I found this Abstract interesting.
Idiopathic environmental intolerances, such as ‘multiple chemical sensitivity’ and ‘electrosensitivity,’ can drastically affect the quality of life of those affected. A proportion of severely affected patients remove themselves from modern society, to live in isolation away from the purported causal agent of their ill health. This is not a new phenomenon; reports of hermits extend back to the 3(rd) century AD. We conducted a literature review of case reports relating to ancient hermits and modern day reclusion resulting from idiopathic environmental intolerance, in order to explore whether there are similarities between these two groups and whether the symptoms of these ‘illnesses of modernity’ are simply a present-day way of reaching the end-point of reclusion. Whilst there were some differences between the cases, recurring themes in ancient and modern cases included: dissatisfaction with society, a compulsion to flee, reports of a constant struggle and a feeling of fighting against the establishment. The similarities which exist between the modern-day cases and the historical hermits may provide some insight into the extreme behaviours exhibited by this population. The desire to retreat from society in order to escape from harm has existed for many centuries, but in different guises.
I assumed the behaviour of most ‘historical hermits’ stemmed from spiritual reasoning, rather than anything else. As for sitting on a pole for years……
An historical irony is of course that folk were attracted to hermits, and through this mechanism the Gospel spread. Once a community had built up around the hermit, the solitude-loving monastic pioneer would move on further into the wilderness, and the process would begin again.
Wifey told me this is how much of the Northern territories of Russia were colonised and taken for the Gospel.