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by Gavin Cunningham

What Is Solastalgia?

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by: Sally Booth

Solastalgia is a relatively new concept in the field of psychology, particularly environmental psychology. The term was coined by Australian environmental philosopher Glenn Albrecht in 2003, it describes a form of psychological distress or existential unease that arises from the emotional or existential disconnect between a person and their changing or degraded environment. Solastalgia is often associated with the experience of witnessing environmental changes, degradation, or destruction in one's home or familiar surroundings.

Here are some key points about solastalgia:

Environmental Change: Solastalgia is triggered by significant environmental changes or disruptions, such as deforestation, urbanization, pollution, climate change, or natural disasters, that affect the place where a person resides or has a deep emotional connection.

Emotional Distress: Unlike traditional forms of homesickness or nostalgia, which are triggered by physical absence from a familiar place, solastalgia is primarily an emotional and psychological distress experienced while still residing in the changing environment. It's a feeling of homesickness without leaving home.

Sense of Loss: People experiencing solastalgia often report a profound sense of loss, grief, anxiety, or even depression. They may mourn the changes to their environment and the associated loss of familiar landscapes, ecosystems, and a way of life.

Connection to Place: Solastalgia highlights the strong emotional connection humans have to their environment and the impact that environmental changes can have on mental well-being. It emphasizes the importance of place attachment in understanding psychological responses to environmental disruption.

Community and Collective Experience: Solastalgia is not limited to individual experiences. Entire communities or regions can collectively experience solastalgia when confronted with large-scale environmental changes, such as the impacts of mining, deforestation, or climate-related events.

Environmental Activism: Solastalgia can also serve as a motivator for environmental activism and conservation efforts. It can inspire individuals and communities to take action to protect their environment and advocate for sustainable practices.

In summary then, solastalgia is a term that describes the emotional distress experienced when individuals or communities witness and feel the impacts of environmental changes and degradation in their familiar surroundings. It underscores the complex relationship between humans and their environment, highlighting the psychological toll of environmental disruption and the importance of addressing these issues in the context of mental health and well-being.

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