Modern teenagers find it hard to believe, but there was a time when the photos were not taken with mobile phone, movies watched on TV, and at best acquired a VCR. Today, nostalgia is considered to be a bitter-sweet longing for bygone days. Researchers believe that nostalgia can promote psychological health by awakening positive emotions and to promote emotional balance. But what else science knows about nostalgia?
Who said that nostalgia is a disease of the brain?
Literally, nostalgia is the suffering caused by unsatisfied desire to return home. The first case in the literature is found in Homer’s “Odyssey”, which tells about the return of Ulysses to Ithaca after the Trojan war. But first described a similar condition it was in 1688, when the Swiss physician Johannes Hofer used the term to describe homesickness, the captured soldiers of his country. Among physical and psychological symptoms which they felt were tachycardia, episodes of crying, insomnia and fear. Consequently, Hofer defined nostalgia as a “neurological disease arising from demonic causes.” This theory was questioned by other experts who attributed the defeat of the Swiss soldier with changes in atmospheric pressure after they moved from mountain villages to the plains. There were even those who suggested that the continuous sound of cow bells in the Alps damaged the eardrum and brain of these anxious people.
And yet, until the nineteenth century nostalgia, thanks to Hofer, was interpreted as a disease of the brain. It was described as a pathological form of melancholy or a kind of immigrant psychosis, that is a mental disorder that causes uncontrollable sadness and violates the thinking of those who wish to return home after a long absence. These theories persisted until 1979, when the American sociologist Fred Davis (1925-1993) described nostalgia as a sentimental desire for people, places or situations that make us happy in the past. Thus he established the modern definition of nostalgia. Since then, many scientific studies trying to show that it is not only the negative mood and well-being, which gives meaning to our lives.
Thanks to the nostalgia we feel better
As writes The New York Times, an international team of researchers from the University of Southampton, England, analyzed the methodical stories of different people, collected in the laboratory and the journal of Nostalgia that reflect everyday life in the US in the 50-60-ies. The study showed that in most cases, the main character of memoirs — is the man himself. But most scientists struck by the frequency with which people imagined what scientists call a sequence of improvements: nostalgic stories often start badly, with the description of a problem, but then all problems are solved thanks to the help of someone close to the protagonist. In the end, the hero feels a sense of belonging and become more generous toward others. It has rarely happened back when the story ended badly. As a result, the researchers came to the conclusion that nostalgia helps to counteract loneliness, boredom and anxiety. Nostalgia not only contribute to the emotional balance in the face of negative thoughts and situations, but also helps to cope with the inevitable fact of our own death.
This is not worth the nostalgia?
Memories of the bright moments of childhood, such as the image of the mother, which prepares a favorite dish or about the day in the house there was a pet helps to lift the mood. And yet, nostalgia can have on some people a negative impact. According to the study, conducted by psychologists from the University of Miami (USA), these memories make people depressed, more sad. The reason is that they do not experience coherence between a positive “I” in his memoirs, and negative perceptions of ourselves in the present moment.
Where in the brain is born of nostalgia?
In the experiment conducted at the University of Tilburg in the southern Netherlands, an expert on social and behavioral Sciences ed Vingerhoets foundthat some songs make people not only nostalgic, but also feel warmer. Having tracked a group of students within a month, Xinyue Zhou, Professor, sun Yat-sen University in China have foundwhat is causing the nostalgia mood is more common on cold days. So people in a cold room are more likely to plunge into memoriesthan those in the warm room. This connection between body and mind makes scientists think that nostalgiamight have had evolutionary value to our ancestors, inspiring them to constantly look for shelter and food to survive. There is no doubt that this psychological phenomenon occurs in the brain, but where?
Modern neuroimaging techniques have helped to answer this question. In the experiments of Japanese scientist Kentaro Both decided to find out what areas of the brain show activity when viewing photos of children. The presence of activity was observed in the hippocampus region of the brain responsible for storing memories, and the ventral striatum — the region responsible for the feeling of reward. It turns out, the nostalgia helpful and pleasant, however, not in case you have been diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorder.