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May 8, 1981

The Anatomy of Loneliness

Author Affiliations

American Medical Association Chicago


edited by Joseph Hartog, J. Ralph Audy, and Yehudi A. Cohen, 617 pp, with illus, $30, New York, International Universities Press, 1980.

JAMA. 1981;245(18):1871. doi:10.1001/jama.1981.03310430061033

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There are all kinds of loneliness—the infant deprived of touch and affection, the homesick child at camp, the adolescent who does not feel part of the teenaged crowd, the young adult living alone in a large city, the parent whose children have grown up and flown the nest, the divorced, the aged, the dying, and many more—and sometimes this situation contributes to whatever complaints the patient brings to the physician.

Ironically, although loneliness is much mentioned in popular songs and frequently confessed among friends, it seems to have received relatively little attention in the scientific literature. Discussing "strategies for denying aloneness," the psychiatrist Hartog writes, "We avert our gaze. As a result there is a dearth of scientific writing on the subject."

To address what they perceive as a need, Dr Hartog, the late J. Ralph Audy, MD, PhD, and Yehudi Cohen, PhD, collected the experiences, ideas, and data