2009 issue 1

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Volume 18, issue 1

Review

Loneliness as a neglected type of experience of persons with schizophrenia

Anna Bieniarz1
1. Z Katedry Zdrowia Publicznego Uniwersytetu Medycznego w Lublinie
Postępy Psychiatrii i Neurologii 2009; 18 (1): 67-73
Keywords: schizophrenia, loneliness

Abstract

Objectives. Thepaper is of phenomenological character. An attempt was made to describe experiences of persons suffering from schizo-phrenia, in terms of a sense of loneliness they experience.
Review. Several definitions of loneliness proposed in psychology, philosophy, sociology and theology are cited. A differentiation was made between loneliness, solitude andsocial isolation, sometimes called alienation. An answer was sought to the ąuestion whether loneliness experienced by people with schizophrenia is ąualitatively different from that experienced by persons who do not receive psychiatric treatment. Relationship was analyzed between "emotional blunting", difficulties in social contacts, and a sense of loneliness, as well as associations between loneliness, autism and "susceptibility to injury ". The issue of loneliness at the time of relapse and during remission of troublesome symptoms was discussed. The notion of religious, existential and metaphysical loneliness was presented, as well as the concept of loneliness in interpersonal communication borrowed from the theory by McGraw, as accurately describing experiences of people with schizophrenia. In search for a common denominator for experiencing loneliness by ill and healthy people, the differentiation between emotional and social loneliness proposed by Weiss turned out to be useful. Moreover, a description of loneliness as a symptom manifested in schizophrenia spectrum disorders (schizoidpersonality, schizoaffective disorders) was given.
Conclusions. Feelings of loneliness reported by patients sufferingfrom schizophrenia may be interpreted as an attempt at seeking contact with the social environment, from which they are separated by an elaborated system of hallucinations and delusions.

Address for correspondence:
Anna Bieniarz
Katedra Zdrowia Publicznego Uniwersytetu Medycznego
ul. Chodźki 1, 20-093 Lublin
anna.note@wp.pl