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Sin Convivencia, Sin Confianza: Emotional Experiences of Soledad among Tijuanense Adolescents


Loneliness has garnered attention in recent years as a public health issue of “epidemic” proportions. From linkages between loneliness and increased heart attack risk and depression (Cacioppo et al 2006, Xia and Li 2018) to loneliness as a cause of contemporary political polarization in the U.S. (Brooks 2018), the lived experience of loneliness examined through an anthropological lens is limited. In this paper, I explore the subjective experience of “soledad” among Mexican adolescents living under conditions of socio-structural adversity. In an effort to respond to “what really matters” (Kleinman 2006) in the context of daily life for adolescents who participated in the study, this paper identifies soledad as shaped by and grounded in morally-laden cultural conceptions of familial and interpersonal convivencia (living with, being with). Through feelings of “depresión (depression),” having “nobody to talk to,” and the absence of “confianza (trust),” this paper examines what it means to “to be with” or “live with” others in relation to soledad. I argue for an increased attention to the primacy of lived experience in the context of global mental health research on the topic of loneliness and its intersections with mental health and wellbeing.

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