in my cognitive neuroscience class (undergrad) we discussed dehumanization--specifically mechanistic dehumanization, where a human is likened to a machine ("In this factory, all the workers do the same task.Their uniforms prevent dust. The factory floor is silent while the workers concentrate on their task."). when mechanistic humanizing is compared to mechanistic dehumanizing, one area in the brain that is activated is the posterior superior temporal suclus (STS). what's interesting is that this area shows decreased gray matter (density? something like that) in lonely people.
in other words, being lonely is like being mechanistically dehumanized--being thought of and treated as if a machine.
sure, people will move out of your way on the sidewalk, make room for you so you can have a seat, but who ever talked to a machine, a computer?
let's end with a carl rogers quote (forgive his almost archaic use of "him" and "he," he gave the speech in 1964, after all):
~~Almost always, when a person realizes he has been deeply heard, his eyes moisten. I think in some real sense he is weeping for joy. It is as though he were saying, "Thank God, somebody heard me. Someone knows what it's like to be me." In such moments I have had the fantasy of a prisoner in a dungeon, tapping out day after day a Morse code message, "Does anybody hear me? Is anybody there?" And finally one day he hears some faint tappings which spell out "Yes." By that one simple response he is released from his loneliness; he has become a human being again. There are many, many people living in private dungeons today, people who give no evidence of it whatsoever on the outside, where you have to listen very sharply to hear the faint messages from the dungeon.
@kakashi552 That's really interesting and touching, thanks for sharing it.
sorry, that's only the left superior temporal sulcus, not both sides. my mistake. anyways, it's an area in the brain around your left ear (in case anyone cares).