Maniacal an urge to travel


Wanderlusters we all might be to some extent or the other but the continuing itch of having been bit by the travel bug have not always unfurled in such inclinations rather romantic in their interpretation. There exists a certain charm about exploring and discovering the world in all its familiar hues presented through extraordinary sights of multiple uniqueties that makes travel an exciting, soul soothing and enriching indeed pursuit one chases through life. Whether it be the most lazy of holidays at some secluded haven perched high up in the cool misty ambience of the mountains or some picturesquely vibrant beach making for the perfect spot to let the sun take all over your disposition and you taking all over the ‘gram with those pretty pictures, the solitary sojourn in a quaint land of enamoring mystery or even some jetsetting trip of primarily business essence landing you up in the most posh area of one of the world’s most visited cities, the experiences in travel are such that endows us with some of the most precious moments that we continue to cherish as long as we live upon this very globe of our trotting pursual.

With such mavericks entailed out of this exercise in moving and going, albeit in a whole different dimension of its happening that characterise itself therefore as the definite activity in travelling, of whatever type and kind and for whatever reason and purpose, it does not come as any surprise at all that travel has commanded for itself a distinguished reputation that sees notions of it unfurling such that can hinge anywhere on the edges of romance or lounge in the most luxurious lap of absolute leisure while also gliding with as much ease along the dramatic turns of winding rivers or in taking flights of utter fancy from upon the thrilling avenues of sheer fantasy. And it is in this very premise of unbounded imagination and detailed beauty upon which travelling springs and strives that makes it so potent a prospect in occurring as something as uncontrollably addictive as well.

Source: Gulf News

And thus it presents, this overwhelming urge to travel in such poetic renditions of it that assert through terms as inexplicably captivating as the very popular, clichéd almost but beautiful still spell of wanderlust or the more poignant but lesser explored dimensions of a certain fernweh or even such curious evocations of the travel essence along a specific trail of treading as encompassed by the flaneuring narrative. But it isn’t in exploring only the dimensions of the very aesthetic and the artistic that travel has taken upon itself that recognition in worldwide obsession. Pertaining as prominently to terms more ‘worldly’ as occurring across the definite terminology of the medical is this somewhat different ache arising out of the travel bite that characterise itself as the once terrifying almost assertion of what spelled out as dromomania.

Dromomania might not be very different from that intense urge of the wanderlust we so proudly exhibit today as signs of a generation excessively travel savvy but back in the day when the ‘mania’ suffix came to denote this impulsive tendency to wander, the attributes of this behavior of somewhat concern held identity as a very evident psychological disorder. The essence of it is indeed not quite diverse from the most literal explanation that wanderlust unfurls across as the pleasure derived out of hiking or roaming about. Manifesting as an irresistible urge to aimlessly wander, travel, or walk. dromomania however raked up almost an epidemic of sorts sometime in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Encountered first in the European nation of France where dozens of men would almost unawarely set out on foot to amble along for miles and miles altogether to ultimately land up on the expanses of distant cities or even different continents altogether as well had been this dromomaniac state in dwelling for times spread out across a couple of decades at least.

Derived from the Greek word dromos meaning running, combined with the all encompassing term mania, dromomania came forth as a psychiatric diagnosis revealing itself through such symptoms as an uncontrollable urge to wander or travel without any definite intention in mind. And while the modern day equivalent almost of the wanderlust would earn coveted a status in its very mention and frequent evocation as referencing that passion to travel whether in definite or as vague desires of exploration, what entailed out of the French episode would be ramifications in rather undesired assertions. Sent off to mental asylums or otherwise bundled up in police lockups would be those displaying definite traits of harbouring the dromomaniac impulse to travel, in whatever reiteration of its meaning.

Interestingly though- and thankfully as well to the great relief of the masses of today almost all of whom allude to that certain allure nestled in the coves of the wanderlusting wonder, the occurring of dromomania would be characterised by rather bizarre happenings in association. The urge to wander would prevail for sure, and they all would wander as well, but strangely in fact the subsequent recollections of such incidents in weird ‘travel’ would almost always draw a blank. That is to say, folks who would have been diagnosed as harbouring the dromomania symptoms would wander somewhat unconsciously, with inklings of partial amnesia being interwoven into their travel tales, with even such concerning indeed leanings as a loss of personal identity or even driven to such impulses as suicide and homicide. Regarded thus as a kind of impulse control disorder, dromomania would come to be considered as being one among the criminal manias as well explaining the validity of the repercussions that would follow this act even when in unintentional indulging of it.

Dromomania might have died out today as being a medical diagnosis of the condition of which it was once descriptive- whether because of rare spotting of such cases or for reasons other than this though is not so much a matter in certainty. But the association of it has persisted in more general terms, used often to refer to people who harbour a strong need to travel. This urge to explore constantly might be both physical and/ or emotional but is intense enough in either case to warrant its prevalence even while furthering such undesirable attributes as in ignoring one’s duties and responsibilities of both personal and professional as well as of social leanings. Largely viewed unfavourably therefore as such travel that occurs far too frequently and somewhat unnecessarily indeed, dromomania might not be exclusively pinpointing today of the pathological tourist but it continues to adhere to most negative connotations in thought. Even when travel as an instinct almost of evolutionary basis might have emerged from the early human forced to wander far and wide for food, dromomania does not quite account for the desire to travel as much as it does of a not so convenient state of ‘travelling fugue’.

Despite such frowning upon this concept of too excessive a zeal to explore the world, this very human tendency that expresses itself more greatly through some than the others isn’t entirely deriving upon a play of passion. Stemming of very physiological causes as well might be this journey pursued a bit too far influenced as it is by something as basic as genetic makeup. Aptly nicknamed the wanderlust gene is the DRD4-7R variant of a dopamine receptor that is what kicks the intense drive to absolutely go out there and explore the world.

For the roughly 20 percent of the global population having this gene as part of their DNA it means that they are less sensitive to dopamine which makes them derive lesser thrill out of such adventurous indeed activities that cater perfectly well to the rest of us. Needing therefore as they tend to be of high octane experiences, these human carriers of the DRD4-7R gene variant find themselves constantly yearning for experiences capable of instigating the adrenaline rush in such amounts that would be nothing less than overwhelming for those not characterised by this particular strain of their building. And thus what unfolds is a craving for such travel pursuits that leads them to tread along the exciting edges of exhilaration, experiencing exactly the kind of intensity they need to keep that 7R mutant sated. Travelling therefore continuously, impulsively, instinctively becomes very much a part of their life’s agenda, leading them on this trail of wandering and ambling and sauntering and flaneuring in such extreme taking to necessity that that becomes all they chase after.

No less an addiction thus in such extents of its pursuance can be travel that occupies all faculties of an individual, whether it be mental or emotional, physical or emotional and so on and so forth so much so that they are left with nothing but travel tales to tell and retell over and over again. In such intensive exertions of travelling that turns out to be immensely addictive across all aspects of it, therein lies the dangers of a wanderlusting spirit furthered a bit too far. Like every other form of addiction, travel addiction too can be potentially dangerous irrespective of whether it occurs as the medical condition of dromomania or is limited still in being an extreme state of a particular existence.