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Psycho-evolutionary Theory

Psycho-Evolutionary Theory of Outdoor Education

Links & References

James Neill

Last updated:
27 Jul 2004

Links & References

Key materials

Links to Interesting Material

What's new?

David Abram: Cultural ecologist and philosopher
(The Association for Environmental & Outdoor Education, 2004)
Abram, author of "The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than-Human World" weaves the mysteries of nature back into the human psyche.  The barrier between human and nature disappears.  A key player in the deep ecology movement, Abram's book has received wide acclaim as a "life and world changer".

Cultural Psychology


  • Atavism - dictionary definition / Wikpedia on Atatvism - note the negative connotations associated with early evolutionary forms; a form of "racial" prejudice?  deep-rooted fear of atavism in modern society
  • Pictures of human evolution - Bringing the story of human evolution to visual life

Philosophy of Dwelling, House & Space

  • The psychological value of open space
  • Thinking in Exile Or Otherwise Than Being: About Heidegger's notion of "dwelling" and "being", includes philosophical understanding of the role of the dwelling (for security to think)
  • Architecture & Home: A discussion of Heidegger's essay "Building Dwelling Thinking" (1951) - Martin Heidegger, one of the strongest critics of modern technology, uses the house in one essay as an example for his thesis that technology has falsified human life
  • Notes Towards a Philosophy of Architectural Space - Michael Paul Jones - Discusses Heidegger and Mead's philosophy of the space create by the house.  Mead's theories imply that the house, unlike the animal nest or den, is a space with human meaning rather than merely biological significance.
  • If the environmental psychology findings about the positive benefits of viewing nature are true,  then post-modern house design requires fundamental transformation in order to impregnate the lived space with organic nature (soil, flora, fauna, entire biosystems) inside the dwelling; this fits with the principles of permaculture.  The house was originally designed to as an extra layer of skin or clothing with more airspace.  In recent times the house has become an endless exercise in abstracting human consciousness from the fundamentally intimate and necessary rhythms of nature.  Palatial living is hollow and people get lost in themselves.  Some other substitutes may work e.g., self-created art; and those with cultivated shamanistic faculties may be able to develop natural self-scapes via connection to archetypal symbols stores within the unconscious and somatically.  Forays into camping and other exercises in minimalistic housing journeys may also have similar effects, but ultimately this idle tourism is somewhat vain; searching for the wilderness beyond the threshold of present existence.  In recent book,  "The New Nature", Tim Low describes the successful responses of flora and fauna to feral invasion; and how the new nature is right on our doorsteps, if only we look and watch and understand the new biosystems adapting (as they always have) to every-changing circumstances.

Garden Therapy / Horticultural Therapy

Indigenous Life & Practices

Nature Tourism

Outdoor Education

  • Australian identity and the effect of outdoor education programs - Nola Purdie and James Neill report the fascinating finding that students who self-reported themselves as more "Australian" also reported greater personal development benefits from a state-run outdoor education program; the implication is clearly that a lack of cultural relevance can limit the impacts of outdoor education programs
  • Earth's Eco Expeditions - example of USA program using wilderness enounters with Western eco-psychology / spiritual guides


Medical Science

  • The Heart's Code: Tapping the Wisdom and Power of Our Heart Energy: The New Findings About Cellular Memories and Their Role in the Mind/Body/Spirit Connection - Paul Pearsall (Books by Paul Pearsall) - Pearsall describes research emerging from heart transplant patients which suggests evidence for cellular memories stored in the heart


Links to use for Research

References to explore

McIntyre, N. (1999). Investigating adventure experiences: An experiential sampling approachScisco Conscientia, 1(1), 1-13

Murphy, D. & Stich, S. (in press?). Griffiths, elimination & psychopathology. Metascience.

Ray, J. J., & Singh, S. (1980). Effects of individual differences on productivity among farmers in India. The Journal of Social Psychology, 112, 11-17.