There is a general sense of lack of meaning and purpose which dominates literature, art and philosophy. There is a feeling that the certainties provided by religion have been lost and can never be replaced. Science by solving our practical problems only makes this inner void more painfully obvious. Inevitably those who are most aware of this sense of meaninglessness feel alienated from society but although they respond to negative stimuli (pain, inconvenience and loss of freedom), freedom from these stimuli reveals their lack of purpose and incapacity for freedom.
The problem brought into existence the philosophy of existentialism which only confirmed the dimensions of the problem.