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I know a question with similar phrasing has already been asked and closed but what I'm looking for is not something in the line of "nostalgic" or "old-fashioned" or any other way of referring to individuals who are out of sync with popular ideas, opinions, values, belief-systems and etc.

The condition I wish to find the term to refer to is about individuals who as a result of trauma or a significant loss, are found to be reaching for the same thing over and over and over again, even though the initial motive is long outdated, irrelevant or etc. or individuals who are often daydreaming about how their lives would have looked like if this or that event hadn't happen that way, and not only "daydreaming" but that their real life is within those fantasy realms and in real life they are unable to find suitable alternatives for what was once the real drive for in that past time.

For example, on the dysfunctional end of the spectrum you might call them "helpless", "listless", "disoriented" and etc.

But the term I'm looking for is regarding the ones who seem functional on the surface, because there are people who are living normal lives, but when you get to know them on a more personal level, you realize the reason they rejected that career offer was because the career they wanted to pursue was the choice their parents denied them at youth, or when you asked them why not going on a date with that person, the answer is that "I have already loved someone, I can't ever love anyone else. What would be the point of all the hassle, if you can't love that person."


Off Topic Example

For example, the "nice guy" trope is often exclusively used about individuals who want to have all the ladies but are incapable of understanding that the dating dynamics is more complicated than just being "nice" to someone who is attractive.

In the same style, the individuals I'm trying to find the right label for could be considered full of regret, resentment, rancor over the past, but not directed at a group [rightly or wrongly] rather that these emotions are so strong that there is no place left for having feelings about the things in the present or possibilities in the future.

For example, someone who goes on the same spot he or she met the [perceived] "love of his or her life", after having lost that relationship, either in the hope that he or she would also show up, or otherwise if it is the loss of the individual, then in the conviction that it is only in this place that if ever a new person can fill the gap of the deceased person, otherwise meeting someone elsewhere can't be ...


PS. For the sake of the requirements for "single word requests" here is how it can be used in a conversation:

A. Oh, I just met XYZ; He seems like a very intelligent person! why didn't you tell me about him before?

B. Oh dear! He is quite ..........! Two years ago, Lady Catherine was almost preparing herself to be wedded to him, in fact, we all were; But she was no Elizabeth! When death couldn't convince him to look for someone else, you, my young and inexperience girl, would just be wasting your time on him!

  • "who as a result of trauma or a significant loss, are found to be reaching for the same thing over and over and over again, even though the initial motive is long outdated, irrelevant or etc." How well would traumatized fit, given that you use a form of it in your question? – TaliesinMerlin Dec 5 '19 at 18:49
  • Technically maybe but in the common language "traumatized" is used about individuals who aren't living a normal life; Especially the ones hospitalized in a mental institution. You can't call someone who is perfectly functional "traumatized", or at least, so it appears to me. – Captain Husayn Pinguin Dec 5 '19 at 18:53
  • in addition "traumatized" refers to many more behaviors, dysfunctions and etc, than just the condition (behavior pattern) I'm trying to describe. – Captain Husayn Pinguin Dec 5 '19 at 18:56
  • Why does "stuck in the past" not work? – Juhasz Dec 5 '19 at 19:05
  • That's the closest shortest description I have, but there the problem is that it is often used in similar meaning as "nostalgia" – for example here: exhaleandenjoylife.com/get-out-of-being-stuck-in-the-past read the second paragraph – but what I'm referring to is not individuals who were happier, or had it better – rather the ones that psychologically they want something that is in the past and no more possible, neither relevant. For example an adult who wants/plays with toys because his parents never got him would fall into this category but "stuck in the past"? not right. – Captain Husayn Pinguin Dec 5 '19 at 19:16
4

Haunted

2: preoccupied, as with an emotion, memory, or idea; obsessed: His haunted imagination gave him no peace.

Or, another example sentence: He was haunted by the past.

1

Cambridge Dictionary has a quote against the word 'embittered' :

He died a disillusioned and embittered old man.

I think either or both of those descriptive words fit your request.

The severe case, when Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is evidenced, causes people to continually re-live the traumatic event, and/or attempt to rationalize the whole background of the situation in order to obtain closure.

They are truly 'stuck in the past', their memory and mind revolving perpetually around a past from which they struggle, sometimes for years, to be free.

But if you are confining yourself to the generality of humanity who simply regret lost opportunities or feel remorse for wrongdoing, then I think the Cambridge quote is quite suitable.

1

One person mentioned "haunted," which I believe is a right fit. However, it doesn't seem to fit your "one word requests" example. A closer cousin to it in my imagination would be "wistful."

wistful (adj.) sad and thinking about something that is impossible or in the past: I thought about those days in Spain and grew wistful.

Source: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/wistful

Oh dear! He is quite wistful! Two years ago, Lady Catherine was almost preparing herself to be wedded to him, in fact, we all were; But she was no Elizabeth! When death couldn't convince him to look for someone else, you, my young and inexperience girl, would just be wasting your time on him!

0

Though not providing an answer, the following information from etymonline might get you started in the right direction, even if you wind up with a neologism.

regret (v.)

"to look back with distress or sorrowful longing; to grieve for on remembering," late 14c., from Old French regreter "long after, bewail, lament someone's death; ask the help of" (Modern French regretter), from re-, intensive prefix (see re-), + -greter, possibly from Frankish or some other Germanic source (compare Old English grætan "to weep;" Old Norse grata "to weep, groan"), from Proto-Germanic *gretan "weep." "Not found in other Romance languages, and variously explained" [Century Dictionary].

Related: Regretted; regretting. Replaced Old English ofþyncan, from of- "off, away," here denoting opposition, + þyncan "seem, seem fit" (as in methinks).

regret (n.)

"pain or distress in the mind at something done or left undone," 1530s, from the verb, or from Middle French regret, back-formation from regreter (see regret (v.)).

All of us have experienced regret, but some people seem "to live a life of regret," never able to make a clean break with past mistakes, failures, losses, and disappointments. Some folks dwell in the past, reliving their successes over and over again in their minds, seemingly unconcerned about their present and future. In other words, they rest on their laurels. Their rest, however, is tinged with regret.

For them, the realization that past successes will never again be repeated, at least in the same way and with the same circumstances that existed in the past, causes them to neglect the present.

A world-class athlete, for example, may bemoan his or her aging, unable to be world-class again, so he or she relives the feelings of what being a world-class athlete was like "back then." In other words, they are stuck in the past and living a life of regret.

An alternative to this sorry state of affairs is to take to heart the words of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas who said in his famous poem (or villanelle),

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

The cure, if there be one, for the disease of living a life of regret is to fight back--to rage--against the dying of the light. Each of us, I suppose, finds his or her own way to rage against the inevitable, but the person living a life of regret seems not to have the wherewithal to rage constructively and meaningfully.

  • 1
    ..........regretful? Because a verb doesn’t fit the sentence. – Laurel Dec 5 '19 at 20:43
  • @Laurel: It works for me. But, the phenomenon is a bit too complicated to be summarized with that one word. Hey, there may not be a single word which can do it justice. Hence my suggestion that a neologism might be needed. Don – rhetorician Dec 6 '19 at 5:53

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