I was fascinated by this book. It's very well-researched and the author presents information in many forms: medical/behavioral research summaries, nutI was fascinated by this book. It's very well-researched and the author presents information in many forms: medical/behavioral research summaries, nutritional science, and most importantly, observational anecdotes of individual cases of animal self-care in the wild.
I feel healthier just having read it! :) I also feel inspired after immersing myself in stories of animals who find everything they need for optimal health in the wilderness surrounding them. Engel does mention the occasional human society using wild health practices, too.
I also found a wonderful quote in this book: "Health consists of having the same diseases as your neighbors." -Quentin Crisp....more
One of the big themes that I took away from this book is the idea of "dissociation." Chellis talks about the similarities between dissociation and posOne of the big themes that I took away from this book is the idea of "dissociation." Chellis talks about the similarities between dissociation and post-traumatic stress (forging a link between personal healing and the healing of our relationship with the Earth). Dissociation involves a fragmenting of what Chellis calls the "primal matrix": the interconnectedness we inherently share (as worldly beings) with the natural world as well as the psychological wholeness that constitutes personal integrity (so, for example, a Cartesian mind/body split is an instance of a dissociated self; another example is a fragmented identity).
In the first part of her book, Chellis talks in detail about the psychological and social characteristics of nature-based people which nurture a self that is engaged with the primal matrix. She also describes the process of our historic dissociation from nature beginning with the advent of agriculture and moving up to our present, mass technological society.
People who have experienced trauma enter into a state of dissociation (which can be mended; Chellis describes her own ongoing process of weaving herself back into the primal matrix). But even people who have not experienced major psychological trauma are compelled to participate in our widely-dissociated and fractured society, and that also constitutes a state of oppression and denial. In our society, we are prevented from knowing, from a very early age, our true place and purpose, our real belonging, intertwined with the web of life.
In the latter section of the book, Chellis introduces some ideas for solving this dilemma. She notes that such a solution cannot take place on a merely individual psychological level; that it must involve interwoven restoration efforts on personal, social, and ecological scales.
I'm running out of time here, so in summary - I highly recommend this book. It's a seminal work of eco-psychology, well-researched, on point, intelligently and poignantly written....more