Public Health

TOGETHER: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World

May 27, 2020  • Aspen Ideas: Health

As a physician and the 19th Surgeon General of the United States, Dr. Vivek Murthy has seen the physical and emotional toll of social disconnection rising throughout society over the past few decades. In his new book TOGETHER, Dr. Murthy explores the importance of human connection, the hidden impact of loneliness on our health, and the social power of community. What he could not anticipate, however, was the unprecedented test that our global community would face just as the book was going to press. With COVID-19 impacting people across the globe, the public health imperative is clear: to save lives, we need to increase the space between us. But what impact does social distancing have on our mental and emotional health? How can we use the shared experience of this pandemic as an opportunity to fortify and strengthen our connections and communities? Watch Dr. Murthy discuss his book’s timely lessons, in conversation with Olga Khazan of The Atlantic. This conversation took place on May 26, 2020, as part of our Aspen Ideas: Health 20/20 digital series.

About the Speakers: 

Dr. Vivek Murthy

Author; 19th Surgeon General of the United States

Dr. Vivek Murthy served as the 19th US surgeon general from 2014 to 2017. As vice admiral of the US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, he commanded 6,600 public health officers globally. During his tenure, Murthy launched the TurnTheTide campaign to address the nation’s opioid crisis. He issued the first Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, calling for expanded access to prevention and treatment and for recognizing addiction as a chronic illness. A physician and entrepreneur, Murthy co-founded multiple organizations: VISIONS, an HIV/AIDS education program in India; Swasthya, a community health partnership in rural India training women as health providers and educators; software company TrialNetworks; and Doctors for America. Murthy is the author of Together: The Healing Power of Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World.

Olga Khazan

Author; Staff Writer at The Atlantic

Olga Khazan is a staff writer for The Atlantic and the author of Weird: The Power of Being an Outsider in an Insider World. Prior to her current position, she was The Atlantic’s global editor. Before joining the magazine, she covered international affairs and start-ups for The Washington Post. Khazan has also written for the Los Angeles Times,, Wired, and other publications. She is a two-time recipient of the International Reporting Project’s Journalism Fellowship, for which she reported from Brazil.