n Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe - Die oorsake van en bydraende faktore tot eensaamheid - 'n literatuuroorsig - : navorsings- en oorsigsartikels

Volume 50, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0041-4751


'n Groot deel van die bevolking ervaar gereeld eensaamheid en dit word as 'n algemene verskynsel in die menslike bestaan beskou. Verskeie studies dui daarop dat jong mense veral vatbaar is vir eensaamheid. Eensaamheid word ook beskou as 'n risiko-faktor vir 'n wye verskeidenheid probleme wat 'n potensiële gevaar vir die mens se gesondheid inhou. Verskeie faktore wat 'n invloed op die mate van eensaamheid het, is ook kenmerkend van die Suid-Afrikaanse konteks. Rokach se model van eensaamheidsvoorspellers dien in hierdie studie as basis vir die ondersoek na oorsaaklike/bydraende faktore tot eensaamheid. Vryetydsbesteding soos televisiekyk en internetgebruik speel ook 'n rol in eensaamheid. Hoewel dit nie moontlik is om die ervaring van eensaamheid te ontkom nie, kan dit verlig en minder pynlik gemaak word. Aanbevelings rakende die ondersoek na bydraende faktore tot eensaamheid word gemaak. Kennis van die faktore wat 'n rol in eensaamheid speel, kan die impak van eensaamheid op mense se geestesgesondheid aansienlik verminder.

Loneliness has been defined as a condition that is characterised by subjective feelings of social pain and/or isolation. It may also involve the longing for more social interaction than being experienced at a certain time. Loneliness is thus a social construct. Although loneliness affects such a large part of the population that it is regarded as a universal phenomenon and as part and parcel of the human condition, the pain associated with loneliness may have serious consequences. Various studies indicate that young people (particularly those between 18 and 25 years of age) are especially prone to loneliness and that they should accordingly be the focus of new studies on the condition. At the root of their isolation lie the uncertain political situation, the lack of leadership in the country, a high incidence of child abuse, rape, sexual abuse, incest and violence. A hazard of social isolation is that it has been found to be a risk factor for a wide variety of problems, such as high levels of psychological stress, negative affect and consequent poor psychological well-being which lead to depression, suicide, animosity, alcoholism and psychosomatic illnesses. In other words, loneliness has both physical and psychological implications, many of which could be long term. Although it is impossible to prevent loneliness, the condition may be alleviated by cultivating social awareness on the prevalence and consequences of loneliness and doing research on the effect and influence of culture and the community on the prevalence and alleviation of loneliness. (Most current research focuses on the individual and does not consider the complexity of the South African context.) A range of factors influence the extent of people's loneliness in South African society where many cultures and races may deal with the phenomenon of loneliness in different ways. Rokach's (1988) model of the predictors of loneliness is the basis for the identification of factors that cause and contribute to loneliness. This model is subdivided into three broad categories that influence the feeling of loneliness : problems with relationships, traumatic experiences and personal and developmental variables. These categories may be subdivided into eight factors that increase loneliness. Although this is a holistic model, other factors that were not mentioned by Rokach were included in order to make the study more complete. In this study the following predictors of loneliness are discussed :
While it is impossible to avoid loneliness completely, it may be alleviated. The recommendation is made that contributory factors towards loneliness should be investigated because knowledge of these may substantially lessen the impact of loneliness on people's mental health status. Such knowledge should be available to therapists and psychologists so that preventative programmes may be designed and implemented, particularly to assist in the prevention of suicide, substance abuse and stress. This will contribute to an improved quality of life, productivity and health for those afflicted and particularly for South African youth.

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