Loneliness is one of the most desperate feelings that a human being can experience. Like hunger, thirst and the inability to sleep, loneliness can lead to suffering so profound that it borders on or induces madness.
It can be manifested by the absence of figures external to itself or by the internal inability to build links with existing external figures. In the first situation, common in old age, in old age, when the dead outnumber those who survived, loneliness removes from the elderly their contemporaries and their equals (friends, brothers, cousins, colleagues, wives, husbands, lovers …) leaving only those who, despite being loved, do not contemplate the same complicities of the times lived or have, in their bonds, ballasts of responsibilities (children, grandchildren, nephews …).
The inability to build bonds with external figures is by far the biggest source of loneliness. Mild paranoias, excessive competitiveness, low self-esteem, fear of rejection, fear of criticism and lack of money cause us to distance ourselves from the people around us.
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I know it seems counterintuitive, especially when all psychology recommends that “one learns to live well with oneself”, I write a text speaking against loneliness. But, there are many positive manifestations of loneliness. And, in many moments, we all miss being alone or are quite alone. In this text I do not speak of that positive loneliness, that exercise of being with oneself, I speak of having no one else.
I’m not talking about this healthy, temporary loneliness.
I am not talking about solitude.
I speak of chronic loneliness, I speak of the total absence of bonds.
Something that for most of us is unimaginable.
Some seek partners, soul mates and feel alone. Others have recently moved and still have no new friends. Still others, have spent a long time away or are newly separated and need to rebuild old bonds. These experiences represent periods of loneliness, but not chronic, inexhaustible loneliness.
Much of psychology’s effort in the twentieth and twenty-first century has been to direct individuals’ expectations towards themselves. A good part of the intellectual and technical efforts of psychology in the last 200 years has been to bring the individual into himself, teaching him to live better with himself without depending on others for his achievements or happiness.
Ultimately, the effort was not towards happy solitude, but towards the requalification of bonds, taking from them the weight of dependence and expectations.
Thus, being alone can be a consequence of this requalification of bonds. It will be a temporary loneliness until new healthier bonds are formed. It is not an absolute and inexhaustible solitude.
During the journey I found several life journeys that, when they came to the office, were in a state of chronic and absolute loneliness. I divided these loneliness into three types:
1 – Solitude for old age
The only one that is derived from health.
We live today for a long time.
But not everyone lives long. Therefore, those who reach their 90 or 100 years of life, often, come absolutely without ties. The living are grandchildren or great-grandchildren. The friends, brothers and other contemporaries with whom they shared the complicities of life, with whom the rich experiences of life were lived, are no longer present.
It is quite possible that this loneliness is still marked by an infinity of mourning and goodbyes. I think a lot about my grandmother, already mentioned here on the blog. Dona Lola is about 95 years old. Now, forgetting almost everything, she does not remember the names and does not recognize the faces. But, her affective memory, the memory of those she loved throughout her life, makes her call her brothers, parents and cousins, in a perpetual loop of longing for those who left and disconnection from the present.
Here, loneliness is inherent to the natural processes of life. She is not being punished for having a certain type of life. Therefore, Dona Lola’s loneliness, even with the frequent visits of living relatives (nephews, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren), loneliness is practically inevitable and a very negative result for a long life. We can easily imagine the feeling of helplessness, of devaluation associated with this negative result of a long life: having no one else.
This state of loneliness is perpetual, loved ones will not return from their deathbeds and, given the difficult conditions of life in old age, hardly such powerful bonds can be built with new people. There will be no new experiences that form bonds of complicity and companionship.
2 – The rich
I met many people like that.
People who have been engaged at work since their youth, in search of financial security and wealth. In the search to form a patrimony that would provide security, these people have been postponing marriage, children, dinners, dating and finding the “right person to life”.
They ended up moving away from those who made different options because they lost their common experiences. They did not have children during class time, did not choose schools for children, did not choose decorations for the wedding, did not have the regulation of the seasonality of school holidays. Removal is simply lack of things in common, lack of complicity and companionship.
Then, suddenly, at 50 or 60 years old, wealthy, safe, healthy, they are completely alone and, at that age, unable to flex enough to share or share. There are plenty of company employees, club singles and interested parties.
