Review by: Julie Hanus, Utne - December 31, 2009
"There's been plenty written this year about loneliness, but little of it is as revealing as The Lonely American. . . . Harvard psychiatry professors Jacqueline Olds and Richard Schwartz get right down to illuminating the social impulses that have pushed us apart, from deep cultural myths (such as the self-reliant American) to more basic narratives that have slipped into daily life ('It's too bad that we've lost touch, but that's just the way it is')."
Review by: Christian Perring, Metapsychology - September 1, 2009
"The Lonely American is a valuable book. . . . It is one of the few books that manages to make social psychology appear interesting and able to tell us something that we did not already know."
Review by: Emily Popek, PopMatters - May 22, 2009
"In this haunting book, Drs. Jacqueline Olds and Richard Schwartz have pinpointed the intriguing process that drives us to seek out solitude and then defend our choice even when it makes us miserable. . . . While The Lonely American is at times a heartbreaking book to read, its silver lining comes from the simplicity of the solution Olds and Schwartz propose: reach out rather than withdraw. They argue powerfully that the 'obligations' many Americans have sought to avoid may just be the salvation for which they secretly long."
Review by: Richard Waugaman, The American Journal of Pyschiatry - May 1, 2009
"This intriguing and well-written book raises serious concerns about growing social isolation in the United States. . . . [Olds and Schwartz] posit a core conflict between our wish to connect and our wish to be free. . . . The book summarizes the harmful effects of feeling left out."
Review by: Allison Pugh, The American Prospect - April 17, 2009
"In The Lonely American, Schwartz and his wife Jacqueline Olds, both Harvard psychiatrists, argue that marriages need a wider web of social support. Americans, they say, have been burrowing in, trying to escape from the obligations and time-drain of wider social ties, but by doing so, they have actually been destabilizing their own relationships."
Review by: Richard Handler, Psychotherapy Networker - April 1, 2009
"An intriguing, cautionary critique . . . [a] call to break through the potentially narcissistic intensity of the therapeutic encounter."
Review by: Katherine Seligman, San Francisco Chronicle - March 2, 2009
"Olds wrote the book with her husband, Dr. Richard Schwartz, because, she said, she wanted to bring loneliness 'out of the closet.' The two were struck by findings from the General Social Survey (conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago), showing that people reported having fewer intimate friends in 2004 than they had in 1985. When asked how many people they could confide in, the average number declined over that same time period from three to two. In 2004, almost a quarter of those surveyed said they had no one to discuss important matters with in the past six months; in 1985, only 7 percent were devoid of close confidantes."
Review: O Magazine - February 1, 2009
"Thought-provoking, engagingly lucid . . . [Olds and Schwartz] have written a wise, balanced, and evocative inquiry; their finger is on the pulse of something very real."
Review: Publishers Weekly - December 15, 2008
"This workmanlike book takes up where Robert D. Putnam's classic Bowling Alone left off in examining the disintegration of community in 21st-century America. Americans, say the authors (both associate clinical professors of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School), have a conflicted views of community: on the one hand, they glorify rugged individualism and, on the other hand, they encourage community and look down on those who cast off community to go it alone. Drawing on interviews with their patients and on numerous studies, Olds and Schwartz point out that being a loner isn't all it's cracked up to be, and many who shun community are surprised at how lonely and socially isolated they feel. The authors conclude that Americans drift away from social connections because of the frenetic and overscheduled intensity of modern life as well as the American pantheon of self-reliant heroes."
Review: Library Journal - November 4, 2008
"This recent addition to the sociological and psychological literature on loneliness is a substantive contribution. . . . The authors capture the essence of our depressed and disjointed culture"