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Propaganda Of The Past – Third Culture Kids, Childhood Memories & Attachment To Place


To be whisked away by a childhood memory can be a wonderful thing, especially if it means an escape from the mundanity of adulthood.

Memories are usually triggered by something in the present. It might come at us as we are discussing something with a friend or if we see something on our way to work. Until that moment the memory has been locked away in our subconscious and has been inaccessible.

Being presented with the opportunity to once again experience the simplicity of the past is something few people would pass up.



For most of us, our memories will be centered around one place, usually a house or a neighborhood.

When this place  has the same cultural context as our present day environment, the memory awakes nothing else than a yearning for simpler times.

But for those of you who have grown up in a country different to the passport country of your parents (Third Culture Kids), recalling childhood memories can lead to a conflict of desires since the memory is of a place that has a different cultural context than your present day environment.


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When it comes to Third Culture Kids, the feeling of nostalgia that so often accompanies a childhood memory can be assigned to the location that the memory occurred in rather than the event itself. 

This can cause us to compare the present location to the past location and will awake within us a desire to relive the memory.

It is when we realize that we are unable to relive the memory (because we are not in the location where the memory occurred) that we will feel a strong psychic pain that if experienced over a longer time-span will lead to depression.




In cases where a person has been brought up in several countries, childhood memories may present a conflict of competing attachments that makes us susceptible to depression. 

A fond memory of something that happened whilst living in Hong Kong may be followed by an equally fond memory of something that happened whilst living in The Netherlands. 

Reliving the memories will cause the holder of those memories to want to visit those countries again, but at the same time the holder is faced with the reality that visiting both simultaneously is impossible. 


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The holder of the memory would therefore be forced to choose which memory to relive and would have to delay visiting the other country until it has once again become logistically and financially possible, which may be several years away.

This has been a simple showcase of how memories can evoke strong urges within Third Culture Kids that if left untreated may lead to depression.

Depression and inner-conflict is formed when opposing urges compete with each other or when urges are unable to be fulfilled. Reflecting on these urges with a therapist can help minimize the risk of becoming depressed.



Next Article: When The Pillars Of The Third Culture Kid Lifestyle Fall

Ruth Van Reken and David Pollock provide numerous theories regarding the cross-culture lifestyle in their book Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds. Amongst them is the theory about identity anchors or pillars (sometimes called tent-pegs). The theory relates to the Third Culture Kid’s ability toREAD MORE


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