Web of Loneliness

New thinking about a chronic state of being

The Loneliness of Elliot Rodger

It is my hope to raise awareness about the issue of loneliness. For those who are chronically lonely to realize that they are not alone in the way they feel, to raise awareness about the awful stigma society places on those individuals who are lonely (#lonersarentlosers), and to advocate for greater services for those individuals for experience loneliness. Read More

Society doesn't owe Elliot Rodgers or lonely people anything

Elliot Rodgers made zero effort to make a change. He spent his time ruminating and seething against all other people. If one is lonely, there is lots of help out there. There are websites galore on the Internet that have helpful tips on meeting people and putting one's best foot forward. Meetup.com provides thousands of opportunities for everyone on the planet to attend social functions. There is a group out there for anyone, unless you are living in on the South Pole.

Elliot Rodgers got something from being angry and dreaming of killing people. His roommates tried to be nice to him and they're now dead because Elliot Rodgers killed them. People who are angry and miserable because they are lonely need to work on their anger and misery first before the rest of us give them the time of day.

A legitimate phenomenon

Rodgers appears to be a part of a phenomenon I call Universal Romantic Rejection. Although I don't believe this phenomenon was the proximate cause of his horrific homicidal actions, I do believe it is a very real problem that merits study.

There are many people in our society who avail themselves of the myriad opportunities available to single men and women, but who have nevertheless made it into their twenties, thirties, and beyond without having ever established a romantic connection with another person. The reasons for this happening are, at best, poorly understood (as the above comment demonstrates), but improving our understanding of this could do a lot to reduce suffering by reducing its incidence.

Additionally, such research could save lives, because even though people suffering from Universal Romantic Rejection rarely exhibit violence against others, violence against themselves is far more common, as people conclude that their failure to demonstrate personal value to potential romantic partners is due to a lack of personal value.

People you know are lonely, and you will never know (or care)

1. There is a huge difference between being alone and being lonely. There are people who are never alone, and always feel lonely.
2. There is no help for those who are lonely. Therapy can't treat loneliness; I've done enough therapy to know that. Loneliness is not the same as depression—no treatments exist to effectively treat loneliness
3. People sense loneliness in others and treat it like an emotional plague. Lonely people are rejected and shunned as social pariahs. Getting out there means lonely people must act fake & pretend—which other people also sense and avoid. It is a trap with no escape.

I hope you die a lonely death, surrounded by people.

chronic lonliness

I was acutely and chronically lonely for most of my life, until I accidentally found a therapist that I really bonded with about 5 years ago. I was lonely even though not alone, as I had a wife and daughter. At 55 years of age, I was very bitter and resentful, achingly lonely, and hated my life, life itself, and myself. I could not trust anyone to get close to me. I was suicidal, yet there were people around me. She helped me to let go of the defense mechanisms I was using to push people away in order to protect myself from rejection and abandonment.

Don't give up hope on therapy, Anonymous, as the therapist for you might be out there somewhere. Check out http://support.webofloneliness.com/ if you want to meet fellow sufferers of loneliness and discuss the difference of being alone and being lonely. I agree with you, there is a world of difference between the two states of being!

Good Luck!

Fake and Pretend

Who gets to act fake and pretend? Everybody. We all get to hold our tongue, be nice to people we'd rather not and go with the flow. No, we can't just be dribbling our actual thoughts and feelings all the time. That's life. Therapy and rumination about one' s loneliness probably won't help, making small changes probably will.

Anonymous, still not sure how to respond

I'm struggling with the idea that there's nothing underlying the your loneliness.

I personally struggle socially for so many reasons...I'm an introvert, and I also don't pick up on social cues well. I also attend to, learn, and process information differently which really impacted me in school.

Hearing you say "I hope you die a lonely death, surrounded by people" saddens me.

What helped me was going to a psychologist who gave me a battery of tests, personality inventories, etc. who helped me understand why I feel so different and frustrated.

It was a beginning. I find that developing relationships with people who have similar "differences" helps because I don't have to explain myself to them. They accept me as I am.

Sometimes, it's not therapy we need. It's being with people with whom we share a common interest. Online discussion forums and community groups specific to your interests can be a place to start.

You probably won't come back to read this, but if you do, I'm curious as to what interests you have and regularly pursue.

Alone But Not Lonely

Mr. Anonymous - You raised some nice points.There are legions of guys out there who have NO women in their lives, and it is their own choice. It is a life they have chosen ( not feeling entitled to anything, just no desire to play the "game") and they do just fine, amid insults and requests (?) to "change into pickup artists" who they should want to be.
As you just said, they are supposed to act, fake and pretend to become the wonderful social people who they should desire to be.
As you can see from the many unhappy posts in reaction to yet another violent tragedy, the insults go on and on.

