by testing a mediational model of relationships in a
three-variable system developed through theory and previous research. Data were
collected from 70 young adults who were attending classes in a large urban
university. They responded to the PRQ85-Part II, the Revised UCLA Loneliness
Scale, the Lifestyle Questionnaire, and a demographic data sheet. Statistically
significant correlations were found between perceived social support and positive
health practices, perceived social support and loneliness, and loneliness and
positive health practices. A series of regression analyses designed to test for
mediation were performed. The results indicated that loneliness is a dominant
mediator in the relationship between perceived social support and positive health
practice. Implications for practices are discussed.
The researcher’s objective is to determine whether there is any gender differences
among the middle aged (40-45 years) in the levels of Loneliness and Self-
The researcher used the questionnaire method and the questionnaires used are
• Loneliness Questionnaire
• Self- concealment scale, developed by Larson and Chastain (1990). This
scale was designed to measures the extent to which people typically conceal
or disclose personal information that they perceive as distressing and
For the purpose of the present study a sample of 45 was taken.
a) 15 Working Women from the age group of 40-45 years.
b) 15 House Wives from the age group of 40-45 years.
c) 15 Working Men from the age group of 40-45 years.
Gender i.e. Working Women, House wives, Working Men.
Loneliness and Self-Concealment.
In order to obtain the data needed the researcher distributed the questionnaires in
various apartments, met many acquaintances, and also gave a few questionnaires
in various offices.
The questionnaires were distributed to 15 working men, 15 working women,
and 15 house wives.
The researcher established a rapport with the subject and then gave them the
following instructions regarding the questionnaires,
• This questionnaire is purely for academic purpose.
For each statement, decide whether it describes you or your situation or
not. If it does seem to describe you or your situation, mark it TRUE (T). If
not, mark it FALSE (F).
• Use a 5- point scale to indicate the extent to which you agree
With each statement, with 1= strongly disagree and 5= strongly agree.
For the second part of the questionnaire.
• Work quickly and don’t spend too much time over any statement. We want
your first reaction not a very drawn out thought process.
• Please do not skip any questions.
• If a particular question is not relevant to you, imagine yourself in that
situation and answer the question.
• There are no right or wrong answers as this is not a test of intelligence or
ability but simply a measure of the way you act.
• Mark your best possible answers honestly.
All the Answers are strictly CONFIDENTIAL so please be as accurate
and truthful as possible.
After the clarification of all their doubts they were then asked to fill up the
The 45 questionnaires wee later collected and then the scores were calculated
using the scoring given.
The results were then interpreted.
Scoring on the scale is determined in the following way: For items with no asterisk
next to the item number, each marking of T (TRUE) is given one point. For items
with an asterisk, each marking of F (FALSE) is given one point. The scale
measures loneliness in three types of relationships, namely friendships (Fr),
relationships with family (Fam), and relationships with larger groups (Gr).
To calculate your score, simply add your answer values together. The higher the
score, the more is the tendency to self-conceal.
The statistics used to compute the data are
2. Standard Deviation
3. t Ratio
4. Critical Ratio
Results and discussion:
Table I indicates the combined scores of loneliness and self-concealment among
WORKING WOMEN and HOUSE WIVES
WORKING WOMEN HOUSE WIVES
LONELINESS SELF- LONELINESS SELF-
TOTAL 200 308
Mean 13.3 20.5
S.D 6.16 7.71
T-Ratio for Loneliness= 2.22(highly significant)
T-Ratio for Self-Concealment=3.78(highly significant)
Table II indicates the combined scores of loneliness and self-concealment among
WORKING WOMEN and WORKING MEN
WORKING WOMEN WORKING MEN
LONELINESS SELF- LONELINESS SELF-
14 14 4 18
8 18 6 20
2 18 3 10
8 27 13 12
10 22 6 24
9 11 3 10
7 16 12 15
14 10 14 18
16 19 10 19
22 29 14 25
20 32 5 23
3 19 9 27
16 10 4 25
13 34 7 17
22 29 22 19
TOTAL 200 308 132 302
Mean 13.3 20.5 8.8 20.5
S.D 6.16 7.71 5.006 5.85
T-Ratio for loneliness=2.14(highly significant)
T-Ratio for Self-Concealment=0.14(not significant)
• The researcher’s objective is to determine whether there is any gender
differences among the middle aged (40-45 years) in the levels of Loneliness
Interpretation of the tables:
The researcher therefore