An Exploratory Investigation into Types of Adult Homesickness

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Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics

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It is not clear yet whether or not homesickness is a singular syndrome. Some authors have proposed different subtypes or forms of homesickness. Since there may be great differences between various subtypes of homesickness regarding etiology, causes, manifestations and consequences, a distinction of subtypes may have far-reaching implications for research and therapy. This exploratory study was conducted to find out whether homesickness can be considered a homogeneous syndrome, or whether there are distinct subtypes that differ in etiology, severity of the condition and manifestations.


Thirty-one individuals, who have had severe homesickness experiences, were interviewed, and verbal scripts were typed out. Twenty-four interviews were suited for analyses. All text related to the topics most relevant to the purpose of the study was extracted. The text was first analyzed searching for meaning and categories and afterwards coded and used in a HOMALS analysis.


The HOMALS analysis yielded two dimensions. The first dimension can be described as a dimension of psychopathology differentiating 'recovered' and recurrent homesickness. The second dimension was strongly dominated by homesickness during holidays.


It seems that there are reasons to presume the existence of at least two subtypes of homesickness: (1) recurrent homesickness related to signs of psychopathology and recurrent homesickness experiences and (2) recovered homesickness, which can be considered as a normal adjustment problem which most people overcome. Very tentatively, a third type of homesickness might be distinguished: holiday homesickness, which is associated with difficulties in breaking with old routines. Consequences for research and therapy are discussed. Furthermore, the need of validation studies is underlined.



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