Existential migration and not ‘being-at-home’ in the world

In his academic research, Dr. Greg Madison describes (and illustrates with personal stories) a process of migration that has not been recognised until now. He calls it ‘existential migration’.

Unlike economic migration, simple wanderlust, exile, or variations of forced migration, ‘existential migration’ is conceived as a chosen attempt to express something fundamental about personal existence by leaving one’s homeland and becoming a foreigner. This concept arose from interviews with voluntary migrants from around the world now living in London.

The study generated themes that seemed common for these voluntary migrants such as:

  • The importance of trying to fulfil individual potentials
  • The importance of freedom and independence
  • Openness to experiences of the mystery of life
  • The valuing of difference and foreignness as a stimulus to personal awareness and new perspectives

Among existential migrants there is a marked preference for the unfamiliar and foreign over the familiar conventional routines of the home world. As well as the new concept of existential migration, the research proposes a novel definition of home as interaction; that the ‘feeling of home’ arises from specific interactions with our surroundings that could potentially occur anywhere, at any time. This is in contrast to the usual definition of home as geographical place.

The new concept also challenges our usual definitions of culture shock, what is the meaning of ‘home’, the personal cost of belonging, and the value of being ‘homeless’.

The concept of ‘Existential Migration’ enables us to think freshly about the psychological assumptions in migration studies, cultural anthropology, tourism studies, cross-cultural training, refugee studies, and psychotherapy.

The research presents stories of migration in a clear and evocative way, emphasising the poignancy of the topic. It also suggests a cautionary note about the psychological consequences of increasing world globalisation. Dr Madison warns that we may be entering an age of ‘global homelessness’.

Online Skype and Zoom Sessions

Dr Greg Madison offers online Skype and Zoom sessions, seminars and workshops to help clients and coaching, mental health and NGO professionals explore these experiences for their own personal welfare and professional development when working with displaced peoples or migrants.

Existential Migration

The insights gained from this new concept elaborate our existing understanding of migration in exciting ways.

The End of Belonging

The End of Belonging. Untold Stories of Leaving Home and the Psychology of Global Relocation

by Dr Greg Madison

Kindle and paperback version available

“It would be challenging for anyone to read this book without asking some original questions of themselves, and possibly finding some surprising answers, so for those of us interested in existential philosophy or psychotherapy, personally or professionally, it is a good read.”

Some publicity on Greg’s book and research is available here:

I, Greg Madison, am the author of these articles and I release the contents under the terms of GNU Free Documentation licence, Version 1.2 and later.

For more information:

Email Dr. Greg Madison

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