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Is Anybody Out There?

Author: the Connectery

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"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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11 Episodes
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.LinksJohann Hari "Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions" Dr. Sam EveringtonSocial PrescribingDaily HalohaRoland Griffiths, Johns HopkinsLook Up Movement 2020Medicare Costs for Treating Isolated Older AdultsDr. Vivek Murthy"Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World" See for privacy and opt-out information.
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.LinksAbraham Maslow's Hierarchy of NeedsLonely Cities IndexWorld Happiness Report15-Minute NeighborhoodsOlympic Village, VancouverMAKE, LondonKinship in the City ReportUncommon, UKHappy City Consultancy, VancouverDavie Village, VancouverSuperblocks, Barcelona See for privacy and opt-out information.
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.LinksLoneliness among millennials and gen Z'ers New mothers and lonelinessThe Campaign to End LonelinessThe Can't Sing ChoirThe Choir With No NameMinister of Loneliness UKThe Jo Cox Commission on LonelinessJo Cox speech to ParliamentMinister of Loneliness, JapanRobots to help with lonelinessSingle person households, worldwideThe Swedish Theory of LoveErik GandiniZygmunt BaumanColive, SwedenNo IsolationThe Loneliness ProjectAustralia campaigns for Minister of Loneliness  See for privacy and opt-out information.
Feeling lonely? Don't have anyone to go for a stroll with? Or, could you use a cuddle? A feel-good, platonic hug? Well, then a friend rental website or a cuddling service could be just the things you need. They could also be the very resources we need to help with loneliness, even if only temporarily.But what's it like to spend an hour with someone you've paid to be in your company? Hosts, Jeremy and Judy, decided to find out first-hand when they booked a couple of services through Rent-a-Friend and the Cuddlist, respectively. Both companies seem to be mining the commercial potential of loneliness and claim to be growing in reach and popularity. You'll meet Maggie, Jeremy's rented friend, and Melody, Judy's hired cuddler. And you'll also hear the hosts' honest assessments on what each of their transactions felt like. They will also ponder broader, societal implications of why in an age when dating apps help strangers meet for meaningless sex and websites secure spouses from all over the world, paying for platonic companionship sill comes with moral burdens. LinksNoreena Hertz, A Lonely Century: How to Restore Human Connection in a World That's Pulling ApartRent-a-FriendCuddlistAwakening the Hands See for privacy and opt-out information.
Episode 6: Friendship

Episode 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.LinksLydia DenworthFriendship: the Evolution, Biology and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond.University of Kansas researchThe Harvard Study of Adult DevelopmentUp Documentary SeriesJohn CacioppoAARP survey on the cost of lonelinessGuest InfoLydia 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.  @LydiaDenworth.  (Photo credit: Jessica Barthel.) See for privacy and opt-out information.
Episode 5: Being Alone

Episode 5: 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.LinksMark EpsteinDonald WinnicottDhammapadaDaniel GolemanJoseph GoldsteinJack KornfieldRichard Alpert Sharon SalzbergMeditation and lonelinessGuest NotesMark 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. See for privacy and opt-out information.
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.LinksOlder adults living aloneCoviaSocial CallNORCAARPConnect2AffectLittle Brothers – Friends of the ElderlyExperience CorpsGuest NotesKatie 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.  See for privacy and opt-out information.
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.LinksCigna 2020 Loneliness SurveyEmery Bergmann VideoEmery Bergmann New York TimesJohann HariNo More FOMO: Limiting Social Media Decreases Loneliness and DepressioniPhone Battery Usage "A Biography of Loneliness" See for privacy and opt-out information.
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. LinksEditor: Christian SawyerMusic: Seaplane ArmadaDr. Fay Bound AlbertiLoneliness PillGuest 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. 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. See for privacy and opt-out information.
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?LinksEditors: Christian SawyerMusic: Seaplane ArmadaCoviaYouGov Survey on Loneliness:Emery Bergmann VideoMicaela BleiThe Opposite of LonelinessLet'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. See for privacy and opt-out information.
A sneak preview of “Is Anybody Out There?” a podcast series that journeys deep into the heart of loneliness. With clips from experts, academics, doctors, and regular people of all ages who experience loneliness. Hosts Jeremy Warshaw and Judy D’Mello offer a glimpse of their upcoming 10-episode series. The duo attempts not simply to understand this often debilitating disease but to also offer resources for those who suffer from it. For more information, visit See for privacy and opt-out information.
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