Not even Radio 4 could get to the nub of loneliness

Presenter Claudia Hammond
Presenter Claudia Hammond Credit: Rii Schroer 

In early 2008, as I stood on the doorstep with a new baby in my arms, watching my husband stride briskly off to work, I felt the first twinges of “suburban neurosis”. This is an actual medical term, coined by doctors between the wars. It was used to describe “a tired, fatigued, listless woman… failing to cope with the demands of running the home”. But the real problem – as we discovered in Radio 4’s The Anatomy of Loneliness – was a simple lack of company. 

Living in the newly built suburbs, where even the neighbours seemed far away, was lonely. More fundamentally, so was staying at home all day with only a baby to talk to. It still is: the only difference is, we no longer dismiss the isolation...

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