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Solastalgia: Living With the Environmental Damage Caused By Natural Disasters

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 January 2014

Sri Warsini*
School of Nursing, Midwifery & Nutrition, James Cook University, Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Jane Mills
School of Nursing, Midwifery & Nutrition, James Cook University, Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Kim Usher
School of Nursing, Midwifery & Nutrition, James Cook University, Cairns, Queensland, Australia
Correspondence: Sri Warsini, M.Med School of Nursing, Midwifery & Nutrition James Cook University PO Box 6811 Cairns, 4870, Qld Australia E-mail


Forced separation from one's home may trigger emotional distress. People who remain in their homes may experience emotional distress due to living in a severely damaged environment. These people experience a type of ‘homesickness’ similar to nostalgia because the land around them no longer resembles the home they knew and loved. What they lack is solace or comfort from their home; they long for the home environment to be the way it was before. “Solastalgia” is a term created to describe feelings which arise in people when an environment changes so much that it negatively affects an individual's quality of life. Such changed environments may include drought-stricken areas and open-cut mines. The aim of this article is to describe how solastalgia, originally conceptualized as the result of man-made environmental change, can be similarly applied to the survivors of natural disasters. Using volcanic eruptions as a case example, the authors argue that people who experience a natural disaster are likely to suffer from solastalgia for a number of reasons, which may include the loss of housing, livestock and farmland, and the ongoing danger of living in a disaster-prone area. These losses and fears challenge people's established sense of place and identity and can lead to feelings of helplessness and depression.

WarsiniS, MillsJ, UsherK. Solastalgia: Living With the Environmental Damage Caused By Natural Disasters. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2014:29(1);1-4.

Special Report
Copyright © World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine 2014 

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