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For other uses, see Recluse (disambiguation).

A recluse is a person who lives in voluntary seclusion from the public and society. The word is from the Latin recludere, which means "shut up" or "sequester". Historically, the word referred to a hermit's total isolation from the world. Examples are Symeon of Trier, who lived within the great Roman gate Porta Nigra with permission from the Archbishop of Trier, or Theophan the Recluse, the 19th-century Russian Orthodox monk who was later glorified as a saint. Celebrated figures who spent, or have spent, significant portions of their lives as recluses include Virgil,[1] Michelangelo,[2] Isaac Newton,[3][4] Emily Brontë, J. D. Salinger, Emily Dickinson, Gustave Flaubert,[5] Howard Hughes, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, Marie Curie,[6] Greta Garbo, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli,[7] Jean-Luc Godard,[8] and Thomas Pynchon.


There are many potential reasons for becoming a recluse: a personal philosophy may reject consumer society; a mystical religious outlook may involve becoming a hermit or an anchorite; a survivalist may be practicing self-sufficiency; a criminal might hide away from people to avoid detection by police; or a misanthrope may be unable to tolerate human society.

It can also be due to psychological reasons, such as posttraumatic stress disorder, social anxiety disorder, apathy, autism, depression, obsessive–compulsive disorder, intellectual disability, schizoid personality disorder or avoidant personality disorder. In Japan, an estimated 1.2 million people are part of the phenomenon of "Hikikomori" or "social withdrawal", a problem often blamed on Japan's education system and social pressure to succeed.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Æneid of Virgil. Scott, Foresman. 1916. p. 15. 
  2. ^ Shoham, Shlomo Giora (2008). Art, Myth and Deviance. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. p. 211. ISBN 1443802972. 
  3. ^ "Isaac Newton: The Last Magician". BBC. Retrieved February 24, 2017. 
  4. ^ Ball, Robert Stawell (2015). Great Astronomers: Isaac Newton. Booklassic. ISBN 9635266537. 
  5. ^ Gauss, Christian (June 21, 1907). "Review: Flaubert's Letters: Lettres A Sa Nièce Caroline By Gustave Flaubert". The North American Review. 185 (617): 438. 
  6. ^ "Mme. Curie Is Dead; Martyr to Science". The New York Times. Retrieved February 24, 2017. 
  7. ^ "Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, Reclusive Pianist, Is Dead at 75," The New York Times, 13 June 1995
  8. ^ Wilmington, Michael (July 30, 1995). "Godard Gems". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved March 3, 2017.