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Humans are social beings. What does that really mean though? Karl Marx, a sociologist explains this statement as “human beings are intrinsically, necessarily and by definition social beings who…cannot survive and meet their needs other than through social co-operation and association.” In simpler terms, man just cannot live alone, as he must satisfy particular basic needs to survive, which involve human interactions. Humans have to enter into relationships with other humans and the principles of mutual dependence cannot be broken by anyone. For instance, a child may depend on the mother to fulfill physical needs, but the child most times meets the mental needs of the mother; the mother needs to be and feel relevant in her life.
Humans share similar neurons that allow emotions to be matched with each other immediately and unconsciously. We basically leak emotions to our fellow species. This is evident in how we anticipate as well as mirror the movements of each other when we display sympathy or are in agreement with someone. Communication experts found that during storytelling and listening, humans are able to mirror the brain activity of each other. Humans are most comfortable when we are sharing stories and strong emotions; we need others on a deep level.
There are some individuals who are not in agreement with the idea that we need each other to survive. They think that they prefer the solitary life. I understand; I have been there. Of course, there are a lot of times when we prefer to be left alone during difficult times such as a breakup, a health crisis, or financial difficulties. At the point, we usually feel that we can handle our situations on our own and not need anybody to help us through them. If you have ever been in a situation like this, I am sure by now you know that those feelings were temporary and that you found out soon enough that you do need others to survive. I hope by the end of this article if you are still thinking that you don’t need other people, that you will seek advice from a medical or psychological specialist.
Modern life, mostly through improved technology, has imposed solitary living on society through the notion that humans are more in favour of solitude. However, this notion is increasingly appearing to be incorrect. Interviews with victims of war as well as some prisoners have declared that solitary confinement was the worst part of their experience. Being forced to stay away from people crushes the spirit and weakens resistance a lot quicker than when other types of mistreatments are used. The many horrors of social confinement include mood swings and hallucinations. Even today, many people worldwide are at risk for contracting the covid19 because they are faced with mental health issues in quarantine and isolation cases and feel that they urgently need to go to church, beach, the bar, and other places where people socialize or hang out.
While social life may not look the same for every individual, medical and psychological experts believe that when people withdraw from all social contact, this is likely to be a symptom of one of several different mental illnesses. Asociality, for instance, is referred to as a lack of motivation to engage in any social interactions or preference for activities that do not require the participation of other persons. Other words that describe asociality are social uninterest, unsocial, and nonsocial. Studies show that this is a symptom of schizophrenia; people with this condition most times live alone, have few if any social contacts, and usually make every effort to avoid any social interactions. Some of the more common disorders of the over 200 types of mental illnesses are anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, depression, dementia, and bipolar disorder. Social withdrawal is often a symptom of these illnesses.
Humans are individuals as well as members of a group. Humans as a whole can only survive if individual members survive; and the group is needed for the individual to increase his or her chance of survival. Producing new members of the human race requires each other. We also need each other to protect the new members that are added to the human race and to protect ourselves, assist in providing food, add diversity to the mix, pass on valuable information regarding survival, and to provide companionship. Like all living things, the need to reproduce and the ways to do it are intrinsic; built-in.
Researchers have studied some of the reasons for persons to form criminal gangs and have confirmed the theory that humans have an intrinsic emotional need to be a part of and feel accepted to a group. This emotional need is known as ‘belongingness,’ which is an inborn desire to be a significant part of something that is greater than oneself such as friends, religion, family, coworkers, among others.
All types of relationships are necessary for several different reasons like creating stability, increasing our emotional wellbeing, learning how to improve our social skills, and being a good friend or partner. We also need relationships to be confident that we have someone or persons that we can trust and rely on when we face our many life stresses and challenges and are lonely. Without human connections through relationships, our spirits would be dead and we would be lacking connection to who we really are; our true selves.
I have come to learn that nothing is wrong with admitting that I do not have all the answers and that I am not able to manage difficulties on my own. Not only does allowing others to assist me in carrying my burden makes the weight on my shoulder more bearable, but it also gives my loved ones a feeling of satisfaction to know that they can help in offering me some form of relief. We are strengthened by the support of the people who love us, and they help us to see that there is always a way out of every situation, no matter how dark it may seem. And this is what we are created to do; to love, support, and lift up each other through compassion, care, and love. Just as we should seek help when we need it, the same should be extended to persons who are experiencing their own difficult times.