Although the loneliness of old age is absolute, this one seems to me more crazy. I’m a family guy, a chronic aggregator, I love children, stepson, daughter, nephew, wife, hand, father, everyone at home or walking together. The side effect of a well-lived life can be loneliness.
But in this case, the obvious consequence of the choices made out of fear of discomfort or financial ambition will be loneliness. Weak bonds made in the bar do not overcome the barrier of loneliness, they do not bring a feeling of welcome and belonging. They just bring the distraction from hopeless reality.
3 – The madman
The madman, the drunkard, the drug addict, the complex, the beggar, the prisoner. In fact, excluded or excluding classes or groups from the community. Strange people who don’t mix or match. People easily discriminated. People who, besides their own mother, are unable (for any non-voluntary reason) to receive proximity to others.
Nerds and Geeks
I was born in 1976, when I was a teenager, I liked Comics more than I should have. He spent his adolescence being a strange figure and of little acceptance among my peers. As I also liked sports, skateboarding and surfing ended up providing me with social spaces and socializing.
That would not be a problem today. My social identification group (Nerds and geeks) got organized and, events, stores, social networks were formed and allowed the formation of a space of belonging. But despite the difficulties, the differences caused by this social identity have never been sufficiently strange and socially rejected for a general state of obtuseness.
Homosexuals, blacks, foreigners, minorities in general, who carry within themselves the mental health of their individuals, still suffer today from the need for integration in the social space. I’m not talking about acceptance: “yeah … you can stop there”. I speak of integration: “come to dinner here at home today”.
The formation of welcoming bonds, bonds of belonging ends up being a fight against social rejection, a struggle for social integration instead of simply living, loving and being loved.
To feel like part of the world around us is to be part of it, to feel an integral member of that structure. When we receive the labels appropriate to our role in this community space, we understand our place of belonging. In the case of discriminated minorities, that label is a fucking space to be occupied.
And the label comes from the stigma imposed by the surrounding community based on what the community stigmatizes in the individual, what according to the group, makes it different, smaller, rejectable, despicable. Cruel, racist, fascist and cowardly society will label difference as repulsive and give it the place between the nonexistent and the mockery.
Being the joke is the form of integration.
I am a reader of Deleuze and Foucault and I hate to write about integration and minorities. I cannot understand how, after Auschwitz, social collectives can have the rejection of difference as the basis of the relationship between their peers. In this society whose power is manifested by normalization, by the formation of norms that determine the space of normality, to run outside the norms is to be alone, without space.
But the power structures that set the norms are like tectonic plates in friction, and the crumbs left by this friction, increase the friction process and can cause the structure to break. Thus, these minorities, when struggling for their integration, force the macro structures to give way or break up.
And, different from what the conservatives (right and left) preach, this fight needs to be fought. This confrontation against the normative macro structures must be fought over and over again. This is the only remedy against fascism and cowardice exercised by the collective in relation to the individual. We must fight against absolutism that rejects the difference until it dies or kills itself.
The social confrontation
The question and justification for this struggle are that the determination of the rules to social boundaries is arbitrary in relation to the individual. Being born without arms is not a personal choice. Worse, many of these arbitrarinesses are not even differentiating or harmful elements in themselves, they are pure prejudice and cowardice, being black, being poor, being fat, being a woman.
In some situations, especially when mental health is in check, loneliness is an absolutely insurmountable condition. Some mental disorders make it very difficult to form bonds, others form bonds for the purposes and purposes of manipulation (which in the end generates distance from others), still others, end up alone because the bonds built undo and the mother / caregiver dies and does not there is no one else.
Life is not easy for anyone, so I’m not saying: “a poor person with depression”, or “poor person with autistic spectrum”, “poor homosexuals ”. The bonds, I have already written about it in other texts, are like a scale that gives us a measure of living, gives us references of how and, often, why to live.
Chronic loneliness deprives us of these references, thus, what already causes social strangeness, ends up becoming more affected and, the sick behavior ends up being accentuated.
Often pathology becomes the link, generating a direct and personal relationship between the affected person and his disease. “My OCD”, “my depression”, “my alcoholism” become the presence in life, the partner, the friendship for life. Other bonds have broken, either due to the unfolding of the mental disorder or the journey of life, now, in the sea of solitude, the only remaining link in the disease.