Do you feel you need human interaction to retain your mental health?

I've been reading a lot about this lately, about the affects of long term isolation, of little to no human contact or interaction. I also watched a documentary, National Geographic's "Solitary Confinement", explaining what happens to prisoners after extended periods of time in the hole.

If you're interested in looking into it, here are a few interesting bits I've found on the subject -

link

link

link

If you're someone who spends a lot of time alone, do you start to feel different after an extended period of time?

Do you start to notice yourself feeling more paranoid?

Maybe more worried or anxious about when you will have to be in contact with someone again?

What about the feelings of never touching another human being? No hug, no handshake, no pats on the back, etc. - do you feel this after a while?

What are your thoughts on this?

Thanks for answering :-)

  • Yes
    76% (58)66% (42)71% (100)Vote
  • No
    22% (17)28% (18)25% (35)Vote
  • Other (please explain)
    2% (1)6% (4)4% (5)Vote
And you are? I'm a GirlI'm a Guy
Updates:
Also, another interesting question to bring up here...

Do you feel that your time spent here on GAG counts as social interaction?

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Most Helpful Guy

  • Yeah, since I started living by myself my mental health has deteriorated a little.. well I've become more confident, more self confident and self assured, and more responsible.. but the way my mum behaves as though she doesn't even want me around doesn't help as now I don't even feel welcome going to the barely a focking half decent family home.

    More paranoid.. maybe. More worried or anxious about when I will have to be in contact with someone again.. well if you mean do I get worried or anxious about going back out into the social world after hours of isolation then yeah sometimes. If you mean I worry about how to get in contact with people to hang out and such, well yeah to that too.

    Nobody touches me anyway. I didn't like people putting their hands on me as a kid and I had a habit of shrugging or shaking them off. Like, if someone put their hand on my shoulder when I was a kid, it would be like most girls if they get a large bug put on them.. I would instantly be thinking and feeling like "Ah no get it off get it off!" ..I think I want to be touched.. or maybe I want to want to be touched, but don't actually want to be touched. I don't touch other people, because I worry I'm invading their space and because.. I don't like being touched, to me it's unpleasant, so I don't want to do it to other people.. can't initiate hugs (although these I like.. some typical $hit), can't put my hand on someone's shoulder none o' that $hit.

    Nothing online is social interaction, not even online video gaming with voice chat.. not even voice and video chat in my opinion.. like a weak attempt at mimicking social interaction at best. Social interaction has to be real.. if it's synthetic, then okay it's synthetic but it's not the real thing. Assuming you're talking about real social interaction as opposed to fake social interaction, then nothing online is social interaction.

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What Guys Said 34

  • Yes. When we go for long periods with outside contact, we lose literal perspective of the world. Whatever is around us during these times is what our minds and bodies thrive on for comfort and understanding.

    That's why shut-ins or 'those' conspiracy theorists act the way they do. They lose understanding of the world. They develop a narrow view to processing thoughts. That's also an example of people who do mass shootings. They can't see any good in the world, they're corrupted by the singular thoughts of whatever they're surrounded by.

    Even when these people are aware of keeping an open mind, seeing multiple reasoning to a topic. The fact of having a limited environment when being even vaguely isolated can subconsciously convince them to forget to question whether their thoughts are sound, well-thought, true or false, accurate or inaccurate.

    Basically, go outside and smell some grass.

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    • "To a person chained in a cave, the shadows on the wall are reality." That sort of thing.

    • Show All
    • mmm Philosophy, it's better than breakfast, lunch or dinner.

    • It's definitely my dessert :-)

  • I start to talk to myself a lot more when I'm alone for long periods of time. I discuss topics with myself from different angles to test myself. I also laugh out loud at life's many ironies. I wouldn't say I need human interaction but it is nice every now and then because I start to get pretty dark. I wouldn't say I get lonely but small issues start to seem major in my eyes until I sit back, relax and look at it again and realize I'm freaking out over a minor issue. PERSPECTIVE! I say that to myself a lot like a mantra. The more time I spend around people I realize the more upbeat I am about issues in my life even if I don't enjoy the social interaction itself.

    Well I've always been weird about intimacy so it isn't like I notice myself becoming more withdrawn in that area. If I've noticed anything about people it's that they enjoy familiarity. If someone grows up around very extroverted people who hug and express affection all the time odds are they would want to be around that too. My family was never like that growing up so I never really had that intimate aspect to me either.

    Yes I would say the amount of social interaction influences my behavior.

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  • I get very depressed. Lonely. Restless. Part of this is just depression, I imagine, but if I had no social interaction at all, the symptoms would get more and more severe.

