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Solitude: A Return to the Self

Anthony Storr · 4 HN comments
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Amazon Summary
Originally published in 1988, Anthony Storr's bestselling meditation on the creative individual's need for solitude has become a classic. A pre-eminent work in self-help and popular psychology literature, Solitude was seminal in challenging the psychological paradigm that “interpersonal relationships of an intimate kind are the chief, if not the only, source of human happiness.” Indeed, most self-help literature still places relationships at the center of human existence. Lucid and lyrical, Storr's book argues that solitude ranks alongside relationships in its impact on an individual’s well-being and productivity, as well as on society's progress and health. Citing numerous examples of brilliant scholars and artists—from Beethoven and Kant to Anne Sexton and Beatrix Potter—he argues that solitary activity is essential not only for geniuses, but often for the average person as well. For nearly three decades, readers have found inspiration and renewal in Storr's erudite, compassionate vision of the human experience—and the benefits and joy of solitude.
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I recommend the book Solitude by Anthony Storr for a strong counter-argument.

As a counterpoint to this, see the many excellent articles on The Hermitary.[1]

Also see Anthony Storr's Solitude: A Return to the Self.[2]

Many people have historically chosen solitude for religious or spiritual reasons, to focus on something they wanted to achieve, because they just preferred being alone, or for many other reasons.

Many societies have stigmatized solitude and those who choose it, but on the other hand there have been social movements which have praised and advocated solitude.

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I'd suggest the key difference is that one is a conscious decision, often taken with prior thought, and often some proactive mental preparation - that could be as simple as reading scripture.

The other is typically unconscious, often exacerbated by anti-social behaviour.

I don't think GP is saying solitude or isolation is necessarily harmful. But for a member of a pack-ape species whose default mode for the individual is some varying degree of gregarity, isolation isn't something to be considered lightly, because it carries significant risk along with potential benefit.
There's also Michel de Montaigne's essays from the 1500's On Solitude.[1]

More recently, there are books like The Lonely Crowd from the 1960's, [2] and Anthony Storr's Solitude, from the 1980's[3]

Of course, for thousands of years, spending time in solitude has been greatly valued for religious reasons, for "building character", for coming in touch with oneself, or for creative purposes. On the other hand, modern life, and more recently the media (even before social media) have been criticized for alienating people from themselves and from each other.

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Good refs.

I seem to recall a title "Solitude and the Self", though I can't find it via Worldcat. There's a similar one from the right timeframe:

Arguably Chiksentmihilyi's work on Flow involves this too.

Feb 27, 2010 · surki on Depression’s Upside
On a similar note, I found this book to be quite interesting. It discusses about solitude, its necessity and other related issues like depression in detail.
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