Quotes from Solitude: A Return to the Self, by Anthony Storr

- ‘The burden of value with which we are at present loading interpersonal relationships is too heavy for those fragile craft to carry. Our expectation that satisfying intimate relationships should, ideally, provide happiness and that, if they do not, there must be something wrong with these relationships, seems to be exaggerated.’ (xiii)
- ‘We must reserve a little back-shop, all our own, entirely free, wherein to establish our true liberty and principal retreat and solitude.’ Montaigne (17)
- ‘Winnicott suggests that the capacity to be alone in adult life originates with the infant’s experience of being alone in the presence of the mother. He is postulating a state in which the infant’s immediate needs, for food, warmth, physical contact and so on, have been satisfied, so that there is no need for the infant to be looking to the mother for anything, nor any need for her [infant] to be concerned with providing anything.’ (19)
- ‘Many of the patients whom [Winnicott] treated had, for one reason or another, learned as children to be over-compliant; that is, to live in ways which were designed not to offend others. These are the patients who build up what Winnicott called a ‘false ‘self’… rather than being based upon the individual’s true feelings and instinctive needs. Such an individual ultimately comes to feel that life is pointless and futile, because he is merely adapting to the world rather than experiencing it as a place in which his subjective needs can find fulfillment.’ (20)
- ‘Objective studies have demonstrated that widows who do not show emotion shortly after bereavement suffer from more physical and psychological symptoms during the subsequent month; remain disturbed for longer; and, thirteen months after their loss, are still showing more disturbance than those who were able to ‘breakdown’ during the first week.’ Parkers, Bereavement (30)
- ‘Today, imprisonment is generally recognized as being worse than useless in the fight against crime. Its deterrent effect s dubious, its reforming effects negligible. Prisons reinforce a criminal subculture by herding offenders together. Long sentences, by separating criminals from their families, lead to the breakup of family ties. Since the availability of family and social support after release is one of the few factors known to make reconviction of further crimes less likely, protracted imprisonment actually increases the probability that subsequent offences will be committed. Availability of suitable employment after release is another factor which has been shown to diminish the chances of reconviction. But most societies are so unwilling to spend money on prisons that programs for retaining prisoners or teaching them new industrial skills are quite inadequate.’ (43)
- ‘Can you imagine what it is like being a prisoner for life, your dreams turn into nightmares and your castles to ashes, all you think about is fantasy and in the end you turn your back on reality and live in a contorted world of make-believe, you refuse to accept the rule of fellow-mortals and make ones that will fit in with your own little world, there is no daylight in this world of the ‘life’, it is all darkness, and it s in this darkness that we find peace and the ability to live in a world of our own, a world of make-believe.’ Prisoner ofDurhamEngland prison, in Psychological Survival (56)
- ‘To discover what really interests a person is to be well on the way to understanding them.’ (73)
- ‘The libraries of the monasteries preserved the learning of the past, and attracted those monks who had scholarly interests. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the monasteries led to an intellectual revival, and were pre-eminent in history and biography.’ (83)
- ‘A ‘masochistic’, submissive stance towards others must involve the repression of aggression. The person who cannot stand up to other people, or assert himself when this is appropriate, represses his hostility. When he becomes depressed, his hostility towards others is displaced and becomes directed against himself in the form of self-reproach. As Freud pointed out in his classic paper, ‘Mourning and Melancholia;, the reproaches which the depressed person levels against himself are usually explicable as reproaches which he would like to have directed at someone close to him, but which he dared not express for fear of antagonizing a person upon whose love he depends.’ (97)
- ‘Feeling rejected, as we shall see in other instances, often leads to watchfulness; to a wary appraisal of the feelings and behaviors of others who may inflict further pain if one does not learn to please them.’ (108)
- ‘Research indicates that undesirable changes in a person’s life like death of a spouse, divorce, loss of a job, personal injury, or a prison sentence are correlated with subsequent illness to a significant extent if they are perceived by the subject as uncontrollable. It has also been shown that people who feel that their lives are mainly controlled by external forces suffer more from illness in response to stressful events that do those who have a strong sense of control over their lives.’ Brown, Social Psychology, 2nd Edition (127)
- ‘Kohut makes the important point that healing is less dependent upon the theoretical position espoused by the psycho-analyst than the latter probably imagines. That is, provided the psycho-analyst can in fact understand his patient sufficiently well, and convey this understanding to the patient, healing will continue to occur, irrespective of the psycho-analyst’s preference for, say, Kleinian theory as opposed to Freudian or Jungian.’ (150)
- ‘ Newton was born prematurely on Christmas Day 1642. His father, an illiterate yeoman, had died three months previously.’ (164)
- ‘Jung’s self-analysis convinced him that, whereas the young individual’s task was primarily to emancipate himself from his original family, establish himself in the world, and found a new family in his turn, the middle-aged individual’s task was to discover and express his own uniqueness.’ (191)
- ‘Among all my patients in the second half of life – that is to say, over thirty-five – there has not been one whose problem in the last resort was not that of finding a religious outlook on life… This of course has nothing whatever to do with a particular creed of membership of a church.’ Jung, Psychotherapists of the Clergy (192)
- ‘If the patient is encouraged to recall what made life meaningful to him in adolescence, he will begin to rediscover neglected sides of himself, and perhaps turn once again to music, or to painting, or to some other cultural or intellectual pursuit which once enthralled him.’ (194)

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