Submit manuscript...
Journal of
eISSN: 2373-6410

Neurology & Stroke

Editorial Volume 12 Issue 5

The many faces of the solitude

Stavros J Baloyannis

Aristotelian University, Research Institute for Alzheimer’s disease, Greece

Correspondence: Stavros J Baloyannis, Professor Emeritus, Aristotelia Univesity, Angelaki 5, Thessaloniki 54621, Greece, Tel +302310270434, Fax +302310270434

Received: October 01, 2022 | Published: October 7, 2022

Citation: Baloyannis SJ. The many faces of the solitude. J Neurol Stroke. 2022;12(5):169-170 DOI: 10.15406/jnsk.2022.12.00520

Download PDF


solitude, depression, adolescence, aging, dementia, self-knowledge, inner freedom


Solitude as a way of life is a rather unusual condition, which may create a special psychological atmosphere leading either to depression or to inner freedom. Many authors, from antiquity to our era, philosophers,1–5 psychologists,6,7 and poets,8 attempted to describe the influence of solitude on human psychology,9 psychosomatic homeostasis, behavior, productivity, interior harmony, and peace from various points of view, projecting frequently their feelings, principles, perspectives, and their concept of life.10,11

Some of the authors describe solitude as a depressive or rather tragic way of life, with harmful consequences for human homeostasis, though others consider it as a valuable source of inner peace, self-knowledge, interior harmony, and even creativity.12 To understand the polymorphic influence of solitude upon the inner life of the soul and on human behavior, it is important to know the etiology or the motivation of the solitude, the environmental circumstances,13 and the psychological background of the person who lives in solitude.

For the large majority of men, who live in isolation, solitude means an unpleasant, painful traumatic experience, though for others it is an opportunity for further self-concentration, self-knowledge, self-control, meditation, and long tranquility. Solitude may also be a practical way to the truth, whenever it is imposed by the free will of the person.14 In some stages of life, such as adolescence, the human being in periods of emotional fluctuations, contradictions, and social insecurity,15 searches for solitude16 to regain emotional stability, and self-identification, which might contribute substantially to a deeper understanding of his role in society.17

Particularly, in late adolescence, solitude may be beneficial, as a condition of inner fulfilment.18 The phenomenon of the social isolation of children and adolescents in our era, due to their fixation on the “miraculous word of the internet” could be explained by their desire to escape from a traumatic social reality, which is plenty of conflict and misunderstanding.

In senility, solitude is a very painful experience affecting greatly the quality of life of elderly people.19 Naturally, aging is the stage of advanced physical, and mental maturity, and existential identification. The person in senility is plenty of experience, wisdom, and justification of most of his life expectations. In advanced age, the human being needs respect, kindness, understanding, care, and emotional stability.20 Unfortunately, elderly people live frequently in nursing homes, detached from their families, relatives, friends, and familiar environment, facing the bitter experience of social isolation21 and emotional starvation. However, some western European countries, have attempted recently to ameliorate the quality of life of elderly people, by organizing small communities of private homes, replacing therefore the impersonal depressive large institutions.22

In patients who suffer from dementia, the isolation has tragic consequences, with serious psychosomatic dimensions. In an advanced stage of the disease, the patients are imprisoned in a “timeless time”, and a “functionless reality”.23 It is well known that the communication of the person with his environment and his prompt and rational interaction with society is a crucial factor for brain activation and maintenance of cognition,24 whereas the proper emotional atmosphere enhances the inner life of the patient.

It is reasonable, therefore, that the social isolation of the demented people, at any stage of the disease, causes a rapid decline in the mental faculties, affecting neuronal plasticity and leading to further global aggravation of the mental capacities,25 without any further perspective, due to irreversible and devastating character of the neurodegenerating causes of dementia.

The consequences of senso-sensorial and emotional deprivation in patients who suffer from dementia are much more obvious in their art products, particularly in paintings.26 Their pictures demonstrate an oversimplification of the colors and shapes and a marked transformation of the faces,27 which are motionless, inexpressive, rigid, and bizarre, showing the unpleasant condition of the inner life of the patients.28,29 Based on the creations of the patients, it seems that art therapy, particularly painting, would be beneficial, in case that is applied at the initial stages of the disease.30

Healthy persons who wish for solitude as a mode of life, desiring to live in peace, serenity, and self-identification31 the proper utilization of every moment could protect them from sadness and sense of vanity and feeling of the existential insufficiency,32 which may occur initially33 Later on, as time advances the beneficial contribution of solitude to inner peace and authentic existence becomes obvious. The person in solitude by his will, usually feels inner harmony, tranquility, simplicity, freedom, real love, and compassion for humanity, As soon as solitude offers the first spiritual fruits, the person may be involved in social activity playing a very positive and beneficial role.34 The solitude as a way of life beyond the hard competition, the turbulence, the social dispute, the contradictions, the economic discrepancies, and the emotional distress, may offer an existentially genuine life in peace, and plenty of spiritual and intellectual contemplation.34,35



Conflicts of interest

The author declares no conflicts of interest.


