Feeling Lonesome
The Philosophy and Psychology of Loneliness
by Ben Lazare Mijuskovic
June 2015, 203pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-4028-9
$66, £49, 57€, A90
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-4029-6
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Loneliness was Elliot Rodger’s main motivation for killing six female college students and himself in Santa Barbara, CA, in 2014.

This book presents an intricate, interdisciplinary evaluation of loneliness that examines the relation of consciousness to loneliness. It views loneliness from the inside as a universal human condition rather than attempting to explain it away as an aberration, a mental disorder, or a temporary state to be addressed by superficial therapy and psychiatric medication.

Loneliness is much more than just feeling sad or isolated. It is the ultimate ground source of unhappiness—the underlying reality of all negative human behavior that manifests as anxiety, depression, envy, guilt, hostility, or shame. It underlies aggression, domestic violence, murder, PTSD, suicide, and other serious issues. This book explains why the drive to avoid loneliness and secure intimacy is the most powerful psychological need in all human beings; documents how human beings gravitate between two motivational poles: loneliness and intimacy; and advocates for an understanding of loneliness through the principles of idealism, rationalism, and insight.

Readers will understand the underlying theory of consciousness that explains why people are lonely, thereby becoming better equipped to recognize sources of loneliness in themselves as well as others. Written by a licensed social worker and former mental health therapist, the book documents why whenever individuals or groups feel lonely, alienated, estranged, disenfranchised, or rejected, they will either withdraw within and shut down, or they will attack others with little thought of consequence to either themselves or others. Perhaps most importantly, the work identifies the antidotes to loneliness as achieving a sense of belonging, togetherness, and intimacy through empathic emotional attachments, which come from a mutual sharing of “lived experiences” such as feelings, meanings, and values; constant positive communication; and equal decision making.

Features

  • Provides key insight into the dynamics of loneliness, enabling readers to be able to recognize its sources and counter its insidious and invidious force—not only in one's self, but in others as well
  • Presents cross-disciplinary perspectives that addresses and critiques both philosophical and psychological views on loneliness
  • Reviews the works and words of philosophers from Descartes to Kant and Wittgenstein, and of psychologists from Freud to Erikson, Fromm, and Mahler
  • Authored by a former mental health therapist who has taught philosophy for more than 30 years
Ben Lazare Mijuskovic, PhD, MA, is professor of philosophy and humanities at California State University at Dominguez Hills, Humanities Department. He is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) and is a retired Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health therapist. Mijuskovic has authored articles on loneliness published in the journals Psychology, Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, Adolescence, International Journal of Applied Philosophy, Child Study Journal, Philosophy Today, and International Review of Contemporary Sociology, among others. He presented an invited seminar, "Loneliness as an Umbrella Concept," at the American Psychological Association's Eastern Division annual meeting in April 2014. Mijuskovic received his doctorate at the University of California at San Diego and was a post doctoral fellow at Yale University.

Reviews

“Mijuskovic makes a powerful and very persuasive argument for his position, and one learns an enormous amount in following the argument of his superb book.”—Philosophy in Review, October 27, 2015

"Feeling Lonesome is a must read for anyone interested in philosophy of mind, philosophical psychology, or lonelines. . . . Ben Lazare Mijuskovic, PhD., LCSW possesses the rare interdisciplinary pedigree which empowers him to speak to both academic and practical concerns. . . . Feeling Lonesome encapsulates his lifelong study . . . it touches upon our most private selves, our insularity, and our innermost existence in a uniquely interdisciplinary perspective. Mijuskovic encapsulates a life of rich philosophical investigation while tempering his narrative with therapeutic practicality.” —Dialogue, December 23, 2015

