Loneliness Versus Solitude – 09/08/2011

For Your Entertainment (FYE)

Economic and/or other crises can turn a healthy “hermit” “solitude” lifestyle, into “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)” “loneliness” affliction, which in turn may stimulates artistic expressions and existentialism philosophy, or not……

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solitude
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loneliness
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermit
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hikikomori

“People may seek physical seclusion to remove distractions and make it easier to concentrate, reflect, or meditate. However, this is not necessarily an end in and of itself. Once a certain capacity to resist distractions is achieved, people become less sensitive to distractions and more capable of maintaining mindfulness and staying inwardly absorbed and concentrated. Such people, unless on a mission of helping others, don’t seek any interaction with the external physical world. Their mindfulness is their world, at least ostensibly.”

“In this sense solitude is positive.”

“Still, long-term solitude is often seen as undesirable, causing loneliness or reclusion resulting from inability to establish relationships. Furthermore, it might even lead to clinical depression. However, for some people, solitude is not depressing. Still others (e.g. monks) regard long-term solitude as a means of spiritual enlightenment. Indeed, marooned people have been left in solitude for years without any report of psychological symptoms afterwards.”

“One way of thinking about loneliness is as a discrepancy between one’s desired and achieved levels of social interaction, while solitude is simply the lack of contact with people. Loneliness is therefore a subjective experience; if a person thinks they are lonely, then they are lonely. People can be lonely while in solitude, or in the middle of a crowd. What makes a person lonely is the fact that they want more social interaction than what is currently available. A person can be in the middle of a party and feel lonely due to not talking to enough people. Conversely, one can be alone and not feel lonely; even though there is no one around that person is not lonely because there is no desire for social interaction. There have also been suggestions that each person has their own sweet spot of social interaction. If a person gets too little or too much social interaction, this could lead to feelings of loneliness or over-stimulation.
Solitude can have positive effects on individuals. One study found that although time spent alone tended to depress a person’s mood and increase feelings of loneliness, it also helped to improve their cognitive state, such as improving concentration. Furthermore, once the alone time was over, people’s moods tended to increase significantly. Solitude is also associated with other positive growth experiences, religious experiences, and identity building such as solitary quests used in rites of passages for adolescents.Loneliness can also play an important role in the creative process. In some people, temporary or prolonged loneliness can lead to notable artistic and creative expression, for example, as was the case with poet Emily Dickinson, and numerous musicians. This is not to imply that loneliness itself ensures this creativity, rather, it may have an influence on the subject matter of the artist and more likely be present in individuals engaged in creative activities.”

“The existentialist school of thought views loneliness as the essence of being human. Each human being comes into the world alone, travels through life as a separate person, and ultimately dies alone. Coping with this, accepting it, and learning how to direct our own lives with some degree of grace and satisfaction is the human condition.
Some philosophers, such as Sartre, believe in an epistemic loneliness in which loneliness is a fundamental part of the human condition because of the paradox between the desire of man’s consciousness to have meaning in life conflicting with the isolation and nothingness of the universe. Conversely, other existentialist thinkers argue that human beings might be said to actively engage each other and the universe as they communicate and create, and loneliness is merely the feeling of being cut off from this process.”

“A hermit is a person who lives, to some degree, in seclusion from society.
In Christianity, the term was originally applied to a Christian who lives the eremitic life out of a religious conviction, namely the Desert Theology of the Old Testament (i.e., the forty years wandering in the desert that was meant to bring about a change of heart).”

“Often, both in religious and secular literature, the term “hermit” is used loosely for anyone living a solitary life-style, including the misanthrope, and in religious contexts is sometimes assumed to be interchangeable with anchorite / anchoress (from the Greek ἀναχωρέω anachōreō, signifying “to withdraw”, “to depart into the country outside the circumvallate city”), recluse and solitary. However, it is important to retain a clear distinction between the vocation of hermits and that of anchorites.”

“Hikikomori (ひきこもり or 引き籠もり, Hikikomori?, literally “pulling away, being confined”, i.e., “acute social withdrawal”) is a Japanese term to refer to the phenomenon of reclusive people who have chosen to withdraw from social life, often seeking extreme degrees of isolation and confinement because of various personal and social factors in their lives. The term hikikomori refers to both the sociological phenomenon in general as well as to people belonging to this societal group.”

