Lonely: A Memoir

Lonely: A Memoir

3.3 20
by Emily White
     
 

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This boldly honest and elegantly written memoir reveals the painful and sometimes debilitating experience of living with chronic loneliness—the first book of its kind devoted exclusively to the subject.

Despite having a demanding job, good friends, and a supportive family, Emily White spent many of her evenings and weekends

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Overview

This boldly honest and elegantly written memoir reveals the painful and sometimes debilitating experience of living with chronic loneliness—the first book of its kind devoted exclusively to the subject.

Despite having a demanding job, good friends, and a supportive family, Emily White spent many of her evenings and weekends alone at home, trying to understand why she felt so disconnected from everyone. To keep up the façade of an active social life and to hide the painful truth, the successful young lawyer often lied to those around her—and to herself. She was suffering from severe loneliness.

In this insightful, soul-baring, and illuminating memoir, White reveals her battle to understand and overcome this crippling condition, and contends that chronic loneliness deserves the same attention as other mental difficulties such as depression. "Right now, loneliness is something few people are willing to admit to," she writes. "There's no need for this silence, no need for the shame and self-blame it creates. There's nothing wrong with loneliness, and we need to start acknowledging this through a wider and more open discussion of the state."

Interweaving her personal story with the latest in cutting-edge scientific research—as well as the incredibly moving accounts offered by numerous lonely men and women—White provides a deep and thorough portrait of this increasingly common but too often ignored affliction. By investigating the science of loneliness, challenging its stigma, encouraging other lonely people to talk about their experiences, and setting out one person's struggle, Lonely redefines how we look at loneliness and helps those who are afflicted understand their mood in an entirely new light, ultimately providing solace and hope.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
An astonishingly forthright work by a Canadian lawyer traces her painful personal journey through chronic loneliness in light of social taboos and changing cultural and medical notions. White can pinpoint the origin of her sense of loneliness to the early divorce of her parents, leaving her with long stretches of being home by herself as her two much older sisters and working mother were absent. She recognized later that her mother, too, had battled a self-imposed isolation, underscoring a genetic component to the state. Moreover, the author’s choice of practicing specialized law in a small Toronto firm provided her long hours in the office and little outside contact. Her loneliness, she found, became increasingly self-perpetuating: rejecting invitations, eschewing connections, and generally refusing to participate “in life in the way that it was meant to be lived.” The stigma of being lonely kept her from admitting her state for years (compounded by her inability to come out about being gay until she was 35); finally, she spoke with a sympathetic therapist and opened a blog to hear views from others. White plunged into research on the subject, revealing studies about the alienating nature of modern society and the health risks of chronic loneliness. White’s work is brutally honest as she emphasizes that loneliness is not the same as depression. (Mar.)
Kirkus Reviews
For research lawyer White (Law and Society/Memorial Univ.), loneliness was not a transient mood but a life condition with crushing implications. Loneliness affected the author early on in life, with her fears of empty places, especially her home after school-siblings out, mother at work, father a weekend dad through divorce. White experienced the afternoons as a frightening isolation, just when she was starting to define herself as an individual. The author approaches her sophisticated inquiry from a variety of angles: biological, cultural, social and psychological. In the medical world, loneliness is an ambiguous condition, only now becoming recognized as a distinct state of being. There have been studies about its genetic basis, as well as its physical debilitations, such as lowered immunity, premature aging and high blood pressure-all of which are easy to understand as White painstakingly sets about detailing her persistent sense of isolation, lack of intimacy and embarrassment. "Loneliness," she writes, "at the start of the wired-up twenty-first century, was so totally nowhere, so crushingly uncool." The author was both beseeching and incredulous at the existential absurdity of it all-"As my need for others intensified, I began to retreat from them." When social situations presented themselves, she became stressed at interacting, so she would spend more time alone. The power of White's story comes from the sweeping investment she has made in tracking and tackling her loneliness-an investment that has included Jungian analysis, hypnotherapy, bowling clubs, bike trips, Internet dating and much more. White makes the case that loneliness deserves attention and respect as a legitimatecondition. Agent: Suzanne Brandreth/The Cooke Agency
On the face of things, White seemed to have it all: caring friends, a loving family, and a challenging and fulfilling job. She juggled her roles as confidante, daughter, sister, and lawyer competently. Yet despite the structure and busyness of her days, despite the company of her friends and family, she was an intensely lonely woman. Unable to understand her debilitating failure to connect, she thought of it first as a personal problem. The embarrassment she felt at her inability to "fix" it merely caused a redoubling of her efforts to maintain the façade of a happy life. Ashamed, she became afraid that the severity of her loneliness was trivialized and deemed unimportant.

Research has shown that loneliness has a genetic component, and when enjoined with early isolation in childhood, as in White's, the outcome is fairly predictable. Chronic loneliness is no longer seen as a "mood" but as an affliction to be treated with the same care and seriousness as depression. And its impact isn't solely emotional —untreated, it can undermine the body, lead to dementia, and sucker-punch the immune system.

With the same precision and honesty that made The Noonday Demon so memorable, Lonely is a brave and encouraging look at an affliction shrouded in shame and thoughtlessly dismissed. With compassion and insight, White recounts her experience in order to help fellow strugglers find the comfort and motivation necessary to overcome their own loneliness.

Jezebel.com
“[A]n impassioned call to arms on behalf of a condition no one wants to talk about.”
Alice Sebold
“Kudos to Emily White for having written that rare book which feels both necessary and evolutionary. Lonely is a masterwork on the topic, a memoir of deep insight and revelation.”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061981425
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
03/09/2010
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
259,526
File size:
358 KB

Meet the Author

Emily White is a former lawyer who now works as a writer and policy analyst. Her work on loneliness has appeared in the Guardian, the Huffington Post, ELLE (UK), the New York Post, and the Daily Mail. She lives in St. John's, Newfoundland.

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Lonely: Learning to Live with Solitude 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting but dry and somewhat repetitive.
Anonymous 21 days ago
I walk a lonely road <br> The only one that I have ever known. <br> Don't know where it goes <br> But it's only me, and I walk alone. <br> I walk alone, I walk alone. <br> I walk alone, and I walk a-- <p> My shadow's the only one that walks beside me. <br> My shallow heart's the only thing that's beating. <br> Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me <br> Till then, I walk alone... <p> Ahh.... Ahh..... Ahh.... Aaahhhh <br> Ahh.... Ahh..... Ahh....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Walks in
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She storms in, flashing Jason a distracted thumbs-up before drawing her daggers. "Hands off, pe<_>rvert."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A 16 year old girl walked in, with a ripped shirt that went to her mid-thigh. She looked around nervously.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He said hey and grinned at her his fa<_>ngs showing now he gli<_>ded to her and put his hand under her chin and looked at her bo<_>obs d then lower down. He then took a sha<_>rp finger and to<_> re her shirt apart and then her pants
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A girl with blonde hair walked in.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Stood there completely shocked and scared not knowing what to do.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Akira res four