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How Being Lonely Can Be as Bad for Your Health as Smoking

And social isolation and loneliness may carry even more mortality risk than obesity

(Newser) - Being lonely won't just make you feel sad—it may also endanger your life. In fact, researchers now say that people steeped in social isolation (including those who live by themselves) and a lack of connection with others can suffer just as much of a mortality risk as someone... More »

Woman Isolated for Decades in Siberia Emerges

70-year-old Agafia Lykova used a satellite phone to get help from the 'mainland'

(Newser) - In 2013, Smithsonian told a fascinating story : the tale of a family of six who lived deep in the Siberian wilderness for 40 years with zero contact from other humans—and no awareness of WWII—until geologists found them in 1978. Now, the last surviving member of that family has... More »

6 Humans Step Into One-Year Isolation Dome

It's part of NASA's preparation to send humans to Mars

(Newser) - As NASA prepares to send a crew to Mars sometime in the 2030s, they've just shut six people inside an isolation dome in Hawaii for a year—the longest such experiment in the US, reports AFP . It's part of a larger look at travel logistics in a program... More »

'Special Threat Group' Inmates in Utah Won't Eat

They say they're kept in their cells all but 3 hours a week

(Newser) - The maximum-security Utah State Prison sits about 20 miles outside of Salt Lake City, in Draper, Utah. Within its walls, in the Uinta 2 housing unit, live what's referred to as the Special Threat Group, or STG. These inmates, who have been branded violent, say they're kept in... More »

Why This Family Is 150 Days Into Quarantine

Daughter has a rare disorder exacerbated by even minor illnesses

(Newser) - Talk these days of quarantines revolves around Ebola, but one South Carolina family has voluntarily blocked themselves off from the outside world—not to protect others, but to protect their 4-year-old daughter, Eliza, who suffers from the most severe form of a rare genetic disorder called Sanfilippo syndrome . The metabolic... More »

We're More Sociable With Cell Phones

Rutgers study compares new and old public behavior

(Newser) - The modern American spends too much time staring at screens and not enough socializing—right? That's what popular books like Bowling Alone and Alone Together have argued, but Rutgers professor Keith Hampton put that theory to the test by filming people in public spaces, the New York Times Magazine... More »

Judge: OK to Force-Feed Calif. Inmates

Backs officials' request as 129 remain on hunger strike

(Newser) - As a prison hunger strike continues in California, a federal judge has given officials the go-ahead to force-feed inmates. The procedure is allowed if a prison's medical chief finds that an inmate is "at risk of near-term death or great bodily injury" or can't make his or... More »

Celebs Back Calif. Prisoners' Hunger Strike

Jay Leno, Bonnie Raitt, others sign letter to governor

(Newser) - California prisoners have been hunger striking since July 8 to protest the state's use of solitary confinement, and now they have a cohort of celebrities and other big names on their side. In a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown sent yesterday, Gloria Steinem, Jesse Jackson, Bonnie Raitt, Jay Leno,... More »

What's World War II? Siberian Family Lived Isolated for 40 Years

Smithsonian recounts tale of geologists finding them in 1978

(Newser) - Smithsonian has a fascinating story about a family of six that lived deep in the Siberian wilderness for 40 years with zero contact from other humans until geologists found them in 1978. Meaning they missed, among other things, all of World War II. The father, who belonged to a... More »

UN: Solitary Confinement Amounts to Torture

Isolation longer than 15 days should be banned, says lead investigator

(Newser) - Solitary confinement doesn't just sound like torture—it literally can be torture, according to the UN's lead investigator on the topic. Juan Mendez has called for a ban on solitary confinement in excess of 15 days, and a total ban on the practice when juveniles or people with... More »

Norway Killer: Isolation Is Torture

He's given four more weeks in solitary at hearing today

(Newser) - Anders Behring Breivik's two months in solitary confinement have turned him into quite the whiner. During a court hearing in Oslo today, the killer complained that being kept in isolation was a kind of "torture"—after he was slapped with four more weeks in solitary. The judge... More »

Young Are Much Lonelier Than the Old

Study: 'epidemic of loneliness' among 18-34

(Newser) - Loneliness plagues the young more than the old, a new study suggests. In a survey of 2,256 Brits, about 60% of people 18 to 34 said they often or sometimes felt lonely, compared to only 35% of those over 55, reports the BBC . The findings, a psychiatrist tells the... More »

Ahmadinejad: Obama Needs Me

President crazypants says the US is in isolation

(Newser) - Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says he has Barack Obama right where he wants him. The Iranian president told his state-run media today that he’s sent a letter to Barack Obama telling him that he has “only one way to remain in power and be successful. This way is Iran.”... More »

Europe Closes In on Mock Mars Trip

Psychological experiment to test effects of isolation

(Newser) - The European Space Agency today introduced the four finalists vying for the questionable privilege of being locked inside a cramped fake spaceship for 17 months. Dubbed Mars 500, the project aims to study the psychological stresses of a journey to the Red Planet. “You need to be a little... More »

Texas Tech Suspends Coach Over Abuse Allegation

Mike Leach allegedly had injured WR isolated in dark, empty room

(Newser) - Texas Tech has suspended football coach Mike Leach after allegations from a player that Leach ordered him placed in dark, solitary confinement in the wake of a concussion. A source tells ESPN that after sophomore receiver Adam James—son of Craig, a standout college and pro running back and now... More »

Solitary Confinement: Looks a Lot Like Torture

(Newser) - Rhesus monkeys raised in isolation are anti-social, catatonic, and profoundly disturbed even after they are introduced to their peers. The same is true of humans kept in solitary confinement for prolonged periods of time, whether as hostages or prisoners, writes Atul Gawande in the New Yorker. As months roll on,... More »

Tibet's Long History of Isolation

Since 1800s, governments have secluded region from world

(Newser) - Isolation has long defined Tibet and fueled the region's exotic history, Edward Wong writes in the New York Times. While China's recent clampdown is purely political—this is the 50th anniversary of an attempted uprising—natural remoteness and anti-imperialist struggles have also sealed its borders. “A large element of... More »

Cardinals Slam Isolated Pope's 'Errors'

Recent decisions fuel rare discord

(Newser) - In an unusual public display of church disharmony, cardinals are pushing back against the pope for being out of touch as controversies swirl over recent decisions, the Times of London reports. The pope spends too much of his day in solitude with his books, critics charge. “People feel that... More »

American Detainees Faced Gitmo Treatment Inside US

Isolation, sensory deprivation nearly drove one insane

(Newser) - An American detainee held in a US military brig was driven nearly insane by months of punishing isolation and sensory deprivation, documents obtained by the AP show. The Bush administration labeled two citizens and a US resident “enemy combatants” and held them for years without criminal charges at military... More »

US Should Have Hugged Castro to Death

Dictator relied on angry giant to the north to keep people afraid

(Newser) - Fidel Castro has left power, but his legacy endures because the US never did what it took to eliminate his regime: embrace it. Fidel survived for decades because his people were afraid of the angry superpower to the north, writes Newsweek’s Christopher Dickey. Had America embraced him, the Cuban... More »

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