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Burton, A. (1961). On the Nature of Loneliness. Am. J. Psychoanal., 21(1):34-39.

(1961). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 21(1):34-39

On the Nature of Loneliness

Arthur Burton, Ph.D.

So alone in birth.

So alone in love.

So alone in life.

So alone in death.

Aubier and de Lara: spain

Loneliness is a universal human phenomenon and is to be considered not only for its pathological aspects but for its meaning for the human condition. In schizophrenia, however, we find the problem of loneliness so intense and so central as to serve as a special laboratory for the understanding of its phenomenology. It is thus through the psychotherapy of the schizophrenic patient that we have arrived at these insights which may possibly have import for all men.

For every part there is a whole and for every whole there must be parts. What then is the relationship of part to whole and whole to part? Thus far we have no precise definition of such relationships. But we do know that tension is set up in a system in which a part is not felt related to a whole. If we assume that life is a unity—i.e., whole—then being-in-the-world is a part of that unity. The individual needs historicity, presence, and futurity in a cosmic setting as the total of his continuity, and without it he feels fragmented. The person has boundaries: his skin, and another of a more psychic kind. He has an oceanic need to flow beyond these boundaries toward the whole, that is, the total physical and psychological world, and in this way he feels at one with nature. If he cannot do this, for a variety of reasons, he is left with the thought of being cut off, of being alienated, and loneliness is his feeling response.

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