Emotions and mental health: nostalgia

Emotions and mental health: nostalgia

The longest journey is the one made within oneself

Nostalgia has a polysemic interpretation, that is, it admits different meanings and we can recognize it when we connect with the past (a place, an activity, a belief, a custom, a job, a friend or family member, a health condition or even some kind of fun that was previously accessible and now no longer), it is the pain that is experienced for having had something or someone, and not having it anymore, or it is also a feeling of longing for something that has already happened (the happy days of childhood or a positive social interaction).

On the other hand, in the Universe of emotions by Eduardo Punset (2016) nostalgia is part of the constellation of the basic emotion of sadness and is one of its stars along with melancholy, longing, pain, suffering, grief, grief, sorrow, abandonment, helplessness, humiliation, discouragement, bitterness, depression, misery, desolation, distress and many other emotions. Then then, in this polysemic function it is also an emotion.

Now, it would be materially impossible to live a life without having gone through positive or negative events that mark our walk. And, all these events are associated with different types of emotions.

The connection between our social and emotional states had its scientific approach just a century ago. I list three great moments related to the analysis of emotions:

  • In 1920, the psychologist and founder of behaviorism, John Broadus Watson, distinguished three basic emotions: Fear, Anger and Love. And, he carried out a series of experiments with babies to prove their existence (Superperuano, 2106; Wikipedia, 2016)
  • By 1972, the psychologist Paul Ekman, following the investigations of Charles Darwin, observed the expression of emotions on the face and concluded in the existence of six basic and universal emotions: joy, anger, fear, disgust, surprise and sadness. Subsequently he added almost twenty more emotions to his list and distinguished some positive and negative emotions (Superperuano, 2106; Wikipedia, 2016)
  • In 2016, the scientific popularizer Eduard Punset and his collaborators identified 307 emotions; positive (105), negative (202) and (5) comets, in his book the Universe of emotions. They emphasize their educational and evolutionary function (Universe of emotions, 2016).

In the course of life there are expected and unexpected events that can change the course of our expectations and the emotions associated with these events, they need to live in a healthy way despite the impact they make on our history. Emotions that are ignored or expressed without control sooner or later charge us a bill.

The same behaviors of today lead you to the same behavior of tomorrow. “And, your past, your present and your future is the same. It shapes your personality, your identity, your being. ” (Dispenza, 2012).

The emotional wounds of childhood: Fear of abandonment, fear of rejection, humiliation, betrayal or fear of trust, injustice are emotional wounds that cause pain (The mind is wonderful, 2016). They are life events associated with emotions and if they are not taken care of, they are cured or released they will affect our relationships in adulthood. And, worst of all, if they do not become learning, they will be repeated again and again. They guide our life and help us survive as when we feel fear and run away from something unknown, and help us to live and be happy like when we are madly in love. All wounds are also associated with the stress hormone, cortisol.

We have thought that we are purely rational beings and since René Descartes's time, he decreed it: cogito ergo sum, "I think, then I exist". Plastered in his book the Speech of the Method in 1637. And, that paradigm has affected our lives for almost four hundred years.

However, current neuroscience studies state the opposite: We are emotional beings, rather than rational ones.

We are emotional beings that we learned to reason, not rational beings that we learned to feel. A brain that does not receive love is a brain that does not develop intellectual abilities in a normal way (Neuropsychology of emotions, 2016).

Advances in neurosciences have been able to identify an emotional imbalance in different diseases or injuries at the brain level and also vice versa an emotional imbalance, translates into a brain injury or mental illness.

Psychopaths cannot connect with people's emotions and do not feel emotional empathy, those who have suffered damage at the level of the prefrontal cortex have emotional and personality alterations. In the latter case Phineas P. Gage (1823 - May 21, 1861) was a railroad worker, who due to an accident suffered severe damage to the brain, specifically in part of the frontal lobe. Gage underwent noticeable changes in his personality and temperament, which was considered proof that the frontal lobes were responsible for processes related to emotions, personality and executive functions in general (Pinel, 2007).

We can even get sick of emotions, for example; Prolonged sadness leads us to depression.

Today it is also known that the 50 billion cells that make up our body (Bruce, 2006) are connected even while being at a distance. And, that the environment rather than genetics (epigenetics) allows a cell to grow and develop if this environment is positive and nutritious and does not allow it to grow if the environment is adverse and negative. The neuroscientist Suzanne Felten of the Rochester University of New York, found that: In a stressful situation lymphocytes (white blood cells) and smooth muscle cells (strongly connected to the brain) are nerve endings that are cell-spoken and this means that the immune system and the nervous system are connected and the information reaches the brain (Glaser & Kiecolt, 2012).

The first experiments to verify the influence of our thoughts at the cellular and emotional level were performed by Ronald Glaser and Janice Kiecolt with university students who were taken a blood sample before and after an exam. They verified that the stressful events of life are associated with a higher incidence of diseases and resulted in a decrease in the levels of lymphocytes or white blood cells associated with academic stress (Glaser & Kiecolt, 2012). Lymphocytes are part of our immune system, then then if the system becomes unbalanced we get sick. Psychoneuroendocrinoimmunology It is part of the current strategy of therapeutic intervention and through a transdisciplinary approach, people are treated holistically as a whole: personality (emotions, feelings and thoughts), nervous system, neuroconductors and hormones and the same immune system, ALL are connected. If one system gets sick, the others get sick.

Other research explains that we all have a second brain, located in the intestine, capable of influencing our mood and our well-being. Its main function is to transmit information from the microbiota to the brain and vice versa. It is very likely that in the next few years our second brain will be taken into account in psychotherapies (Neuropsychology of emotions, 2016).

Final reflection

If all our systems are connected and our cells communicated, we are part of a microuniverse where we can make changes by influencing any of them in a positive way to cure the others.

Connecting with the positive is key to our mental health, positive life events must be remembered and enjoyed and revived emotions, and negative or sad ones must be analyzed to turn them into life learning so as not to get caught in resentment and negative emotions.

We need to be resilient in the negative experiences of the past and transform them into growth. It is never too late to learn to grow. Our negative emotions cloud our memories and make them more polarized, centralized and catastrophic oriented towards pain, suffering or nostalgia.


Bruce L. (2006) Biology of Belief, Editorial Ocean, Mexico.

Dispenza J. (2012) Stop being you. Editorial Uranus, Mexico.

Glaser R. & Kiecolt J. (2012) Psychoneuroimmunology, accessed October 28, 2014, online: //

The mind is wonderful (2016) 5 emotional wounds of childhood, consulted on December 11, 2016, online: //

Neuropsychology of emotions (2016) Accessed on December 11, 2016, online: //

Pinel J. (2007) Biopsychology, Pearson Editorial, Mexico.

Superperuano (2016) Paul Ekman: The 6 basic emotions, accessed December 11, 2016, online: //

Wikipedia (2016) Paul Ekman, accessed December 11, 2016, online: //

Wikipedia (2016) John Watson, accessed December 11, 2016, online: //