People who need people are the falsest people in the world. They smile and smile and commit all kinds of hidden villainy. But who does not need people? The so-called ‘loners’ who commit mass murders? Anneli Rufus, in her book, Party of One: The Loner’s Manifesto, says certainly not.
Does it take a genius to see that it takes a social man to become so possessive, so enmeshed with others, that his rage and jealousy over a breakup make him want to kill? (1)
The psychopathic killer who lacks empathy and turns against society is, according to Rufus, a ‘pseudoloner’. She argues for the definition of ‘loner’ as ‘someone who prefers to be alone’. As the loner doesn’t need the same level of acceptance and approval as the socially defined person, he or she is less likely to become incensed over social issues and take to summary executions. By this definition, the loner is best described by that great Irish epithet, fear ann féin, ‘man in himself’, which we can adapt to the feminine bean inti féin.
By contrast, the ‘lonely’ person described by Emily White in her book, Lonely, is not at all comfortable alone.
‘When I think about loneliness,’ says Anne, the social worker, ‘I think about just feeling like I don’t have intimate connections that touch on all the different aspects of myself. And it’s not that I don’t have intimate relationships. It’s that I don’t have ones that cover all of who I am.' (2)