Why are people lonely?

Why are people lonely?
Why are people lonely?

Karen Horney and Mikael Balint answer the question why some people choose to be alone


This is how those who have chosen “freedom” for themselves, that is, eternal loneliness, reason. We are talking about both men and women. Of course, such people, as a rule, have relationships with the opposite sex, but they are all short-lived and end in nothing.

Often such people seem to want to create a long-term relationship and even a family, but either they do not succeed or they completely give up trying to do it. Sometimes, of course, a person even convinces himself that such problems as "snotty children" or "a wife with a rolling pin" / "husband is a drunkard" he does not need and deliberately refuses a serious relationship.

The motivation for this decision is usually a desire to avoid the many problems and suffering associated with a close and long-term relationship. No need to limit yourself in anything, no one will drive you to sleep at three in the morning when you are busy with an exciting computer game, no one will say a word if you tumbled home in the morning in a state of altered consciousness, baby crying will not interfere with sleep at night, and your beloved mother-in-law or mother-in-law will not spoil the long-awaited weekend.


Often lonely people are even proud of this - men are very fond of talking about freedom, and women about their independence. According to the famous American psychologist, one of the key figures of neo-Freudianism, Karen Horney, in fact, such a life strategy is associated with nothing more than the so-called basal anxiety. Paradoxically, but at the same time, it is not even so important how many unsuccessful attempts a person had, which led to an unhappy relationship or to a breakup (although, of course, they could also leave their mark on a person's conscious or unconscious decision to become lonely, but - contrary to the opinion of the majority, it is far from always the key).

Basal anxiety is an intense and pervasive feeling of insecurity and loneliness. Often it is unconscious or only partially realized. The reasons for this anxiety lie in the deep childhood of a person, in his relationship with his parents. This means that the family of such a person did not satisfy the child's needs, first of all, in love and a sense of security in relation to the world around him.

If a child forms a feeling that the world is unsafe, and he is a rather helpless creature in this world, neurotic needs are formed in him, according to Karen Horney. In fact, absolutely all people have such needs, but only in the case of their neurotic nature, a person turns them (part of them, or one) satisfaction into a way of life. So, an excessive need for independence and self-sufficiency can affect the fact that a person will avoid all kinds of close and long-term relationships (including family), which involve taking on any obligations.


A similar opinion is shared by many other prominent psychologists and psychoanalysts, for example, the famous Hungarian-Austrian psychotherapist Mikael Balint, who distinguished the so-called phylobatic and windowphilic picture of the world in different people. Both are based on what he called a basic defect (to put it simply, this is something like what Karen Horney is talking about - lack of love in childhood, improper satisfaction of the child's needs. nonsense things like hourly feeding, stopping breastfeeding too abruptly, too long - more than 6 months - or breastfeeding too short, etc.)

According to Balint's definition, the basic defect arises as a result of the discrepancy between the amount of love, warmth and care needed by the child and the amount that the mother could really give him). The basic defect, according to Balint, is the cause of all pathologies, while everyone has it, since none of us had a cloudless childhood. The only difference is in the degree of predominance of this defect. The basic defect is the reason that for some people the picture of the world becomes windowphilic - that is, those people who literally cling to others, strive for them, as for a feeling of security and love, and for others, it is phylobatic, where a person "loves" only that a part of the world in which there are no other people. He unconsciously fears people as those who can cause harm, inconvenience, problems (not feeding, not loving, abandoning, like his mother once did), etc.

Both the one and the other may have exactly the same "degree" of the basic defect, but the consequences may be completely opposite - one will obsessively strive for a relationship, forgiving everything and grabbing the last thread, just not to break them. And the other will be just as obsessive (as a rule, under a variety of pretexts, primarily for oneself) to avoid these relationships. Needless to say, all this happens almost unconsciously and in order to change something, it will take years of psychotherapy.

Next time we will talk about other neurotic needs of the person.

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