Of course we are shaped by our mutual dependency, and to a degree that is almost embarrassing. I have no argument with that. Other than certain insects, humans are the most social of animals. Infants who are not cuddled or held die of a syndrome called “failure to thrive.” Seemingly successful adults can be driven to depression or suicide by a lover’s rejection or an accumulation of professional slights. Which is to say that we are “hive” animals or—to invoke a more extravagant biological metaphor—we are the individual nuclei studded throughout a syncytium of shared protoplasm, utterly dependent on each other for structure and nutrients. To be pinched off from the main body of the community is to risk real damage, and one form the damage can take, I’m willingly to concede, is an inability to enter wholeheartedly into what is social defined as real.
– Barbara Ehrenreich, Living with a Wild God