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fulldamage

Raised by Wolves

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fulldamage

Solitude

Originally published at Chamber . You can comment here or there.

http://cgjungqld.tripod.com/id62.html

S o l i t u d e

In his book Solitude (Harper Collins, 1997), the eminent psychiatrist Anthony Storr explores the role of solitude in human lives and at the same time attempts to correct the bias in modern psychiatric thinking that asserts that intimate relationship is essential to psychic health.

He points out that this thinking is a comparatively recent phenomenon, influenced by the work of Sigmund Freud, whose theory of sexo-psychic maturity linked psychological health with a satisfying sexual life. Psychological, sociological and anthropological theorists agree that attachments, intimate, family and community, have an important place in the hierarchy of human needs. Yet, says Storr, we also need solitude. Creative, spiritual and imaginative activities mostly take place when we are alone. He believes that theories of child development should give more place to developing the capacity to be alone so that the child can develop her imaginative capacity and even have experiences of mystic communion with Nature, or states of awareness such as those alluded to by Wordsworth in his poem Intimations of Immortality.

He explores the uses of solitude, for example: “The capacity to be alone is a valuable resource when changes of mental attitude are required. After major alterations in circumstances, fundamental reappraisal of the significance and meaning of existence may be needed. In a culture in which interpersonal relationships are generally considered to provide the answer to every form of distress, it is sometimes difficult to persuade well-meaning helpers that solitude can be as therapeutic as emotional support.” (p. 29). However he distinguishes between the capacity to be alone and the need to be alone, and he explores such need in relation to some psychopathologies.

Temperament, or psychological type, also influences the taste and capacity for solitude. Ideally, individuals would manifest both extraversion and introversion in a balanced fashion, but usually one or other predominates.

Examining the lives of a number of poets and philosophers, he concludes: ‘Provided that they have friends and acquaintances, those who are passionately engaged in pursuing interests which are important to them may achieve happiness without having very close relationships”. (p. 84)

In his final chapter “Desire and pursuit of the whole” Storr refers to Plato’s myth in which humans, bisected by Zeus as a punishment for their arrogance, pursue wholeness through merging sexually with another. Falling in love, says Storr, is one of the most compelling emotional experiences that most of us ever encounter. It provides us with an ecstatic sense of unity with both the outside world and within ourselves. Freud diminished this sense of ecstasy and union as being merely sexual. It was Jung whose psychology gave value to the pursuit of wholeness in the years beyond child-bearing – in mid-life and beyond. Jung believed that “the essence of individuality could only be expressed when the person concerned acknowledged the direction of a force within the psyche which was not of his own making. Men became neurotic at the mid-point of life because, in some sense, they had been false to themselves … By scrupulous attention to the inner voice of the psyche, which manifested itself in dreams, phantasies, and other derivatives of the unconscious, the lost soul could rediscover its proper path…” (p. 191-2). Jung called this “the process of individuation”, a process that tends towards “wholeness” – “a condition in which the different elements of the psyche, both conscious and unconscious, become welded together in a new unity. … The person who approaches this goal, which can never be entirely or once and for all time achieved, possesses what Jung called ‘an attitude that is beyond the reach of emotional entanglements and violent shocks – a consciousness detached from the world.’” (p. 193). The path to this sense of wholeness leads, for Jung, via active imagination, which is similar to the imaginative and creative processes undertaken by those whom Storr terms “men and women of genius” – in both cases, one has to let things happen within the mind in a state of reverie, intermediate between waking and sleeping.

What Storr seems to be arguing, then, is that the process of individuation requires the capacity for solitude. For we need solitude in order to allow the creative mind to flourish and to make connections that bring about a shift in the centre of consciousness.

Storr concludes that “The happiest lives are probably those in which neither interpersonal relationships nor impersonal interests are idealized as the only way to salvation. The desire and pursuit of the whole must comprehend both aspects of human nature.” (p. 202) But, to reach this rather obvious conclusion, he takes us on an informative and fascinating journey, bringing to light a neglected part of the human psyche.

– Anne Di Lauro

Can you make a word from “ironic” and “neurotic?” It is almost funny to me — I don’t know how many lunches I spent by myself in school, or how many nights I stayed awake reading, thinking, wishing for someone to connect with. And now that I have coworkers I get along with, friends who are always calling to see if I want to hang out, roommates who are a blast, and a lady who is somehow not entirely put off by all my oblique deadpan humor and general weirdness — now I find that I’m freaking out on occasion. Whenever a week or two goes by that I don’t have at least a day all to myself, I get twitchy and antsy, rabid with pent-up resentment of every organic creature that stakes a claim on my consciousness.

If there was ever any doubt that I’m an introvert, let it be banished. People exhaust me, even the awesome ones.

Grass is always greener, right?

Hey, this is almost like an actual post. Holy shit, how did that happen? Could it happen again? Maybe even… to YOU???????


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Examining the lives of a number of poets and philosophers, he concludes: ‘Provided that they have friends and acquaintances, those who are passionately engaged in pursuing interests which are important to them may achieve happiness without having very close relationships”. (p. 84)

Too few people understand this.

“The happiest lives are probably those in which neither interpersonal relationships nor impersonal interests are idealized as the only way to salvation. The desire and pursuit of the whole must comprehend both aspects of human nature.” (p. 202)

This made me laugh so much. I've always tied on the intro/extrovert personality assessments. I feel all affirmed, and shit. ^.~


After all that Human Interaction yesterday, I'm gunna go get back to the Saturday of Solitude.

Cheers!


Re: Alone Time is Good.

I totally hid in my cave all day Saturday. It was awesome. I feel much better today. ^_^

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