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J Abnorm Child Psychol. 1999 Apr;27(2):125-39.

The phenomenology of homesickness in boys.

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Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle 98104-2499, USA.


Homesickness is the distress or impairment caused by an actual or anticipated separation from home. It is characterized by acute longing and preoccupying thoughts of home and attachment objects. This study extended previous research on the phenomenology of childhood homesickness by assessing a sample of 316 boys, ages 8-16, who were spending 2 weeks at a single-sex residential summer camp. Some 18% of the children reported moderate or high levels of homesickness; 7% reported concomitant severe depressive and anxious symptoms. Homesickness intensity was negatively correlated with separation experience and age. It was most commonly associated with depressive symptoms and internalizing behavior problems. For severely homesick boys, intensity increased over time, decreasing just prior to their return home. Preseparation assessment suggested that severely homesick boys had elevated levels of homesickness and negative emotions months before arriving at camp. One-year follow-up data suggested that the intensity of severe homesickness decreased with age and experience. However, severely homesick boys were less likely than other boys to return to camp. The results demonstrate how brief separations can affect children's well-being and attitudes about separations. Severe homesickness is distinct from separation anxiety disorder, but has elements of this and other psychopathologies. Theories of negative emotion, attachment, and coping complement emerging theories of homesickness.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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