I want to describe a person who has psychic problems and is not able to communicate with others or to leave his direct environment. How can I say this in French?

  • Have you tried to search something?
    – Toto
    Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 16:35
  • @Toto Some Ideas: il a s`emprisonné. Or Il se tient prisonnier.
    – Sylvester
    Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 16:53
  • It would be clearer it that use of "voluntary" was delineated; is that word meant to be entirely synonymous with "voluntarily". "Voluntary" has been an adverb in the past but is now rarely used as such. No commas about "voluntary"? Are you attempting something in J. Joyce's style?
    – LPH
    Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 17:48
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    I see, someone wrapped into his/her inner world, not responding much to external stimulus. The problem is that this is not embodied in the terms "lives voluntary like a prisoner". It seems you'd like something that goes beyond this more or less plain matter of fact statement (lives like a prisoner). That is not very logical I must say.
    – LPH
    Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 18:52
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    That sentence in English is meaningless. So, it is impossible to translate. [a person with autism is an autistic person, we have no single noun//and we say hermit]. I do not understand what you mean. Maybe you mean: He lives of his own volition as a prisoner.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 20:14

4 Answers 4


I would suggest the idiomatic:

Il s'est enfermé dans sa bulle.

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    @jillagre. Wow this is a poetic recommendation that comes very close to that what I am looking for. My final solution - with regard to St. Ex. "Le Petit Prince" - will be: "Il s'est enfermé sur sa planète." Coould someone tell me, how to mark my origin question as solved? I see no possibility to set the green mark!
    – Sylvester
    Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 7:50
  • 2
    It is a well known idiomatic expression in French, which comes from a metaphor, but it is not considered as poetic by native French speakers. Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 8:01
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    I would'nt recommend "enfermé sur sa planète*, as when on a planet, you aren't enfermé in the first place. Should you want to keep planet, that might be: il s'est isolé sur sa planète. The way to mark a question solved is either to accept an answer, of if none helps, answer to your own question and accept it.
    – jlliagre
    Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 8:01
  • @gurneyalex I guess you mean "not considered as poetic only" as nothing prevents to use that idiom in a poetic or literary context too.
    – jlliagre
    Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 8:08
  • @jiliagre I have just got another answer: "Il se tient prisonnier." As I explained above, for the essence of my story I have to cross some regular limitations of the used langage and nevertheless grant the understanding. Still looking for an accept-button. :-(
    – Sylvester
    Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 8:13

Je suggère Il vit (reste) cloîtré [, incapable de communiquer].

Bien que d'un sens plus général, cloîtré fait référence à un monastère/couvent, et renvoie donc l'image d'un enfermement volontaire.

Edit: suite à l'ajout d'un paragraphe en commentaire d'une autre réponse, on peut aussi suggérer :

Il reste enfermé à l'intérieur de soi, coupé du monde et donc de lui-même.

À noter que je ne comprends pas très bien la fin du paragraphe rajouté.

  • @ Damien SVP voyez mon comment "@all" au-dessus.
    – Sylvester
    Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 8:31
  • Est-ce ce mieux à comprendre: "Ils doivent apprendre à s'occuper d'autres choses que eux-mêmes ... Celui qui s'occupe seulement de lui-même reste emprisonné, reste enfermé à l'intérieur de soi, coupé du monde et donc de lui-même."
    – Sylvester
    Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 9:19
  • Ce que je comprenais surtout pas: "accorda la prochaine meilleure personne, toutes les portes guident à l'intérieur. ".
    – Damien
    Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 9:23

As said in my comment, there is not anything else in the English than what can be exacted from the possibilities below, give and take a nuance or two.

  • Il vit volontairement comme un prisonnier.
    (One might suspect external pressure as, "volontairement" does not mean that someone or something else is not the prime mover.)

  • Il s'astreint/s'en tient à calquer sa vie sur celle d'un prisonnier.
    (The choice is his but external pressure is still not excluded.)

  • Il calque sa vie sur celle d'un prisonnier.
    (as above)

  • Il vit en toute liberté de choix comme un prisonnier.
    (There can be no possibility of external pressure on the choice made.)

  • Par choix purement personnel il vit comme un prisonnier.
    (as above)

  • @lLPH I think we can end the discussion here, because my problem is a consequence of the discussion the persons in my story are discussing too and there it ends with the conclusion, that the common language is not suitable to express all. (Therefore remember St. Ex "Le langage est source de malentendus.") But your last answer was very helpful because it lists all answers the other protagonist (or antagonist) may give in the discussion with the "wrong formulating" protagonist.
    – Sylvester
    Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 19:36
  • @Sylvester I'm afraid I don't follow you anymore as concerns the suggestions I made. Now, you won't say that that idea of keeping to the words as much as possible didn't lurk somewhere in a little corner in the back of my mind, will you? Ah Ah Ah!
    – LPH
    Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 19:41
  • Everything is fine. I am writing my story originally in German, thoug in special cases like this one it is hard to translate the sentences in an other langage. As you surely know, every langage has its own facilities and limits (therefore for example one often cannot translate proverbs 1-1. Other example (and other problem): In German - depending on "ton" - we can buld the verb "vertonen" , but in French i cannot buld "ensonner" from "son" or "sonner". Here I have to say "mettre en musique". Many thanks for all help!!
    – Sylvester
    Commented Jan 22, 2020 at 20:01

Another idiom (s'emmurer definition)

Il s'est emmuré dans sa solitude.

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