People Used To Think You Could Die From Homesickness

Excited for the August 21 eclipse? Visit our Eclipse 2017 page to explore the science, history, and myths of the event. The Curiosity team will be viewing the eclipse alongside NASA in Carbondale, Illinois. Follow us on Facebook for live videos, trivia, and interviews on the big day.

Today, we think of homesickness as a difficult but temporary affliction that commonly affects new college students, kids at sleepaway camp, or anyone moving away from a familiar place. But before World War II, homesickness was taken far more seriously. Its symptoms could include heart palpitations, a refusal to eat, and breathing problems. This sickness was termed "nostalgia" in 1688, and was listed as a common diagnosis and even a cause of death in war records. The Civil War in particular seemed to have an abundance of nostalgic soldiers: upwards of 5,000 men were diagnosed, and 74 allegedly died from the condition.

Share the knowledge!

Key Facts In This Video

  1. Bringing an item that's reminiscent of home to a new place can help reduce feelings of homesickness. 00:21

  2. Getting involved with a club or hobby can distract you from feeling homesick, and encourage you to live in the present. 00:55

  3. Visiting home isn't always a cure for homesickness—it can make some people feel worse. 01:15

If you liked this you'll love our podcast! Check it out on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play Music, SoundCloud, search 'curiosity' on your favorite podcast app or add the RSS Feed URL.

Advertisement