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Mendelson, M.D. (1990). Reflections on Loneliness. Contemp. Psychoanal., 26:330-355.

(1990). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 26:330-355

Reflections on Loneliness

Myer D. Mendelson, M.D.

THE FOLLOWING PAPER DISCUSSES aspects of loneliness. This presentation reviews Frieda Fromm-Reichmann's article, "Loneliness" (1959), and contributions to the subject by other authors. It considers loneliness stemming from character as well as circumstance, also loneliness that may be remedied and that which may have to be endured.

The subject of loneliness is one that from earliest times has been addressed in literature. It appears in the Biblical account of creation: "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him" (Genesis, 2:18). To this, the poet John Milton commented: "Loneliness is the first thing which God's eye nam'd not good" (Tetrachordon, 1645).

The very condition, loneliness, has the potential of inducing disquiet. It implies a sense of having been abandoned, forsaken, exposed to need or danger. Though a ubiquitous experience, the painful quality of loneliness favors a tendency to shun it, or an urge to correct or counter it.

The aversive or therapeutic reaction to loneliness occurs not only toward one's own personal experience. Where we cannot in short order alleviate or "correct" it in others, we tend to repress it. In


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Contemporary Psychoanalysis, Vol. 26, No. 2 (1990)

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