Feeling Lonesome

The Philosophy and Psychology of Loneliness

Non-Fiction - Religion/Philosophy
203 Pages
Reviewed on 12/18/2015
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Gisela Dixon for Readers' Favorite

Feeling Lonesome: The Philosophy and Psychology of Loneliness by Ben Lazare Mijuskovic is a comprehensive study of what we commonly call “loneliness” or the state of feeling alone. However, Feeling Lonesome: The Philosophy and Psychology of Loneliness is much more than simply a book about the roots and meaning of loneliness. In essence, it is really a treatise on what it means to be alive and conscious, and draws on the fields of philosophy, psychology, metaphysics, science, the universal unconscious mind, and much more. The book is divided into several chapters that explore each of these areas in more detail with a list of references at the end of each chapter. This is an extremely wide ranging book in terms of scope and basically links the concept of loneliness with the idea of self-awareness and consciousness, and puts forward the theory that loneliness is an innate and natural state of being.

Feeling Lonesome: The Philosophy and Psychology of Loneliness by Ben Lazare Mijuskovic is an extremely well written book and I was surprised at the depth and scope of the subject matter that is explored. Indeed, this is a book that may probably require more than one reading to fully grasp the meaning of each sentence. Ben Lazare Mijuskovic obviously knows his subject very well and I was really pleased to find excerpts from a lot of philosophers and psychologists such as Freud, Aristotle, Plato, Fromm, etc. I would love to go back and re-read this book not once, but probably more than once. I would highly recommend it for anyone interested in philosophy.

Cheryl E. Rodriguez

Feeling Lonesome: The Philosophy and Psychology of Loneliness by Ben Lazare Mijuskovic focuses on the reality and role of loneliness in human life. The narrative explores the nature of loneliness by delving into the philosophies regarding the workings of the brain and in the creations of the mind. Mijuskovic states, “The drive to escape loneliness animates all our passions, thoughts and actions, all we feel, think and say and do.” Going back through the discoveries of philosophical truth, the author reveals that loneliness is not a contemporary event, but is a condition that prevails throughout human history. The central focus of the thesis is “what causes loneliness?” The first three chapters cover the cognitive roots of loneliness. This is followed by loneliness and phenomenology, language and the vocabulary of loneliness, the psychological roots of loneliness, and the pathways of loneliness in the conscious and subconscious mind. The last chapter provides therapeutic measures, taking into account the truths found in the previous chapters.

Ben Lazare Mijuskovic’s Feeling Lonesome is intellectually written. Mijuskovic’s narrative is well referenced and includes a thorough index. The narrative reads like published paper or journal in a specialized field of study. Although at times it is difficult to read, I found the narrative intellectually stimulating. Throughout the step by step journey to prove his point, Mijuskovic includes analogies and summarises the philosophical rhetoric, making it understandable. Loneliness is a noted plot scheme in fiction and in life. Many pieces of literature depict the symbolism of loneliness. Mijuskovic gives examples of novels with themes of loneliness to illustrate and convey the meaning of the philosophy and psychology of loneliness. The target audience would certainly be therapists, but those who are students of philosophy and psychology and have a keen interest in the topic will benefit as well. I highly recommend if you are a layperson, like me, to have a dictionary on hand. I appreciated his defense of individual self, not lumping lonely people into a specific psychological categorized group, proving his thesis that loneliness is innate; therefore it is unique to the individual. My favorite line, “there is no vaccination for loneliness.” Loneliness is not a sickness or disease, “it’s the human condition.”

Sarah Stuart

The introduction to Ben Lazare Mijuskovic’s Feeling Lonesome: The Philosophy and Psychology of Loneliness outlines the purpose of the book, which seeks to explain the basic cause and the undesirability of loneliness. The eight chapters that follow are titled and, in the main, concentrate on their stated subject. Intermingling occurs where a source of reference covers more than one aspect of the core argument. The whole is extremely well-referenced, using Mr Mijuskovic’s own published works, books authored by others, academic research papers, and extracts from the great philosophers and psychoanalysts whose names are familiar even to a lay person. These include Sigmund Freud, Georg Hegel, Bertrand Russell and Plato. The Afterword isolates the most important sources of reference and cites further reading, not least Mr Mijuskovic’s prior historical studies of consciousness.

