Nostalgia… To enjoy contemplating the past… I have a group of friends with whom I meet up for lunch every now and then. Almost at each meeting we find that one of us is no longer with us, and we talk about our memories of him.
The group consists of fairly wise people. Many of them have held high level governing positions in the country. After the loss of the friend we get nostalgic for a while, but this is only temporary. They talk about the past. They say: “The account of tomorrow is somewhat closed now. We have little else left other than the past.” And I, as a relatively young doctor amongst them, inhale the pleasure they get from talking about the past and it makes me happy. Then for some reason they notice that the past experience of wise people illuminates the country’s future and that their existence is of great importance. As they remember this the level of nostalgia drops and discussions on the future, particularly the future of the country begin. When I mentioned nostalgia this was the story I remembered first. The second one is the great joy I get from looking at photographs from my childhood and youth when I am going through very difficult times. These are moments when I seem to forget all my sorrow. And when there is a dear friend with me who shares these memories and if he is listening to me with all his heart, then it is a delight. What are you thinking of? I don’t know but it looks to me as if you are talking about certain pieces of music that bring back old memories. So nostalgia seems to be an emotional state similar in its nature to antidepressants. I am of the opinion that in general terms it is a function which is undertaken by memory-related areas of the brain, like the amygdala hippocampus. You may say “I too have a value!” But what do you say about the necessity felt for it? What function do antidepressants have if there is no state of depression? We can conclude that excessive nostalgia must basically be an indication of depression… In other words, nostalgia is associated with feelings of uselessness, the future coming to an end, searching for everything in the past, a peak in the feelings of inadequacy. In fact, if in the past the person was after ostentatiousness he may hide in it and remain there. It is as if unsuccessful periods from the past are erased. Of course there is continuity of a person’s past through time and any disruptions that occurred may have a traumatic impact. Just look at immigrants abroad! If the immigration took place to a country which promises a better future, very few will prefer to return to their country of origin. And a slight nostalgia covers up any remaining depression. But if your concerns about the future in the place where you are at present increase we may observe a heightened nostalgia and a tendency to migrate back. This means that it is very good to live in a world where nostalgia is experienced in moderation, where depression is at a bearable level and where there is the promise of a better future. After all, is living in a world without future not the same as being buried in the pain and tears of nostalgia?