Background: Existential loneliness (EL) is a deeper form of loneliness that differs from, but is intertwined with, social, physical and emotional loneliness. Existential loneliness is connected to aspects of meaning and meaninglessness, often arising in relation to transitions. EL have mainly been studied in relation to loss, illness, and frailty, but as existential loneliness is a natural part of being a human, the transition from childhood to adulthood is a period that can trigger such experiences. Existential loneliness is also related to suffering but
can contribute to maturation if being sufficiently addressed and met. Existential loneliness can, however, be difficult to identify from the professionals’ point of view and there is a risk that EL manifests itself in bodily expressions or is misinterpreted as e.g. depression. This symposium will provide an overview of EL as concept and phenomena with focus on experiences during the period of adolescence and discuss young people’s existential thoughts and its impact on mental health.
Aim: The aim of the symposium is to raise awareness of existential loneliness as a part of being human and its impact on mental health with specific focus on adolescents.
Method: The first presentation (by Anna-Karin Edberg) will give an overview of existential loneliness from the perspective of older people, family members, professionals and in relation to the documentation of EL in patient’ records. The second presentation (Tide Garnow) will focus on existential loneliness in adolescence and draw on results from a quantitative study focusing on sadness among adolescents, interviews with young people about their experience of EL and students’ retrospective narratives of EL during adolescence.
Results: Our results show that EL is an experience of immediate awareness of being fundamentally alone and separated from others and the universe. This awareness is a negative experience, especially if not being seen
and met. Professionals often experience insecurity when encountering EL, and existential aspects are almost invisible in the patients’ records. EL among adolescents is related to experiences of social exclusion and “in-betweenness”. The experience of EL is not easy to share with someone else, but young people want to be listened to and understood by someone they can trust.
Discussion: There is a need to pay attention to experiences of EL, especially during adolescence, as experiences of loneliness is known to affect mental health in adulthood. The existential dimension should be a natural part
in the work with mental illness, where creating meaning through existential conversations with others seems central. Health care professionals need support in how to encounter EL among persons in their care as sharing these experiences seems fundamental for health and wellbeing.
StatusPublicerad - 2023-mars-13
EvenemangHoratio Congress 2023: Reuniting Mental Health Nurses. Sharing Experiences, Cultivating Knowledge - Marriott Malta, St Julians, Malta
Varaktighet: 2023-mars-132023-mars-14


KonferensHoratio Congress 2023
OrtSt Julians

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