Losing Eden – Why Our Minds Need the Wild
Lucy Jones, Allen Lane, 2020, 272 pages, £14
Since the start of civilization, jaded townspeople have dreamed of escaping from the city and reconnecting with nature. In this highly personal but also well-informed study, Lucy Jones demonstrates that this is not just a sentimental yearning, but a reflection of the deepest needs of our nature.
She writes candidly about addiction, depression, motherhood and stress, relating her story to the wider one of nature-deprived humanity, showing how nature cures can heal all, or many, ills. She cites sources ranging from Ptolemy to 21st century psychotherapists to prove that self-isolation from nature is dehumanising, and damaging to mental and physical health.
She goes to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault and Poland’s primeval forest, tells of ‘vertical gardens’ in Milan, Detroit’s re-greening and ‘forest-bathing’ in Japan, has coffee with druids in Lewes, watches her baby eating soil, and capably sifts mounds of recent findings from art history, biology, landscape design, neuroscience, psychology, and sociology. Three quarters of British 5-12 year olds spend under an hour a day outside, prisoners of screens and their parents’ own fears and ignorance – and those who do not know nature personally are unlikely to preserve it properly.
Thankfully, attitudes are altering, and we can expedite change – and improve our lives immeasurably – simply by revisiting the animal kingdom, and recovering our ancient sense of awe.
This review first appeared in The Lady, and is reproduced with permission