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Losing Eden: Why Our Minds Need the Wild

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As the author states, “Nature is not a luxury: its presence or absence creates and causes different health outcomes for different groups of people” (105). It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. These vivid elements of personal experience are interwoven with factual information drawn from a wide array of sources .

It even affects rates of recidivism so much that many prisons are now offering activities based around nature. Even referring to pigs as 'pork' or cows as 'beef' emphasizes our alienation and disconnection from the land and other living creatures” (133-134). Although nature’s effect on the psyche is not often spoken about in contemporary psychological discourse, Carl Jung, the founder of analytical psychology, was an early advocate of nature’s mental health benefits. Here, her childhood experiences of Quebec landscapes are transporting: “Into this weird, wild winter wonderland, I was delivered, agog… the space, the nature and the quiet were exactly what an inquisitive, imaginative seven-year-old needed. Some readers may dismiss this material as vapid Hollywood stuff, but Heche’s perspective is an empathetic blend of Buddhism (minimize suffering), dialectical behavioral therapy (tolerating distress), Christianity (do unto others), and pre-Socratic philosophy (sufficient reason).She never loses sight of the fact that the natural world is vital to our own existence; she describes it as ‘our life support system. The less the current generation is in contact with nature the less the future one will be and therefore care for the protection of the planet. Losing Eden is full of both common sense and passion, cramming masses of information into 200 pages of text yet never losing sight of the big picture. Though there are lots of studies referenced that I would have liked to read in print, the details probably get a bit tedious in print (for someone not super well versed on the topic). They live in cities or heavily built-up suburban areas with little or no interaction with the wider world.

More interesting to me were the bits in the book where she ventured into biology - different bacteria in the soil for example and how they are being used in medicine. In this ground-breaking, deeply personal investigation, acclaimed journalist and author Lucy Jones brings to light the emerging concept of 'matrescence'. The author wants to share what she has discovered over the course of a life filled with abuse, advocacy, and uncanny turning points. And what would this “biological annihilation”, as scientists had put it, do to her mind and spirit, assuming she managed to survive at all. Her first book, Foxes Unearthed, was celebrated for its 'brave, bold and honest' (Chris Packham) account of our relationship with the fox, winning the Society of Authors' Roger Deakin Award 2016.Extolling the virtues of green urbanism and forest schooling, sharing skepticism about virtual experiences of nature, and bashing the atrociousness of astroturf, Jones takes us along with her on a journalistic mission that found Jones herself surprised by "how much and how varied the evidence is," (p 194) that we desperately need nature exposure in our day-to-day lives.

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