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Solitude: A Return to the Self Paperback – October 3, 2005
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Top Customer Reviews
Mr. Storr's book, I'm glad to say, changed all that. Contrary to popular opinion, Mr. Storr says it's a sign of health if one can be alone for long periods of time; he also suggests that a person is deficient if he can't handle being alone and instead has to fill his life with friends, parties, lots of distractions, and the like.
The fact is, many great writers, philosophers, poets, musicians and artists were very solitary people with few or almost no deep, intimate personal relationships. The humanities would not be what they are had it not been for those solitary men and women who were alone a lot, people who were able to search deep into themselves and listen to what their souls were saying--in solitude. Large sections of Amazon.com, the college library, the fine art museum and symphony hall would not exist had it not been for the men and women in this book.
I can't recommend Mr. Storr's book enough.Read more ›
QUESTION: what do these great achievers have in common: Isaac Newton (physicist), Fredrick Nietzche (philosopher), Rene Descarte (philosopher), Immanuel Kant (philosopher), and Blaise Pascal (mathematician and physicist)? ANSWER: they all made immense contributions to society. None of them married and most of them lived alone. All of them craved solitude.
This is the kind of interesting information you'll find in this book by noted psychiatrist Anthony Storr.
Storr peppers his book with useful observations and insights. Some of my favorites include the following:
1) "Many human beings make so with relationships which cannot be regarded as especially close, and not all such human beings are ill or particularly unhappy."
2) "With few exceptions, psychotherapists have omitted to consider the fact that the capacity to be alone is also an aspect of emotional maturity."
3) "Those who are not too dependent upon, or too closely involved with, others, find it easier to ignore convention [and thus do not fear being original]."
4) "If we do not look at marriage as the principal source of happiness, fewer marriages world end in tears."
5) "Some of the most profound and healing psychological experiences individuals encounter take place internally, and are distantly related, if at all, to interaction with other human beings."
6) "The capacity to be alone is a sign of inner security rather than an expression of a withdrawn state."
Storr investigates the uses of solitude for ordinary people. For example, "the capacity to be alone is a valuable resource when changes of mental attitude are required."
This book is at its zenith when it explores the connection between solitude and creative personality.Read more ›
Anthony Storr's Solitude renders eloquent arguments that a craving for solitude is not a pathology, but instead, for some people, is lifestyle. He pulls examples from history, limning a clear pattern from the lives of Kafka, Trollope, Wittgenstein, Henry James and others. Those interested in literary lives will certainly find new material in these profiles.
It is true that the book explores the role of solitude in the lives of creative people: "It may be the case that, the less a person feels himself to be embedded in a family and social nexus, the more he feels that he has to make his mark in individual fashion." Any artist, undiscovered or famous, will find solace in these pages. However, anyone who finds herself quite happily content living life solo will also find good company in these pages.
Ultimately, Storr concludes that the creative geniuses who lived lives of solitude have pushed up the bar of achievement for humankind. Most of us would agree after contemplating a world unenriched by Newton, Beethoven and Beatrix Potter (author of Peter Rabbit!).
Storr's book also offers a condensed and imminently readable history of psychoanalysis, with Freud and Jung as the main characters. Storr, to my mind, shows the initial insights into motivation that Freud had, insights that can still hold water today. Storr is also quick to point out how that history of psychoanalysis lead to today's misguided (and frankly, offensive) maxim that if one is not in a relationship, one needs to be in therapy to deal with the issues about why not. No thanks, I'd rather be by myself.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Starting all over again is not easy. Where does one start?
The author as well as numerous philosophers and psychologists tell us that we should look to the place in our... Read more
Anthony Storr is a great writer and collector of powerful information. A genius in his own field. I first discovered this book, shortly after I separated from my abusive ex... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Latoya M Michel
Very interesting thinking about the nature and pursuit of solitude. Thoroughly enjoyed.Published 20 months ago by N. Maclean
For me, I have always been a person who is a deep thinker, and one who likes spending time alone to meditate and to rest and recharge! Read morePublished 22 months ago by Daisy S
A thoughtful look at loners and a reassurance that being one is OK. Interesting comments about Freud and psychoanalysis too.Published 23 months ago by W.C. Line