Loneliness, Grief, and the Lack of Belonging

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Title of host publicationPhenomenology of Belonging
DateAccepted/In press - 31 May 2022
PublisherSUNY Press
Place of PublicationAlbany
EditorsLuna Dolezal, Danielle Petherbridge
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

It seems plausible to maintain that loneliness involves experiencing the lack or absence of something. However, it is less clear what, exactly, is experienced as missing. In this chapter, I take my lead from the phenomenologist and psychiatrist, J. H. van den Berg, who emphasizes a distinctive way of experiencing one’s surroundings. By drawing on some first-person accounts of loneliness in the context of bereavement, I identify a sense of exclusion or detachment from social situations as central to this, something that can equally be described in terms of not belonging. I sketch a phenomenological analysis that emphasizes how we experience possibilities. Certain social and interpersonal possibilities, I propose, appear as accessible to others, but inaccessible to me.

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