Monday, May 19, 2008

Relocation Stress Syndrome

Similar to Culture Shock.

Relocation Stress Syndrome (RSS) is defined as the physiologic and psychosocial disturbances that result from transfer from one environment to another. The stress associated with relocation is so extreme that experts evaluate it as being on par with the stress of divorce or of a death in the family. After a move, RSS can last for several months, often persisting a year or longer.
Psychologists agree that moving is a lengthy process of adjustment to changed circumstances and a new environment. The impact of stressors during RSS is heightened when there is no opportunity to move gradually and when the losses are considerable, i.e., loss of lifestyle, friends, family and usual routines, cultural values, and language facility.

The symptoms of RSS are loneliness, depression, anger, apprehension, dependency, confusion, anxiety and withdrawal and can affect anybody who moves to a new home. Minor characteristics include changes in sleeping and eating habits, insecurity, lack of trust and need for excessive reassurance.
RSS is experienced until a sense of control is regained. When experiencing relocation stress, the process depends on a number of variables, such as age and stage of life, personality, number of losses, amount of preparation and the degree and type of support before, during and after the move. There is a normal and predictable adjustment process that every relocatee will experience upon expatriation and repatriation, as well as with domestic moves, but researchers found that older individuals can take longer to adjust than the younger population.

From The 6th Families in Global Transition - International Conference

Symptoms of Repatriation:
A person returning to home country after living abroad for more than 3 years is likely to experience some or all of these symptoms:
  • A feeling of not being accepted or respected
  • A feeling of alienation from friends and family
  • A feeling that friends and family don’t understand or appreciate your experiences
  • A feeling of emptiness and meaninglessness
  • A feeling of loneliness and rejection from society
  • A feeling of loss of lifestyle, career and prestige
  • An idealization of the country that was left
  • A feeling of anger frustration which can manifest itself suddenly and sharply
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