In October 1861 Alfred Lewis Castleman, a surgeon in the Fifth Regiment of the Wisconsin Volunteers, described the first death in his regiment. It was not from battle. “The poor fellow died of Nostalgia (home-sickness), raving to the last breath about wife and children,” he wrote. “Deaths from this cause are very frequent in the army.”
While today “nostalgia” is used to describe the longing for a lost time, the word originally signified acute homesickness, a condition widely regarded as a dangerous and often deadly illness. Doctors maintained that it could kill, either by worsening existing maladies or by causing its own physical symptoms, which included heart palpitations, lesions, damage to internal organs, “hectic fever,” bowel problems and incontinence.
I know, I know… the title…
But, it is odd the way we have romanticized what is essentially a societal ill, even one that killed individuals. I have to write a paper soon for a class of mine. The paper will be focus on a personality disorder. I’m interested in the theory of motivated reasoning and this one. It seems that they fit well together.