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  • I need social interaction to remain healthy. I can go without it for quite some time due to the fact I'm much more productive on my own, but eventually flying solo gets really old. When I seek out interaction to "recharge" it's from a trusted, tried & true friend that I can truly laugh & be myself with.

    Anxiety about interaction only occurs for me when I'm planning to see someone that I have an unresolved relationship with. I'll imagine what I'll say if things go well or if things go south & I'll prepare for the worst ahead of time.

    *I've thought about the idea of never hugging a human ever again. It's pretty depressing. It's not something that I want-

    P.S.- I don't think that time on GAG counts as true social interaction. It's close. Sort of. I believe that some here give very sincere advice, make a point to answer their "friends" questions & genuinely care about humanity as a whole. I guess those things qualify as socializing in a way. That being said, true social interaction isn't anonymous. Unless I actually hang out with GAG users face to face, I'll never truly know the person on the other end of the line. GAG is great though. It's the ultimate "back to the drawing board" website in the event I've had relationships/friendships go wrong & I want anonymous feedback about it. Interesting question!

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  • Absolutely human interaction is vital for living. I know I need it. I have chosen to isolate myself for months before. And I didn't eat as good or take care of myself after a while and wasn't feeling good and I wanted to remain in that funk. Until a simple human interface changed my outlook.

    Even being out of a relationship for a bit my body starves for touch that cuddling or a simple back rum can melt me. And of course intimate communication has the same effect.

    There was an experiment in the 40's that put 5 babies in one room and only attended to their needs such as food and changings and that's it. 4/5 died the other one cried and slept and wasn't vey happy. In another room 5 babies were also held talked to coddled played with. All five grew up happy loving bright eyed healthy kids.

    It is scary how the kids 25 and younger act react to people today. Just look at 95% of the questions on here are afraid to simply communicate with their SO. With dysfunctions I never heard of while I was growing up. ADD ADHD Depression just did not simply exist in its over used form it is today. Kids are whips and sensitive and selfish.

    I never see kids playing outside any more. When I was a kid we played with ALL the neighborhood kids and played hard outside all day. We were happy and tough and really lived !

    It is so sad to see that fade into this cyber world of isolation softening and feeding fear filled lives.

    Lack of human interaction kills !

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    • Things change though... Downtown is now dangerous. Back in the day you could ride dirt bikes up and down your street. Rivers and lakes used to be clean enough to swim in. The parks made ice rinks in the winter. Murders never happened on my street.

      The list goes on... seems it's not only the kids who have changed but the world they inhibit.

  • I think that I always fear human interaction. Either I do t want to say anything or do anything hat might make people think less of me, I don't relate to them (and I do not relate to most people my age, never have) , I feel more anxious about not doing what I want to be doing and having to do something that I hate, and when I am doing something that I like to do I always have a voice of someone telling me to stop. Or if I think about a dream or goal that I want to accomplish there is always someone saying that I cannot do it..

    It seems that I have this incredible need to be alone, but I want to be able to connect with someone who isn't just going to try to make me be something I am not. Like being around my parents, especially my mother, I cannot speak to her because every conversation leads to her getting around to talking about my life and about where I am headed and what she thinks I should do.

    Ugh I hate it. If only I could win the lottary, buy an island and work on my music and invite people over a whim. Fly or ship em in lol. I just want to be me, not something that is somebody else's believe or a filler of a positionwhere they outline everything that you are supposed to do.

    I have always feared that I would end up alone. I am 26 and never been on a date. And life is just passing me by, never mind people, I need a new life and maybe people will actually realize that I am more than I seem to be

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    • Oh and as mental health goes. I don't know. I don't know what it is supposed to be like. I have a very active imagination and that gets suppressed when with people. So I don't know what to think about it. Probably a mix of both. Wish I could get some company that I really felt good around

  • Yes and No.

    I do need companionship and I do need physical intimacy, sometimes more so then others. However, focusing on my own attributes, I know that in order for me to maintain the most optimal state of mental health, I do also need my personal space, sometimes allot of space.

    I'm inconsistent in my needs. Think of it as a series of peaks and valleys. At the peaks I need companionship and in the valleys I need solidarity. The span of both peak and valley being part of a congruent relationship.

    When I spend allot of time alone I do begin to feel different, but not paranoia, anxiety, or anything of the sort. I begin to get the pang of desire for change. Then when I begin reintegrating myself back into contact with people I feel empowered. I'm coming back as a different person then when I left and that's exciting. Change is exciting.

    And to answer your update, no I don't count my time spent on here as social interaction but it can be, I just tend to avoid it on the site is all.

