No man is an island, it has been said. This is very true of humans who are social in nature and gather in groups, like many others in the animal kingdom. While there are people who enjoy far more solitude than average, the human condition is such that we need to interact with each other on a constant and permanent basis.
More and more we see how much power the mind has over the body. How stress can make us physically ill and how sex, physical activity, positives social interactions and employment can make our bodies stronger and happier. So when our minds are stressed ... or lonely, the body can react in such a negative manner that it can fade into illness and sometimes, ultimately, death.
The website New Republican published an article recently on the "Science of Loneliness" that documents what can happen to a lonely or isolated person which can lead to their physical death.
The article talks about renowned therapist Frieda Fromm-Reichmann who cured an "incurable" young woman with schizophrenia who went on to great success and thanked her in her famous book "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden".
Fromm-Reichmann believed that loneliness was at the bottom of many mental illnesses and her paper "On Loneliness" became a well-known work on the science of loneliness.
She spoke about the treachery of loneliness. She advised her fellow therapists to never let go of very isolated and non-communicative patients, believing them to be in dire need of care, lest they became physically ill from loneliness. Her belief system begot many other studies on how loneliness affects the body.
New Republican also cited a study done on gay men by Steven Cole, a post-doctoral student who wanted to see if the fear of rejection that loneliness caused mattered in terms of a person's physical health.
Cole evaluated men who had HIV/AIDS, and their life expectancy based on whether they were in or out of the closet, thus pointing to isolation and loneliness as factors.