Camilla Nielson

Finding Home in Homelessness Vilém Flusser’s Model of ‘Dialogic Ties’

‘Feeling at home’ is a very basic existential need. With the rise of nationalism and global migration in today’s world there is a growing need for home – not just as a secure base, but also as a feeling of belonging. Its flipside – emotional homelessness – is generally associated with a sense of alienation, nostalgic disorientation, and rupture.

The trajectory of Vilém Flusser (1920-1991), a Czech-born philosopher and prolific writer, offers us a fascinating example of how such a difficult emotion can facilitate personal growth. After emigrating to Brazil in 1940 he remained old European, at home in four languages, while at the same time stating: “I am homeless, because they are so many homelands make their home in me.” Flusser was keenly aware of the unconscious threads that tie us to the past, to our first ‘territory’ of home. Yet once he had overcome the initial pain of exile and embarked upon a new life, he found the feeling of homelessness to be truly liberating. Free from the past and free for the future, his fate now being a destiny he could influence.

The making of home in exile can be a kind of interweaving and integrating of emotional experiences and relationships creating new ‘dialogic ties’ that foster a sense of belonging and rootedness. As Flusser noted: “The migrant does not become free by denying his lost home. I am a citizen of Prague and Sao Paulo, I am Jewish and belong to the so-called German culture. I do not deny this. Indeed, I emphasize it, to be able to transcend it.”

These reflections are consonant with a Jungian understanding of therapy (to which dialogue so central) and will be illustrated by clinical case material


Camilla R. Nielsen, diplomate CGJI, IAAP, ÖGAP. Work as a psychotherapist/analyst, lecturer (Vienna, Houston, Buenos Aires), translator (at home in six languages). Studied at the University of Vienna (languages, history and philosophy).


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