Elliott Rodger

Well, you are both right and wrong here; society does not "owe" the ill and disaffected anything. However, we had best attend to their needs, because they can impact us in many ways, including the kind of violence committed here. We are, in fact, "our brother's keepers".

"society does not "owe" the

"society does not "owe" the ill and disaffected anything"

Apparently; I was considering this viewpoint while waiting at a bus stop. As is typical of a public (though not free) service for mostly immigrants and the poor, it offered the bare minimum in comforts and was situated across from this eyesore back lot dumpster.(I'm not poor, before you skip down)

Being 'treated with a sort of mild neglect, like a stray dog or an unwelcome guest' is a general issue of status and power whether it's in high school or adult society


Sociery Owes Nothing To Elliott Rodger or Lonely People

Well, to punish them, you better get out there to insult them ALL and start beating them up.I guess you better hurry up and get started!

chrnic loneliness

As someone who was chronically lonely, and who now volunteers to work with the chronically lonely, I really enjoyed this article! It is a brief but enlightening look at the often tragic results of not addressing the epidemic of loneliness, particularly among young men in our society that get cut off from the healthy connections that many of us take for granted.

There is a widely held misconception, in my opinion, that there are plenty of opportunities out there for chronically lonely people to easily meet with others and to socialize. It seems like such a simple problem to those of us who never suffered from it. Therefore, the chronically lonely often get little empathy from the public, nor effective support or treatment for their plight. Sometimes the results of this can be devastating!

Chronic Loneliness

Mr. Vaglica -- Sounds like there are MANY people out there, male and female, who would be delighted to hear how YOU changed your life after you dealt with your own loneliness.You seem to have beaten it!

chronic lonliness

Hi Dave,

I suffered from an inferiority complex, fear or rejection and abandonment for much of my adult life. These fears and beliefs caused me to isolate myself from others, primarily in order to protect my fragile psyche from what I feared would be further damage. After 5 years of psychotherapy with a very experienced, gifted and compassionate therapist, I was finally able to overcome these obstacles to emotional intimacy at the age of 60. I have started making real social connections again.

Often our own beliefs and fears cause many of us to unconsciously construct walls to keep others out. However, these walls eventually imprison us in a sort of solitary confinement, not of the body, but of the soul. The result is often chronic loneliness. Most of us are surrounded by people, yet ironically some of us can't really connect with anyone.


Chronic Loneliness

Mr. Vaglica- Congratulations upon how you overcame! I just love that part when they want to tell you that you think that the world owes you a living, and owes you female companionship. They love to say that.It makes them feel better.

Chronic loneliness

Thank you, Dave!!

Why was he lonely?

From what I've read this morning, Rodgers was believed to be on the "autism spectrum" which I believe was an important contributor to his loneliness.

chronic lonliness

if he was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum, then that can certainly have contributed greatly to his social isolation. There must have been many red flags that were tragically not noticed in time to get him into effective treatment. Not sure if he alone could have found any relief from his suffering without some sort of intervention by mental health care providers. Perhaps he was a ticking time bomb, just waiting to go off?

We'll learn more over the next week

I don't know anyone on the autism spectrum who is a "ticking time bomb", but as you pointed out, it would have played a role in his social isolation. More factors are involved. We'll learn more over the next week. This is the second shooter in two years time who was on the autism spectrum. I imagine this is hard for those in the autism and Asperger communities. My heart goes out to all the victim's families, the Rodger family too.

Dr., you need to acknowledge

Dr., you need to acknowledge the fact that Eliott HAD been, and even still was, "under treatment" (including the usual, easy, pallative of "medication"), and it was not sufficiently effective. His parents attempts at engaging some "big brother" sort of help were well advised, and something that we all might try, but this of course is just one more, financially compensated, service that eventually just goes away when the money leaves or the personnel move on with their professional lives. This young man had some specific physical and personal problems that might have been minimized with some continuing, hands on, help and guidance, but no one seemed to have enough time for it. Hopefully, perhaps this case might help others.

Nobody is owed friends or relationships

Elliot Rodger was a rude, sexist, classist and woman-hating young man.

No one is "owed" friends or dates. Rodger was a vile exude of a human being -- who rightfully deserved to be lonely.

He was entitled to act like a jerk -- it's a free country!

He was not free from the repercussions of his actions - no friends or girlfriends!

Mr. Anonymous - And somehow,

Mr. Anonymous - And somehow, WE, and the victims, also are "not free" from the repercussions of his actions --- no friends.

