Elsewhere, the “dis-ease” of nostalgia has recently been invoked. The medicalisation of this term already raises interesting questions, and its etymology sheds further light on this:
1770, “severe homesickness” (considered as a disease), Modern Latin (cf. French nostalgie, 1802), coined 1668 by Johannes Hofer, as a rendering of German heimweh, from Greek algos “pain, grief, distress” (see –algia) + nostos “homecoming,” from PIE *nes- “to return safely home” (cf. Old Norse nest “food for a journey,” Sanskrit nasate “approaches, joins,” German genesen “to recover,” Gothic ganisan “to heal,” Old English genesen “to recover”). Transferred sense (the main modern one) of “wistful yearning for the past” first recorded 1920.
From the roots and related meanings of the word, it seems something quite necessary and authentic gets identified (i.e., “food for a journey”). Making these sort of basic needs into a pathological condition seems telling. Because of this medicalisation, which dovetails egregiously with capitalism in general and US capitalism especially, any legitimate claim to examine the past—the word “legitimate” remains key–gets dismissed, parodied, or slandered as nostalgia (as any number of current anti-racism workers know, when they “refuse to accept the doxa” that we now live in a post-racial world and get branded some updated version of uppity). As such, a distinction would help to protect those with legitimate claims to raise about the past from such dismissal.
Let us distinguish then between the nostalgia (“severe homesickness”) of the non-adopted and the xenalgia (“severe foreignness” or “the pain of strangeness”) of the adopted. This exposes nostalgia as a demand for falsified memories about real events in childhood, whereas xenalgia identifies a demand for real memories about a childhood’s falsified events.
In effect I propose xenalgia as an exact antonym of nostalgia, including the sanity of it in distinction from the apparently typical and pathological sense now associated with nostalgia.
As a new term, xenalgia becomes vulnerable to misprision and misuse, so any suggestions by people to further articulate it to avoid this would help significantly.