N4L 148: "Surrounded by Others and Yet So Alone" by J.W. Freiberg


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By Janet Perry, Janet Perry: blogger, and Nonfiction book lover. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.


J.W. (Terry) Freiberg, also known as “the Oliver Sacks of Law,” continues shedding light on connections in his latest “loneliness book,” Surrounded by Others and Yet So Alone: A Lawyer's Case Stories of Love, Loneliness and Litigation. Social psychologist turned lawyer and master storyteller, Freiberg explores chronic loneliness through five stories of faulty connections.


  • Solitude is not the equivalent of loneliness.
  • The word “loneliness” only came into the English language around 1800, probably because social structures did not leave much space for loneliness.
  • John Cacioppo from the University of Chicago documented the lethality of loneliness.
  • People are disinclined to admit their loneliness, often hiding it.
  • Vivek Murthy, former Surgeon General and author of Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World brought to light the loneliness epidemic.
  • Loneliness hurts.
  • Children hone time-specific connection skills around non-sibling other children.
  • COVID-19 is preventing proper social development.


  • “Chronic loneliness has become a public health crisis of the first order.”
  • “Just as you cannot study hunger without researching and reporting about the food supply, you cannot study loneliness without thinking about the connections that people make—or fail to make—with one another.”
  • “Loneliness is not an emotion but is, instead, a sensation. Loneliness…is the sensation of inadequate connections to others, just as hunger is the sensation of inadequate nourishment and thirst is the sensation of inadequate hydration.”
  • “You can talk yourself out of being angry (an emotion) but you cannot talk yourself out of being hungry or thirsty—or lonely (three of the sensations).”

BUY Surrounded by Others and Yet So Alone: A Lawyer’s Case Stories of Love, Loneliness, and Litigation


Go to Dr. Freiberg’s website, “The Loneliness Books,” and check out the button “Articles” to find the “UCLA Loneliness Scale” to help measure loneliness and the “The Relational Assessment Worksheet.”

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