Delia Popa: Nostalgia between Narcissism and Melancholia

Is nostalgia an expression of a primary narcissism that brings us back to our earliest modes of attachments or is it rather a special form of melancholia? What is the role played by introjection and incorporation in nostalgia? What is lost and what is maintained in nostalgic experiences? How do nostalgic bodies revisit their past and how do they inhabit their present? Drawing on Freud’s theories of narcissism and of mourning and melancholia and on their interpretations by Lou Andreas Salomé, Nicolas Abraham and Maria Török, my aim is to question the importance of ideals and idealizations in the experience of nostalgia. What are we longing for when we are nostalgic? Is it simply an objective something/someone/somewhere we lost and introjected? Is it an ideal other that we have incorporated in order to keep it alive forever within ourselves? What does it mean for the nostalgic body to be alive – for itself and for what it is fighting to maintain alive?


Delia Popa is Assistant Professor in the Philosophy Department at Villanova University. Her first book was on Emmanuel Levinas: Les aventures de l’économie subjective et son ouverture à l’altérité (2007). She is also the author of Apparence et réalité. Phénoménologie et psychologie de l’imagination (2012) and co-editor of Person, Community and Identity (2003), La portée pratique de la phénoménologie. Normativité, critique sociale et psychopathologie (2014), Approches phénoménologiques de l’inconscient (2015) et Describing the Unconscious. Phenomenological Perspectives on the Subject of Psychoanalysis (2020). Her current research is about the problem of being stranger to a community, the relationship between imaginative creativity and political responsibility, and the phenomenology of gesture.