A Critique of Existential Loneliness

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After a brief review of different definitions and types of loneliness I offer an analysis of the concept of existential loneliness and its philosophical background. In contrast to the interpersonal aspects of other types of loneliness, existential loneliness has been characterized as an intrapersonal default state of incommunicability or profound aloneness, part of or based on a fundamental ontological or transcendental structure in human existence. There are both conceptual and practical issues with the notion of existential loneliness, with implications for psychotherapy. I offer a critical approach, and argue that there is no good philosophical basis for this conception of existential loneliness, and that although loneliness can be existential in some respect, it typically manifests itself in interpersonal contexts, and should not be considered a fundamental ontological structure of human existence.

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