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The Lonely Primate

In the 2008 book Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection  by John T. Cacioppo and William Patrick, the  case is made that loneliness is an essential  and life-preserving  trait of being human. To  feel the fear of being unintentionally alone is what  keeps us safe; making us run  back to the safety of the clan. And  not just  a psychological  reflective process,  but an in-built physiological response to  the need to be part of the collective of ‘our” group.

Could it be that the need to be  together drives every  one  of our “modern-day” activities: that  avoiding loneliness is the reason  why  we live in  towns and cities, why  we play sports, why we work  together, why  we fight together in  armies, why  we destroy the natural  environment around ourselves to  group together in bigger and bigger clans – that all  these activities are simply  excuses for us to  connect with our fellow primates? – that these activities are essentially meaningless except to  remove our fear of being alone.

The Social  Role Valorization  philosophy ,  developed by  Wolf Wolfensburger in  the 1970s,  offered   a model  and methodology  of inclusion for people with disabilities into  society.  Wolfensburger argued that   for people with disabilities  to have  equal status with the non disabled in  society, they  must have valued roles in  society.  The theory presupposes that   any person, to  be fully human, must   feel  and be included in  the human group  /society they  are geo-spacially part of -in other words, they  must feel themselves part of the clan and be welcomed as part of   the clan.   Wolfensburger argued that it was ‘meaningful’  activity that provided that  acceptance and value.

However, given  that  many,  if not most,  human  activities are intrinsically value-less and meaningless taken in isolation ( eg sports and war),  it would instead appear that the  core of being valued is  simply  the capacity to maintain   contact  with other humans in  a  manner that allows  reciprocal  communication and hence provides reciprocal protection and safety.

Could it be that  this “market-driven” world of consumerism  and destruction has been  elaborately constructed simply to  assuage this vulnerable soft little primate, who  cannot even see in  the dark, from  his  fear of being alone?


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