Libmonster ID: UK-1425
Author(s) of the publication: A. A. NEDUVA

A. A. NEDUVA, MD (Israel)

Emigration Keywords: nostalgiadepressionmemories of the motherlandadaptation to new living conditions

The word "nostalgia" comes from the Greek words: nostos - homecoming and algess-pain, homesickness. Almost all modern dictionaries also record another meaning-longing for the past. The widespread spread of nostalgia among the population is facilitated by grandiose changes, breakdowns, and rapid lifestyle changes caused, on the one hand, by mass migration of the population, and on the other - by the collapse and changes in one of the world's superpowers, the former Soviet Union.

 The present is dull; 
 Everything is instantaneous, everything will pass; 
 What passes will be sweet. 

A. S. Pushkin.

Dedication to A. E. Wolf " If life deceives you..."

The beginning of the study of the phenomenon of nostalgia was laid in the XVII century by the Swiss psychiatrist Johann Hofer (he proposed the term itself). His research was continued in the XVIII-XIX centuries by the works of many authors, the results of which were summarized in his fundamental work "Nostalgia and Crimes" by the famous philosopher, psychologist and psychiatrist Karl Jaspers1.

In the XX and early XXI centuries. people started talking about nostalgia in connection with the mass migration of people from different countries. The phenomenon of nostalgia is described in detail and colorfully in fiction, displayed in movies, etc. I. Severyanin, A. N. Tolstoy, I. Bunin, E. M. Remarque, A. Galich, I. Brodsky and many other writers devoted their works to nostalgia.

But there are few serious scientific studies of this phenomenon, they are fragmented, which completely does not correspond to its mass character. When studying the mental state of emigrants, the overwhelming majority of authors (G. U. Soldatova 2, N. G. Neznanov 3, N. V. Tarabrina 4, T. Barankin 5, V. Goldenberg 6, etc.) focused on the manifestations of stress and depression.

Meanwhile, people who have arrived in a new country face, first of all, the problem of social and psychological adaptation. Sudden changes in living conditions, changes in social and professional status, loss of the language of communication-all this leads to stressful reactions and causes longing for the past. Nostalgia as an individual-personal experience is studied by A. B. Fenko 7, N. S. Khrustalev 8, Ch. Zwingmann 9, D. Frigessi-Castelnuovo and M. Risso 10, and others.

Currently, migrants make up 7.7% (56.8 million) of the population of Europe, 12.9% (40.8 million) of North America, etc. Many emigrants from the former USSR (1.2 - 1.3 million) live in Israel 11.

This problem is no less relevant in Israel, where an impressive monograph was published in 200612 on the nostalgia experienced by Russian-speaking immigrants in this state. The study was based on a survey of 1 thousand people aged 14 to 86 who came to Israel for permanent residence.


The idea that there are still unexplored mechanisms associated with the concept of nostalgia was formulated by the writer Vasily Aksenov: "Nostalgia, in addition to various lyrical, psychological, ideological and literary aspects, also has a biological basis. It must be that there is something that could be called the "chemistry of the motherland" - the composition of the air, the soil, which is special for certain zones of the earth ... " 13

The term "chemistry of the Motherland" figuratively expresses and unites a complex of states and processes that are characteristic, apparently, of all living things in their gravitation to the place of birth. In this regard, we can mention the well-known facts about the return home of domestic cats, dogs, etc. taken dozens, and sometimes hundreds of kilometers away. Migratory birds, after thousands of kilometers of travel, accurately find the places of their former nesting sites, where they grew out of their chicks.

Of course, these phenomena cannot be identified with the human sense of nostalgia and its socio-psychological manifestations. In humans, who have lost many of the ways of orientation available to animals in the process of evolution, the mechanisms of such a complex experience as nostalgia come to the fore, rather than biological, but mainly socio-psychological and personal factors that cause mental stress due to the need to adapt to a new environment.

page 55

The following example may illustrate longing for a place of a past life:

M. M-va. Majoring in philology, English language teacher. I came to Israel from Magnitogorsk. She expressed her sense of alienness of an unusual nature in poems:

 Oh, Motherland, you are a miracle of miracles. 
 Wherever I fly , I'll be drawn to you. 
 Here is the sea, the sun, south as south, 
 Not on the window - in the valleys of the rose. 
 O Motherland! I miss blizzards, 
 Crisp and fierce frost... 
 And forget-me-nots... How I need you 
 To remember my native land forever. 
 And no matter how much you convince yourself, 
 borders, the homeland is a planet, 
 Pet, you have bothered yourself in vain- 
 places better than the Homeland for a person. 


