A wide-ranging study of solitude, presenting it as a basic human need, one as necessary to psychic health and creativity as...


THE CALL OF SOLITUDE: Alonetime in a World of Attachment

A wide-ranging study of solitude, presenting it as a basic human need, one as necessary to psychic health and creativity as the social interactions emphasized by psychology's many ""attachment"" theorists. Buchholz, who directs New York University's Master's Program in the Psychology of Parenthood, wants to ""unshackle aloneness from its negative position as kith and kin to loneliness. Remove it from battles with bonding, attachment, and relationships. Make its message part of the social norm! Then uplift it from its lonely place on the mental health shelf."" She succeeds admirably by examining the role of ""alonetime"" (a neologism she feels is needed, given the negative connotations many social scientists assign to ""solitude"") in everything from anthropological studies of other cultures to embryology, from pediatric medicine and child psychology to existentialist philosophy. Included are some fascinating observations on individuals who manage to survive, and even to thrive, during periods of extreme solitude, from the experiences of autistic children to those of hostages who have endured long periods of being blindfolded and isolated. She laments many of her patients' inability to grow inwardly by fostering their self-reflective and imaginative lives. Buchholz stumbles on occasion in romanticizing solitude, as in her claim that the autistic child possesses ""an exquisite ability to self-regulate,"" an unsupported claim at best. And while she properly warns of contemporary Americans' growing addiction to E-mail, computer culture in general, and other forms of external stimuli, she carries it to a neo-Luddite extreme in claiming that ""we are paying the price for the current frenetic demands in today's culture through being unwittingly led by technology into stupors."" And the book could have used tightening. Her study, however, is on balance immensely interesting and informative, and accessible to the nonprofessional. Buchholz demonstrates irrefutably that ""without solitude existing as a safe place, a place for long sojourns and self-discovery, we lose an important sense of being self-regulating individuals.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0684872803

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1997