Why do many friends on social networks and daily meetings with new faces not prevent many of us from feeling acute loneliness? And why is loneliness associated exclusively with negative emotions? Maybe we should look at it from a different angle? Let’s look at the theories of well-known psychologists.
The topic of loneliness was repeatedly touched upon by the German social psychologist Erich Fromm, who argued that the experience of being separated from other people creates anxiety. What is the reason for these experiences? They are embedded in us at a deep level.
Our ancestors lived in communities and interacted closely with each other, so they felt safe and could rely on their closest mate for food. In addition, we are born dependent on significant adults: the period of separation from parents begins at birth and ideally ends only by adulthood. Therefore, for many people, feeling part of a social group is extremely important.
LONELINESS IN EXISTENTIAL PSYCHOLOGY
However, there are people who socialise with a limited circle of persons, but at the same time do not experience the torment of loneliness. In this case, we observe a positive feeling associated with loneliness, and it would be more correct to give it another name – loneliness.
By loneliness existential psychologists mean that a person realises and accepts that isolation is an objective fact of human existence1. We are alone with our own life, no one can live it for us.
People who have taken loneliness as a given try to see the positive aspects of it. They feel comfortable in solitude and do not try to fill it with empty and useless interpersonal relationships. This time offers them an opportunity for self-discovery and self-reflection. They see loneliness as a resource that gives them the opportunity to abstract themselves from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and the overabundance of information and immerse themselves in their authenticity.
LONELINESS AS AN AUTONOMOUS CHOICE
Another view of loneliness as an individual’s independent choice was expressed by Carl Rogers, the founder of humanistic psychology. In his understanding, a person who chooses loneliness has a deep sense of his own individuality, but is afraid to be himself with other people. He fears that he will not be understood or rejected, so in order not to lose his authenticity and not to dissolve in the abyss of trends and fashions of modern society, he tries to remain aloof.
In order to function effectively in society, it will be important for him to learn how to build a way of relationships where he will communicate with other people, but at the same time maintaining his own autonomy.
As we see, loneliness has a reverse side and can manifest itself in the form of loneliness – when a person is immune to anxiety, has no deficit attitude to loneliness and does not try to make up for it. He perceives loneliness as an objective fact of human life and effectively utilises the opportunities it provides him.