I am looking for a word that is close in meaning to nostalgia, but not so passive. Something that is compulsive. It should also be unambiguously negative. A bonus would be a connotation of anxiety.

Edit: I am looking for a noun, like nostalgia, that describes the state or emotion.

  • Self-absorption? You would normally say a person was self-absorbed but I was trying to make a noun. – Mynamite Dec 11 '13 at 19:23
  • Just to clarify, you said 'define the action' — do you mean verb rather than noun? – anotherdave Dec 11 '13 at 20:26
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    You're right, that's not very clear. I am looking for a word like nostalgia, which is a noun describing a state. I'll update my question. – Kyeotic Dec 11 '13 at 21:41
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    You actually seem to have two concepts there: obsession + reliving. That would be wallowing in the past -- not a word, an expression. – Kris Dec 12 '13 at 5:14
  • "Let It All Go: Many people love to wallow in the past. They hold onto feelings that have been with them since childhood. They are fiercely protective of these feelings, no matter how destructive they are. Others feel enslaved to their feelings." (Ryan S. Taylor, Magnetic Abundance: Life Without Excuses) [emphasis added] – Kris Dec 12 '13 at 5:22

Rumination is the term I have used in the past to describe the given situation.

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  • I have heard this word before, but I always thought it had a more neutral meaning. Thank you for the wiki link. – Kyeotic Dec 11 '13 at 21:45

Scrupulosity comes to mind as an anxious concern with not doing wrong, and at least in a spiritual or psychological sense, it suggests a somewhat obsessive interest in past mistakes.

There's also penitence, which is sadness for something you've done wrong, but it doesn't connote anxiety.

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  • Scrupulosity is very good. It has a more "current" meaning (trying to avoid), rather than focusing on previous mistake, but I think it's pretty close. – Kyeotic Dec 11 '13 at 21:40

Habitual is the closest word I can think of. It usually is negatively toned.

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  • See my edit. This doesn't quite fit. – Kyeotic Dec 11 '13 at 19:18
  • Implosive would satisfy the negative and compulsive terms. – Mike Dec 11 '13 at 20:06

If a person is constantly reliving the past, rummaging over poor decisions or errors they committed and at the same time experience feelings of loss, sadness or disappointment I would suggest the following:


Regret is often expressed by the term "sorry." Regret is often a feeling of sadness, shame, embarrassment, depression, annoyance, or guilt, after one acts in a manner and later wishes not to have done so.


Remorse is an emotional expression of personal regret felt by a person after they have committed an act which they deem to be shameful, hurtful, or violent.

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