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Nostalgia – when the past helps us cope

January 1, 2010 Leave a comment

The CBS News site brings us an interesting article on nostalgia. As a person of advancing middle age, I’m certainly as guilty as anyone of looking back on my past. Apparently, that used to be thought of as a bad thing — even dangerous:

For centuries it was considered a disease and a form of depression. Soldiers even feared it as homesickness, and thought it could kill them.

But Lemoyne College psychology professor Krystine Batcho, who studies nostalgia, finds no signs of any deadly disease. In fact, quite the opposite.

“It helps remind you who you are in reference to other people,” says Batcho, who sees one especially good use of nostalgia as a coping mechanism.

As even the most nostalgic of us is aware, these are not times in which to shun coping mechanisms. If looking at the past through rose-colored glasses helps us make it through the present, then so be it.

The article also includes a link to this nostalgia inventory, developed by Dr. Batcho. As with many bits of psychological science in the popular media, there’s no scale to let you know where you stand. But, just for fun, compare yourself to your significant other, your friends, or anyone else you can talk into it.

Then, someday, a smile will pass briefly over your face as you remember what a great time you had back in the good old days of reading this blog. And your well-being will be enhanced.

Happy to help.

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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