Frontiers of neurology and neuroscience, 2016, Vol.38, pp.132-42
People died from nostalgia in the army in the 17th-19th centuries. The term 'nostalgia', created by the doctor Johannes Hofer (1669-1752), from Mulhouse, came from the Germanic Heimweh, or 'homesickness'. It affected the young people enrolled in the army, such as Swiss mercenaries. Longing for their native land, they were consumed by an ongoing desire to return home. If it was impossible to do so, they sank into 'a sadness accompanied with insomnia, anorexia and other unpleasant symptoms' that could lead to death. Nostalgia became classified as a disease during the last quarter of the 18th century and ravaged the French army during the Revolution and the Napoleonic wars. However, as soon as the wars ended, it ceased to exist in the army (except the colonial army). It was removed from the nosology in the first half of the 19th century. Rapidly explained as an example of a misdiagnosis or a confusion between 'connection and cause', nostalgia needs to be assessed in regard to the medical debate between 'alienists' and 'organicists'. Creating much concern, nostalgia needs to be considered in the historical context of a society destabilized by modernity, with some individuals uprooted by the sudden transition from civil society to military life. It raises questions about the role that the army played in the creation of the French national union. Nostalgia may have also covered psychic traumatisms later designated as combat fatigue, war neurosis, or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Combat Disorders -- History ; Military Personnel -- History ; Paintings -- History
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