See Inside July / August 2010

Yearning for Yesterday: Should It Really Be Avoided?

Dwell on the past. It's good for you

Do you have wistful memories of the cookies that came from your grandmother’s oven? Do you enjoy recalling the jokes and pranks that you and your school friends used to find hilarious? On a restless night, does the whoosh of a train on a long-ago journey linger in your mind? If your recollections sometimes evoke a sentimental yearning for the past, then you know what it means to experience nostalgia.

You are in good company, too. In a 2006 study conducted at the University of Southampton in England, 79 percent of the 172 students surveyed said that they have nostalgic thoughts at least once a week; 16 percent reported having such moments every day. Nostalgia is not limited to any culture, stage of life or state of mental health. Our Southampton team has found the emotion in healthy adults and children, as well as patients suffering from dementia.

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