"Mijuscovic’s Feeling Lonesome: The Philosophy and Psychology of Loneliness is a well researched, highly intricate, and aptly argued contribution to the study of phenomenology. For the theoretical philosopher, the book is a rich source of gripping debates which draws from a variety of great thinkers. For the psychologist, anthropologist, and general social scientist, Mijuscovic has much to offer on the human condition. For those currently struggling to escape the clutches of loneliness, the author offers, at the very least, an insightful and worthwhile approach to understanding how and why we feel lonesome, and what we can do to change that."—Journal of Thought, February 22, 2016

"The themes of this book are exciting and will be of interest to most psychologists. . . . Clinicians of all persuasions will gain much insight from the therapeutic measures and strategies gathered in the final chapter that can alleviate and console us against the inescapable drag of our existence."—The Psychologist, April 1, 2016

"Mijuskovic's philosophical exploration of loneliness brings a new perspective to the study of this universal and painful human experience and may of be interest to academics from other disciplines."—Journal of Sociology, April 1, 2016

“What is striking about Mijuskovic's endeavor is the author's remarkable knowledge and competence across distinct fields, which enables him to integrate a tremendous amount of information from philosophy, psychology, and literature into one complex yet consistent story . . . . [H]is eloquent discussion of the psychological basis of loneliness offers a very persuasive account, rich with valuable insights and instructive considerations. . . . Mijuskovic's book is a proficient application of a true interdisciplinary methodology, providing an intriguing, composite view of loneliness that is both challenging and inspiring for the reader." —Philosophical Practice, October 14, 2016

"Ben Mijuskovic’s lifelong exploration of our human condition culminates in this seminal study of loneliness. The investigation traces its etiologies in the philosophical traditions, its presence and influences in literature, and its manifestations in psychological behaviors and practices. Finally, it debunks current psychiatric practices of overmedication and superficially expedient therapies. Not only does the text help us understand the dispositions of loneliness, but it offers means to guard against it. Warning readers of the dangers of retreat into interiority, the author argues for our using our consciousness transitively to go beyond the confines of that consciousness so besotted by loneliness. As in previous works, Mijuskovic casts his thesis in a pool of considerable disciplinary context. Let’s celebrate both this marvelous study and its compelling and wise assertion: we must strive for and seek goals and values beyond the self in order to lead meaningful lives."—Patricia Cherin, Professor Emeritus, Interdisciplinary Studies, California State University, Dominguez Hills

"Loneliness is part of the human condition. We are deeply social animals, yet each of us experiences the world as an 'I' subject. I think (and feel and act), therefore I am. Ben Lazare Mijuskovic offers a systematic study of loneliness, informed by his rich knowledge of the history of philosophy and of psychoanalysis, and shaped by his reading of literature and his work as a therapist. The move from Plato onward, with knowledge of literature, into psychoanalytic work, is terrific. An incisive study of a crucial aspect of human experience."—David Woodruff Smith, Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, University of California at Irvine

"There is always a risk in marshaling the arguments of leading philosophers, linguists, and personality theorists and the insights of novelists that the treatment will be superficial, but this study thoughtfully and thoroughly considers the contributions of all these leading intellects across disciplines to the concept of loneliness. Moreover, Mijuskovic avoids simplistic approaches to make his case that reflexivity is the prison of loneliness. That is, he does not simply define human beings as innately lonely or argue for such a definition of humanity. He explains why human beings are innately lonely and offers in the last chapter strategies for dealing with the human sense of isolation. In all, this is a perspicacious treatment of the problem, a careful assessment of the contributions to the concept from leading thinkers and novelists, and a thoughtful analysis of avenues of escape through empathic intimacy." —George Schedler, Emeritus professor of philosophy, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale

"Ben Mijuskovic’s new book, Feeling Lonesome: The Philosophy and Psychology of Loneliness, goes even more deeply into the nature and consequences of human existence than his now classic earlier book. No one has written more incisively and engagingly on the topic than he. The breadth of his scholarship in philosophy, psychology, and literature reflects the concentrated study of a curious mind."—A.P. Martinich, Roy Allison Vaughan Professor of Philosophy, University of Texas at Austin
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