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.
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.
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