Extreme Nostalgia Syndrome (7 ways to manage)

In this brief guide, we will be discussing: extreme nostalgia syndrome. 

Extreme Nostalgia Syndrome

Extreme nostalgia syndrome can be described as a state wherein an individual excessively indulges in the memories of the past and refuses to enjoy the present moment. It can be considered as a lack of commitment to the future and a heavy, burdening attachment to the past.

Living in nostalgia has been deemed to be a disorder since the seventeenth century when a Swiss physician attributed a soldier’s mental and physical ailments to their unusual and overwhelming longing to return home. 

Memory- a beautiful fantasy

It is justified to say that memory is a kind of recording which we play at our own will. It is an unchanged transcript of things as they were at one point in time. Memory is also life; as we wish it to be. 

There are unconscious fantasies that we attach to our memories. When we lack basic feelings of security and clarity in our present state of mind, we tend to look back at those times when life was simpler and happier. There is an emotional attachment to a dreamlike past that produces intense emotions in the present. 

Nostalgia – a by-product of memory.

Retention of information is memory’s modest and routine work. However, it’s not similar when it comes to nostalgia. Nostalgia is specific and explicitly associated with a particular type of stimuli that can be of any form. The memory that is recollected as a part of nostalgic feelings is sudden, addictive, and extremely powerful. 

Therefore, it is factually right to compare nostalgia to any other form of an addictive drug which, if not controlled, can lead to abuse. 

A certain amount of nostalgia can be considered healthy as it helps us to recollect old memories that we cherish the most and wherein we experienced extreme happiness and joy. It helps us to revisit those joyful moments and reminds us that life has its share of good times. 

However, when these nostalgic memories become debilitating and lead us to a sorry state of affairs, it is imperative to be aware of the consequences of such a state. Excessively indulging in nostalgia and mourning over those people and situations which no longer exist in the present could make us feel disappointed and sorrowful, over time. It could even lead to a state of psychosis, coupled with suicidal ideations, if not taken care of. 

The constant tendency to dwell in the past can gradually reveal an underlying fear and hesitation to face the present. Ironically, it also inhibits a person from creating new memories in the present moment. In other words, we can also say that those who wish to fetishize their memories will struggle to add new memories to their present life. 

Extreme Nostalgia Syndrome (7 ways to manage)

Types of nostalgia

While most of our memories are associated with good feelings and happy emotions, certain nostalgic moments can trigger unpleasant and overwhelming emotions in us. They remind us of those experiences that we never wish to experience again in our lives.

There are two different types of nostalgia. They are as given below:

Restorative nostalgia

Restorative nostalgia emphasizes nostos (returning home). It proposes to rebuild the lost home and to fill the memory gaps. It views the past intending to recreate it. There is an innate and strong desire to relive the gone moments. For instance, this is the kind of nostalgia that makes us call our close friends or partners, late at night to tell them about a song or poem we heard which might be their favorite one. 

This kind of nostalgia is a type of homesickness – “a homesickness for the past events” which is pathological. There exist unrealistic expectations to be able to forever live in nostalgic memories and this is what eventually causes harm as well.

Reflective nostalgia

Reflective nostalgia is much healthier and less harmful. This type of nostalgia accepts the fact that memories are to be cherished and revisited occasionally rather than recreating them or constantly wishing to live in those memories. It savors the emotions evoked by the recollection of the nostalgic memories and there is an acknowledgment of the irretrievability of the past events. There is no unwanted and obsessive desire to relive the past or unnecessary mourning about lost people and moments.  

There is a safe distance which is created in this type of nostalgia that allows us to enjoy a particular memory in a similar way we enjoy reading a book or watching a movie.

In reflective nostalgia, there is a sense of momentary pleasure or happiness instead of a relentless urge to create a special moment from our past which is followed by a sense of disappointment when we realize the futility of the desire and that memory is forever sealed off from our present life. 

In this type of nostalgia, we can savor the happy feelings without being bothered by the fear of uncertainty or worries concerning the outcome of those feelings.  

Ways to manage extreme nostalgia syndrome (important considerations)

Nostalgia is something that mostly occurs when we tend to remember things that happened in the past, which made us happy, or when we miss those moments in our present lives and we long for it to happen again. 

If these nostalgic moments seem troublesome or if they are mentally bothering you, keep the following things in mind to deal with it effectively. 