I disagree that this was all

I disagree that this was all loneliness. In many cases, particularly Elliot Rodger's, loneliness is the result of mental disorder. Elliot had been diagnosed with autism. Indeed, from reading his manifesto, it was clear he exhibited many autistic traits including inability to understand or empathize with others and obsessive-compulsiveness (his aunt remarked that as a child he would obsessively fold his clothes, and he was obsessed with losing his virginity and dating a model girlfriend).

He didn't want, or know how, to form connections with other people. To him, people were just objects to acquire. He imposed loneliness on himself, by shutting himself away from other people. He could have befriended his roommates or course-mates. He scared all his best-friends away by talking about ripping off peoples' skin. His obsession with himself and attractive blonde women left no room for any friendship. He probably had autism, OCD, narcissistic personality disorder and anti-social personality disorder. That kind of personality would struggle in most environments, let alone Hollywood. It's a shame that he wasn't treated more effectively.

I agree with everything

I agree with everything you've said. Also that it's "a shame he wasn't treated more effectively."

I've been reading child psychiatrist Bruce Perry's books,

The Boy Who Was Raised As A Dog: And Other Stories from a Psychiatrist's Notebook: What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us about Loss, Love, and Healing,

and his second book, Born For Love: Why Empathy Is Essential -- and Endangered.

Both timely books, relevant to this the circumstances that led to this shooting.

Chronic Loneliness

I've got Asperger's syndrome and I'm chronically lonely. I've never had a job and a girlfriend and I seem to have many traits that Rodger has.

I can really understand what he's saying, and certainly agree with what's written in this blog post about the need to take the problem of chronic loneliness seriously.

Seeking Help

I think this article succeeds in the objective of raising awareness of loneliness.

But, it is apparent in the news stories about Rodger that he was being treated by therapists. So, I disagree that Rodger's case is evidence that we need to refrain from "constant rumination rather than seek help." Rodger had not only sought help, he had professional help.

Since when is loneliness a

Since when is loneliness a character flaw? It's really scary when a society starts faulting individuals for being alone instead fostering a culture where we reach out to and care about one another.

Character flaw?

I think a person can be of excellent character and suffer from loneliness.

Elliot Rodger Needed Empathy

What Elliot Rodger did was horrific, but I find it hard to accept that instead of ruminating so much, he should have looked for help. He was so immersed in his own perception of life that he did not think anything was wrong with him. He was not of the right mind to go asking for help. I think what is lacking in mental health is an effective way to reach narcissistic personalities. Empathy is what could have helped him the most.



I felt very lonely as a young kid, but had a few rather unreliable friends who would only be friendly if there was no one else available. This situation continued up to my early 20's, when I realised the way out was to shift my thoughts from thinking about me (which I found painful), to thinking about other people. I deliberately sought to find out more about new acquaintances by asking questions and showing genuine interest in their lives.I never talked much about myself or my problems, or feelings, unless I was absolutely sure that people were genuinely interested. Even then,I always kept something back. I found people responded to this, and I found more genuine friendship, and also found it much, easier to get girlfriends. I also decided to reject media stereotypes of how 'happy people' should lead their lives - I never watch any TV or Films or (now)social media which purports to reflect 'desired lifestyles - with me it became WYSIWYG. I have been happily married for 30 years, a successful career, and have four great grown up kids. The modern trend towards narcissism and its focus on 'me', combined with believing the media distortions about how to be happy, will inevitably, and ironically, lead to the very unhappiness and loneliness people seek to avoid.

There's much wisdom in what you've shared

We gave up cable TV more than 10 years ago, prior to that we greatly limited what we watched. Every couple of years, I'll turn on the TV and am shocked as to how much worse it's gotten, as if that's possible. Today, we buy or rent movies and series on DVD that we think we'll enjoy. For news, we listen to the radio or read news reports online.

Your experiences in how you approached developing relationships parallels mine. I continue to put the needs of others before my own as much as I am able. The only difference is that because of my differences, or disabilities, I've only experienced limited success in my relationships, in my work, and financially, though I do have a loving and supportive family. For this, I'm grateful.

I think what's helped me most along the way - (psychological testing and therapy was a only a starting point only for me, NOT an end) - is reading books that help me understand myself, how to do things better, and how to be in community with others. Almost all of my relationships are with those who share my character and values.

My readings in recent years have been on the effects of childhood abuse and trauma, learning how to manage anxiety and stress, health, also on happiness and resiliency. I enjoy conversing with people on these subjects, that is, when and where I can. It's hit and miss. Stephen Covey, through this book, 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, was a huge early influence in my life. I read fiction too, primarily children's fiction, but some adult fiction too. I look for books based in reality - (sometimes painful, other times joyful) - with positive messages and insights that keep me inspired.

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Sean Seepersad, Ph.D. is the President/CEO of the Web of Loneliness Institute, Inc., adjunct professor at the University of Connecticut, and author of The Lonely Screams.


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