Thursday, 19 February 2009


Soliphilia: The Antidote to Solastalgia

I have a neologism for you (yes, another one). I have developed the concept of solastalgia to describe the pain or sickness caused by the inability to derive solace from the present state of one’s home environment. It is the lived experience of negatively perceived environmental change to one’s ‘sense of place’ and existential well-being. It is closely linked to feelings of powerlessness and a loss of hope about the future. In summary, it is the melancholia or homesickness experienced while you are still at home and your home environment is being gradually desolated. I have written about solastalgia in relation to large-scale mining, drought and changing climates. There are many posts on this Blog (Healthearth) that give more detail on solastalgia.

I am now working on the positive concept of soliphilia. I define soliphilia as:

the love of and responsibility for a place, bioregion, planet and the unity of interrelated interests within it.

The soli is from solidarity with meanings connected to:

A union of interests, purposes, or sympathies among members of a group; fellowship of responsibilities and interests.
[French solidarité, from solidaire, interdependent, from Old French, in common, from Latin solidus, solid, whole.] ( )

I offer this concept as a cultural and political addition to the other ‘philias’ that have been created. E.O Wilson’s biophilia or the love of life is critically important in the context of empathy and engagement with all life. Tuan’s concept of topophilia is a vital part of love of landscape and place and our sense of place. Soliphilia is now added to love of life and place to give us the love of the whole (life + place at all scales) and the solidarity between us that is needed to keep what we all hold in common healthy and strong. Now we have a love of the politics of place where our motivation to defeat solastalgia and other forces that cause sickness and extinction is captured in a new concept. Soliphilia goes beyond left-right politics and provides a universal motivation to achieve sustainability.

I would like your thoughts on this neologism and my reason for creating it.

Yours, in soliphilia, Glenn.



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  1. Hi Glenn, I am totally down with the idea of Soliphilia, but I am wondering wheterh what the world neds is another neologism. As a teacher of undergraduates, I find that students are nervous around technical language. What might seem like a clever piece of coinage may be just a meaningless buzz-term, whereas the concepts you describe are clear enough.

  2. Evil one, I find that my students relate well to new concepts if they can see/feel them. I use a lot of imagery from artists and photographers to illustrate psychoterratic ideas.
    I do academic fieldwork so use in lectures and presentations selections from hundreds of quotes from people who give expression to psychoterratic distress, even if they do not use the words I have created.
    Also, films like Avatar help students’ appreciate the lived experience of environmental desolation ... even if it happens to be a virtual world.
    Another idea I am developing is to ask students to write/talk about their own ecobiographies where they identify seminal influences of their own views of nature/living things other than humans. All this helps.
    As for soliphilia, I see the USA as a prime place where this concept can get traction. From where I sit in Australia, I feel a lot of people must be sick of the boring and predictable liberal-conservative battles, especially the way it is played out in the media (and in the Senate and Congress).
    A new political concept which is neither left nor right in the old orthodox political spectrum is long overdue. I think that the Occupy movement has strong elements of soliphilia within it. I have a post on that issue.
    Thanks for your comment and interest in this idea. As with all of my new concepts, they are work in progress, hence the point of the Healthearth Blog.


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