We need nature for our physical and psychological well-being. Our actions reflect this when we turn to beloved pets for companionship, vacation in spots of natural splendor, or spend hours working in the garden. Yet we are also a technological species and have been since we fashioned tools out of stone. Thus one of this century’s central challenges is to embrace our kinship with a more-than-human world – “our totemic self” – and integrate that kinship with our scientific culture and technological selves.
This book takes on that challenge and proposes a reenvisioned ecopsychology. Contributors consider such topics as the innate tendency for people to bond with local place; a meaningful nature language; the epidemiological evidence for the health benefits of nature interaction; the theory and practice of ecotherapy; Gaia theory; ecovillages; the neuroscience of perceiving natural beauty; and sacred geography. Taken together, the essays offer a vision for human flourishing and for a more grounded and realistic environmental psychology.
“The essays contained in Ecopsychology are the benchmark from which all subsequent elaborations of the discipline will proceed. The introduction and the afterword, by Peter Kahn and Paticia Hasbach, neatly summarize ecopsychology’s history, achievements, and challenges. The book does not propose regression to romantic, pre-technological view of nature but rather the use of modern empirical science to forge a fusion between our natural love of the earth, its health, and our own—physical and spiritual. This is the canonical text of a new and exciting discipline.”
- Jack Turner, author of The Abstract Wild
"By bringing so many thoughtful and provocative thinkers together, Peter Kahn and Patricia Hasbach have prescribed a 21st century human-nature reunion through which individuals, families, and communities offer and receive the gifts of nature; a future in which, as a species, we no longer feel alone; and a world where life returns."
- Richard Louv, author of The Nature Principle and Last Child in the Woods
“This remarkable collection of stunningly important papers remind us of our deep evolutionary, biological and emotional connection to the natural world. Our species, Homo sapiens, undoubtedly the most intelligent and powerful species on Earth, must revere our creator, Nature. Nature nourishes and we must nourish Nature and responsibly embrace our responsibilities to ensure the future of all life on this delicate planet. “
- Donald Johanson, Professor and Founding Director, Institute of Human Origins, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University
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Peter H. Kahn, Jr., is Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology and Director of the Human Interaction with Nature and Technological Systems Laboratory at the University of Washington. His most recent book is Technological Nature: Adaptation and the Future of Human Life (MIT Press, 2011). Patricia H. Hasbach is a licensed clinical psychotherapist in private practice in Eugene, Oregon, and an adjunct faculty member at Lewis and Clark College and Antioch University Seattle.