Loneliness is ubiquitous in the life world of every human being. When the phenomenon is recognised and lived, it can be a positive experience propelling the experiencing person to growth and meaningful relations with others. However, the dread it elicits and the anxiety it engenders in a person may have as a result, a denial that leads to symptoms which can be pathological, such as severe anxiety or depression. Concomitant with this is an inauthentic or false way of being which leads to disconnectedness from others and alienation from the self. This exacerbates the feelings of loneliness. The experiencing person will do almost anything to avoid this as is often seen in man's frenzied daily activity and intellectualisation, denying the affective part of the self. These 'difficult to bear feelings' are often the reason for the experiencing person to seek psychotherapeutic help. The psychotherapeutic dialogue can assist the unfolding of the experience of loneliness and make that which is implicitly known to the patient more explicit. In this way loneliness and inauthentic living can be confronted and alleviated. Because loneliness is a lived phenomenon it cannot be studied through measurement. It can only be understood as it is experienced by the person. For this reason a qualitative, descriptive-dialogic case study research design was chosen for this study. Data for the study was obtained from one long-term psychotherapy patient who provided a rich source of information. Salient themes on the way in which the patient entered into dialogue with the therapist through various phases in the psychotherapeutic process, were extrapolated. These themes were discussed according to some of Winnicott's and Heidegger's concepts, representing the object relations and phenomenological paradigms, respectively. To facilitate the movement from Heidegger's fundamental ontology to an ontic-psychological discourse, relevant concepts from Buber and Binswanger were used. The problems engendered by the denial of loneliness and an inauthentic or false way of being is aptly illustrated in the case in question. Although the understanding and verbalisation of loneliness is painful, it also brings relief. The therapeutic alliance makes the phenomenon in question more accessible to the patient and therefore, makes it a positive experience rather than a ground for dread and anxiety. Loneliness must be confronted and lived. The alleviation of it is only possible through meaningful relationships with others. To have meaningful relationships, where separateness and mutuality are the essence, one must live in a true and authentic manner.
Thesis (D Phil (Psychotherapy))--University of Pretoria, 2007.