Alone with oneself: Solitude and Loneliness

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: PhD student of International Laboratory of Positive Psychology of Personality and Motivation
Affiliation: National Research University Higher School of Economics
Address: 20 Myasnitskaya Str., Moscow 101000, Russian Federation
Occupation: Deputy head of International Laboratory of Positive Psychology of Personality and Motivation
Affiliation: National Research University Higher School of Economics
Address: 20 Myasnitskaya Str., Moscow 101000, Russian Federation
Journal nameChelovek
EditionVolume 30 Issue №3

The relationship between the concepts of solitude and loneliness in religious, philosophical and psychological contexts is discussed. The authors focus on theoretical analysis of solitude as a specific phenomenon. In religious traditions solitude is seen as offering opportunities for thinking in silence, meditation, prayer, appeal to conscience, as helpful to get closer to God, to achieve wisdom and compassion. However, in solitude a person may also experience loneliness, despair, be influenced by self-deception, or become insane due to a prolonged lack of communication with other people. In philosophical and psychological sources, the terms “solitude” and “loneliness” are not consistently defined and are used rather indiscriminately. But in the history of thought it is possible to identify the idea of loneliness and solitude as different phenomena. Barbour help to identify loneliness and solitude as different phenomena. The analysis of these concepts through the lens of psychological theories (psychoanalytic, humanistic, cognitive-behavioral, existential) makes it possible to assert the fit of “solitude” to a separate identity independent from that of “loneliness”. In a cultural-historic and an ontogenetic perspective we see a tendency towards a differentiation of these notions: a mature personality does not tend to suffer from loneliness as much when alone; personality development is associated with increasing acceptance of solitude and discovery of its creative potential. Solitude is a situation of auto-communication that is open to positive and to negative experiences, leads to a development of self-reflection, and offers opportunities for awareness and transformation of one’s inner relations with the world. In turn, loneliness is a negative experience, in which auto-communication is absent or does inhibit a person to realize the desire for relation with oneself, others or the world in general.

Keywordssolitude, loneliness, aloneness, personal development, interdisciplinary research
Publication date24.06.2019
Number of characters35438
100 rub.
When subscribing to an article or issue, the user can download PDF, evaluate the publication or contact the author. Need to register.

Number of purchasers: 2, views: 2187

Readers community rating: votes 0

1. Arendt H. Istoki totalitarizma [The origins of totalitarianism]. Moscow: TsentrKom Publ., 1996. P. 618.

2. Berdyaev N.A. Ya i mir ob"ektov: Opyt filosofii odinochestva i obshcheniya [I and the world of objects: The essay in the philosophy of solitude and communication]. Paris: YMCA Press Publ., 1934. P. 105.

3. Vinnikott D.V. Sposobnost' byt' v odinochestve [Capacity to be alone]. Antologiya sovremennogo psikhoanaliza [Anthology of modern psychoanalysis], ed. by Rossokhin A.V. Moscow: Institute of Psychology of the Russian Academy of Sciences Publ., 2000.

4. Gagarin A.S. Odinochestvo kak ekzistentsial antichnoi filosofii (ot Epikura do Plotina) [Aloneness as an existential of ancient philosophy (from Epicurus to Plotinus)]. Nauchnyi ezhegodnik Instituta filosofii i prava Ural'skogo otdeleniya Rossiiskoi akademii nauk. 2014. Vol. 14, N 3.

5. Gagarin A.S. “Homo Interior” Avgustina Avreliya (Blazhennogo) [“Homo Interior” by Aurelius Augustine (the Blessed)]. Diskurs-Pi. 2006. Iss. 6. P. 64.

6. Demidov A.B. Fenomeny chelovecheskogo bytiya [Phenomena of human existence]. Minsk: ZAO Ekonompress Publ., 1999. URL: (date of access: 30.08.2018).

7. Ishanov S.A., Osin E.N., Kostenko V.Yu. Lichnostnoe razvitie i kachestvo uedineniya [Personality development and the quality of solitude]. Kul'turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya. 2018. Vol. 14, N 1. DOI: 10.17759/chp.2018140104

8. Kon I.S. V poiskakh sebya: Lichnost' i ee samosoznanie [Looking for oneself: Personality and Self-Consciousness]. Moscow: Politizdat Publ., 1984.

9. Korchagina S.G. Psikhologiya odinochestva [The psychology of loneliness]. Moscow: Moskovskii psikhologo-sotsial'nyi institute Publ., 2008.

10. Kierkegaard S. Bolezn' k smerti [The sickness unto death]. Moscow: Akademicheskii proekt Publ., 2014. P. 82.

11. Langle A. Chto dvizhet chelovekom? Ekzistentsial'no-analiticheskaya teoriya emotsii [What drives a person? Existential-analytical theory of emotions]. Moscow: Genezis Publ., 2013.

12. Montaigne de M. Opyty: Izbrannye proizvedeniya: v 3 t. [The essays: Selected works: in 3 vol.]. Moscow: Golos Publ., 1992. Vol. 1.

