Solastalgia and Ecopsychology - Words for our time

Photo by Corbyrobert - Garden of the Gods   

 Have you heard of  'Solastalgia' ?

A big word for a simple idea.

Nikki Taylor sculpture 


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 degradation of the environment continues. It affects indigenous people and urban / industrial denizens alike.





“Solastalgia” has been used to describe the experiences of Inuit communities coping with the effects of rising temperatures, refugees from Katrina, Bangladeshi farmers in a drought stricken land. 

  Solastalgia is also what we feel when we become disconnected from our natural environment.....



In 2010 The New York Times published a great article on the term 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.





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

Why is this important to serene 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 Serene Gardening...Thoreau, Lao Tzu, et al.....

A great book.....

And don't forget the 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




We gardeners focus on life and revel in its exquisite forms in the green world....
Serene 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.

The world will rediscover its connection to a healthy earth is our only legacy. Nothing else. 

Ecopsychology is alive and well in my back yard when I am puttering there.



photo at Flikr by one2c900d










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