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07.07.2013

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A handful of psychologists are starting to conclude that human consciousness has deep interconnections with nature—and that interfering with our sense of place and love of nature can cause severe emotional distress. A few years ago, Glenn Albrecht, a philosopher and professor of sustainability in Perth, Australia, coined a word to describe a phenomenon that he has seen repeatedly when people’s local natural environments have been damaged or changed—“solastalgia.” The word is a combination of the Latin word solacium, which means comfort, and the Greek root algia, which means pain. While many traditionalists in psychology regard the notion of solastalgia as empirically nebulous and spiritually vague, others regard it as a return to basics in studying the human psyche.
The most fascinating part of Daniel Smith’s article was his citation of Gregory Bateson’s 1972 book, Steps to an Ecology of Mind, which, among other things, deals with human consciousness and complex systems.
Bateson argued that our epistemological fallacy is to believe that nature is separate from us, when in fact it is part of our consciousness: “You decide that you want to get rid of the byproducts of human life and that Lake Erie will be a good place for them. When we are purpose-driven, and our technology allows our purposes to be played out on a regional or global scale, and those purposes are primarily the monetization of nature, then our despoliation of nature is tantamount to despoiling our mental habitat as well.
I like to think that the commons offers a point of access to our psychic lives because it asks that we participate and feel moral and social connections to shared resources and to other commoners.


Eocpsychologists don’t quite know how to foster soliphia… but they suspect that it will hold some important answers to reclaiming ourselves and restoring nature. People should always take the time to hug a tree, as it provides them with positive energies that are derived straight from the core of the Earth. With global movement, travel, constant re-location, and ever increasing migration of people, the sense of belonging to a place is fading. We belong to the earth.” A pithy tagline meant to point out that human culture must align itself more closely with ecological imperatives. A huge increase in open-pit coal mining in the region—complete with frequent explosive blasts of rock, airborne coal dust and rumbling coal trains—was causing a “mournful disorientation” among people.
Smith explored the growing subdiscipline of “ecopsychology” that is attempting to chart the ways in which nature is critical to our mental health. Bateson believed that “the tendency to think of mind and nature as separate indicated a flaw at the core of human consciousness,” in Smith’s words.


Only in the past several decades has human dominance of nature reached such proportions that people spend typically more time in front of an electronic screen than in the outdoors. Developers need to be sent to a nature retreat for a month before being getting their license. In fact, nature was a recursive, mindlike system; its unit of exchange wasn’t energy, as most ecologists argued, but information. So with globalization un-rooting the potential for excerbation of the symptoms the author describes is of concern, atleast in the short term.



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