Loneliness – the word reeks of sadness and longing. Language created it to express the pain of being alone. So said German-American existentialist philosopher and theologian Paul Tillich.

Tillich distinguished loneliness from “solitude”, which he said expresses “the glory of being alone”.

Research shows that loneliness is not only a psychological issue but a medical one.

Here, Icelandic cardiologist Dr Axel Sigurdsson explains why loneliness can affect the main organs associated with feelings: hearts and minds. He shows why it really is possible to die from a broken heart. 

In other words, the reality of psychosomatic medicine. He also contextualises the Roseto effectIt’s the term for the phenomenon by which a close-knit community experiences a reduced rate of heart disease. Sigurdsson delves into how and why loneliness really can be lethal. – MARIKA SBOROS