Life with Chronic Illness: Social and Psychological Dimensions

By Ariela Royer | Go to book overview

3
Social Isolation: A Major Consequence

Lessened and impaired social contact and a sense of social isolation are among the more detrimental consequences of chronic illness. Social isolation refers to a negative state of aloneness or diminished participation in social relationships. Impaired social interaction relates to the state in which participation in social exchanges occurs but is dysfunctional or ineffective because of discomfort in social situations, unsuccessful social behaviors, or dysfunctional communication patterns.

Of course, the worse the illness (and/or its phases), then the more the probability exists that the ill persons will feel or become isolated. This isolation can happen in two ways: either the ill person, because of the symptoms, unexpected crises, difficult regimens, and loss of energy, withdraws from most social contact, or the ill person is avoided or even abandoned by friends and relatives. In either ease, social relationships are disrupted or falter and break down ( Strauss & Glaser 1975). All persons with long-term health problems are at high risk for social isolation. Social relationships are frequently disrupted and usually disintegrate under the stress of chronic illness and its management because chronic illnesses often involve disfigurement,

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