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  • Nah, I spend most my time on my own... I don't have much in the way of friends. I think it only affects you if having friends is something you need or desire. Even in my last job I didn't really talk to anyone and it was a job in which I was surrounded by people. I don't feel paranoid at all, I do still yearn for a relationship at the same time I could care less about having friends. I find that having more people in your life causes a lot more drama and my life is completely drama free. Plus people aren't always your friend for the sake of being your friend, they're often in it for themselves... I used to make the effort, but when I got tired none of them did the same back. Do I see GAG as social interaction? No not really, I know some people message and have conversations etc... I have a few the odd time, but for the most part I'm just talking at people, rather than with them.

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  • Absolutely! First off I'm assuming that you'r threshold for a "long time" is about a week, in my opinion a week without any contact (in person) is starting to get to the point where you'll start thinking differently (that's based on me though, everyone varies). We're biologically adapted for social contact. I might even argue that if someone can really "function" and be happy without any social interaction in person (work, school, post office, anything) for longer than a couple weeks, then that's a sign of a much larger problem.

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  • Dude, interesting freaking question. I remember hearing somewhere (probably from an unreliable source (like the ones that say hotdogs cause cancer)) that people are supposed to contact other people something like 10 times a day. I know that being accustomed to human interaction would weaken your defenses and make isolation difficult. I wonder though if it could be something people could get used to. Again bro, great question! But yeah, I have no Idea.

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  • I think the effect takes more than a few days for most people. Sometimes I would even welcome being totally alone for some days. But if you're alone for months or more that will take its toll.

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  • I would say yes. I have a lot of problems when I go without human interaction

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    • I kind of just count time spent in person as social interaction unless I am talking to someone one on one

  • I prefer being solitary. However I am concerned about the effects. I've been living this way for several years now and I do feel as though I am slipping from reality. I am disconnected. But my case is extreme. I don't like to go anywhere and I am currently unemployed. I have developed an irrational fear of being around people. Especially younger people. And the jobs I choose usually have lots of younger people. I just cannot relate to them.

    I am learning that I generally do not like to be around too many people. I don't care for the things that most people care about. And I don't live as they do. So no wonder I feel different. It's not just a feeling, but a fact. I am not ordinary. My only wish is to find just one other person.. well maybe two. A male and a female that I could share my thoughts and endeavors with.

    But it's very hard to find anyone when I never leave my comfortable hole I call home.

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  • Personally, I don't think I NEED social interaction. I however am addicted to it because it's the best way I can kill time. Thus why I use GAG.

    If I was stuck in a room with nothing but fast food, 60' screen TV, all 3 systems including PS4, XBOX 1, and PC, with a king size bed, a movie collection that covers one side of my wall, a few work out machines, a hookah, a journal to write future ideas, and occasionally a girlfriend that visits...

    Actually after typing all of this up I realize that maybe you would need social interaction just to seem sane.

    But if you could care less about what others think about you, then no social interaction is required.

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  • I'm introverted. So people really start to bug the shit outta me so I need to be alone unless they're my girlfriend then I'm fine with it. But I feel so mentally drained when I'm around others for to long. And prefer to be a lone wolf then be around others.

    But as for physical touch, I start to get a tad sad when I don't have someone to touch/kiss/hold.

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  • General human interaction, no. Companionship, yes. Friends, yes. Sometimes I find myself NEEDING a relationship to fall back on, or a friend to hangout with. I could go without basic humans interaction (excluding the previously mentioned groups) for a LONG time. I wouldn't call myself antisocial, but I do display antisocial qualities. I voted no.

    antisocial l

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  • I traveled through Japan for a week in areas where there aren't many foreigners, and didn't run into anyone who understood more than basic English (enough to get a room and such). As I know only a few phrases in Japanese, I went the whole week without a real conversation and started to feel really isolated and kind of weird. When I finally ran into a couple Brasilians who spoke fluent English I kind of clung to them for a bit.

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  • You need a healthy balanced social life, for if you are exposed to many people all the time your brain will become tired from all the interactions and jumble your thoughts around. Isolation is good for you to think and really figure out your own thoughts without anyone throwing their opinion at you which could change your mind for what ever reason. Go out and try to socialize and if some reject you then pay no attention to them and pay attention to the ones that don't.

    This is not a social interaction, it is a form of feeling as if you are helping someone even if your advice is not good. You can feel good about yourself when you give your experienced opinion or just a thought, for you are trying to help and that is what counts.

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  • I've been away from the US for more than a year, and I've felt pretty isolated most of the time. I'm physically around people here, but when you can't express your personality due to language/cultural differences, and you don't feel like you're in an environment where people care about you, you really start to question yourself and lose your confidence.

