Thomas Dodman’s What Nostalgia was: War, Empire, and the Time of a Deadly Emotion may be of interest to AHP readers. The book is described as follows:
Nostalgia today is seen as essentially benign, a wistful longing for the past. This wasn’t always the case, however: from the late seventeenth century through the end of the nineteenth, nostalgia denoted a form of homesickness so extreme that it could sometimes be deadly.
What Nostalgia Was unearths that history. Thomas Dodman begins his story in Basel, where a nineteen-year-old medical student invented the new diagnosis, modeled on prevailing notions of melancholy. From there, Dodman traces its spread through the European republic of letters and into Napoleon’s armies, as French soldiers far from home were diagnosed and treated for the disease. Nostalgia then gradually transformed from a medical term to a more expansive cultural concept, one that encompassed Romantic notions of the aesthetic pleasure of suffering. But the decisive shift toward its contemporary meaning occurred in the colonies, where Frenchmen worried about racial and cultural mixing came to view moderate homesickness as salutary. An afterword reflects on how the history of nostalgia can help us understand the transformations of the modern world, rounding out a surprising, fascinating tour through the history of a durable idea.
The journal History of Psychiatry is celebrating its 25th anniversary. A special issue marking the occasion has just been released. Among the articles in the issue are ones addressing the history of nostalgia, the treatment of shell shock at the Maudsley Hospital, masculinity in Victorian asylums in New Zealand and Australian, the distinction between passion and emotion, and much more. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.
Editorial: “The first 25 years of History of Psychiatry,” by German E Berrios.
“Some reflections on madness and culture in the post-war world,” by Andrew Scull. The abstract reads,
This article examines the treatment of madness as a theme in drama, opera and films, concentrating its attention for the most part on the period between World War II and the 1980s. These were the years in which psychoanalysis dominated psychiatry in the USA, and so Freud’s influence in the broader culture forms the central though not the sole focus of the analysis.
“Nostalgia: A conceptual history,” by Filiberto Fuentenebro de Diego and Carmen Valiente Ots. The abstract reads, Continue reading 25 Years of History of Psychiatry & A New Issue →
The August 2013 issue of History of Psychology is now online. Included in this issues are articles that look at the history of the concept of nostalgia, the contingencies surrounding the voice-feedback condition in Stanley Milgram’s obedience to authority experiments, a translation of Wilhelm Wundt’s (above) Psychology’s Struggle for Existence (Die Psychologie im Kampf ums Dasein) by James Lamiell, and the correspondence between American psychologist Henry Murray and Chinese psychologist Siegen K. Chou. Other items in this issue explore strategies in writing books in the history of psychology and developments in history and philsophy of psychology in Brazil. Full titles, authors and abstracts follow below.
“Nostalgia: The bittersweet history of a psychological concept,” by Krystine Irene Batcho. The abstract reads,
The concept of nostalgia has changed substantially both denotatively and connotatively over the span of its 300-year history. This article traces the evolution of the concept from its origins as a medical disease to its contemporary understanding as a psychological construct. The difficulty of tracing a construct through history is highlighted. Attention is paid to roles played first by the medical context, and then by the psychiatric, psychoanalytic, and psychological approaches. Emphasis is given to shifts in the designation of nostalgic valence from bitter to sweet to bittersweet, and the processes of semantic drift and depathologization are explored. Because the sense of nostalgia was constructed and reconstructed within social, cultural, and historical contexts, its meaning changed along with the words used to describe and connect it to other entities. Nostalgia’s past illustrates the influence of language, social-cultural context, and discipline perspectives on how a construct is defined, researched, and applied.
““The last possible resort”: A forgotten prod and the in situ standardization of Stanley Milgram’s voice-feedback condition,” Stephen Gibson. The abstract reads, Continue reading New HoP: Milgram, Murray, Nostalgia, and More! →
The October 2012 issue of the Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences is now online. Included in this issue is an article on the nineteenth century clinical category of nostalgia that may be of interest to AHP’s readers. In “The Time and Place of Nostalgia: Re-Situating a French Disease,” historian Lisa O’Sullivan (right) traces the history of nostalgia as a disease in post-revolutionary France. The abstract reads,
The history of nostalgia as a clinical category has many highly specific national stories. This paper traces an aspect of this history, examining aspects of nostalgia’s changing meanings in nineteenth-century France. Nostalgia was a disease triggered by displacement, which became medically and politically important after the French Revolution, when military surgeons encountered epidemics of nostalgia in the armed forces. Understood as a form of pathological homesickness, the category straddled environmental medicine and emerging ideas about insanity. The diagnosis became particularly important to Ideologue writers as a case study in regulating and redirecting the emotions, demonstrating the efficacy of their new “moral” treatments and an ability to generate patriotic attachment to the new nation state. Over the course of the century, nostalgia disintegrated as a medical condition reflecting a decline in environmental explanations for disease within medicine, and increasingly plastic meanings attached to nostalgic desire.
The full article can be found online here.