Xenalgia vs. Nostalgia: a Proposal

The homesickness of the Adoptee…….


Elsewhere, the “dis-ease” of nostalgia has recently been invoked. The medicalisation of this term already raises interesting questions, and its etymology sheds further light on this:

1770, “severe homesickness” (considered as a disease), Modern Latin (cf. French nostalgie, 1802), coined 1668 by Johannes Hofer, as a rendering of German heimweh, from Greek algos“pain, grief, distress” (see –algia) + nostos“homecoming,” from PIE *nes- “to return safely home” (cf. Old Norse nest“food for a journey,” Sanskrit nasate“approaches, joins,” German genesen“to recover,” Gothic ganisan“to heal,” Old English genesen“to recover”). Transferred sense (the main modern one) of “wistful yearning for the past” first recorded 1920.

From the roots and related meanings of the word, it seems something quite necessary and authentic gets identified (i.e., “food for a journey”). Making these sort of basic needs into a pathological condition seems telling. Because of…

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