A lecturer in psychiatry (Oxford) looks at the psychotherapeutic
virtues of solitude. Some of Storr's earlier books have dealt with
the psychology of art (The Dynamics of Creation) and aggression
(Human Aggression). Here he retains his viewpoint (a sort of
liberated Freudianism, with heavy doses of Jung), his theme (the
way in which creative people achieve self-integration), and even
some favorite case-studies (Franz Kafka, for example). His
contention - which runs against the grain of classic psychoanalytic
doctrine but will come as no surprise to most folks - is that
self-realization can be found through isolation as well as through
family and society. Storr marshals a formidable array of
psychologists - Gellner, Winnicott, Bowlby, and Gardner among them
- to buttress his argument, which veers from insight (his
criticisms of Freud) to technical jargon (usually well explained)
to platitude ("human beings change and develop as life goes on";
"contemporary Western culture makes the peace of solitude difficult
to attain"). More intriguing are his psychobiographies of artists
and thinkers - e.g., Beethoven, Kant, Wittgenstein, Beatrix Potter
- which demonstrate how isolation can trigger or strenghten
creative skills. A humane, sensible, rather drab approach to a
largely unexplored subject. While StoWs psychoanalytical spectacles
have a nondogmatic, fairly wide field-of-view, much of his analysis
will appeal only to specialists. (Kirkus Reviews)
This study challenges the widely-held view that success in personal
relationships is the only key to happiness. It argues that we pay
far too little attention to some of the other great satisfactions
of life - work and creativity. In a series of biographical sketches
it demonstrates how many of the creative geniuses of our
civilization have been solitary, by temperament or circumstance,
and how the capacity to be alone is, even for those who are not
creative, a sign of maturity.
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Review This Product
Sat, 11 Jun 2011 | Review by: inksi
As a solitary person by nature, Storr's book was a revelation after a lifetime of trying to adapt to the modern view that relationships are the essential key to happiness. Not that any one needs Storr's blessing to their more solitary happiness, but it is more than gratifying to realise that you are not alone in needing to be alone.
It is many years since I read this but it probably was the best value of any book that I ever purchased. Storr's writing is excellent and if you think on these things you will gain a lot from reading this.
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