Erick Forkpah's mother moved to Virginia to go to college when he was in fourth grade. For the next three years, she would come home to visit every month, or every other month.

Erick's mother had promised to return after one year. Erick felt deceived when she didn't come back then. He says he spent that Christmas as a lonely child, and his father didn't even bother to put up the Christmas tree.

Erick talked to Dr. Daniel Perlman, a Human and Family Development professor at UNC-Greensboro. Dr. Perlman studies loneliness. He says lonely people react by closing up in their own shell.

Eric believes his shell was the safest place for him. 

Who could hurt me if I was all alone? I would have rather been alone and comfortable than form a bond that would later hurt me.

Erick felt he had a cherished relationship with his mother and then she betrayed him by leaving. He wasn't willing to trust anyone anymore, including his own friends.

Dr. Perlman tells Erick that researchers have identified two types of loneliness: social and emotional. Social loneliness occurs when you don't feel like you have enough friendship. Emotial loneliness is when you lack an intimate relationship.

If you were closely related to your mother and then your mother went away, that would cause emotional loneliness for you. We think the severity of loneliness is greater when you have emotional loneliness.

Erick's mother came back at the urging of his sister, Khadi. She heard Erick crying in his room one night and pleaded with their mother to come home. His mother finally did.
Now, Erick jokes with friends that he has an ego that's as big as that of rapper, Kanye West.

I have unwavering confidence, arrogance, and narcissism. It's really a defense mechanism I developed to cope with being alone and hurt. It tells me I need no one.





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