Wondering about the definition of sehnsucht? Keep reading to learn the meaning of sehnsucht, see some examples, and get a better understanding of this travel glossary term!
What is Sehnsucht?
Sehnsucht describes “an unidentifiable longing or yearning, often for a place or home; missing a place far away that one can identify as their home.” Sehnsucht is a German word with no perfect or direct English translation.
In psychology, Sehnsucht is often termed as life longings (LLs).
More on Sehnsucht
In Jacky Bowring’s book A Field Guide to Melancholy, Jacky explains:
“The term for longing in German is Sehnsucht, combining a typically paradoxical melancholy mix of nostalgia and desire. CS Lewis adopted the word to express a form of spiritual longing throughout his life, from the works of Plato to a longing for God. The conundrum of Sehnsucht is further confounded as Lewis uses it synonymously with joy.”
According to Susanne Scheibe, et al., from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, Germany, “the German concept of Sehnsucht captures individual and collective thoughts and feelings about one’s optimal or utopian life. Sehnsucht (life longings; LLs) is defined as an intense desire for alternative states and realizations of life.”
They go on to conceptualize six main characteristics of Sehnsucht:
- Utopian conceptions of ideal development,
- Sense of incompleteness and imperfection of life,
- Conjoint time focus on the past, present, and future,
- Ambivalent (bittersweet) emotions,
- Reflection and evaluation of one’s life, and
- Symbolic richness.
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