“The dominant nexus of hikikomori centers on the transformation from youth to the responsibilities and expectations of adult life. Indications are that advanced industrialised societies such as modern Japan fail to provide sufficient meaningful transformation rituals for promoting certain susceptible types of youth into mature roles. As do many societies, Japan exerts a great deal of pressure on adolescents to be successful and perpetuate the existing social status quo. A traditionally strong emphasis on complex social conduct, rigid hierarchies and the resulting, potentially intimidating multitude of social expectations, responsibilities and duties in Japanese society contribute to this pressure on young adults. Historically, Confucian teachings de-emphasizing the individual and favoring a conformist stance to ensure social harmony in a rigidly hierarchized society have shaped much of the Sinosphere, possibly explaining the emergence of the hikikomori phenomenon in other East Asian countries.
In general, the prevalence of hikikomori tendencies in Japan may be encouraged and facilitated by three primary factors:
Middle class affluence in a post-industrial society such as Japan allows parents to support and feed an adult child in the home indefinitely. Lower-income families do not have hikikomori children because a socially withdrawing youth is forced to work outside the home.
The inability of Japanese parents to recognize and act upon the youth’s slide into isolation; soft parenting; or even a codependent collusion between mother and son, known as amae in Japanese.
A decade of flat economic indicators and a shaky job market in Japan makes the pre-existing system requiring years of competitive schooling for elite jobs appear like a pointless effort to many. While Japanese fathers of the current generation of youth still enjoy lifetime employment at multinational corporations, incoming employees in Japan enjoy no such guarantees in today’s job market. (See Freeters and NEET for more on this.) Some younger Japanese people begin to suspect that the system put in place for their grandfathers and fathers no longer works, and for some, the lack of a clear life goal makes them susceptible to social withdrawal as a hikikomori. ”

“Chronic loneliness is a serious, life-threatening condition. At least one study has empirically correlated it with an increased risk of cancer, especially for those who hide their loneliness from the outside world, and it is also associated with increased risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease.
Loneliness has been linked with depression, and is thus a risk factor for suicide. Émile Durkheim has described loneliness, specifically the inability or unwillingness to live for others, i.e. for friendships or altruistic ideas, as the main reason for what he called egoistic suicide. People who are socially isolated may report poor sleep quality, and thus have diminished restorative processes. Loneliness has also been linked with a Schizoid character type in which case one may see the world differently and experience social alienation, described as the self in exile. Loneliness can also play a part in alcoholism and substance abuse.
In children, a lack of social connections is directly linked to several forms of antisocial and self-destructive behavior, most notably hostile and delinquent behavior. In both children and adults, loneliness often has a negative impact on learning and memory. Its disruption of sleep patterns can have a significant impact on the ability to function in everyday life.
Some other effects of loneliness may not be symptomatic for years. In 2005, results from the American Framingham Heart Study demonstrated that lonely men had raised levels of Interleukin 6 (IL-6), a blood chemical linked to heart disease. A 2006 study conducted by the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience at the University of Chicago found loneliness can add thirty points to a blood pressure reading for adults over the age of fifty. Another finding, from a survey conducted by John Cacioppo from the University of Chicago, is that doctors report providing better medical care to patients who have a strong network of family and friends than they do to patients who are alone. Cacioppo states that loneliness impairs cognition and willpower, alters DNA transcription in immune cells, and leads over time to high blood pressure.”

“There are many different ways used to treat loneliness, social isolation, and clinical depression. The first step that most doctors recommend to patients is therapy. Therapy is a common and effective way of treating loneliness and is often successful. Short term therapy, the most common form for lonely or depressed patients, typically occurs over a period of ten to twenty weeks. During therapy, emphasis is put on understanding the cause of the problem, reversing the negative thoughts, feelings, and attitudes resulting from the problem, and exploring ways to help the patient feel connected. Some doctors also recommend group therapy as a means to connect with other sufferers and establish a support system.”

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