Ecopsychology, Solastalgia, Biophilia and Serenity Gardens

Photo by Corbyrobert - Garden of the Gods

Big words for simple ideas: ecopsychology, solastalgia, biophilia....

Recently, “solastalgia” has appeared in various places like in an instrumental track called “Solastalgia,” released by the British duo Zero 7 and  it was the title of a 2008 album by Slovenian recording artist, Jukeen.

In 2010 The New York Times published a great article on this term by Daniel B. Smith (he holds the Critchlow Chair in English at the College of New Rochelle).  I took a lot of info from that article for this blog post.

Solastalgia is "A pain or discomfort caused by the present state of one’s home environment".

It is an emotional suffering felt by different people in different locations as the ongoing degradation of the environment continues apace.

It is a global condition affecting indigenous people and urban / industrial denizens alike. Solastalgia is what we feel when we become disconnected from our natural environment.....

“Solastalgia” has been used to describe the experiences of Inuit communities coping with the effects of rising temperatures

Bangladeshi subsistence farmers faced with changes in rainfall patterns

 and refugees returning to New Orleans after Katrina.

This concept is not new.  Ecopsychology -  “the relationship between environmental issues and mental health and well-being” - addresses this in detail.. Ecopsychology is taught at Oberlin College, Lewis & Clark College and the University of Wisconsin, among other institutions.

Why is this important to serenity garden lovers and designers?

Because the scientists are following our lead!

The vital link between well being and nature that is our calling is now being investigated by Ecopsychologists. They use words like 'solastalgia' and 'solasphilia' give talks and write scholarly articles on how nature makes us feel good.   

They say that their field’s roots are in traditions like Buddhism, Romanticism and Transcendentalism.

And these too are the philosophical roots of Serenity Gardening...Thoreau, Lao Tzu, et al.....

A great book.....

And don't forget the wide concept of 'biophilia', a hypothesis of the great biologist E. O. Wilson, who said in 1984 that human beings have an “innate tendency to focus on life and lifelike processes.” AMEN to that!

Dr. Edward O. Wilson

Over the past 25 years Wilson's ideas on 'biophilia' have inspired many scientific articles, books, conferences and the new E. O.Wilson Biophilia Center in northwest Florida.

The E.O. Wilson Center's Exhibit Hall

Yes, we gardeners focus on life and revel in its exquisite forms in the green world....
Serenity gardens sing praises to Mother Nature's effect on our wellbeing in a quiet way.  No scholarly words here...just the hum of the bees at work.
Ecopsychology is alive and well in my back yard when I am puttering there.

photo at Flikr by one2c900d


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