A Cry Unheard: New Insights Into the Medical Consequences of Loneliness
It is one of the most perplexing paradoxes of modern life. As technology dramatically expands our ways of communicating, loneliness has become one of the leading causes of premature death in all technologically advanced nations. The medical toll is made heavier by powerful social forcesschool failure, family and communal disintegration, divorce, the loss of loved ones. And while loneliness, the lack of human companionship, the absence of face-to-face dialogue, and the disembodiment of human dialogue have all been linked to virtually every major diseasefrom cancer to Alzheimer's disease, from tuberculosis to mental illnessthe link is particularly marked in the case of heart disease, the nation's leading killer. Every year, millions die prematurely, lonely and brokenhearted, no longer able to communicate with their fellow human being. Drawing on a lifetime of his own medical research, Dr. James Lynch provides in A Cry Unheard a groundbreaking sequel to his best-selling The Broken Heart. In our modern-day world, writes Lynch, telephones talk, and radios talk, and computers talk, and televisions talk, yet no-body is there.Human speech, he asserts, has literally disappeared from its own biological homethe human heart. He outlines and explains recent medical and scientific discoveries about school failure, divorce, and living alone, and goes on to demonstrate how childhood experiences with toxic talkadults' use of language to hurt, control, and manipulate rather than to reach out and listencontribute to an unbearable type of loneliness that, in the end, breaks our hearts ten to forty years later. Hailed by many of our Nation's leading medical experts as a pioneer and visionary, as well as THE expert in affairs of the heart, Dr. Lynch predicts that communicative disease will be as major a health threat as communicable disease in the new millenium. His path-breaking researchfrom showing how greatly human touch affects the hearts of patients in intensive care units (as well as the hearts of animals in laboratory settings), to his discovery that during even the most ordinary conversations, blood pressure can rise far more than it does during maximal physical exerciseare but a few pieces of the fascinating health mosaic he assembles in this seminal work.With that rare combination of poet and scientist, he describes in moving terms the vascular see-saw of all human dialogue. Blood pressure rises when we speak to others, yet falls below baseline levels whenever we listen to others, relate to companion animals, or attend to the rest of the natural world. No wonder Lynch admonishes us that exercises to improve communicative health must be undertaken with the same seriousness and commitment as exercises on treadmills to improve physical health. Echoing time-honored Biblical truths and wisdom, he seeds this landmark book with two ominous observations: that loneliness is a lethal human poison, and that failure to act as our brother's keepers forces us into communicative exile and premature death. Ultimately, though, he concludes with optimism. Heartfelt dialogue, writes Lynch, can be, and indeed must be, the true elixir of modern life.
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Psychologist Lynch's The Broken Heart: The Medical Consequences of Loneliness (1977) was the pioneering work that linked mental and emotional states to physical well-being. In A Cry Unheard, he ... Read full review
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adult American Heart Association animals atherosclerosis beats per minute began blood pressure surges body Broken Heart cancer cardiovascular disease cardiovascular system changes childhood cholesterol chronic clinical communicative disease coronary arteries coronary care unit coronary heart disease death rates decades depression divorced educational levels effects emotional feelings fight/flight Framingham Framingham Heart Studies heart attack heart patients heart rate Heart Studies hospital human contact human dialogue human heart human loneliness hypertension important increased risk individuals interactions interpersonal investigators Journal language large number lethal lives loneliness low educational Lynch major males marital status married Medical School Medicine mortality myocardial infarction National nurse observed one's pain parents Paul Rosch percent person physical physicians physiological population premature death problems relationships reported risk factors school failure serum cholesterol social isolation stress sudden death suffering survival talk therapy Type A behavior University vulnerability widowed women