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Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite
Surrounded by Others and Yet So Alone: A Lawyer’s Case Stories of Love, Loneliness, and Litigation by J. W. Freiberg is a compelling and eye-opening book that discusses a topic that is as relevant as it is intimate to the human spirit: loneliness. Using stories of some of his clients, the author, a social psychologist turned lawyer, explores how human misconnections drive the disturbing experience of loneliness, to the point that people live with friends, family, and mates yet they feel a devastating sense of loneliness. The author identifies three different types of misconnection: fraudulent connection, obstructed connection, and dangerous connection and unveils some of their characteristics. People experiencing these kinds of misconnections, like Victoria Bergeron in the story of “The Girl Who Inherited France,” featured in the book, are seemingly normal people, or are they, really?
In this book, J. W. Freiberg analyzes the human experience of loneliness and explores some of its causes, illustrating how wrongly forged connections can be unsettling and harmful. The ability to share stories from people he’s encountered in his work is exceptional and the analysis the author shares with readers is enlightening. While reading Surrounded by Others and Yet So Alone, I felt compelled to examine the connections in my personal life, from family to friends and the people I meet in the neighborhood. The author compels readers to ask the question: Am I genuinely, authentically, properly connected? It is surprising how some of our connections are either dangerous or fraudulent.
The book is entertaining and hugely informative, but what makes it stand out is the way it will compel readers to scrutinize their relationships. In an age when gadgets and technology make us drift further and further away from real human connections, this book is a powerful reminder of the importance of human connections to our personal and social health. Just as Brene Brown is the expert on human vulnerability, J. W. Freiberg is an expert in human connection and loneliness. It is a page-turner and a must-read.