School for Social Work
Reminiscing, Nostalgia, Bereavement-Psychological aspects, Nosology, Teleology, Psychodynamic theories of mourning, Clinical descriptions
This historical study looks at medical, psychological and psychiatric descriptions of nostalgia as a pathological condition. By conducting a historical analysis on the medical nosology that addresses this clinical phenomenon from the years 1688-2011, this paper examines the conceptual shift of nostalgia from a medical disease to a psychopathological condition and, ultimately, how it is explained within psychoanalytic literature. In examining the way that nostalgia has been described within psychoanalytic literature, specifically from the years 1950- 2011, this study demonstrates that nostalgia continues to be understood as a psychopathological condition, primarily affiliated with minority groups and displaced persons. Within the psychoanalytic literature, nostalgia is described in terms of developmental delays, excessive attachment to one's mother, habitual idealization but, importantly, aberrated mourning and melancholia. This study reviews Freud's privileged theory of Mourning and Melancholia (1917), and suggests that teleological conceptions frame this psychodynamic theory of mourning. The study concludes urging contemporary clinical practitioners to employ heterogeneous conceptions of 'healthy mourning,' specifically with regards to geographic displacement, cultural relocation and symbolic loss.
Jamali, Alexandra P., "A history of reminiscences : clinical descriptions of nostalgia, psychodynamic theories of mourning, and the confluence of teleology" (2012). Masters Thesis, Smith College, Northampton, MA.