    I had some periods where I felt like I was going insane and couldn't sleep properly. When I went back to the US to visit my family for a week, I realized that among Americans I am automatically accepted as "one of them" due to shared upbringing, and that sense of inclusion gives me more confidence to act myself. When I don't feel accepted here abroad, I am more conservative in my actions if only because I have some fear that everyone will get together and come after me if I cross the line. :) In any case, I'm definitely more in my head since I don't have many people to talk to.

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  • No, I feel like I could live my life alone without ever seeing another person and live a happy life.

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    • I wouldn't believe that for a million dollars. Humans are social creatures. We're meant to be around others. It's not normal to be isolated and I doubt it. But if you say so...you say this now, but try not speaking or seeing another human soul for a week, a month, a year, etc...you wouldn't last. Guaranteed.

  • without a doubt. I do not think that online interaction is a substitute for personal interaction.

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  • Yes I do which is why I want to go out more often

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  • Yes I need to talk to people! although I get tired if I am around lots of people for a long time

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  • Nah, I like being alone. I accept the fact no woman will give me a chance cause I'm not a good looking guy

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    • Look for the girls no man will give a chance cause they're not good looking.

  • Yes, any physical touch is needed - whether it's a hug or kiss.

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  • I have to have girls to talk to on a regular basis to retain my sanity or I get really sad.

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    • I feel the same way. I would literally go insane without any prolonged absence of communication with females. I used to not have too many interactions when I was younger, now I have them just about every day.

  • that required for most people.

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  • If they come to me I'll accept and welcome others but I'll never beg for their friendship. They want others to beg for it , thus I don't get it. Too bad for both if we don't become friends.

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  • In solitary confinement, the prisoners are more restricted then simply being alone. There are different types and levels of solitary confinement. Being in a dark hole with no noise or light would be hell for long periods. If a person were able to watch TV and stuff then a lot of people would love solitary confinement. Also a pets aren't human, but also wouldn't be allowed in solitary confinement. Solitary confinement and not having human interaction is not the same thing. I could do well without human interaction, but would hate solitary confinement.

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  • pppffffft no I gave up my humanity because fuck it.

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  • More from Guys
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What Girls Said 26

  • No because I like being alone for long periods of time. When I was a kid it was nerve racking because I always had people in my face and rarely space to myself. I find people very energy draining and many are full of nonsense trying to hide behind a poker face. I never was and have never been a hugger or affectionate in anyway shape or form on purpose, to me those are just daily tasks to appeal to others.

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  • there have been scientific studies that have shown that one social media may be bad for your mental health (this I would say is a form of social media) and 2 you need social interaction and support to maintain mental health. I am currently doing a research paper on suicide so I have had to look into some of this kind of stuff.

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  • I definitely need human interaction. If I go a week without human interaction at all, I would act all weird the next time I'm around people, It's like the more time I spend alone, the more I'm losing my social skills. I don't want to have 1000 friends either, but I do long for 2 or 3 reliable close friends I can constantly be in touch with, who will do things with me when I feel lonely, when I'm in doubt, etc. The girl I thought was my best friend has a new boytoy now and abandoned me. I tried telling her how I felt about the sudden lack of communication, and all she did was get mad. I'm really disappointed with her. Turns out I was a filler in her life when she has no boys to play with. F***her.

    To answer the second question, I don't count my time on GAG as social interaction. Because social interaction is a back-and-forth banter for me, joking, etc. And on GAG it's less back-and-forth and more like expressing opinions and helping people. I also need the human touches, and the lack of it makes me feel so unloved and depressive

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  • Yes. Absolutely. And the human interaction has to vary. I can't just be around guys, or girls, or kids, or adults, crazy people or normal people, I'll get socially bored. But I also need my space. I think I need an equal balance of both or I will either start to hate humans or loose interest in myself. It's strange. Thanks for the links and the heads up about the documentary! Sounds like something id love to watch. As for the last question, no. It's more like reading a book and writing in it too. Just words. I feel no connection or emotion towards anyone here.

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  • Some when I'm in the mood, but not to the extreme. I enjoy my alone time.

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  • Yes, absolutely yes. I'm an extreme extrovert and I need to be with people to find any self worth. Like I thrive off people. I'm very emotional needy. I even joined GaG to be with more people. I'm not a lonely person, just not in my nature. The only time I'm utterly alone is when I'm sleeping. When I study I will make my parents sit next me so I won't feel lonely. I will shower and make some one sit on toilet and talk to me so I won't be lonely. I'm so emotionally needy that my mom is trying to convince my dad to let me get a dog because my sister is going away to collage next year so I won't be lonely. (My sister is deathly allergic to animals)

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  • I spend most of my time alone. It doesn't bother me most of the time but now and then it get's me down. I never have hugs or anything apart from off my son and that's only now and then. I am not much of a human contact kind of person so that don't really bother me. What bothers me more then anything is when I get bored. I cannot stand boredom it drives me nuts. I think when you have spent as much time alone as I have you kind of get used to it!

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  • Veery important. I hate being alone. I seek company, it's more fun and you get to talk and discuss. I think keeping a lot to yourself will eventually start eating you. I tend to use a lot of gestures when I talk and therefore, I tend to be emotional, so I like hugging and other physical contact. For me, it's a part of being a human, you show some interest towards another human being.

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  • Yes, but not a lot of it and certainly not for extended periods of time.

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  • I don't need others to feel sane. For me, it depends on the people around me. If I don't like any of them, I will not feel the need to talk to anyone and I will actually feel less sane the more I talk to them. But if I have someone I like, then I will feel myself becoming lonely after a few hours. So it highly depends on my surroundings. For the study they did, I think I would do better in solitary confinement, since I wouldn't want to interact with the prison population.

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  • Most certain, it's in our nature. I don't know what I would do if I had limited or no human contact at all. Kind of scary, lonely and uncanny.

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  • I can only imagine what it would be like if freedom was stripped away from you and you have to be alone for that long. Possibly one of the worst forms of torture...

    I've spent about 2 weeks alone before (which isn't much really) and I started to feel ghosts at night, paranoid that I had no friends and thought too much about the things I regret.

    I was alone because of shingles -.- ahhah

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  • No I'm the opposite. I need a certain amount of isolation to keep my sanity.

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  • Im sure everyone does at one point in their lives or another

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  • 100% yes

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  • Yup,I surely do!

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  • Yes. Its essential for us to do that

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  • Absolutely online interaction doesn't cut it.You need to be among real people also.

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  • Yup, absolutely. After a few hours alone I start talking to myself.

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  • I go nuts if Im not around other people. It have to be friends tho, family does nothing for me. I prefer to be alone, than be with them.

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  • Yeah, I feel really lonely if I don't talk to at least a few people everyday and have conversations with them

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  • Humans are gregarious and I thought it was pretty common knowledge that interaction with others is essential for mental health. Touching another person is also good for your health

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  • The only social interaction I get is at work, and it bothers me. I don't have too many friends. I don't start to get paranoid, I just feel really lonely. I have social anxiety, so it's not like I can go out and make new friends either. I had to have surgery in April, so I was off work for six weeks. It really sucked. I didn't see anyone at all except when I was well enough to go down to my moms to visit sometimes. I spent the majority of my time alone. I like alone time, but not too much. I just start to get depressed. I have to stay of Facebook when this happens because I see all these people having all this fun with their lives, and I can't. It's not so bad in the summer because I have all these outdoor activities I enjoy (like hiking) but that's it. Now that it's winter I have that depression starting again. I hate having social anxiety. I want friends, but I try to go out and socialize and I freeze up and then I want to be alone again. I also feel like people are judging me because I am extremely ugly. I feel like that's the reason why a lot of people don't try and talk to me, they don't want to talk to such a hideous looking person.

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  • Yes I do, but I also need a healthy balance of alone time. I think the degrees of each varies from person to person. I've always been more introverted and tend to relish my alone time as a way to recharge more so than social time.

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  • It's not so much as I feel the need as I do need it to retain my mental health. I'm quite happy to lock myself away from people but it has a devastating effect on me.

    I've always been very happy and stable as far as I remember. Over a year ago I moved to another country without work or knowing anyone. Less than 6 months in I went to the doctor because I couldn't stop crying all the time. He told me he thought I was depressed and it was due to my isolation. It's been an experience and I'm lucky I didn't kill myself. I spent as much time as possible at home alone. My anxiety was so high that I barely made it to the supermarket. Everything felt like an impossible task. And the big picture of starting a new life was so daunting that I wanted to opt out of life all together. It was constant fear, anxiety, sadness, loneliness...nothingness.

    I actually joined GAG during that period. I think it has helped a lot. There are some people here who just get it and are willing to reach and bring you back from the edge.

    Now things are all moving forward and I try to make sure there is always a small handful of people nearby to meet up with even if the relationship is superficial it's still contact.

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  • Like RedThread said, I talk to myself a lot more. My emotions become erratic and bizarre. I start to think that when people do talk to me, it's not for any good reason. I dread small tasks, like going to to the store. I go long periods without being touched by anyone. The last time someone hugged me, I cried because I hadn't felt that in years.

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