Feeling Lonesome: The Philosophy and Psychology of Loneliness by Ben Lazare Mijuskovic is so well-written that a series of complicated ideas and arguments can be understood by a reader previously relatively ignorant of the subject. Amongst the vast number of reference sources are examples. One is the comparison between the natural separation of a human mother and baby at birth, their coming together, culminating in the child’s dependence, and an experiment by Harry Harlow who reared infant rhesus monkeys in complete isolation from other primates. Mr Mijuskovic also points out that suicidal individuals, mass murderers, and serial killers are often dubbed “loners” and suggests that a correlation can be made with loneliness. Novelist Thomas Hardy understood people feeling loneliness to the extreme of wishing they had never been born. The protagonists of Tess of the D’Urbevilles and The Mayor of Casterbridge opt for unmarked graves.

Mamta Madhavan

Feeling Lonesome: The Philosophy and Psychology of Loneliness by Ben Lazare Mijuskovic deals with the relevant topic of loneliness and speaks not only about the nature of loneliness, but also about its ultimate origins and whether the beginning and the end is centered in the mind or the brain. This insightful book takes readers into the deepest part of human existence and loneliness. The author contradicts the usual theory of loneliness, where it is believed that loneliness is caused by external and physical conditions, and asserts that loneliness is innate and therefore is permanent and unavoidable. The human sense of isolation and the therapeutic principles that aid in dealing with isolation make this book a compelling read.

The views expressed are profound and will make readers ponder and look at their inner selves in the light of the psychology of what motivates human beings, whether the standard of goodness is the same for everyone. The author also stresses the fact that to understand loneliness one must first approach it intra-psychically and psychologically. The author analyses loneliness on various layers and comes to a conclusion about the nuances of how loneliness is caused, and how the insight treatments are helpful in reviving and reliving the past, thereby exploring the hidden and unconscious feelings embedded in the self. With the author's experience in philosophy and psychoanalysis, it's a good book for therapists as it will help them delve deeper in their sessions with their patients.

Hilary Hawkes

Feeling Lonesome: The Philosophy and Psychology of Loneliness is Ben Lazare Mijuskovic’s academic and theoretical study aimed at those seeking a serious look at the origins, purpose, history and theory of this very innate and natural human emotion and predicament. Chapters cover historical notions and understanding of loneliness and its philosophical roots. The author examines different philosophies through the ages along with the views of psychologists – looking at the ideas of, for example, Plato, Aristotle, St Augustine, Descartes, Husserl, Proust, Freud and many others. Their views on human nature, cognitive and behavioral functioning, and purposes are discussed as the author develops and presents his own belief that “loneliness is not a disease…It’s the human condition” and why. Later chapters look at the effects of loneliness and therapeutic interventions.

Feeling Lonesome is not a self-help book for those wanting strategies for dealing with their own loneliness. Mijuskovic’s intricate study is a specialist in-depth work that will be of interest and use to those needing philosophical and/or psychological understandings and ideas on the subject, perhaps at graduate level or beyond. Whilst not an easy read, the works and words of various philosophers are usefully summarized and expanded, presenting the reader with thorough and in-depth knowledge of many of the major philosophers and psychologists.

Each chapter has a different focus, ending with useful bibliographies and references from which the chapter’s information has been drawn. The author holds a PhD in Philosophy, has taught philosophy, and is a licensed therapist with much experience and specialist knowledge in helping clients with loneliness and its effect on their lives. So the final chapter on Therapeutic Measures shows understanding and empathy, and the ideas and guidance for helping therapists help clients understand and deal with loneliness make good sense. A serious specialist book for the student, professional, or reader looking for an in-depth study.

Ben Mijuskovic

Thank you