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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Lived Experience of Loneliness: A Narrative Inquiry
by Brown, Naoko Nakano, Ph.D., Saybrook University, 2018, 145; 10842478
Abstract (Summary)

Loneliness is a human experience that often influences the individual’s mood, perception, self-concept, relationship, and physical heath. The existing body of research on loneliness often associates loneliness with a mental illness (e.g., anxiety or depression) and/or a cognitive deficit. Moreover, although, researchers have identified different types of loneliness, there is limited research on the experience of profound loneliness while in the company of another person with whom one is in a close relationship. Therefore, this study was framed to contribute information in the field by exploring the meaning of this particular type of loneliness as a lived experience. The question this research sought to answer through narrative inquiry was: “What is the meaning of participants’ experience of loneliness while in the company of another person with whom they were in a close relationship?”

The current study examined oral narratives of adult participants. Five participants were recruited and interviewed. The transcribed data was analyzed following Gee’s (1991) structural analysis of oral narrative. Through analysis of the narrative data this study aimed to gain an understanding of subjective, psychological meanings of this particular loneliness experience.

The results of the analysis showed that participants, in relationship with another, characterized as close but not experienced as intimate, was retrospectively experienced as loneliness and was lived with a sense of profound hopelessness in a multidimensional manner, which implied the participant’s desired ideals for intimate relationship.

Many factors appear to influence the loneliness experience while in the company of a close other for adults, including the individual’s desire to avoid experiencing pain and loss. The findings indicate that increasing the individual’s awareness of their multidimensional experience through non-pathologizing reflection in a clinical context could allow him or her to reach a deeper understanding of the experience.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Applebaum, Marc
Commitee: Jackson, Theopia, Settlage, Bonnie
School: Saybrook University
Department: Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 80/03(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social psychology, Psychology, Clinical psychology
Keywords: Adults, Loneliness, Narrative, Qualitative research
Publication Number: 10842478
ISBN: 978-0-438-48884-7
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