In this eye-opening work, Anthony Storr, a British psychotherapist, contends that for some people isolation is as valid a route to self-fulfillment as the more traditional path of interpersonal relationships. Love and friendship are major pathways to happiness for the majority of human beings but others have found meaning in the pursuit of creativity and the exercise of imagination. Using illustrative material from the lives and works of Kafka, Kant, Goya, Beatrice Potter and others, the author makes the case for the personal development that comes with isolation. Being alone and even mastering sensory deprivation can lead to self-renewal. Storr sums up by observing that "learning, thinking, innovation, and maintaining contact with one's inner world are all facilitated by solitude."
We appreciated the author's musings on prayer retreats as vehicles for self-renewal where solitude is viewed as a nurturing pathway to a richer and deeper inner life. Even the enforced isolation of prison has been for some a workshop for spiritual and personal growth and maturation. In a time like the present one where it is considered heresy to be alone with oneself, this book offers many valuable insights into the positive sides of solitude.