Patricia R. Petryshen, B.A., B.Sc.N., M.S.N., lived in London, Ontario.
Dr. Reuven B. Bulka is rabbi of the Congregation Machzikei Hadas, Ottawa; editor of the Journal of Psychology and Judaism; and author of many books and articles on psychological themes.
His book on loneliness describes the incidence of loneliness for children, adolescents, men and women, the unemployed, and the elderly. The causes of loneliness are explored (for example, how our mechanized society and family disintegration predispose one to loneliness). Further, the consequences associated with this phenomenon are discussed in relation to depression, suicide, heart attack, and addiction.
At times, the author’s examination of loneliness and its devastating potential leads him to make generalizations that cannot be substantiated. For example, on page 7 the author states that “real loneliness is more disturbing than hunger or sleeplessness or sexual frustration.” Statements like this seem to detract somewhat from the concreteness of the book’s content; however, in general, the author provides an accurate and concise review of loneliness. Experts in the field are drawn upon to enhance the author’s extensive theoretical investigation.
Those who might benefit from the book are health professionals who neglect or understate the seriousness of loneliness when counselling clients. In addition, lay people could easily read this book to gain a more comprehensive understanding of loneliness and how it touches the lives of everyone. Of particular benefit is the discussion on how one might cope with loneliness — for example, by facing the truth, liking oneself, involving oneself with others, and cultivating solitude. These approaches are detailed in a simplistic and practical manner.
In sum, this book is most convincing in its appeal for recognition of loneliness as the “epidemic of our time” and for acknowledgment of its possible threat to society’s well-being.