Connected Minds

It was some random link that someone sent me on Twitter – can’t remember who – but there is some excellent stuff here that could definitely feed into our discussion. I’m going to quote their precise here. Would love to know what you think:

“We think of ourselves as rugged, self-determining individualists, but our very existence rests on connected brains and minds. Social species such as ours do not fare well when forced to live solitary lives, and the impact of loneliness on individuals can be surprisingly damaging. Residents of transient communities and isolated individuals lack rich attachments, meaningful connections and enriching encounters, which can be deleterious on a physiological as well as psychological level.

An individual’s complete involvement in a thriving, engaged and altruistic community is more than spiritually beneficial. As a social species, humans create emergent organisations beyond the individual—structures that range from dyads, families, and groups to cities, civilisations, and international alliances. These emergent structures evolved hand-in-hand with supporting genetic, neural, and hormonal mechanisms because the consequent social behaviors helped humans survive, reproduce, and care for offspring sufficiently long that they too survived to reproduce. We are only now beginning to truly understand the ramifications of our individualistic lifestyles, as our social brains struggle to cope with isolation, loneliness and failing communities.

Join Professor John Cacioppo, author of the bestselling book Loneliness and co-founder of the study of ‘social neuroscience’ as he outlines the vital importance of altruistic behaviour, social connection, and inclusive communities in this exclusive and important RSA event.”


POSTED 16.09.09 BY: paulabbott | Comments (3)

3 Responses to “Connected Minds”

  1. On September 18th, 2009 at 5:52 pm Kerry Dawkins said:

    Thanks for this Mike. It was hard to watch this when you feel very lonely and isolated. Made me feel a bit like a basket case, but interesting. I think many people feel isolated like this.

  2. On September 19th, 2009 at 7:19 am PeterR said:

    Mike – Thanks for adding this to the picture. While I think it's right, and importantly right, we also need to see the other side. Solitude is very hard to find for urban people, and of course it's different from loneliness (which is all too easy to feel in the city). Silence too is hard to come by. But we've been learning as a community that we need silence and contemplation to find a deeper walk with God. And I don't think we should look down on solitude sought out as a way to silence – the Desert Mothers and Fathers were by and large solitary people, as are Carthusians today.

    There's an element of what the RSA piece proposes that risks endorsing the demand for constant chatter, constant input, which I recognise as one of my greater spiritual pathologies. I found myself turning on the radio while I was cooking, simply so that there is something to hear, rather than being quiet and heedful while I cooked. The two are not logically connected, but I am a little suspicious of an approach that would devalue quiet and prayer while extolling connection and chatter. We need both. What we don't need is loneliness, which is usually made more severe by the babble; loneliness that, as TS Eliott said of indifference, resembles society and solitude as death resembles life.

  3. On September 19th, 2009 at 11:50 am Michael Radcliffe said:

    You're both right. 🙂