The problem with a loneliness pill, which has been promised by some researchers (with the best intentions) is that it medicalises and pathologises loneliness. It suggests that loneliness is a single state rather than a complex and historically-situated social one.
We need to understand loneliness in relation to the complex theme of belonging rather than presume it is inevitably connected to depression or anxiety. Sometimes loneliness is positive. Sometimes it is temporary. Always it is linked to our engagement and sense of belonging in the social world. Alleviating the negative symptoms of loneliness with a pill just takes us further away from understanding its complexities. And branding a perceived increase in loneliness as “an epidemic” is damaging because it presumes we have no control. Loneliness “happens to us” in this model, rather than being a product of modern life and individualism.
I explore these themes in some detail in my book A Biography of Loneliness which will be out on 12 September. In the meantime, Please link the below link to see my brief interview with CTV News Canada on the limitations of a “loneliness pill”.