“Solastalgia: the distress caused by environmental change”


If you’ve ever been dismayed and disconcerted by the destruction of a place you love, be it urban or wilderness, you’ve experienced solastalgia. Australian scholar Glenn Albrecht created the term solastalgia in 2003, describing it as “the distress that is produced by environmental change” (Albrecht et al 2007: S95).

“I suggest ‘solastalgia’ to describe the pain or sickness caused by the loss of, or inability to derive solace from, the present state of one’s home environment; Solastalgia exists when there is recognition that the beloved place in which one resides is under assault…, ” Albrecht said (Albrecht 2006: 35).fds

Albrecht, G., G.-M. Sartore, L. Connor, N. Higginbotham, S. Freeman, B Kelly, H. Stain, A. Tonna, and G. Pollard, 2007, “Solastalgia: the distress caused by environmental change,” Australasian Psychiatry 15: S95-S98.


Australas Psychiatry. 2007;15 Suppl 1:S95-8.

Solastalgia: the distress caused by environmental change.
Albrecht G1, Sartore GM, Connor L, Higginbotham N, Freeman S, Kelly B, Stain H, Tonna A, Pollard G.


Solastalgia is a new concept developed to give greater meaning and clarity to environmentally induced distress. As opposed to nostalgia–the melancholia or homesickness experienced by individuals when separated from a loved home–solastalgia is the distress that is produced by environmental change impacting on people while they are directly connected to their home environment. The paper will focus on two contexts where collaborative research teams have found solastalgia to be evident: the experiences of persistent drought in rural NSW and the impact of large-scale open-cut coal mining on individuals in the Upper Hunter Valley of NSW. In both cases, people exposed to environmental change experienced negative affect that is exacerbated by a sense of powerlessness or lack of control over the unfolding change process.


Qualitative (interviews and focus groups) and quantitative (community-based surveys) research has been conducted on the lived experience of drought and mining, and the findings relevant to solastalgia are presented.


The authors are exploring the potential uses and applications of the concept of solastalgia for understanding the psychological impact of the increasing incidence of environmental change worldwide.


Worldwide, there is an increase in ecosystem distress syndromes matched by a corresponding increase in human distress syndromes. The specific role played by global-scale environmental challenges to ‘sense of place’ and identity will be explored in the future development of the concept of solastalgia.




Albrecht, G., G.-M. Sartore, L. Connor, N. Higginbotham, S. Freeman, B Kelly, H. Stain, A. Tonna, and G. Pollard, 2007, “Solastalgia: the distress caused by environmental change,” Australasian Psychiatry 15: S95-S98.

Albrecht, Glenn, “‘Solastalgia’ A New Concept in Health and Identity,” PAN


Albrecht, Glenn, 2012 (August 7), “The Age of Solastalgia,” The Conversation


Mason, Paul, 2010 (January 30), “Solastalgia, Soliphilia and the Ecopsychology of our Changing Environment,” Neuroanthropology


Smith, Daniel B., 2010 (January 27), “Is There An Ecological Unconscious?,”

New York Times Magazine


Sacred banyon tree and spirit house in Bangkok, Thailand.

Dr. Leslie Sponsel; Sacred banyan tree and spirit house in Bangkok, Thailand.

Leslie E. Sponsel earned the BA in Geology fromIndiana University (1965), and the MA (1973) and PhD (1981) in Biological and Cultural Anthropology from Cornell University. Over the last four decades he has taught at seven universities in four countries, two as a Fulbright Fellow. In 1981 he joined the Anthropology faculty at the University of Hawai’i to develop and direct the Ecological Anthropology Program. His courses include Ecological Anthropology, Environmental Anthropology, Anthropology of Religion, Spiritual Ecology, Sacred Places, Anthropology of Buddhism, Ethics in Anthropology, and Anthropology of War and Peace. Although retired since August 2010, he teaches one or two courses annually and devotes the rest of his time to research and publications.

 From 1974 to 1981 Sponsel conducted several trips to the Venezuelan Amazon to study human ecology with the Yanomami and other indigenous societies. Almost yearly since 1986 Sponsel has made research trips to Thailand to study various aspects of Buddhist ecology and environmentalism together with his wife, Dr. Poranee Natadecha-Sponsel, retired from Chaminade University of Honolulu. In recent years their work in northern Thailand has focused on exploring sacred caves.

 Among Sponsel’s extensive publications are more than two dozen journal articles, three dozen book chapters, 29 entries in seven different scientific encyclopedias, and two edited and two co-edited books. Henceforth he will focus on publishing other books integrating his previous articles and chapters on several different subjects as well as on developing the Research Institute for Spiritual Ecology (RISE) and its website: http://spiritualecology.info/rise-2/.

Also see faculty homepage:


2 responses to ““Solastalgia: the distress caused by environmental change”

  1. Great find! Terrific concept! I would like to add a solution: The cure for solasalgia would be REVEL-ution, a term i coined to mean “the joyful dismantling of all structures of oppression, including destructions of natural environments for corporate profits.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: “Solastalgia: the distress caused by environmental change” | glennaalbrecht·

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