Nostalgia doesn’t need real memories - an imagined past works as well | Aeon Essays - Deepstash

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Nostalgia

Nostalgia

It is understood as a longing for something long gone by, with a desire to relive the time, combined with a certain sadness while reminiscing about the particular life event.

The time of the past is remembered as an autobiographical memory of the self, something that the person has lived.

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Nostalgia and Feeling Homesick

Swiss physician Johannes Hofer referred to nostalgia as a kind of homesickness, a desire to return to the beautiful, simpler times.

The feelings of nostalgia were usually melancholia, anxiety, and rumination. It was made into a neurological illness, which was related to the geographical location of the person longing for home.

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Evolution of The Meaning of Nostalgia

  • Nostalgia was considered by the early 20th century a psychiatric illness caused by some traumatic experience of childhood. It had three components, cognitive, affective and conative.
  • The cognitive part remembered old memories of the self, while the affective part was a sad emotion, finally moving towards a desire to return home(conative).
  • Nostalgia is neither a pathological state and nor is it necessarily beneficial. What we can think, remember or imagine, is not bound to be real or factual.

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Anemoia and Mental Simulations

Having nostalgic thoughts about the past that one hasn’t directly experienced or lived through is called _Anemoia_.

The cognitive component of nostalgia is often a mental simulation, and may not have happened for real in the lifetime of the reminiscing person.

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Nostalgia: Cause And Effect

Sadness and depression are associated with the feeling of nostalgia, and recent studies show that nostalgia might even be caused by these negative emotions.

Loneliness, loss, a sense of meaninglessness, boredom and even coldness can trigger nostalgia.

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Paradoxes Of The Past

  • When the reminiscing person adds certain false memories and desirable traits to the past event, this creates a paradox and is attributed to an ancient Greek sophist and philosopher, Gorgias.
  • A Platonic Paradox is when a person desires something and when it is finally attained, the satisfaction that was supposed to come with the attainment is not there.

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