Solitude: An exploration of benefits of being alone

Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 33 (1):21–44 (2003)
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Historically, philosophers, artists, and spiritual leaders have extolled the benefits of solitude; currently, advice on how to achieve solitude is the subject of many popular books and articles. Seldom, however, has solitude been studied by psychologists, who have focused instead on the negative experiences associated with being alone, particularly loneliness. Solitude, in contrast to loneliness, is often a positive state—one that may be sought rather than avoided. In this article, we examine some of the benefits that have been attributed to solitude—namely, freedom, creativity, intimacy, and spirituality. In subsequent sections, we consider the environmental settings and personality characteristics conducive to solitude, how time spent alone is experienced differently across the life span, and the potential dangers related to the attractiveness of solitude. We conclude with a brief discussion of the theoretical and practical implications of solitude



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