In contemporary America, however, our need for the experience of community has been obscured by our desire for material comfort and security. Affluence and pos sessions have usurped the attention we once devoted to relationships. Wealth and goods, however, have not brought us the happiness we anticipated. Instead, our society has become increasingly fragmented, and loneliness, according to so me sociologists and mental health experts, has achieved epidemie proportions (Wachtel, 1989: 166-68).