Psychological Self-Help

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his classmates that said: "THE MOST UNPOPULAR STUDENT AWARD:
__\(his name)\__." The kid was crushed. Mr. Greene got a tremendous
response from his readers saying they remembered similar times in
their lives 30 and 40 years ago. One man wrote, "...whenever I am
feeling down, I realize that inside of me that little boy still lives: the
little boy who sat alone at home because nobody wanted to play with
him." Others recalled the deep hurt, intense pain, and self-blame that
they felt when ostracized by more popular classmates. They felt so
ashamed, they couldn't talk to anybody about it. Between 10% and
20% of all children and adolescents, especially the poor, are lonely a
lot of the time, not just sometime during the month. 
Loneliness is more than being alone. In fact, many if not most
people enjoy solitude. Loneliness is missing and longing for some kind
of human interaction (even if you are in a crowd or in an "empty shell
marriage"). The kind of contact missed varies greatly, e.g. one could
miss one particular person or one kind of social interaction (e.g. at
work or old friends or emotional intimacy in a love relationship) or
social activity in general. Indeed, some writers distinguish between
social loneliness, which is not being part of a group of friends, and
emotional loneliness, which is not being intimate with or able to
depend on anyone. Aloneness can also be spiritual --a feeling of
separation from God--or existential --an awareness of our individual
separateness. All these forms of aloneness contribute to depression. 
However, the Existentialists believe, as did Thoreau, that aloneness
is the human condition--we are born alone, we alone direct our lives,
and we, in the same sense, die alone. Sure, lives touch and even join
for a while, but you remain a separate person. These therapists say
being alone is important for gaining perspective and growth
(Moustakas, 1961). Thus, they distinguish between loneliness, which is
wholesome, and the fear of being alone. It is this scary dread of being
alone and the feelings of emptiness that we are dealing with in this
chapter. Some people are people addicts (see chapter 9); they can't
stand to be alone. We need to be our own best friend, but you only get
to know that "best friend" when you are alone--and not playing social
I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.
Keep in mind the radical changes in our society since Thoreau's
day or when your grandparents and great-grandparents were young.
Our dependency on people has increased enormously. A hundred years
ago most Americans lived on farms and were very independent,
perhaps seeing a neighbor once or twice a week and going to town to
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