Horowitz, L.M., French, R., & Anderson, C.A. (1982).

The prototype of the lonely person.

In L. Peplau & D. Perlman (Eds.), Loneliness: A sourcebook of current theory, research, and therapy (pp. 183-205). New York: John Wiley & Sons.


The concept of the lonely person is not well defined. Three people beginning psychotherapy with a complaint of loneliness may have quite distinct problems in mind: One may be experiencing an awkwardness in initiating social contacts, another may be experiencing deep feelings of inferiority and inadequacy, a third may be experiencing existential feeling of separateness and alienation. We provide a method that describes the ÒaverageÓ meaning as well as the variability in meaning. We describe the major features of a lonely person and show how these features can be organized into a Òcognitive structure.Ó Interestingly, the loneliness prototype can be seen as a subtype of depression, one that revolves around a specific set of interpersonal problems. Furthermore, a specific attributional style is associated with loneliness, one that is particularly pronounced for those same types of interpersonal problems. Finally, there also appear to be competence shortcomings of lonely people in creating possible solutions to hypothetical interpersonal problems.

© 1982 by Craig A. Anderson.

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