  1. Nietzsche F. Thus Spoke Zarathustra. In: Graham Parkes. Oxford: Oxford World's Classics, 2005.
  2. Schutt O. The solitude of Nietzsche’s Zarathustra. Review of Existential Psychology and Psychiatry. 1980-1981;17(2-3):209–222.
  3. Arendt H, Heidegger M. Letters, 1925-1975. In: Andrew Shields. New York, Harcourt. 2004.
  4. Kierkegaard SA. The Concept of Anxiety, Kierkegaard’s Writings. New Jersey: Princeton. 1980.
  5. Baloyannis SJ. Kierkegaard’s melancholy in his life and philosophy. Gregorius Palamas. 1988;81:303-351.
  6. Perlman D. Loneliness and expressive communication. J Abnorm Psychol. 1979;88(3):258–261.
  7. Peplau LA, Perlman D. Perspectives on loneliness. In: LA Peplau, D Perlman, editors. Loneliness: A sourcebook of current theory, research, and therapy. New York, Wiley, 1982; pp. 1−20.
  8. Cowper W. Francis T. Palgrave, ed. (1824–1897). The Golden Treasury. 1875.
  9. Gerson AC, Perlman D. Loneliness and expressive communication. J Abnorm Psychol. 1979;88(3):258–261.
  10. Rilke RM. Letters to a Young Poet. In: Ray Soulard Jr, Stephen Mitchell. Burning Man Books, 2001.
  11. Camus A. Le mythe de Sisyphe. Calimard Paris. 1966.
  12. Long CR, Averill JR. Solitude: An Exploration of Benefits of Being Alone. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour. 2003;33(1):21–44.
  13. Altman I. Environment and social behavior: Privacy, personal space, territory, and crowding. New York, Irvington Press 1981.
  14. Lossky V. Essai sur la théologie mystique de l’Eglise d’Orient Le Cerf coll. Foi Vivante, 1990.
  15. Hankin BL, Abramson LY, Moffitt TE, et al. Development of depression from preadolescence to young adulthood: Emerging gender differences in a 10-year longitudinal study. J Abnorm Psycholy. 1998;107(1):128–140.
  16. Larson RW. The Emergence of Solitude as a Constructive Domain of Experience in Early Adolescence. Child Development. 1997;68(1):80–93.
  17. Baloyannis SJ. Psychiatry and Pastoral Psychiatry. Purnaras Pub. Thessaloniki 1986.
  18. Coplan RJ, Weeks M. Unsociability and the preference for solitude in childhood. In: Rubin KH, Coplan RJ, editors. The development of shyness and social withdrawal. New York: Guilford Press. 2010. p. 64–83.
  19. Delislea MA. What does Solitude Mean to the Aged? Canadian Journal on Aging.1988;7(4):358–371.
  20. Baloyannis SJ. The aging through centuries. Encephalos. 2007;44(3):1–20.
  21. Savishinsky JS. Breaking the Watch: The Meanings of Retirement in America. (Ithaca): Cornell University Press. 2000.
  22. Aro S, Noro A, Salinto M. Deinstitutionalization of the elderly in Finland, 1981- 1991. Scand J Public Health. 1997;25(2):136–143.
  23. Baloyannis SJ. The philosophy of dementia. In: Popescu LM, Hargens AR, Signal PK, editors. Adaptation Biology and Medicine (Volume 7 New Chalenges). New Delhi: Narosa Publ House. 2014. pp.417–424.
  24. Priker S. Visual cognition, an introduction. Cognition. 1984;18(1-3):66.
  25. Kandel E. Cellular Basis of Behavior. San Francisco, WH Freeman. 1976.
  26. Baloyannis SJ. Neurology in pictorial arts. Encephalos. 2007;44(1):7–25.
  27. Espinel C H. de Kooning’s late colors and forms: dementia, creativity, and the healing power of art. Lancet. 1996;347(9008):1096–1098.
  28. Maurer K, Prvulovic D. Paintings of an artist with Alzheimer's disease: visuo constructural deficits during dementia. J Neural Transm. 2004;111:235–245.
  29. Campion EW. When a mind dies. N Engl J Med. 1996;334:791–792.
  30. Mimica N, Dubravka K. Art therapy may be beneficial for reducing stress-related behaviors in people with dementia. Psychiatr Danub. 2011;23(1):125–128.
  31. Stinissen W. Natten är mitt ljus, 1990.
  32. Heidegger M. The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics: World, Finitude, Solitude. In: William McNeill and Nicholas Walker. Bloomington and Indianapolis, Indiana University Press. 1995.
  33. Dysinger L. Psalmody and Prayer in the Writings of Evagrius Ponticus. Oxford Theological Monographs 2005.
  34. Berdyaev Nicolas. The Destiny of Man. New York: Harper Troch books. 1960.
  35. Kierkegaard SA. Stages on Life’s Way. In: Walter Lowrie. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1845;1940.
Creative Commons Attribution License

©2022 Baloyannis. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and build upon your work non-commercially.