13. Maslow A. Motivatsiya i lichnost' [Motivation and personality]. St. Petersburg: Piter Publ., 2008.

14. Miyuskovich B. Odinochestvo: mezhdistsiplinarnyi podkhod [Loneliness: an interdisciplinary approach]. Labirinty odinochestva [Labyrinth of loneliness], select., ed. and preface by Pokrovsky N.E. Moscow: Progress Publ., 1989.

15. May R. Chelovek v poiskakh sebya [Man's search for himself]. Moscow: Institut obshchegumanitarnykh issledovanii Publ., 2015.

16. Nakhov I.M. Antologiya kinizma: Fragmenty sochinenii kinicheskikh myslitelei [Anthology of cynicism: Fragments of the writings of cynic thinkers]. Moscow: Nauka Publ., 1984.

17. Nietzsche F. Tak govoril Zaratustra [Thus spoke zarathustra]. Moscow: Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of Sciences Publ., 2004.

18. Osin E.N., Leontiev D.A. Differentsial'nyi oprosnik perezhivaniya odinochestva: struktura i svoistva [Differential questionnaire on experiencing loneliness: structure and properties]. Psikhologiya. Zhurnal Vysshei shkoly ekonomiki. 2013. N 1. P. 58–59.

19. Peplau L.A., Miceli M., Morasch B. Anatomiya odinochestva [Anatomy of loneliness]. Labirinty odinochestva [Labyrinth of loneliness], select., ed. and preface by Pokrovsky N.E. Moscow: Progress Publ., 1989.

20. Pokrovsky N.E. Chelovek, odinochestvo, gumanizm [Man, loneliness, humanism]. Labirinty odinochestva [Labyrinth of loneliness], select., ed. and preface by Pokrovsky N.E. Moscow: Progress Publ., 1989.

21. Rousseau J.-J. Progulki odinokogo mechtatelya [Reveries of a solitary walker]. Izbrannye sochineniya: v 3 t. [Selected work: in 3 vol.]. Moscow: Khudozhestvennaya literatura Publ., 1961. Vol. 3. P. 646.

22. Sartre J.-P. Bytie i nichto: Opyt fenomenologicheskoi ontologii [Being and nothingness: An essay on phenomenological ontology]. Moscow: AST Publ., 2015.

23. Slobodchikov I.M. Teoretiko-eksperimental'noe issledovanie fenomena odinochestva lichnosti (na materiale podrostkovogo vozrasta): dis. … doktora psikhol. nauk [Theoretical and experimental study of the phenomenon of loneliness of the person (on the material of adolescence): diss. ... DSc, Psychology]. Moscow: Russian St. Univ. for the Humanities Publ., 2006.

24. Frankl V. Skazat' zhizni “Da!”: psikholog v kontslagere [Say “Yes” to life: a psychologist experiences the concentration camp]. Moscow: Al'pina non fikshn Publ., 2009. P. 101.

25. Khoruzhii S.S. K fenomenologii askezy [To phenomenology of austerity]. Moscow: Izdatel'stvo gumanitarnoi literatury Publ., 1998.

26. Jung С.G. Vospominaniya, snovideniya, razmyshleniya [Memories, dreams, reflections]. Minsk: Kharvest Publ., 2003. C. 206.

27. Barbour J.D. A view from religious studies: solitude and spirituality. The handbook of solitude: Psychological perspectives on social isolation, social withdrawal and being alone. Chichester, UK: Blackwell Publ Ltd, 2014. DOI: 10.1002/9781118427378.ch31

28. Barbour J.D. The value of solitude: the ethics and spirituality of aloneness in autobiography. Charlottesville; London: Univ. of Virginia Press, 2004.

29. Buchholz E.S. The call of solitude: Alonetime in a world of attachment. N.Y.: Simon and Schuster, 1997.

30. Caranfa A. Lessons of solitude: the awakening of aesthetic sensibility. J. of philosophy of education. 2007. Vol. 41, N 1.

31. Detrixhe J.J., Samstag L.W., Penn L.S., Wong P.S. A lonely idea: solitude's separation from psychological research and theory. Contemporary psychoanalysis. 2014. Vol. 50, N 3. DOI: 10.1080/00107530.2014.897853

32. Fromm E. The Fear of Freedom. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2001.

33. Koch P. Solitude: a philosophical encounter. Chicago; La Salle, Illinois: Open Court, 1994.

34. Perlman D., Peplau L.A. Loneliness research: a survey of empirical findings. Preventing the harmful consequences of severe and persistent loneliness, eds. Peplau L.A., Goldston S.E. Rockville Maryland: National Institute of Mental Health, 1984.

35. Rogers C.R. A way of being. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1980.

36. Rogers N. Emerging woman: a decade of midlife transitions. Inverness, CA: Create Space Independent Publishing Platform, 2013.

Система Orphus