The Power of Place: How Our Surroundings Shape Our Thoughts, Emotions, and Actions

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The Power of Place: How Our Surroundings Shape Our Thoughts, Emotions, and Actions [Paperback]

Winifred Gallagher
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Editorial Reviews Review

There are reasons why most humans love the mountains and why the great outdoors can do so much to soothe the urban jitters. Winifred Gallagher explains the inner workings of environmental psychology in The Power of Place. Traveling from northernmost Alaska, where the need to stay indoors for so much of the year takes a heavy mental and physical toll on the locals, to the artificial canyons of Manhattan, Gallagher strips off one civilizing layer after another to reveal the human animal within us, the creature that requires open spaces and clear air to function as it should. If you ever wondered why mountaineers take the risks they do or why Michael Jackson spent all that money on a hyperbaric chamber, Gallagher has the answer. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In this intriguing but somewhat diffuse look at the impact of physical surroundings on individual behavior, freelance journalist Gallagher ranges from wintry Alaska to a neonatal intensive care unit to diverse neighborhoods in Manhattan. Drawing on interviews with scientists as well as her own observations, she shows that academia has promoted a "false dichotomy" between the influences of biology and of environment. For example, Eskimos may have genetically eliminated seasonal mood disorders from their gene pool. And to overcome grief or kick drug addictions, people require new stimuli and "environmental deconditioning." Inner-city residents, having invested their neighborhoods with hope, often resist being moved from what others would consider a slum, the author notes. She also looks skeptically at such folk wisdom as the purported role of hot weather in fostering crime and romance. QPB alternate.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

The concept of place has been given relatively short shrift since the overthrow of environmental determinism. In this open, thoroughgoing, effective study, however, freelance journalist Gallagher (The Atlantic, etc.) restores place to its proper niche in the big picture. Gallagher takes a long, hard look at how place--our physical setting--delights us, confounds us, affects our moods and alters our behavior, influences us from every angle. She has drunk deeply from current scientific literature and seeds her text with references to the pineal gland, the hypothalamus, and the limbic system. But she wears her erudition lightly, making the most obscure material natural, meaningful, and unthreatening. Gallagher is as comfortable discussing geomagnetic fields, extreme environments, and circadian rhythms as she is with psychobiological research, and her willingness to be influenced by a wide variety of sources and schools gives her work a richly textured quality. While the land itself comes in for intense scrutiny, the author doesn't stop at purple mountains majesty but explores a pleasingly broad sense of place. Place, she notes, is anywhere you are: in utero, on a Denali glacier, inside a sensory deprivation tank, or within the environment connecting mother and child. Gallagher also takes time to explore geophysical mysteries and marvels, from ghost lights to sacred spots, although the process of demystification--explaining a vision away as a geomagnetic disturbance, for instance--lacks a certain poetry. An intriguing examination of an elusive topic, with a depth and range that go beyond predictable terrain. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"The Power of Place is first-rate and alarmingly fresh... A wonderful book." -- -- Jim Harrison, author of Dalva<br /><br />"Engrossing." -- -- New York Times<br /><br />"Entertaining and convincing." -- Booklist<br /><br />"Got some problems? Think that moving to a more compatible place is 'running away'? Read this intriguing and well-researched book." -- -- Tom Cahill, author of Pecked to Death by Ducks<br /><br />"It is a brand new vision of how we are affected by how and where we live. A wonderful book." -- Jim Harrison, author of Dalva<br /><br />"Ricly textured and intriguing." -- --Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

Winifred Gallagher is the author of House Thinking, Just the Way You Are (a New York Times Notable Book), Working on God, and Spiritual Genius. She has written for numerous publications, including Atlantic Monthly, Rolling Stone, and the New York Times. She lives in Manhattan and Dubois, Wyoming.

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