The term nostalgia was first proposed in 1688 by Johannes Hofer as equivalent to the German term Heimweh. It referred to a state of moral pain associated with the forced separation from family and social environment. Consecutive clinical descriptions from the seventeenth century up to the present day have been subjected to the aetiopathogenic and clinical paradigms of each period. Golden-age descriptions of nostalgia that are of particular interest were derived from the observation of conscript soldiers in Napoleonic campaigns by authors such as Gerbois and Larrey. In 1909 Jaspers devoted his doctoral thesis to this topic (Nostalgia und Verbrechen). From a cultural history point of view, it could be considered today as an example of 'transient illness'. The nosological relay has taken place through clinical pictures such as the pathology associated with exile, forced displacements and psychosis of captivity.
Keywords: Conscript soldiers; Heimweh; Jaspers; nostalgia; transient illness.
© The Author(s) 2014.