School for Social Work
This thesis explored the concept of the healthy solitary person who prefers to spend time alone and pursue activities independently and whose independent way of life serves as a source of strength and pleasure. Despite the American ideal of the rugged individualist, the solitary person is often pathologized, seen as being in a transitional state, or not considered at all by much of the psychological literature and by American society at large. This paper examined the societal role played by solitude and drew from self psychology and object relations theory to answer the following question: how can a solitary lifestyle be based on a foundation of psychological health and provide additional psychological and emotional benefits? To provide a contextual understanding of solitary people, this paper discussed the preponderance of negative views of solitude in the scholarly literature as well as benefits from solitude and the possibility of a developmental need for solitude as important as the need for attachment. The issue of stereotyping and discrimination against singles was presented as an important issue for solitary people, who may encounter these difficulties as they pursue independent activities. Winnicott's belief that the capacity to be alone is one of the greatest signs of emotional maturity supported the concept that a solitary lifestyle can be based on a foundation of psychological health. From self psychology, solitary pursuits can promote the acquisition of selfobject experiences that build and strengthen one's cohesive self. A solitary lifestyle can therefore provide additional psychological and emotional benefits.
Shortell, Laurel Lynn, "The healthy solitary person" (2008). Masters Thesis, Smith College, Northampton, MA.