The nature and mechanisms of the phenomenon of nostalgia are closely related to the consequences of stress due to a break with the former environment (country, society, nature, language, etc.) and mental stress caused by stress, accompanied by a sense of irretrievability of the lost past, which cannot be connected with the present.

The formation of nostalgic experiences occurs regardless of the person's will. Outwardly, this is expressed only in the form of longing for the past and the desire to leave for the world of memories. Moreover, real past events seem to pass through the prism of mechanisms known from classical psychology of the unconscious - condensation, displacement, symbolization of experiences, etc.

A characteristic feature of nostalgia is an extremely positive attitude to the past life, which usually occurs after a certain time of living in a new country. The past in the memories is invariably colored in bright, vivid colors, memories of negative events are pushed out or, at least, "blurred". The inevitable negative aspects of life that come to light after arriving in a new country are difficulties in entering a new society, language problems, economic and everyday difficulties. All this contributes to a depressive perception of the present and a person's desire for a virtual (in nostalgic memories), and sometimes for a real return to the past, i.e., return to their homeland. During this difficult period for emigrants, they strive to tell others as often as possible about their past, their social "weight" in their previous life, their positions, titles, awards, etc. This desire to "plunge into the past" somewhat dulls the pain of losing the old familiar life.

There is practically no person who, having moved to another country, would not remember the past. Of course, in these memories there are also negative stories that at one time pushed to leave the country of residence.

At the same time, even a dissident and a committed Zionist who has endured repression remembers not only political and xenophobic persecution. Each of them had friends, co - workers; many of them had a favorite job, attachments to home, nature, etc. In general, there was something that was not easy to break with. In other words, nostalgia can be a normal human experience, which manifests a (mostly unconscious) desire to connect the past with the present.

For many people, for a relatively long time (at least 10-15 years) those who have lived in exile and put down roots in a new place, are more or less settled, but at the same time remain attached to the country of origin. These people, when visiting the places of their former life, experience-often unexpectedly - a feeling of "craving" for a new home, for a new country, but then, when they return to their new home, they are again attracted to the places of the past, the former life. Such a situation of "struggle between the past and the present" can last for several years and then usually passes when the person is finally determined in his choice.

However, those who are prone to doubts and indecision have such a" struggle of motives", a simultaneous nostalgia for both the country of origin and the country of new residence, which persists almost all their lives, and all their lives a person cannot stop in their final choice.

As an illustration of the coexistence of nostalgia for both the country of origin and the country of new residence, the following case can be cited.

S. B-n came to Israel for permanent residence in 1991 from Minsk. He expressed his sense of "ambivalent" nostalgia in a poem that he very symbolically called"I'm Torn to Pieces":

 In Israel, I suffer from Russia. 
 In Russia, I care about Israel. 
 I tear myself apart and writhe in helplessness. 
 In the powerlessness of their longing to calm. 
 In any land I am sick of nostalgia: 
 In Israel, I am tormented by Russia, 
  Which "cannot be understood with the mind"... 
 In Russia, I take care of Israel - 
 Both here and there are painfully native! 
 For what sin have I no rest? 


In principle, nostalgia, like any psychological reaction, in cases where it manifests itself as a mild mental disorder, can be treated, but in order to provide social and psychological assistance to sufferers of this disease, it is important to determine its severity and find out the clinical picture. In this case, you can distinguish between:

1. Latent nostalgia. In these cases, the individual is fully integrated in the new environment, or sufficiently adapted. There are no or minor problems with language skills and employment in the new situation. Nostalgic memories arise only sporadically, mainly under the influence of others and do not affect the mood.

page 56

they are not accompanied by depression, anxiety, or dreams of the past.

2. Nostalgia is easy. Its main manifestations are poorly expressed. With these memories of a past life, there is a certain sadness, sadness, or a desire to reflect on the past. Often there is a desire to share their nostalgic memories, "talk out", after which the state of health usually improves. With a favorable situation in terms of communication, employment, and solving family and household problems, the" degree " of nostalgic experiences gradually decreases.

As an illustration of the manifestations of mild nostalgia, the following example can be given.

A. G-va, 53, doctor, emigrated in 1990. I got a job as a doctor of a polyclinic, I am happy with my work. The family is well off. However, a year or two after arriving in Israel, I noticed a periodic influx of vivid imaginative memories of my past life. She often seemed to see herself in her old apartment or in the "old" workplace. The paintings were bright and imaginative. At the same time, I am happy with modern life in Israel. The experienced pictures of memories were not accompanied by either a pronounced longing or a joyful feeling. There was a feeling of obsession with these memories. G-va tried to distract herself from them, but often without success, especially in her spare time.

