The Emergence of the “Urban Hermit”

Having the proverbial place to yourself can be a peaceful, thrilling, and sometimes even therapeutic experience; the ability to sit with oneself and achieve a comfortable level of calm and quiet can be great, especially for people who are typically surrounded by large groups or stressful conditions. But living on one’s own, and in an emptied building or area, can lead to a social isolation that is ultimately damaging, a new project has purported

Relying on the basic and preliminary idea that people are happier and enjoy a greater quality of life when they retain a diverse social network, the project, supported by Dr. Venus Nicolino of Los Angeles and co-founded by Dr. P.M. Forni of Johns Hopkins University, picked up on the growing trend of foreclosures and relocations with the question of how these new conditions were affecting those left behind. While it may be a comforting experience to stay in one’s home or rented space despite the course of the global economic downturn, Nicolino posits that the absence of daily social interactions close to the home is responsible for creating the figure of the “urban hermit,” which will ultimately have negative implications for those living in sparsely populated buildings.

Nicolino suggests that underlying propensities for emotional and mental difficulties, manifested in any number of ways, may be brought to the fore when not exposed to the levels of social interaction and support that people are used to. Compounding this issue, the development of such difficulties may become harder to spot and address so long as the person is isolated. While living in busy areas certainly isn’t for everyone, the adoption of a quality therapy schedule or establishment of a reliable social network may be crucial for some people who are weathering the financial, but not the emotional, fallout of the economic slump.

© Copyright 2009 by By John Smith. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

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  • Derek Gluzinski

    July 8th, 2009 at 1:16 PM

    i think apartment living can be just as socially satisfying as any suburb, though??

  • Steve

    July 8th, 2009 at 1:50 PM

    The urban hermit huh? I think that I have a couple of those living in my community. The point is that these people are those who choose to have little to no social interaction outside of work or things that they deem as a necessity, and who am I to judge whether this is right or wrong? There are plenty of times when I want to take time to myself too and this helps me to recharge my batteries and get a fresh new perspective for the next challenges to head my way. manybe there are just some people who are hard wired not to need so much social interaction and get along just fine on their own.

  • Cole

    July 9th, 2009 at 11:11 AM

    I am a very social person so the idea of having no interaction with others beyond work really gets me down! I could never live like that- well I guess I could but I sure as heck would not like it!

  • Oliver

    July 10th, 2009 at 3:50 AM

    I can see the appeal in retreating from the world, if just for the day. I mean come on. All you hear on the news and online is the bad stuff going on all over the world. What a great way just to get away from it all. I know that this is really not ideal but it does allow you to go into protection mode and protect the things that are important to you in life. I don’t think I could live that way but I definitely see how some worriers and introverts find this an easier lifestyle to maintain.

  • Sugarlove

    July 11th, 2009 at 6:37 PM

    The ‘epidemic of loneliness’ that Dr Nicolino refers to reminded me of a comment Mother Teresa made once: “In the West there is loneliness, which I call the leprosy of the West. In many ways it is worse than our poor in Calcutta.”

    Our high tech, high pressured career driven world constantly demands our attention. The net alone persuades us to stare at a screen for hours and pass up invitations to interact with real people.

    I’m a people person but I also like time to myself. You have to make the time to keep those connections alive or they’ll wither away.

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