Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World
Humans are social creatures: in this simple and obvious fact lies both the problem and the solution to the current crisis of loneliness. In his groundbreaking book, the 19th Surgeon General of the United States Dr. Vivek Murthy makes a case for loneliness as a public health concern: a root cause and contributor to many of the epidemics sweeping the world today from alcohol and drug addiction to violence to depression and anxiety. Loneliness, he argues, is affecting not only our health but also how our children experience school, how we perform in the workplace, and the sense of division and polarization in our society.
But, at the center of our loneliness is our innate desire to connect. We have evolved to participate in community, to forge lasting bonds with others, to help one another, and to share life experiences. We are, simply, better together.
And yet, in spite of our desire to connect, Dr. Murthy found loneliness in the stories of people everywhere and he wanted to know why. He traveled the country and abroad, meeting with doctors, scientists, children, parents, and community members, and looked to the latest science to better understand why people are feeling so disconnected. It's no surprise, that in our increasingly complex world, Murthy found equally complex forces contributing to loneliness.
While technology promises to connect us, it can also isolate; while mobility means our loved ones are only a train ride or flight away, we also move away from the communities where we grew up; while we increasingly have the opportunity to pursue our individual destinies, we can put our own goals ahead of our relationships and community; and despite all of the progress we have made in how we talk about mental health, we are still ashamed of feeling lonely. Dr. Murthy further contextualizes the subject with explorations of the social and evolutionary implications of our need to connect and what happens when we find ourselves untethered.
The good news is that with awareness of the causes of our loneliness, comes creative solutions to help ourselves and those we love to create more connected lives. Together offers inspiring and encouraging stories of individuals and communities who are making great strides in helping us to understand that we are not alone.
Told with great compassion and hope, Dr. Murthy makes a powerful and convincing argument for why we can and must build a more connected world.
Praise for "Together"
“One of our most loved surgeon generals, Murthy has a big heart and a big message. We have a massive, deadly epidemic hidden in plain sight: loneliness. It is as harmful to health as smoking and far more common. And as his gripping stories of the science and suffering makes clear, we can do something about it. Together is fascinating, moving, and essential reading.”
— Atul Gawande, author of BEING MORTAL
"Some books enlighten, but others stun. TOGETHER is a stunner. It made me rethink much of what I believe about physical health, public policy, and the human condition. By revealing America’s epidemic of loneliness — and then offering an array of remedies for the condition — Murthy has done a great service, and made TOGETHER the most important book you'll read this year.”
— Daniel H. Pink, #1 New York Times bestselling author of When and Drive
“Sometimes the most obvious thing is the hardest to see. Thank goodness we have Dr Vivek Murthy to light the way towards understanding loneliness and its dark comers. This book is a gift for us all.”
— Susan Cain, bestselling author of Quiet
“Profound, empathic, ultra-savvy about the plight of disconnect and the power of human connection in the digital age, Murthy has his finger precisely on the pulse of what ails us as a nation and as a world, and what we can, and really have to all do about it, each in our own way—together. This book is a balm and an inspiration just to read—offering not just a convincing diagnosis of a public health epidemic of loneliness in our time, but also a well-articulated etiology, prognosis, and treatment plan based on kindness and caring for each other, as well as uplifting examples of their widespread embodiment.”
— Jon Kabat-Zinn, Author of Full Catastrophe Living and Meditation is Not What You Think
"I love both the message and the messenger of this brilliant book. Listen to what Vivek Murthy has to say about social connection--and then take his advice. It's exactly what the doctor ordered."
— Angela Duckworth, bestselling author of Grit
"Together is an extraordinary and essential book for our time. With powerful stories and sobering truths, Dr. Murthy does a masterful job of showing how, even in the digital age, there's no substitute for authentic human connection."
— Ben Silbermann, Co-founder and CEO of Pinterest
"Vivek Murthy reminds us that our national conversation about medicine has been too narrowly focused on hospitals, doctors and drugs--and not enough on the human connections that sustain us. "Together" stands with Atul Gawande's classic, "Being Mortal."
— Malcolm Gladwell, best-selling author of The Tipping Point, Blink, and Talking to Strangers
“Dr. Murthy had the intuition and insight to identify one of the most vexing health problems affecting people from all walks of life when he was serving our country as surgeon general: loneliness. Now, in Together, he compassionately unveils the hidden perils of loneliness and offers stories of healing. His book is a welcome beacon toward meaningful connection.”
— Arianna Huffington, founder and CEO of Thrive Global
“This powerful and important book looks at loneliness as a public health issue. Vivek Murthy shows why loneliness evolved in our species, how it can be harmful, why it’s on the rise today, and what we can do about it. By creating better connections with our friends and our communities, we can lead healthier lives and help our friends be healthier.”
