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The Call of Solitude


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A psychoanalyst, clinical psychologist, and professor, Buchholz has written a comprehensive study of human solitude or, as she calls it, "alonetime." She feels that today's culture overvalues attachment and neglects the importance of time alone. Using case studies, stories, poetry, and other sources, Buchholz shows how alonetime has always been important and that the lack of it in today's frenzied U.S. culture increases stress and depression. Unfortunately, in an effort to include all her interesting quotations and stories, Buchholz sometimes squeezes them into places where they don't belong. Although each chapter attempts to cover defined areas, the text wanders and sometimes repeats itself. Thus, while this important work brings together nearly everything ever thought or written about solitude, it is not as well organized or written as it could have been. Recommended for research libraries.‘Elizabeth Caulfield Felt, Washington State Univ. Libs., Pullman, Wash.

Suggesting that our need for time alone is as powerfully driven as our need for attachment, Buchholz, a psychoanalyst, clinical psychologist and professor at New York University, makes an eloquent plea for a balance to our tell-all-immediately modern-day culture. Her description of solitude includes silence, a slower pace and quiet vistas (internal and social) to balance the sensory and often relational overload that marks today's society. Her rigorously assembled arguments draw from biological, psychological, sociological, historical and cultural sources, and are organized into three sections. Part One distinguishes being alone from being lonely and addresses the importance of "alonetime" in human development, examining the work of John Bowlby, Margaret Mahler, Jean Piaget, Melanie Klein and others. Part Two discusses more recent research, including studies of intrauterine experience. Part Three investigates the role of "alonetime" in relationships (romantic, psychoanalytic, familial and communal), focusing particularly on the interplay of intimacy and solitude. Buchholz's wide-ranging discussion, slanted toward professionals but accessible to interested general readers, may overreach on occasion, but she is often convincing in her timely and provocative advocacy of "alonetime." (Aug.)

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