  • Remember that memories cannot always be relied upon. When there occurs gaps in our memory, imagination takes its place to fill those gaps. therefore, memories can be made up by our imagination, consciously, or unconsciously. Some people even claim to have memories about moments or situations they have never been part of. 
  • When you have a strong desire to relive your nostalgic memories, it could be indicating that you are not happy with your present life. Try to reflect on your current life circumstances and keep in mind that life has its good and bad phases. Try not to get stuck in the past and make memories as you’re living every day. 
  • If you experience nostalgia over a set of similar things, people, or situations; try to incorporate new aspects into your life in terms of new hobbies, friends, partners, or a new pet, maybe. Remember that life is constantly changing and that nothing remains constant forever. 

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  • Take the effort to learn and experience new things around you. Get out of your comfort zone and try things you’ve never tried before. Keep all your senses open and let go of the habit of constantly reliving old memories. This way, you will be able to make new memories and live life freely without the burdens of the past.
  • Remember that you have control over your life in many ways and that you can choose your decisions. Keep dedication and focus, the core elements for taking control over your life when it seems to slip away into the past. Try your best not to distract yourself with hopeless and unwanted thoughts of the past.
  • Mindfulness meditation is another effective technique that can be put into use. It needs to be practiced gradually and consistently. Mindfulness helps you to be aware of the present moment and what you’re feeling at the moment. 

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we discussed the title: Extreme Nostalgia Syndrome. We looked into the nature of this syndrome, the role of memory in causing nostalgia, a detailed description of the nature of nostalgia, types of nostalgia, and effective ways to manage extreme nostalgia syndrome.

FAQs: Extreme Nostalgia Syndrome

What is nostalgia a symptom of?

Feeling frequently nostalgic could be a trigger warning for depression. People with depression search for temporary relief of any form and nostalgia is one among them. They spend weeks and months, solely reminiscing good memories of their past and the moments and sensations which used to keep them happy.

This provides them with a sense of comfort and helps them to be oblivious to the present moment as well. Hence, they wish to mentally reside in their world of nostalgia, to get away from their miserable and depressing thoughts they have to encounter in the present.

Can too much nostalgia be bad?

Yes. nostalgia can be harmful and sufficiently dangerous to those who suffer from severe anxiety and tend to worry excessively. These people tend to engage in frequent nostalgic episodes and also end up making false recollections about their memories. This leads to further worry and anxiety which is detrimental to their health. 

The sole reason for nostalgia being harmful is because of the human tendency to alter memories to their liking. 

What nostalgia feels like?

Nostalgia usually occurs in the form of strong, intense emotions that we associate with people, things, places, food, odors, voices, and such. The term “feeling nostalgic” is used to describe pleasurable and happy emotions that are associated with and/or a strong desire to return to a particular period in life. 

It triggers our memories of that particular period or phase of our life that we cherish and hold close to our hearts. For instance, childhood is the happiest period in life for certain people and they experience nostalgia whenever they come across anything related to their childhood.

Is it healthy to be nostalgic?

Nostalgia can be considered to be a bittersweet feeling that does serve a healthy purpose. It aids in serving the positive function of improving the mood and temperament of those experiencing it. Sentimental recollections often remind us of our loved ones, which can remind us of a social web of several people whom we care for and consider important in our lives.

What is the nostalgia effect?

The nostalgia effect refers to the influence of nostalgia on our willingness to spend money. Nostalgic feelings and associated emotions can lead us to believe in a mental space where the value is increased for social and mental connectedness with people and decreased value for saving and accumulating money and possessions. This is the concept behind the nostalgia effect.

What triggers a memory?

Most of our memories are triggered by sensory information that is absorbed by our sensory organs, from our environment. These include sights, smells, and sounds that play a large part in the formation of our memory. Memories will be easier to recall if more sensory information is absorbed and accumulated. When a traumatic event occurs, the brain ingrains the sensory stimuli into memory.

Can nostalgia make you cry?

People experience different types of nostalgia. There are happy ones, sad ones, and sometimes a mix of both or even just contemplative ones. However, certain nostalgic feelings can be overwhelming and can make you feel sad or bummed out for some time. This could end up in you spilling a few tears over those feelings, which is quite normal. 

References

https://medium.com/@michaelsendrow/pathological-nostalgia-7058a981fc40

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/time-travelling-apollo/201606/the-two-faces-nostalgia

https://www.quora.com/Is-chronic-nearly-debilitating-nostalgia-quite-possibly-a-disorder-like-depression

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