Toward an anthropology of loneliness

Chikako Ozawa-de Silva, Michelle Parsons

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Loneliness, which is increasingly recognized as a public health concern, is not just a matter of individual psychology or cognition, but inherently social, cultural, and relational. It is an affective, subjective, and intersubjective reality, distinct from the physical reality of social isolation. This introduction to the thematic issues of Transcultural Psychiatry argues that the social and cultural nature of loneliness is an important area of study that requires interdisciplinary approaches and can particularly benefit from ethnography. Contributors explore concepts and expressions of loneliness in Japan, Kenya, Mexico, North Africa, Palestine, Russia, and the US. Cross-cutting themes include the importance of cultural expectations, practice, place, and recognition in the experience of loneliness. Loneliness is a culturally shaped experience that is problematized and medicalized across cultures, but it may also be fundamental to the human condition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)613-622
Number of pages10
JournalTranscultural Psychiatry
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • anthropology
  • ethnography
  • loneliness
  • place
  • practice
  • recognition
  • subjectivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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