—Walter Isaacson, New York Times bestselling author
“Murthy’s book makes a powerful case for the role of community and human connection in medicine. He provides cogent and compassionate insights about how to heal the art of healing.”
—Siddhartha Mukherjee, the Pulitzer Prize–winning, New York Times bestselling author of The Emperor of All Maladies
“This surgeon general isn’t here to warn us about smoking. He’s
on a mission to fight loneliness and show us what it takes to build
community and connection. With a compelling narrative, rigorous
evidence, and a timely call to action, this book is a good omen for
our mental health and social well-being.”
—Adam Grant, New York Times bestselling author of Originals and Give and Take
“Together is a brave and beautiful exploration of the epidemic of loneliness that is a feature of modern living. Vivek Murthy brings his medical expertise, his considerable travels, and his intellectual curiosity to explore what is clearly a new frontier, one that has been previously ignored. The solutions he offers are necessary and gratifying both for us as individuals and as a society.”
—Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone
“If we could put Together in a capsule, it would be a blockbuster drug. Dr. Murthy brilliantly unpacks the foundations of loneliness and the science of why it’s so toxic to both our health and longevity. Then, he offers a compelling prescription for better connecting with our community, friends, and family so we elude loneliness to live our best, longest life.”
—Dan Buettner, National Geographic Fellow and New York Times bestselling author of The Blue Zones
“An invisible crisis plagues America today. It’s responsible for more sickness, suffering, and death than almost anything else. It is loneliness. It is often underneath addiction, suicide, and even obesity. The antidote is masterfully explored by former surgeon general Vivek Murthy in Together. The science is clear—the most powerful force to heal is love and connection. Community is
medicine. With clarity and heart-warming insight, Dr. Murthy illuminates the problem and the solution.”
—Mark Hyman, MD, head of Strategy and Innovation, Cleveland Clinic
Center for Functional Medicine, and bestselling author of Food Fix
“In our age of shuttered Main Streets, dying malls, and the proliferation of weak links on social media, we’re missing vital personal connections. In Together, Dr. Vivek Murthy brilliantly diagnoses what ails us in our personal lives and in society, and offers a prescription for enriching each other’s lives—and our own.”
—Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence
“Profound, empathic, ultra-savvy about the plight of disconnect and the power of human connection in the digital age, Murthy has his finger precisely on the pulse of what ails us as a nation and as a world, and what we can and really all have to do about it, each in our own way—together. This book is a balm and an
inspiration just to read—offering not just a convincing diagnosis of a public health epidemic of loneliness in our time, but also a well-articulated etiology, prognosis, and treatment plan based on kindness and caring for each other, as well as uplifting examples of their widespread embodiment.”
—Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and author of Full Catastrophe Living and Meditation Is Not What You Think
“Deep understandings to help face one of the compelling questions of our time. And tender hopes and genuine wisdom in answer.”
—Jack Kornfield, PhD, author of A Path with Heart
“Here is a doctor who identifies loneliness as a major killer. In this moving and well-evidenced book, he shows how the deadly effects take hold and what we can all do to defeat this scourge of modern society.”
—Lord Richard Layard (UK), London School of Economics
“In Together, Vivek Murthy has put his finger on an important and under-recognized health hazard. By identifying loneliness as a key factor underpinning so many mental and physical illnesses, he opens the door to acceptance and offers much-needed solutions. We need Murthy’s book now more than ever.”
—David A. Kessler, MD, New York Times bestselling author of The End of Overeating, Capture, and Fast Carbs, Slow Carbs
"As Dr. Vivek Murthy says, human connection is 'our evolutionary birthright.' In TOGETHER, he draws on the experiences of his own life and the many lives he has touched as a physician to explore social connection and disconnection, and he makes the brilliant case that loneliness is a public health concern. This humane and fascinating book is underpinned by both scientific research and the profound truth that each of us is worthy of love."
—Dr. Lucy Kalanithi, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine, Stanford University, and widow of Dr. Paul Kalanithi, author of When Breath Becomes Air
“As the Surgeon General of the United States, Vivek Murthy shone a bright spotlight on public health issues that were then receiving too little attention: alcohol, opioids, e-cigarettes, guns, promotion of walking, vaccines, and more. His efforts prompted new initiatives in communities across the country. Now Vivek, a.k.a. “America’s Doctor”, is calling attention to our epidemic of loneliness, arguing that emotional health is as important as our physical health. Once again, his message is both wise and urgent.”
—David Gergen, Founding Director of the Center for Public Leadership atht eHarvard Kennedy Schoool, Former advisor to 4 US Presidents