Cognitive Immobility

Aussie Insights: Unravelling the Mystery of Cognitive Immobility

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Recently, various media and blogs have discussed the phenomenon known as cognitive immobility and the frameworks used to understand this experience. Two notable mentions include an article in German by Günther Lanier, ‘Vor- und nachher: Migration im Kopf’ (translated as ‘Before and after: Migration in mind’), and a blog post by Megan Soria, a PhD student at Deakin University in Australia.

The photo for this piece was sourced from the article written by Günther Lanier, though it was originally made available online via Günther Lanier summarized the published article in his piece, capturing its essentials. The author contended that

‘… so brauchen wir Ezenwa E Olumba jedoch nicht zu glauben, dass er dadurch heimatlos geworden ist. Er hat ja zwei Zuhause’ – which translates to ‘we shouldn’t assume Ezenwa E Olumba feels “homeless”. After all, he has two homes’.

This is in reference to the concept of ‘metaphorical homelessness’ discussed in the original paper, where ‘homelessness’ is used metaphorically. Nonetheless, Günther Lanier’s piece was insightful and enjoyable.

The second mention came from Megan Soria, who wrote:

‘I have never told anyone about these sentiments before because they were so weird that I thought people might think I had gone mad. But just last month (a little over three years since I moved), I read an article from The Conversation about a psychological process called Cognitive Immobility. I got goosebumps, and I was so relieved. What I felt had a name, and other people had the same experience. I wish I had known this existed before.’

It was deeply moving to see how the blogger, Megan Soria, resonated with the concept and felt validated by learning about it. The piece was resoundingly awesome, and we were glad that we had helped someone ascend from the first stage of cognitive immobility to the third stage, which is the most preferable. Knowing that the work we do is not only contributing to the scientific community but also providing comfort and understanding to those experiencing cognitive immobility is genuinely gratifying. We conduct research to shed light on unexplored areas, connect, and let people know they are not alone.

We are pleased that people are becoming aware of the phenomenon known as cognitive immobility, which can be related to traumatic life events or even endearing ones.

NB: We have some projects in the works, and soon some of our findings will be published, and you will be the first to know.

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About Ezenwa Olumba


I’m a doctoral researcher who researches and writes about issues at the intersection of memory, migration, and politics. I’m particularly interested in how violence, culture, atrocities on people and other life experiences influence people’s emotions, collective actions, (im)mobility aspirations, and identities. My outstanding research on ‘Cognitive Immobility’ has been well received, and the blog post emanating from it has been read by over 500k people worldwide and translated into other languages. I have published a research article on conflicts and blog posts on drones, eco-violence, and relief funding.

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