Editor's note

Loneliness is a major cause of poor health and disability in old age, and experts have long thought that providing companions to seniors can help ease their pain and improve their health. But Elizabeth Tillinghast, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center, explains why this may not be enough. Given much adult loneliness is caused by childhood neglect, “some people,’ she writes, "may cling to social isolation because isolation is what most closely reflects their emotional experience as children.”

After gut-wrenching photographs of chemical-attack victims emerged from Syria earlier this month, people around the world recoiled. President Trump even claimed the images moved him to intervene militarily. University of Oregon professors Nicole Smith Dahmen and Paul Slovic explore the power – and limitations – of images when it comes to stirring people from complacency to action..

Lynne Anderson

Senior Editor, Health & Medicine

Top story

Loneliness in adults is often a result of loneliness in childhood. From www.shutterstock.com

Why addressing loneliness in children can prevent a lifetime of loneliness in adults

Elizabeth Tillinghast, Columbia University Medical Center

Loneliness is a major cause of health problems, and many programs have aimed to alleviate it among the elderly. But it might be wise to treat loneliness at its roots, which for many is in childhood.

Arts + Culture

  • How much power can an image actually wield?

    Nicole Smith Dahmen, University of Oregon; Paul Slovic, University of Oregon

    Will recent photos of chemical attack victims in Syria provoke a short-term emotional reaction or a sustained humanitarian campaign?

  • Are there too many music festivals?

    Jonathan Wynn, University of Massachusetts Amherst

    Music festivals have been a boon to the music industry, but now we're starting to witness some pitfalls of commercial success: consolidation and creeping conformity.

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Ethics + Religion

Environment + Energy

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