Prof. Dr. Tøve Fjeld, Agricultural University of Norway, As/Oslo.
A modern lifestyle presents us with a new situation in terms of psychological perspectives on our health. The study of the effect which our environment has on us is called ‘environmental psychology’. Studies in this field have clearly shown that our environment has a significant effect on our sense of wellbeing, our emotional stability and our stress limits. They have shown that nature as encountered in parks, open spaces and forests leads to reduced stress. This raises the question: Why does nature have this effect? One explanation for this appears to be provided by the concept of “psychological identity”. It is not just the physical body that must ensure that we can live and survive in the wilds, but also mankind’s psychological component. It is claimed that we switch on an ‘automatic pilot’ when we walk – for example – in the woods, that deep within us we have some kind of inherited consciousness which recognises nature and the natural elements as something familiar. On the other hand, when we are in an unfamiliar environment, we use a great deal of mental energy to ensure that a certain distance is maintained. Download PDF