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I've spent some time trying to search for this but my lack of knowledge limits my ability to find any information about this subject.

I know someone who constantly sees another city as a "Grass is Greener" and will pack up and move about every eight months. This behavior of "loose-footing" that I'm trying to describe meets the 4 D's of Psychopathology:

  1. Deviance: Moving to another town for an unacceptably bad reason that someone of their intelligence wouldn't accept if they heard it from someone else.
  2. Distress: Forgoing valuable social and capital assets that causes hardship after the move. Feelings of loneliness after losing touch of newly created friendships before the move. Constant anxiety of not moving to a new city when they think they find a better one.
  3. Dysfunctional: The person is in complete denial of the behavior trend and after moving to a new city will spend resources in material or non material assets that reflect an intention to not move again. Like signing a two-year lease or selling or buying a car or a city parking space. Or quitting a Top-100 University after two years and a 4.0GPA in engineering that gave them a full-ride, because of a unacceptably poor reason.

  4. Danger: These self-imposed hardships give the person chronic depression and a danger to harm themselves.

I'm only talking about this when it is pathological. I am assuming this is common, but I'm unsure of how common it is as I can't find any info about it. Hence the motivation for the question. I'm not referring to a cultural group or a nomad as being pathological.

One could say that this is just depression and/or anxiety and while that is true. I would imagine that this behavior is unique or common enough to deserve its own study of this trend, its origins or treatment strategies. For example growing up with derelict parents or maybe moving too often during childhood.

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    $\begingroup$ Sounds like a terminology question, based on the all too common assumption here that 'every behavior in life I observe must have a name in psychology'. $\endgroup$ – Steven Jeuris Jul 13 '18 at 10:01
  • $\begingroup$ I'm only talking about this when it is pathological. I've given example of a specific pathological case that assume is common. But I'm unsure of how common it is as I can't find any info about it. Hence the motivation for the question. I'm not referring to a cultural group or a nomad as being pathological. $\endgroup$ – Gabriel Fair Jul 13 '18 at 16:04
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Although not a clinical diagnosis for mental disorder, the term Residential Instability brings up many articles discussing psychological problems associated with it in Google and Google Scholar.

Cotton, B. P. & Schwartz-Barcott, D. (2016). Residential Instability Among Low-Income Families: A Concept Analysis. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing 30(2): 257-261. doi: 10.1016/j.apnu.2015.11.006 pmid: 26992880

Residential instability is relatively common among low-income families and is associated with a host of negative outcomes, especially for children and adolescents. Psychiatric nurses, especially those in the advanced practice role, observe the consequences of residential instability within the clinical setting. Yet, to-date, the concept is somewhat vague and its essential meaning and definition remain unclear.

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  • $\begingroup$ Good point; I didn't know the term used for this in psy/med/social work. $\endgroup$ – Fizz Jul 19 '18 at 17:14
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    $\begingroup$ Also this paper discusses residential instability, couched as "migration patterns" after first-episode psychosis. $\endgroup$ – Fizz Jul 19 '18 at 17:19
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If you're talking pathological, the behavior you mention may be related to bipolar disorder:

“They can be quite distractible and may start a million things and never finish them,” says Don Malone, M.D., the director of the Center for Behavioral Health and chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.

I haven't found any actual clinical vignettes of people moving around in the pattern you mention (I only did a quick search though), but starting projects with great élan, which may include relocation, and never finishing them because depression kicks in sounds like a plausible scenario.

Also since you mention "spend resources in material or non material assets that reflect an intention to not move again"... spending sprees are somewhat common of during [hypo]mania.

Keep in mind that diagnosing someone without meeting them is quite risky and considered downright unethical in some professional societies.

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