I have seen a related question, but the answers don't seem to provide solutions, just notes that it is indeed a problem.

The Unfortunate Human Being (otherwise known as Main Character) must make a living in a world where there is no possibility of contact with any human being or intelligent alien.

He can bring animals or insects or a pet fish (if he has a leash). Recordings and manuals, books, etc can be taken. They can even take their house somehow. Anything is possible but communication with humans, including online, visually, smoke signals, etc.

They can set up a home or be on an island, on a mountaintop, or they can stay in constant movement. There's no external factor in their decisions, they're entirely self-motivated.

For some reason no matter where they go after they embark on this fun journey they will not find any sign of civilisation, nor another person to talk to. The period without other people may be years, even decades.

Our character knows they will be isolated. They're okay with that, but they know that being alone for an extended period makes people a bit off-kilter.

What's the recommendations for them so they can stay as sane as possible?

(I'm looking at psychology primarily, including indirect factors, e.g. injury increases odds of dementia, LSD gives you a lot of company, don't stay in the desert)

  • $\begingroup$ Why "they" if it is a single isolated person? $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Apr 4, 2017 at 4:54
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @LDutch in this case "they" can be, and is, used as a gender neutral pronoun. $\endgroup$
    – dot_Sp0T
    Apr 4, 2017 at 4:57
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Please note that asking question similar to already closed one may be a bad idea. $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    Apr 4, 2017 at 5:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Mołot Thanks, but I'd have a second character view the MC here without them knowing, and the MC would appear as the advice here influences. (if they're told to be nomadic, they'll appear to be wandering) This is more of a character-driven worldbuild, than a plot-driven one. The world is as the results of actions of the people who shape it, or in this case one person. $\endgroup$
    – Phi
    Apr 4, 2017 at 12:27
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch Ah, you removed my humourous spellings. Was it Not Acceptable Behaviour? $\endgroup$
    – Phi
    Apr 4, 2017 at 12:30

1 Answer 1


A movie/tv show in the seventies shows one possible answer: The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Life_and_Times_of_Grizzly_Adams

Although not completely alone, the isolated John Adams befriends a bear, who becomes his closest companion. Since you already mention bringing animals, perhaps that in itself is your main answer. The animals would become the person's family members, and provide social interaction and someone to whom to talk. Depending on the animal, there could even at least be a sort of response back, even if not in the same language.

Also, the very fact that the person would be prepared ahead of time will allow for most of the coping skills needed. Because humans are so adaptable, provided they were mentally stable before hand, they would be able to find ways to battle the isolation, and having a good imagination would be key. With that, they would not need to resort to a hallucinogen, which if used improperly would drastically increase their risk of injury.

Regarding the environment, yes, of course do not stay in a desert...readily available drinking water is critical. A highly diverse environment can provide continual stimulation, which will help them stay busy so there is less time to acknowledge the isolation.

It will also help if they are very goal oriented, and have prepared several challenging goals to achieve, again with the idea that this will focus the mind on something tangible and positive rather than focusing on what is not there and missed.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for your answer. The hallucinogen was given tongue-in-cheek, as was the desert - one would obviously favour easy living conditions. I was hoping for more answers than "get yourself a pet", but I've fallen into the cracks between writers, non-fiction psychology, and worldbuilding with one character... sigh $\endgroup$
    – Phi
    Apr 15, 2017 at 0:03
  • $\begingroup$ Word of caution, humor easily misinterpreted here, as I have now been both victim and perpetrator of that! :) Yet, those on this site are excellently creative and full of ingenious ideas, so if my answer was not of assistance, don't give up. Perhaps you can find a way to rephrase, which is very encouraged. Time spent learning the lingo here is helpful, as well as keeping a firm grasp on a metaphorical cipher...writers we all be, and the keyboard is the new mighty pen! $\endgroup$
    – N2ition
    Apr 15, 2017 at 4:01
  • $\begingroup$ It helped N2ition, definitely, but I was looking for a set of answers from varying people's experiences, so a singular answer wouldn't have led me to closing the question. I upvoted the answer, but I didn't want the question to close so soon. I really thought the community needed to have access to this sort of advice - there's plenty of scenarios it will help with (deep sea diving, space exploration, alternative dimensions, abduction by aliens who only exist in the mental realm, etc). $\endgroup$
    – Phi
    Apr 16, 2017 at 9:49

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