Sunday, June 12, 2011

Feeling Isolated? You're not alone


Aviel Yelinek


Isolation is a psychological state characterized by feeling distant and isolated from others along with a strong desire to connect with other people.  A person’s need for human companionship and social activity are key factors influencing life satisfaction and happiness.

The 2009 Social Survey of the CBS asked respondents if and how often they have felt isolated in the past.  The survey’s results indicate that Jerusalemites feel less isolated than the residents of other major cities in Israel.  Fifty five percent of Jerusalemites reported that they never feel isolated, as compared with 37% of Tel-Aviv’s residents, 50% of Haifa’s residents and 44% of Ashdod’s residents. 
On the flip side, the percentage of respondents who reported feeling isolated often was about the same across these four cities, ranging between seven and ten percent. 

Interestingly enough, feelings of isolation are more common among seniors than young adults.  Nearly 25% of seniors in Israel reported that they feel isolated often compared with only 6% of respondents between the ages of 20 and 39. 

The 2009 Social Survey demonstrates a clear negative link between feelings of isolation and religiosity.  Seventy two percent of Ultra-Orthodox respondents reported never experiencing feelings of isolation compared with 50% of National-Religious individuals and 45% of secular Jews.  The fact that Ultra-Orthodox individuals are less affected by feelings of isolation might be explained by their communal lifestyle and the fact that they tend to have larger families.

The survey results show a clear gender gap, with a higher rate of occurrence among women than among men.  About 10% of women reported that they felt isolated often compared with 7% of men.  Furthermore, only 41% of women reported never to have experienced feelings of isolation compared with 54% of men. 



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