Thus, in this case, there were obsessive nostalgic memories that arise against the will of a person, in the absence of his desire to" contemplate " the past life. Outside of these conditions, no disorders are detected. Ms herself defines these nostalgic memories as "haunting".

3. Moderate nostalgia. Nostalgic experiences are accompanied by a deterioration in mood with a simultaneous appearance of feelings of self-doubt. There is growing pessimism about the present. There are sleep disorders (restless sleep that does not bring a sense of rest). There is a tendency to long-term fruitless arguments about the legitimacy of the decision to emigrate, combined with a tendency to move away from the new reality, which prevents the formation of new value orientations.

4. Nostalgia is heavy. In these cases, nostalgic experiences are nothing more than elements of severe depression, accompanied by various kinds of delusions. Depressive delirium is expressed in thoughts about the death or impoverishment of loved ones, allegedly due to the fault of the patient, who reproaches himself for the decision to emigrate and constantly recalls scenes of the past, supposedly prosperous life. All this is accompanied by anxiety, anxiety, unjustified feelings of hopelessness, hopelessness of the future life increase. Sometimes suicidal thoughts occur.

As an illustration of the manifestations of severe depressive nostalgia, the following observation can be cited:

E. P. Va, born in 1932, teacher of biology. She moved permanently to Israel in 1990. At the new location, the mood was initially high. She made a lot of new friends, was active, lively, talkative. After her husband's death in 1996, her condition changed dramatically. I became depressed, depressed. She said a lot that she was left alone, among strangers, in a strange country ... Stereotypically repeated "Why did you leave Moscow? What have we done?.."I thought that in Russia her husband would not have fallen ill and would have been alive. I blamed myself for all these troubles. Refused to eat.

She was admitted to a psychiatric hospital. In the process of active treatment with antidepressants, after 3 to 4 days, she became calmer, and after 8 to 10 days, her condition improved significantly. I stopped expressing ideas of doom, and warmly welcomed my children and grandchildren. A month later, in good condition, she was discharged home for outpatient treatment.

In this case, nostalgic experiences took place against the background of deep depression. Melancholy, self-accusation of failure, impoverishment, and nostalgic thoughts were closely interrelated. The latter were part of a depressive delusion and only stopped after intensive treatment.

* * *

Thus, the concept of nostalgia unites a group of psychological and psychopathological manifestations, overcoming of which requires an individual approach. Normally expressed human nostalgia does not need to be treated.

In cases where nostalgia is excessive, and the support of a psychologist or psychotherapist is ineffective, treatment by a psychiatrist becomes necessary. Only in cases of severe depression, anxiety, and irresistible obsessive thoughts should treatment begin with a preliminary course of medication, and then proceed as quickly as possible to the use of methods of psychological influence.

Jaspers K. 1 Collected works. on psychology in 2 volumes, Moscow, 1996.

Soldatova G. U. 2 Psychology of interethnic tension, Smysl Publ., 1998.

Neznanov N. G., Telia K. K. 3 Sotsial'no-psikhologicheskie stressors i ikh posledstviya pri vozmozhennoy migratsii [Social and psychological stressors and their consequences in forced migration].

Tarabrina N. V., Shchapova N. Yu . 4 Posttraumatic stress disorder: the experience of foreign ethnopsychological studies / / Psychological Review, 1998, No. 2.

Barankin Т., Konstantareaus M.M. et al. 5 Adaptation of recent Soviet Jewish immigrants and their children to Toronto // Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. 34(6), 1989.

Goldenberg V., Saxe L. 6 Social attitudes of Russian immigrants to the Unites States // The Journal of Social Psychology, 1996.

Fenko A. B. 7 Psychology of nostalgia. Diss. ... Candidate of Psychological Sciences, Moscow, Institute of Human Sciences, Russian Academy of Sciences, 1993.

8 Psikhologiya emigratsii [Psychology of emigration]. Diss. ... Doctor of Psychology, St. Petersburg, 1996.

Zwingmann Ch. 9 Das nostalgishe Phenomen. Zur Psychologie der Lebenskriesen. Frankfurt/M., 1962.

Frigessi-Castelnuovo D., 10 Risso M. Emigration and Nostalgia. Frankfurt/ M., 1986.

11 News of the week. Tel Aviv, 8.12.2005, N 4180, p. 28.

Neduva A. A. 12 Nostalgia (psychology, psychopathology, treatment). Israel, 2006.

Aksenov V. 13 The Decade of Slander (radio diary of a writer). Moscow, Izografus EKSMO, 2004.


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